Further Thought: For further study on the issue of unity and diversity in the church, read Ellen G. White, “Investigation of New Light,” pp. 45, 47, in Counsels to Writers and Editors; “An Explanation of Early Statements”, p. 75, in Selected Messages, book 1;“Tactfulness,” pages. 117-119, in Gospel Workers; and “Manuscript Release 898,” pgs. 1092, 1093, in 1888 Materials, vol. 3.
“Even the best of men, if left to themselves, will make grave blunders. The more responsibilities placed upon the human agent, the higher his position to dictate and control, the more mischief he is sure to do in perverting minds and hearts if he does not carefully follow the way of the Lord. At Antioch Peter failed in the principles of integrity. Paul had to withstand his subverting influence face to face. This is recorded that others may profit by it, and that the lesson may be a solemn warning to the men in high places, that they may not fail in integrity, but keep close to principle.” — Ellen G. White Comments, The SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 6, p. 1108.
Summary: The insistence by some Jewish Christians that Gentiles must be circumcised in order to become true followers of Christ posed a serious threat to the unity of the early church. Instead of letting this issue divide the church into two different movements, the apostles worked together, in spite of conflicts among themselves, to ensure that the body of Christ stayed united and faithful to the truth of the gospel.