“But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witness unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.” The apostles are fulfilling the journey and work of the command of witness. They were guided by the Holy Ghost to Antioch, Iconium, Lystra, and Jerusalem.
“…the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them.” The Holy Ghost being the conductor of the Co-mission paired up the two as example for the work. Only to be rarely broken this pattern. Witnessing two by two we see great value as one speaks and the other is silent. The silent partner, by being silent stands in affirmation of the speaker. The concept of Paraclete or advocate is utilized in many ways for effect of dispensation of the Gospel as well as during the steps to and from to facilitate the event.
Bar gives patronymic value to a name. This sorcerer found in verse six of chapter 13 is claiming to be son of the anointed. His name being Elymas was an agent of the devil sent to turn deputy Sergius Paulus from the truth. “Then Saul, (who also is called Paul,) filled with the Holy Ghost, set his eyes on him. And said, O full of all subtilty and all mischief, thou child of the devil, thou enemy of all righteousness, wilt thou not cease to pervert the right ways of the Lord?” By the work of the Holy Ghost in him, Paul calls out the devil and rebukes him. Paul later writes, “…mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them.” Elymas was given blindness for a season as a mark of his work against the Holy Ghost. Paulus witnessed these things and believed.
When a subject has come to belief, the Apostles move on and in Pisidia where Paul gave the Gospel to the Jews. However, they didn’t want to listen. “And when the Jews were gone out of the synagogue, the Gentiles besought that these words might be preached to them the next sabbath.” Something wonderful has happened to the Glory of God. Some will harden their hearts and the chosen among the Gentiles desired the milk of the word. “…It was necessary that the word of God should first have been spoken to you; but seeing ye put it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo we turn to the Gentiles.” The Jews, have made their choice. Christ made it clear that because of their decision there would be consequences. “Therefore say I unto you, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof.” This concept of the Gospel being dispersed to the Jew first and then to the Gentile was not of weight, but of chronology. Nothing is owed to this race of people. God is not a respecter of persons. “He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” This does bring the hand of judgment upon them. The Abrahamic promise belongs to those who believe and has never changed from the very moment God gave the promise to Abraham. “And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.”
One must believe in Christ to be an heir. In Iconium we see the work of the Holy Ghost and the advisory. “…a great multitude both of the Jews and also of the Greeks believed.” However, it only takes a few to corrupt. In verse 2 those Jews who did not believe, being agents of their father, stirred up the Gentiles to evil. But this did not stop the apostles.
A cripple in Lystra was healed when hearing Paul speak. “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” However, preaching to pagans, they immediately gave the credit to Jupiter and Mercury. Paul and Barnabas rent their cloths in distain. “And saying, Sirs, why do ye these things? We also are men of like passions with you, and preach unto you that ye should turn from these vanities unto the living God, which made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all things that are therein:” Never the less, there was fruit from witnessing. Even as a result of the evil infected by those who serve their father the devil to those misguided in worship of things they have made, the Holy Ghost did and does change hearts.
In Athens, Paul was met with more paganism at Mars hill. Once again, some hardened their hearts and others believed. “Howbeit certain men clave unto him, and believed; among which Dionysius the Areopagite, and a women Damaris, and others with them.”
Some stoned him, others tried, and because we are called to follow Christ, sometimes we are brought before the magistrate. The years Paul spent in prison under Felix, Festus and Agrippa in succession.
Paul gives the Gospel to Felix and Drusilla and it convicts to fear. “And as he reasoned of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come, Felix trembled, and answered, Go thy way for this time; when I have a convenient season, I will call for thee.” And that calling never came.
After two years, Paul is in the judgment seat before Festus and the Jews. No journey to Jerusalem. They convene in Caeserea for the hearing. Paul answered the charges. “ Then said Paul, I stand at Caesar’s judgment seat, where I ought to be judged: to the Jews have I done no wrong, as thou very well knowest. For if I be an offender, or have committed any thing worthy of death, I refuse not to die: but if there be none of these things whereof these accuse me, no man may deliver me unto them. I appeal unto Caesar.” Paul, being bold and polished in Levitical law, a Pharisee himself, filled with the understanding and wisdom the Holy Ghost has given him, addresses the court with commitment. Being also of Rome, they appealed to Caesar and sent him to Rome relieving Festus of the Jews.
King Agrippa expresses his concern for why he is involved. “For it seemeth to me unreasonable to send a prisoner, and not withal to signify the crimes laid against him.” This initial response does not show favor to the accusers. Which leads to Agrippa wanted to hear Paul’s testimony.
Paul stretches out his hand to let them know he is about to address them. And Paul proceeded to give his testimony of his life as a Pharisee, persecuting Christians, judgment, conviction, correction and regeneration of himself. Paul expressed the Co-mission given unto him by Christ. “Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian.”
The chapter closes with Paul’s almost acquittal. “Then said Agrippa unto Festus, This man might have been set at liberty, if he had not appealed unto Caesar.” But once again, the Gospel was given. Christ had made abundantly clear for all those who have ears to hear in the Parable of the Sower. Only God knows where those seeds will land.
The progression of the Holy Ghost through Paul is that of a train picking up speed. The more of the Gospel given, the closer Paul gets to the Cross at Calvary as he truly takes up his cross and follows Christ up Calvary’s road. Some “waxed gross”, some “blasphemed”, and some “set to be lights” in this Co-mission with the Holy Ghost.
We are ALL called to be in this Co-mission with the Holy Ghost, and on our own roads to Christ, some will harden their hearts, some will mock us, and others will come to Christ and become kingdom builders themselves to the Glory of God. Never forget that our road can and should bear the same fruit. Some of the fruit will be persecution and potentially persecution unto death. Paul writes, “For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better:” Don’t rush this, there’s a lot of work to be done.
The Holy Bible: Authorized King James. Cadillac, MI: Church Bible Publishers, 2017
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