Acts 13:26-52: Joy in the Holy Spirit
January 23, 2023
TODAY'S BIBLE READING:
We come now to the second half of Paul’s sermon and its impact. Paul preaches the “good news” with boldness and clarity. The result is that many of those who heard responded by following them and wanting to know more, and Paul urged them to continue in the grace of God. The next week, news has spread about this dynamic message that Paul is bringing of forgiveness of sins through the Lord Jesus Christ. And so almost the whole city gathers. This fills the Jewish leaders with jealousy. And so they start to argue against Paul and abuse him verbally. Paul therefore tells them that he is taking the message to the Gentiles—and the Jewish nation was always meant to be a light to the Gentiles.
The Word of the Lord spreads through the whole region. The Gentiles who heard Paul’s message were glad and honored the Word of the Lord and “all who were appointed for eternal life believed.” But the Jewish leaders, now inciting the leading God-fearing women of the city against Paul and Barnabas, stir up persecution against them and expel them from their region. As a result, Paul and Barnabas shake the dust off their sandals (see Jesus’ instruction in Luke 10:11). But the disciples are filled with joy and the Holy Spirit.
What can we learn from this remarkable story?
First, that the true preaching of God’s Word will stir up opposition. We should certainly not seek difficulties, and we should pray for peace and by all means seek it. But if we are faithful to God, we will rub up against the jealousy of man. And we should be prepared when people revile us or say all sorts of evil things against us.
Second, that there is no contradiction between God appointing people to be saved and people believing so that they are saved. The biblical balance is here expressed: “All who were appointed for eternal life believed.”
Third, we should learn that the characteristic disposition of a disciple of Jesus is one filled with joy and the Holy Spirit. Certainly we are not always as joyful as we could be. And certainly we are not always as filled with the Holy Spirit as we might be. But a disciple is one who, while he leaks and needs to be filled again with the Holy Spirit and with joy, has access to the joy of the Holy Spirit.
“Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy” (1 Peter 1:8).
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Josh Moody (Ph.D., University of Cambridge) is the senior pastor of College Church in Wheaton, IL., president and founder of God Centered Life Ministries, and author of several books including How the Bible Can Change Your Life and John 1-12 For You.
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