Acts 14:21-28

Sunday Morning Bible Study

March 29, 1998

Introduction

Paul is on what we call his "first missionary journey". Along with Barnabas, theyíve traveled through an area in modern Turkey, then known as Asia Minor. From having preached in Antioch of Pisidia, and then being run out of town, they moved to Iconium, where they narrowly escaped being stoned. Then in the city of Lystra, after having first been proclaimed as "gods", then ended up being stoned, and Paul was left for dead. But he got up, and they have now moved on to the city of Derbe, which is of the same area and culture (Lycaonian) as Lystra.

:21 And when they had preached the gospel to that city, and had taught many

taught Ė matheteuo Ė to be a disciple of one; to make a disciple; literally, "and had discipled many Ö"

Lesson:

The goal is Discipleship

They werenít just seeing how many people would come forward at an altar call, and then leaving town. They were out to make disciples, life-long disciples.

One of the greatest definitions of discipleship is found in Ė

Mat 16:24-25 Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. {25} For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.

Being a disciple of Jesus is not just about learning Bible verses, itís about laying down your life and following Him.

Itís about there being a whole lot less of you, and a whole lot more of Him.

Itís not about making your life more pleasant and solving all of your problems, itís about taking up a CROSS and following Jesus.

"Jesus has many lovers of the heavenly kingdom, but few bearers of his cross. He has many desirous of consolation, but few of tribulation. He finds many companions of his table, but few of his abstinence. All desire to rejoice with him, few are willing to endure anything for him, or with him. Many follow Jesus to the breaking of bread, but few to the drinking of the cup. Many reverence his miracles, few follow the ignominy of his cross. Many love Jesus so long as no adversities befall them, many praise and bless him so long as they receive any consolations from him; but if Jesus hides himself and leaves them but a little while, they fall either into complaining or into too much dejection of mind." Ė Thomas À Kempis (C. 1380Ė1471)

:21 they returned again to Lystra, and to Iconium, and Antioch

Passing back through all the places theyíve been to and preached at.

In a way, as we stand back and look at the end of this chapter, Paul and Barnabas are heading back home to Antioch of Syria.

I was staring at the maps when something struck me.

From Derbe, it would have been a little shorter (280 miles vs. 290 miles of walking), and a lot quicker trip (no sea voyage) to go straight back to Antioch of Syria. In fact, they could have even gone through Paulís hometown of Tarsus (140 mile walk from Derbe) and visited with his family.

But instead, they seemed to have found it more important to build up those theyíve led to the Lord, rather than making it easier or more enjoyable for themselves.

:22 Confirming the souls of the disciples

Confirming Ė episterizo Ė to establish besides, strengthen more; to render more firm; from sterizo ("steroids") Ė to make stable; strengthen.

:22 and exhorting them to continue in the faith

exhorting Ė parakaleo Ė to call to one's side; to encourage

continue Ė emmeno Ė to "abide in", continue

I donít want to stretch this too much, but this sounds a lot like the ministry of Barnabas. (the "son of encouragement", Acts 4:36)

(Acts 11:23 KJV) Who, when he came, and had seen the grace of God, was glad, and exhorted them all, that with purpose of heart they would cleave unto the Lord.

Lesson:

Be a Barney. Be an encourager.

I know, I know. Iíve said this before. But Iíll say it again.

We need more "Barneys", more "sons of encouragement".

We have a lot of discouraged people right now in our church. Satan has been raging against the saints. I would dare say that even some of our regular "Barneys" have seen some discouragement lately. They need your encouragement. I would dare say that some people arenít even here in church this morning because theyíre discouraged.

Encouragement is a responsibility we all have, not just those that happen to be "up" at the moment.

Heb 10:23-25 Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;) {24} And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: {25} Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.

Donít neglect an opportunity to be with other Christians, but keep encouraging each other as you get closer and closer to the day that Jesus returns.

"But what if Iím one of the ones that need encouragement", you say. So am I.

If weíre not careful, we can allow discouragement to drive us to the place where we canít even receive encouragement from others. Perhaps we stop getting together with Christians altogether. Perhaps we just stop listening to those who are trying to encourage us.

Sometimes, we need to learn to be a "self-encourager", just to get ourselves into the place where we can start receiving encouragement from others again.

David had to learn to do that.

There was a time when Davidís people had been attacked, and all his menís wives and families had been taken away by the marauding Amalekites.

(1 Sam 30:6 KJV) And David was greatly distressed; for the people spake of stoning him, because the soul of all the people was grieved, every man for his sons and for his daughters: but David encouraged himself in the LORD his God.

David was bummed just like everyone else. But he learned to "encourage himself" in the Lord, and got everyone moving again, and they rescued their families.

How can I "encourage myself" in the Lord? See an example of how David did it sometimes Ė

Psa 103:1-5 A Psalm of David. Bless the LORD, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name. {2} Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits: {3} Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases; {4} Who redeemeth thy life from destruction; who crowneth thee with lovingkindness and tender mercies; {5} Who satisfieth thy mouth with good things; so that thy youth is renewed like the eagle's.

He had a talk with himself. He told his own soul to bless the Lord, to remember what God had done for him. He put his eyes back on the Lord.

Do It!! Ė The greatest way we can begin to encourage others is to pray for them. Ask for hands of people who are discouraged, or in need of prayer. Give people a chance to both pray for others as well as be prayed for. Stop and break into groups and pray for gals who are discouraged first. Then pray for guys who are discouraged.

:22 and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.

This phrase could also be translated (by the Greek word order) Ė

"and that through much tribulation it is necessary for us to enter into the kingdom of God".

The idea isnít that we only get to heaven if weíve lived a rough life. The idea is that we are going go through great, hard times, but that we need keep pressing on to enter into the kingdom of God.

Lesson:

Life is going to be hard. Just keep heading towards heaven.

These young believers have been through some tremendous persecution. In all three of these cities, Paul and Barnabas themselves had been driven out of town.

Hard times and persecution donít mean that somethingís wrong with your Christian life. It means youíre on track.

Paul would later write to Timothy Ė

2 Tim 3:10-12 But thou hast fully known my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, charity, patience, {11} Persecutions, afflictions, which came unto me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra; what persecutions I endured: but out of them all the Lord delivered me. {12} Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.

"Christianity has not been tried and found wanting, it has been tried and found difficult!" -- G.K. Chesterton

:23 And when they had ordained them elders in every church

ordained Ė cheirotoneo Ė (hand + stretch) Ė to vote by stretching out the hand; to create or appoint by vote. The newer translations read "appointed elders".

Itís interesting that there seems to be the idea of a vote here, whether itís the church voting, or the apostles voting, we arenít sure.

elders Ė presbuteros Ė "Presbyterian" Ė elder, of age; a term of rank or office. This could be the idea of setting multiple elders over each church, similar to our board of elders, or it could be the idea of setting a pastor over each church.

Itís interesting that even though later Paul will write that an elder should not be a new believer (1Tim.3:6), these elders canít be more than six month old in the Lord.

I think there are some folks who might only be 6 months old in the Lord, yet theyíre way beyond where some people are who might be 10 years old in the Lord.

:23 and had prayed with fasting,

This is the same pattern that was followed when Barnabas and Paul first set out from Antioch in Syria Ė

(Acts 13:2-3 KJV) As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them. {3} And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them away.

Itís not only important to be fasting and praying in seeking Godís direction, but to also fast and pray to ask Godís help to carry it out.

:23 they commended them to the Lord, on whom they believed.

commended Ė paratithemi Ė to place beside; set before; commit to one's charge. Itís usually used of taking food and setting it in front of somebody (Luke 9:16). The idea is that they are setting these new elders before the Lord, putting them in His hands.

Lesson:

Put it in Godís hands.

Paul and Barnabas arenít going to be able to be around to hold their hands any more.

But rather than worry about what might happen to these churches, they put them into Godís hands.

(Phil 4:6-7 NASB) Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. {7} And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, shall guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

:24 they came to Pamphylia.

Traveling from the northern hills of Pisidia, they come to the southern coastal region of Pamphylia.

:25 when they had preached the word in Perga, they went down into Attalia:

When they originally came from Cyprus on this journey, they had passed through Perga, but apparently didnít stop to preach there. This time they stop to preach.

Attalia is the main seaport in the area. Perhaps they got extra bonus miles on their frequent sailorís program if they sailed from Attalia instead of Perga?

:26 And thence sailed to Antioch

This is Antioch of Syria, where their home church was.

For some reason, they choose not to go back through Cyprus. Perhaps it was because no permanent Gentile churches had been founded in Cyprus. They had only preached in Jewish synagogues.

They had been gone some 18 months, traveled some 700 miles by foot, and some 500 miles by sea.

:26 from whence they had been recommended to the grace of God for the work which they fulfilled.

recommended Ė paradidomi (AV - deliver 53x, betray 40x) Ė to give into the hands (of another); to give over into (one's) power or use; to commit

The idea here is that Paul and Barnabas had been "handed over" to the grace of God in order to get the work done. It was in Antioch that this had been done.

From the very start they knew they couldnít accomplish this work on their own. It had to be a work of grace (charis), a work of Godís doing, and not a work of their own.

Lesson:

Trust Godís grace.

Betray yourself to Godís grace. Hand yourself over to Godís grace.

Stop trusting in your own abilities to accomplish the work God has for you.

Expect God to do the work. He will.

Illustration

"The Touch of the Master's Hand"

"Twas battered and scarred, and the auctioneer thought it scarcely worth his while.

To auction off the old violin, but he held it up with a smile.

"What am I bid for the old violin? Who'll start the bidding for me?

One dollar. One. Who'll make it two? Two dollars. Who'll make it three?"

Going for three ... but no,

From a room far back a gray-haired man came forward and picked up the bow.

 

Wiping the dust from the old violin, and tightening up its strings,

He played a melody pure and sweet, as sweet as an angel sings.

The auctioneer, with a voice that was quiet and low,

Said, "What am I bid for the old violin?" as he held it up with the bow.

"One thousand, one, who'll make it two? Two thousand, who'll make it three?

Three thousand once, three thousand twice, going and gone" said he.

The people cheered, but some of them cried, "We don't quite understand,

What changed its worth?" Quick came the reply, "The touch of the Master's hand."

 

Many a man, with life out of tune, battered and torn by sin,

Is auctioned off to a thoughtless crowd, much like that old violin.

A mess of pottage, a glass of wine, a game, and he travels on.

He's going once, he's going twice, he's going ... he's almost gone.

Then the Master comes, and the thoughtless crowd can never quite understand.

The worth of a soul and the miracle that's wrought by the touch of the Master's hand.

- Author Unknown

:27 they rehearsed all that God had done with them

rehearsed Ė anaggello ("again" + "announce") Ė to announce; to report, bring back tidings, rehearse

Paul and Barnabas had gotten the whole church in Antioch together, and began telling them the amazing stories of what God had done on their trip.

The emphasis of their recounting wasnít on what they had done for God, but on what God had done with them, right in their midst. They had been entrusted to Godís grace, and God had come through for them.

:28 And there they abode long time with the disciples.

long time Ė literally, "not a short time". This wasnít a short visit home, it was a long one.

It is felt that Paul might have possibly written the letter to the Galatians at this point, from Antioch, to the churches heís just established. The date is around AD 49.