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New Churches, New Leaders

Acts 14:23-25

Paul's first missionary journey started with Barnabas taking the lead and 'showing him the ropes' in Cyprus: it ended with Paul leading the team, and through his powerful preaching many were saved. Despite experiencing opposition and almost being stoned to death, Paul and Barnabas went back to those cities to encourage the new believers, disciple them and establish churches.

Reporting Back

Acts 14:26-28

When Paul and Barnabas were commissioned to be missionaries, neither they nor the church in Antioch (in Syria) had any idea of the opportunities and challenges they would encounter. They travelled through Cyprus from east to west and then preached in at least five major cities in what is now central southern Turkey.

Dealing With False Teaching

Acts 15:1-4

The repeating theme of Paul's first missionary journey with Barnabas was that the gospel caused controversy (Acts 14:1-7).

God Chooses But Does Not Discriminate

Acts 15:5-11

The church in Jerusalem warmly welcomed Paul and Barnabas and invited them to speak about the first missionary journey in church history. As they told about the way God had opened the hearts of Jews and Gentiles, many in Jerusalem were glad. But some, who had previously been legalistic Pharisees, disagreed.

Listen In Silence To Discern The Truth

Acts 15:12-18

It was a big moment for the Christian church. Should all believers in Jesus become Jews and submit to those religious rules, or can they retain their national and ethnic identity and still be full members of the church? Paul and Barnabas, and Peter, had all experienced how Gentiles had received the Holy Spirit when they believed the gospel.

Do Not Make It Difficult For People To Turn To God

Acts 15:19-21

James was summing up all the evidence. Peter, Paul and Barnabas had all seen Gentiles turning to God in repentance and faith as they heard the gospel of Jesus. But legalistic believers, who had previously been legalistic Pharisees, demanded that the new Christians should be circumcised as Jews and obey their religious rules. They were making it more difficult for people to be saved, imposing layers or regulations on top of the grace of God.

Deciding What Doctrine Is Right

Acts 15:22-24

In one way, the Council meeting in Jerusalem should not have happened. Misguided Christian activists had travelled from Jerusalem to Antioch. They contradicted Paul's teaching that the Gentiles could be full followers of Jesus without having to become Jews as well. Their false teaching could have derailed future gospel ministry as well as unsettling the new believers in Antioch. Although Paul and Barnabas contended with the activists over the truth of the gospel, they would not accept it.

Honouring Christ's Servants And Gospel

Acts 15:25-29

The Council in Jerusalem had agreed that Gentiles did not have to become Jews in order to be saved and receive the Holy Spirit. Previously, religious activists went to Antioch on their own authority to contradict Paul and Barnabas (Acts 15:1-2).

Encouraged To Keep Going In The Truth

Acts 15:30-35

The apostles in Jerusalem had agreed that nothing should prevent Gentiles coming to faith in Jesus: they did not need to follow the Jewish law in order to be saved. They sent a letter with their conclusions 'down' to Antioch. That letter came as a huge relief to the believers. They had been unsettled by self-appointed but misguided Christians, denying the teaching of Paul and Barnabas that God's grace is for everybody who trusts in Jesus.

Needing More Courage

Acts 15:36-38

Paul and Barnabas had already experience much violent opposition during their first missionary journey (Acts 13:6;