The Jerusalem Council 15 1 y But some men came down from Judea and were teaching z the brothers, “Unless you are a circumcised b according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved.” 2 And after Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and c debate with them, Paul and Barnabas and d some of the others were appointed to go up to Jerusalem to e the apostles and the elders about this question. 3 So, f being sent on their way by the church, they passed through both Phoenicia and Samaria, g describing in detail the conversion of the Gentiles, and h brought great joy to all i the brothers. 1 4 j When they came to Jerusalem, they were welcomed by the church and k the apostles and the elders, and g they declared all that God had done with them. 5 But some believers who belonged to l the party of the Pharisees rose up and said, m “It is necessary n to circumcise them and to order them to keep the law of Moses.” 6 o The k apostles and the elders were gathered together to consider this matter. 7 And after there had been much p debate, Peter stood up and said to them, “Brothers, you know that in the early days God made a choice among you, q that by my mouth the Gentiles should hear r the word of s the gospel and believe. 8 And God, t who knows the heart, u bore witness to them, v by giving them the Holy Spirit just as he did to us, 9 and w he made no distinction between us and them, x having cleansed their hearts y by faith. 10 Now, therefore, why z are you putting God to the test a by placing a yoke on the neck of the disciples b that neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear? 11 But we c believe that we will be d saved through e the grace of the Lord Jesus, w just as they will.” 12 And all the assembly fell silent, and they listened to Barnabas and Paul f as they related what signs and wonders God had done through them among the Gentiles. 13 After they finished speaking, g James replied, “Brothers, listen to me. 14 h Simeon has related how God first visited the Gentiles, to take from them i a people for his name. 15 And with this the words of the prophets agree, just as it is written, 16 j “‘After this I will return, and I will rebuild the tent of David that has fallen; I will rebuild its ruins, and I will restore it, 17 that the remnant 1 of mankind k may seek the Lord, and all the Gentiles l who are called by my name, says the Lord, who makes these things 18 m known from of old.’ 19 Therefore n my judgment is that we should not trouble those of the Gentiles who o turn to God, 20 but should write to them p to abstain from q the things polluted by idols, and from r sexual immorality, and from s what has been strangled, and from s blood. 21 For from ancient generations Moses has had in every city those who proclaim him, t for he is read every Sabbath in the synagogues.” The Council’s Letter to Gentile Believers 22 Then it seemed good to u the apostles and the elders, with the whole church, to choose men from among them and send them to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas. They sent Judas called v Barsabbas, and w Silas, leading men among x the brothers, 23 with the following letter: x “The brothers, both u the apostles and the elders, to the brothers 1 who are of the Gentiles in Antioch and Syria and Cilicia, y greetings. 24 Since we have heard that z some persons have gone out from us and a troubled you 1 with words, unsettling your minds, although we gave them no instructions, 25 it has seemed good to us, having come b to one accord, to choose men and send them to you with our c beloved Barnabas and Paul, 26 d men who have e risked their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. 27 We have therefore sent f Judas and Silas, who themselves will tell you the same things by word of mouth. 28 For it has seemed good g to the Holy Spirit and h to us i to lay on you no greater burden than these requirements: 29 j that you abstain from k what has been sacrificed to idols, and from blood, and from what has been strangled, and from sexual immorality. If you keep yourselves from these, you will do well. Farewell.” 30 So when they were sent off, they went down to Antioch, and having gathered the congregation together, they delivered the letter. 31 And when they had read it, they rejoiced because of its encouragement. 32 And Judas and Silas, who were themselves l prophets, encouraged and m strengthened n the brothers with many words. 33 And after they had spent some time, they were sent off o in peace by n the brothers to those who had sent them. 1 35 But p Paul and Barnabas remained in Antioch, teaching and preaching the word of the Lord, with many others also. Paul and Barnabas Separate 36 And after some days Paul said to Barnabas, “Let us return and visit n the brothers q in every city where we proclaimed the word of the Lord, and see how they are.” 37 Now Barnabas wanted to take with them r John called Mark. 38 But Paul thought best not to take with them one s who had withdrawn from them in Pamphylia and had not gone with them to the work. 39 And there arose t a sharp disagreement, so that they separated from each other. u Barnabas took Mark with him and sailed away to Cyprus, 40 but Paul chose Silas and departed, v having been commended by w the brothers to x the grace of the Lord. 41 And he went through Syria and Cilicia, y strengthening the churches. Timothy Joins Paul and Silas 16 1 Paul 1 came also to Derbe and to Lystra. A disciple was there, named z Timothy, a the son of a Jewish woman who was a believer, but his father was a Greek. 2 He was well spoken of by b the brothers 1 at Lystra and Iconium. 3 Paul wanted Timothy to accompany him, and he c took him and circumcised him because of the Jews who were in those places, for they all knew that his father was a Greek. 4 As they went on their way through the cities, they delivered to them for observance d the decisions e that had been reached by f the apostles and elders who were in Jerusalem. 5 g So the churches were strengthened in h the faith, and they increased in numbers i daily.
15 1 Καί τινες κατελθόντες ἀπὸ τῆς Ἰουδαίας ἐδίδασκον τοὺς ἀδελφοὺς ὅτι, ἐὰν μὴ περιτμηθῆτε τῷ ἔθει τῷ Μωϋσέως, οὐ δύνασθε σωθῆναι. 2 γενομένης δὲ στάσεως καὶ ζητήσεως οὐκ ὀλίγης τῷ Παύλῳ καὶ τῷ Βαρναβᾷ πρὸς αὐτούς, ἔταξαν ἀναβαίνειν Παῦλον καὶ Βαρναβᾶν καί τινας ἄλλους ἐξ αὐτῶν πρὸς τοὺς ἀποστόλους καὶ πρεσβυτέρους εἰς Ἰερουσαλὴμ περὶ τοῦ ζητήματος τούτου. 3 Οἱ μὲν οὖν προπεμφθέντες ὑπὸ τῆς ἐκκλησίας διήρχοντο τήν τε Φοινίκην καὶ Σαμάρειαν ἐκδιηγούμενοι τὴν ἐπιστροφὴν τῶν ἐθνῶν καὶ ἐποίουν χαρὰν μεγάλην πᾶσιν τοῖς ἀδελφοῖς. 4 παραγενόμενοι δὲ εἰς Ἰερουσαλὴμ παρεδέχθησαν ἀπὸ τῆς ἐκκλησίας καὶ τῶν ἀποστόλων καὶ τῶν πρεσβυτέρων, ἀνήγγειλάν τε ὅσα ὁ θεὸς ἐποίησεν μετʼ αὐτῶν. 5 Ἐξανέστησαν δέ τινες τῶν ἀπὸ τῆς αἱρέσεως τῶν Φαρισαίων πεπιστευκότες λέγοντες ὅτι δεῖ περιτέμνειν αὐτοὺς παραγγέλλειν τε τηρεῖν τὸν νόμον Μωϋσέως. 6 Συνήχθησάν τε οἱ ἀπόστολοι καὶ οἱ πρεσβύτεροι ἰδεῖν περὶ τοῦ λόγου τούτου. 7 Πολλῆς δὲ ζητήσεως γενομένης ἀναστὰς Πέτρος εἶπεν πρὸς αὐτούς• ἄνδρες ἀδελφοί, ὑμεῖς ἐπίστασθε ὅτι ἀφʼ ἡμερῶν ἀρχαίων ἐν ὑμῖν ἐξελέξατο ὁ θεὸς διὰ τοῦ στόματός μου ἀκοῦσαι τὰ ἔθνη τὸν λόγον τοῦ εὐαγγελίου καὶ πιστεῦσαι. 8 καὶ ὁ καρδιογνώστης θεὸς ἐμαρτύρησεν αὐτοῖς δοὺς τὸ πνεῦμα τὸ ἅγιον καθὼς καὶ ἡμῖν 9 καὶ οὐθὲν διέκρινεν μεταξὺ ἡμῶν τε καὶ αὐτῶν τῇ πίστει καθαρίσας τὰς καρδίας αὐτῶν. 10 νῦν οὖν τί πειράζετε τὸν θεὸν ἐπιθεῖναι ζυγὸν ἐπὶ τὸν τράχηλον τῶν μαθητῶν ὃν οὔτε οἱ πατέρες ἡμῶν οὔτε ἡμεῖς ἰσχύσαμεν βαστάσαι; 11 ἀλλὰ διὰ τῆς χάριτος τοῦ κυρίου Ἰησοῦ πιστεύομεν σωθῆναι καθʼ ὃν τρόπον κἀκεῖνοι. 12 Ἐσίγησεν δὲ πᾶν τὸ πλῆθος καὶ ἤκουον Βαρναβᾶ καὶ Παύλου ἐξηγουμένων ὅσα ἐποίησεν ὁ θεὸς σημεῖα καὶ τέρατα ἐν τοῖς ἔθνεσιν διʼ αὐτῶν. 13 Μετὰ δὲ τὸ σιγῆσαι αὐτοὺς ἀπεκρίθη Ἰάκωβος λέγων• ἄνδρες ἀδελφοί, ἀκούσατέ μου. 14 Συμεὼν ἐξηγήσατο καθὼς πρῶτον ὁ θεὸς ἐπεσκέψατο λαβεῖν ἐξ ἐθνῶν λαὸν τῷ ὀνόματι αὐτοῦ. 15 καὶ τούτῳ συμφωνοῦσιν οἱ λόγοι τῶν προφητῶν καθὼς γέγραπται• 16 μετὰ ταῦτα ἀναστρέψω καὶ ἀνοικοδομήσω τὴν σκηνὴν Δαυὶδ τὴν πεπτωκυῖαν καὶ τὰ κατεσκαμμένα αὐτῆς ἀνοικοδομήσω καὶ ἀνορθώσω αὐτήν, 17 ὅπως ἂν ἐκζητήσωσιν οἱ κατάλοιποι τῶν ἀνθρώπων τὸν κύριον καὶ πάντα τὰ ἔθνη ἐφʼ οὓς ἐπικέκληται τὸ ὄνομά μου ἐπʼ αὐτούς, λέγει κύριος ποιῶν ταῦτα 18 γνωστὰ ἀπʼ αἰῶνος. 19 διὸ ἐγὼ κρίνω μὴ παρενοχλεῖν τοῖς ἀπὸ τῶν ἐθνῶν ἐπιστρέφουσιν ἐπὶ τὸν θεόν, 20 ἀλλʼ ἐπιστεῖλαι αὐτοῖς τοῦ ἀπέχεσθαι τῶν ἀλισγημάτων τῶν εἰδώλων καὶ τῆς πορνείας καὶ τοῦ πνικτοῦ καὶ τοῦ αἵματος. 21 Μωϋσῆς γὰρ ἐκ γενεῶν ἀρχαίων κατὰ πόλιν τοὺς κηρύσσοντας αὐτὸν ἔχει ἐν ταῖς συναγωγαῖς κατὰ πᾶν σάββατον ἀναγινωσκόμενος. 22 Τότε ἔδοξεν τοῖς ἀποστόλοις καὶ τοῖς πρεσβυτέροις σὺν ὅλῃ τῇ ἐκκλησίᾳ ἐκλεξαμένους ἄνδρας ἐξ αὐτῶν πέμψαι εἰς Ἀντιόχειαν σὺν τῷ Παύλῳ καὶ Βαρναβᾷ, Ἰούδαν τὸν καλούμενον Βαρσαββᾶν καὶ Σιλᾶν, ἄνδρας ἡγουμένους ἐν τοῖς ἀδελφοῖς, 23 γράψαντες διὰ χειρὸς αὐτῶν• Οἱ ἀπόστολοι καὶ οἱ πρεσβύτεροι ἀδελφοὶ τοῖς κατὰ τὴν Ἀντιόχειαν καὶ Συρίαν καὶ Κιλικίαν ἀδελφοῖς τοῖς ἐξ ἐθνῶν χαίρειν. 24 Ἐπειδὴ ἠκούσαμεν ὅτι τινὲς ἐξ ἡμῶν [ἐξελθόντες] ἐτάραξαν ὑμᾶς λόγοις ἀνασκευάζοντες τὰς ψυχὰς ὑμῶν οἷς οὐ διεστειλάμεθα, 25 ἔδοξεν ἡμῖν γενομένοις ὁμοθυμαδὸν ἐκλεξαμένοις ἄνδρας πέμψαι πρὸς ὑμᾶς σὺν τοῖς ἀγαπητοῖς ἡμῶν Βαρναβᾷ καὶ Παύλῳ, 26 ἀνθρώποις παραδεδωκόσιν τὰς ψυχὰς αὐτῶν ὑπὲρ τοῦ ὀνόματος τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ. 27 ἀπεστάλκαμεν οὖν Ἰούδαν καὶ Σιλᾶν καὶ αὐτοὺς διὰ λόγου ἀπαγγέλλοντας τὰ αὐτά. 28 ἔδοξεν γὰρ τῷ πνεύματι τῷ ἁγίῳ καὶ ἡμῖν μηδὲν πλέον ἐπιτίθεσθαι ὑμῖν βάρος πλὴν τούτων τῶν ἐπάναγκες, 29 ἀπέχεσθαι εἰδωλοθύτων καὶ αἵματος καὶ πνικτῶν καὶ πορνείας, ἐξ ὧν διατηροῦντες ἑαυτοὺς εὖ πράξετε. Ἔρρωσθε. 30 Οἱ μὲν οὖν ἀπολυθέντες κατῆλθον εἰς Ἀντιόχειαν, καὶ συναγαγόντες τὸ πλῆθος ἐπέδωκαν τὴν ἐπιστολήν. 31 ἀναγνόντες δὲ ἐχάρησαν ἐπὶ τῇ παρακλήσει. 32 Ἰούδας τε καὶ Σιλᾶς καὶ αὐτοὶ προφῆται ὄντες διὰ λόγου πολλοῦ παρεκάλεσαν τοὺς ἀδελφοὺς καὶ ἐπεστήριξαν, 33 ποιήσαντες δὲ χρόνον ἀπελύθησαν μετʼ εἰρήνης ἀπὸ τῶν ἀδελφῶν πρὸς τοὺς ἀποστείλαντας αὐτούς. 35 Παῦλος δὲ καὶ Βαρναβᾶς διέτριβον ἐν Ἀντιοχείᾳ διδάσκοντες καὶ εὐαγγελιζόμενοι μετὰ καὶ ἑτέρων πολλῶν τὸν λόγον τοῦ κυρίου. 36 Μετὰ δέ τινας ἡμέρας εἶπεν πρὸς Βαρναβᾶν Παῦλος• ἐπιστρέψαντες δὴ ἐπισκεψώμεθα τοὺς ἀδελφοὺς κατὰ πόλιν πᾶσαν ἐν αἷς κατηγγείλαμεν τὸν λόγον τοῦ κυρίου πῶς ἔχουσιν. 37 Βαρναβᾶς δὲ ἐβούλετο συμπαραλαβεῖν καὶ τὸν Ἰωάννην τὸν καλούμενον Μᾶρκον• 38 Παῦλος δὲ ἠξίου, τὸν ἀποστάντα ἀπʼ αὐτῶν ἀπὸ Παμφυλίας καὶ μὴ συνελθόντα αὐτοῖς εἰς τὸ ἔργον μὴ συμπαραλαμβάνειν τοῦτον. 39 ἐγένετο δὲ παροξυσμὸς ὥστε ἀποχωρισθῆναι αὐτοὺς ἀπʼ ἀλλήλων, τόν τε Βαρναβᾶν παραλαβόντα τὸν Μᾶρκον ἐκπλεῦσαι εἰς Κύπρον, 40 Παῦλος δὲ ἐπιλεξάμενος Σιλᾶν ἐξῆλθεν παραδοθεὶς τῇ χάριτι τοῦ κυρίου ὑπὸ τῶν ἀδελφῶν. 41 διήρχετο δὲ τὴν Συρίαν καὶ [τὴν] Κιλικίαν ἐπιστηρίζων τὰς ἐκκλησίας. 16 1 Κατήντησεν δὲ [καὶ] εἰς Δέρβην καὶ εἰς Λύστραν. καὶ ἰδοὺ μαθητής τις ἦν ἐκεῖ ὀνόματι Τιμόθεος, υἱὸς γυναικὸς Ἰουδαίας πιστῆς, πατρὸς δὲ Ἕλληνος, 2 ὃς ἐμαρτυρεῖτο ὑπὸ τῶν ἐν Λύστροις καὶ Ἰκονίῳ ἀδελφῶν. 3 τοῦτον ἠθέλησεν ὁ Παῦλος σὺν αὐτῷ ἐξελθεῖν, καὶ λαβὼν περιέτεμεν αὐτὸν διὰ τοὺς Ἰουδαίους τοὺς ὄντας ἐν τοῖς τόποις ἐκείνοις• ᾔδεισαν γὰρ ἅπαντες ὅτι Ἕλλην ὁ πατὴρ αὐτοῦ ὑπῆρχεν. 4 Ὡς δὲ διεπορεύοντο τὰς πόλεις, παρεδίδοσαν αὐτοῖς φυλάσσειν τὰ δόγματα τὰ κεκριμένα ὑπὸ τῶν ἀποστόλων καὶ πρεσβυτέρων τῶν ἐν Ἰεροσολύμοις. 5 Αἱ μὲν οὖν ἐκκλησίαι ἐστερεοῦντο τῇ πίστει καὶ ἐπερίσσευον τῷ ἀριθμῷ καθʼ ἡμέραν.
Sermon notes 2.0
Introduction [Recap: 1st missionary journey completed, now back in Antioch] 1. What culture do you have to become when you become a Christian? This is part of the 'you need to do or be X in order to be saved'. Since a culture is about customs, rules. Initially, Gentile Christians had been 'God-fearers'; i.e., already bought into Jewish worship of YHWH. But this applies to sub-cultures too. And the 'Jewish roots' thing can still be this kind of a problem in some circles. 2. What should Christians do when they disagree? What is the point of a church council? What about relational bust-ups? The passage begins with a disagreement, and ends with another one, yet the final statement is of the Word of God being strengthened and growing. At the start, let me say that this passage is not actually about how to interpret food laws, or OT law more generally - I'll say why in due course. But also, this passage is not actually about how Christians should bear with one another, and get along despite differences, and weaker/stronger brothers etc. Big Idea: It's Official: God is saving people from all nations into his church through Jesus Christ alone. 1. v1-5 the problem: you must keep the law of Moses to be saved Perhaps unsurprising that this explodes in Antioch, with the mix there. Gospel under threat. If something is deemed a gospel issue, it's that people believe or contend that 'you are saved by XYZ'. V1 the problem; the assumption that gentile mission basically meant people from all nations becoming Jews, ethnically. [cf PNG nationals forced to read KJV, wear suits etc] Relation to Galatians: visit to Jerusalem Acts 9.26ff, cf Galatians 1.18 Visit with Barnabus mentioned Acts 11.30 cf Galatians 2.1 Paul probably wrote letter to Galatians before the Jerusalem Council, given that it isn't mentioned at all in the letter. Maybe he wrote it during the 'long time' mentioned in Acts 14.28, in Antioch. V2 schism/dissension/debate a big theme in our section today. It's existence is not bad in itself, but our response to it can either be healthy and godly, or unhealthy and sinful. Cf today, attitudes to 'polemical' topics within churches is simply to avoid talking about them. Division here over judaism, and division v36ff over John Mark. Different types of division; over doctrine, there can only be one right answer. Over application of doctrine, it is often manifold (eg the Bible is the Word of God). Making assessments of people falls into the application of doctrine; i.e., with regard to X he or she is unsuited or suited. Debate in itself is ok, and necessary - the question is the manner and the motive. Manner ie ungodly and unrighteous. Motive ie to harm, or to self-promote, or to cause division for the sake of it. V3 note here, sent by the church to clear this up. V3 great joy to all the brothers in the churches in Phoenicia, Samaria, when they heard about the conversion of the Gentiles. V5 believers from the Pharisees - so you can understand the error seeping in. Every camp has its predispositions to types of error; Achilles' heel. 2. v6-12 the council hears the facts: people from the nations have been saved already through faith in Jesus alone If only it were possible these days for a council to be called to confront error in the churches! I actually believe we will start seeing this kind of thing more again, since relationships between true Bible-believers are becoming easier and more obvious due to wider apostasy. v6 the first 'ecumenical council'. Councils formalise what already exist! They don't create it! cf the Canon, or the doctrine of the Trinity. Called at times of really dangerous error, to articulate truth. [eg drugs problem in school] v7-11 Peter talking about Cornelius etc V7 God made a choice in the early [ancient/old] days...that by my mouth the gentiles should hear the word of the gospel and believe. Not necessarily referring only to Pentecost, but perhaps also to God's pre-ordaining ages ago that it would be Peter who would stand up and speak? V10 no one has ever been able to bear the yoke of the requirements of the law - except our Lord Jesus. v12 The place of the 1st missionary journey - to plant churches, and to give undeniable testimony to God's plan for all the nations. 3. v13-18 the council remembers what the Scriptures say about the nations The point of the Amos quotation is that God had foretold that he would rebuild the Davidic kingdom, with both Jews and Gentiles who call on his name. So the fact that Gentile believers are now bearing the name of Jesus makes them God's own people. They both enter through the Messiah (not through different plans). v13-18 Starts with Genesis 11-12; Babel and the call of Abram. V14 the Israelites - let us not forget - had been taken out from among the nations (Abraham etc). And goes to Amos, but talks about the prophets (this is not some random isolated quotation - we could go to so very many places). I.e., what was promised and latent in the OT is now fulfilled and patent in the NT. Quotation is from the LXX, perhaps because there were so many Greek-speakers now in the church. 4. v19-35 the council formalises and communicates their decision So what does this mean? v19-21 these are key features of pagan temple worship. Idols, what has been strangled, blood, and 'porneia' - i.e., unlawful sexual immorality found in the temple. Since the porneia goes without saying. Porneia best understood as sexual activity accepted by Gentiles but not by Jews? Turn from idolatry and all pagan temple activity, including prostitution. And, unlawful marriage. The best explanation of the decree, if a single explanation must be sought, is that it forbids gentile Christians to participate in four things associated with pagan cults. This conclusion is supported in part by the failure of other theories to explain the decree, and it harmonizes with these facts: Gentiles without synagogue background were coming into the church —- a situation significantly different than that faced in Acts 10. Their single greatest instructional need would be to avoid paganism or syncretism. The decree lists four things demonstrably associated with pagan cults as well as with Jewish sensitivities. The words have other associations, too, but pagan cultic associations are a viable option. The decree is presented as easy to comply with, not a burden, something the gentiles may have already been in compliance with. James says the decree is needed because he did not want to hinder gentile conversions, but he implied that synagogue preaching would. The decree is much less than synagogues taught and much less than Pharisee Christians would observe. The decree is given in answer to people who taught that gentiles had to keep the law of Moses. This implies that the decree is not based on the law of Moses. It does not perpetuate ritualistic laws for either Jews or gentiles. This theory explains why all gentiles needed to comply with the decree, whether they lived near Jews or not, and why there was no decree for Jewish Christians. http://www.torahresource.com/EnglishArticles/Acts%2015.pdf useful paper Gentiles characterised by idolatry. If they hadn't made a clean and convincing break with idol/temple-worship, how could anyone (especially Jews) be confident they had really been converted? So this is not a list of legalistic requirements for salvation, or even necessarily for table-fellowship (that point is suggested by scholars, but never made in the text - which is about salvation), but a kind of 'checklist' of guidance for Gentile believers. And that's why they rejoice, because it's abundantly free and clear for those who have turned to Jesus from idolatry! Polluted by idols Strangling - the kind of death/slaughter found in temple sacrifices Blood - eating or drinking blood Porneia - illicit marriages, but actually contact with any of the sex services around the temple; prostitution both male and female, orgies, and more. Otherwise, any other interpretation has problems: -If this are the bits of OT law still binding on Gentiles, then why don't we follow them today? This passage is not saying, 'here are the only bits which still count from the OT' - not at all. -And why these laws, some of which are really pretty obscure in the written Torah, and not others - when there are plentiful texts on Gentiles relating to Jews. -Why the need to put porneia there - which surely any convert will have been taught - and not, say, lying, murder, the others from the Decalogue? -If this is bits of the OT still binding, then we can understand why people explain away all the others. -If this is about table fellowship, why don't they say so? And there were already guidances for that. And why are there no instructions for Jews in their part in table fellowship? -If you appeal to an extra-biblical rabbinical text, it's so hotly debated and disputed and there still isn't consensus, plus there were more than these 4 in this category. This understanding is great and glorious, as it allows us to look to the other texts to construct our understanding of food laws, and how NT interpreted OT, without being perplexed by this passage - since we realise that that was not the issue here. Some things can be received from cultures, some can be redeemed, but some must be rejected. E.g., abortion - can't be tinged in any way by it. [e.gs, polygamy; time keeping; food styles; preparation methods, homosexuality; gender ] And so v21 underlines how important it is to say this clearly, since the Judaising appeal is not going to go away; the default will be to make people Jews unless you state otherwise. [cf praying in English, reading Bible in English - from Chinese background new Christians] v22 the decision made, it is now communicated. V24 such pastoral concern for those they hadn't even met. v26 their credibility/authenticity in how much they have suffered. v28 it seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us; a valid part of Christian decision making - when godly believers wrestle together over a decision and seek unity. v29 cf v19-21; food sacrificed to idols; blood; strangled; porneia. v30-31 rejoiced because of true freedom in Christ. We don't have to become Jews! v32 'who were themselves prophets'; i.e., part of their prophetic role was encouragement from the Scriptures! Many words could simply be many Scriptures. V35 teaching and 'gospeling' the word of the Lord. Teaching and gospel-proclaiming. 'Gospel-controlled freedom with regard to the law'. The law is now a friend, not an enemy - since we are not trying to be justified by it, but rather to love God and our neighbour. The freedom to submit; i.e., to make concessions for the consciences of others. Modern day examples of this principle. The specifics have changed, but the principle hasn't - simply by process of Christian growth! We can't train people to over-ride their conscience [like teaching people, sometimes it's ok to drive through a red light]. 5. v36-41 Paul and Barnabus disagree sharply and separate V36 to see how they are. Paul is a pastor! He actually cares how people are doing! v36-41 irony here, that another division strikes. Tell the story of John Mark. Is the answer, 'yes and yes'? Yes, Paul is right since he had deserted them. Barnabus is right since John Mark is asking for a 'second chance' (cf Peter and Jesus). It seems Paul and Silas were commended by the church. But the key thing is, the mission has multiplied; through division there are now two church planting missions happening. Later, reconciliation. 6. 16.1-5 Paul has Timothy circumcised 16.1-4 another irony; having opposed Judaism, he circumcised Timothy. Since here, it was not a 'gospel issue', but a 'sensitivity' issue. [e.g., KJV is great translation and happy to use - but not if it's made a salvation issue] Not message contextualisation but messenger contextualisation. Remember that his mum was Jewish, so it was a slightly awkward position for him to be in. v5 Wonderful summary statement; after these divisions, the Word of God continues to sail supreme. Theme of 'strengthening' - v41 and v5 - despite the relational friction and split. Conclusion/Wrap-up God has worked through the division and debate to strengthen the churches, affirm the gospel of grace, and multiply his missionaries. You don't leave your culture behind when you become a Christian, you leave all the idolatry behind. [500 years on from the Reformation, which was in some sense a re-discovery of this]