The council agrees to James’ recommendations regarding the Gentiles and sends a letter to the church in Antioch. Judas and Silas, representatives from the church in Jerusalem, accompany Barnabas and Paul to Antioch. When the letter is read confirming that the Gentiles don’t have to be circumcised but should “abstain from things offered to idols, from blood, from things strangled, and from sexual immorality,” there is great rejoicing over its encouragement.
Some days after reading the letter, Paul and Barnabas get into a heated debate about whether or not to take Mark with them on their next missionary journey. Paul does not want to take Mark because he deserted them on their first missionary journey. However, Barnabas is insistent that he goes with them. This dispute becomes so intense that Paul and Barnabas separate, with Paul taking Silas to churches in Syria and Cilicia, and Barnabas taking Mark to churches in Cyprus. Therefore, the Lord uses this conflict to further the spread of the gospel by doubling their labor efforts.
On Paul’s second missionary journey he meets Timothy, a young man well respected and full of faith because of the influence of his mother, Eunice, and his grandmother, Lois (2 Timothy 1:5). Timothy is not circumcised because his father is Greek, but since his mother is Jewish, Timothy is considered Jewish. Therefore Paul has him circumcised before they begin their mission work together in order to not offend the Jews. Then “they went through the cities, they delivered to them the decrees to keep, which were determined by the apostles and elders at Jerusalem. So the churches were strengthened in the faith, and increased in number daily.”
During their journeys, Paul receives a vision which leads him and his companions to the city Philippi in Macedonia. There they meet Lydia who, as well as her entire household, converts to Christianity after hearing Paul share the gospel. She then convinces Paul and his companions to stay at her home.
Trouble soon arises when Paul casts a spirit with predictive powers out of a slave girl. Her masters, who were profiting from her, are not too happy about losing their means to get rich. So they bring Paul and Silas before the magistrates who beat them and throw them in prison. However, the Lord rescues them, and the keeper of the prison and his entire family come to faith through the miraculous rescue.
Once released, they continue their mission work. In Thessalonica, Paul preaches Jesus Christ. “And some of them were persuaded; and a great multitude of the devout Greeks, and not a few of the leading women, joined Paul and Silas. But the Jews who were not persuaded, becoming envious, took some of the evil men from the marketplace, and gathering a mob, set all the city in an uproar and attacked the house of Jason, and sought to bring them out to the people. But when they did not find them, they dragged Jason and some brethren to the rulers of the city, crying out, ‘These who have turned the world upside down have come here too. Jason has harbored them, and these are all acting contrary to the decrees of Caesar, saying there is another king—Jesus.’ And they troubled the crowd and the rulers of the city when they heard these things. So when they had taken security from Jason and the rest, they let them go.”
So we see that the unbelievers, the ones walking in the flesh and darkness, gather in mobs causing riots and uproar, troubling the people and authorities. However, the believers, the ones walking in the light and the Spirit, are said to have “turned the world upside down,” simply by preaching the truth of Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.
Paul and Silas flee to Berea where they once again go into the synagogue and preach. “Therefore many of them believed, and also not a few of the Greeks, prominent women as well as men. But when the Jews from Thessalonica learned that the word of God was preached by Paul at Berea, they came there also and stirred up the crowds. Then immediately the brethren sent Paul away, to go to the sea; but both Silas and Timothy remained there. So those who conducted Paul brought him to Athens; and receiving a command for Silas and Timothy to come to him with all speed, they departed.”
Tomorrow Paul preaches in Athens and then travels to Corinth where he writes letters to the church of the Thessalonians. Keep reading. (Acts 15:22-17:15)