Tuesday, May 30 – Acts 14:21-22
And after they had preached the gospel to that city and had made a good number of disciples, they returned to Lystra, to Iconium, and to Antioch, strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying, “It is through many tribulations that we must enter the kingdom of God.”
The slogan, “Don’t just go to church; be the church,” provides a fitting reminder that when we live each day as followers of Jesus—going where God sends us and living for Him—we’re being His church, representing Him and sharing His message. This was how Paul and Barnabas lived. As they traveled, they actively shared the message of Christ, and the result was that people believed the gospel—and as they continued in faith together, they grew as disciples (v. 22).
The cities in verse 21 were places where Paul and Barnabas had already shared the gospel message and seen new people converted to Christianity. However, they were also towns where people threatened and persecuted them. In retracing their journey back to Antioch, they traveled through dangerous territory to check on the new churches. Their first trip through these cities was about evangelism, but this return trip was about continuing discipleship.
It wasn’t only their teaching that encouraged the new believers in their faith. Paul and Barnabas’s presence in those places surely served singularly as an example to all who knew them. That’s what consistent, loving, unified relationships in the body of Christ do. When we engage in living out our calling alongside other believers, we find strength to stand firm in the Lord through whatever we face.
- Read again the specific message Paul and Barnabas taught new converts at the end of verse 22. How could such a message possibly be a way of “strengthening” and “encouragement”?
- What are some specific ways we can encourage one another to persevere, like we see happening in this passage?
- Thank God for other believers who strengthen and encourage you to live out your calling no matter what.