Monday, June 5 – Acts 15:1-2
Some men came down from Judea and began teaching the brothers, “Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved.” And after Paul and Barnabas had a heated argument and debate with them, the brothers determined that Paul and Barnabas and some others of them should go up to Jerusalem to the apostles and elders concerning this issue.
Some people view any sort of conflict as negative and something to avoid. But conflict is a part of life—even church life. In Acts 15, we see that as the gospel advanced and the early church grew, conflicts arose. And it got heated.
The conflict in Antioch centered on one question: Did Gentiles who believed in Jesus have to obey the Mosaic laws and convert to Judaism to be saved? The answer to that question involved theological and practical concerns. To make keeping the Mosaic law a requirement for salvation was to deny salvation by faith alone. The integrity of the gospel and the unity of church fellowship were at stake.
Conflicts are inevitable. We might prefer to avoid them, but we need to understand, as Paul and Barnabas did, that stepping into and working through conflict is critical. In fact, these conflicts can help the church, unify believers in purpose, and advance the gospel even further.
- What in this passage shows the early church’s bond and foundational purpose still existed? Why is that important to the outcome of a conflict?
- How can you know if a conflict among believers is worth a “heated argument and debate” (v. 2)?
- Thank God that the nature of the gospel is unity. Confess the tendency to let conflict divide you and invite Him to show you how to handle conflict in such a way that greater unity is the result.