URC Daily Devotion 21st September 2022

Acts 14: 21 – 28

After they had proclaimed the good news to that city and had made many disciples, they returned to Lystra, then on to Iconium and Antioch.  There they strengthened the souls of the disciples and encouraged them to continue in the faith, saying, ‘It is through many persecutions that we must enter the kingdom of God.’  And after they had appointed elders for them in each church, with prayer and fasting they entrusted them to the Lord in whom they had come to believe.  Then they passed through Pisidia and came to Pamphylia.  When they had spoken the word in Perga, they went down to Attalia.  From there they sailed back to Antioch, where they had been commended to the grace of God for the work that they had completed.  When they arrived, they called the church together and related all that God had done with them, and how he had opened a door of faith for the Gentiles.  And they stayed there with the disciples for some time.


Half way through the book of Acts, and at the furthest point of Paul’s first missionary journey, this may be a good opportunity to take stock of mission work that you are engaged in or praying for.  Notice some key words for mission objectives, and some key tasks to get churches well founded.

Verse 7 of this chapter has already shown that when Paul and Barnabas fled from Iconium, to Lystra, Derbe and surrounding country, they continued proclaiming the good news.  Reporting the results in verse 21 before their next move, the author’s Greek words say ‘having evangelised that city and having discipled enough …’ 

Thus they seem to reckon that the new church in Derbe was sufficiently well founded for it to thrive, but there was still more to do in Lystra, Iconium and Antioch in Pisidia.  So rather than take the shorter overland route back to Antioch in Syria, they returned immediately to those cities, for the tasks of strengthening the souls of the new disciples, urging continuity in the faith, appointing elders to further those tasks in every congregation as they face many challenges, and entrusting them all to the Lord with prayer and fasting. 

Eventually Paul and Barnabas returned by sea to the Christians at Antioch in Syria who similarly had committed them to the grace of God for this work.  They reported back all that God did with them, which opened a door of faith to the people of other ethnic groups.

If you do use this passage to help you take stock of mission now, notice that the same key words are used in Jesus’s great commission at the end of Matthew’s Gospel – ‘disciple’ as the significant verb; and the Greek word ethne for both ‘Gentiles’ in Acts 14:21 and ‘nations’ in Matthew 28:19 – while ‘as you are going’ is the context, and ‘baptising … and teaching …’ are the tasks.
O God, as we are going on the ways you have led us,
please, by the grace of your Spirit, enable
the fulfilment of your mission to disciple all peoples
of different ethnic groups, cultures, languages and nations,
baptising into the name and character of the Trinity,
entering your kingdom, the limitless sphere of your mutual love,
teaching the living word of Christ for a dedicated loving response
of sharing in the life of Christ.  



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