Second Missionary Journey
Series: Pauline Letters
Who will Go?
Acts 14:27 ESV
Acts 15:1-35 (Jerusalem Council)
Acts 15:36-38 ESV
Acts 15:39-41 ESV
Galatians 2:16 ESV
When I was young first starting out in ministry I thought it was going to be easy. I imagined life would be sunshine and roses. I’d been part of a church growing up and except for a few hiccups, it seemed pretty easy and straight forward. I thought ministry would be a wonderful blessing.
Our first church was a wonderful blessing. While there were hardships, we faced them together. Everyone had a place where they served. It was a very small congregation but oh how they loved one another. When there was a problem they all worked it out together.
Then we were called to move to a larger church. The church was in a small town but it was a well established congregation. It was founded in the 1830’s. We moved there over 150 years later. Most of the people in the congregation grew up there and they’d been part of the church since they were small.
They had well established rules and norms. Everyone in the congregation knew those rules. We did not know the unwritten rules. And so it began.
We were on a learning curve.
Even though we didn’t know the unwritten rules, they were well established.
When Paul and Barnabas started out on their First Missionary Journey there weren’t any rules or norms.
Churches and congregations were not established. There were no seasoned believers. There were no deacons. There was no church structure.
There were people. The two groups of people were Jews and Gentiles.
When Paul and Barnabas hit town they started meeting people. There were Jewish Synagogues but there were no established places of worship for the people of the Way (Christians).
And so their work began.
In Acts 14:27 we learn when Paul and Barnabas were at the end of their first journey they were in Antioch and “when they arrived and gathered the church together, they declared all that God had done with them, and how he had opened a door of faith to the Gentiles.”
As Acts 15:1-35 opens we are told there was a dispute about circumcision as it relates to salvation. At the Jerusalem Council the leaders discussed the matter and according to the words of Jesus and Old Testament scriptures they found common ground. That began a structure that we’ll call ‘norms’ for the new congregations.
In Acts 15:36-38 we are told that, “after some days Paul said to Barnabas, “Let us return and visit the brothers in every city where we proclaimed the word of the Lord, and see how they are.” Now Barnabas wanted to take with them John called Mark. But Paul thought best not to take with them one who had withdrawn from them in Pamphylia and had not gone with them to the work.”
Paul and Barnabas wanted to continue going out to tell the story of Jesus, but they did not agree on who should go. Paul wanted to go with Barnabas but Barnabas wanted to go with John Mark (who was Barnabas’ nephew) and Paul.
In Acts 15:39-41 we learn, “And there arose a sharp disagreement, so that they separated from each other. Barnabas took Mark with him and sailed away to Cyprus, but Paul chose Silas and departed, having been commended by the brothers to the grace of the Lord. And he went through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches.”
We see another structural change. When Paul and Barnabas disagreed they decided to go their separate ways on different journeys. Paul went off with Silas and Barnabas went with John Mark.
As a result of their disagreement, two different groups formed and went in different directions. In hindsight, we can see that as a very good thing that happened. Paul had the experience of the first journey and he teamed up with Silas. Barnabas had the experience of the first journey and he teamed up with John Mark.
I can imagine God smiling in heaven saying, ‘call it good, for NOW we have two strong teams going out with the message.’
The question of circumcision wasn’t the only difficult issue the early Christian faced. Many other questions would arise and through prayer and sometimes fasting the early Christians struggled and came to establish ‘norms’ for the early church.
Not having structure would have made it very difficult for the early church and they had NO structure.
They had no history to fall back on.
Unlike the early churches where we served, they had to pray and struggle to establish a structure and a history.
Even though the modern day believers and churches still struggle when situations arise, they have the benefit of structure and history.
More than that, we have the New Testament writings which include Paul’s words written to the churches.
And the question of circumcised or uncircumcised by works or by faith in Jesus was addressed by Paul in his letter to the church at Galatia. In Galatians 2:16 he wrote, “we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified.”
Through their early journeys they struggled and passed down that history to believers in the church today.
Because of their struggle, we have a history.
Spiritual Practice: Justified By Faith
Today know you are not justified by your works. Rather you have been made right with God through faith in Jesus.
In God, Deborah