Paul continues to teach people who are not *Jews
Paul had begun to explain Godís good news to people who were not *Jews. Paul taught them the same things that he taught to *Jews. So he taught them that Jesus had died for them too.
Paul and Barnabas returned to Antioch. And there, they continued to work with people who were not *Jews. They believed that God wanted them to do that. But then some men came from Jerusalem. They said that they were teachers in the church there. But they did not agree with Paul and Barnabas.
The rules that the teachers taught
The men (from Jerusalem) began to teach in Antioch. They spoke to the people who were not *Jews. They told those people that they must obey the *Jewish rules. If they did not do that, God would not save them (Acts 15:1). That is what they taught.
The most important rule was that the men must let someone *circumcise them. This happens when someone cuts a little skin from the manís body. (They cut it from the part of the body that only males have.) The *Jews do this because of the promises that God made to Abraham (Genesis chapter 17). A man who accepts this mark in his body becomes like a *Jew.
The Christians in Jerusalem were all *Jews. So the males among them had already received this mark. And Paul was a *Jew too. He did not think that it was wrong to *circumcise someone (Acts 16:3).
But Paul could see that there was something wrong about these new teachers. The *Jewish rules seemed more important to them than Jesus did. The teachers did not only want to *circumcise the men who were not *Jews. The teachers wanted them to obey all the *Jewish rules.
Paul and Barnabas go to Jerusalem
Paul saw that this was not Godís good news. So he and Barnabas went to Jerusalem. They did not do the things that those wrong teachers were doing in Antioch. Paul and Barnabas did not try to teach their own ideas to all the Christians. Instead, they spoke only to the people who seemed to be leaders. Acts chapter 15 also describes this meeting.
Paul meets the churchís leaders in Jerusalem
Paul speaks about the people who Ďseemedí to be leaders. The church in Jerusalem was not like other churches. Many people taught there. When any Christian leader went to Jerusalem, the Christians asked him to teach there. That leader might stay there for a week, a month or a year. And during that time, he would continue to teach.
So it was not easy to know who the leaders really were. But there was James, who was a brother of Jesus. And there were Peter (also called Cephas) and John. Peter and John had been Jesusí disciples (special students). These three men met Paul and Barnabas. And other leaders were present too. These men knew God; and they knew the Bible. They would know if Paul and Barnabas were wrong.
Paul told the leaders about the things that he and Barnabas had done. He explained what they were teaching. And he told them about the people who were not *Jews.
And the leaders agreed with everything that Paul said. Paul was teaching the same things that Peter was teaching. God had sent them both. God sent Peter to the *Jews. And God sent Paul to people who were not *Jews. This was right and proper.
The letter from the leaders
The leaders wrote a letter to help Paul. You can read that letter in Acts 15:23-29. The leaders also asked Paul to help them. Many Christians in Judea were very poor. When Paul travelled, he should ask Christians to give some money for them. Paul had already done this (Acts 11:30). And he continued to do it (1 Corinthians 16:1-4).
So, people who were not *Jews could become Christians. Their men did not need anyone to *circumcise them. Godís good news is the same, whether people are *Jews or not.
See the word list for explanation of words with a *
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© 2015, Keith Simons.