Monday, June 25, 2012

Acts, Chapter 15: So much for perfect harmony

Certain men, whose names we are of course not privy to, decide that except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be save (v. 1). S/Paul, who seems to be firmly in the 'Paul' camp now, and Barnabas, rush off to Jerusalem to argue with them, stopping in just two places to convert gentiles.

In Jerusalem they tell the story of what happened with the hunger hallucinations and all that, but those pesky Pharisees argue that it's only fine to convert gentiles as long as they get circumcised and follow Jewish law. There's more arguing until Peter stands up and says that god has been speaking through him to spread the gospel to the gentiles, and god has also sent them the holy ghost. He also points out that none of them exactly likes following Jewish law, so why put it on the gentiles as well?

Next, Barnabas and Paul stand up to tell their story, followed by James, who asks why it's necessary to make conversion difficult and suggests that we write unto them, that they abstain from pollutions of idols, and from fornication, and from things strangled, and from blood (v. 20). So they write a bunch of letters, which we will find in the following several books, and head back to Antioch, where they declare that circumcision and following Jewish law will no longer be necessary. Except where it's convenient, like in the case of homosexuality. The people rejoice at how easy this new religion is. 

After awhile in Antioch, Paul gets itchy feet and suggests to Barnabas that they should visit all the places they visited before on their tent revival tour. Barnabas suggests taking John, sometimes Mark, sometimes Jamarcus if you're feeling funky, along. But Paul is still smarting from that time that John-Mark deserted them in Pamphylia, and has decided he's no longer a good Christian. Paul and Barnabas have sharp words and go their separate ways, Barnabas and Mark to Cyprus and Paul and Silas to Syria and Cilicia.

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