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Acts 15:36 - 16:5

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Last week after you guys went upstairs we discussed how relived the new Christians in Antioch were that they did not have to give up their way of life to love Jesus. Some people had come from Jerusalem to tell them that just believing in Jesus was not enough, that there were a bunch of rules they had to follow as well.
Is that true? Is that what the Bible teaches?
No, you are right the Bible teaches that Jesus is enough. But, to love someone and trust in them to save you will change your behavior right? If you said you loved your Mom, but never spoke to her, said bad things about her to everyone you met, and refused to follow her example are you being a true son or daughter?
No, right.
Now for the crazy part, even though you are acting in all these bad ways you are still your Mom’s son or daughter, that did not change. What did change was you are giving up all the benefits of that relationship, the love, the hugs, the advice, the gifts. Every good thing your Mom wants to give you but can’t b/c you are running away from her.
If we say we love Jesus we should be in relationship with Him, talk to Him (pray), read His book on how He wants us to live. Try our best, Jesus knows we are going to mess up, but just like your Mom her is ready and willing to forgive you. And every time you realize you need to turn back to Him, he will be waiting to receive you and give you all those good things.


We are still in Antioch, right before Paul will set off on his 2nd Missionary journey. This is taking place around 50 AD. Paul will complete a total of 3 missionary trips before being executed in Rome sometime around 64 AD.



Paul and Barnabas Separate

36 And 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.” 37 Now Barnabas wanted to take with them John called Mark. 38 But Paul thought best not to take with them one who had withdrawn from them in Pamphylia and had not gone with them to the work. 39 And there arose a sharp disagreement, so that they separated from each other. Barnabas took Mark with him and sailed away to Cyprus, 40 but Paul chose Silas and departed, having been commended by the brothers to the grace of the Lord. 41 And he went through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches.

This is an awkward passage, but I think it should give us further confidence in the veracity of the account. N.T. Wright puts it this way:
Acts for Everyone, Part 2: Chapters 13–28 A Huge Row (Acts 15:36–41)

In fact, if anyone suggests that Luke, writing this book, is trying to whitewash early church history, or make out that the apostles were fledged angels, they should think again. This is a shameful episode, and the fact that it stands in scripture should not make us afraid to say so. On the contrary, its scriptural status should be interpreted as a sign that the Bible itself is warning us against allowing such a thing to happen.

“Sharp disagreement” is the greek word paroxysmos where we get the word par·ox·ysm /ˈperəkˌsizəm/ a sudden attack or violent expression of a particular emotion or activity. "a paroxysm of weeping". It carries overtones of severely heightened emotions, red and distorted faces, loud voices, things said that were better left unsaid. A sorry sight.
So what’s the big deal. Well to channel Paul for a minute, John Mark had not even made it to the proverbial 1st base in the Turkish leg of the 1st trip. What happens if they encounter hardship in the interior, where he cannot hop a ship home, Paul know he must have trustworthy people around him just think of how he speaks about Timothy (who we are about to meet) in his letter to the Philippians.
noun a sudden attack or violent expression of a particular emotion or activity. "a paroxysm of weeping"
Wright, T. (2008). Acts for Everyone, Part 2: Chapters 13-28 (p. 53). London: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge.

Timothy and Epaphroditus

19 I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you soon, so that I too may be cheered by news of you. 20 For I have no one like him, who will be genuinely concerned for your welfare. 21 For they all seek their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ. 22 But you know Timothy’s proven worth, how as a son with a father he has served with me in the gospel. 23 I hope therefore to send him just as soon as I see how it will go with me, 24 and I trust in the Lord that shortly I myself will come also.

Acts for Everyone, Part 2: Chapters 13–28 A Huge Row (Acts 15:36–41)

At the same time, Barnabas—the ‘son of encouragement’, living up to his name as usual—could no doubt see that John Mark was only a youngster and that he’d simply panicked on the previous trip. He had probably now had a chance to settle down, and needed another opportunity to show he was up to it this time. I’d be prepared to bet that Barnabas had spent a quiet hour or two with John Mark during the visit to Jerusalem. They were after all cousins, according to Colossians 4:10

Timothy Joins Paul and Silas

16 Paul came also to Derbe and to Lystra. A disciple was there, named Timothy, the son of a Jewish woman who was a believer, but his father was a Greek. 2 He was well spoken of by the brothers at Lystra and Iconium. 3 Paul wanted Timothy to accompany him, and he took him and circumcised him because of the Jews who were in those places, for they all knew that his father was a Greek. what? Didn’t Paul just spend two months traveling back and forth to Jerusalem to address this very issue. What’s with the rank hypocrisy?
Paul’s missionary methods, as we have seen, were to go in the first place, whenever he got to a new town, to the Jewish synagogue. That meant that he and his companions would have to be acceptable as fully-fledged Jews—not ‘acceptable’ in the sense of being ‘acceptable to God’, but able to move freely among the Jewish community without putting up the wrong kind of barrier at the wrong moment.

16:3 circumcised him. Although Paul adamantly resists the imposition of circumcision on Gentiles such as Titus (Gal. 2:3), Timothy’s status as the offspring of a covenantally mixed marriage (v. 1) would be questionable in the eyes of the Jewish community. Rather than risking a hindrance to Timothy’s ministry among those who might regard him as an uncircumcised Jew, Paul removes that obstacle (see 1 Cor. 9:19–23; 10:32, 33).

We had a discussion last week or a couple of weeks ago, as do why circumcision would present an issue. I mean presumably everyone is walking around fully clothed.
The answer as it turns out is public baths. I think someone mentioned this maybe Scott. But it was an essential part of the culture.
The Talmud declared it forbidden for a scholar to reside in a city which did not contain a public bath (Sanh. 17b). Rome was said to contain 3,000 public baths (Meg. 68) and despite the animosity to the Romans they were praised by the rabbis for constructing baths in Palestine (Shab. 33b). It is related that Rabban Gamaliel utilized the Bath of Aphrodite in Acre although the image of the idol adorned the bath (Av. Zar. 3:4). Originally the baths were communal institutions (Ned. 5:5). Afterward, smaller baths were also built by private individuals (BB 1:6; 10:7) and competition between them to attract customers was permitted (BB 21b). The bath attendants received checks or tokens from intending patrons so they would know in advance how many to expect and what preparations to make (BM 47b and Rashi ad loc.). The larger baths contained separate areas for bathing in lukewarm water, hot water, and steam baths (Shab. 40a). On entering the bathhouse, the rabbis ordained the following prayer: "May it be Thy will, O Lord, my God, to deliver me from the flames of the fire and the heat of the water, and to protect me from a cave-in." Upon leaving, the individual recited, "I thank Thee, O Lord, my God, for having delivered me from the fire" (TJ, Ber. 9:6, 14b; cf. Ber. 60a). Hillel the Elder told his disciples that he considered bathing in the communal bathhouse a religious duty for just as the custodians scour and wash the statues of the kings, likewise must man, created in God's image and likeness, do to his body (Lev. R. 34:3). - Jewish Virtual Library
Allowed to address the congregation
Consider what Paul says in 1 Corr the 19th chapter

19 For though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them. 20 To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though not being myself under the law) that I might win those under the law. 21 To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (not being outside the law of God but under the law of Christ) that I might win those outside the law. 22 To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some. 23 I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings.

Paul wants his ministry team to not be the issue, to present no barriers. And in order to accomplish this, he and his team are placing burdens on themselves.
The other view scholars take on this issue, is born out in an incident we will see with Titus. The circumcision party (what a terrible name for a group) insisted that Titus be circu

4 As they went on their way through the cities, they delivered to them for observance the decisions that had been reached by the apostles and elders who were in Jerusalem. 5 So the churches were strengthened in the faith, and they increased in numbers daily.

Wright, T. (2008). Acts for Everyone, Part 2: Chapters 13-28 (p. 57). London: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge.


So as we are wrapping up this part of the story let’s step back and try to see the whole picture. Paul and Barnabas have been called to serve in a cross cultural context in a gentile church far from home. From this church they are called to undertake a dangerous journey into Asia Minor to spread the Gospel and plant churches. After they return home their church is under attack from outsiders trying to add to the Gospel. Paul and Barnabas are so protective of their congregation that they travel for over two months to ensure no additional burdens are laid upon them that might cause even one to fall away. And the next thing we are told is Paul wants to load up and head back out to check on the congregations they just planted. Even the shameful disagreement is at it’s core about putting together the best team to serve the churches or on Barnabas’ side about discipling and restoring Mark.
What none of the story is about is Paul or Barnabas, they having recieved the gift of salvation are sold out to the mission of bringing this message to the world. It’s like a parable Jesus tells in Matthew
The Parable of the Hidden Treasure
44 “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.
Imagine you are walking through a house for sale it is completely empty except a couple of old chests in the attic. You see in one the "Salvator Mundi," a 600-year-old painting by Leonardo da Vinci, had just sold for $450 million. It was the most expensive painting ever sold at auction.Nov 17, 2017. You casually ask, does everything come with the house, yes you can everything, or I can take it to the dump (remove moral conundrum). You would look crazy liquidating everything you have to buy a house on the spur of the moment. But your not crazy, what does it matter you are about to be worth half a billion dollars.
This is exactly how Paul and Barnabas, and Timothy, Silas, and Mark feel about the Gospel. We have found eternal life with God forever, what wouldn’t we give up to pursue that, to live the way He has asked us to live. It is more important that whether or not we get a good price for our couch we are about to be rich. To them they are adopted sons of the creator of the universe and their Father after giving them an inheritance of a perfect eternity has instructed them to grow the family.
So that’s our model
Treasure (rich young ruler)
Greatest treasure ever the Gospel
So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, ...
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