The Inheritance of Nations & the Promise Given Unto the Son

Today’s selected reading continues in the New Testament account of the spiritual body of the Lord Jesus—the Church—as it was written and recorded in the book of Acts by Luke. More specifically today’s passage is found in the sixteenth chapter of this New Testament book. “Then came he to Derbe and Lystra: and, behold, a certain disciple was there, named Timotheus, the son of a certain woman, which was a Jewess, and believed; but his father was a Greek: which was well reported of by the brethren that were at Lystra and Iconium. Him would Paul have to go forth with him; and took and circumcised him because of the Jews which were in those quarters: for they knew all that his father was a Greek. And as they went through the cities, they delivered them the decrees for to keep, that were ordained of the apostles and elders which were at Jerusalem. And so were the churches established in the faith, and increased in number daily” (Acts 16:1-5).

 

            “Now when they had gone throughout Phrygia and the region of Galatia, and were forbidden of the Holy Ghost to preach the word in Asia, after they were come to Mysia, they assayed to go into Bithynia: but the Spirit suffered them not. And they passing by Mysia came down to Troas. And 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. And after he had seen the vision, immediately we endeavoured to go into Macedonia, assuredly gathering that the Lord had called us for to preach the gospel unto them” (Acts 16:6-10).

 

            “Therefore loosing from Troas, we came with a straight course to Samothracia, and the next day to Neapolis; and from thence to Philippi, which is the chief city of that part of Macedonia, and a colony: and we were in that city abiding certain days” (Acts 16:11-12).

 

            “And on the sabbath we went out of the city by a river side, where prayer was wont to be made; and we sat down, and spake unto the women which resorted thither. And a certain woman named Lydia, a seller of purple, of the city of Thyatira, which worshipped God, heard us: whose heart the Lord opened, that she attended unto the things which were spoken of 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 contrained us. And it came to pass, as we went to prayer, a certain damsel possessed with a spirit of divination met us, which brought her masters much gain by soothsaying: the same followed Paul and us, and cried, saying, These men are the servants of the most high God, which shew unto us the way of salvation. And this did she many days. But Paul, being grieved, turned and said to the spirit, I command thee in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her. And he came out the same hour. And when her masters saw that the hope of their gains was gone, they caught Paul and Silas, and drew them into the marketplace unto the rulers, and brought them to the magistrates, saying, These men, being Jews, do exceedingly trouble our city, and teach customs, which are not lawful for us to receive, neither to observe, being Romans. And the multitude rose up together against them: and the magistrates rent off their clothes, and commanded to beat them. And when they had laid may stripes upon them, they cast them into prison, charging the jailor to keep them safely: who,  having received such a charge, thrust them into the inner prison, and made their feet fast in the stocks” (Acts 16:13-24).

 

            “And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them. And suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken: and immediately all the doors were opened, and every one’s bands were loosed. And the keeper of the prison awaking out of his sleep, and seeing the prison doors open, he drew out his sword, and would have killed himself, supposing that the prisoners had been fled. But Paul cried with a loud voice, saying, Do thyself no harm: for we are all here. Then he called for a light, and sprang in, and came trembling, and fell down before Paul and Silas, and brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house. And they spake unto him the word of the Lord, and to all that were in his house. And he took them the same hour of the night, and washed their stripes: and was baptized, he and all his, straightway. And when he had brought them into his house, he set meat before them, and rejoiced, believing in God with all his house” (Acts 16:25-34).

 

            “And when it was day, the magistrates sent the serjeants, saying, Let those men go. And the keeper of the prison told this saying to Paul, The magistrates have sent to let you go: now therefore depart, and go in peace. But Paul said unto them, They have beaten us openly uncondemned, being Romans, and have cast us into prison; and now do they thrust us out privily? Nay verily; but let them come themselves and fetch us out. And the serjeants told these words unto the magistrates: and they feared, when they heard that they were Romans. And they came and besought them, and brought them out, and desired them to depart out of the city. And they went out of the prison, and entered into the house of Lydia: and when they had seen the brethren, they comforted them, and departed” (Acts 16:35-40).

 

            When you come to this particular portion of the book of Acts you will encounter the second of the three apostolic and missionary journeys the apostle Paul engaged himself in during his walk with Christ. You will recall in chapters thirteen and fourteen of this New Testament book how the Holy Ghost instructed the prophets, teachers and brethren which were at the church of Antioch to separate unto Him Paul and Barnabas unto the work He had called them to. After prayer and fasting the brethren which were at Antioch sent the apostle Paul and Barnabas out from among them in their midst to the work they had been called to. What makes this all the more intriguing when you take the time to read it is when you consider how Luke also wrote how it was the Holy Ghost who had separated Paul and Barnabas unto them. In the opening verses of the thirteenth chapter you will find the Holy Ghost speaking unto the prophets and teachers which were present at Antioch to separate unto Himself Paul and Barnabas unto the work He had called them to while only a few verses after you find Luke writing how the Holy Ghost separated these two men unto the work whereunto they had been called. The apostle Paul and Barnabas would then set out on a journey that would take them to different regions where they would preach and teach the gospel and name of the Lord Jesus—first in the synagogues unto the Jews but ultimately unto the Gentiles. It is absolutely necessary that we recognize and understand the words and language found in these two chapters for they bring us face to face with the expansion of the gospel being preached unto the Gentiles.

 

            If you journey back unto the tenth chapter of this New Testament book you will find the beginning of the gospel and name of the Lord Jesus being preached unto and among the Gentiles as the apostle Peter according to the working of the Holy Ghost would be led unto Caesarea and to the house of Cornelius. It would be there at Cornelius’ house where the apostle Peter would be brought before this Roman centurion and his entire household and close friends. There in this house of Gentiles the apostle Peter would begin speaking unto them how it was unlawful for he or a Jew in general to go in unto Gentiles. With that being said, however, the apostle Peter would go on to explain unto them how the Lord had spoken unto him and commanded him not to call any man common or unclean. Furthermore you will find that after the vision which the apostle Peter had seen had gone up into heaven the Holy Spirit would speak unto him instructing him to go with the men who were at the door of the house doubting nothing. Upon arriving at the house of Cornelius the apostle Peter would proceed to ask him why it was he had been called unto that house. It would be at this juncture Cornelius would rehearse unto the apostle Peter what had happened in his life as an angel of God appeared unto him and declared how his prayers and alms had come up as a memorial before the living God. As a direct result of his prayers coming up unto heaven as a memorial he would be instructed to inquire of and send for a man in Joppa by the name of Simon whose surname was Peter. It would be this man who would teach and instruct he and his entire household what they ought to do at that time. Upon hearing this the apostle Peter would recognize and perceive that this thing was of the Holy Ghost and that it had been orchestrated by the Lord. As a direct result of this the apostle Peter would proceed to preach the gospel and name of the Lord Jesus unto Cornelius, his entire household and close friends.

 

            As you continue reading the words written and recorded in the tenth chapter of this New Testament book you will find and encounter the tremendous truth surrounding the word and name of the Lord Jesus being preached unto and among the Gentiles for the first time. Up until that time the word and gospel of the Lord Jesus had only been preached in Jerusalem, in Judaea, in Galilee and in Samaria. With this particular encounter between the apostle Peter and Cornelius together with his entire household the word and gospel of the Lord Jesus would come unto the Gentiles. Essentially that which took place in the tenth chapter of this New Testament book was the beginning and first fruits of the Gentiles who would come unto faith in the Lord Jesus and churches established among them. If there is one thing I can’t help but wonder when reading the words which are found in the tenth chapter of the book of Acts it’s what happened to Cornelius and his entire household after the apostle Peter and those brethren who accompanied him departed. We know the apostle Peter and those brethren with him tarried and abode in the house of Cornelius for a certain number of days before the apostle would depart unto Jerusalem and return unto the apostles and brethren which were there. The tenth chapter of the New Testament book of Acts describes how Cornelius and his entire household were baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus when the apostle Peter preached unto them the word and name of Jesus. This passage also describes how Cornelius and his entire household would in fact receive the Holy Ghost before the eyes of the apostle Peter and those who were with him. Upon witnessing the receiving of the Holy Spirit the apostle Peter would also ask if there would be any who would forbid them from being baptized in water and would ultimately baptize them in water.

 

            The tenth chapter of this New Testament book perfectly and adequately describes the beginning and the firstfruits of the Gentiles being baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus—and not just their being baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus but also their receiving the Holy Ghost and being baptized in water. Cornelius and his entire household would experience that which up until that time had primarily been poured out upon the Jews and that which had occurred in Judaea, Galilee and Samaria. Oh there is a part of me that can’t help but wonder if Cornelius and his house started a church there in Caesarea after they had received the Holy Ghost and were baptized. We know that it was in Caesarea Philippi Jesus asked the disciples who men said that He the Son of man was. The apostles would respond by declaring how there were some who thought He was Elijah, some who thought He was Jeremiah, some who thought He was John the Baptist and others a prophet. Jesus would then proceed to ask them who they personally said and believed He the Son of man was. To this the apostle Peter would speak up and emphatically and boldly declare that He was the Christ and the Son of the living God. When Jesus heard these words He declared unto Simon whose surname was Peter how flesh and blood had not revealed this unto him but His Father who was in heaven. Moreover Jesus also declared that it would be upon that rock He would build His church and the gates of hell would not prevail against it. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this particular truth for I can’t help but wonder if the apostle Peter would return unto the very place he had professed and proclaimed Jesus to be the Christ and the Son of the living God to preach Jesus crucified, buried, raised from death to life and ascended unto heaven. Is it possible the apostle Peter would return years after that experience—not to profess Jesus as the Christ and the Son of the living God unto the disciples of Jesus but unto Gentiles who would hear the word and name of the Lord Jesus Christ?

 

            I find it absolutely incredible to read the words which are found in the tenth chapter—and not only the tenth chapter but also the eleventh chapter as well—for when you come to the eleventh chapter you will find report of the Gentiles hearing the word of the Lord Jesus and receiving the Holy Spirit coming unto the Gentiles. Moreover the apostles and brethren which were at Jerusalem heard how the apostle Peter had gone in and had eaten and drank with Gentiles—something which was unlawful for a Jew to do. Those which were of the circumcision and of the sect of the Pharisees would contend with the apostle Peter for going in unto the Gentiles—much like the Jews, the scribes and the Pharisees murmured and grumbled against the Lord Jesus for eating and drinking with sinners. Jesus had already been ascended unto the right hand of the Father and departed from the earth and now here we find one of His apostles being called into question because he went in unto Gentiles and ate and drank with them. Very much like those during the days and times Jesus walked upon the earth contended with Jesus for eating and drinking with sinners and publicans so also would those of the sect of the Pharisees who believed contend with the apostle Peter for doing the very same thing with Gentiles. No longer was it about publicans and sinners within the land of Judaea and Galilee but now it was about going in unto the Gentiles and eating and drinking with them. It would be in the eleventh chapter of the New Testament book of Acts we find and discover the apostle Peter rehearsing all that had happened—from the angelic visitation Cornelius had experienced, to the vision the apostle Peter saw coming down from heaven to the voice of the Holy Spirit instructing him to go with the men doubting nothing and the Lord commanding him not to call anything common or unclean what He had cleansed.

 

            We have a great need to recognize and pay close attention to the words which are found in the tenth and eleventh chapters of this New Testament book for within them we not only find the apostle Peter eating and drinking with Gentiles but also preaching the word and name of the Lord Jesus unto them. It would be while the apostle Peter spoke with Cornelius and his entire household of the Lord Jesus Christ that the Holy Ghost would fall upon them and they would ultimately be baptized. It’s actually quite astonishing to read the words contained in the eleventh chapter of this New Testament book for there was an initial contending which would be raised up against the apostle Peter for going in unto Gentiles eating and drinking with them. It wouldn’t be until the apostle Peter rehearsed everything that had happened in Joppa and in Caesarea before they had been brought together and asked who was he to fight against and resist the living God the brethren which were present in Judaea and Jerusalem would rejoice and be glad that the gospel had come unto the Gentiles and that the Holy Ghost had also been received by Gentiles. This experience which Cornelius and his entire household experienced would be the beginning of the word and name of the Lord Jesus being preached unto the Gentiles as well as the Gentiles receiving the Holy Ghost. As you come to the thirteenth and fourteenth chapters of this New Testament book you will find the apostle Paul and Barnabas being separated by the Holy Ghost unto the work whereunto they had been called. This journey would take them to various different places where they would initially preach the gospel and name of the Lord Jesus unto the Gentiles. While there was a small degree and measure of Jews who heard and received the word which Paul and Barnabas preached there was a vast majority of the Jews who strove against, contended with, resisted and opposed both the men themselves as well as the gospel of the Lord Jesus.

 

            It is absolutely necessary we pay close attention to the words which are found in chapters thirteen and fourteen of this New Testament book for contained within these books is an incredibly powerful picture of those unbelieving Jews resisting and opposing the word and gospel of the Lord Jesus. What’s more is that it wasn’t merely enough for the unbelieving Jews to resist the word and gospel of the Lord Jesus but they also sought to stir up a dissension and division among both Jews and Gentiles alike. During this initial apostolic journey the apostle Paul and Barnabas would have to contend with those unbelieving Jews who would oppose and blaspheme themselves in response to the work which these men had set forth to preach. Ultimately and eventually you will find the apostle Paul and Barnabas shaking the dust off their feet and purposing to preach solely unto the Gentiles in those places whereunto they had traveled. This is important to pay attention to in these chapters for we begin to see the rejection of the Jews toward the word and gospel of the Lord Jesus and their rejection leading to the grafting in of the Gentiles into the body of Christ. Throughout the New Testament book of Acts you will find unbelieving, stubborn, stiffnecked and hardhearted Jews resisting and opposing the word and gospel of the Lord Jesus. Moreover these unbelieving Jews would not be content to merely oppose the word and gospel of the Lord Jesus but they would also seek to create a stir, a dissension, a division and chaos surrounding the word and gospel of the Lord Jesus being preached.

 

            The more I read the words which are found in the thirteenth and fourteenth chapters of this New Testament book the more I am brought face to face with the awesome and powerful truth surrounding this opposition and resistance of unbelieving Jews toward the gospel and word of the Lord Jesus. It would be this opposition and resistance of the Jews that would seek to hinder and prevent the Gentiles from hearing the word of the Lord Jesus. In fact Luke would record how when these unbelieving Jews saw the response of the Gentiles to the word of the gospel of the Lord Jesus and how great numbers had gathered themselves together to hear the word of the Lord Jesus they were moved with envy. It would this deadly poison of unbelief and envy that would cause them to not only blaspheme themselves but also vehemently oppose the word of the Lord Jesus. The Jews would seek to stir up strife, contention, division, discord and chaos among the Gentiles and would do whatever they could to hinder the word of the Lord Jesus from being preached unto them. This is important for us to recognize for I have previously written how I firmly believe the apostle Paul and Barnabas did not strive against flesh and blood when they contended with the unbelief and envy of the Jews. I am absolutely convinced that what we are witnessing here is more than simply the Jews themselves opposing the word of the Lord Jesus but the work of the enemy and adversary to hinder the gospel from being preached unto and among the Gentiles. Up until that time the gospel had not been preached unto the Gentiles and truthfully the only real time in Jewish history where a message of repentance was preached unto the Gentiles was during the days of Jonah when he entered into the city of Nineveh and not only preached repentance but also warned them of impending judgment and destruction which would come upon them in forty days. Of course we know and understand that once Jonah did finally arrive in Nineveh and preach repentance unto them the entire city would repent in sackcloth and ashes and would repent before the Lord, thus averting judgment and wrath from being poured out against them.

 

            If there is one thing we must needs recognize and understand concerning the New Testament book of Acts and the preaching of the gospel and name of the Lord Jesus unto the Gentiles it’s that up until that point the Gentiles had largely belonged to the enemy and adversary. Ever since the Lord had called Abram out of Ur of the Chaldeans unto the land of Canaan and established the Hebrew people as His own possession within the earth the enemy and adversary had a stronghold—yea many strongholds—among the Gentile nations and countries. This is absolutely necessary to recognize and understand for when the word and gospel of the Lord Jesus came unto the Gentiles it was a mighty and powerful demonstration made by the Lord that all nations, all tongues, all tribes and all men belonged unto Him. Although He had specifically called and chosen the Jewish people to be His sacred possession in the earth and although He had chosen Israel and the city of Jerusalem to place His name. It would be unto the Jewish people the covenants, the promises, the Law, the Temple, the sacrifices and the like were given. Up until the New Testament book of Acts the Gentiles had been largely and widely controlled by the enemy and adversary as he had established strongholds in the midst of them. Oh there is a part of me that can’t help but wonder what it was like in hell and in the supernatural and spiritual realm when the enemy and adversary began witnessing the gospel and name of the Lord Jesus being preached unto the Gentiles.

 

            The more I sit here and consider this particular concept of the Jews resisting and opposing the word and gospel of the Lord Jesus the more I am brought face to face with the tremendous truth that the apostle Paul and Barnabas were not contending nor were they wrestling with flesh and blood. The apostle Paul and Barnabas were indeed and in fact contending and striving with the powers of darkness and even hell itself when they began preaching the gospel unto the Gentiles. Oh if there is one thing the gospel being preached unto the Gentiles wonderfully and powerfully demonstrates it’s that all flesh regardless of being Jew or Gentile belonged to the Lord. For centuries and millennia the enemy and adversary had exercised his will and his authority over the Gentiles and over the nations and kingdoms in the midst of them. Outside of Jonah’s preaching unto the inhabitants of Nineveh during the days of the prophets there really hadn’t been any preaching or teaching that had come unto and among the Gentiles. In fact, you will recall that when Jesus sent forth His twelve disciples as apostles and ambassadors in the earth He. Instructed them not to go unto the Gentiles nor unto those in Samaria. When, however, you come to the New Testament book of Acts you will find all of this changing as the gospel and name of the Lord Jesus would begin to be preached unto and among the Gentiles. What would begin with Cornelius and his entire household would eventually transition to the word and gospel of the Lord being preached unto Gentiles round about Judaea, Galilee and Samaria. What’s more is the apostle Paul would indeed be raised up by the Lord Jesus as the apostle unto the Gentiles. Not only was the apostle Paul raised up to be shown what great things he must suffer for the sake of the name of the Lord Jesus but the apostle Paul would also be ordained and appointed unto the Gentiles to preach the gospel and name of the Lord Jesus.

 

            We know in the Old Testament prophetic book of Jeremiah the LORD had ordained and appointed him as a prophet unto the nations and unto the kingdoms of the earth and it is in this prophetic book we find Jeremiah not only prophesying concerning the southern kingdom of Judah and the city of Jerusalem but also against the nations and kingdoms of the earth. It would be in the prophetic book of Jeremiah we find him prophesying concerning Damascus, Edom, Tyre, Babylon, Egypt and the like. The prophet Jeremiah would be ordained and appointed as a prophet unto the nations and ultimately a prophet unto the Gentiles as well for he would proclaim and prophesy the word of the Lord concerning them. This particular truth would also be manifested in the life of an exiled priest in the land of the Chaldeans by the name of Ezekiel. You will recall in the Old Testament prophetic book bearing his name how Ezekiel would also prophesy and proclaim the word of the Lord concerning the Gentile nations and kingdoms round about Israel and Judah. Within the Old Testament—not only do we find Jonah preaching repentance and warning of judgment unto those in the capital city of Nineveh but we also find Jeremiah and Ezekiel prophesying and proclaiming the word of the Lord concerning the Gentile nations and kingdoms. In all reality this would set the stage for what we find in the New Testament book of Acts for what we find in the second chapter of this New Testament book would be the beginning of the gospel and name of the Lord Jesus being manifested unto and among the Gentiles as well as the Holy Ghost being received by the Gentiles. What would begin with the wonderful works of the living God being proclaimed in the tongues of the nations, tribes, languages and regions round about Judaea, Galilee and Samaria on the day of Pentecost would eventually lead to the word and gospel of the Lord Jesus actually coming unto the Gentiles themselves right where they were.

 

            When you come to the New Testament book of Acts you will not only find the word and gospel of the Lord Jesus coming unto the Jews and you will not only find the Holy Ghost being received by the Jews but you will also find the gospel of Jesus and the Holy Ghost coming unto the Gentiles. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this for what we find in the New Testament book of Acts is essentially a powerful reversal of what had taken place during the days of Nimrod and the people in the land of Shinar when they attempted to build a city whose tower would reach unto heaven. You will recall how the Lord spoke within and unto Himself and the triune Godhead concerning that which man had done. Moreover you will recall how the triune Godhead would come down to the earth to see what man had attempted to build and construct in the midst of the earth. Upon witnessing this city with a great tower that would extend into the heavens the Lord would not only scatter the inhabitants of the earth at that time but He would also confuse their languages. For centuries from that time the nations of the earth would be present within the earth as there would be many nations, tribes, tongues and languages present in the midst of the earth. Oh I can’t help but get a strong sense that this was part of the picture Satan showed unto Jesus during his temptation as he declared how all had been given unto him and he would give it unto Him if He would but bow down and worship him. Of course we know that Jesus resisted the temptation of the devil and commanded him to depart from Him and get himself hence. Jesus would not bow down and worship Satan for He had a promise that had been spoken unto Him by His Father in heaven—a promise that was written and recorded in the second chapter of the Old Testament poetic book of the Psalms. It would be in this particular passage of Scripture we find the LORD speaking unto His Lord declaring how He would give Him the nations of the earth as an inheritance. Consider if you will the following words which are found in recorded in the second chapter of this Old Testament poetic book:

 

            “Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord, and against his anointed, saying, Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us. He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: The Lord shall have them in derision. Then shall he speak unto them in his wrath, and vex them in his sore displeasure. Yet have I set my king upon my holy hill of Zion. I will declare the decree: The LORD hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; This day have I begotten thee. Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession. Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou s halt dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel. Be wise now therefore, O ye kings: Be instructed, ye judges of the earth. Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in him” (Palm 2:1-12).

 

            Please don’t miss and lose sight of what is found within this passage of Scripture for what we find here is a strong and powerful picture of a promise that was given unto the Lord by the LORD. In the eighth verse of the second chapter of this poetic book we find the LORD speaking unto the Son and instructing Him to ask of Him and He would give the heathen for His inheritance and the uttermost parts of the earth for His possession. The devil and Satan himself tried offering all the nations and kingdoms of the earth unto Jesus if He would but bow down and worship him without and apart from the suffering and death of the cross. Of course I do not believe the enemy and adversary knew of the cross at that particular point in time, however, we do know and understand the enemy and adversary sought to offer all the nations and kingdoms of the earth unto Jesus after showing Him them in a moment of time. What I so absolutely love about this particular truth is that Jesus could not only resist the temptation of the devil by standing upon what was written in the word of God but Jesus also had a promise given and spoken unto Him by His Father. It would be His Father who would invite Him to ask of Him and He would give Him the heathen for His inheritance and the uttermost parts of the earth for His possession. There is not a doubt in my mind that what we witness and behold in the New Testament book of Acts is a powerful display of the promise spoken unto the Lord Jesus beginning to come to pass. If there is one thing we must needs understand concerning this New Testament book of Acts and the gospel coming unto the Gentiles it’s that the Holy Ghost would bring about in the earth the beginning of the heathen and the uttermost parts of the earth being given unto the Son as a possession and an inheritance according to the promise and decree that had been spoken unto Him by the Father which was in heaven.

 

            Upon coming to the sixteenth chapter of the New Testament book of Acts you will find this promise of the Father continuing to be manifested within the earth as the Lord Jesus would raise up for Himself a champion, an ambassador and an apostle unto the Gentiles of the earth. It would be the apostle Paul who would be ordained by the Lord Jesus to preach the gospel and name of the Lord Jesus unto the Gentiles and the apostle Paul would indeed do so on three separate apostolic and missionary journeys. The thirteenth and fourteenth chapters of this New Testament book describe how the apostle Paul and Barnabas would teach and preach the word and gospel of the Lord Jesus and how the Gentiles would embrace and receive it. Much people would come from within the cities whereunto the apostle Paul and Barnabas had taught and preached and there would be a great receiving of the gospel of the Lord Jesus among the Gentiles. In fact this is what is so powerful about the council which took place in the midst of Jerusalem after the apostle Peter went in unto Gentiles as well as when Paul and Barnabas came unto Jerusalem after certain men from Judaea came unto Antioch teaching that the Gentiles must needs be circumcised according to the Law of Moses to be saved. Both the council which took place and was recorded in the eleventh chapter as well as in the fifteenth chapter centered upon the Gentiles themselves receiving the gospel and word of the Lord Jesus. The first council would center upon those who would contend with the apostle Peter for going in unto Gentiles while the second council would center upon the debate whether or not Gentiles needed to be circumcised according to the Law of Moses. Two separate councils would be held in the midst of the city of Jerusalem over the Gentiles as it was beginning to be clear that the word and gospel of the Lord Jesus would indeed come unto the Gentiles. Moreover, it was also becoming increasingly clear that the gift of the Holy Ghost would also come unto and among the Gentiles as He would be poured out upon them just as He had been poured out upon the Jews.

 

            I sit here today thinking about and considering the words which are found in the sixteenth chapter of this New Testament book and I am absolutely captivated with the fact that the apostle Paul would indeed set out on a second apostolic journey—one that would take him further than he had previously been. It would be this second apostolic journey that would be entirely and altogether governed by the Holy Spirit as the apostle Paul and Silas would be forbidden by the Holy Ghost from entering into Asia. On more than one occasion within the sixteenth chapter of this New Testament book we find the apostle Paul and Silas together with those who were with them being forbidden of the Holy Ghost to enter into Asia. What they instead did was journey closer toward Europe and towards the nations of what is modern day Greece and Turkey. What’s more is within the sixteenth chapter of this New Testament book you will find the apostle Paul seeing a vision of a man from Macedonia praying and pleading with them to come unto them and help them. Determining that this vision was of the Holy Ghost the apostle Paul, Silas, Timothy, Luke and other of the companions who were with them would set out for the region of Macedonia where the apostle Paul would begin establishing many of the churches for which we have epistles and letters within the New Testament. What makes this all the more interesting is that this journey of the apostle Paul unto the region of Macedonia and Greece would not only find churches established among them in their midst but it would also find specific letters and epistles written unto them which would make up almost half of the total number of books in the New Testament. There are twenty-seven books in total in the New Testament and of those twenty-seven books thirteen of them were epistles written by the hand of the apostle Paul—nine letters written unto various churches and four letters written unto three specific men (Timothy, Titus and Philemon).

 

            The more I think about and consider the words and language found in the sixteenth chapter the more I am brought face to face with the beginning—not only of churches being established among the Gentiles but also the beginning of the epistles we would have contained within our New Testament. It would be in the sixteenth chapter of this New Testament book we find the apostle Paul and those with him journeying throughout Galatia teaching and preaching the gospel of the Lord Jesus before coming unto the city of Philippi which was a city of influence and importance during those days. What makes this all the more interesting is when you think about the fact that we have in our New Testament two letters and epistles written by the hand of the apostle Paul—one which was written unto the saints which were at Philippi and another which was written unto the churches which were in Galatia. That which we find in this portion of the book of Acts is not only the beginning of specific churches being established in the midst of the earth but also the beginning of the letters and epistles we have from the hand of the apostle Paul in our New Testament. The apostle Paul and those who would journey with and accompany him would indeed establish churches wheresoever they went, however, there would also be a great need to write letters admonishing, teaching and instructing the brethren and saints which were present among and within those churches. Oh we dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this particular truth and reality for it calls and draws our attention to the tremendous reality of the establishment of churches as well as the writing of epistles and letters—letters which would not only be read by those within the churches for which they were sent unto and intended for but also by all those who would read the New Testament of the Bible. That which we find here in the sixteenth chapter is more than simply the apostle Paul and his companions establishing churches in the various cities where they went but also the beginning of epistles which would be written by his own hand.

 

            If I am being honest with you who are reading the words found in this passage of Scripture I must needs declare that I am absolutely gripped and captivated with what is present within this chapter. I am absolutely and incredibly amazed with the fact that the living God would begin fulfilling the promise He had made unto the Son from the foundation of the world that the heathen would be His inheritance and the uttermost parts of the earth would be His possession. Oh I can’t help but think about whether or not the enemy and adversary was aware of such a promise being given unto the eternal and only begotten Son and went on high alert when the gospel and name of the Lord Jesus began being preached unto and among the Gentiles. What would begin simply as the wonderful works of the living God being proclaimed in the tongues of the various nations and peoples round about Judaea, Samaria and Galilee would ultimately and eventually lead to the gospel and name of the Lord Jesus being preached unto and among the Gentiles. Moreover the gift of the Holy Ghost would also itself be received by the Gentiles as the Gentiles would receive the Holy Ghost just as the Jews themselves would. In fact by the time we get to the tenth chapter of this New Testament book—not only do we find the Jews having received the gift of the Holy Ghost and not only do we find the Samaritans receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit but we also find the Gentiles themselves receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit. In the tenth chapter of this New Testament book we find the gospel of the Lord Jesus beginning to come unto and make its way to the Gentiles as well as the gift of the Holy Spirit. Chapters thirteen and fourteen would present us with the strong and powerful truth of the continuation of a work which began on the day of Pentecost with the arrival of the Holy Spirit, a work which would continue in Samaria with Philip, the apostle Paul and John, a work that would continue with the apostle Peter in Caesarea among Gentiles, and would now continue with the apostle Paul and his companions who would preach the gospel unto the Gentiles.

 

            I am absolutely and completely convinced that hell itself began to shudder and tremble when the word and gospel of the Lord Jesus began being preached unto and among the Gentiles. There is not a doubt in my mind that hell itself tried absolutely anything and everything they could to stop, hinder and prevent the gospel and name of the Lord Jesus from being preached unto and among the Gentiles. Much like Pharaoh sought to slaughter all the infant males in the land of Egypt and even enslaved the Hebrew people by appointing over them cruel taskmasters who would violently oppress them and much like the religious rulers and leaders in Jerusalem as well as Herod and even Saul of Tarsus pre-conversion would attempt to persecute the brethren preventing the word and gospel of the Lord Jesus from being preached so also would the enemy and adversary raise up those in the cities whereunto the apostle Paul and his companions journeyed and traveled that they might oppose the work which had been ordained and appointed unto them by the Lord Jesus. I firmly believe that all of hell itself began to mobilize and advance against the apostle Paul and his companions who were with him as the gospel and name of the Lord Jesus began being preached unto and among the Gentiles. What’s more is there is a part of me that believes that all of hell itself began vehemently and violently opposing the work of the apostle Paul and those with him as well as the word and gospel of the Lord Jesus. It would be in the thirteenth and fourteenth chapters of this New Testament book we find and experience unbelieving and envious Jews raising themselves up in opposition against the apostle Paul and Barnabas that they might seek to prevent the word and gospel of the Lord Jesus from being preached.

 

            As you begin reading with and from the sixteenth chapter of the New Testament book of Acts you will find the apostle Paul and Silas coming unto Derbe and Lystra where there was a certain disciple named Timothy who was there. This disciple Timothy was the son of a Jewish woman and whose father was a Greek and was well reported of by the brethren which were at Lystra and Iconium. The apostle Paul would purpose to have Timothy accompany them on their apostolic and missionary journeys and would have him circumcised because of the Jews which were in those quarters for they all knew that his father was a Greek. Luke goes on to write how Paul, Silas and Timothy went throughout all the cities and delivered unto them the decrees which ought to kept which were ordained of the apostles and elders which were at Jerusalem. Moreover Luke would also write how the churches in those cities were established in the faith and increased in number daily. Thus what we initially find in the sixteenth chapter is the addition of a disciple by the name of Timothy who would be a traveling companion of the apostle Paul on this missionary journey unto the Gentiles. This second journey would initially begin with the apostle Paul, Silas and now Timothy going unto those cities and places whereunto they had preached the gospel and name of the Lord Jesus and not only see how they fared but also teach, exhort and instruct them. It would be when we come unto the sixteenth chapter of the New Testament book of Acts we find and encounter the initial journey unto those places the apostle Paul had already preached in but that journey taking him further and beyond those places. It’s in the sixteenth chapter of this chapter we find the apostle Paul, Silas and Timothy going throughout Phrygia and the region of Galatia and were forbidden of the Holy Ghost to preach the word in Asia. The apostle Paul, Silas and Timothy would come unto Mysia and thought to go into Bithynia but the Spirit suffered them not. It would be upon their coming unto Troas that a vision would appear unto the apostle Paul in the night of a man in Macedonia asking him to come and help them. Immediately after seeing the vision the apostle Paul, Silas, Timothy and Luke would set forth to go unto Macedonia gathering that the Lord had called them to preach the gospel unto those which dwelt there.

 

            It is in the eleventh and twelfth verses of this particular chapter we find the apostle Paul, Silas, Timothy and Luke coming unto Philippi which was the chief city of that part of Macedonia and a colony and abiding there a number of days. It’s important for us to recognize and pay close attention to what is found here in the sixteenth chapter for not only do we find the apostle Paul and those with him preaching the gospel unto those in the city of Philippi but we also find a tremendous opposition being raised up against them in the midst of that city. As you read the words which are found in this passage of Scripture you will find that a certain woman named Lydia who was a seller of purple of the city of Thyatria which worshipped God heard them whose heart the Lord opened. This woman would not only attend to those things which the apostle Paul had spoken but after she and her household were baptized she entreated the apostle Paul and those with him to abide and tarry with her in her house. This is incredibly important to realize for what we find next is the beginning of opposition Paul and Silas would experience there in the midst of the chief city of Philippi. It would be there in the city of Philippi we find and read of a certain damsel possessed with a spirit of divination meeting Paul and those with him as they went to prayer and followed them, saying, These men are the servants of the most high God, which showed unto them the way of salvation. This would take place day after day until eventually Paul being grieved in the spirit would command the unclean spirit to come out of the girl. Immediately the spirit came out of the girl much to the shock and dismay of her masters who suddenly realized their hope for gain was gone.

 

             As you continue reading the words which are found in the sixteenth chapter of the New Testament book of Acts you will find that after the master of this young damsel realized their hope was gone they immediately caught and laid hold of Paul and Silas. Having laid hold of Paul and Silas they drew them into the marketplace unto the rulers and unto the magistrates declaring how these men which were Jews did exceedingly trouble their city. Moreover the masters of this damsel would go on to speak concerning Paul and Silas how they taught customs which were not lawful for them to receive nor to observe being Romans. As a direct result of their words the multitude rose up together against Paul and Silas and the magistrates rent their clothes and commanded them to be beaten. Luke writes how after Paul and Silas had many stripes laid upon them they were case into prison as the jailor was charged to keep them safely. The command given unto the jailor was immediately adhered to and obeyed as he would place them in the innermost prison and would fasten their feet in stocks. It is actually quite astounding to read the words found in this passage of Scripture and encounter the tremendous opposition Paul and Silas would experience in the chief city of Philippi. What’s more is that this opposition would not be raised against them because of their preaching the gospel and name of the Lord Jesus but because Paul had commanded an unclean spirit of divination to come out of a young damsel. In all reality the opposition that was raised up against Paul and Silas in this particular city was centered upon financial and personal gain as the gospel of the Lord Jesus and the presence of the Holy Spirit would directly confront it in the midst of the city. The apostle Paul commanded the unclean spirit to come out of this young damsel being grieved in the spirit and when it had come out of her those who were masters over her realized their gain was gone. Upon recognizing their ability to gain a profit from this young girl was gone they would immediately seize and lay hold of the apostle Paul and Silas that they might accuse them and have them beaten and cast into prison.

 

            When I read the words found in this passage of Scripture I am absolutely captivated with the fact that although Paul and Silas had been beaten and were cast into prison being securely fastened in stocks their voices would not be silenced. Oh it was in fact true that they were temporarily prevented from preaching the gospel of the Lord Jesus, however, being cast into prison would and could not silence their voices from praising the living God. Stop for a moment and consider the fact that when preaching was temporarily restricted due to their present situation they would give themselves to praising the living God. What’s more is that when you read this passage of Scripture you will find that as Paul and Silas sang praises unto the living God at midnight all the prisoners which were there in the jail heard them. Please do not miss how incredibly important this truly is for it brings us face to face with the awesome and incredible truth of the apostle Paul and Silas being prevented from preaching the gospel but they were not silenced nor were they prevented from singing praises. Moreover we must needs realize that even the praise which we offer from our lips can in fact be a sermon in and of itself. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this for there in the prison Paul and Silas still preached the gospel unto the prisoners yet they would not do it through teaching and preaching but through their praise.

 

            WHEN PREACHING IS SILENCED, PRAISE! WHEN PREACHING IS PROHIBITED, PRAISE! Would it shock and surprise you to think about the fact that there are times when the song of your praise can be just as powerful as the preaching you would seek to engage in? If there is one thing this passage proves and demonstrates is just how powerful the song and voice of our praise truly is and can be in our generation. Luke writes how at midnight Paul and Silas sang praises before and unto the living God and how as a direct result of their praise the prison doors of every prison cell were opened and the chains and shackles of every prisoner were loosed. Pause for a moment and consider just how important and powerful that is for it wasn’t enough simply for Paul and Silas to experience their prison door being opened and their own shackles to be loosed for those of each and every prisoner would be loosed and opened. How absolutely incredible it is to think about the fact that when the Lord responded to the praises of Paul and Silas He didn’t merely open their prison doors and loose their shackles but opened the prison doors and loosed the shackles of every other prisoner. What’s more is that what Paul and Silas experienced there in the prison was something beyond what they might have been able to experience as a direct result of their preaching. This is important for us to recognize and understand for there are times when it is not our preaching that is to be used of the Lord at a specific time but rather the song(s) of our praise. I am absolutely convinced there are times within our lives when we think and feel as though preaching is the ultimate tool to be used in the hand of the living God and yet if there is one thing the book of Acts demonstrates it’s that tongues, prayer and singing praises before the living God can accomplish and avail much.

 

            I sit here today thinking about and considering the narrative that is found in the New Testament book of Acts and I am brought face to face with the tremendous truth surrounding just how powerful prayer, praise and preaching truly was during the days of the early church. It would be while the apostles and the rest of the one-hundred and twenty present in the upper room prayed before the Lord that a sound of a mighty rushing wind filled the room where they were, cloven tongues of fire rested upon each of them and they each spoke with other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance. It was when the apostles and those gathered together prayed that the whole house where they were gathered together was shaken and they were filled with the Holy Ghost. It would be as a direct result of the prayers of the brethren that the Lord would send an angel to loose Peter from the prison he was being held having loosed his shackles, opened the prison door, and even caused the gate of the city to open of its own accord. Now here we are in the sixteenth chapter of the New Testament book of Acts and we find praise and the songs of praise causing the earth to shake, prison doors to be opened and chains and shackles to be loosed from the prisoners who were being held. Pause for a moment and think about the fact that although Paul and Silas were prevented and restricted from preaching publicly in the streets they were able to sing praises before and unto the living God. Paul and Silas would not be able to preach there in the prison cell, however, they could indeed sing praises before the Lord their God which was in and of itself preaching the gospel.

 

            PREACHING THE GOSPEL IN PRISON THROUGH PRAISE! Oh there is truly something incredibly powerful about what is found in this passage of Scripture for what we find here is a picture of Paul and Silas being beaten and cast into prison thus restricted from being able to preach the gospel of the Lord Jesus. Despite the fact they were secured in the innermost prison and their feet in stocks their voices were not silenced nor were their songs squelched.  What’s. more is I would dare say that the apostle Paul and Silas not only sought to sing praises unto the Lord as a means of worshipping him in the midst of their suffering but also as a means of preaching the gospel unto the prisoners who were there. I do not believe it is any coincidence that Luke writes and records how the other prisoners which were present in the prison heard the songs of praise Paul and Silas were singing for it was as if their songs were in and of themselves preaching the gospel message unto them. There is not a doubt in my mind the words which were part of the songs of praise Paul and Silas were singing there in the prison were a powerful tool used—not only to preach the gospel having but cut off from the free world around them but also as means to accomplish what they would otherwise not be able to accomplish in their freedom. Oh dear reader would it shock and surprise you if I told you that it’s possible that God can accomplish more through your bondage, your slavery, your imprisonment and that which would be considered suffering, trials and trouble? It would be in the midst of the slavery and bondage of the children of Israel the Lord would show forth His signs and wonders through plagues which struck the very heart and soul of Egypt itself. It would be while the Hebrew people were enslaved in the land of Egypt the living and eternal God was in fact able to accomplish His signs and wonders to bring His people forth from their slavery, bondage and oppression.

 

            I sit here today thinking about what is found in the sixteenth chapter of this New Testament book and I am brought face to face with the tremendous truth the Lord Jesus accomplished more through the imprisonment of the apostle Paul and Silas than He did through their preaching. What’s more is I would dare say their being beaten and imprisoned were used in the hand of the living God to unleash and manifest His power in the earth. It would be while the apostle Paul and Silas were imprisoned singing praises unto the living God He would cause the earth to shake, he would case prison doors to be opened and He would cause chains, shackles and fetters to be loosed. Not only this but it would be also be as a direct result of what happened there in the prison the jailor would come unto them asking what he must needs do to be saved. The apostle Paul would instruct both he and his household to believe on the name of the Lord Jesus and they would be saved. The jailor and his entire household would not only believe on the name of the Lord Jesus and would not only be baptized but would also bring Paul and Silas into the home of the jailor and wash their stripes and set meat before them. Oh if there is one thing we must needs recognize and understand it’s that although Paul and Silas were restricted and prevented from preaching the gospel of the Lord Jesus for a minimum of at least one night they would be completely and utterly free to sing praises unto the living God there in the prison cell. The songs of their praises would not only cause the earth and the prison to shake but would also cause prison doors to be opened and chains to be loosed and removed. Oh how absolutely incredible it is to see how although preaching was silenced praise would become the medium whereby Paul and Silas would not only sing praises unto the Lord but would also preach unto the prisoners there in prison.

 

As I bring this writing to a close it is absolutely necessary that we recognize and understand this particular truth for it calls and draws our attention to the tremendous truth that it is possible for the Lord to do and accomplish more through our suffering than in our rest and peace. We must needs recognize and understand that there are times when the Lord can accomplish more through our imprisonment, our bondage, our slavery and even our oppression than He can in our freedom. We must needs recognize and understand that there are times when although our voices have been silenced in preaching the gospel of the Lord Jesus we have the ability to sing forth the praises of the living God. At the midnight hour Paul and Silas would not preach the gospel of the Lord Jesus but they would sing praises in the hearing of all the prisoners—perhaps even in the hearing of the jailor. Oh I can’t help but wonder if the jailor heard the songs of their praise, beheld the earthquake, saw the prison doors opened and saw the chains and shackles loosed and recognized the power of God surrounding and in the lives of Paul and Silas. What’s more is I can’t help but wonder if any of the prisoners there in that prison believed on the name of the Lord Jesus and committed the rest of their lives to serving the Lord Jesus. We as the saints and followers of the Lord Jesus must recognize the tremendous power in our prayers to cause buildings to be shaken, to cause prison doors to be opened, to cause shackles to be loosed and to cause the manifestation of the Holy Spirit. Moreover there is a tremendous power in our praise as the songs of our praise can not only shake the earth, not only cause prison doors to be opened, not only cause shackles to be loosed but also salvation to come unto others. Oh that we would read the words presented in this passage of Scripture and recognize the tremendous voice and power that is present within our prayers and our praise and even though we might not be able to preach the living God can avail and accomplish much through our prayers and our praise.

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