Through the Bible in One Year

Day 215

Acts 14:21-28

We have been following Paul and Barnabas along on their great missionary journey.  We have seen them visit many cities along the central Mediterranean coast in what you will hear referred to as Asia Minor, and what we today would call Turkey.  We have seen a great deal of new believers come to the faith, both Jews and Gentiles, through the missionary work of Paul and Barnabas, but now it is time of them to return home to Syrian Antioch and that is what we will be covering today.

They preached the gospel in that city and won a large number of disciples. Then they returned to Lystra, Iconium and Antioch, strengthening the disciples and encouraging them to remain true to the faith. “We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God,” they said. Paul and Barnabas appointed elders for them in each church and, with prayer and fasting, committed them to the Lord, in whom they had put their trust.—14:21-23

The stop in Derbe is recounted briefly (v. 20), but Paul and Barnabas made disciples there, and this suggests they stayed for some time.  Their return to the previous cities (v. 21) was both pastoral and brave.  Their instruction to persevere in trouble emphasizes that troubles are unavoidable on the journey to enter the kingdom (v. 22).  The appointment of elders was necessary for the spiritual health of the church.  The plural “elders” indicates that each church needed a plurality of elders.  To commit these leaders—and the church—to the Lord (v. 23) is not a statement of abandonment but one of confidence in the Lord’s providence.

After going through Pisidia, they came into Pamphylia, and when they had preached the word in Perga, they went down to Attalia.

From Attalia they sailed back to Antioch, where they had been committed to the grace of God for the work they had now completed. On arriving there, they gathered the church together and reported all that God had done through them and how he had opened a door of faith to the Gentiles. And they stayed there a long time with the disciples.—14:24-28

No reason is stated for the return to Antioch except that they had fulfilled the mandate given them by the church.  The impression is that the mission and the commissioning were more than closely connected; they were united.

Now let’s circle back around to verses 22 and 23 to look at two key phrases that occur in these two verses.  The two key phrases that we are going to be focusing on are “through many hardships” (v. 22) and “appointed elders” (v. 23).

  1. “Through many hardships” (v. 22)—Those who submit themselves to Christ’s lordship—who recognize his authority over their lives and will have a place a God’s eternal kingdom—must suffer “many hardships” along the way.  Living in a world that is hostile toward our message and our Master, we must engage constantly in spiritual warfare against sin and Satan’s power.  And there are two things that we must remember about these “many hardships”:
    1. Those who are faithful to Christ, his Word and his perfect purposes can expect trouble in this world.  Only the uncommitted will find what might seem to be peace and comfort from the world.
    2. The present evil world and false believers will always oppose the full truth of Christ’s message until he returns to overthrow the evil world system.  Meanwhile, the hope of Jesus’ true followers is “stored up…in heaven” (Colossians 1:5) and will be “revealed in the last time” (1 Peter 1:5).  Their hope is not in this life nor in this world, but in Jesus’ return to take them home with him.
  2. “Appointed elders” (v. 23)—The process of selecting and appointing elders (overseers, pastors and church leaders) involved seeking God’s will (his desires, directions, intentions and purposes) through prayer and fasting (going without food or anything thing else that could cause a spiritual distraction for a limited period to devote more time to prayer).  But the process also involved examining the character, spiritual gifts (God-given abilities to honor him and benefit others), reputation and evidence of the Spirit’s fruit (character traits and effects) in those being considered for leadership (1 Timothy 3:1-10).  Those who met God’s standards were appointed to serve (more on what those standards are when we get to 1 Timothy).

And that is where we will pick up tomorrow as we see the trouble that this first concerted effort to take the gospel to the Gentiles stirred up, which led to the first every church council.

Tomorrow’s Bible Readings:

2 Chronicles 35-36, 1 Corinthians 1:1-17, Psalm 27:1-6 and Proverbs 20:20-21


Make a one-time donation

Make a monthly donation

Make a yearly donation

Choose an amount


Or enter a custom amount


Your contribution is appreciated.

Your contribution is appreciated.

Your contribution is appreciated.

DonateDonate monthlyDonate yearly

Success! You're on the list.

Leave a Reply