Now when Paul and his company loosed from Paphos, they came to Perga in Pamphylia: and John departing from them returned to Jerusalem.…
I. THE WORD ACCEPTED.
1. Giving up the work. The return of Mark very much displeased Paul. In his eyes a deserter was worse than an enemy; no man having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, was fit ever again to be taken into such service. Hence, when Barnabas would have given him another trial, Paul would not consent. But Barnabas was right. His kindly nature was better than the stern, uncompromising disposition of Paul. Barnabas was "a good man," his goodness leading him to lean toward the erring. Under his training and influence Mark recovered the character he had lost, so that at last Paul himself said, "He is useful to me for the ministering." In his dealing with Mark, Barnabas again proved his right to the title, "Son of Consolation."
2. Going on with the work. It was a small force, numerically, that moved upon the intrenched idolatrous hosts of Asia Minor. By the desertion of Mark, the army of three had been reduced one-third. But the soldiers of Christ are not to be estimated by their numbers, but by the personality in and back of them — the Holy Spirit.
3. The opportunity for work. They followed the course pursued by their Master before them. They reverenced the Sabbath, and had regard for its institutions. They so commended themselves by this, and by their devout behaviour, as to receive from the rulers the invitation, "Brethren, if ye have any word of exhortation, say on." The result was a surprise to those who gave it. A word of exhortation was given, the like of which they never had heard before. What they heard was to them a revelation.
(1) Paul declared that God, who had done such great things for His chosen people of old time, had now, according to promise, completed His work of grace by giving unto Israel a Saviour (vers. 17-23).
(2) Paul went on to prove the truth of this assertion by showing —
(a) That Jesus' advent was prophetically preannounced by John, His forerunner (vers. 24, 25).
(b) That Jesus rose from the dead (vers. 26-37). After reciting how the Messiah was slain, Paul proved His resurrection, first, by the fact that He was seen of chosen witnesses; second, by quotations from the Psalms, which showed that this resurrection was nothing more than a fulfilment of the promise made unto the fathers.
(3) Paul declared that "through this Man is proclaimed unto you remission of sins."(4) Paul warned his hearers of the fatal consequences of despising this offer of salvation.
4. The fruit of the work. The address of Paul —
(1) Aroused a general interest (ver 42). It is a good sign when there is a general desire to have a sermon repeated.
(2) Secured many converts (ver. 43). These had become so obedient to the truth, that the apostles needed only to urge them "to continue in the grace of God."(3) Bitter opposition was aroused (ver. 45). Jealousy has been the secret of the opposition to many a new religious movement. The Jews here were jealous of their new leaders, and of the hold they and their doctrines were getting.
II. THE WORD REJECTED.
1. The bold word (ver. 46). They were not cowed by the opposition. They had within them a moral courage, born of the Spirit and of a conviction of right, that made them more than a match for their opponents. Bold words, uttered under such circumstances, make revolutions in opinions.
2. The spoken word. The Divine order was Jews first, then Gentiles. The Jews were the natural sons of the household, and therefore had the first right to the Father's proclamation of a new inheritance for all of His children.
3. The word thrust away. Note —
(1) That those who reject the gospel judge themselves to be "unworthy of eternal life." The choice that a man makes determines his personal worth. God demands no more worthiness in men than that they shall accept the offer of salvation.
(2) That when men demonstrate that they are unworthy of eternal life, it is the duty of Christian workers to turn to others. There is no use in labouring in a barren field, when a rich harvest can be reaped near by. Better save ten, than work on unavailingly with one.
4. The word of command (ver. 47). The redemption of the Gentiles was no new addition to the plan of salvation. From the beginning God intended that those who sat in darkness should see a great light. His eye was fixed upon "the uttermost part of the earth," as well as upon the land of the covenant.
5. The word glorified (ver. 48). They proved themselves to be worthy of eternal life, for many believed, "and the Word of the Lord was spread abroad throughout all the region."
III. THE WORD PERSECUTED. Note —
1. The unbelieving Jews. They demonstrated that they were unworthy of eternal life by conducting themselves as though inspired by the evil one.
2. The believing disciples. "The disciples were filled with joy and the Holy Ghost." The persecutors, on the contrary, were filled with jealousy and with hate. They succeeded in driving away Paul and Barnabas, but the apostles left behind them a peace and joy that could not be banished. The missionaries were expelled, but the gospel had come to stay.
(M. C. Hazard.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Now when Paul and his company loosed from Paphos, they came to Perga in Pamphylia: and John departing from them returned to Jerusalem.