Jesus Creed

Paul.jpgThe missional work of God goes on and continues to expand, but Paul and Barnabas retrace their steps to visit the previous spots of mission in order to deepen and anchor those missional outposts of the gospel.

14:21 After they had proclaimed the good news in that city and made many disciples, they returned to Lystra, to Iconium, and to Antioch. 14:22 They strengthened the souls of the disciples and encouraged them to continue in the faith, saying, “We must enter the kingdom of God through many persecutions.” 14:23 When they had appointed elders for them in the various churches, with prayer and fasting they entrusted them to the protection of the Lord in whom they had believed. 14:24 Then they passed through Pisidia and came into Pamphylia, 14:25 and when they had spoken the word in Perga, they went down to Attalia. 14:26 From there they sailed back to Antioch, where they had been commended to the grace of God for the work they had now completed. 14:27 When they arrived and gathered the church together, they reported all the things God had done with them, and that he had opened a door of faith for the Gentiles. 14:28 So they spent considerable time with the disciples.

This deepening ministry is by way of strengthening souls and encouraging them … reminding them that persecution is the path to the kingdom of God. It is unclear what Paul means here by “kingdom of God” but there is no reason to assume, without proof, that he is talking about heaven or life after death.

The strengthening ministry continues: they appointed elders (no voting you might notice) and they prayed for them (with fasting) entrusted them to God’s protection, no doubt because of the danger of persecution.
Then they returned to Syrian Antioch where the whole trip had begun (cf. 13:1-3).
The missional work of God is not just a spontaneous and chaotic thing: it involves leadership, appointment of new leaders, and reporting to the mother church that sent them off — through the guidance of God’s Spirit.
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