Paul and Barnabas have just come back from the first missionary journey to their sending church in Antioch, reporting all that the Lord had one through them in opening a door to the Gentiles (non-Jews). They are barely home when a group of Pharisees who had been converted to Christ (from Judea) arrives to demand that, just as they had been, these new believers MUST be circumcised. The issue is more sensitive and critical than we think. If this way of thinking goes unchecked, the apostles are convinced that the gospel itself is in jeopardy. How do we give up our comfort and what seems best to us, for the sake of another who has come to Christ? They decided "no," the Gentiles do not have to be circumcised. BUT then Paul, in the beginning of the very next chapter 16, requires of his Gentile traveling companion Timothy that he be circumcised. What is going on here? What does Luke want us to "catch" about what is essential for the believer and how would it change every church if we really understood it? 10:00 am May 16!
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