Sermons

Summary: Barnabas and Saul had gone to Jerusalem to give the Christians there the collection taken up among the churches at Antioch, and now they have returned to Antioch. “Now there were in the church that was at Antioch certain prophets and teachers....

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July 21, 2014

By: Tom Lowe

Lesson: III.G: A Summary Report of the Church (12:24, 25)

Scripture (Acts 12:24-25; KJV)

24 But the word of God grew and multiplied.

25 And Barnabas and Saul returned from Jerusalem, when they had fulfilled their ministry, and took with them John, whose surname was Mark.

Commentary

24 But the word of God grew and multiplied.

“But the word of God grew and multiplied,” that is, the number of those who were converted by it, and embraced and professed it, increased; otherwise the word is the same, whether the professors of it are more or less. The church grew even though Herod, while he was living persecuted it; and after his death, it gained even more ground, met with less opposition, and was more freely professed.Not only was the corrupt king humiliatingly swept from the stage, while Peter, his intended victim was spared to become one of the leaders of the Church, but the cause which Herod and his Jewish instigators sought to crush was only furthered and glorified. The blood of the martyr James was the seed of the Church, and the speedy vengeance taken by God upon the persecutor no doubt gave fresh courage to His people to confess the Name of Jesus Christ. How full of encouragement and consolation is all this to the Christian Church in every age! The death of the chief persecutor left plenty of space for the activity of the preachers of the gospel, and they were not slow to avail themselves of the opportunities this presented. The liberation of Peter and the death of Herod would contribute to its growth. It was new evidence of divine intervention in behalf of the church; it would augment the zeal of Christians; it would humble their enemies, and would fill those with fear who had attempted to oppose and crush the church of God.

The word of God is compared here to seed, as it was in our Savior’s parable—“When any one hears the word of the kingdom, and understands it not, then comes the wicked one, and catches away that which was sown in his heart. This is he which received seed by the way side. But he that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that hears the word, and immediately with joy receives it; Yet has he not root in himself, but endures for a while: for when tribulation or persecution rises because of the word, by and by he is offended. He also that received seed among the thorns is he that hears the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becomes unfruitful. But he that received seed into the good ground is he that hears the word, and understands it; which also bears fruit, and brings forth, some an hundred times, some sixty, some thirty” (Matthew 13:19-23). The number of believers multiplied through the word, which was sown like seed that is scattered over the prepared field. It is so true that persecutors, by their pulling down the church, only succeed in building it up. Compare:

Acts 6:7: “And the word of God increased; and the number of the disciples multiplied in Jerusalem greatly; and a great company of the priests were obedient to the faith.” That is, the gospel was more and more successful, or became more mighty and extensive in its influence. “And a great company of the priests” is recorded as a remarkable example of the power of the gospel.


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