Saturday 28 May 2011

Bible Book:

"As they went from town to town, they delivered to them for observance the decisions that had been reached by the apostles and elders who were in Jerusalem." (v. 4)

Acts 16:1-10 Saturday 28 May 2011


Today's passage from Acts can be troublesome. The previous chapter has outlined the debate ofthe Council in Jerusalem about the question of the need forcircumcision in order for gentiles to be part of the faithcommunity. The Council made a clear ruling that such a barrier isunnecessary and sent Paul, Barnabas, Judas and Silas with a letterto the various churches to share this news. Paul and Barnabas havefallen out and now Paul travels with Silas and continues this work.So having witnessed a wise and careful settling of this divisivematter and seen good leadership that ensures Church unity, Paul andhis companions argue and part company. So quickly do humanrelationships founder!

To add to the complexity of the passage, we are introduced toTimothy - son of a Christian Jewish woman and a Greek father. Paulis impressed by the young man and wants to take him on his travels.He then takes an extraordinary decision - he has Timothycircumcised, the passage again emphasising his Greek father. Howstrange that he should do this at the same time as carrying theletter from the Council setting out how unnecessary this was - whatwould prompt such an odd action? Was Paul not entirely comfortablewith the Council's decision? It seems unlikely that they would haveentrusted him with the task of taking the letter and also he hadbeen one who had argued against the need for circumcision. So wasit a pragmatic decision, Paul believing that Timothy would only betaken seriously by those who had a strong Jewish faith within theChristian community? It is difficult to understand theseconflicting threads. What is clear is that in their journeytogether Paul and Timothy were guided by the Holy Spirit, to thepoint where Paul receives a vision that he is needed in Macedonia,and so that is where they head next on their missionaryadventure.

To Ponder

How do you respond if the Church makes a decisionyou disagree with?

Is it possible to know when God's Spirit isprompting you to choose a particular direction? Can you remember atime when you have been convinced that God is leading you? Whathappened?

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