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but they added many others with the intention of promoting greater good and giving greater liberty. So Jesus, in establishing His Church or Kingdom, enacted all that was moral, just, and good. Not, however, because such principles were found in the Jewish law or religion, but because they were right in themselves. Not only so, but He went beyond all law and all religion which preceded Him, and enjoined a higher morality and purer devotion and deeper love than were known before on earth.

The importance of the decree and its bearing on the subject in hand will be seen when it is observed that many religious teachers even now refer inquiring sinners to the Old Testament Scriptures for terms of pardon, for instructions in regard to the forgiveness of sins, for the answer to the question, What must I do to be saved? But if language has meaning, and inspiration authority, then may we understand that this decree freed once and forever all Gentiles from the yoke of Jewish bondage, and since it was issued no man, no angel, has had any authority to bind any part of the Jewish religion on the Gentile world not reenacted under Christ.

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CHAPTER XXIII

THE DECREE OF THE COUNCIL

Paul's Second Missionary Journey. The Decree Delivered to the

Churches. Timothy and Luke. Paul in Europe. Conversion of Lydia.

After the decree had been delivered to the church at Antioch and they had rejoiced for the “consolation,” Judas and Silas remained for some time exhorting and confirming the brethren. When they had fulfilled their mission “it pleased Silas to abide there still.” Paul and Barnabas also remained for a time in Antioch, “teaching and preaching the word of the Lord.” Then Paul proposed to Barnabas to revisit with him the brethren in every city where they had preached. Barnabas was willing to do this, but determined to take with him his sister's son, Mark. a But Paul objected on account of Mark having left them while on a former journey, not going with them to the work, “and the contention was so sharp” that they parted, “and Barnabas took Mark and sailed unto Cyprus,” his native country. “And Paul chose Silas and departed, being recommended by the brethren unto the grace of God.” Paul, in commencing this second missionary journey, went first “through Syria and Cilicia confirming the churches.” a Col. iv. 10.

b Acts xv. 32-41.

And then came to “Derbe and Lystra.” There was here a certain disciple named Timotheus, whose mother was a Jewess, but whose father was a Greek. As Paul desired that he should go with him he "circumcised him, because of the Jews which were in those quarters; for they all knew that his father was a Greek. And as they went through the cities they delivered to them the decree to keep that was ordained by the apostles and elders who were in Jerusalem. The churches were established in the faith, and increased in numbers daily.”

It is a fact worthy of remark that while Paul was passing through the cities of Asia Minor, delivering the final decree of the apostles and elders freeing the Gentile world from Judaism and triumphing in the liberty of the gospel, he caused Timothy to be circumcised. But the reason for this is given. It was on account of the Jews who were in those parts. It was done that they might not be offended in having an uncircumcised person preach to them. It will be observed that Timothy had become a disciple before this-no doubt on Paul's former visit—but was not required to be circumcised until Paul desired him for the work of the ministry. He was in Christ before this, and Paul taught that “in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth anything nor uncircumcision.” It is here we have the first mention of Timothy, who afterward became so famous and so endeared to Paul. When Paul and Silas had been joined by Timothy, a Acts xvi. 1-5.

b Gal. v. 6.

the historian only names the districts in Asia Minor through which they passed and their course directed by the Holy Spirit until they came down to Troas. At this place "a vision appeared to Paul in the night. There stood a man of Macedonia and prayed him, saying, Come over into Macedonia and help us.”a Here the party was joined for the first time by Luke, the sacred historian who wrote the Acts. He now ceases to speak of them as “they,” and substitutes the word "we."

This is the first ray of historical light we have in regard to Luke. He is mentioned only three times hereafter. There is nothing known with certainty in regard to his nationality, parentage, birthplace, or burial place. No herald has announced his birth, no biographer sketched his life, no monument marks his tomb. And yet he is one of the most important characters who ever lived or acted on the stage of human life. To him we owe a debt of gratitude for one of the most complete histories of the life of Jesus, for the only history of the organization of the Church, for the only record of any discourses delivered by any apostle or evangelist, for the only record of the great events and great men connected with the early spread of Christianity over the world, and for a history of the eventful life of Paul, closing with his imprisonment at Rome. No other historian of the New Testament has covered so many and so great events, laden with such deep interest to the human race.

He is called by Paul “the beloved physician. He not only

a Acts xvi. 9.

a

a

traveled with Paul and journeyed with him to Rome, and was with him in his first imprisonment, but remained alone with him when, he said, “the time of my departure is come.”

After Paul had seen the vision and been joined by Luke, they sailed from Troas for Europe. Landing on the continent at Neapolis, they journeyed to Philippi, which was the chief city in that part of Macedonia. Being a Roman colony, it had special privileges. Luke now says: “And we were in that city abiding certain days, and on the sabbath day we went forth out of the gate by a riverside where prayer was wont to be made. And we sat down and spake to the women who were come together. And a certain woman named Lydia, a seller of purple, of the city of Thyatira, who worshiped God, heard us: whose heart the Lord opened to give heed unto the things which were spoken by Paul. And when she was baptized, and her household, she besought us, saying, If ye have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come into my house and abide there. And she constrained us." a Here we have given the first account of the preaching of the gospel in Europe, and the first convert was an Asiatic woman who, like Cornelius, was a worshiper of God. Here began the sowing of the seed on the continent of Europe, which soon became the great battle-field of the cross.

In regard to Paul's preaching at Philippi, we will observe

that he sought first to preach to the worshipers of the true God. Consequently he went to a

"

a Acts xvi. 12–15.

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