Monday, 13 March 2023
Then all the multitude kept silent and listened to Barnabas and Paul declaring how many miracles and wonders God had worked through them among the Gentiles. Acts 15:12
In the previous verse, Peter completed his words in support of Paul’s position that the Gentiles were not to be placed under the yoke of the law. With that, Luke next records, “Then all the multitude kept silent.”
The verb is imperfect. They were silent and they continued in silence as the next part of the hearing was presented. The group gathered and listened to Peter explain what had occurred in Caesarea and what he had learned from that experience. He realized that the law was not a means to an end. Rather, it was a step in the process of learning what God would do in Christ.
With his words completed, and with it understood that his position was that the Gentiles were not bound to adherence to the Law of Moses, the attention of the audience was redirected. They held their peace so that they could hear directly from those who had evangelized the Gentiles. In this, they remained silent “and listened to Barnabas and Paul.”
Unlike in Antioch in Acts 15:2, Luke places Barnabas first. Despite Paul being called as an apostle, Barnabas was certainly more closely associated with the church in Jerusalem than Paul. Thus, he is highlighted now.
Further, Paul probably voluntarily yielded his speech to whatever Barnabas had to say because he was a Pharisee. As it was the party of the Pharisees who demanded law observance for the Gentiles in verse 15:5, Paul probably wanted to avoid any hint of a personal dispute between himself and those he was once so closely identified with. Together, Barnabas and Paul were “declaring how many miracles and wonders God had worked.”
The Greek more precisely reads, “declaring what God had done – signs and wonders.” Thus, there is an emphasis on how God was working through their ministry. They went out as directed by the Holy Spirit, and as they followed the Spirit’s leading, God worked through them. That is reflected, for example, in Acts 14:3 –
“Therefore they stayed there a long time, speaking boldly in the Lord, who was bearing witness to the word of His grace, granting signs and wonders to be done by [literally “through”] their hands.”
That thought is then more fully expressed with the final words of the verse, saying,
“through them among the Gentiles.” More literally, the entire thought says –
“...declaring what God had done – signs and wonders – among the Gentiles through them.”
God accomplished the work, the signs and wonders, among the Gentiles. Barnabas and Paul were merely the instruments through which these things came about. This is perfectly in accord with the thought expressed in verse 14:3 which was just noted.
The point of this is that these signs and wonders were accomplished by God just as freely as they had been accomplished among the Jews, both by Jesus during His earthly ministry and through the apostles after His ascension. And all this occurred apart from the Law of Moses.
God had granted these things to be done among people who had never heard of the law and who were saved apart from the law. And more, those under the law who saw them had rejected what was done by God through Barnabas and Paul, clearly demonstrating that the law was not a part of what God was doing. Rather, it was a hindrance to it.
Life application: Acts 14:3 said that the Lord (meaning the Lord Jesus) had accomplished the signs and wonders through the hands of Barnabas and Paul. This verse now says that God had accomplished these signs and wonders. What this implies is that Jesus is God. Unless one simply dismisses the literal meaning and sense of the words, no other conclusion can be deduced from what is said.
This is not an isolated instance either. The deity of Jesus Christ is a concept and a precept that is on prominent display throughout Scripture. Don’t allow anyone to steal the truth of the word from you through cunning and deception. Accept that God is not fickle and that His word is not convoluted. Scripture clearly presents the fact that God came in the flesh in the Person of Jesus Christ. Hold fast to this fundamental truth.
Lord God, Your word is sure, and it is certain. We don’t need to even wonder about the deity of Jesus Christ. It is such a clear teaching that we should only wonder why people would attempt to deny it. We honor You, O God, when we honor the Son. May we always hold this truth close and remember the greatness of what You have done in and through our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.