While Paul and Barnabas were at Antioch of Syria, some men from Judea arrived and began to teach the believers: "Unless you are circumcised as required by the law of Moses, you cannot be saved." Paul and Barnabas disagreed with them, arguing vehemently. Finally, the church decided to send Paul and Barnabas to Jerusalem, accompanied by some local believers, to talk to the apostles and elders about this question. The church sent the delegates to Jerusalem, and they stopped along the way in Phoenicia and Samaria to visit the believers. They told them — much to everyone's joy — that the Gentiles, too, were being converted.
— Acts 15:1-3 NLT
Luke's first sentence in today's reading alerts us to a huge issue that was about to explode across the family of God all over the Mediterranean world. Two of Paul's most famous letters, Romans and Galatians, spoke to this issue. This 15th chapter in Acts tells of the critical meeting focused on this issue. What was "this issue"? Did Gentile believers have to follow Jewish religious teaching and customs before they could be fully accepted as Christians? Did Gentile men have to be circumcised and do Gentile believers have to eat kosher for Jewish and Gentile Christians to be in full fellowship? Outside of Jerusalem, the center of all things Jewish, disciples were thrilled that Gentiles were coming to Christ. The rest of this chapter helps us see how the Jewish world and the church leadership in Jerusalem reacted with Christianity becoming more and more made up of Gentiles. Today, I believe it is enough for you and me to rejoice that the church had this problem — a problem of having many new believers from a culture different from the mother church in Jerusalem. Let's pray for a fresh surge in new believers from other cultures in our day!
O Father, please pour out the Holy Spirit in a fresh way and bring a surge of new believers — believers from every nation, tribe, people, and language — into your church in our day. Open our hearts to reach out to the nations as Jesus asked us to do and open our congregations to receive them as brothers and sisters in Christ. I ask this in Jesus' name and for his glory. Amen.
Related Scripture Readings
- Luke 24:44-49; Revelation 7:9-12
- Galatians 3:26-4:4
Other Devotionals from Heartlight for Monday, August 7, 2023
About This Devotional
Unstoppable! is a one-year devotional guide through the book of Acts. Each devotional consists of a scripture passage, a reflection and a prayer. The reflection opens up the day's scripture and shows how it challenges one to live for Jesus.
Unstoppable! is written by Phil Ware.
Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996, 2004, 2007, 2013, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.