Pointed thing. Vermont landscape.
Wednesday, 1 March 2023
So they stayed there a long time with the disciples. Acts 14:28
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 detailed the first coming together of the church after the return of the apostles. They gave a report of all that God had done with them, also noting that He had opened a door of faith to the Gentiles. With that remembered, it next says, “So they stayed there.”
This refers to Paul and Barnabas. After giving their report, they remained in Antioch. With that understood, the next words are as debated as where government officials think the people’s money should be spent. Luke records that they stayed there “a long time.”
The Greek reads, “no little time.” The indefinite nature of the words leave much to be guessed at. Without knowing how long the missionary journey was, there is no way to know how long the stay after it could have been. Some think this stay was a year, others say two or three or even five. Some say the missionary journey was probably two years. Others say the methodical nature of Paul would mean it was as much as four.
As usual, Barnes provide his thoughts, they are as acceptable as any other, remembering that the duration of the missionary journey would change the length of the stay now recorded –
“If the transactions recorded in this chapter occurred, as is supposed, about 45 a.d. or 46 a.d., and the council at Jerusalem assembled 51 a.d. or 53 a.d., as is supposed, then here is an interval of from five to eight years in which we have no account of them. Where they were, or what was their employment in this interval, the sacred historian has not informed us. It is certain, however, that Paul made several journeys of which we have no particular record in the New Testament, and it is possible that some of those journeys occurred during this interval. Thus, he preached the gospel as far as Illyricum, Romans 15:19. And in 2 Corinthians 11:23-27, there is an account of trials and persecutions, of many of which we have no distinct record, and which might have occurred during this interval.” Albert Barnes
No matter what, they didn’t just stay in Antioch and pick flowers. Rather, the verse and the chapter end with the words, “with the disciples.”
This obviously could allow for Barnes’ thoughts because it might be that one was with the disciples constantly while another traveled, or they each came and went as they decided. Nothing is specifically stated and so those matters cannot be known. However, those in Antioch were instructed and built up in the Lord. But what is more than probable is that during this time many Gentiles began to join the church.
The precedent had been set on the missionary journey and it meant that Gentiles could come in, joining the church, and not even need to be circumcised. This thought then will establish the basis for the opening verses of Chapter 15.
Life application: We cannot be dogmatic about what is left unstated. Inferences can be made, but unless there are set parameters in the surrounding text, our guesses are only that. In the case of the indeterminate time mentioned in this verse, we must not be overly dogmatic about our viewpoint. This is true with other points of doctrine as well.
There is a set and specific amount of information to derive our theology from. Quite often inferences must be made, and that is fine. And more, the more we know the rest of the word, the better our inferences might be. But if they cannot be pinned down exactly, we should always note that what we state is inferred. In this, we will be responsibly conveying the truth of the matter to those we instruct.
In all things, let us not purposefully twist or distort what Scripture says to form an opinion. The word is too precious to allow that to occur. Eventually, all things will be revealed. Until that day, certain things will remain undetermined.
Lord God, thank You for the chance to contemplate things that are not explicitly stated in Your word. We can form conclusions and modify them as we consider other things that come to mind. There is no end to the chance to grow in this precious word because of this. It is alive and it feeds our minds. The more we study it, the more our minds will grow in the knowledge of who You are and of what You are telling us. Thank You for this precious word! Amen.