Sunday, December 24, 2023

942. "Hey Paul, Issue a Retraction About Your Teaching" (Signed, the Jerusalem Church)

We're nearing the conclusion of our series on the challenging time of transition after the resurrection related to Gentile controversies from the book of Acts. Taking a look at Acts 21, where Paul went to Jerusalem to address some issues head-on ... knowing he may end up suffering or even facing death. This would have been about a decade after the heated debate centered around Gentiles back in Acts 15 with other apostles and elders. This time, he met with James and the leadership council from the "church headquarters" in the city. Paul was eager to share what God was doing among the Gentiles and they all rejoiced. But there was still a barrier causing a division or separation between Jews and Gentiles. That barrier of hostility was connected to the law of Moses which was still being embraced among the church leadership and their community.

Many Jewish people were also coming to believe in a risen Jesus, but remained zealous or fervent for the Mosaic law ... a law that Paul had been teaching was abolished and a ministry of death and condemnation from which Jews had been fully redeemed. These newer believers who were passionate for the law were unhappy to hear Paul was proclaiming these things and some wanted death for him. During this private meeting, those who were present from the Jerusalem church attempted to convince Paul that he should squash the rumors of his teachings, denouncing them as empty hearsay, and declare he also was zealous for the law and traditions of Moses ... while participating in an old covenant cleansing ceremony. But ultimately, Paul would not compromise his message, as he would escape death for a period of time and primarily spend the rest of his days as a prisoner ministering a gospel of grace apart from works.

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