Wednesday, 16 November 2022
This they also did, and sent it to the elders by the hands of Barnabas and Saul. Acts 11:30
The previous verse noted that the disciples in Antioch determined to send relief to the brethren dwelling in Judea. With that, it now says, “This they also did.”
As they determined, so they followed through with it. It is a complementary note concerning the matter. With that, it next says, “and sent it.”
Rather, it is an aorist participle without any preposition, “having sent it.” In other words, they determined to take the action, and then they did so, but the action of sending it leads into the rest of the words of the thought which says, “to the elders.”
This is the first time the word presbuteros, or “elder” is used in Acts in relation to the body of believers. It essentially signifies “a mature man having seasoned judgment (experience)” (HELPS Word Studies). However, for the Jewish nation and even the church, it is more fittingly applied to the office of a person in a trusted position. Today, we use the words elder, pastor, overseer, and so on to describe a person who is in such a position.
These people, whoever they were, were considered mature and competent to handle the gift properly and with due care. It may have been the apostles, or it may have simply been men of maturity who were selected for the task, somewhat like the deacons in Acts 6. Either way, the words “having sent” from above now connect with the final words of the verse, saying, “by the hands of Barnabas and Saul.”
These two were deemed of the highest integrity and were, therefore, chosen for the task of delivering this money to Jerusalem. As this is not a visit that was based upon a doctrinal matter, it is probably not a visit that Paul later refers to in Galatians 2. It seems that these two men simply took the money, delivered it, and then returned to Antioch as is recorded in Acts 12:25.
To understand several views on the matter of Paul’s visits to Jerusalem, the Pulpit Commentary on Acts 11:30 lays out the different possibilities quite well.
Life application: This verse in Acts refers to “elders.” As noted, this could be referring to the apostles. It could also be referring to others who were considered trustworthy. Paul will later give specific details concerning the offices within the church. This will be in 1 & 2 Timothy and in Titus. There he will use various terms to explain the offices.
It is not inappropriate to use terms such as pastor, deacon, elder, overseer, bishop, and so on. However, it is also acceptable for people who fill such positions to simply say, “Call me Tom.” We should not look down on those who accept the bestowal of a title, especially when it is referring to the position he fills. But it is also ok for a person who fills such a position to ask that he not be titled as such in regular conversation.
In the end, having a title is simply a part of the regular working of any company or organization. It helps identify who does what. But those who fill the position shouldn’t let it go to their head. We all have jobs to do and if we can do them without a lot of hoopla attached to them, that is a good thing. So, don’t get too legalistic either way on the matter. Allow people to use titles to honor others and allow people who hold such positions to decline being called by the title as well. In the end, adherence to the word and having a heart for the Lord is what is of the greatest importance.
Lord God, You have asked us to give double honor to those who deserve it because of the positions they fill. At the same time, help us to not exalt such people in a manner that is inappropriate. In the end, we are all servants. Help us to serve with hearts of humility and with a desire to exalt You above all else. Amen.