Showing posts with label Paul. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Paul. Show all posts


All The Same? - 31 Days in Acts

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Today is Day 25 of my 31 Days in Acts and today we are going to look at chapter 15

verses 1 - 5

The chapter starts with the controversy over circumcision.
The leaders in Jerusalem who probably all come from Jewish background were saying all believers should be circumcised.
Some people come to Antioch and speak about this but Paul & Barnabas disagree.  So they are sent to Jerusalem to talk with the Apostles there. 

verses 6 - 21

Peter is in Jerusalem and he tells how he was led by God to take the gospel to the Gentiles and he does not advocate circumcision for them.
Then Paul & Barnabas speak of their work among the Gentiles and they also do not advocate imposing circumcision.

verses 22 - 29

The leaders in Jerusalem take heed of the advice and agree with them.  They then send Paul, Barnabas and two others (Silas and Judas) back to Antioch with a letter telling the new gentile converts that they are not commanded to be circumcised but 

29 that you abstain from things offered to idols, from blood, from things strangled, and from sexual immorality. If you keep yourselves from these, you will do well.

Good type of advice for today as well.
New believers should not be given a list of things they must or must not do but they should be taught to learn from the Bible how to conduct themselves and know that there are aspects of life that God will not condone but also that other Christians do not have the right to insist on a lot of other secondary rules which will only put pressure on people.

verses 30 - 35

The believers in Antioch received the letter well and were encouraged by it.
Judas and Silas, being recognised as prophets, also spoke words from God to the people.
After a while Judas returned to Jerusalem but Silas remained in Antioch with Paul & Barnabas.

verses 36 - 41

A while later Paul wanted to go back to all the places he and Barnabas had visited and preached and discipled people in.  Barnabas must have been in agreement about the travelling but they differed in opinion as to who should go with them.
Barnabas wanted to take John Mark but Paul did not because John Mark had left them previously which we read about in chapter 13  Day 23  A Specific Job for the Kingdom  
 They could not come to an agreement over this so in the end Barnabas took John Mark and they went to Cyprus, while Paul took Silas and they went to Syria.

Was Barnabas giving Mark a second chance whereas Paul would not or was it because Barnabas and Mark were related as some commentators say they were cousins?

There is an indication in verse 40 that Paul may have been considered to be in the right

40 but Paul chose Silas and departed, being commended by the brethren
 to the grace of God.

but because Barnabas was always known for being a great encourager and helper and mentor of Paul in the first years after Paul's conversion, I can't bring myself to think that he was wrong (maybe I just always have had a certain likeness for his character).

I think they both had different ideas of how the ministry could continue and who they could work with but we have not been given any other information on who made the final decision or if any other apostles had any input to it.

Sometimes relationships change but it should be for the better.

However it was decided, it resulted in Paul and Silas going to the churches in Syria etc. on the mainland and Barnabas taking John Mark to the island of Cyprus which we heard of in chapter 13 Day 23  A Specific Job  of our reading of Acts.  There we saw only one convert which was the proconsul and John Mark had been helping Paul and Barnabas at that time.

In the end it did mean that instead of one missionary trip with Paul and Barnabas together, there were two trips to different areas with two other people involved learning from the Apostles.

I'm trying to read and write about the Book of Acts for 31 Days so please come back and join me for some notes & some thoughts each day. 

As the month goes on each Day's Link will be added in 

Interested to know more about the Book of Acts?
Then Try these commentaries

Or this Bible Study

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Love & Hatred - 31 Days in Acts

This is Day 24 of our 31 Days in Acts.

We have reached chapter 14  having seen at the end of the previous chapter that Barnabas & Paul had to leave Antioch (in Pisidia) because of the harsh opposition of the Jews

50 But the Jews stirred up the devout and prominent women and the chief men of the city, raised up persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and expelled them from their region. 51 But they shook off the dust from their feet against them, and came to Iconium.

Hence we start now with the two Apostles having arrived in Iconium.

verses 1 - 7

They again followed their previous pattern of going to the synagogue and here they preached to both Jews and Greeks so new believers came from both the Jews and the Gentiles.
The Bible tells us that signs and wonders were experienced as God worked through Barnabas & Paul.

The other Jews were not happy and they turned the other Gentiles against Barnabas & Paul.

Eventually the city was divided in two; those for the Apostles and those against and when the people got so angry that they wanted to stone them they fled to Lystra & Derbe.

Love from some but hatred from others.

The focus should have been on God but here the devil wanted the focus away from the 
preaching of the Word and unto the Apostles.

The focus should always be on God and the preaching of the Word.

verses 8 - 18

In Lystra they saw a man who had been crippled from birth and could not walk and in a similar situation to that of Peter & John in chapter 3 Day 5  What Happened at the Gate?  and as in that previous time God healed the man.

The outcome of this however was not the same as in chapter 3 because here the people decided that Barnabas & Paul were gods and called them Zeus & Hermes.  This leads to an attempt to make sacrifices to the Apostles which they could not allow to happen.  Attempting to explain that they are men and human like all the rest of the city they also had the opportunity to talk about God as the living God and the creator of the world.  Yet again there is the opportunity and the Word of God is preached.

At this point the people of Lystra seemed to love the Apostles.

verses 19 - 20

Going from being treated as gods we now see that the people wanted to kill Paul. 

They dragged him outside the city, stoned him and left him to die.  
The disciples came and helped him and the next day Paul and Barnabas left Lystra to go to Derbe.

But why would that happen?

Simply because of the influence of people who came to Lystra from Iconium to bring hatred into that city. 

verses 21 - 28

We know they stayed in Derbe for a while because they preached the gospel and made disciples.  These were not just converts but people they would have spent time with teaching them more about God and the Christian life.

Now here is where they differ from most of us.  We probably would have said it was too dangerous to go back to the cities where people wanted to kill us but this chapter ends with Paul & Barnabas doing exactly that going back to Lystra, Iconium and Antioch (Pisidia) and encouraging the disciples there by teaching how they must keep faithful even through hard times.  Then spending time in prayer & fasting (setting a good example) and raising up leadership for the churches in these cities by appointing elders.

They eventually returned to Antioch (Syria) from where they had been sent out in chapter 13 Day 23  A Specific Job for the Kingdom but had not bypassed the dangerous places or the difficult circumstances along the way back.

Always encouragers and good examples to the new believers.

We should always be encouragers and good examples to new believers.

Hatred drove people away and will do the same today.

However Love can still prevail and must do today also because as a people of God we should reflect His love and not the evil or hatred that originates with the devil and never with God.

I'm reading and writing about the Book of Acts so please come back and join me for some more notes & thoughts from other chapters. 

You can find all my posts on the Book of Acts at


A Specific Job for the Kingdom - 31 Days in Acts

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Before we start into chapter 13 of the book of Acts today we need to remember back to the last time we considered Barnabas & Saul here which was in Day 20  We all Need to be Encouragers

We left them in Antioch in chapter 11 where we knew that Barnabas was an encourager and that he wanted Saul to work with him and it is mentioned that Barnabas taught there for a year.

In between then and now we see that Barnabas and Saul made a journey back to Jerusalem in Judea to take help for a time of famine from the Antioch church 

 ch 11 v. 27 - 30

27 And in these days prophets came from Jerusalem to Antioch. 28 Then one of them, named Agabus, stood up and showed by the Spirit that there was going to be a great famine throughout all the world, which also happened in the days of Claudius Caesar. 29 Then the disciples, each according to his ability, determined to send relief to the brethren dwelling in Judea. 30 This they also did, and sent it to the elders by the hands of Barnabas and Saul.

and then returned again to Antioch with another helper John Mark.

 ch 12  v. 25

 25 And Barnabas and Saul returned from Jerusalem when they had fulfilled their ministry, and they also took with them John whose surname was Mark.

Now if you read Day 21  A Miraculous Escape  you will remember there was a mention of John Mark there because the house Peter went to after the angel led him out of the prison was the home of Mary the mother of John Mark.  Of course we know him better as Mark the writer of the second Gospel.

 ch 12  v. 12

12 So, when he had considered this, he came to the house of Mary, the mother of John whose surname was Mark, where many were gathered together praying.

Now here we have the three of them in Antioch at the start of chapter 13

verses 1-3
Here we have the Commissioning of Barnabas & Saul who are to be sent out to do the work God has called them to do and obviously it is together.
Did John Mark go with them?
Yes we see that in the next passage.

verses 4-12

It tells us here that John was their helper/assistant and their new location was the island of Cyprus.

The proconsul there was interested in hearing the word of God and so enquired of Barnabas and Saul but another man did not want the proconsul to become a believer and Saul was led by the Holy Spirit to speak directly to him and tell him he would not stop God plans.
God then dealt with him by making a dark mist surround him and the proconsul, hearing and seeing the work of the Holy Spirit, became a believer.

We also need to recognise and to pray about situations where people are hindering others from becoming believers.  Sometimes we will see this happening but mostly we will not, but will be done in homes or in places were people gather together with friends.  This is often the result of peer pressure and can happen to all ages in all walks of life.  Let's not forget to pray for the people we have witnessed to.

Another thing to note from this passage is that the name Paul is first mentioned here

v. 9

Then Saul, who also is called Paul,

Often we hear people saying that he was called Saul until his conversion on the road to Damascus and then changed his name to Paul but this is over a year later before it has been mentioned.

verses 13-41

Barnabas and Paul then travel to Antioch in Pisidia which is not the same Antioch they had been commissioned in which was Antioch in Syria.  Apparently there were other cities called Antioch in various places.
By this time John Mark has left them and returned to Jerusalem.

Here Paul preaches in the Synagogue upon invitation by the Jewish rulers.
He speaks similarly to Peter in chapter 2  Day 4  Is There Strength in the Promise  which was going through the scriptures historically, also similar to Peter in chapter 3 Day 6  Have we Got Your Attention?  and similar to Stephen in chapter 7  Day 13  A Result of Hatred
So he is talking of the Israelites in Egypt, Wilderness 40 years and then land of Canaan, then judges, Samuel and the kings and then from David to Jesus our Saviour, john the Baptist and the salvation message to the descendants of Abraham.

But this time there is a difference because he ends up his message by warning them about not believing.  

verses 42-52
Here Paul & Barnabas preach to the Gentiles upon their invitation.

42 So when the Jews went out of the synagogue, the Gentiles begged that these words might be preached to them the next Sabbath.

They were willing and eager to hear Paul's message but others were not happy

44 On the next Sabbath almost the whole city came together to hear the word of God. 45 But when the Jews saw the multitudes, they were filled with envy; and contradicting and blaspheming, they opposed the things spoken by Paul. 

A specific job but 2 different reactions.

This was the specific job Paul & Barnabas had been commissioned to do at the start of this chapter yet we did not see everything go smoothly for them

Two Different Reactions

  • The Gentiles heard the Word of God and were glad and glorified God.
  • The Jews were angry and got Paul & Barnabas thrown out of the area

But it specifically tells us that The Word of God spread.

I'm trying to read and write about the Book of Acts for 31 Days so please come back and join me for some notes & some thoughts each day. 

As the month goes on each Day's Link will be added in 

Interested to know more about the Book of Acts?
Then Try these commentaries

Or this Bible Study

If buying through Amazon I get a little commission but that does not mean any extra expense to you.


We All Need to be Encouragers - 31 Days in Acts

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Have you got a good memory?

If you have been reading these 31 Days in Acts blog posts with me you should remember that we met a person called Barnabas before, in fact we met him twice.

    Which chapters did we meet him in?

    What does the name Barnabas mean?

    What is his other name? 

    What did he do that meant he was already included by Luke in this book about the Apostles and the Work of the Holy Spirit?

The Answers:
  • Ch. 4   Because of a Lie   and  Ch. 9   Changing Lives & Communities
  • Son of Encouragement
  • Jonas
  • He sold a piece of land and gave all the money to the church.  ch. 4
  • He vouched for Saul after his conversion.  ch. 9

Now today we meet up with him again in Acts ch. 11 v. 19 - 30

Do we need to know what role he had within the church?
Yes because it is interesting to know the facts and relationships but no it's not necessary to know every little bit about a person.
So far we do not see that he had a specific role as a leader or apostle or evangelist but he was able to vouch for Saul and have the other believers change their minds about Saul so they must have respected Barnabas.

There is one thing I do think is important for us to know about him and that his name means the son of Encouragement (Acts ch. 4 v 36) and in the Bible a person's name is important and reflects the character - in other words it appears that he was an encourager in the church.

This is a very important role in the church body as we all need encouragement and most people are so bad at encouraging each other.

Verse 19 tells us that so far the believers, who had left Jerusalem due to persecution, had gone to many other places but were only telling other Jews the good news about Jesus.

Now we saw in yesterday's blog post It's Not about Us, It's All about God that Peter was led to go and share with some Roman gentiles so obviously God did not mean that only Jews were to hear the Gospel.  Now again here we see that now the news was spreading to further places and some Greeks were becoming believers.

Barnabas is the one then chosen to go to Antioch to see what is happening there and we are told that he was glad to see what was happening and I think that meant he was also encouraged by this.

We also have a further description of him in verses 23 & 24

 23 When he came and had seen the grace of God, he was glad, and encouraged them all that with purpose of heart they should continue with the Lord. 24 For he was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith. And a great many people were added to the Lord.

so now we know straight from the scriptures that Barnabas was indeed an encourager as his name had suggested but also he was

  • a good man
  • full of the Holy Spirit 
  • a man of faith

What did Barnabas encourage them to do?   To keep on walking with the Lord.

Then we see that he stays in Antioch for a year to teach the people but not on his own because he goes to find Saul and bring him to Antioch with him.  This may not only be encouragement for the believers in Antioch but also more encouragement for Saul as Barnabas shows his respect and confidence in him and also gives him the opportunity to teach and share his own experience.

We often think of Saul as being the great writer and speaker but a lot of the confidence and ease of speaking to others comes with practice and gaining more knowledge too.

A very well-know verse is found in in this passage where we are told that the believers were first called Christians in Antioch but maybe because of this we tend to forget about Barnabas and Saul working together and encouraging the believers.

We would all benefit from having a friend like Barnabas who would encourage us and help us learn to be encouragers

We would all benefit from having a friend like Barnabas who would encourage us and help us learn to be encouragers too.

I'm trying to read and write about the Book of Acts for 31 Days so please come back and join me for some notes & some thoughts each day. 

As the month goes on each Day's Link will be added in 

Interested to know more about the Book of Acts?
Then Try these commentaries

Or this Bible Study

If buying through Amazon I get a little commission but that does not mean any extra expense to you.