saved even though
they did not obey every part of the Law of Moses. Paul and Barnabas were anxious. What if the Gentile Christians became discouraged and turned away from the gospel?
God had given Moses certain rules for the Israelites, or Jews. The Gentiles had never kept this law. Many of them did not even know
its teachings. Keeping these rules did not save the people, but it did
separate the people who worshiped God from those who worshiped
idols. The Law of Moses had prepared the hearts of the Jews to receive the Messiah.
Paul and Barnabas had worked among many Gentile Christians. They had seen these people receive the Holy Spirit just as the
Jewish Christians had. Paul and Barnabas told the men from Jerusalem,
"You are mistaken. The Gentiles are saved without keeping Moses' law."
This was a serious problem. The Christian church could be torn in pieces by arguing about it. Finally the church at Antioch decided
that Paul and Barnabas should take some of their teachers and talk this matter over with the apostles in Jerusalem.
So the group started out. On their way, they visited other churches and Paul and Barnabas reported about their missionary trip and how
the Gentiles had accepted the gospel. Everywhere the disciples rejoiced that the gospel was being spread.
When the group from Antioch arrived in Jerusalem, the apostles and the leaders met to talk over the serious problem that had come
up. Men who had been strict Pharisees before they believed in Jesus
said, "The Gentiles must keep the Law of Moses." They did not realize that Jesus' teachings help people to live pure and holy lives even when the people know nothing about the Law of Moses.
There was much tension and arguing about this matter. Peter rose to his feet and said, "Men and brethren, you know that some time ago I preached to the Gentiles and they believed. God gave them the Holy Spirit just as he gave it to us. He did not put any
difference between us and them. Why should we set up a barrier? All of us believe that we are saved through the Lord Jesus Christ."
Everyone was quiet. Barnabas and Paul told about the miracles and wonders God did among the Gentiles on their missionary trip. Finally James said, "Men and brethren,
we should not trouble the Gentile believers to do things the same way we do them. Instead we should warn them to keep away from idols and sin."
And everyone agreed with James. The Jerusalem church wrote a letter to the church at Antioch and sent it with Paul and Barnabas. They sent two of their own preachers, too, to visit the Antioch church.
Many eager people greeted those who came from Jerusalem. They listened carefully as the letter from the apostles was read. They
rejoiced when they heard that they would not be expected to live like Jews in order to please God.
And the church at Antioch
continued to worship God and obey the teachings of the gospel.
Judas and Silas, the men who had come from Jerusalem with Paul and Barnabas, preached to the people and urged them to be
faithful to Jesus Christ. After several days Judas returned to
Jerusalem, but Silas stayed on with the church at Antioch.