Preaching, Pressing, and Pushing On

August 4, 2009 at 11:48 am | Posted in A Little Alliteration, Acts | 8 Comments
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Acts Chapter 12 starts off by telling us that Herod the king killed John’s brother, James, and had Peter arrested. This Herod is the third Herod – Herod Agrippa I. Herod the Great was the one who had killed the babies in Bethlehem right after Jesus was born. The Herod in Acts 12 is that Herod’s grandson.

King Herod the Great had killed his own son, Aristobulus, who was Herod Agrippa I’s father. Herod Agrippa I (the Herod of Acts 12) had an uncle named Herod Antipas who had beheaded John the Baptist.

As you can see, the Herods were evil, and they practiced nepotism. Warren Wiersbe says nepotism is when a father, being evil, knows how to give good gifts to his children. (Luke 11:13)

Peter therefore was kept in prison: but prayer was made without ceasing of the church unto God for him. And when Herod would have brought him forth, the same night Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains: and the keepers before the door kept the prison.

Acts 12:5-6

Peter was so dangerous that they put two guards on him, but God freed him anyway.

And, behold, the angel of the Lord came upon him, and a light shined in the prison: and he smote Peter on the side, and raised him up, saying, Arise up quickly. And his chains fell off from his hands.

Acts 12:7

We meet two other important characters in Acts 12: John Mark, who would write the Book of Mark, and James (not the same one killed in Verse 2), the sort of “half-brother” of Jesus.

But he [PETER], beckoning unto them with the hand to hold their peace, declared unto them how the Lord had brought him out of the prison. And he said, Go shew these things unto James, and to the brethren. And he departed, and went into another place.

Acts 12:17

This is the same James who wrote the Book of James. It seems that he was also the pastor or the leader of the church in Jerusalem.

And Herod was highly displeased with them of Tyre and Sidon: but they came with one accord to him, and, having made Blastus the king’s chamberlain their friend, desired peace; because their country was nourished by the king’s country. And upon a set day Herod, arrayed in royal apparel, sat upon his throne, and made an oration unto them. And the people gave a shout, saying, It is the voice of a god, and not of a man. And immediately the angel of the Lord smote him, because he gave not God the glory: and he was eaten of worms, and gave up the ghost.

Acts 12:20-23

Herod’s last days seem to foreshadow the Antichrist.

In Acts Chapter 13 God called missionaries when His followers were seeking to glorify Him.

Now there were in the church that was at Antioch certain prophets and teachers; as Barnabas, and Simeon that was called Niger, and Lucius of Cyrene, and Manaen, which had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them. And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them away. So they, being sent forth by the Holy Ghost, departed unto Seleucia; and from thence they sailed to Cyprus.

Acts 13:1-4

Six men, including John Mark in Verse 6, were ministering in Antioch: Barnabus; Simeon (who was probably from Africa because his nickname was “black”); Lucius (whose name meant “light”); Manen (a friend, or maybe the adopted brother of, Herod Antipas who killed John the Baptist); and Saul/Paul. These men were prophets and teachers. At times they did foretell the future, but primarily they were prophets in the sense that they proclaimed God’s Word. We need this type of prophetic ministry today more than we need seers into the future or “words of knowledge” or “fresh revelation.” We need men who will stand up, as elder prophets, and say, “This is what the Bible has to say about that…”

Antioch was in Syria, and from this point in the narrative of Acts, Antioch and Paul replace Jerusalem and Peter as the focal points.

Barnabas and Paul are sent, and they take Barnabas’s cousin, John Mark, with them. They go to six different cities in Chapters 13 and 14. Satan packed up his bag of evil tricks and went after them, or, actually, it appears that he may have gone before them in some instances.

They went to Paphos.

And when they had gone through the isle unto Paphos, they found a certain sorcerer, a false prophet, a Jew, whose name was Barjesus: Which was with the deputy of the country, Sergius Paulus, a prudent man; who called for Barnabas and Saul, and desired to hear the word of God. But Elymas the sorcerer (for so is his name by interpretation) withstood them, seeking to turn away the deputy from the faith. Then Saul, (who also is called Paul,) filled with the Holy Ghost, set his eyes on him,

Acts 13:6-9

In Paphos, Satan had sown tares among the wheat. The devil is a planter of counterfeits. (Matthew 13:24-25)

Next they went to Perga.

Now when Paul and his company loosed from Paphos, they came to Perga in Pamphylia: and John departing from them returned to Jerusalem.

Acts 13:13

In Perga the attack came by way of backsliding. We do not know what caused John Mark to turn back, but he was restored later. It could have been his discomfort with the Gentiles. It could have been a fear of danger in these new areas. Maybe he was jealous concerning Paul’s leadership over his cousin, Barnabas. (Note Verse 13 where it says, “Paul and his company…”)

The first sermon of the Apostle Paul which is recorded in the Bible begins in Acts 13:16, and it was preached in Pisidia. His method was to proclaim the Gospel (Acts 13:28-30), and to press hard for a decision (Acts 13:38-41). This method has come under attack lately by those who claim that pressing for a decision means that men are being deceived into trusting a “decision” rather than trusting Christ. Indeed, it may well be that the method has been abused, twisted, warped, or incorrectly worded, but the fact is that the preaching and pressing which Paul did was inspired by the Holy Spirit, and therefore, it is the Bible way of evangelizing.

At first Paul and Barnabas were invited back to the synagogue.

And when the Jews were gone out of the synagogue, the Gentiles besought that these words might be preached to them the next sabbath. Now when the congregation was broken up, many of the Jews and religious proselytes followed Paul and Barnabas: who, speaking to them, persuaded them to continue in the grace of God. And the next sabbath day came almost the whole city together to hear the word of God.

Read 13:42-44

But the Jews stirred up a desire to have them thrown out. They stirred up the leading men and women of high society.

But the Jews stirred up the devout and honourable women, and the chief men of the city, and raised persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and expelled them out of their coasts.

Acts 13:50

Here is a brief rundown of Paul’s first recorded sermon:
1. He reviews the history of Israel.
2. He accuses his listeners of killing the Messiah.
3. He proclaims the Resurrection.
4. He reminds them of the promise of a King on the Throne of David. (Habakkuk 1:5; Isaiah 49:6)

In the Old Testament, God used Gentiles to punish the Jews. At the beginning of the Church in the New Testament, the salvation of the Gentiles is coming through the Jews.

Some people think that the restoration of Davidic worship is the sign of Christ coming back to reign on the Throne of David. I tend to disagree because the Jews were used by God in early Christianity, but for the most part, as a people, they have rejected the message. So now the message has gone primarily among the Gentiles. I do not think that the sign of the coming of Christ will be enthusiastic worship. I think it will be false worship and apostasy and falling away. (II Thessalonians 2:3)

And when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad, and glorified the word of the Lord: and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed.

Acts 13:48

This shows the sovereignty of God.

And the word of the Lord was published throughout all the region.

Acts 13:49

This shows the responsibility of man.

The sovereignty of God and the responsibility of man always go together.

In Acts Chapter 14 the Christian missionaries leave Pisidia and go to Iconium. There, Satan opposed them by stirring up Jews. There were signs and wonders along the trip through the different cities, but, despite the signs and wonders, they preached the Gospel (Acts 14:7), and went down into Attalia (Acts 14:25), and:

… when they had preached the gospel to that city, and had taught many,

Acts 14:21

They never ceased to preach the Word.

They went from Iconium to Lystra (home town of Timothy). I suppose they would be called divisive and insulting in today’s politically correct climate for what they did when people wanted to worship them and call them false gods.

And they called Barnabas, Jupiter; and Paul, Mercurius, because he was the chief speaker. Then the priest of Jupiter, which was before their city, brought oxen and garlands unto the gates, and would have done sacrifice with the people. Which when the apostles, Barnabas and Paul, heard of, they rent their clothes, and ran in among the people, crying out, And saying, Sirs, why do ye these things? We also are men of like passions with you, and preach unto you that ye should turn from these vanities unto the living God, which made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all things that are therein:

Acts 14:12-15

Paul didn’t preach from the Old Testament this time because these people were mostly pagans. Instead he preached the God of creation.

Nevertheless he left not himself without witness, in that he did good, and gave us rain from heaven, and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness.

Acts 14:17

The devil and his followers from Iconium and Antioch kept showing up.

And there came thither certain Jews from Antioch and Iconium, who persuaded the people, and, having stoned Paul, drew him out of the city, supposing he had been dead. Howbeit, as the disciples stood round about him, he rose up, and came into the city: and the next day he departed with Barnabas to Derbe.

Acts 14:19-20

They stoned Paul, but either he survived, or God raised him from the dead. He and his fellow-servants went right back to Antioch, through some of the same places they had been thrown out of. They not only evangelized, but they trained new believers and established churches. Paul’s first missionary journey (there would be two more) lasted about one year.

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  1. […] Report 8. Exposing the Enemy and Going Forth with the Truth 9. Changing Names and Calling Names 10. Preaching, Pressing, and Pushing On 11. The Life of a Missionary: Having a Fit, Making a Tough Choice, and Singing in Jail 12. Don’t […]

  2. […] ways in the Book of Acts. We see it in the Word of God; in prayer; in love; in fellowship; in persecution; and in […]

  3. […] works. These “dogs” were disturbing the flock, and, like mean little yapping dogs, they were following the Apostle Paul around and snapping at his heels wherever he went. The “evil workers” were not just […]

  4. […] Enemy and Going Forth with the Truth 9. Changing Names and Calling Names 10. Testing Your Testimony 11. Preaching, Pressing, and Pushing On 12. The Life of a Missionary: Having a Fit, Making a Tough Choice, and Singing in Jail 13. The Most […]

  5. […] Postponed 9. From Frequent Formal Faithful Following, Flows Full Foundational Fellowship 10. Preaching, Pressing, and Pushing On 11. Insincerity, Inaccuracy, or Incompletion? 12. Porcine Predilection Predates Powerful Prevailing […]

  6. […] used to write the Book of Mark, is the “John Mark” who went went with Paul on his first missionary journey. However, he subsequently abandoned the mission, incurring Paul’s disfavor. He then went with […]

  7. […] they departed, and went through the towns, preaching the gospel, and healing every where. Now Herod the tetrarch heard of all that was done by him: and he was perplexed, because that it was said of some, that […]

  8. […] Pharisees, most likely invigorated by Satan deviously working and influencing behind the scenes, did not want Jesus to make it to the Passover […]


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