Our first reading for this week: Acts 15:22-41
v22: A decision had been reached by the Jerusalem council. This decision supported the presentation of the gospel that Paul and Barnabas were preaching. Judas and Silas were sent as witnesses (as well as to take a letter) to the Judaizes in Antioch to confirm that what and how Paul and Barnabas were preaching was correct.
v23: This letter carried authority. It was sent to the Gentile believers.
v24: They had been wanting to harm the Gentiles spiritually.
v25: Judas and Silas confirmed the ministry of Paul and Barnabas, but they also helped to make sure that the harm the Judaizes were doing was dealt with and put into order – according to the right doctrine.
v26: They were totally committed to Yeshua as their L-rd.
v28: Salvation is by the grace of G-d through faith (for Jew and Gentile alike). It is inappropriate to add anything else to the gospel.
v29: A repeat of Acts 15:20. Again, a person CANNOT be saved if they want to continue practicing idolatry.
v31: It is encouraging to know that salvation is not dependent upon ourselves We can go to Yeshua as we are!
v32: To strengthen – an example of this would be planting something so that it can take root. The root provides access to provision needed for the plant to grow. These men were strengthening the believers, in order for them to be fruit producing believers.
v33: Judas went back to Jerusalem. Silas remained in Antioch with Paul and Barnabas.
v35: Preached = evangelized.
This order (teaching and then evangelizing) is important. A person needs to be taught so that they can have an elementary foundation for receiving the gospel
v36: When we have the privilege of leading others to the L-rd we need to take an interest in them. We should be wise enough to be invested in their lives and check in on them to see how they are progressing spiritually.
v38: see Acts 13:13
The word used here comes from the same root word as “apostasy”. A departure from that which is good in favour of that which is not good. Paul wanted to take someone who was thoroughly committed to the work. Barnabas, the man of encouragement, was happy to give John Mark a second chance.
v39: A contention – a schism (division, disunity) opened up between the two men
v40: This grace has nothing to do with salvation – they were already saved. This was a grace to bring radical change in their lives (Titus 2:11-14) When we are operating in the grace of G-d we are going to fulfill the will of G-d.
v41: Those who are strengthened in the Word of G-d have the potential to overcome the enemy. If we do not know the Word of G-d we will not have discernment of the ministry of the Holy Spirit. Without that discernment we open ourselves up to other influences