So the men were sent off and went down to Antioch, where they gathered the church together and delivered the letter.
The men executed the plan as requested.
The people read it and were glad for its encouraging message.
This message is one of great encouragement—it is freeing! There is nothing that is required to buy our way into heaven. No additional burdens are added to join our faith.
Do you realize how strange this is? Join Judaism and there are 613 laws one should be following. Join Islam and you must give 20% to charity and pray five times a day and go on pilgrimages. Join Hinduism and you must participate in certain rituals and rites. Join Buddhism and you must begin to deny that suffering is real and see the world in critically different ways.
But join the faith of Jesus, and you need to do nothing. The work is done for you. Grace is received not based on your merits, but on His merits.
This is offensive, this gospel. It is offensive to many who join the faith. Many Christians today are just like the Judaizers at the time—they accept grace for themselves but add rituals or rites or requirements onto people to maintain that relationship with God. It is easier that way: we love checklists and to-do lists.
But here’s the thing—when you add burdens to the list, you call God a prostitute. You can’t buy His love; He gives it to you freely, as a gift.
This message should be heard as a major encouragement. It isn’t up to you! Relax and enjoy all that is good, for God loves you!
And to live life well, avoid idolatry and sexual immorality.
Judas and Silas, who themselves were prophets, said much to encourage and strengthen the believers.
Used in this way (definition Fiii in Strong’s Lexicon), it is speaking of those who have the gift of preaching—revealing hidden things in Scripture under the Spirit’s guidance to instruct, comfort, encourage, and convict the listeners.
So Judas and Silas stay and preach for a while.
After spending some time there, they were sent off by the believers with the blessing of peace to return to those who had sent them.
Some manuscripts say that Silas decided to remain among the Antioch believers, but it is not in most manuscripts; hence the absence of v. 34 from most texts.
But Paul and Barnabas remained in Antioch, where they and many others taught and preached the word of the Lord.
We see that there was a team of teachers at Antioch, which helps keep one man from misinterpreting and running off in strange directions.
This completes the commentary; now I must find a way to cover all of the key aspects of that...in a 35-40 minute message. I have two more weeks to get there...pray for guidance!