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David Guzik :: Study Guide for Acts 15

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The Jerusalem Council

A. The dispute between the men from Judea and Paul and Barnabas.

1. (Act 15:1) The men from Judea state their case.

And certain men came down from Judea and taught the brethren, “Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved.”

a. Certain men came down from Judea and taught the brethren, “Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved.” These Jewish Christians (often called “Judaizers”) came to the congregation in Antioch and taught that Gentiles may become Christians, but only after first becoming Jews, and submitting to all Jewish rituals, including circumcision.

i. It was very difficult for some Jewish Christians to accept that Gentiles could be brought into the church as equal members without first coming through the Law of Moses. “It was one thing to accept the occasional God-fearer into the church, someone already in sympathy with Jewish ways; it was quite another to welcome large numbers of Gentiles who had no regard for the law and no intention of keeping it.” (Williams)

b. Came down from Judea and taught the brethren: These Christians were from Judea, and were not content to keep their beliefs to themselves, but felt compelled to persuade other Christians. They taught the brethren, coming all the way to Antioch to preach this message.

i. By their teaching, these certain men from Judea made a negative judgment on all of Paul and Barnabas’ missionary endeavors. On their recent missionary journey, they founded churches among the Gentiles without bringing them under the Law of Moses. These certain men from Judea said Paul and Barnabas were all wrong in doing this.

ii. When in the city of Antioch in Pisidia, Paul preached this message: And by Him [Jesus] everyone who believes is justified from all things from which you could not be justified by the law of Moses (Acts 13:39). These certain men…from Judea would have objected, saying “Jesus saves us, but only after we have done all we can do to keep the Law of Moses.” But Paul taught a man could only be right with God on the basis of what Jesus had done.

c. You cannot be saved: This was not a side issue; it had to do with salvation itself – how one is made right with God. This was not a matter where there could be disagreement among believers, with some believing you must be under the law, and some believing it wasn’t important. This was an issue that went to the core of Christianity, and it had to be resolved.

i. We can just imagine how Satan wanted to take advantage of this situation. First, he wanted the false doctrine of righteousness by works to succeed. But even if it didn’t, Satan wanted a costly, bitter doctrinal war to completely split and sour the church. This may be the greatest threat to the work of the gospel yet seen in the Book of Acts.

2. (Act 15:2-4) Paul and Barnabas respond to the teaching of the men from Judea.

Therefore, when Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and dispute with them, they determined that Paul and Barnabas and certain others of them should go up to Jerusalem, to the apostles and elders, about this question. So, being sent on their way by the church, they passed through Phoenicia and Samaria, describing the conversion of the Gentiles; and they caused great joy to all the brethren. And when they had come to Jerusalem, they were received by the church and the apostles and the elders; and they reported all things that God had done with them.

a. Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and dispute with them: Their first response was to persuade. We can imagine there was no small dissension and dispute with them indeed. These two who saw God work so powerfully through the Gentiles would not abandon that work easily.

i. In this, Paul and Barnabas showed the hearts of true shepherds: To confront and dispute with those who insist on promoting false doctrines in the church.

b. They determined that Paul and Barnabas and certain others of them should go up to Jerusalem: When persuasion did not end the issue, Paul and Barnabas went to Jerusalem to have the matter settled by the apostles and elders. They couldn’t just agree to disagree on this issue, because it was at the core of what meant to be a follower of Jesus.

i. Who were the ones who determined that Paul and Barnabas should go to Jerusalem to determine this question? It seems to speak of the church collectively in Antioch, where this false teaching was promoted. The statement that they were sent on their way by the church suggests this.

c. They caused great joy to all the brethren: As Paul and Barnabas went to Jerusalem, they found plenty of other Christians who rejoiced at what God did among the Gentiles. This was in contrast to the certain men from Judea.

3. (Act 15:5) The men from Judea re-state their teaching.

But some of the sect of the Pharisees who believed rose up, saying, “It is necessary to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses.”

a. Some of the sect of the Pharisees who believed rose up: Many of those who opposed Paul and Barnabas were Christians who had been Pharisees. The Pharisees were well known for their high regard for the law, and their desire to obey the law in the smallest details.

i. If the Pharisees believed anything, they believed one could be justified before God by keeping the law. For a Pharisee to really be a Christian, it would take more than an acknowledgment that Jesus was Messiah; he would have to forsake his attempts to justify himself by the keeping of the law and accept the work of Jesus as the basis of his justification.

ii. In Lystra, Paul and Barnabas did not allow the pagans to merely add Jesus to their pantheon of Roman gods. They commanded that they had to turn from their vain gods to the true God (Acts 14:14-15). These Pharisees who had become Christians had to do the same thing: Turn from their efforts to earn their way before God by keeping the law, and look to Jesus. You can’t just add Jesus and now say “Jesus helps me to justify myself through keeping the law.”

iii. Paul himself was a former Pharisee (Philippians 3:5) who became a Christian. But he came to know that Jesus didn’t help him do what a Pharisee did, only better. He knew that Jesus was his salvation, not the way to his salvation. Paul wrote: knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law; for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified. (Galatians 2:16)

b. It is necessary to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses: These former Pharisees taught two things. First, Gentile converts must be initiated into Judaism through circumcision. Second, that Gentile converts must live under the law of Moses if they were to be right with God and embraced into the Christian community.

i. Basically, their teaching was: “Gentiles are free to come to Jesus. We welcome them and want them to come to Jesus. But they have to come through the Law of Moses in order to come to Jesus. Paul and Barnabas, among others, have allowed Gentiles to come to Jesus without first coming through the Law of Moses.”

c. It is necessary to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses: We can imagine how they would have even made a case from the Old Testament for this teaching. They might have said Israel has always been God’s chosen people and that Gentiles must become part of Israel if they want to be part of God’s people.

i. Passages the Pharisees who believed might quote in defense of their position are Exodus 12:48-49 and Isaiah 56:6. These passages might be quoted to say that the covenant the Gentiles were invited to join was a covenant of circumcision.

B. The Jerusalem council.

1. (Act 15:6-11) In the midst of a great dispute, the apostle Peter speaks to the issue.

Now the apostles and elders came together to consider this matter. And when there had been much dispute, Peter rose up and said to them: “Men and brethren, you know that a good while ago God chose among us, that by my mouth the Gentiles should hear the word of the gospel and believe. So God, who knows the heart, acknowledged them by giving them the Holy Spirit, just as He did to us, and made no distinction between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith. Now therefore, why do you test God by putting a yoke on the neck of the disciples which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear? But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved in the same manner as they.”

a. Now the apostles and elders came together to consider this matter. These leaders came together to decide the issue. They didn’t just let the issue sit, nor leave it up to the conscience of each believer. The matter was too important for that.

i. The question raised by the Jerusalem council was immense: Are Christians made right with God by faith alone, or by a combination of faith and obedience of the Law of Moses? Is the work of Jesus by itself enough to save the one who trusts in Jesus, or must we add our work to Jesus’ work in order to be made right with God?

ii. With significant doctrinal issues today, perhaps this sort of public “trial” of doctrine would be beneficial.

b. And when there had been much dispute: This would have been amazing to see. Christians serious enough about the truth to dispute for it! In the midst of this, Peter, as one of the leading apostles, rose up to make his opinion known on the matter.

c. Men and brethren, you know that a good while ago: Peter began with a history lesson, recounting the work God had already done. He then made the point that God had fully received the Gentiles apart from their being circumcised (God, who knows the heart, acknowledged them by giving them the Holy Spirit, just as He did to us). If God had acknowledged these Gentiles as full partners in His work, then why shouldn’t the church? If God received them, so should the church!

i. In saying, “Made no distinction between us and them,” Peter made an important observation. It came straight from his vision of the clean and unclean animals, from which God taught him this principle: God has shown to me that I should not call any man common or unclean (Acts 10:28). Those of the sect of the Pharisees who believed thought that the Gentiles were inherently “common” or “unclean” (in the sense of unholy) and had to be made holy and clean by submitting to the Law of Moses.

d. Purifying their hearts by faith. Peter showed how the heart is purified: by faith, not by keeping of the law. If they were purified by faith, then there was no need to be purified by submitting to ceremonies found in the Law of Moses. Christians are not only saved by faith; they are also purified by faith.

e. Why do you test God by putting a yoke on the neck of the disciples which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear? Peter wisely answered another objection. One might ask, “What is the harm in bringing Gentiles under the Law of Moses?” Peter was correct when he observed that the law was a yoke which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear.

i. This is demonstrated by a survey of Israel’s history. At the birth of the nation at Mount Sinai, they broke the law by worshipping the golden calf. At the end of Old Testament history, they still broke the law by disregarding the Sabbath and marrying pagan women (Nehemiah 13). From beginning to end, Israel could not bear the yoke of the law.

ii. Those of the sect of the Pharisees who believed made a critical mistake. They looked at Israel’s history under the law with eyes of nostalgia, not truth. If they had carefully and truthfully considered Israel’s failure under the law, they would not have been so quick to also put Gentiles under the law.

iii. Paul made the same argument in Galatians 3:2-3. If the law does not save us, why would we return to it as the principle by which we live? In light of the finished work of Jesus, it offends God to go back to the law. This is why Peter asked, “why do you test God?”

f. But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved in the same manner as they. Peter concluded with the observation that it is through grace that all are saved – both Jew and Gentile – and not by obedience to the law. If we are made right with God by grace, then we are not saved by grace and law-keeping.

i. Peter also insisted there is only one way of salvation: We [Jews] shall be saved in the same manner as they [Gentiles]. Jewish Christians were not saved, even in part, by their law-keeping; they were made right with God the same way Gentiles were: Through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ.

ii. “Peter, the Jew, would normally have said it the other way around. He would have said, ‘We believe that they can be saved by grace through faith, just like us.’ That is, they can be like us.” (Boice) Yet Peter turned it around and noted that all are saved by grace alone through faith alone, Gentiles and Jews.

2. (Act 15:12) Paul and Barnabas tell of their work among the Gentiles, supporting Peter’s claim that God is doing a work among them.

Then all the multitude kept silent and listened to Barnabas and Paul declaring how many miracles and wonders God had worked through them among the Gentiles.

a. Then all the multitude kept silent and listened: This shows that even though there had been much dispute, these men were all of an honorable heart. They were willing to listen, and to be persuaded if wrong.

b. Declaring how many miracles and wonders God had worked through them among the Gentiles: Barnabas and Paul confirmed Peter’s previous point. Essentially they said, “God has accepted the Gentiles, should not we as well?”

3. (Act 15:13-21) James, the brother of Jesus, speaks to the issue, supporting what Peter and Paul had said.

And after they had become silent, James answered, saying, “Men and brethren, listen to me: Simon has declared how God at the first visited the Gentiles to take out of them a people for His name. And with this the words of the prophets agree, just as it is written: ‘After this I will return and will rebuild the tabernacle of David, which has fallen down; I will rebuild its ruins, and I will set it up; so that the rest of mankind may seek the Lord, even all the Gentiles who are called by My name, says the Lord who does all these things.’ Known to God from eternity are all His works. Therefore I judge that we should not trouble those from among the Gentiles who are turning to God, but that we write to them to abstain from things polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from things strangled, and from blood. For Moses has had throughout many generations those who preach him in every city, being read in the synagogues every Sabbath.”

a. After they had become silent: This is more evidence of the honorable hearts of the men who had opposed Paul and Barnabas. They were willing to be convinced. They didn’t endlessly argue the issue and were willing to admit they were wrong.

b. James answered, saying, “Men and brethren, listen to me.” This James was not the apostle James, whose martyrdom is recorded in Acts 12:2. This was the one traditionally known as James the Just – the half-brother of Jesus (Matthew 13:55), the brother of Jude (Jude 1), and the author of the book of James (James 1:1).

i. Bruce on the leadership of James: “The church’s readiness to recognize his leadership was due more to his personal character and record than his blood relationship with the Lord.”

ii. “Interestingly enough, James was the chairman of the council, not Peter.” (Boice)

c. God at the first visited the Gentiles to take out of them a people: James began by insisting God had a people among the Gentiles. This would amaze most religious Jews of that time.

i. The ancient Greek word for Gentiles (it could also be translated nations) is ethne. The ancient Greek word for people in this passage is laos. The Jews considered themselves a laos of God, and never among the ethne. For them ethne and laos were contrasting words. So, it was a challenge for them to hear that God at the first visited the Gentiles (ethne) to take out of them a people (laos).

ii. “The paradox inherent in the contrast between Gentiles (or nations) and people is striking, since the latter term was often used of the Jews as the people of God in contrast to the Gentiles. Now it is being urged that God’s people includes the Gentiles.” (Marshall)

d. With this the words of the prophets agree, just as it is written: James judged this new work of God by the way any work of God should be judged. James looked to what is written, to the Bible.

i. Even all the Gentiles who are called by My name: In the passage James quoted (Amos 9:11-12), it actually says that salvation will come to the Gentiles. This demonstrates that what God did among the Gentiles had a Biblical foundation.

ii. Today, many things are considered Biblical if they simply don’t contradict something in the Bible, even though they may have no root in the Scriptures. For James and the rest, an outside authority would settle this debate. The outside authority was God’s Word.

iii. “Councils have no authority in the church unless it can be shown that their conclusions are in accord with Scripture.” (Stott)

e. I will return and will rebuild the tabernacle of David, which has fallen down: When James quoted the prophecy in Amos 9:11-12 about rebuilding the fallen tabernacle of David, he remembered that the Judaism of his day had fallen down in the sense that it had rejected its Messiah. Now God wanted to rebuild that work, focusing on a church made up of both Jew and Gentile.

i. All the Gentiles who are called by My name: When God said there were Gentiles who are called by His name, He said they stay Gentiles. They were not Gentiles who had been made Jews. Therefore, Gentiles do not need to become Jews and come under the law to become right with God.

f. Therefore I judge: This phrasing implies that James had a position of high authority in the church. He was probably respected as the leader or senior pastor of the church at Jerusalem.

ii. The ancient Greek phrases it even more strongly as “I determine” or “I resolve” (Expositor’s). In addition, when the decision of James was published, it was presented as the mutual decision of all present (Acts 15:25: It seemed good to us). Clearly, James’ leadership was supported by everyone present.

iii. “The rest either argued on the subject, or gave their opinion; James alone pronounced the definitive sentence.” (Clarke)

g. We should not trouble those from among the Gentiles who are turning to God: James essentially said, “Let them alone. They are turning to God, and we should not trouble them.” At the bottom line, James decided that Peter, Barnabas, and Paul were correct, and that those of the sect of the Pharisees who believed were wrong.

i. “The Protestant Reformers wisely and insistently pointed out that councils have erred and do err. They have erred throughout history, and they continue to err today…But God blessed it nevertheless, and he has often done with the formal meetings of sinful human beings who nevertheless gather to seek God’s will in a matter.” (Boice)

h. But that we write to them to abstain from things polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from things strangled, and from blood: James’ decision that Gentile believers should not be under the Mosaic Law was also given with practical instruction. The idea was that it was important that Gentile believers did not act in a way that would offend the Jewish community in every city and destroy the church’s witness among Jews.

i. If the decision was that one did not have to be Jewish to be a Christian, it must also be said clearly that one did not need to forsake the Law of Moses to be a Christian.

i. To abstain from things polluted by idols…from things strangled, and from blood: These three commands had to do with the eating habits of Gentile Christians. Though they were not bound under the Law of Moses, they were bound under the Law of Love. The Law of Love told them, “Don’t unnecessarily antagonize your Jewish neighbors, both in and out of the church.”

j. To abstain from…sexual immorality: When James declared that they forbid the Gentile Christians to abstain from…sexual immorality, we shouldn’t think that it simply meant sex outside of marriage, which all Christians (Jew or Gentile) recognized as wrong. Instead, James told these Gentiles living in such close fellowship with the Jewish believers to observe the specific marriage regulations required by Leviticus 18, which prohibited marriages between most family relations. This was something that would offend Jews, but most Gentiles would think little of.

k. To abstain from: Gentile Christians had the “right” to eat meat sacrificed to idols, to continue their marriage practices, and to eat food without a kosher bleeding, because these were aspects of the Mosaic Law they definitely were not under. However, they were encouraged (required?) to law down their rights in these matters as a display of love to their Jewish brethren.

i. “All four of the requested abstentions related to ceremonial laws laid down in Leviticus 17 and Leviticus 18, and three of them concerned dietary matters which could inhibit Jewish-Gentile common meals.” (Stott)

4. (Act 15:22) Sending Paul, Barnabas, Judas, and Silas with news of the council’s decision.

Then it pleased the apostles and elders, with the whole church, to send chosen men of their own company to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas, namely, Judas who was also named Barsabas, and Silas, leading men among the brethren.

a. It pleased the apostles and elders, with the whole church: Much credit goes to the certain men of Acts 15:1, who allowed themselves to be convinced by the evidence from the Scriptures and by the confirmation of the Holy Spirit. They all agreed!

i. We can almost admire the certain men of Acts 15:1, because they boldly stated their convictions, even though their convictions were wrong. But even more admirable is the way they are willing to be taught and shown they are wrong. A teachable spirit is a precious thing.

b. To send chosen men of their own company to Antioch: The Jerusalem council wisely sent two members of its own community (probably Jewish Christians themselves) with Paul and Barnabas back to Antioch, the place where the whole dispute arose.

5. (Act 15:23-29) A letter of decision is drafted.

They wrote this letter by them: The apostles, the elders, and the brethren, To the brethren who are of the Gentiles in Antioch, Syria, and Cilicia: Greetings. Since we have heard that some who went out from us have troubled you with words, unsettling your souls, saying, “You must be circumcised and keep the law”; to whom we gave no such commandment; it seemed good to us, being assembled with one accord, to send chosen men to you with our beloved Barnabas and Paul, men who have risked their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. We have therefore sent Judas and Silas, who will also report the same things by word of mouth. For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things: that you abstain from things offered to idols, from blood, from things strangled, and from sexual immorality. If you keep yourselves from these, you will do well. Farewell.

a. They wrote this letter by them: The letter gives the express decision of the Jerusalem council, that Gentiles should consider themselves under no obligation to the rituals of Judaism, except the sensitivity which love demands, so as to preserve the fellowship of Jewish and Gentile believers.

b. To the brethren who are of the Gentiles in Antioch, Syria, and Cilicia: This letter was written specifically to these churches where Jews and Gentiles mixed together with the potential of tension and conflict. It was not addressed to every Gentile congregation.

c. For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit, and to us: James voiced the decision of the council (Acts 15:19), but the unity behind the decision was one of several evidences that it was the work of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit spoke through James and confirmed it through others.

i. So much so that they could really say that the decision was made in cooperation with the Holy Spirit – it seemed good to the Holy Spirit, and to us. “They boldly treat the Holy Spirit as one of their number – a fellow-counselor, who unites with them in the announcement of a joint conclusion; as though he, the Spirit of God, had sat with them in their deliberations.” (Pierson)

d. Farewell: Therefore, the issue is settled here in the infancy of Christianity, and for all time: We are saved by grace, through faith in Jesus Christ, not by any conformity to the law, and such obedience comes as a result of true faith, after the issue of salvation has been settled.

i. “Here is a lesson for all ages on the true character of church councils. What we call a ‘court of Jesus Christ’ has too often been more like an assembly of unbelievers, if not like a ‘synagogue of Satan.’” (Pierson)

C. Paul and Barnabas return to Antioch.

1. (Act 15:30-31) A joyful reception among the Gentile Christians at the church of Antioch.

So when they were sent off, they came to Antioch; and when they had gathered the multitude together, they delivered the letter. When they had read it, they rejoiced over its encouragement.

a. When they had gathered the multitude together, they delivered the letter: We can imagine how these Gentile Christians felt, wondering how the decision might come forth. Would the council in Jerusalem decide that they really were not saved after all because they had not submitted to circumcision and the Law of Moses?

b. When they had read it, they rejoiced over its encouragement: How relieved they were to see that the principle of grace had been preserved! They heard that they were saved and right with God after all.

2. (Act 15:32-35) The work of the gospel continues in Antioch.

Now Judas and Silas, themselves being prophets also, exhorted and strengthened the brethren with many words. And after they had stayed there for a time, they were sent back with greetings from the brethren to the apostles. However, it seemed good to Silas to remain there. Paul and Barnabas also remained in Antioch, teaching and preaching the word of the Lord, with many others also.

a. Judas and Silas: These two served well in Antioch as visiting ministers from Jerusalem. Then Judas returned, leaving Silas in Antioch for future ministry.

b. Teaching and preaching the word of the Lord, with many others also: The certain men who had come from Judea to Antioch (Acts 15:1) had the potential to ruin the work of God in Antioch and beyond. But because the situation was handled correctly, the brethren were strengthened and the word of God continued to go forth.

D. The contention over John Mark.

1. (Act 15:36) Paul suggests that he and Barnabas return to all the cities where they planted churches in the first missionary trip.

Then after some days Paul said to Barnabas, “Let us now go back and visit our brethren in every city where we have preached the word of the Lord, and see how they are doing.”

a. Let us now go back and visit our brethren: Paul did much pioneer evangelism, where he preached in places where there was yet no Christian community. Yet, he also understood the importance of strengthening and encouraging those who were already Christians. That was the initial motivation for this second missionary venture.

i. Paul had the heart of both an obstetrician (bringing people into the body of Christ) and a pediatrician (growing people up in the body of Christ).

b. And see how they are doing: This shows Paul had a real pastor’s heart. He was not content to merely plant churches without seeing them carefully nurtured and growing in the faith.

2. (Act 15:37-41) Paul and Barnabas divide over the issue of taking John Mark with them.

Now Barnabas was determined to take with them John called Mark. But Paul insisted that they should not take with them the one who had departed from them in Pamphylia, and had not gone with them to the work. Then the contention became so sharp that they parted from one another. And so Barnabas took Mark and sailed to Cyprus; but Paul chose Silas and departed, being commended by the brethren to the grace of God. And he went through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches.

a. John called Mark: John Mark had previously left the missionary party under what seemed to be less than honorable circumstances (Acts 13:13). This probably made Paul unwilling to trust him on future endeavors.

b. Barnabas was determined…But Paul insisted: Luke did not give us a clue as to who was right and who was wrong in the dispute between Paul and Barnabas. But it is never good when personal disputes flare up among those serving in the ministry.

i. Then the contention became so sharp: Wherever there is sharp…contention, someone is wrong, and usually there is wrong on both sides. There could be no way that both Paul and Barnabas were each walking in the Spirit on this issue.

ii. Earlier in this chapter there was dispute and no small dissension (Acts 15:2) and much dispute (Acts 15:7) over an important doctrinal matter. Here the sharp contention seemed less important and more personal.

iii. The relationship between Paul and Barnabas was probably also strained when Barnabas sided with the Judaizers in Antioch when Peter came to visit (Galatians 2:13).

c. Barnabas took Mark and sailed to Cyprus: Since Barnabas was John Mark’s cousin (Colossians 4:10), and because Barnabas had such an encouraging, accepting character (Acts 4:36, 9:26-27), it is easy to see why he would be more understanding towards John Mark.

d. They parted from one another: So, Paul (accompanied by Silas) and Barnabas (accompanied by Mark) split, each going out to different fields of ministry.

i. It is hard to know if their personal relationship was strained for a prolonged period. As Christians, we are commanded to resolve relationship problems with others before we present ministry to God (Matthew 5:23-24). It is always wrong to step over people in the name of ministry, and when it happens it must be made right.

ii. There is no doubt God used this division; but this can never be casually used as an excuse for carnal division. God can redeem good out of evil, yet we are all held accountable for the evil we do, even if God ends up bringing good out of the evil. Either Paul or Barnabas – probably both – had to get this right with God and each other.

iii. “But this example of God’s providence may not be used as an excuse for Christian quarreling.” (Stott)

iv. Later, Paul came to minister with John Mark and to value his contributions to the work of God (Colossians 4:10; Philemon 1:24; 2 Timothy 4:11). We don’t know if it was Mark who changed or Paul who changed. Probably God had a work to do in both of them!

e. Paul chose Silas: Silas (also called Silvanus in several passages) became an important part of Paul’s team in doing the work of the ministry.

· Silas was recognized as one of the leading men among the brethren (Acts 15:22)
· Silas was a prophet (Acts 15:32)
· Silas was a Roman citizen (Acts 16:37)
· Silas probably spoke Greek (comparing Acts 15:22 and 15:32)
· Silas wrote out some one of Peter’s letters (1 Peter 5:12) and maybe some of Paul’s (1 Thessalonians 1:1; 2 Thessalonians 2:1)

f. Strengthening the churches: This was Paul’s work, in addition to evangelism. New Christians needed strong churches to grow and mature in.

© 2012 David Guzik – No distribution beyond personal use without permission
[A previous revision of this page can be found here]

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