And certain men which came down from Judaea taught the brethren, and said, Except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved. When therefore Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and disputation with them, they determined that Paul and Barnabas, and certain other of them, should go up to Jerusalem unto the apostles and elders about this question. And being brought on their way by the church, they passed through Phenice and Samaria, declaring the conversion of the Gentiles: and they caused great joy unto all the brethren. And when they were come to Jerusalem, they were received of the church, and of the apostles and elders, and they declared all things that God had done with them. But there rose up certain of the sect of the Pharisees which believed, saying, That it was needful to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses. And the apostles and elders came together for to consider of this matter. And when there had been much disputing, Peter rose up, and said unto them, Men and brethren, ye know how that a good while ago God made choice among us, that the Gentiles by my mouth should hear the word of the gospel, and believe. And God, which knoweth the hearts, bare them witness, giving them the Holy Ghost, even as he did unto us; And put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith. Now therefore why tempt ye God, to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear? But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved, even as they.
Tradition is a very strong influence in any person’s life. Think of your own different holiday traditions and how they affect you: the food, the décor, the activities that surround the festivities. When a couple marries, they must consider which traditions to adopt and which to just remember as they start their own new traditions. Culture comes into play big time and sometimes as cultures possibly clash, the tradition game can become a problem instead of precious memories.
The “certain” men that came down to Antioch were obviously Judiazers, men who believed that in order to be a child of God one had to adopt certain Jewish customs. Up for debate was the custom of circumcision. As Gentiles were becoming believers and being recognized as Christians, certain spiritual leaders did not like the fact that the Gentiles were not being made to proselyte (convert to a Jew) in order to become a child of God. After all, that was what was required in the law of Moses, why was it still not required?
This became a huge debate (or as Luke puts it “no small dissention and disputation.”) It was so crazy that the Judiazers insisted that the argument would be brought to the leaders in Jerusalem. On the journey to Jerusalem, Paul and Barnabas used this trip wisely and stopped in at the churches in Phenice and Samaria to declare to them about the salvation of the Gentiles.
In Jerusalem, the Pharisees argued for the necessity of circumcision. After much discussion among the apostles and elders, Peter argued that God made the choice to extend the gift of salvation to the Gentiles. Why would they put an extra burden on the Gentile believers when it was already clear that God approved through the Gentiles’ filling of the Holy Spirit? Peter then declares in verse 11 that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved, even as they. Compare that with Ephesians 2:8-9, For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast.
Tradition can be such a wonderful precious thing. Many memories are treasured because of sweet family traditions. But tradition can also be a burden, especially if it stands in the way of God’s plan of salvation. Do your traditions help you in your walk with the Lord or do they make you boast?
Written by Kaye Dee Richards. Kaye Dee lives with her husband Colin in Morrison, CO. They have 4 children, Joshua, Amelia, Victoria, and Julia.
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