And there sailed to Antioch, from where they had been recommended to the grace of God for the work which they fulfilled.…
I. WHAT DID THE APOSTLES REHEARSE IN THE EARS OF THE CHURCH? "All that God had done with them." Not all that they had done of themselves, by dint of their own efforts, by the power of their own persuasion. Not how many good sermons they had preached, what overflowing congregations were attracted to hear them, or what unbounded applause had been bestowed upon their ministry. Nor did they make their sufferings the theme of conversation: yet they were "destitute, afflicted, tormented" (Hebrews 11:37). "They related all that God had done with them." Not what the Almighty had performed by His own immediate agency, independent of all human instrumentality; but what He had done by their hands, as the servants of His will.
1. God had by them communicated instruction in Divine things to the people whom they addressed.
2. They not only taught many: they were also made the happy instruments of leading a great multitude to believe in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
3. God made them the instruments of confirming the souls of the disciples.
4. God had opened a door of faith to the Gentiles.
II. TO WHOM THE APOSTLES REHEARSED THE THINGS WHICH GOD HAD DONE BY THEIR INSTRUMENTALITY. "They gathered the Church together," etc. Let us inquire, what were the discriminating marks by which the primitive Churches were distinguished?
1. By their disunion with the world. The primitive Christians had their "conversation in the world" (2 Corinthians 1:12), and mixed promiscuously with human society, "working with their own hands" (1 Corinthians 4:12). They were not "slothful in business"; but "fervent in spirit, serving the Lord" (Romans 12:11). Notwithstanding, they held no unnecessary intercourse with ungodly men, never selecting them as companions; for "the friendship of the world is enmity with God" (James 4:4). Although they were in the world, they were not of it.
2. The members of the primitive Churches were distinguished by the sanctity of their characters, and the consistency of their conduct. Each of them could adopt the language of St. Paul (Galatians 2:20). The principles by which they were actuated were faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, and love to His holy name.
III. WHAT WERE THE MOTIVES THAT INDUCED THE APOSTLES TO REHEARSE WHAT GOD HAD DONE WITH THEM?
1. We may conceive that it was done to express the warm and grateful effusions of their hearts.
2. The apostles rehearsed what God had done by their means, to gladden the hearts of others.
3. They rehearsed what God had done by them, as a public acknowledgment of the obligations under which they were laid to Him.
And how He had opened the door of faith unto the Gentiles. —God opening doors: — He who has the keys of David can open all doors. No preacher must assume these keys to himself, but must pray that God, who only can use them effectually, will do so. And if anything is to be effected for the salvation of souls, God must open four doors — the door of the preacher's mouth, the doors of the hearer's ear and heart, the door of heaven.
Parallel VersesKJV: And thence sailed to Antioch, from whence they had been recommended to the grace of God for the work which they fulfilled.