Acts 13:44-52 - The Spirit And Joy
Welcome to our Bible study today! We are studying Spiritual Applications from the Book-of Acts. Our text today is Acts 13:44-52. Paul and Barnabas set out on Paul's first missionary journey in Antioch of Syria. This was about 300 miles north of Jerusalem.
They began by visiting Cyprus. After ministering there, one of their first stops was in Antioch of Pisidia, now a part of modem Turkey. It was in this particular city that Paul and Barnabas announced that they were turning to or reaching out to the Gentiles. Paul's ministry there resulted in the disciples being filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit. Several points strike our attention.
1. The Impact Of The Gospel Was Powerful
Paul and Barnabas went down to the synagogue in Antioch on the Sabbath day. There, Paul preached a powerful message to the Jews and to the God-fearing Gentiles. As Paul and Barnabas were going out of the synagogue, the people begged them to speak to them again on the next Sabbath. The Jews and "God-fearing proselytes" followed Paul and Barnabas, who then urged them to continue in the grace of God.
Clearly, the impact of the gospel was very powerful. Initially, the Jews and Gentile God-fearers, or proselytes, responded favorably and wanted to hear more. However, opposition was coming. Today, we must remember that opposition often follows the impact of the gospel. The gospel changes lives, changes culture, and changes existing habits. Not everyone will like these changes.
2. Opposition Arises, And Paul Turns To The Gentiles
On the next Sabbath, nearly the whole city assembled to hear the word of God. When the Jews saw the crowds, they were filled with jealousy. They began contradicting Paul and blaspheming. Then Paul announced that, because the Jews had repudiated the Word of God, he and Barnabas would turn to the Gentiles.
When the Gentiles heard the news, they began rejoicing and glorifying the Word of the Lord. Luke says, "As many as had been appointed to eternal life believed." They believed in Christ and accepted Him. The Word of the Lord spread throughout the region.
Then, the Jews aroused the devout women of prominence and the leading men of the city and instigated a persecution against Paul and Barnabas. They drove them out of their district. Because of this, Paul and Barnabas shook the dust of their feet in protest against them and went to Iconium.
3. Disciples Filled With Joy And Holy Spirit
In verse 52 Luke writes, "And the disciples were continually filled with joy and.' with the Holy Spirit." When Luke writes "and the disciples", to whom does he refer? Paul and Barnabas moved on to Iconium with their traveling companions. The new converts stayed behind. We know, from verse 48, that the new converts were rejoicing. No doubt, "the disciples" includes both the party that moved on and the disciples that stayed. There is no reason to limit the term.
This is a story of the triumph of the gospel. In spite of persecution, there was great joy. The "disciples" were continually filled with joy and the Holy Spirit. Throughout history, the church has triumphed over persecution. The church will also triumph over all opposition. The Spirit-inspired "joy of the harvest" is one of our great rewards! When people are saved and lives are changed, we rejoice.
4. The Holy Spirit Is The Source Of Joy
According to Luke, the disciples were continually filled .with "joy and the Holy Spirit." What is the relationship between joy and the Holy Spirit? We could interpret "with joy" and "with the Holy Spirit"as two separate and unrelated items. However, when Luke connects the Spirit with a characteristic such as power, it normally signals a close relationship. The characteristic is not synonymous with the Spirit, but they are related. Usually, the Holy Spirit is either the source or at least a source of the characteristic. The source of the joy mentioned here is the Spirit. The occasion of the joy was the progress of the gospel.
Over the course of time, many thousands of people have responded to our gospel websites. Our hearts well up with joy when we receive testimonies from people who write to us. The Spirit inspires this joy. He motivates the inquirers to respond to our websites and He guides our teachers as they respond back to those same inquirers. When, they report what God has done, the Spirit inspires great joy in our hearts.
Would you like to have great joy in your life? Here is how. Devote your life to the service of the Lord. Share the gospel with people everywhere. Because the Spirit is a powerful persuader, He draws men and women to Christ. Their lives are changed, and the Spirit inspires us with joy unspeakable. Like the disciples in Paul's day, we are continually being filled with joy and the Holy Spirit. As we are filled with the Spirit, He will inspire us to continue telling the gospel story, and our joy will increase once again.
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