We have seen that as Christians witnessed of Jesus (1:8) both Jews and Gentiles were saved. Sadly, there were some in Jerusalem who believed and taught the church at Antioch that salvation required becoming a Jew and coming under the jurisdiction of the Mosaic Law (v. 1). The church at Antioch sent Paul and Barnabas to Jerusalem to address this problem that came from there (v. 2).
The Jerusalem church leadership correctly recognized that Gentiles were saved by faith alone just as they as Jews were (vv. 7-11). They wrote a letter to the church at Antioch condemning those who came and taught a false gospel (vv. 1, 24). The Jerusalem leaders also encouraged them to live holy lives (vv. 20, 28-29)—expected of every Christian, Jew or Gentile. They must not participate in idolatry or sexual immorality, and maintain good relationships with Jewish Christians by not being a stumbling block (not eat blood or things that were strangled).
Paul and Barnabas then made plans to visit the churches they had seen begun from their first trip (chapter 13). However, they had differences of opinion as to who should be on their “team” (15:37-40). Both men were absolutely convinced what was the right and proper thing to do. We are only told what happened, we are not told that either was right or wrong. Nowhere in the rest of the NT do we read of either men having a grudge against the other, but quite the contrary!
Truths to Nail Down and Meditate On
- Sinners’ only hope of being forgiven of their sins is in Jesus Christ. No amount of good works can earn forgiveness of sins. They must therefore repent of their sins and self-righteousness/false religion and trust Jesus alone to save them (Gal 2:16; Eph 2:8-9; Titus 3:5).
- Heresy must be vigorously opposed for the sake of the truth, the salvation of souls, and the unity of the church.
- Christians are not under any aspect of the Mosaic Law, period (cf. Rom 7:1-6; Gal 3:2-3; 5:18). This does not mean Christians are “lawless”! Christians are under the Law of Christ (Rom 8:2; Gal 6:2) which involves obeying Jesus’ commands given in Scripture.
- Personal problems must be handled biblically. Grudges have no place in the church.