Acts 11:23

Parked for the night. Nice spot.

Wednesday, 9 November 2022

When he came and had seen the grace of God, he was glad, and encouraged them all that with purpose of heart they should continue with the Lord. Acts 11:23

Note: You can listen to today’s commentary courtesy of our friends at “Bible in Ten” podcast. (Click Here to listen)

You can also read this commentary, with music, courtesy of our friends at “Discern the Bible” on YouTube. (Click Here to listen), or at Rumble (Click Here to listen).

In the previous verse, Barnabas was sent out to go as far as Antioch. With that, it next says, “When he came and had seen the grace of God.”

The meaning is clear. These were people who were once unsaved but who had come to believe the gospel. The grace of God through the giving of Jesus had been realized in them and they were now reconciled to Him forever. Because of this, “he was glad.”

As seen in verse 20, it is unclear whether these were Gentiles or Greek-speaking Jews. Other than just one word which varies in Greek texts, it is only an assumption that this is speaking of Gentiles. As such, it would be unwise to say “Gentile conversion” was the reason for Barnabas’ rejoicing.

Rather, his rejoicing is in the conversion of people outside of the borders of Israel, simply through the preaching of the word. Whether they are Jews or Gentiles, the conversion itself is the source of rejoicing. In this state, it next says, “and encouraged them all.”

The verb is imperfect, showing its ongoing nature. It more appropriately says that he “was encouraging them all.” The translation of this word mostly varies between “encourage” and “exhort.” In this case, translating it as “encourage” captures the thought because a pun is being made.

In Acts 4:36, he was called “Son of Encouragement” using the Greek noun paraklésis. Here, he is said to encourage them using the verb form of the same word, parakaleó. This was certainly one reason why he was sent in the first place, and it shows that he lived up to the name he was given. With that in mind, it next notes that his ongoing encouragement for them all was “that with purpose of heart.”

The word translated as “purpose” has been seen three times so far, in Matthew 12:4, Mark 2:26, and Luke 6:4. Each time, it was used to describe the consecrated bread (the showbread) set before the Lord at the tabernacle/temple. The idea here is that Barnabas was setting something before them as an object to be attained.

He was fully aware of people’s tendencies to become idle in life, be it in going to work, keeping up the roof on a house so it remained strong, or pursuing holiness before the Lord. Unless man is vigilant in tending to things, those things can get overtaken by other matters. In no time at all, doing what is right and/or necessary can be overlooked or even forgotten.

Because of this, Barnabas’ encouragement was that “they should continue with the Lord.” The Bible is filled with failure in this regard. Saul, the first king of Israel, started well, but he failed to continue with the Lord. The same is true with Solomon and other kings as well. And the same is true with Israel as a nation. Time and time again, they failed to set the Lord before them, and they suffered because of it.

So pronounced was this that the proper knowledge of how to serve him was entirely forgotten –

“Then Hilkiah the high priest said to Shaphan the scribe, ‘I have found the Book of the Law in the house of the Lord.’ And Hilkiah gave the book to Shaphan, and he read it. So Shaphan the scribe went to the king, bringing the king word, saying, ‘Your servants have gathered the money that was found in the house, and have delivered it into the hand of those who do the work, who oversee the house of the Lord.’ 10 Then Shaphan the scribe showed the king, saying, ‘Hilkiah the priest has given me a book.’ And Shaphan read it before the king.” 2 Kings 22:8-10

The priests of Israel, those responsible for maintaining and teaching the Law of Moses, as well as the king of Israel who was supposed to write out his own copy of the law and read it all the days of his life (Deuteronomy 17:18-20), didn’t even know the law existed. They had failed to be attentive and to set the Lord before themselves. As such, the nation went into one time of apostasy after another. Eventually, they were exiled. After their exile, they failed to see Jesus for who He is, and they were destroyed and exiled again.

Barnabas was there to encourage them to not allow their new faith in the Lord to get set aside, but to hold fast to it all their days.

Life application: Solomon, who wrote out the Proverbs, said –

“Because of laziness the building decays,
And through idleness of hands the house leaks.” Ecclesiastes 10:18

People may be attentive in one area, but lazy in another. But priorities must be set and maintained. It is more important to be attentive to the house than it is to be attentive to football scores. However, it is more important to be attentive to the Lord and His word than anything else. We all must set our priorities and then determine to follow through with maintaining them.

If we fail in this, we will not lose our salvation, but we may be the cause of our own family members never even coming to the Lord. What a sad day it will be when someone who is saved at a young age and then fails to follow through with it finds that his own children died apart from the Lord because of his negligence.

Let us be wise and consider our state before the Lord and then set Him as our chief priority all the days of our lives. Eternity is forever and it begins right now, so be attentive to the long term, even while walking in this short, futile world.

Glorious Heavenly Father, today we pray that You will keep us from backsliding or simply walking away from the commitment we made to You. We are prone to such things, so we ask You to personally intervene in our lives, reminding us of our duty to You above all else. May we be wise in this short walk before You. Amen.