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COMMENTARY

COMMENTARY
English
Gospel according to Matthew
Gospel according to Mark
Gospel according to Luke
Gospel according to John
Acts of the Apostles
Epistle to the Romans

German
Die Offenbarung des Johannes

Arabic
إنجيل المسيح حسب متى
إنجيل المسيح حسب مرقس
إنجيل المسيح حسب لوقا
إنجيل المسيح حسب يوحنا
أعمال الرسل
رسالة إِلى أهل رومية
رسالة إِلى أهل غلاطية
رسالة إِلى أهل فيلبي
رسالة إلى أهل كولوسي
رسالة إلى العبرانيين
رسالة يعقوب
رؤيا يوحنا

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A - The First Missionary Journey (Acts 13:1-14:28)

1. The Separation of Barnabas and Saul for the Work (Acts 13:1-3)
1   Now there were in the church that was at Antioch certain prophets and teachers; as Barnabas, and Simeon that was called Niger, and Lucius of Cyrene, and Manaen, which had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul.
2   As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them.
3   And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them away.

Antioch was, at that time, the greatest capital in the Orient. It was called “Rome of the Orient”. At this main center of commerce and world communications the Early Church was formed. It was well established in vitality and maturity. Most of its members were illiterates who had believed in Christ, not through the working of the apostles, but through the testimony of simple believers.
The mother church at Jerusalem had sent Barnabas, as a fatherly friend and visitor, to strengthen the new believers. This delegate took Saul, a very active theologian, as his associate. Together they ministered a complete year in the Antioch church. This church grew in numbers and in power and became the second center of Christianity, beside Jerusalem. It became the starting point for preaching to the Gentiles.
The gifts of the Spirit appeared richly in this church through much prophecy and teaching. The prophets in the New Testament were not separated from the people, but lived within the church as all other believers. They realized the will of God, however, before the others. They understood certain mysteries in their consciences, foresaw the development of the future, and were quick to obey the guidance of the Holy Spirit. This is why Paul, thereafter, warned the believers in his epistles and encouraged them not to despise the gift of prophecy. It was necessary for the formation of churches, just as leaven is necessary for the dough.
These teachers penetrated deeply into the fullness of the word of God. They taught church members, in an orderly and continual fashion, the meanings of the Law, the words of Jesus, and the apostles’ doctrine. The teachers directed their teaching principally toward the will and memory of their hearers, while the prophets aimed foremost at the listener´s heart, mind, and sentiment. God wants you to have a complete body, soul, and spirit, to prompt you to praise, preach and possess a sober faith.
All the different gifts in the church were established under the banner of love, which is the bond of perfection. There was no bishop or chief leader among the members. They discussed their matters within the circle of brothers and elders, with one accord. Barnabas, the sedate, mature Cypriot, did not oversee the church, though he was sent to inspect it. He humbled himself, joined firmly with the brothers, and guided them to cooperation and brotherly partnership. The Cyrenian and Cypriot brothers were most probably the founders of the Antioch church (11: 20). Among them was Manaen, the foster brother of Herod, who had beheaded John the Baptist. Both children nursed from the same milk, but they did not receive the same spirit. The king became an adulterer, who feared the spirits of the dead, while Manaen humbled himself, becoming an example to the believers in the fullness of the Holy Spirit.
We read Saul’s name at the end of the list of ministers and principal members of the church at Antioch, for he was the youngest and the last to join them. He became a student in Antioch once again, in spite of his special knowledge of Jewish, Old Testament jurisprudence. He, too, experienced the love practiced in this fellowship of Christians.
These brothers in faith served the Lord together, just as the priests under the Old Covenant had worshiped God together in the sacrifice offerings. They all desired to call down His blessing on their nation. Hence the five principal members at Antioch asked the Lord Christ to realize the fruit of His sacrifice on the cross in their church and in the people around them. The saints fasted, but not to be justified. They had already been sanctified once and for all by the blood of Christ. Their fasting was for the service of prayer. They forgot about food and drink, for their common prayers for the salvation of the Gentiles was more important to them than all delicacies. Their prayers reflected their longing to see the salvation of Christ proclaimed in their surroundings.
The Lord answered them, speaking openly by His Spirit through the mouths of the church prophets. In receiving this revelation none of them were knocked down or rolled to the ground. They all concernedly heard the will and design of God. The Holy Spirit spoke to the believers in this revelation in the first personal singular pronoun, “I”, as a separate person. He was commanding, guiding, loving, and comforting them immediately. He moves quickly, whenever and wherever He wishes, according to His kind pleasure. This blessed Spirit is, at the same time, one of the Persons in the unity of the Holy Trinity: God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, in one essence with the Father, full of love, holiness, and glory. This pure Spirit is God himself, as Christ said: “God is Spirit.” Those who worship Him in spirit and in truth, praising and loving Him incessantly, know this mystery.
The Holy Spirit of God commanded those in charge of the church to set apart for Him Barnabas and Saul to do a work that was not before known. The Holy Spirit personally called them, supported them with His power, sent them off to preach, worked in them, and kept them.
This call and sending of the chosen ones meant a unique and complete selection and commitment. The Holy Spirit did not inform beforehand about the kind of work He wanted to carry out through Barnabas and Saul. To those in charge of the church He pointed out that the Holy Trinity was intending a new work, a work which none of them could imagine. We confess with submission, O holy God, that Your way is holy, and Your saints walk from glory to glory, from tribulation to tribulation, and from fruit to fruit. You are the beginning and the end in their lives. Their work is Yours alone; none of Your servants has any distinction or vainglory of his own.
The Holy Spirit did not suddenly choose to connect two men for common service. No, he introduced them to each other a good while before He set them apart for service. Their mutual confidence in each other had been strengthened through their joint experiences. The Holy Spirit did not send out Barnabas separately, or Saul alone, but joined them to each other. Christ had previously sent out His disciples two by two, that each might comfort the other, and that one might pray when the other was speaking. The responsibility was not undertaken in a sense of individualistic, self-seeking government, where one prevailed over the other. They both shared mutual responsibility, and each one considered the other better than himself.
Some years earlier Saul had heard from Ananias that the Lord of Glory would send him to kings and rulers, and that he would testify to them about the name of Jesus. He understood that he would meet with great suffering and persecution, as well as victory and exceptional spiritual fruit. Saul was aware that he, in himself, was not able to render this unique service. Therefore, he silently waited for some years in Tarsus until Barnabas called him to teach and instruct in the Antioch Church. There, the Holy Spirit refined him, molded him, and sharpened him as a divine sword. Saul understood that the goal and end of preaching was not to convert all individuals, but to found living churches in which saints could meet, learn, and be edified in faith.
When the church members at Antioch heard the Spirit of Christ suddenly call them to set apart their two leaders for service, the eldest and the youngest, they did not show deep sorrow at losing them. Instead, they met, prayed, and fasted together. They all felt that the Lord was now beginning a great, mysterious, and unique work.
The two who were chosen and commissioned humbly bowed down as the hands of the other church members were laid upon them. It seemed almost as if they lacked wisdom, power, and understanding about the fullness and indwelling of the Holy Spirit, along with all His gifts. The Lord affirmed this humility by blessing and guiding the ministry of those He had called into the lifelong service of preaching the gospel. Ever since that time there have been missionaries leaving their homelands and relatives to spread the kingdom of God. They have followed the guidance of the Spirit of Christ. In spite of their simple lives they are supported with spiritual power from on high.

 

Prayer:   O living Lord, we do not deserve Your mercy, but since You shed Your blood on the cross to purify us we consecrate our children and ourselves to Your everlasting service. We cannot serve You through our minds and own powers, but only through our filling with the Spirit of Your love, humbly laboring in the way of Your commands for the salvation of the world. Keep us from improvised steps, and open our eyes that we may see the people who hunger for Your salvation.

 

Question:

63. Who is the Holy Spirit? How did He direct the prayers at Antioch?

 

 

Table of contents

PREFACE

PART 1
THE PRELIMINARY PERIOD IN THE MINISTRY OF CHRIST
(MATTHEW 1:1 - 4:25)

PART 2
CHRIST TEACHES AND MINISTERS IN GALILEE
(MATTHEW 5:1 - 11:1)

PART 3
THE UNBELIEVING JEWS AND THEIR ENMITY TO JESUS
(MATTHEW 11:2-18:35)

PART 4
JESUS’ MINISTRY IN THE JORDAN VALLEY DURING HIS JOURNEY TO JERUSALEM
(MATTHEW 19:1 - 20:34)

PART 5
JESUS’ LAST MINISTRIES IN JERUSALEM
(MATTHEW 21:1 - 25:46)

PART 6
CHRIST’S SUFFEINGS AND DEATH
(MATTHEW 26:1-27:66)

PART 7
THE RESURRECTION OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST
(MATTHEW 28:1-20)

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