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Bible Commentaries

Expositor's Dictionary of Texts

Acts 14

Verses 1-28

Spiritual Forces

Acts 14:23

My text is rich in the suggestion of the main influences by which the Christian life should be guarded and stimulated, and by which it may be caused to receive an influx of power.

I. The influence to which my text first calls attention is that of spiritual leadership. The two great apostolic missionaries saw to it that they did not leave any of these Churches before they had arranged in each a definite spiritual leadership, which should afford guidance, direction, and spiritual instruction to the general body of the converts, and furnish personal leaders in every good word and work. The progress of a community depends largely upon its possession of large-hearted, far-sighted, and strong-willed leaders. Carlyle's affirmation that the history of the world is the history of its great men may require qualification, but the essence of it is true. The duty of leadership does not begin and end with the appointed officers of a church, nor can a man evade the obligation of spiritual leadership by not occupying an official position.

II. In addition to appointing spiritual leadership in these Churches, Paul and Barnabas employed on their behalf the forces of spiritual intercession and sympathy. They 'prayed with fasting'. We need to renew our faith in the efficacy of prayer. There is much in it that we cannot explain; yet even the world of science is beginning to perceive that the influence of mind upon mind, and of spirit upon spirit is as comprehensive as it is mysterious, and that subtle forces wing their way from man to man without regard to time or space. Experience has demonstrated that the 'fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much in its working'.

III. The cardinal power in which Paul and Barnabas trusted was the grip of the Lord Christ upon the believing soul. It may be asked, if the grip of the Christ upon the believer is sufficient, why should we trouble to exort subsidiary influence? The need arises from the fact that the human spirit is not coerced even by the grip of the Christ. God is the perfect Comforter of the human soul: yet he has ordained that man's reception of that comfort shall be greatly influenced by the ministrations of human sympathy. Similarly, the hand of Christ is the perfect security for the believer; but He has ordained that the grip of that hand shall be more fully realised through the leadership of human hands, and through the earnest power of human prayers.

John Thomas, Concerning the King, p. 115.

References. XIV. 23. Expositor (4th Series), vol. i. p. 349; ibid. (6th Series), vol. ii. p. 298. XIV. 24. Ibid. vol. x. p. 1. XIV. 27. J. G. Paton, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xlv. p. 277. Church Family Newspaper, vol. xv. p. 652. J. Hedley, Christian World Pulpit, vol. lxxfi. p. 26. Expositor (6th Series), vol. iv. p. 115. XIV. 27, 28. J. Travis, Christian World Pulpit, vol. lxi. p. 310. XIV. 28. Expositor (6th Series), vol. i. p. 78. XV. Expositor (5th Series), vol. ii. p. 104; ibid. vol. iii. p. 175; ibid. vol. iv. pp. 43, 58. XV. 1. F. D. Maurice, The Acts of the Apostles, p. 223. XV. 1, 2. Expositor (5th Series), vol. iii. p. 94; ibid. (6th Series), vol. xi. p. 457. XV. 1-24. Ibid. vol. ii. p. 117. XV. 1-33. Ibid. vol. vii. p. 326. XV. 5. Ibid. (6th Series), vol. vii. p. 457; ibid. vol. viii. p. 76. XV. 6. H. Wace, Christian World Pulpit, vol. lviii. p. 198. F. D. Maurice, The Acts of the Apostles, p. 232. XV. 8. Expositor (5th Series), vol. vii. p. 141. XV. 9. Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxiii. No. 1350. XV. 11. Ibid. vol. xiii. No. 765. XV. 12. Expositor (6th Series), vol. v. p. 246. XV. 15-17. Ibid. p. 85. XV. 16. Ibid. vol. x. p. 377. XV. 17. Ibid. (4th Series), vol. iii. p. 120; ibid. (6th Series), vol. v. p. 46. XV. 18. A. T. Pierson, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xlix. p. 331. Expositor (4th Series), vol. i. p. 32. XV. 21. Ibid. vol. ii. pp. 25, 29; ibid. (5th Series), vol. x. p. 24. XV. 22-29. Ibid. vol. vii. p. 7. XV. 23, 24. Ibid. vol. ii. p. 36. XV. 25. Bishop Welldon, The Gospel in a Great City, p. 241. XV. 25, 26. H. Bailey, The Gospel of the Kingdom, p. 99. XV. 26. J. G. Rogers, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xliii. p. 116. XV. 28. A. G. Mortimer, The Church's Lessons for the Christian Year, pt. iii. p. 117. Bishop Welldon, The Gospel in a Great City, p. 241. Expositor (6th Series), vol. x. p. 48. XV. 29. Ibid. (5th Series), vol. vi. p. 70; ibid. (6th Series), vol. ii. p. 372; ibid. vol. viii. p. 372. XV. 32. Ibid. vol. vi. p. 392.

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Bibliographical Information
Nicoll, William Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on Acts 14". Expositor's Dictionary of Text. 1910.