TOPIC PROBLEM SOLVING IN THE EARLY CHURCH II: Antioch
TEXT Act 15:1-33; Gal 1:7-12 and 2:3-16;
MEMORY VERSE Act 4:12
The Church in Antioch was first faced with a difficult doctrinal problem. Is Christianity subject to Messianic Israelite Nation, or is Judaism subject to Messianic Universal Church? Paul and Barnabas insisted Judaism is subject to Christianity. Should admission of believers into the Church be by circumcision and baptism (as the Law and the Rabbis instituted for those proselytised into Judaism) or by baptism alone as Christ has instituted for the Church and the Holy Spirit had confirmed? (Act 15:7-11). Paul and Silas insisted on Baptism alone for both Jewish and Gentile believers alike. The General Council of Apostles and Elders agreed with Paul and Barnabas. People are free to belong to Jews Israel which is national but this is not the same as being in the Christians Church (a special people after Christ’s Name Act 11:26; 15:14) which is universally open to both Jews and Gentiles alike (Act 15:13-21).
The Church in Antioch was also faced with leadership team problem. Between Paul and Barnabas who had the leading authority to constitute the team for the Second Missionary Journey? If by age in the Faith and the call to the First Missionary Journey, Barnabas should lead (Act 13:2), but by being initiator and by call to the Second Missionary Journey, Paul should lead (Act 15:36). This was tested by the choice of Mark (Barnabas’s cousin Col 4:10) and Silas (a leader from Jerusalem Act 15:22) as members of the Mission Team. Both were strongly convinced of their own leadership primacy and direction each was led to, so two separate mission teams instead of one were sent forth.
1. What could the Church of today learn from:
(i) measures taken to resolve this doctrinal problem?
(ii) dependence of the leaders on the Holy Spirit and Scripture to resolve the matter?
(iii) dissemination of the General Council’s resolution?
(iv) measures taken to resolve the mission team leadership conflict?
2. From the circular issued in unity under the guidance of the Holy Spirit and the Scripture does the irrelevance of ritual of the Law mean irrelevance of the morals and spirituals of the Law?
3. Did Paul keep animosity against Mark or Barnabas not to work with them in Churches he founded? (1Cor 9:6; Col 4:10; 2Tim 4:11; Phm 1:24). What should we learn from this about balance between personal convictions and relational cooperation?