And there came thither certain Jews from Antioch and Iconium, who persuaded the people, and having stoned Paul…
I. THE APOSTLES' WORK ON THE WAY shows that duty in them was superior —
(1) To fear. They pass through the scenes where they had endangered their lives. "They counted not their lives dear unto them."(2) To convenience. They could have reached Antioch much easier and sooner. Their work was —
1. Indoctrinating. The apostles confirmed them in the faith —
(1) By urging duty. They had embraced the faith, and there were strong influences tending to loosen their interest in it. There is no better way of strengthening our souls in the faith than by continuing our duty in relation to it. Obedience is the best interpreter of doctrine. "He that doeth the will of God," etc.
(2) By inculcating principle. "We must through much tribulation enter the kingdom of God." The principle is that trial is the condition of true elevation. We must sow in tears to reap in joy. The vine must be pruned to make it fruitful. Heavenly dignities are reached, not as some voyagers reach their haven while sleeping, but as heroes reach their laurels by agony. "These are they that have come up out of great tribulation," etc. What a Divine work was theirs! What is the work of the mere sage, hero, politician, artist, compared with the work of making souls strong in all that is true in thought, holy in sympathy, and righteous in purpose.
2. Organising. "And when they had ordained them elders in every Church." Because the oldest men are supposed to have the greatest knowledge and experience, the most influential officers in the Church are spoken of as "elders." The Churches were young and inexperienced. The apostles, therefore, took from their number some of the most competent to take charge of the Churches in their own absence.
3. Dedicating. "And had prayed with fasting," etc. They did not commend them to the officers they had appointed, but to "the Shepherd and Bishop of souls." Probably they had no prospect of seeing them again.
II. THEIR WORK WHEN THEY REACHED ANTIOCH (vers. 26-28).
1. This is the first missionary meeting, and therefore of special interest.
(1) The scene was Antioch, and no fact in its history was more important than this. There were many good reasons for holding the meeting here.
(a) It was a very populous place, and the meeting was likely to obtain large publicity. The two great sections of the ancient world, Jews and Gentiles, would have an opportunity of knowing something about the triumphs of this new religion.
(b) Its wealth, too, would enable it to render support to the good cause.
(c) It was, moreover, the place whence the mission had originated (Acts 13:1).
(2) The deputation was Paul and Barnabas. These two men were very different. Barnabas does not seem to have had the force and fire of Paul; still, however constitutionally dissimilar, they were morally harmonious. They were missionaries. Missionary meetings should be addressed by missionaries rather than by men who have only long purses or tongues.
(3) The audience was the Church. The mission was theirs, they had probably contributed to its support, and they were bound to sustain it.
(4) The speeches were narrations. They "rehearsed all that God had done." They did not deal in tricks of oratory to wake loud applause. They merely "rehearsed" — related what they had done; and they had wonderful things to tell.
2. The following things are taught by this first missionary meeting: — That the missionary enterprise —
(1) Is unquestionably right. It is based upon the authority of Christ, and supported by the conduct of the apostles. "Go into all the world," etc.
(2) Demands our prayers. Paul and Barnabas had been "recommended to the grace of God" (see also Acts 13:1-3). The true missionary should have the prayers of the Church.
(3) It is the cause of the Church. "They gathered the Church together"; not any particular officers. It was that which concerned every individual member.
(4) Has a history worth relating. These missionaries "rehearsed all that God had done with them." We have a short account of their tour (chaps. 13 and 14). There is no history no interesting or valuable as that of the triumphs of the gospel — She strongest arguments for the common origin of the race and the Divinity of Christianity.
(5) Is under the special direction of God. This missionary deputation regarded Him as giving access to the Gentiles. "He had opened the door." There has been an immense amount of clap trap about this. Men have spoken of war as opening the door for the gospel of peace. Violence must ever shut the door of the heart. The breaking down of the walls of China by military violence, instead of opening a door for the gospel, may only be the building up a barrier.
(D. Thomas, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: 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.