The Establishment and Increase of the Church
Acts 16:3-5
Him would Paul have to go forth with him; and took and circumcised him because of the Jews which were in those quarters…

The ultimate success of any system must depend upon its truth. A lie may partially succeed; but its final doom is certain. It carries in itself the elements of its own destruction. Truth, on the contrary, is imperishable. However persecuted and misrepresented, it will infallibly vindicate its birth and greatness. It is, therefore, a matter of the utmost importance that the truths of the gospel should be maintained in their entireness and purity. For, in proportion as error mingles with truth, its influence will be counteracted. And when antiquated rites or modern conceits are substituted for evangelical doctrine, the pernicious results of error become still more apparent. The facts on which these observations are based may be found in this and the preceding chapter. Note here: —

I. THE ESTABLISHMENT OF CHRISTIANS IN THE FAITH. The term "faith" is often employed to signify Christianity as a religious system; doubtless, because by believing we become partakers of its blessings (Acts 6:7; Galatians 1:23; 1 Timothy 5:8; Titus 1:13). This establishment of Christians in the faith includes —

1. Their confirmation in doctrinal truth. The evangelical writers constantly assume that there is such a thing as an authoritative standard of truth, to which reason and opinion are obliged to bow (Romans 6:17; 2 Timothy 1:13; 1 Timothy 6:3; Titus 1:9; 1 John 2:21, 24). And it is assumed throughout the Scriptures that these truths are capable of being understood by every order of mind so as to exercise their influence over the whole man (John 8:32; 1 Timothy 2:4). Now that the apostles are no longer on earth to explain their own meaning, it becomes us to be the more careful in the use of the means we possess, that we may avoid error, and arrive at the "knowledge of the truth." We must "search the Scriptures," asking for the "Spirit of truth to guide us into all truth."

2. Their establishment in piety to God, and love to one another. The "faith" to which they were pledged, and of whose truth they were now reassured, was a faith which embraced in its regards the entire economy of the human spirit, and exerted a sovereign influence over all its faculties. When evangelical truth is received with humble faith, certain saving results immediately ensue. All spiritual graces followed in due succession, sustained by faith, animated with love, and crowned by the hope of immortal life. Now this connection between the doctrines to be believed, and blessings to be enjoyed, is illustrated and confirmed by the passage under consideration. An unsettled creed is always unfavourable to a settled piety. The "dissension and disputation" (Acts 15:2) must have been detrimental to their spiritual welfare. They were "troubled," and their "souls subverted" (ver. 24). Accordingly, when the disturbing force was removed they "rejoiced for the consolation" (ver. 31).

3. Out of our establishment in faith and holiness will arise a settled practice and a steady devotion to the service of Christ. Where the principles of Christianity are loosely held, and its blessings are only known by report, there you may anticipate laxity of morals, or open violation of the Divine law.


1. The establishment of Christians in the faith disposes them to overlook minor points of controversy, and to devote themselves to the propagation of vital truth. It was on this principle that the Apostle Paul refused to dispute on points non-essential to salvation, and exhorted Christians to liberality of sentiment. So the true Christian says, "If we are to debate, let it be on matters worthy our character and intellect. If we are to labour, let it be in a field where our toil shall not be wasted."

2. A settled piety permits our attention to be drawn off from our personal anxieties, and to be fixed on the conversion of others. We cannot be content with our own happiness; we want to make others happy also.

3. Consistency and harmony in the Church have their influence on the minds of the undecided, and induce them to join themselves to the disciples. If the religion of Christ were properly represented in the spirit and conduct of the professing Church, the world could hardly withstand its attraction.

4. God has established the connection between piety and usefulness, and therefore confers His special blessing on the labours of established Christians, and the enterprises of pure and devoted Churches. He is not dependent upon any particular set of instruments. But there is one rule which He never violates — He never employs unholy men or fallen Churches to represent Him in the world, or to fulfil the saving objects of His redeeming scheme.

(W. Williams.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: Him would Paul have to go forth with him; and took and circumcised him because of the Jews which were in those quarters: for they knew all that his father was a Greek.

WEB: Paul wanted to have him go out with him, and he took and circumcised him because of the Jews who were in those parts; for they all knew that his father was a Greek.

The Establishment and Increase of the Church
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