Today's Devotions

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Showcase:Soaring

  • Right Where You Are by Sylvia Gunter +

    There are all sorts of friends. Read More
  • Embracing God's Mystery +

    One of the sad aspects of humanity is our jadedness, Read More
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Don  Carsonhttp://www.esvbible.org/Judges+9/

http://www.esvbible.org/Acts+13/

http://www.esvbible.org/Mark+8/

http://www.esvbible.org/Jeremiah+22/

TODAY I WANT TO DRAW attention to a couple of points drawn from opposite ends of Acts 13.

(1) The church leadership in Antioch must have been extraordinarily diverse (Acts13:1). Barnabas's real name was Joseph. He was a Levite from Cyprus (Acts 4:36-37). At a time when the church in Jerusalem was growing so quickly it must have been impossible for the apostles to remember everyone's name, this Joseph was noticed for his remarkable gift of encouragement; as a result he was rewarded with a nickname that reflected his character: Barnabas — Son of Encouragement. Then there was Simeon "called Niger" — an expression that almost certainly means "Simeon the Black."

In the ancient world, unlike the British and American experience, slavery was tied to the economic system (people who went bankrupt might sell themselves into slavery) and to military might; it was not restricted to a particular race. (Thus there could be African slaves, English slaves, Jewish slaves, and so forth.) So there was nothing anomalous about having "Simeon the Black" as one of the leaders. About Lucius of Cyrene we know almost nothing. Apparently, he, like Barnabas, was from a Mediterranean island, and the form of his name shows he belongs to the Hellenistic world. Manean had enough connections with minor nobility that he had been reared with Herod the tetrarch.

Then there was Saul himself, by this time a veteran evangelist, church planter, and Bible teacher of fifteen years' experience, with many scars to prove it. In the wake of this call, he progressively moved in Gentile circles, and used the name connected with his Roman citizenship, Paul (Acts 13:9). (Roman citizens had three names. We do not know the other two in the case of "Mr. Paul" — for Paul was certainly the family name. Saul was an additional name preserved for the sake of his Jewish heritage.) He, too, was from out of town — from Tarsus. What glorious and cosmopolitan diversity there is in this church in Antioch.

(2) After the detailed account of Paul's sermon in Pisidian Antioch, we are told that many Gentiles "honored the word of the Lord; and all who were appointed for eternal life believed" (Acts 13:48). An excellent exercise is to discover all the ways Acts, or even the entire New Testament, speaks of conversion and of converts — and then to use all of those locutions in our own speech. For our ways of talking about such matters both reflect and shape the way we think of such matters. There is no biblical passage that speaks of "accepting Jesus as your personal Savior" (though the notion itself is not entirely wrong). So why do many adopt this expression, and never speak in the terms of verse 48?

Judges 9; Acts 13; Jeremiah 22; Mark 8

Reflections to Consider

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Publications

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Music

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Audio & Video

  • Storytelling

    Eugene Peterson discusses his influences as a writer, as well as how and why he created the Message translation. This Read More
  • No Longer Alone with God

    This is the first of a seven part series by Dallas Willard, a USC philosophy professor who is closely associated Read More
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Favorites

  • Baptism, Communion, Repentance: The Essential U-Turn +

    Very few people admit to making u-turns when driving. Read More
  • The Wonder of Grace +

    Grace–that which brings us delight. Read More
  • Embracing God's Mystery +

    One of the sad aspects of humanity is our jadedness, Read More
  • A Model for Coming to God-adapted from Sylvia Gunter +

    Sylvia Gunter uses Psalm 35 to show how David asked God to contend, fight, rescue, defend, vindicate Read More
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Hidden Blessings

  • The Mystery of Godliness +

    Longings after God My dear Lord, I can but tell Thee that Thou knowest I long for nothing but Thyself, Read More
  • The Mystery of Iniquity by RC Sproul +

    It has been called the Achilles' heel of the Christian faith. Of course, I'm referring to the classical problem of Read More
  • The Mystery of the Trinity: One in Essence, Three in Person by RC Sproul +

    Do the three Persons of the Trinity truly exist? In this message entitled "One in Essence, Three in Person," Dr. Read More
  • Behold, I Tell You a Mystery by Baritone Coloratura· +

    Behold, I tell you a mystery; we shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed in a moment, Read More
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