Unanswered prayers?   – Saturday, 5th Week of Easter  – ACTS 16:1-10

The council of Jerusalem was a game changer. Paul and Barnabas have not only been vindicated but have been given a mandate with human testimonials to back this mandate. Silas and Barsabbas are to accompany the two back to Antioch as a sign and seal of apostolic mandate.

We know that this decision to evangelize the Gentiles did not go down well with the Judaizers. They will continue to follow Paul and disrupt his mission sowing seeds of doubt and dissension. But Paul had another challenge to face. No sooner did Paul and Barnabas receive the mandate to go back to Antioch than a disagreement erupted between the two. (15: 36-41) At the heart of this disagreement was the evangelist Mark, a cousin of Barnabas who had earlier parted ways with Paul and had returned to Jerusalem. While Barnabas wanted Mark to accompany them back to Antioch, Paul would have nothing to do with “this deserter”.  Christianity faced a temporary setback as Barnabas and Mark part ways going to Cyprus while Paul and Silas head to South Galatia.

Having arrived in Derbe and then Lystra, towns he had evangelized on his first missionary journey, Paul comes across Timothy, “the son of a Jewish woman who was a believer; but whose father was a Greek” (16:1).  A marriage such as this was considered illegal according to Deuteronomy 7:3. However if the mother was a Jew then the offspring was also Jewish. We are also told that Timothy, whom Paul wanted as an evangelizing companion, was a believer. One cannot understand why Paul who was mandated by the council of Jerusalem (15:5-11) to dispense with circumcision for the Gentiles would have a believer in the Lord circumcised. While compromise may not necessarily be held negatively this action almost seemed to be done to please the Judaizers. I wonder what would have happened if Paul simply held his ground?

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