Today’s selected reading continues in the New Testament book of Acts—the account of the spiritual body of Jesus Christ—as it was written and recorded by the beloved physician Luke. More specifically today’s passage begins with the forty-fourth verse of the thirteenth chapter and continues through to the twentieth verse of the fourteenth chapter. “And the next sabbath day came almost the whole city to hear the word of God. But when the Jews saw the multitudes, they were filled with envy, and spake against those things which were spoken by Paul, contradicting and blaspheming. Then Paul and Barnabas waxed bold, and said, it was necessary that the word of God should first first have been spoken to you: but seeing ye put it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy to everlasting life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles. For so hath the Lord commanded us, saying, I have set thee to be a light of the Gentiles, that thou shouldest be for salvation unto the ends of the earth. And when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad, and glorified the word of the Lord: and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed. And the word of the Lord was published throughout all the region. But the jews stirred up the devout and honourable women, and the chief men of the city, and raised persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and expelled them out of their coasts. But they shook off the dust of their feet against them, and came into Iconium. And the disciples were filled with joy, and with the Holy Ghost” (Acts 13:44-52).
“And it came to pass in Iconium, that they went both together into the synagogue of the Jews, and so spake, that a great multitude both of the Jews and also of the Greeks believed. But the unbelieving Jews stirred up the Gentiles, and made their minds evil affected against the brethren. Long time therefore abode they speaking boldly in the Lord, which gave testimony unto the word of his grace, and grated signs and wonders to be done by their hands. But the multitude of the city was divided: and part held with t he Jews, and part with the apostles. And when there was an assault made both of the Gentiles, and also of the Jews with their rulers, to use them despitefully, and to stone them, they were ware of it, and fled unto Lystra, and Derbe, cities of Lyonia, and unto the region that lieth round about: and there they preached the gospel” (Acts 14:1-7).
“And there sat a certain man at Lystra, impotent in his feet, being a cripple from his mother’s womb, who never had walked: the same heard Paul speak: who steadfastly beholding him, and perceived that he had faith to be healed, said with a loud voice, Stand upright on thy feet. And he leaped and walked. And when the people saw what Paul had done, they lifted up their voices, saying in the speech of Lycaonia, The gods are come down to us in the likeness of men. And they called Barnabas, Jupiter; and Paul, Mercurius, because he was the chief speaker. Then the priest of Jupiter, which was before their city, brought Owen and garlands unto the gates, and would have done sacrifice with the people. Which when the apostles, Barnabas and Paul, heard of, they rent their clothes, and ran in among the people, crying out, and saying, Sirs, why do ye these things? We also are men of like passions with you, and preach unto you that ye should turn from these vanities unto the living God, which made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all things that are therein: who in times past suffered all nations to walk in their own ways. Nevertheless he left not himself without witness, in that he did good, and gave us rain from heaven, and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness. And with these sayings, scarce restrained they the people, that they had not done sacrifice unto them” (Acts 14:8-18).
“And there came thither certain Jews from Antioch and Iconium, who persuaded the people, and, having stoned Paul, drew him out of the city, supposing he had been dead. Howbeit, as the disciples told round about him, he rose up and came into the city: and the next day he departed with Barnabas to Derbe” (Acts 14:19-20).
When you come to this particular portion of Scripture you will encounter the continuation of the details describing the first missionary journey of the apostle Paul together with Barnabas and John Mark. If you begin reading with and from the first and opening verses of this chapter you will find that this first missionary journeys was in all reality initiated by the Holy Ghost. There was absolutely no decision made on the part of Barnabas nor even on the part of the apostle Paul to set forth on this apostolic and missionary journey. This is incredibly important to recognize and understand for after devoting themselves to faithfully abiding in fellowship and community together with the brethren which were present in Antioch the Holy Ghost would speak unto those who were present and call for the separation of Paul and Barnabas unto the work unto which He Himself had called them. This is something we must needs recognize and understand when seeking to truly get a good grasp of the journey which Paul, Barnabas, John Mark and perhaps others set out on during those days. If there is one thing we must needs recognize it’s that this was first and foremost a separation from the brethren which were at Antioch that they might separated unto the Holy Spirit. I have previously written that this was as much a separation unto the person of the Holy Spirit Himself as it was a separation unto the work whereunto they had been called. We would like to think that this was indeed separation unto the work itself—a work which the Holy Ghost had called them to—however, the truth of the matter is that this is indeed a separation unto the person and presence of the Holy Spirit. Oh there would be those who would like to focus their attention on the fact that this was indeed a separation unto the work whereunto the apostle Paul and Barnabas had been called, however, the truth of the matter is that the work whereunto we are called is never as great nor will it riser higher than the fellowship we have been called to.
I sit here today writing the words which are found in this passage of Scripture and I am confronted with the absolutely wonderful truth surrounding the Holy Ghost calling for the separation of Paul and Barnabas from the body of believers there at Antioch and being separated unto Himself and unto the work whereunto they had been called. This is something we dare not and must not miss and lose sight of for there is something truly astonishing about being separated unto the person and the work of the Holy Ghost. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this for it calls and draws our attention to the absolutely wonderful reality of the Holy Ghost speaking unto the prophets and teachers which were present there in the midst of the church at Antioch. In the midst of their ministering unto the Lord and their fasting the Holy Ghost would break through and would call them to separate unto Himself Saul; and Barnabas whereunto the work which He had called them. Up to this point the apostle Paul had preached the word and name of Jesus arguing and contending that He was the very Christ and was indeed the Son of the living God. In Damascus as well as Jerusalem the apostle Paul would argue and contend with the Jews and others that Jesus was indeed the very Christ and was indeed the Son of the living God. What makes this all the more intriguing when you take the time to think about it is when you consider the fact that in Damascus the Jews sought to kill and destroy the apostle Paul while in Jerusalem the Grecians sought to destroy and put him to death. While in Damascus the brethren and disciples would lower the apostle Paul through a basket out of the window which was present in the midst of the wall. While in Jerusalem the brethren and disciples would take Paul out of the city and bring him unto Caesarea whereby he would then journey as far as Tarsus. The ninth chapter of this New Testament book concludes with the apostle Paul journeying unto Tarsus and the churches which were scattered throughout Judaea, throughout Samaria and throughout Galilee having, enjoying and experiencing rest within and among themselves.
The more I read the words which are found in this passage of Scripture the more I am convinced that the separation of Saul and Barnabas unto the work whereunto they had been called is directly linked to and framed by their commitment to fellowship and community which was present in Antioch. This is something we dare not and must not miss and lose sight of for it draws and calls our attention to the context of fellowship and fasting which was present in the midst of Antioch. Saul and Barnabas would indeed abide together with and among the brethren which were at Antioch. It would be in this context we are called to recognize and understand the tremendous importance of fellowship and community which was present in the eleventh chapter. If there is one thing we must needs understand and acknowledge based on reading the words contained in the New Testament book of Acts it is that fellowship and community was at the very heart of the early church. There would be those who would like to place a great deal of emphasis on signs, wonders and miracles as being of great importance during the days of the early church. There would be those who would like to emphasize the preaching of the word and name of the Lord Jesus during those days and how incredibly important it truly was. Moreover there would be those who would like to emphasize speaking with other tongues and the indwelling and baptism of the Holy Spirit as being of great importance during the days of the early church. Please understand that I firmly believe that the baptism and indwelling of the Holy Spirit is of great importance during the days of the early church and that the early church would not have been what we read of in the book of Acts without and apart from the person, the presence and the power of the Holy Spirit. What’s more is I would dare say that the early church would not be what we read of without and apart from the preaching of the word and name of the Lord Jesus for it was the preaching of the word and name of the Lord Jesus that would bring about the conviction that would be found within the hearts and consciences of those who heard it.
As you read the words which are found in the New Testament book of Acts you can and will be brought face to face with the emphasis on community and fellowship and how absolutely incredible and important this truly was during the days of the early church. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this for it calls and draws our attention to just how important fellowship and community truly was during the days of the early church. Until recently I have always read the words which are found in the second chapter of this New Testament book and believed that speaking with other tongues was the greatest evidence of the Holy Spirit. In fact I used to belong to a major Christian denomination that promotes speaking with tongues as the initial physical evidence of the Holy Spirit. What’s more is that if you wanted to become licensed and even ordained within this denomination you needed to affirm this truth and recognize it being of great importance. While I do in fact believe that speaking with other tongues as the Spirit gave utterance was indeed a great evidence of the baptism of and indwelling of the Holy Spirit I would dare say that speaking with other tongues was not the greatest evidence and manifestation of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost. If you take the time to read the words which are found in the second chapter you can and will encounter the tremendous and incredible truth surrounding the evidence of speaking with other tongues, however, you will also encounter three thousand souls believing the words which the apostle Peter would preach and as a direct result of their believing his words would be baptized and added unto the number of the believers which were present on that particular day. On the day of Pentecost there were three thousand souls which were added unto the number of those who were present in the upper room and who experienced and received the promise of the Holy Spirit.
Pause for a moment and consider how absolutely incredible it is to read of three thousand souls being added unto the believers on a single day. Stop and think about what it would and could have been like for three thousand souls to not only believe on the word and name of the Lord Jesus but also be baptized in the name of Jesus of Nazareth. Moreover I am compelled to call and draw your attention to the truth surrounding the words and language that is found here in this passage of Scripture. It wasn’t merely that three thousand souls believed on the name of the Lord Jesus and were baptized in His name and added unto the number of the believers. If you take the time to read the words which are found in the second chapter you will read how they continued with one accord and how they were all gathered together in one place. Those who were added to the number of men and women which were present in the upper room gave themselves to the apostles’ doctrine, to the breaking of bread and to fellowship one with another. Moreover they would give themselves to meeting from house to house as they would enjoy fellowship and community with each other. Please don’t miss and lose sight of this and how absolutely astonishing and important it truly is. There is nothing we must recognize and understand more than what is perhaps the single greatest work of the Holy Spirit which was knitting together and uniting the hearts and spirits of all those who believed during those days. In a single day three thousand souls believed and were added unto the number of the believers and would devote themselves to the doctrine and fellowship of the apostles and with each other. Oh this is something we must needs recognize for it calls and draws our attention to the absolutely wonderful truth surrounding how important fellowship and community truly is and how the only way for true unity to be cultivated is by and through the person of the Holy Spirit. This is something we dare not and must not miss and lose sight of for it calls and draws our attention to the incredible reality of the work of the Holy Spirit in joining together men and women in fellowship and community.
I am absolutely convinced that if you want to understand the words and language that is found in the thirteenth chapter of this New Testament book you must needs understand it in the context of the fellowship and community of the saints and believers which were present in the early church. The context and framework for what we find in the thirteenth chapter is indeed set within the eleventh chapter of this New Testament book as Luke writes of those which were scattered abroad upon the persecution of Stephen traveled as far as Phenice, Cyprus and Antioch preaching the word to none bury unto the Jews only. Luke goes on to write how some of them were men of oCyprus and Cyrene which were come unto Antioch and spoke unto the Grecians preaching the Lord Jesus. Luke also writes how the hand of the Lord was with them and a great number believed and turned unto the Lord. This is something of great importance for within it we read of a great and mighty work which was taking place in the midst of Antioch as now only was the hand of the Lord upon those who would preach the Lord Jesus but a great number would believe and turn to the Lord. Eventually tidings and report of these things would come unto the ears of the church which was in Jerusalem and they would send forth Barnabas that he would journey unto Antioch. IT would be when Barnabas would come unto the brethren which were in Antioch he would see the grace of God, would be glad and exhorted them that with purpose of heart they would cleave unto the Lord. Moreover we also read of Barnabas that he was a good man, and fully of the Holy Ghost and of faith and how much people were added unto the Lord. This is something we must. Not miss and lose sight of for there would indeed be a mighty and wonderful work which would take place there in the midst of Antioch as the word of the Lord Jesus was being preached and as a great number believed and would turn to the Lord and much people were added unto the Lord.
If you continue reading the words which are found in this passage of Scripture you will find that in the midst of the work which was taking place there at Antioch Barnabas would actually leave for a short period of time for to seek Saul. Barnabas would journey unto Tarsus whereunto Saul had journeyed after departing from Jerusalem and upon finding him there would bring him back unto Antioch. It would be there in Antioch Saul and Barnabas would spend a whole year assembling themselves together with the church and teaching the people. It would be there in Antioch where those who were followers of the way and those who were Christians would be called “Christians” at the first. It would be there in the midst of Antioch we find the followers of the way which were those who believed in the name of the Lord Jesus and who walked with and followed Him would be called “Christians”—a title which would describe all those who walked with and followed Jesus during those days and throughout the history of the church. From the days of the believers and followers which were present there in Antioch until today those who believed on the name of the Lord Jesus and who walked with and followed Him would be called Christians. This is something we must needs recognize and understand for this word and title of Christian is more than simply a title that speaks of our association with the Christ. We must needs recognize and remember that during His time here on the earth Jesus would speak of the Last Days and would declare that in those days there would arise many false Christs who would deceive many. Moreover Jesus would also go on to declare that there would be many who would declare that they are Christ and if it were possible would lead countless men and women astray. This is something which is incredibly important—particularly and especially when considering the words presented here in the book of Acts—for those who walk with and follow the Lord Jesus would be called Christians first. This title of “Christian” would indeed directly associate men and women to the name of Jesus who was the Christ and would speak of their being submitted unto the reality that Jesus was indeed the Christ and Lord. With this in mind I invite you to consider the following words which are found in the twenty-fourth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew beginning with the fourth verse:
“Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many. And ye shall hear of wars and rumors of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. All these are the beginning of sorrows. Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake. And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another. And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come” (Matthew 24:4-14).
“And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened. Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there; believe it not. For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect. Behold, I have told you before. Wherefore if they shall say unto you, Behold, he is in the desert; go not forth: behold, he is in the secret chambers; believe it not. For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For Wheresoever the carcass is, there will the eagles be gathered together” (Matthew 24:22-28).
I am absolutely convinced we must needs recognize and understand the words which are found in this passage of Scripture for it calls and draws our attention to the absolutely wonderful truth surrounding the last days. Jesus Himself declared that in the Last Days there would be man who would come in His name and would make the profession that they were Christ and would deceive many. Moreover Jesus would also speak of men who would speak unto others and professing Christ was in a certain place and that there would be false Christs and false prophets which would shew great signs and wonders that if it were possible—even the very elect would be deceived. This is something we must needs recognize and understand for it calls and draws our attention to the absolutely wonderful truth surrounding those who would arise during the last days would speak of themselves as being Christ. I have long believed that what Jesus is speaking of in this particular passage is not necessarily those who profess themselves to be Christ. There are many who believe we are indeed living in the last days and yet I have not heard or any single man—or even many men—who have risen up and declared and professed themselves to be Christ. What I have witnessed and what I have seen is an incredible number of those who would profess themselves to be and belong to Christ. I have seen many men and women who have professed themselves to be Christians and followers of the person of the Lord Jesus. This is something we dare not and must not miss and lose sight of for it calls and draws our attention to the absolutely wonderful truth surrounding the rise of many in the last days who would indeed speak of and profess themselves to be followers of the Lord Jesus Christ.
When we read the words which are presented in the eleventh chapter of the New Testament book of Acts we must needs recognize and understand that there in Antioch men and women would be called Christians at the first. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this for it calls and draws our attention to those who would identity with and by this new word “Christian”—a word that would not only associate themselves with Christ but would also suggest the reality that their lives did indeed and did fact belong to the person of the Lord Jesus Christ. What makes this all the more intriguing when you take the time to think about it is when you consider the words which are found in the New Testament gospels concerning those who would make the confession and profession that Jesus was indeed the Christ—and not only the Christ but also the Son of God. We have a great need to recognize and understand the words which are found in the New Testament gospels concerning the confession and profession men and women would make concerning the person of the Lord Jesus and how He was not only the Christ but also that He was the Son of the living God. This is something that warrants strong and careful consideration for it helps us to truly understand how significant the word “Christian” truly is. I am absolutely convinced that we cannot and will not understand just how important the word “Christian” truly is until and unless we first recognize and understand the confessions and professions which were made concerning Jesus while He was still present among us in the earth as the Word which was made flesh. If you want to truly understand the words which are found in the New Testament book of Acts concerning men and women being called and known as Christians there is a great need to understand what lies at the very heart and foundation of men and women being called Christians. With this in mind I invite you to consider the following words which are found in the New Testament gospels beginning with the sixteenth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew:
“When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am? And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist: Some, Elias; and others Jeremias, or one of the prophets. He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-jona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. And I say also unto thee, That you art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Then charged he his disciples that they should tell no man that he was Jesus Christ” (Matthew 16:13-20).
“The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world. This is he of whom I said, After me cometh a man which is preferred before me: for he was before me. And I knew him not: but that he should be made manifest to Israel, therefore am I come baptizing with water. And John bare record, saying, I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it abode upon him. And I knew him not: but he that sent me to baptize with water, the same said unto me, Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and remaining on him, the same is he which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost. And I saw, and bare record that this is the Son of God” (John 1:29-34).
“Again the next day after John stood, and two of his disciples; and looking upon Jesus as he walked, he saith, Behold the Lamb of God! And the two disciples heard him speak, and they followed Jesus. Then Jesus turned, and saw them following, and saith unto them, What seek ye? They said unto him, Rabbi, (which is to say, being interpreted, Master.), where dwellest thou? He saith unto them, Come and see. They came and saw where he dwelt and abode with him that day: for it was about the tenth hour. And one of the two which heard John speak, and followed him, was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. He first findeth his own brother Simon, and saith unto him, We have found the Messias, which is, being interpreted, the Christ. And he brought him to Jesus. And when Jesus beheld him, he said, Thou art Simon the son of Jona: thou shalt be called Cephas, which is by interpretation, A stone” (John 1:35-42).
“The day following Jesus would go forth into Galilee, and findeth Philip, and saith unto him, Follow me. Now Philip was of Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. Philip findeth Nathanael, and saith unto him, We have found him, of whom Moses in the law, and the prophets, did writes, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph. And Nathanael said unto him, Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth? Philip saith unto him, Come and see. Jesus saw Nathanael coming to him, and saith of him, Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile! Nathanael saith unto him, Whence knowest thou me? Jesus answered and said unto him, Before that Philip called thee, when thou wast under the fig tree, I saw thee. Nathanael answered and saith unto him< Rabbi, thou art the Son of God; thou art the King of Israel. Jesus answered and said unto him, Because I said unto thee, I saw thee under the fig tree, believest thou? Thou shalt see greater things than these. And he saith unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Hereafter ye shall see haven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man” (John 1:43-51).
“Jesus saith unto her, Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father. Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews. But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth. The woman saith unto him, I know that Messias cometh, which is called Christ: when he is come, he will tell us all things. Jesus saith unto her, I that speak unto thee am he” (John 4:21-26).
“And many of the Samaritans of that city believed on him for the saying of the woman, which testified, He told me all that ever I did. So when the Samaritans were come unto him, they besought him that he would tarry with them: and he abode there two days. And many more believed because of his own word; and said unto the woman, Now we believe, not because of thy saying: for we have heard him ourselves, and know that this indeed the Christ, the Saviour of the world” (John 4:39-42).
“From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him. Then said Jesus unto the twelve, Will ye also go away? Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life. And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God. Jesus answered them, have not I chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil? He spake of Judas Iscariot the son of Simon: for he it was that should betray him, being one of the twelve” (John 6:66-71).
“Then when Jesus came, he found that he had lain in the grave four days already. Now Bethany was nigh unto Jerusalem, about fifteen furlongs off: and many of the Jews came to Martha and mary to comfort them concerning their brother. Then. Martha, as soon as she heard that Jesus was coming, went and met him: but Mary sat still in the house. Then said Martha unto Jesus, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died. But I know, that even now, whatsoever thou wilt ask of God, God will give it thee. Jesus saith unto her, Thy brother shall rise again. Martha saith unto him, I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day. Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: and whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this? She saith unto him, yea, Lord: I believe that thou art the Christ, the Son of God, which should come into the world. And when she had so said, she went here way, and called Mary her sister secretly, saying, The Master is come, and calleth for thee. As soon as she heard that, she arose quickly, and came unto him” (John 11:17-29).
It is absolutely necessary and imperative we recognize and understand the words which are found in these passages of Scripture for they call and draw our attention and focus unto the reality of the confession and profession that Jesus was indeed the Christ and the Son of the living God. If you want to truly understand that which is at the very heart, the very center and the very foundation of the word “Christian” you must needs recognize that it is confession, the profession and the declaration that Jesus is indeed the Christ and the Son of the living God. You will recall in the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew that Jesus declared that those who confessed Him before men He would indeed confess them before His Father which was in heaven. With this being, said, however, Jesus also declared that those who did not confess Him before men He Himself would deny and not confess them before His Father which was in heaven. If you want to truly understand just how incredibly significant the term and title “Christian” truly is you must needs understand that at the very heart and center of it is the confession and the profession that Jesus was indeed the Christ. With this being said, however, we must needs recognize and understand that while it was indeed true that the followers of the way and believers on the name of the Lord Jesus were called Christians first in Antioch there have been many throughout the history of the world since then who have associated themselves as Christians. There have been countless men and women who have made the confession and profession that they were indeed Christians and yet have absolutely no commitment nor any fidelity and loyalty to Him. There are those who think and feel they can associate themselves as Christians and yet nothing in their lives confirms or affirms that t particular truth. If you want to understand the words which are found in the New Testament book of Acts you must needs understand this concept of “Christian” and what it truly means for thus far we have seen the distinction which existed between Jew and Gentile—and not only between Jew and Gentile but also between Jew, Gentile and Samaritan as was evidenced in the eighth chapter of this New Testament book.
I find it absolutely necessary to call and draw your attention to the following words which are found in the tenth and sixteenth chapters of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew as well as the words which are found in the tenth chapter of the epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the saints which were at Rome. What’s more is the words we find in the epistle written unto the saints which were at Rome call and draw our attention to the absolutely wonderful denial of many Jews that Jesus was indeed the Christ. It would be in this passage of Scripture where we being to truly see the resistance of the Jews to the reality and declaration that Jesus was indeed the Christ and the Son of the living God. There is an absolutely great and wonderful need to recognize and consider the words which are found in this passage of Scripture for it calls and draws our attention to the truly wonderful and powerful truth concerning the resistance and rejection of many unbelieving Jews which were present during those days. If there is one thing which the apostolic missionary journey of the apostle Paul would reveal it was the divide that would be present among many Jews during those days as there would be those Jews who believed while there would be other Jews who would not believe. This is something we dare not and must not miss and lose sight of for it calls and draws our attention to the absolutely wonderful and powerful truth surrounding those who would indeed believe on the name of the Lord Jesus and those who would despise and reject that name. With this in mind I invite you to consider the following words which are found in both the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew as well as the words which are found in the New Testament epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the saints which were at Rome:
“Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I deny before my Father which is in heaven. Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household. He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And he that taketh not his cross, and followerth after me, is not worthy of me. He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it” (Matthew 10:32-39).
“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. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works. Verily I say unto you, There be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom” (Matthew 16:24-28).
“Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved. For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge. For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth. For Moses describeth the righteousness which is of the law, That the man which doeth those things shall live by them. But the righteousness which is of faith speaketh on this wise, Say not in thine heart, Who shall ascend into heaven? (That is, to bring Christ down from above) OR, Who shall descend into the deep? )That is, to bring up Christ again from the dead.P) But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach; that if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? And how shall hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach, except they be sent? As it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good thigns! But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Esias saith, Lord, who hath believed our report? So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. But I say, have they not heard? Yes verily, their sound went into all the earth, and their words unto the ends of the world. But I say, Did not Israel know? First Moses saith, I will provoke you to jealousy by them that are no people, and by a foolish nation I will anger you. But Esaias is very bold, and saith, I was found of them that sought me not; I was made manifest unto them that asked not after me. But to Israel he saith, All day long I have stretched forth my hands unto a disobedient and gainsaying people” (Romans 10:1-21).
There is a great need to recognize and pay close attention to the words which we see here in these passages of Scripture for when you think about and consider the reality and concept of Christian and what it means to associate yourself as one—not only do you acknowledge and confess that Jesus is indeed the Christ but you also confess with your mouth that He is both Christ and Lord. This is something which must be carefully considered when reading the words presented in this passage of Scripture for it brings us face to face with what we see in the New Testament book of Acts concerning this division that would become evident and manifested among many of the churches. In fact—when writing unto the churches which were in Galatia—the apostle Paul emphatically declared and spoke of false brethren who entered in among them and infiltrated them that they might spy out their liberty. What’s more is that if you read the words which are found in the first New Testament epistle written by the apostle John you will find a very powerful contrast between Christs and antichrists which went out from among those who made the confession and profession that they believed. If you want to truly understand the days of the early church—particularly and especially beginning with the first apostolic missionary journey of the apostle Paul—you must needs recognize and come face to face with the truth surrounding the deception that would begin to be rampant among the churches. What’s more is that not only must you recognize and understand the deception that would be rampant within the church but also those who would make the confession and profession they were Christians and believed and yet neither confessed Jesus as Christ, nor confessed that Jesus was the Son of the living God, nor even that Jesus was Lord. It was the apostle John who asked who was a liar but that one who denied that Jesus came in the flesh and that He did in fact proceed from the living God which abides and dwells within the highest of heavens.
As you read the words which are found in the thirteenth chapter you will find the apostle Paul and Barnabas departing from Perna and coming to Antioch in Pisdia and went into the synagogue on the sabbath day. There in the midst of the synagogue—after the reading of the law and the prophets—the rulers of the synagogue sent unto them inviting them to stand up and deliver any word of exhortation which they might have for the people. It would be at this particular juncture the apostle Paul would stand up and beckon with his hand for the attention of all those which were present in the midst of the synagogue. The apostle Paul would then proceed to preach Jesus unto them—and not only preach Jesus but also preach Jesus as the Christ, Jesus as the Son of the living God, and Jesus as having been raised from death to life. The apostle Paul would preach unto them resurrection from the dead by and through the person and name of the Lord Jesus as He would faithfully expound unto them the incredible beauty concerning the Lord Jesus. Moreover the apostle Paul would also begin with the lineage and history of the Jewish people and their fathers and how the promise of the Holy Spirit and the word and gospel of the Lord Jesus was unto them first and foremost. There in the presence of all those in the synagogue—both Jews and Gentiles—the apostle Paul would emphatically preach and proclaim Jesus as Christ, as the Son of the living God and as having been raised from death to life. Oh consider if you will the following words which are found in this passage of Scripture beginning with and from the sixteenth verse of the thirteenth chapter and the words which the apostle Paul would preach unto those who were present in the synagogue:
“Men of Israel, and. Ye that fear God, give audience. The God of this people of Israel chose our fathers, and exalted the people when they dwelt as strangers in the land of Egypt, and with an high arm brought he them out of it. And about the time of fort years suffered he their manners in the wilderness. And when he had destroyed seven nations in the land of Chanaan, he divided their land to them by lot. And after that he gave unto them judges about the space of four hundred and fifty years, until Samuel the prophet. And afterward they desired a king: and God gave unto them Saul; the son of Cis, a man of the tribe of Benjamin, by the space of forty. Years. And when he had removed him, he raised up unto them David to be their king; to whom also he gave testimony, and said, I have found David the son of Jess, a man after mine own heart, which shall fulfill all my will. Of this man’s seed hath God according to his promise raised unto Israel a Saviour, Jesus: when John had first preached before his coming the baptism of repentance to all the people of Israel. And as John fulfilled his course, he said, Whom think ye that I am? I am not he. But, behold, there cometh one after me, whose shoes of his feet I am not worthy to loose. Men and brethren, children of the stock of Abraham, and whosoever among you feareth God, to you is the word of this salvation sent. For they that dwell at Jerusalem, and their rulers, because they knew him not, nor yet the voices of the prophets which are read every sabbath day, they have fulfilled them in condemning him. And though they found no cause of death in him, yet desired they Pilate that he should be slain. And when they had fulfilled all that was written of him, they took him down from the tree, and laid him in a sepulchre. But God raised him from the dead: and he was seen. Many days of them which came up with him from Galilee to Jerusalem, who are his witnesses unto the people. And we declare unto you glad tidings, how that the promise which was made unto the fathers, God hath fulfilled the same unto us their children, in theat he hath raised up Jesus again; as it is also written in the second psalm, Thou art my Son, this day have I GE bitten thee. And as concerning that he raised him up from the dead, now no more to return to corruption, he said on this wise, I will give you the sure mercies of David. Wherefore he saith also in another psalm, Thou shalt not suffer thine Holy One to see corruption. For David after he had serve his own generation by the will of God, fell on sleep, and was laid unto his fathers, and saw corruption: But he, whom God raised again, saw no corruption. Be it known unto you therefore men and brethren, that through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins: and by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the Law of mOses. Beware therefore, lest that come upon you, which is spoken of in the prophets; Behold, ye despisers, and wonder, and perish: for I work a work in your days, a work which ye shall in no wise believe, thou a man declare it unto you” (Acts 13:16-41).
We must needs recognize and understand the incredible truth that is found in these words and how absolutely incredible they truly are for they bring us face to face with the awesome truth surrounding the preaching of the apostle Paul. The apostle Paul would stand before all those who were present here in this synagogue and would not only preach that Jesus was the Christ and the Son of the living God but would preach that Jesus was crucified, that Jesus was buried in the grave and that the Father raised him up from the dead. This is something that must be recognized and acknowledged when reading the words found here in this passage of Scripture for when you seek to understand the days of the early church you must needs understand that there would be a wonderful and powerful declaration that would be made during those days. It would be during those days the apostles and those who were followers of the Lord Jesus Christ would indeed preach Jesus as being the Christ, as being Lord, as being the Son of the living—and not only that He was Christ and the Son of the living but also that He was crucified and was raised from death to life on the third day. This is something we must not ignore nor lose sight of when seeking to understand the words which are found in this passage of Scripture for it calls and draws our attention to the absolutely wonderful reality of what it truly means to be a Christian. It is as you read the words which are found in this passage of Scripture you find the apostle Paul preaching unto those who were present in the synagogue and preaching the Lord Jesus as being Christ and the Son of the living God. This is something we ought not ignore when seeking to understand the words found in this passage of Scripture for it brings us face to face with the truth of what it means to truly be a Christian. Consider if you will the following words which are found in the first epistle written by the apostle John unto the saints which were at Ephesus:
“Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son. Whosoever denieth the Son, the same hath not the Father: (but) he that acknowledgeth the Son hath the Father also. Let that therefore abide in you, which ye have heard from the beginning. If that which ye have heard from the beginning shall remain in you, ye also shall continue in the Son, and in the Father. And this is the promise that he hath promised us, even eternal life” (1 John 2:22-25).
“And this is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment. And he that keepeth his commandments dwelleth in him, and he in him. And hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us” (1 John 3:23-24).
“Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world. Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world. They are of the world: therefore speak they of the world, and the world heareth them. We are of God: he that knoweth God heareth us; he that is not of God heareth not us. Hereby know we the spirit of truth,a nd the spirit of error. Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love. IN this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him” (1 John 4:1-9).
“And we have seen and do testify that the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world. Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him, and he in God. And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him. Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love. We love him, because he first loved us. If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also” (1 John’s 4:14-21).
“Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God: and every one that loveth him that begat loveth him also that is begotten of him. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous. For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God? This is he that came by water and blood, even Jesus Christ; not by water only, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit that beareth witness, because the Spirit is truth. For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three agree in one. If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater: for this is the witness of God which he hath testified of his Son. He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself: he that believeth. Not God hath made him a liar; because the believeth not the record that God gave of his Son. And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this is in his Son. He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life” (1 John 5:1-12).
“These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God. And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us: and if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him. If any man see his brother sin a sin which is not unto death, he shall ask, and he shall give him life for them that sin not unto death. There is a sin unto death: I do not say that he shall pray for it. All unrighteousness is sin: and there is a sin unto unto death. We know that whosoever is born of God sinneth not; but he that is begotten of God keepeth himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not. And we know that we are of God, and the whole world lieth in wickedness. And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true, and we are in him that is true, even. In his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life. Little children, keep yourselves from idols.Amen” (1 John 5:13-21).
As I bring this writing to a close I find it absolutely necessary to call and draw your attention to the words which are found in the final verses of this passage of Scripture as well as in the fourteenth chapter. If you begin reading with and from the forty-second verse you will find that when the Jews were gone out of the synagogue the Gentiles besought that the words might be preached unto them the next sabbath. What’s more is that as you continue reading the words which are found in this passage you will find that when the congregation was broken up there were many of the jews and religious proselytes who followed Paul and Barnabas who were persuaded to continue in the grace of God. With this being said it’s important to recognize the words which are found in this passage of Scripture and how on the next sabbath day came almost the whole city together for to hear the word of God. With this being said, however, the Jews would see the multitudes and were filled with envy and spake against those things which were spoken by Paul as they contradicted and blasphemed. Paul and Barnabas would indeed wax bold and declare that it was necessary that the word of God should have first been spoken unto the Jews, however, seeing that they put it from them they judge themselves unworthy of everlasting life. As a direct result of this the apostle Paul and Barnabas would indeed turn unto the Gentiles that salvation might in fact be unto the ends of the earth. The Gentiles would hear this and were glad and would glorify the word of the Lord. What’s more is that as many as were ordained unto eternal life believed and the word of the Lord was published throughout all the region. Important to recognize when reading the words is the continued opposition of the Jews—or I should say the unbelieving Jews—toward and against the word and name of the Lord Jesus and the work of the Holy Spirt. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this and how absolutely incredible it truly is for it calls and draws our attention to the absolutely wonderful truth surrounding this resistance and opposition of the Jews which was present during those days for the unbelieving Jews could not stand nor tolerate the word, the name and the preaching of the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.
I find it absolutely necessary to call and draw your attention to the absolutely incredible reality of the resistance, the rejection and the opposition of the unbelieving Jews which were present within the cities in which the apostle Paul and Barnabas preached in. As you read the words found in these passage of Scripture you can and will encounter the truth surrounding the beginning of resistance and opposition to the preaching of the word and name of the Lord Jesus Christ and how we would begin to see the envy of the Jews and their attempt to stir up the multitudes against the apostle Paul, against the word and name of the Lord Jesus Christ. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this for there is a great need to recognize the tremendous opposition that would rise up against the early church and how it would indeed come from the unbelieving Jews which were present during those days. This is something we dare not and must not miss and lose sight of for it calls and draws our attention to the astounding reality that there would indeed be a tremendous opposition that would break out against the early church and the need for endurance, courage and stamina which were present during those days. What’s more is there was a need to continue on in faith without losing heart and without losing confidence in the Lord as there would rise up a great persecution against the early church during those days—a persecution that would not be present in the midst of Jerusalem but a persecution that would break out against the word, the name and the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. It is absolutely necessary that we recognize and understand this and how absolutely incredible it truly is for it calls and draws our attention to the tremendous need we have within our hearts and lives to be men and women who stand in full assurance and confidence—even in the midst of persecution, resistance and opposition that rises up against us in this generation and in the days in which we are living in.