Now that the Jerusalem counsel united the Apostles and a letter is in the hands of Judas (not the son of Simon Iscariot) and Silas, “they were sent off to…Antioch (253 miles), and having gathered the congregation together, they delivered the letter. [They] encouraged and strengthened the brothers with many words” (Acts 15:30, 32). This is what confirmation in the gospel of grace does!
Paul is concerned about those young churches that he and Barnabas planted just over a year and a half ago. They must not be adversely affected by false teachers who would bring them “again into a yoke of slavery” (Galatians 5:1). Without email or cell phones, there was only one way to make sure they continued to be established in the glorious gospel of grace. “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” (Acts 15:36).
Though Paul ended up taking Silas with him, let us not get distracted by the disagreement between Paul and Barnabas over John called Mark. The importance of this return trip is confirmed by Paul writing his first letter to those four Gentile churches in Galatia. It would arrive ahead of him and Silas so they would have a double reminder of the gospel they heard and received.
“BE ALERT” is Paul’s warning to leaders in the church (20:31). I am very concerned about small and seductive deviations from the pure gospel that have crept into the church today. On the surface, they seem innocent, but we need discerning minds and hearts to detect how they will undermine the gospel and eventually lead the flock into weakness and bondage.
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