What remarkable courage the apostles demonstrated going back to the very places they had been persecuted and stoned. The welfare of the infant churches they deemed of more consequence than their own safety; and they threw themselves again into the midst of danger, to comfort and strengthen those just converted to God. There are times when ministers and leaders should not count their own lives dear to them (Acts 20:24), but when they should fearlessly throw themselves into the midst of danger, confiding only in the protecting care of their God and Savior. We must remember that this is at the beginning of the early church which still had no New Testament, just the apostle’s teachings when they would come through their town preaching and ministering.
22 where they strengthened the believers. They encouraged them to continue in the faith, reminding them that we must suffer many hardships to enter the Kingdom of God.
Remember these were young converts; that they were surrounded by enemies, and exposed to temptations and to dangers because the religious system of that time hated the truth of Jesus being the Messiah. They had very little knowledge with the truths of the gospel, and that it was therefore important that they should be further instructed in the truth, and established in the faith of the gospel.
When we stand for the full gospel, we will suffer hardship in the 21st Century because there is still a spirit of religion that operates in every region that hates the truth of the Gospel. Every day someone in countries around the world give their lives for the gospel.
Hardship, which means troubles, pressure, persecution, is a word that most in America does not want to hear. We want an easy gospel but friends there is a cost to being a disciple for Jesus Christ. It will cost you your personal desires. We are still commanded to take up a cross and follow Jesus but the price is so worth the pressure!
23 Paul and Barnabas also appointed elders in every church. With prayer and fasting, they turned the elders over to the care of the Lord, in whom they had put their trust.
The KJV version said they ordained the elders; the meaning of the word ordained here is appointed and the word elder here is simply the aged and mature. The implication is this; the early elders were to take charge of the churches during the absence of the apostles. The apostles were about to leave them. They were just organized into churches and many in the early church were young and inexperienced; they needed counsel and direction; they were exposed to dangers; and it was necessary that persons should be designated to watch over the spiritual interests of the each church. The probability is that they performed all the functions that were required in the infant and feeble churches such as exhorting, instructing, governing, etc. The more experienced and able would most likely be active in exhorting and instructing the brethren; and all would be useful in counseling and guiding the flock.
Notice they took the example Jesus gave them, making important decision through prayer and fasting.
24 Then they traveled back through Pisidia to Pamphylia. 25 They preached the word in Perga, then went down to Attalia.
26 Finally, they returned by ship to Antioch of Syria, where their journey had begun. The believers there had entrusted them to the grace of God to do the work they had now completed. 27 Upon arriving in Antioch, they called the church together and reported everything God had done through them and how he had opened the door of faith to the Gentiles, too. 28 And they stayed there with the believers for a long time.
We see this as some of the first missionary efforts of the early church. Jesus commanded them to go into all the world and they were accomplishing this commission and the power of the Lord was there to empower them for this mission.
Prayer Points: Father help us carry out your purposes in our lives regardless of the price it might cost us because someone’s eternity is based on the purpose you created me with.