Revival, The Local Church, and Missions Part II

Revival, The Local Church, and Missions Part II


Workers and the work.  “Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work.”  The Holy Spirit was securing workers for the work.  What is the “work”? 

At the end Luke tells us they returned from “the work, which they fulfilled” (14:26).   Whatever it was, they had completed it by the grace of God.  What did they do on that journey?  They “preached the word of God” (13:5), sent “the word of salvation” (v. 26), “preached . . . forgiveness of sins” and justification (vv. 38-39), spread “the word of the Lord” (v. 49), “gave testimony unto the word of his grace” (14:4), “preached the gospel” (vv. 7, 21) and “taught many” (v. 21, mathēteuō, “to disciple”, cf. Matt. 28:19). As a result they planted self-supporting, self-governing, self-propagating local assemblies (14:22-23), i.e. indigenous churches.

The work is building a church.  See 1 Cor. 9:1; 3:9-15 (note the singular “work”). Note also  the building is a “temple of God” (1 Cor. 3:16-17, naos, “sanctuary”), which points us back to point II.  Cf. 1 Pet. 2:4-10.

The work and workers.  “And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them away.”  The local church produces workers who do the work of building local churches.  The local church equips the saints to do “the work of the ministry” (Eph. 4:11-12).

Laying hands on the missionaries identified the church with them.  It was an act of solidarity between the pastors, church, and missionaries.  It was not an ordination but a commissioning to their new ministry.  Where they went the church went; what they did the church did.  This may be why Paul and Barnabas are called apostles (14:4,14), because they are sent by the Holy Spirit as representatives of the church.

“Sent them away” is apolyō, “to release” (5:23, 40; 16:35-36), “to dismiss” (15:30, 33; 19:40).   They were released from their present responsibilities and given over (14:26; 15:40, paradidōmi) to the grace of God.

“Being sent forth by the Holy Ghost” (v. 4a) uses the verb ekpempō, “to send out, send away.”  It is the Holy Spirit who calls and sends, the church recognizes what the Spirit is doing and submits and co-operates.

This is a very significant event in the history of the church.  Marshall acknowledges this:

The importance of the present narrative is that it describes the first piece of planned ‘overseas mission’ carried out by representatives of a particular church, rather than by solitary individuals, and begun by a deliberate church decision, inspired by the Spirit, other than somewhat more casually as a result of persecution.[6]

The local church in Syrian Antioch is the model missionary church.  May their number multiply!  Darrell L. Bock sums this up well: “We build churches not just to go in for worship but also to go out with God’s heart for people.”[7]

End Notes

[1] David J. Williams, Acts, New International Biblical Commentary (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1990), 220.

[2] David G. Peterson, The Acts of the Apostles, The Pillar New Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2009), 374.

[3] “II. With the Accusative; 1. Of Place; e. Of that which so joins itself to one thing as to separate itself from another; hence, of that which belongs to one pers. or thing: kata tēn ousan ekklēsian, belonging to [A.V. in ] the church that was there, Acts xiii.1” (Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament [Peabody, MA: Hendrickson,, reprint], 827).

[4] The Acts of the Apostles (Grand Rapids: Fleming H. Revell/Baker, 1988 reprint), 241.

[5] Thayer’s states , “indicates that ‘what it introduces can be taken as something settled, laid down in deed and in truth’,” and “joined to imperatives . . . it signifies that the thing enjoined must be done forthwith, at once, so that it may be evident that it is being done” (p. 131).  It is found seven times in the NT.

[6] I. Howard Marshall, The Acts of the Apostles, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries  (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans/ InterVarsity, 1980), 214.

[7] Acts, Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2007), 440.


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