There was a scary moment when I couldn't get my computer to turn on, and then how would I post on my blog for the rest of Lent?? But I got it to work again, so here's today's post.
Acts 15:22-35--Letter to the Gentile Believers
The church in Jerusalem writes a letter to the gentile churches, telling them what was decided about circumcision and the laws, and it gives the bare bones of what is expected, in terms of conduct from all believers. This still seems like a better way to handle things than we usually do in churches today, but I guess we still don't really know how people received it and how many people in Jerusalem didn't like the decision. The book of Acts is not an exhaustive account, so I probably shouldn't try to impose on it more than it tells me about the details of what really went on in the early church. Nonetheless, it seems like Acts gives us a good model for how to handle disputes in the church.
I think it's really interesting that Judas and Silas, who were sent with Paul, were also prophets. "They said many things that encouraged and strengthened the brothers and sisters." This doesn't seem like what prophets normally do, at least as we read them in the Old Testament. I'm curious about that title "prophet." (My study Bible doesn't explain it further, though.)
Acts 15:36-41--Paul and Barnabas Part Company
It's sad that Paul and Barnabas parted ways. This is one of few serious conflicts among believers that doesn't get resolved in Acts, and it's ironic that it happens right after the Jerusalem council comes to consensus about something and a dispute is resolved. You can see Paul's point in not wanting to have John Mark with them again, after he left them before, but was it worth parting ways over it? I guess it worked out well enough. We don't know much about Barnabas after this, so what Paul did was at least more written about than whatever Barnabas and John Mark ended up doing.
Acts 16:1-5--Paul adds Timothy
More irony here, as Paul circumcises Timothy, right after all gentiles are told they don't have to be circumcised. My study Bible explains that Paul did it because Timothy's mother was Jewish, so he didn't want to offend other Jews by not having Timothy properly circumcised. Still, I'm sure it wasn't fun for poor Timothy!
...And then all the churches continued to grow...sounds great! What will happen next??