Positive Conflict Resolution


Enmity, jealousy, distrust, manipulation, brokenness, lack of forgiveness, despair, anger… These are all justifications I have heard for church divisions and meltdowns. Once, I listened to a man describe how his family, which included generations of church leaders and preachers, had started and abandoned multiple churches due to seemingly minor conflicts that grew exponentially out of proportion. Satan must have thought he had won the lottery each time.

In today’s passage, we witness the response from the Council of Jerusalem, the first meeting of Christian leaders, to the controversy caused by the Judaizing teachers regarding the requirements for salvation. As you read it, ask which side of the debate you would have been on and why.

  • Do you generally lean into or avoid conflicts?


22 Then it seemed good to the apostles and the elders, with the whole church, to choose men from among them and send them to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas. They sent Judas called Barsabbas, and Silas, leading men among the brothers, 23 with the following letter: “The brothers, both the apostles and the elders, to the brothers who are of the Gentiles in Antioch and Syria and Cilicia, greetings. 24 Since we have heard that some persons have gone out from us and troubled you with words, unsettling your minds, although we gave them no instructions, 25 it has seemed good to us, having come to one accord, to choose men and send them to you with our beloved Barnabas and Paul, 26 men who have risked their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. 27 We have therefore sent Judas and Silas, who themselves will tell you the same things by word of mouth. 28 For it has seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to lay on you no greater burden than these requirements: 29 that you abstain from what has been sacrificed to idols, and from blood, and from what has been strangled, and from sexual immorality. If you keep yourselves from these, you will do well. Farewell.”

English Standard Version, copyright 2001 by Crossway Bibles. Used by permission. All rights reserved.


  1. Make a list of the people involved in the resolution of the conflict. From whom did they seek guidance (vs. 28)?
  2. What was the decision of the Council and its significance to the Jewish and Gentile believers (vss. 28-29)?
  3. Knowing the controversy had been created by unauthorized Jewish teachers, what actions did the Council take to ensure their decision would be understood (vss. 22, 25, 27)?
  4. What behaviors did the Council instruct the Gentile believers to avoid (vs. 29)? Why was this important?
  5. How would others describe you when you are dealing with differences and conflicts with believers? Would they say your attitudes and actions promote unity or controversy?


The Council’s rejection of the Judaizers’ false teachings not only protected the purity of the gospel, but also prevented cultural and spiritual differences between the Jewish and Gentile believers from derailing the growth and spread of the gospel.

Consider the following about the Council’s decision and actions to resolve the conflict:

  • The Council consisted of the apostles and elders but won agreement with the entire church body.
  • During their deliberation, they considered God’s Word and actions and sought the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
  • They instructed the Gentiles to avoid those practices that would offend and cause strife with the Jewish believers.

We would do well to follow the Council’s example with great faith and courage, knowing that God’s Holy Spirit continues to work through us, the body of believers.

  • Thank the Lord for the gift of his Spirit working within you.
  • Ask him to identify and guide you in resolving conflicts with others.