So they were sent off and went down to Antioch. When they gathered the congregation together, they delivered the letter. When its members read it, they rejoiced at the exhortation. Judas and Silas, who were themselves prophets, said much to encourage and strengthen the believers. After they had been there for some time, they were sent off in peace by the believers to those who had sent them. But Paul and Barnabas remained in Antioch, and there, with many others, they taught and proclaimed the word of the Lord. After some days Paul said to Barnabas, ‘Come, let us return and visit the believers in every city where we proclaimed the word of the Lord and see how they are doing.’
The Jerusalem Council has come to an end. It has been decided that, in accord with God’s will, Paul and Barnabas are to engage in missionary activities amongst the Gentiles. They return to Antioch in triumph, along with two Jerusalem delegates, Judas and Silas, bearing a letter of authorisation from the Council for distribution among the “believers who are from the Gentiles.” Judas and Silas are well received as they exhort and strengthen the assembly, boding well for future relationships between Antioch and Jerusalem. After they leave, Paul and Barnabas continue to teach and proclaim the good news until Paul decides they should follow up his previous mission and revisit the converts made on that occasion. This is the prelude to a significant regrouping of leaders and new avenues of work.
Most loving God,
Grant your blessing today to all who in any part of the world are serving in Christ’s name: all ministers of the gospel, church fellowships and councils; teachers and missionary workers, NGOs, doctors and nurses who seek to bring healing often at great personal cost.
Accomplish in them your purposes and sustain them with your joy.
The Rev’d Fleur Houston is a retired minister and member of Macclesfield & Bollington URC.