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God’s Word for You

Acts 14:1-4 The Lord confirmed the message

by Pastor Timothy Smith on Friday, June 26, 2020

14 At Iconium Paul and Barnabas went as usual into the Jewish synagogue. There they spoke so effectively that a great number of Jews and Gentiles believed. 2 But the Jews who refused to believe stirred up the Gentiles and embittered their spirits against the brothers.

Once again, Paul and Barnabas were successful in preaching the gospel in a city, and once again they were met with opposition from Jews who rejected the news about Jesus. This new attack was not as successful as the one that happened in Antioch since those Jews who did not believe only succeeded in embittering the spirits (or souls) of some of the Gentiles. The Jews who heard and believed our travelers did not give in to such attacks. They were convinced that this gospel of Jesus Christ was on a par with everything that they already knew from Moses and the Prophets. Perhaps the Gentiles, less familiar with the Scriptures, were more easily misled. It always happens in any denomination that those people who do not know what the Bible says are the ones most prone to falling away. This is the same trouble that gets stirred up to this day, when those who reject the simple gospel of forgiveness through Jesus poison the faith of countless Christians, asserting that there is something more to be done than simply having faith in Christ. Beware those who preach that salvation through faith alone is too easy. They are building a stumbling block in your heart (Romans 14:13; 1 Corinthians 1:23).

3 So Paul and Barnabas spent considerable time there, speaking boldly for the Lord, who confirmed the message of his grace by enabling them to do miraculous signs and wonders. 4 The people of the city were divided; some were with the Jews, others with the apostles.

Miracles were performed in Iconium. These miracles accompanied the preaching of the gospel to show God’s approval of the message that was preached. Jesus had promised, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation… and these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues,” etc. (Mark 16:15-17). This is what Luke means when he says that the Lord “confirmed the message of his grace by enabling them to perform miraculous signs and wonders” (verse 3). If Paul and Barnabas spoke in tongues here, it was only to win the approval and communicate with unbelievers, since “Tongues are a sign, not for believers, but for unbelievers” (1 Corinthians 14:22). But many other kinds of miracles were undoubtedly performed, and we would expect these to be especially in the form of healings by the apostles (we will talk about Luke’s use of the word “apostle” here in connection with verse 14 below).

The city, Luke says, became divided over the gospel, but Paul and Barnabas were still able to spend “considerable time” there, preaching and teaching the people so that those who believed received a very thorough instruction in the gospel and in Christian doctrine.

When people become divided by the gospel, it isn’t the fault of the gospel or of Christ. Our Lord Jesus said that this would happen. “Do you think that I came to give peace on earth? I tell you, not at all, but rather division. For from now on five in one family will be divided: three against two, and two against three. Father will be divided against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law” (Luke 12:51-53). The word of God always accomplishes something (Isaiah 55:11). What we should rejoice about is that in us, what was dead has come to life through faith. “Instead of the thornbush will grow the pine tree, and instead of briars the myrtle will grow” (Isaiah 55:13). This is the sign in us that the word of Christ has done its excellent work.

In Christ,
Pastor Timothy Smith

Pastor Tim Smith

About Pastor Timothy Smith
Pastor Smith serves St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in New Ulm, Minnesota. To receive God’s Word for You via e-mail, please contact Pastor Smith.


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