Acts 14:3

Fancy chandelier in Vermont State Senate. Probably soaked the taxpayers pretty good.

Saturday, 4 February 2023

Therefore they stayed there a long time, speaking boldly in the Lord, who was bearing witness to the word of His grace, granting signs and wonders to be done by their hands. Acts 14:3

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, it noted that the Jews of Iconium stirred up the Gentiles and poisoned the minds of the brethren. With that, Luke continues with the words, “Therefore they stayed there a long time.”

Unlike in Antioch of Pisidia, it appears the Jews in Iconium were not as quickly riled up as those in Antioch. And so, Paul and Barnabas stayed. These Gentiles had believed (Acts 14:1). As such, they were counted as saved and in need of proper instruction and discipleship, just as the Lord had instructed. Without being threatened, they stayed and provided just that.

It is certain that if they were expelled, but a church had been set up first, Paul would have written to them instead. This is what happened in Galatia, for example. The Judaizers went in and poisoned the minds of the believers. Because of this, Paul wrote to them words of correction. It also will happen in Antioch of Syria in Acts 15. In that case, a council will be held to resolve the matter. No matter what, Paul did his utmost to ensure that those he evangelized received proper instruction. As for their time in Iconium, Paul and Barnabas were “speaking boldly in the Lord.”

The Greek reads epi, or “upon the Lord.” Their words were reliant upon the Lord. The word translated as “speaking boldly” has only been seen thus far in Acts 9:27-29 when referring to the words of Paul –

“But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles. And he declared to them how he had seen the Lord on the road, and that He had spoken to him, and how he had preached boldly at Damascus in the name of Jesus. 28 So he was with them at Jerusalem, coming in and going out. 29 And he spoke boldly in the name of the Lord Jesus and disputed against the Hellenists, but they attempted to kill him.”

The word signifies to be frank and confident in what is said. This would obviously be the case if they were reliant upon the Lord for their words. It was as if the Lord was speaking through them. This is poignantly seen in the next words, “who was bearing witness to the word of His grace.”

The words are in the singular and the reference is to Jesus. The Greek literally reads, “the [One] testifying upon the word of the grace of Him.” Paul and Barnabas were reliant upon the Lord and so the Lord testified through His word of grace. That testifying was accomplished by “granting signs and wonders to be done by their hands.”

This was for the set purpose of establishing the truth of the gospel among these believers because their minds had been poisoned by the Jews. The Lord promised that His apostles would be given everything they needed to accomplish their task. The book of Acts bears this out. When it was necessary to establish their authority or to continue their work, the Lord worked miracles through them. But this was not an authority that came at their will. Instead, it came from His.

In the case of those at Iconium, there was a need for this to come about, and the Lord worked accordingly, validating the ministry of Paul and Barnabas and the reliability of His word as expressed through them.

Life application: Notice that the words above say that the Lord was “granting signs and wonders to be done.” There are times when the apostles healed or raised the dead. And there were times when they could not do these things. The gifts were at the will of the Lord, and they came to provide validation of the work of the Lord or the fact that His word was being properly expressed through these apostles.

Today, this type of thing is wholly unnecessary. There is no need for a validation of the Lord because the word of the Lord has been given. It would be contradictory to both the word and to the process of salvation, which is by grace through faith, to provide such things today.

There is also no need for a validation of the veracity of a ministry or a preacher today. The word provides for those things as well. If those who are listening to a teacher or preacher want to know if what they are hearing is true or not, they simply need to go to the word and study up.

Unfortunately, that takes time, effort, and contemplation. These are things that people do not want to give. It demonstrates a failing in the hearer, not in the process as given by the Lord. It is so much easier to say, “I got a sign from the preacher,” or “I received a prophetic word from Pastor Providence.” That is easy, it takes any burden off the individual, and life can go on in ignorant bliss. But, again, this is contradictory to the word itself.

This does not mean the Lord does not work the miraculous in response to prayer, but the results will always be left for the faithful to accept, by faith, that it was the Lord who accomplished what occurred.

Those who believe the Lord is working in overt miracles, signs, and wonders today have failed to think through the process of what God is doing in the world. Why would He give his word just to go around the word He has given? He would not. There is a purpose for these demonstrations of His workings in redemptive history, and they find their end in the completed canon of Scripture, the Holy Bible. Learn the word and you will do well, avoiding the pitfalls and traps that have brought harm to innumerable souls.

Thank You for Your word, O God. It is just what we need to convey the message of the gospel to the world, and it is fully sufficient to do so. You are working through people who are willing to expend themselves for this purpose, and You are validating Your presence among those who believe through the word You have provided. What more do we need to accomplish this awesome task? Only for You to be with us in the process. And we know You are. Your word tells us it is so. Amen.