The Unity in the Church: Antioch to Help Jerusalem: Part 2 of 2

by John Lowe
(Laurens SC, USA)

In the church, the elders were mature believers who had the oversight of the ministry (1 Pe. 5:1{17]; 2 John 1{15]). When you compare Acts 20:17 {8]and Titus 1:5 and 7{16], you learn that “elder” and “bishop” (overseer) are equivalent titles. The elders/bishops were the pastors of the flocks, assisted by the deacons; and the qualifications for both are found in 1 Timothy 3. Wherever Paul established churches, he saw to it that qualified elders were ordained to give leadership to the assemblies (Acts 14:23{7]; Titus 1:5{16]).


An important spiritual principle is illustrated in this passage: if people have been a spiritual blessing to us, we should minister to them out of our material possessions. “Let him who is taught the word share all good things with him who teaches” (Gal. 6:6). The Jewish believers in Jerusalem had brought the Gospel to Antioch. Then they had sent Barnabas to encourage the new believers. It was only right that the Gentiles in Antioch reciprocate and send material help to their Jewish brothers and sisters in Judea. Some years later, Paul would gather a similar offering from the Gentile churches and take it to the saints in Jerusalem (Acts 2:17{11]; and see Rom. 15:23-28{12]).



Scripture reference and special notes

{1] (Acts 21:1o-11) While we were staying for some days, a prophet named Ag'abus came down from Judea. And coming to us he took Paul's girdle and bound his own feet and hands, and said, "Thus says the Holy Spirit, 'So shall the Jews at Jerusalem bind the man who owns this girdle and deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles.'"

{2] Christian prophets are mentioned also in Acts 13:1 and 15:32. Philips daughters were prophets according to Acts 21:9. Paul ranked prophets second only to apostles in his list of those gifted by the Spirit (1 Co. 12:28). The gift of prophecy is treated throughout 1 Co. 14 and is primarily valued for its role in edification and encouragement. The Jews believed that prophecy had ceased during the time of the exile but would return with the coming of the Messiah. Peter’s quote of Joel at Pentecost reflected his conviction that the gift had been poured out on the Christian community (2:17-18) and was indeed a sign of the Messiah’s coming. In the New Testament, prophesy is primarily viewed as a word spoken under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit intended for the direction or edification of the Christian community.

{3] Itinerate prophets existed as late as the second-century church.

{4] The NIV has the entire Roman world.

{5] (Acts 12:25) And Barnabas and Saul returned from Jerusalem when they had fulfilled their mission, bringing with them John whose other name was Mark.

{6] (Acts 6:1-6) Now in these days when the disciples were increasing in number, the Hellenists murmured against the Hebrews because their widows were neglected in the daily distribution. And the twelve summoned the body of the disciples and said, "It is not right that we should give up preaching the word of God to serve tables. Therefore, brethren, pick out from among you seven men of good repute, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we may appoint to this duty. But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word." And what they said pleased the whole multitude, and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit, and Philip, and Proch'orus, and Nica'nor, and Ti'mon, and Par'menas, and Nicola'us, a proselyte of Antioch. These they set before the apostles, and they prayed and laid their hands upon them.

{7] (Acts 14:23) And when they had appointed elders for them in every church, with prayer and fasting they committed them to the Lord in whom they believed.

{8] (Acts 20:17) And from Mile'tus he sent to Ephesus and called to him the elders of the church.

{9] (1 Co. 12:28-29) And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then workers of miracles, then healers, helpers, administrators, speakers in various kinds of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles?

{10] The Western text-type is one of several text-types used in textual criticism to describe and group the textual character of Greek New Testament manuscripts. It is the term given to the predominant form of the New Testament text witnessed in the Old Latin and Peshitta translations from the Greek; and also in quotations from certain 2nd and 3rd-century Christian writers, including Cyprian, Tertullian and Irenaeus. The Western text had a large number of characteristic features, which appeared in the text of the Gospels, Book of Acts, and in Pauline epistles. The Catholic Epistles and the Book of Revelation probably did not have a Western form of text. It was named "Western" by Semmler (1725–1791), having originated in early centers of Christianity in the Western Roman Empire. The main characteristic of the Western text is a love of paraphrase: "Words and even clauses are changed, omitted, and inserted with surprising freedom, wherever it seemed that the meaning could be brought out with greater force and definiteness

{11] (Acts 15:6, 23) The apostles and the elders were gathered together to consider this matter. . . with the following letter: "The brethren, both the apostles and the elders, to the brethren who are of the Gentiles in Antioch and Syria and Cili'cia, greeting.

{11] (Acts 2:17) 'And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams;

{12] (Rom. 15:23-28) But now, since I no longer have any room for work in these regions, and since I have longed for many years to come to you, I hope to see you in passing as I go to Spain, and to be sped on my journey there by you, once I have enjoyed your company for a little. At present, however, I am going to Jerusalem with aid for the saints. For Macedonia and Acha'ia have been pleased to make some contribution for the poor among the saints at Jerusalem; they were pleased to do it, and indeed they are in debt to them, for if the Gentiles have come to share in their spiritual blessings, they ought also to be of service to them in material blessings. When therefore I have completed this, and have delivered to them what has been raised, I shall go on by way of you to Spain;

{13] (Acts 13:1) Now in the church at Antioch there were prophets and teachers, Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyre'ne, Man'a-en a member of the court of Herod the tetrarch, and Saul.

{14] (1 Thess. 5:20-21) do not despise prophesying, but test everything; hold fast what is good,

{15] (2 John 1) The elder to the elect lady and her children, whom I love in the truth, and not only I but also all who know the truth,

{16] (Titus 1:5, 7) This is why I left you in Crete, that you might amend what was defective, and appoint elders in every town as I directed you, For a bishop, as God's steward, must be blameless; he must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain,

{17] (1 Pe. 5:1) So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ as well as a partaker in the glory that is to be revealed.

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