Acts 14:21-28--Paul and Barnabas Return to Antioch
So, Paul and Barnabas return to their last two stops, after making converts somewhere else. These are the same two places where they've been harassed and kicked out by Jewish leaders. How dumb were they, part of me wants to ask! But I guess the history of the church is a witness to persistence, not stupidity, after all. At least they let people know what they were in for: they set up churches at these places and they told the people that there would be trials and hardships. It's a wonder any of them stuck around! How many of us would stick around when we actually believe that kind of hardship will come because of our faith? I mean, in other countries, people are still persecuted for their faith every day, but not so much here in America. So, would we stay if we faced what these early Christians and so many Christians today face? That's hard to say. I guess we give the Holy Spirit credit for the fact that many of those early Christians did stick around.
Acts 15:1-21--The Jerusalem Council
So, then Paul and Barnabas had to go back to Jerusalem, but they stopped at all the churches along the way and reported all the great things that were going on. I would imagine that made the trip to Jerusalem better, even as they knew they were going to face the council and it could get pretty contentious. Was it like a trip to General Conference? I imagine those can be pretty unenjoyable...
It's interesting that Paul and Peter were apparently in agreement on the topic of circumcision (unless I'm reading this wrong, which is possible...). Peter's testimony about the issue seems pretty reasonable, and James actually agrees with it. This would be a nice way to handle problems in the church. The church changed on its position on something, and everyone survived and the church grew. Imagine that!