Acts 14
Expositor's Dictionary of Texts
And it came to pass in Iconium, that they went both together into the synagogue of the Jews, and so spake, that a great multitude both of the Jews and also of the Greeks believed.
Spiritual Forces

Acts 14:23

My text is rich in the suggestion of the main influences by which the Christian life should be guarded and stimulated, and by which it may be caused to receive an influx of power.

I. The influence to which my text first calls attention is that of spiritual leadership. The two great apostolic missionaries saw to it that they did not leave any of these Churches before they had arranged in each a definite spiritual leadership, which should afford guidance, direction, and spiritual instruction to the general body of the converts, and furnish personal leaders in every good word and work. The progress of a community depends largely upon its possession of large-hearted, far-sighted, and strong-willed leaders. Carlyle's affirmation that the history of the world is the history of its great men may require qualification, but the essence of it is true. The duty of leadership does not begin and end with the appointed officers of a church, nor can a man evade the obligation of spiritual leadership by not occupying an official position.

II. In addition to appointing spiritual leadership in these Churches, Paul and Barnabas employed on their behalf the forces of spiritual intercession and sympathy. They 'prayed with fasting'. We need to renew our faith in the efficacy of prayer. There is much in it that we cannot explain; yet even the world of science is beginning to perceive that the influence of mind upon mind, and of spirit upon spirit is as comprehensive as it is mysterious, and that subtle forces wing their way from man to man without regard to time or space. Experience has demonstrated that the 'fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much in its working'.

III. The cardinal power in which Paul and Barnabas trusted was the grip of the Lord Christ upon the believing soul. It may be asked, if the grip of the Christ upon the believer is sufficient, why should we trouble to exort subsidiary influence? The need arises from the fact that the human spirit is not coerced even by the grip of the Christ. God is the perfect Comforter of the human soul: yet he has ordained that man's reception of that comfort shall be greatly influenced by the ministrations of human sympathy. Similarly, the hand of Christ is the perfect security for the believer; but He has ordained that the grip of that hand shall be more fully realised through the leadership of human hands, and through the earnest power of human prayers.

—John Thomas, Concerning the King, p. 115.

References.—XIV. 23.—Expositor (4th Series), vol. i. p. 349; ibid. (6th Series), vol. ii. p. 298. XIV. 24.—Ibid. vol. x. p. 1. XIV. 27.—J. G. Paton, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xlv. p. 277. Church Family Newspaper, vol. xv. p. 652. J. Hedley, Christian World Pulpit, vol. lxxfi. p. 26. Expositor (6th Series), vol. iv. p. 115. XIV. 27, 28.—J. Travis, Christian World Pulpit, vol. lxi. p. 310. XIV. 28.—Expositor (6th Series), vol. i. p. 78. XV.—Expositor (5th Series), vol. ii. p. 104; ibid. vol. iii. p. 175; ibid. vol. iv. pp. 43, 58. XV. 1.—F. D. Maurice, The Acts of the Apostles, p. 223. XV. 1, 2.—Expositor (5th Series), vol. iii. p. 94; ibid. (6th Series), vol. xi. p. 457. XV. 1-24.—Ibid. vol. ii. p. 117. XV. 1-33.—Ibid. vol. vii. p. 326. XV. 5.—Ibid. (6th Series), vol. vii. p. 457; ibid. vol. viii. p. 76. XV. 6.—H. Wace, Christian World Pulpit, vol. lviii. p. 198. F. D. Maurice, The Acts of the Apostles, p. 232. XV. 8.—Expositor (5th Series), vol. vii. p. 141. XV. 9.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxiii. No. 1350. XV. 11.—Ibid. vol. xiii. No. 765. XV. 12.—Expositor (6th Series), vol. v. p. 246. XV. 15-17.—Ibid. p. 85. XV. 16.—Ibid. vol. x. p. 377. XV. 17.—Ibid. (4th Series), vol. iii. p. 120; ibid. (6th Series), vol. v. p. 46. XV. 18.—A. T. Pierson, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xlix. p. 331. Expositor (4th Series), vol. i. p. 32. XV. 21.—Ibid. vol. ii. pp. 25, 29; ibid. (5th Series), vol. x. p. 24. XV. 22-29.—Ibid. vol. vii. p. 7. XV. 23, 24.—Ibid. vol. ii. p. 36. XV. 25.—Bishop Welldon, The Gospel in a Great City, p. 241. XV. 25, 26.—H. Bailey, The Gospel of the Kingdom, p. 99. XV. 26.—J. G. Rogers, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xliii. p. 116. XV. 28.—A. G. Mortimer, The Church's Lessons for the Christian Year, pt. iii. p. 117. Bishop Welldon, The Gospel in a Great City, p. 241. Expositor (6th Series), vol. x. p. 48. XV. 29.—Ibid. (5th Series), vol. vi. p. 70; ibid. (6th Series), vol. ii. p. 372; ibid. vol. viii. p. 372. XV. 32.—Ibid. vol. vi. p. 392.

But the unbelieving Jews stirred up the Gentiles, and made their minds evil affected against the brethren.
Long time therefore abode they speaking boldly in the Lord, which gave testimony unto the word of his grace, and granted signs and wonders to be done by their hands.
But the multitude of the city was divided: and part held with the Jews, and part with the apostles.
And when there was an assault made both of the Gentiles, and also of the Jews with their rulers, to use them despitefully, and to stone them,
They were ware of it, and fled unto Lystra and Derbe, cities of Lycaonia, and unto the region that lieth round about:
And there they preached the gospel.
And there sat a certain man at Lystra, impotent in his feet, being a cripple from his mother's womb, who never had walked:
The same heard Paul speak: who stedfastly beholding him, and perceiving that he had faith to be healed,
Said with a loud voice, Stand upright on thy feet. And he leaped and walked.
And when the people saw what Paul had done, they lifted up their voices, saying in the speech of Lycaonia, The gods are come down to us in the likeness of men.
And they called Barnabas, Jupiter; and Paul, Mercurius, because he was the chief speaker.
Then the priest of Jupiter, which was before their city, brought oxen and garlands unto the gates, and would have done sacrifice with the people.
Which when the apostles, Barnabas and Paul, heard of, they rent their clothes, and ran in among the people, crying out,
And saying, Sirs, why do ye these things? We also are men of like passions with you, and preach unto you that ye should turn from these vanities unto the living God, which made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all things that are therein:
Who in times past suffered all nations to walk in their own ways.
Nevertheless he left not himself without witness, in that he did good, and gave us rain from heaven, and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness.
And with these sayings scarce restrained they the people, that they had not done sacrifice unto them.
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.
Howbeit, as the disciples stood round about him, he rose up, and came into the city: and the next day he departed with Barnabas to Derbe.
And when they had preached the gospel to that city, and had taught many, they returned again to Lystra, and to Iconium, and Antioch,
Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.
And when they had ordained them elders in every church, and had prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord, on whom they believed.
And after they had passed throughout Pisidia, they came to Pamphylia.
And when they had preached the word in Perga, they went down into Attalia:
And thence sailed to Antioch, from whence they had been recommended to the grace of God for the work which they fulfilled.
And when they were come, and had gathered the church together, they rehearsed all that God had done with them, and how he had opened the door of faith unto the Gentiles.
And there they abode long time with the disciples.
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