Acts 14:26

Covered Bridge. Vermont.

Monday, 27 February 2023

From there they sailed to Antioch, where they had been commended to the grace of God for the work which they had completed. Acts 14:26

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).

The previous verse told of the apostles preaching in Perga. That was followed by their going down to Attalia, a port on the coast. With that noted, it next says, “From there they sailed to Antioch.”

This is Syrian Antioch from which the apostles first departed in Acts 13:3. Unless this is a note of completion that ignores various stops the ship may have made, this is a direct trip even up the river to where Antioch was. It is possible the ship made stops or even completed its journey at Selucia and then the apostles traveled up the river to Antioch. The details of any such traveling are simply being left out of the record. No matter what, the record of the missionary trip is complete with these words.

With the journey home behind them, it next says that this is “where they had been commended to the grace of God.”

That was recorded in Acts 13:3 –

“Then, having fasted and prayed, and laid hands on them, they sent them away.”

Luke is reminding the reader that everything recorded is for the purpose of revealing what had occurred since that time and that it was a journey that these men were specifically commissioned to accomplish. They had fulfilled their assignment as witnessed by his written record. From there, it next says, “for the work.”

These words are based upon what is stated in Acts 13:2 –

“As they ministered to the Lord and fasted, the Holy Spirit said, ‘Now separate to Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.’”

The work they had participated in was an assignment first directed by the Holy Spirit. As God knows the end from the beginning, and as they were directed by the Holy Spirit, it can also be deduced that they were led by the Holy Spirit. Even the departure of John Mark from them is to be considered as an important point purposefully directed by the Holy Spirit to later be included in the Acts narrative by Luke.

It is this journey “which they had completed.” Their actions bear witness to their completion of what was directed. The recorded aspect of it, which is now included in the Bible, is a sufficient witness to that fact. With this note of completion, Barnabas is no longer to be considered an apostle. He was an apostle, a sent one, from Antioch, but only Paul was a sent one from Jesus. With this thought, the next verse will continue with the post-missionary journey details.

Life application: As noted in the previous verse, there are many things that may have occurred that are not recorded in the narrative by Luke. A preacher or teacher might attempt to justify divine protection of his missionaries by saying, “Do you see how God protected these two men throughout the entire journey? Neither one ever got sick on the entire trip. God will divinely protect you as well.”

This is both an argument from silence and an illogical conclusion concerning his own missionaries’ coming travels. For all we know, Barnabas was prone to sea sickness and was sick for the entire journey anytime he was on a ship. Paul may have eaten something bad in Iconium and been in bed for five days. We have no idea about such things, and we should never come to faulty conclusions based on what is not said.

There are times when what is not said is telling, but those things must be logical inferences that are in accord with the surrounding text. We must always be very careful to not insert fallacious thinking into the Bible. Rather we should only deduce what is right and logical. As an example, it says this in Deuteronomy 16:11 –

“You shall rejoice before the Lord your God, you and your son and your daughter, your male servant and your female servant, the Levite who is within your gates, the stranger and the fatherless and the widow who are among you, at the place where the Lord your God chooses to make His name abide.”

It is notable that the wife is missing from the list. Moses says you, your son, your daughter, your male servant, your female servant, the Levite, the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, but nothing is said of the wife.

What seems obvious is that this is not saying that the wives were to stay home and take care of the pets. Rather, it is a way of acknowledging her importance within the household. The words take the reader back to the very beginning of man’s time on earth –

“And Adam said:
‘This is now bone of my bones
And flesh of my flesh;
She shall be called Woman,
Because she was taken out of Man.’
24 Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” Genesis 2:23, 24

Rather than being an oversight by Moses, it appears he is reiterating the fact that the man and his wife are one. In mentioning him, she is implicitly mentioned as well. Therefore, there is no reason to include her in the list. It would be unthinkable for him to observe the feast without her. Thus, all were to attend, including the unstated wife. This is a logical deduction that is supported by the previous biblical narrative, as well as other such passages.

Let us always be attentive to what the word is saying, what the word is not saying, and what can be logically deduced from the omissions and what cannot be. The word is too important to manipulate or twist for our own agendas or perverse desires.

Exalted Heavenly Father, we have a pure and precious word that has been granted to us to lead our lives and direct our feet. Help us to treat it with the utmost care and never twist what is presented into something other than what You intend for us to see. Help us to be responsible in this manner. Amen.