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The holy spirit encouragement

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This is all about the role of the Holy Spirit in encouraging the church. When this happens, it is usual for the church to grow.

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The holy spirit encouragement

  1. 1. THE HOLY SPIRIT ENCOURAGEMENT EDITED BY GLENN PEASE Acts 9:31 31Thenthe church throughout Judea, Galileeand Samaria enjoyed a time of peace and was strengthened. Livingin the fear of the LORD and encouraged by the Holy Spirit, it increasedin numbers. BIBLEHUB RESOURCES Pulpit Commentary Homiletics The Opportunity And Obligation Of The Church Acts 9:31 W. Clarkson I. THAT A TIME OF TRANQUILLITY MAY BE AND SHOULD BE A PERIOD OF PROGRESS."The Churches had rest .... and were edified, were multiplied." The time of restis too often one of inglorious repose, ofunworthy indulgence, or even fatal luxury and corruption. But when the molesting hand of persecutionis taken away, it is possible for the Church to put forth all its strength - to enter on a path of unflagging activity, of holy enterprise, and of gratifying enlargement.
  2. 2. II. THAT THE CHURCH SHOULD NEVER BE WITHOUT A SENTIMENTOF SACRED AWE. It should always be walking "in the fearof the Lord." Love, trust, joy in Christ, should be the element in which it lives; but it must never take leave of its deepestreverence and awe. It must walk "in fear," (1) realizing the near presence of its observantLord, the Lord of righteousness andpurity (Revelation2:1); (2) remembering that it is held by him responsible for the extension of his kingdom, for the conversionof the world (2 Corinthians 5:19); recollecting that, if it should lose its sanctity, there is no human power by which it can hope to be restored(Matthew 5:13). III. THAT THE CHURCH REQUIRES TO BE CONTINUALLY SUSTAINED BY INFLUENCES WHICH ARE DISTINCTIVELY DIVINE. "Multiplied by the exhortation [comfort, ministry] of the Holy Spirit." No perfectness ofmachinery, no eloquence of human oratory, no promptings of emulation, no pressure of authority, no earth-born influences of any kind or number, will suffice to sustain a Church in living power. It must be multiplied by the ministry of the Holy Spirit. It must secure the teaching which is animated by the Spirit of God; it must be listening to the doctrine which is communicated By the Spirit; it must have the indwelling of the Spirit in the minds and hearts of its members; it must be looking to the ever-living power of the Spirit to make all its agencies andoperations effectual. IV. THAT THE CHURCH OF CHRIST SHOULD BE ADVANCING AS A DIVINELY ERECTEDSTRUCTURE. The Church "was edified." built up; it rose as a structure rises - gradually and in due proportions. The Church of Christ should, in the increase whichit makes, possessthe characteristics ofthe best building - it should (1) attain to a stately, should "multiply," grow in numbers and in the extent of ground it covers; (2) become more beautiful in aspect; (3) acquire increasing strength. - C.
  3. 3. Biblical Illustrator Then had the Churches rest. Acts 9:31 Quiet times DeanVaughan., R. Wardlaw, D. D. The right use of quiet times is a greatsecretof Christian living. Human life is made up of alternations of storm and calm, of trouble and rest. It is so with the life of an individual, a nation, or a Church. The earlierpart of this chapter indicated a time of trouble. But now the chief persecutorhas himself felt the force of truth. Then again the Emperor Caligula was making an impious attempt to place his own image in the Temple, and so the attention of the Jews was wholly occupied with plans for frustrating his design. They had no time to persecute. So the Churches had peace:how did they use it? Did it make them indolent, unfruitful, unfaithful, quarrelsome? Two things are said of them: they were —
  4. 4. I. EDIFIED. 1. The whole Church is one building, planned by one Architect, carried on by one Builder, designedfor one end, to be the habitation of God. This thought is full of comfort. It shows us that howeversmall the place of eachone, yet each one has his place, and that, if it be not filled, there is a blank, be it everso small. Is not that honour enough? Does it not say to each, See that thy place be not a blank, or worse? 2. The Church of eachland, age, town, is a building. It may be but a fragment, a buttress, or a pinnacle of the universal Church; but you all know how any building would look if one buttress fell; and therefore you will not count it a small thing if some such position belongs to our community. This congregationof ours is a building. Is it then being built up? is it rising, in solidity, unity, beauty? is it giving signs, more and more, of its destination as a habitation of God? 3. Eachhuman soulis a building. What a question is it, for eachone, How is that building which is I myself, getting on? Are the foundations deeply and soundly laid in the faith of Christ? Is the superstructure rising day by day gradually, regularly, quietly, yet consciously, perceptibly, visibly? Am I growing in grace? more and more prevailing over sinful passions? betterable to do the work which He has given me? Times of tranquillity ought to be times of edifying: alas I too often they are times of suspendedenergy. II. MULTIPLIED. A time of peace oughtto be a time of outward as wellas inward progress. It was so of old. How is it now? Is there zeal in founding or reinforcing missionary institutions? Alas! you know that with much philanthropy there is little gospelzealamongstus; that, where a thousand pounds can be gatheredfor a work of charity, it is hard to collectten for a work of piety. And is the Church at all multiplying at home? Can we point, by tens, or fives, or units, to new persons brought to be worshippers by agencies now working amongstus? We are not left in the dark as to how this may be done. The Church multiplies, by its own progress, in two things: walking in — (1) The fear of the Lord, etc. Christ deserves not only our love but our fear. Does that seemstrange? Is He not our "merciful and faithful High Priest,"
  5. 5. "the Propitiation for our sins." Yes! The words are written for our comfort, but not to make us carelessaboutour sin. There is nothing which so solemnises the mind as the thought of an absolutelydisinterested and unbounded love. It says of itself, "How shall we escape if we neglectso great salvation?" To "trample under foot the Sonof God," to "countthe blood of the covenant, wherewithwe are sanctified, an unholy thing," must indeed be of all crimes the blackestand the most fatal. And that is what men do every day for want of this very fear of which the text speaks. To walk in the fearof Christ is one-half of Christianity.(2) And then, so walking, there is room for "the comfort of the Holy Ghost." This is not a mere soothing influence within; it is a cheering power without also. The same word is rendered exhortation. God comforts by cheering on; by encouraging to action. We may try the reality of our comfort by this one test: Does it stir me up and spur me on to action? Does it say not, Restfrom work, but, Restin working? (DeanVaughan.) I. THE DIFFERENT PARTS OF THE DESCRIPTION HERE GIVEN. 1. The Churches "were edified." A Church may be edified by the addition of new members. The Church is a building, and those added to it are living stones;and by the addition of such stones the spiritual temple advances to completion. Such, however, cannot be the meaning of the word here; it means rather, "Growthin grace";advancementin the principles and fruits of Divine love. The Churches were composedof individuals, and as the wealthof a country consists in the aggregatewealthof the individual inhabitants, and the national wealth increasesin proportion as the wealthof individuals increases, so with the Church. If we desire the edification of our ownChristian societyor the Church of God generally, the first requisite is our seeking personal advancementin knowledge,faith, and holiness;and the secondis our using all the appointed means for promoting the same among our brethren. Edification includes —(1) Growth in knowledge. All other growth arises from this. There is a kind of knowledge which hinders edification. "Knowledge puffeth up, but love edifieth." Knowledge that engenders self-conceittends to the destruction of love; and whateveropposes love is a foe to all genuine spirituality and improvement. Yet there can be no edification without growth in the spiritual
  6. 6. discoveries ofthe mind. The Bible contains the inexhaustible resourcesof wisdom, and the study of it is indispensable to edification.(2) Increase in faith. This is the natural effect of growth in spiritual knowledge. The Word of God, like His other works, contains in it the marks of its Divine origin, and the more it is known the more its source will be perceivedand felt.(3) And connectedwith growth in faith there is a corresponding growthin all the graces andvirtues of the Christian character. All the ingredients in the compositionof inward, vital godliness, arise from the influence of Divine grace upon the heart and life, and must be in proportion to the growth of faith. 2. They walked"in the fear of the Lord." This —(1) Imparted a becoming solemnity to all their socialmeetings for worship, and a corresponding dignity and propriety to all who were present.(2)Implies a sacredconscientious regard in all things to His authority.(3) Suggests thatthis was the superior dominant principle, and that the fearof man was suppressedand kept in control. 3. They walked"in the comfort of the Holy Ghost." Edificationand practical godliness were associatedwith spiritual enjoyment. The comfort of the Holy Ghostis comfortof which the Spirit of God is the greatAuthor. To walk in this comfort is to enjoy harmony within, and to display it externally to have the powers of the mind and the affections ofthe heart engagedin duty. This comfort, then, is not an indolent, inactive enjoyment. It is only to be found in active service, not in a life of ascetic seclusion, orin feelings of spiritual epicurism. There is an intimate connectionbetweenwalking in the fear of the Lord and walking in the comfort of the Holy Ghost. All pretensions to the latter without the former are vain. There is no true legitimate comfort from the truths of God except to those that walk in the ways of God. II. THE CONNECTION SUBSISTINGBETWEEN THEM AND ESPECIALLY BETWEENTHE CHARACTER OF THE CHURCHES WITH THEIR MULTIPLICATION. An undue regard to members has often done incalculable mischief. Increase is desirable, but it must be increase of those whose hearts are right with God. With Him respectability consists notin numbers but in character. He had a few names in Sardis who had not defiled their garments. But, as a corrupt body, the Church of Sardis is admonished,
  7. 7. and "there is joy before the angels of God." We rejoice more in an addition to than in the continued safety of the sheep. We delight in seeing all the jewels of the Saviour's crowncontinuing to shine with pure lustre; but our delight is still more elevatedwhen a new jewelis added to it. It is in this respectthat missions to the heathen are so supremely interesting. Notice, then, a connectionbetween— 1. Restand edification. In the Church as well as in the state, times of difficulty and trial often callforth latent powers, and produce remarkable men where they were leastexpected;but it too generallyhappens that to the members of a persecutedbody such seasons are not times of steady thought, and deliberate and persevering study of Divine truth, and consequently of general improvement. A state of rest, on the contrary, affords opportunities for much study of the Divine oracles;for private and socialmeetings for conversation, and prayer, and mutual excitement. Let it be a serious question whether the rest which we enjoy is duly improved by us for the purposes of edification? 2. Restand increase.(1)A state of rest affords opportunities and leisure to attend to the interests of others:for preaching and using without restraint all the means for the conversionof sinners.(2)Restsets others free from the fear of attending at the proscribed places where the obnoxious doctrine is taught. Goodcannot be done to the souls of men unless they are brought under the sound of the gospel. 3. The state of the Church as described — increase. Where these characteristicsobtain—(1) The influence of the characterof Churches upon the augmentation. In illustrating this we may observe — there is an augmentation of holy and active zeal for the glory of the Redeemerand for the salvationof souls, which God blesses withsuccess.(2)There is combined with the effort to promote the truth the practical exemplification of its influence. When the truth is recommended, not merely in words, but by the exhibition of its power — then, under the blessing of God, it makes a successfulappealto the consciencesofmen, and finds its waywith efficacyto the heart.(3) There must be a most spiritual, strengthening effecton those who minister in holy things, to preach the gospel. The sight of a listless, lukewarm, divided Church, will actlike a heavy drag on the spirit of the pastor. But when the Church
  8. 8. prospers, when the members become edified, and walk in the fear of the Lord, and when they are united, affectionate, zealous, steady, constant, prayerful — this is the very zest of a pastor's life.(4) The Church will be mighty in prayer. Prayer is a means of edification and a measure of its progressive amount. If believers are not growing in the spirit and exercise ofprayer, they are not growing in grace. It is a common observation, and the principles of the Word of God lead us to believe it, namely, that revivals of religion have been precededby more than an ordinary predominance of prayer among the people of God for the successofHis cause in all lands.(5) There is securedan increase ofthe blessing of the Redeemer, and of supply of His grace. "Every branch in him that bearethnot fruit He takethaway;and every branch that beareth fruit, He purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit." And this proceeds upon a generalprinciple, elsewhere laiddown by Him. "Whosoever hath, to him shall be given," etc. (R. Wardlaw, D. D.) The characteristicsandmultiplication of Christian Churc J. Parsons. hes: — I. THE GRAND CHARACTERISTICSBY WHICH CHRISTIAN CHURCHES OUGHT TO BE DISTINGUISHED. We observe here — 1. The Church is governed by the practicalinfluence of religion. "The fear of the Lord" is the scriptural equivalent for the whole of practicalreligion, and involves devout reverence ofthe Divine attributes, and continued obedience to the Divine commandments. Churches are places where impenitence and unbelief should never come;where the depravity of the human heart should be expelled by the energy of redeeming grace;where every heart should be imbued with the love, and should be devoted to the service of God, and where every individual soul should be growing and meetening for the possessionof holiness in heaven! True it is that, from time to time, there come among our
  9. 9. communities those who have not the fearof the Lord, but "these are spots in our feasts ofcharity." They have no part and no lot in the matter. 2. Churches enjoying the consolationsofreligion. "The comfort of the Holy Ghost" signifies, of course, the comfort which the Holy Ghost, in His characterof Comforter, is intended to bestow upon those who are truly walking in the fear of the Lord; and that comfort must be regardedas consisting in feeling that they are possessors ofvital piety: of a personalsense of their interest in the work of redemption; taking awayfrom them the spirit of fear, and implanting within them the Spirit of adoption, administering to them sufficient strength for all circumstances, and filling them with emotions of joy and gratitude. But the enjoyment of the consolations ofreligion must be regardedas arising from practicaldevotedness and eminence in piety. The inspired historian mentions one characteristic as a cause and the other as an effect. The Spirit administers comfort where the Spirit receives honour; and where the Spirit is grieved there the Spirit is restrained. His awakening influences precede, His consoling influences follow. II. THE BLESSINGS WHICH CHRISTIAN CHURCHES, AS THUS DISTINGUISHED, MAY ANTICIPATE. These Churches were multiplied. 1. There are two principles connectedwith this multiplication of Christian Churches. It is intimately connected —(1) With the state of religionamongst those persons who belong to them. They were multiplied because they were walking in the fear of the Lord, and in the comfort of the Holy Ghost. The connectionbetweenthe holiness of Christians and the conversionof sinners is in Scripture most distinctly stated. "Let your light so shine before men," etc. (see also Philippians 2:14-16;1 Peter2:11, 12). If the unconverted world see you inconsistentthey will be disgusted, but let them see you walk in the fear of the Lord and the comfort of the Holy Ghost, and then the very meanestof you will be himself a powerful minister of religion, will become "a living epistle of Christ, known and read of all men." Your communities will increase in reputation, and in augmenting numbers, and your spiritual privileges will be enjoyed by men, who but for your holiness would yet have remained in "the gall of bitterness, and in the bond of iniquity," but whom you shall have to present, finally, as your glory, as your joy, and as the crownof your rejoicing
  10. 10. in the presence ofthe Lord Jesus Christ at His coming.(2) With their exertions. Every believer is set apart, not only for holiness, but for exertion; and if Christians be idle, in whateverclass oflife they may be found, they are guilty of the most shameful breach of trust. The Church at Jerusalemwas one mighty mass of activity (Acts 2:42, etc.). And when they were scatteredabroad by persecution, every man was transformed into a preacherof the gospel (Acts 8:4). Now this is the legitimate consequence ofwalking in the fear of the Lord, and in the comfort of the Holy Ghost; but it is too much undervalued and forgotten. Are ministers expectedto be arduous and incessant, while their Churches are to remain indolent and torpid, just to coollyreceive their message, orelse to criticise their defects, and to be discontented at their want of success? There wants to be sentanother Pentecostalfire, which shall touch all ranks and classes, kindling in their bosom the flame of that zealwhich shall never be quenched till death. 2. This multiplication is a most desirable and happy event. There appears to be, in the language ofthe historian, an element of pleasure, but there are nominal Christians in modern times to whom it produces no pleasure at all to hear of the multiplication of Churches. There are two reasons,however, why this event is so desirable and so happy. Its intimate connection — (1)With the promotion of the glory of God. (2)With the present and final blessednessofman. (J. Parsons.) Restand prosperity of Churches A. J. Morris. Our text — I. DESCRIBESTHE CHURCHES OF THE HOLY LAND. 1. Their nature.(1) They were congregations, orassemblies,ofgoodpeople. And they are described as being more than one in the same country.(2) They
  11. 11. were not material edifices;although I do not objectto, but prefer, that application of the word.(3) They were not promiscuous associations, constituted by chance, nominal profession, outwardand involuntary rites; they were real Christians.(4)They were not national communities, for we read not of "a Church," but "Churches." 2. Their quiet. "Thenhad the Churches rest."(1)This denotes the commencement, not the continuance, of a state of peace. "Then" — after the persecutionof chap. Acts 8:1-4. It was the calm after the storm, the joy coming in the morning, after the weeping that endured through the night, and therefore the more precious.(2)The causes ofthis return of quiet.(a) The conversionof Saul. "The grace ofGod was exceeding abundant towards him." His oppositionwas destroyed, not by his punishment as a foe, but by his transformation into a friend. Is there no encouragementto us in this? His conversionis setforth by himself as a "pattern" of the power and the mercy of the gospel. Thenlet Christians pray.(b) The solicitude and alarm of the Jews. At Alexandria the Jews suffereddreadfully from the Egyptians, and in Judea and elsewhere were in imminent peril of ruin. An attempt was made to bring the statue of Caligula unto the Holy of Holies, in consequenceofsome offence he had takenat the conduct of the Jews. Nothing could produce greaterconsternation. So they were too concernedabout their own affairs to meddle with those of others. God can "restrainthe wrath of man," as wellas make it "praise Him." He cancontrol the circumstances as wellas change the characterof our foes. "Saulreturned from pursuing after David" when the "Philistines invaded the land." 3. Their experience and conduct.(1) "Theywere edified" — built up "as lively stones, a spiritual house."(a)When the storm ceasedthey set earnestlyabout the completing of their moral temple. Persecutionis unfavourable to religious, as war is to secular, commerce. It dispirits, diverts attention, employs resources,and intercepts communication. Peace,however, permits the full and unfettered employment of the Church's gifts and graces fortheir appropriate and appointed purposes. The Churches before us were edified when they had rest. Their principles became broader in their base, and more perfect in their symmetry. Their faith increasedin intelligence and earnestness. As a natural result of this, they cherishedand expressedthat filial
  12. 12. reverence for God which is called for by His majesty and mercy; and they sought and submitted to all the intimations and the influences of the Spirit of Christ.(b) This was their course. They"walked" according to this rule. It was not an occasional, but a constantthing. It described them in their relations as men of the Church and as men of the world. And what was the result? 4. Their increase. "Were multiplied." They receivedlarge accessions from the world. There was more Christianity, and so there were more Christians. Saints were sanctified, and sinners became saints. These are the two elements of Church prosperity, the two ends of Church association. Christians are thus connectedthat they may promote eachother's spirituality, and that, by the union of their gracesand the combination of their energies, they may be as light to a dark, and saltto a corrupt world. And these two things are inseparably connected. The Church cannot grow in grace without diffusing grace. II. SETS THEM BEFORE US FOR IMITATION. The text was written for our use. Consider — 1. The connectionbetweenthe rest and the edification of these Churches. "They had rest, and were edified." They made spiritual advancementwhile they enjoyed civil repose. Theydid not spend the seasonofcalm in luxury and sinfulness.(1)Often quiet deteriorates the Church. The favour of the world has been often far more injurious to her than its hatred and opposition. When the civil sword has been turned againstthe Church, she has often "lived more abundantly"; when that swordhas been turned againstthe enemies of the Church, she has often as miserably died.(2) Our text, however, says that rest is not ruin, of necessity. And all Churches in their condition may have this character. It is quite a mistake to regardaffliction as indispensable to spirituality. And yet how familiar is the language, "The Church is gotinto a bad state:it wants the fire of persecutionto purge it from its dross." And if nothing but persecutionwould bring the Church into a goodstate, let it come, and the soonerthe better. But Christians should not be dependent on the malice of their enemies for the welfare of their souls;nor can it be imagined that the wickedare the "salt" of the Church, without which it would speedily go into utter corruption.(3) On the contrary, the "rest" of the Churches is
  13. 13. both a motive and a means of their prosperity. We should be stimulated by gratitude to a devout and diligent employment of the privileges so peacefully possessed. And then it affords the occasionfor devotedness. The attention is not diverted by danger. There is the power of a regular and undistracted attendance on all the institutions of Christianity. The mind is left free from a dispiriting anxiety to study "the greatthings of God's law," and the machinery of means can play awaywithout injury or interruption. See you not how all this applies to us? We have rest in a fuller measure than the Churches of Palestine. Whatis, what ought to be, the effect? Alas! they are not the same thing. 2. The connectionbetweenthe edification of these Churches and their increase.(1)The piety of a people is necessaryto the safe and profitable enjoyment of their increase. A Church not eminently holy may suffer from greatmultiplication. Enlargementwill tend to vanity and self-sufficiency. Perhaps we may find in this the reasonwhy some Churches remain so stationary. It would hurt them to be otherwise.(2)It is for the benefit of those who are added to a Church that it should be greatly good. Who can think without concernand pity of a multitude of souls being joined to a worldly Church?(3) The godliness ofa Church is a prime means of its increase. God blesses aneminently spiritual Church. For there will be prayers with labours, not insteadof them — the only prayers that God will hear. And those labours will possessa characterofearnestnessand uniformity. The spirit of self- denying love and zealwill pervade the entire body; "he that heareth will say, Come";eachindividual, like his Master, will "seek" inorder to "save." Noris this all. The holy characterofa Church in itself has no mean influence in "winning souls." The exhibition of holiness is calculatedto arrestattention by its singularity, and to produce impression by its force. The religion of Christ has suffered more from the inconsistencies ofits friends than the opposition of its foes;its professors have createdmore objections than they have answered; and the proof of its divinity may be drawn from its preservation in spite of its adherents. Had all Christians been like Jesus Christ, or anything like Him, the world would have become Christian. And the holiness of Christians is especiallyimportant in an so practicalas our own. The question is being asked of everything, "Forwhat good?" Christianity must stand the test — it has
  14. 14. always claimed to be tried by it. It depends on Christians, however, what shall be the actualand immediate results of such a trial. For all these reasons, the sanctificationof Churches is necessaryto their proper spiritual extension. There is an extensionwhich Christ does not approve, and which men do not profit by — an increase of dimensions which resembles that premature growth which issues in consumption, if not rather that extensionof the body which takes place at death. But the legitimate enlargementof Churches must come of their internal prosperity. Would you, as Churches, be increased? You must be quickened. A revival of religion must commence with the religious. (A. J. Morris.) Prosperous Churches D. Thomas, D. D. I. THEIR EXTERNAL CIRCUMSTANCES. "Rest."The hurricane of persecutionwas now hushed, and under the genialinfluence of peace they grew. Peacein the nation is the time to build houses and develop resources. Peace in nature is the time for sowing and cultivation. Persecution, like storms, may deepen the roots of piety when it exists, but is unfavourable to the dissemination of seedand the growth of fragile plants. 1. This external condition Churches in England now have. We can sit under our own vine, etc. Once our Churches were very differently circumstanced — e.g., under Mary and the Stuarts. 2. This condition we are bound to improve. Greatis our responsibility. All the waste land should be cultivated. Every spot brown with barrenness should be made emerald with life. II. THEIR MUTUAL RELATION. There was — 1. Organic independence. These Churches are spokenof as distinct; they were doubtless distinct organisations, eachhaving its own laws, managing its own affairs, and knowing no head but Christ.
  15. 15. 2. Spiritual unity. They are all spokenof as belonging to one generic class, subject to one generalcondition, and pursuing the same order of life. And there is vital unity betweenall true Churches — the unity of spirit, aim, headship. They were "all members of one body." That which really unites Churches is not "unions," "conferences,"etc., but Christ's spirit of truth, love, and goodness. III. THEIR INTERNALCONDITION. 1. Living in godly reverence. 2. Receiving sacredinfluences. IV. THEIR LEADING SIGNS. Increase — 1. Of strength. 2. Of numbers. Strong Churches, like strong nations, will colonise. (D. Thomas, D. D.) The Churches increased E. Payson, D. D. I. What is meant by WALKING IN THE FEAR OF GOD? 1. A habitual and profound veneration for His characterand institutions. 2. A humble and unreserved submission to His authority. The influence of this fear will extend to all the powers and faculties of the soul. It will — (1)Constrainthe understanding to submit implicitly to the authority of God's revealedwill. (2)Influence the will, rendering it pliable and submissive, and conforming it to the will of God. (3)Control and regulate the affections.
  16. 16. (4)Guide and govern the imagination. 3. A holy jealousyof ourselves, end a watchful care to avoid everything which may grieve, displease, orprovoke Him to forsake us. Now, as Churches are composedof individuals, it follows that when all or nearly all the members of a Church live under the habitual influence of this principle, the Church will walk in the fear of God; and all the duties which are incumbent on it will be diligently and faithfully performed. These duties are — (1)To provide the means of grace and of religious instruction for itself, its children, and those who are immediately connectedwith it: (2)To faithfully maintain the discipline of Christ in His house. (3)To assemble at proper seasons forsocialworship. (4)To take care of the religious educationof its children. (5)To assistfeeble and destitute sisterChurches with pecuniary aid according to their ability. II. What is meant by WALKING IN THE COMFORTS OF THE HOLY GHOST? Having — 1. Peaceofconscience, orpeace with God, arising from a persuasionwrought in the soul by the Holy Spirit that we are pardoned and acceptedin the Beloved. 2. A strong and well-grounded hope, arising at times to a full assurance,that we are adopted into God's family, and that consequentlywe have a title to all the privileges of His children. 3. Foretastes ofthe joys of heaven. III. WHEN THE MEMBERS OF CHURCHES HABITUALLY WALK IN THIS MANNER, GREAT ADDITIONS WILL BE MADE TO THEM. This is probable when we consider — 1. That such a life and temper will naturally and most powerfully tend to convince all around them of the reality and happy effects of religion, to
  17. 17. remove their prejudices againstit, and to show them that its possessionis highly desirable. 2. That this state of things is exceedinglypleasing to God, and naturally tends to draw down His blessing. Them that honour Him He will honour. 3. That, when Churches walk in this manner, it proves that God is pouring out His Spirit upon them, and that a revival of religion is already begun. (E. Payson, D. D.) Complementary forces in the Christian life W. L. Watkinson. I. WE ARE APT TO REGARD THESE TWO FORCES — FEAR AND CONSOLATION — AS CONTRADICTORY. 1. "The fear of the Lord" marks an abiding characteristic ofthe Christian life — i.e., the fear which dwelt in our Lord Himself must dwell in His disciples. Christ "was heardin that He feared." He was penetrated by a sense of religious awe and conscientiousness,and was delicatelyalive to the will of His Father; and thus He had powerwith God and prevailed. "The fear of the Lord," like the love or the glory of the Lord, is to be participated in by His disciples, and is altogethera noble thing. It is an anxious state of mind lest we should wound the love of God, violate the law of righteousness, orfail to reach the highestsanctificationof character(1 Peter1:16, 17). 2. "The comfort of the Holy Ghost" is also an indispensable element. As the name of "Comforter" as applied to the Spirit of God means also "Helper," "Advocate," so the idea of comfort implies that of efficient succour, and the idea of efficient succourthat of comfort — the deep satisfactionimparted to the soulby the energy of the Spirit of God — "strong consolation," as we have it in Hebrews. The primitive Christians felt this, and walkedin its power. Some praise ancientheathenism because, amid all its absurdities, it was a cheerful religion. Now, it must be acknowledgedthat Christianity is not a "cheerfulreligion" in the sense in which they were. Christ brought out the
  18. 18. deeper meaning of life, and we have far deeper reasons forseriousnessthan men could possibly feel prior to the Advent. The superficial hilariousness of paganworship was an impossibility to those who knew the Holy One of Israel, who had seenthe awful beauty of Christ, and who were expecting the manifestation of that perfectuniverse into which nothing canenter that defileth. But, on the other hand, Christ has given us such reasons forbravery and hope in the moral life as men never knew before. Do we fear lest we fail to realise the wondrous love of God? "The love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost." Do we tremble lestwe fail to recognisethe mind of God? "When He, the Spirit of truth, is come, He will guide you into all truth." Do we shrink to contemplate the wide gulf which comes betweenus and the perfection of our Father in heaven? The Spirit assures us of sonship, and gives us the earnestof the promised inheritance, and urges us forward to share in God's everlasting glory and blessedness. II. SO FAR FROM THESE TWO PHASES BEING, INCOMPATIBLE, THEY ARE COMPLEMENTARY. In nature apparently contradictory forces blend, and in blending produce the grandestresults. Widely as oxygen and nitrogen differ, they are complementary gases, andcombined make the sweet and vital atmosphere. Attraction and repulsion are also complementary forces whose combined actionpreserves the universe in harmonic movement. So the resultant of the double actionof the heart is life and health. Thus is it in Christian experience. 1. Fearis not inconsistent with —(1) Peace. "Thenhad the Churches rest,...walking in the fearof the Lord."(2) Love. The disciple of love fell at his Master's feetas dead.(3) Hope. Peter, who has so much to sayabout the terrible day of the Lord, is full of hope.(4) The highest world and the fullest felicity. Those who stand on the sea of glass, having the harps of gold, sing, "Who shall not fear Thee, O Lord, and glorify Thy name? for Thou only art holy." 2. And so "comfort" is not inconsistentwith any grace ofthe Spirit. Thoughtfulness and a full assurance;a constanteye to the imperative ideal which is so far above us, and to the glorious grace dwelling so richly in us; a vivid sense of our high and holy calling, and of the dangerous path of
  19. 19. pilgrimage which leads up to it; the recollectionof"the jealous God," and of the God"keeping mercy for thousands";the anticipation of judgment and glory, are coordinate and cooperative moods in the working out of our salvation. 3. The danger lies in the omissionof either.(1) How faulty the piety in which fear has no place!in which there is no trembling before the holiness of God, no overwhelming sense of the gravity of our position, no gazing with awe into the dread eternity how surely mine! The brighter the star, the more it trembles; and the purest saints, the bravest heroes ofall times, have stood"in fear and in much trembling."(2) Not less faulty is the piety in which comfort has no place — legal, tormenting, morbid religiousness!Pale sorrow must consortwith blooming joy; weakness mustlean on strength; sweetcomfort must soothe awesome fear. Only in the equilibrium of these opposite forces do we attain the fulness of life and the fulness of its blessing. Our grandest moments arise in the union of two opposing emotions (Genesis 28:16, 17; Matthew 28:8). III. WHILST WE CULTIVATE BOTH SENTIMENTS, WE MUST MAINTAIN BOTH IN DUE PROPORTIONS. Mostofus are under temptation to yield this or that undue preeminence, and the reasonis found both in our constitution and our circumstances. 1. To exaggeratethe sentiment of fear is the peril of some. An old writer tells us of a strange tribe which dwelt in caves because theywere afraid of the sunshine; many devout people are afraid of the sunshine of the mind. Such are burdened with a sense of imperfection, condemnation, peril, and are slow to considerthe gracious aspects ofthe Divine character, the inspiriting and mighty aid of the Comforter. Let those of a certain temperament watch againstthis danger. Let God lead you into greenpastures. "Abound in hope," and you shall find yourself more than conqueror. 2. The peril of others lies in exaggerating the element of comfort. These chiefly ponder the element phases of religion, and remember that "like as a father pitieth his children," etc. They dwell more on the promises of Christ than on His requirements. Those needto be reminded of the sterner side of things.
  20. 20. "Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling," etc. All our austere thinking must be relieved by gracious hope, and our bounding joy chastened by the hallowedfear. "Rejoicewith trembling." IV. THE TEXT EXHIBITS FEAR AND COMFORT, NOT AS ALTERNATIVE, BUT AS CO-EXISTENT AND CONCURRENTMOODS OF THE SOUL. At one and the same time they walked"in the fear of the Lord, and in the comfort of the Holy Ghost." 1. The two streams ought to mingle in one full tide of feeling. "Happy is the man that fearethalway," and blessedis he also who rejoices evermore, andin everything gives thanks. In the geologicworld, for distinct and protracted periods, different gasesprevailed;now you have the Carboniferous epoch, and then some other element predominates: but in the perfected earth the various gasesmingle in due proportions, and the life and beauty of the whole orb are securedand perpetuated. In the cruder and more imperfect stagesof our religious history, periods of anxiety are succeededby periods of jubilation; but in the higher and riper development of the soul there is more simultaneousness in our moods, and they happily mingle in one deep and rich experience. In the Psalms we frequently find the most rapid transitions of thought, the mingling of most diverse emotion — gladness suddenly becoming thoughtful, and again, sorrow smiling through her tears. And the same comprehensive experience finds expressionin the New Testament(2 Corinthians 4:8-10; 2 Corinthians 6:9, 10). So far from deprecating this, we must regard it as God's wonder-working order, and direct our self-culture accordingly. The artist ranges overthe whole chromatic scale, andmakes his picture so grand because the colours are so skilfully mixed; the musician rapidly passes fromkey to key, from stop to stop, and because he does so creates commanding music; thus in the believer's life it is the constant concurrent appealto law and grace, to responsibility and privilege, to the God of righteousness and the God of love, to heaven near and heaven distant, that finally gives to the characterthat full and finished beauty of which all artistic perfection is but the coarse figure. 2. The concurrence of these two habits of feeling secures the highest welfare of the soul. It was whilst the first Churches walkedin this fear and comfortthat
  21. 21. they were "edified" and "multiplied." The truest condition of Christian life is not found in the comparative absence offeeling. The text represents the soul as full of force and movement. A uniform experience is thought by some a satisfactorysign. The truth is far otherwise. How much grandeur would be lost to the world if the mountains were levelled; how much fruitfulness, and history, and poetry, and art! Somewhatthus is it with the soul. The true soul is full of greatcontending emotions, the upheavals and subsidences causedby the Spirit which workethin us mightily; and in the exaltations and humiliations, the soaring hopes and lowly fears, the confidence which touches the heights and the apprehensions which reachthe depths, lies the perfecting of the soul. The more life the more feeling, the more feeling the more life. 3. In an experience which contains the full measure and compass offeeling we secure the stability of the soul. The perfect lighthouse is a mighty column rising out of the rock, the very ideal of strength; yet it is a reed shakenwith the wind, and because it bends it stands. It is thus with the highestand safest characters. There must be strength of mind, of principle, of faith, or it is impossible that we should bear the strain of life. And yet with all this there must be that sensitiveness whichis ever the sign of sublimest strength. "Let him that thinketh he standeth, take heed lesthe fall." (W. L. Watkinson.) Honourable fear H. W. Beecher. There is a filial fear. There is nothing more solicitous than love. A mother knows fearin connectionwith those children that she loves, but it is not degrading fear. The child, anxious to please, lookswith waiting expectancyto see if its task has pleasedfather or mother. The child that is learning to write, or that is studying art, and, making sketches, brings them to the teacheror to the parent, comes with a kind of trembling apprehension lestthey shall not be approved. That is honourable. That has the approval of affectionitself, and it is ennobling. But the fearof anger, the fear of penalty, the fear of our own
  22. 22. suffering and loss, is admirable only in very remote degrees, andoccasionally, when other motives fail. And yet there is a filial fear, a love fear, which not only is permissible, but is honouring and uplifting. (H. W. Beecher.) The Church at rest H. W. Beecher. Some men seemto think that the glory of the Church consists in being let alone. What they esteemabove all other things is peace. A green mantling pool of what they call orthodoxy, with a minister croaking like a frog solitary — that is their conceptionof a Christian Church in a state of prosperity. But, according to the Bible, we are warriors. The battles we fight, however, are not battles of blood, but battles of love and mercy. We are sent to carry, not the swordand the spear, not rude violence, but conceptions ofhigher justice, nobler purity, wiserlaws, and more beneficent customs. The weapons ofour warfare are not carnal. With these we contest, and we will contest, against rage and wrath and bitterness, knowing that He that called us and sent us is the Godof battles, and will guide us and give us that victory which, if worth anything, is worth achieving in the severestconflict. Forvictories that are cheap, are cheap. Those only are worth having which come as the result of hard fighting. (H. W. Beecher.) STUDYLIGHT RESOURCES Adam Clarke Commentary
  23. 23. Then had the Churches rest - Insteadof ἱα εκκλησιαι, the Churches, ABC, severalothers, the Syriac, Coptic, Ethiopic, Armenian, and Vulgate, have ἡεκκλησια, the Church. Every assembly of God's people was a Church; the aggregate ofthese assemblies was The Church. The wordειρηνην, which we translate rest, and which literally signifies peace, evidently means, in this place, prosperity; and in this sense both it and the Hebrew ‫םולש‬ shalom are repeatedly used. But what was the cause ofthis restor success?Some say, the conversionof Saul, who before made havoc of the Church; but this is not likely, as he could not be a universal cause of persecutionand distress, howeveractive and virulent he might have been during the time of his enmity to the Christian Church. Besides his own persecution, relatedabove, shows that the opposition to the Gospelcontinued with considerable virulence three years after his conversion;therefore it was not Saul's ceasing to be a persecutorthat gave this rest to the Churches. Dr. Lardner, with a greater show of probability, maintains that this rest was owing to the following circumstance:Soonafter Caligula's accessionto the imperial dignity, the Jews at Alexandria suffered very much from the Egyptians in that city; and at length their oratories were alldestroyed. In the third year of Caligula, a.d. 39, Petronius, who was made president of Syria in the place of Vitellius, was sent by the emperor to set up his statue in the temple at Jerusalem. This was a thunder-stroke to the Jews, andso occupiedthem that they had no time to think of any thing else;apprehending that their temple must be defiled, and the national religiondestroyed, or themselves run the risk of being exterminated if they rebelled againstthe imperial decree. The accountgiven by Josephus will set this in a clearpoint of view. "Caligula sent Petronius to go with an army to Jerusalem, to set up his statues in the temple, enjoining him if the Jews opposedit, to put to death all that made resistance,and to make all the rest of the nation slaves. Petronius therefore marched from Antioch into Judea, with three legions, and a large body of auxiliaries raisedin Syria. All were hereupon filled with consternation, the army being come as far as Ptolemais. The Jews, then, gathering together, went to the plain near Ptolemais, and entreated Petronius in the first place for their laws, in the next place for themselves. Petronius was moved with their solicitations, and, leaving his army and the statues, wentinto Galilee, and
  24. 24. calledan assemblyof the heads of the Jews atTiberias; and, having exhorted them without effectto submit to the emperor's orders, said, 'Will ye then fight againstCaesar?'Theyansweredthat they offered up sacrifices twice every day for the emperor and the Roman people; but that if he would set up the images, he ought first of all to sacrifice the whole Jewishnation; and that they were ready to submit themselves, their wives and children, to the slaughter." Philo gives a similar accountof this transaction. See Lardner's Credibility, Works, vol. i. p. 97, etc. It appears, therefore, that, as these transactions took place aboutthe time mentioned in the text, their persecutionfrom the Romans diverted them from persecuting the Christians;and Then had the Churches rest throughout all Judea and Galilee, and Samaria; the terror occasionedby the imperial decree having spreaditself through all those places. Were edified - Οικοδομουμεναι,A metaphor taken from a building. The ground is marked out; the ichnograph, or dimensions of the building, ascertained; the foundation is digged; the foundation stone laid; the walls builded up with course upon course; the top-stone brought on; the roofraised, and the whole coveredin; and, the interior part fitted up and adorned, and rendered convenientfor the intended inhabitant. This figure frequently occurs in the sacredwritings, especiallyin the New Testament. It has its reasonin the original creationof man: God made the first human being as a shrine or temple, in which himself might dwell. Sin entered, and the heavenly building was destroyed. The materials, however, though all dislocated, and coveredwith rubbish and every way defiled, yet exist; no essentialpowerorfaculty of the soul having been lost. The work of
  25. 25. redemption consists in building up this house as it was in the beginning, and rendering it a proper habitation for God. The various powers, faculties, and passions, are all to be purified and refined by the powerof the Holy Spirit, and order and harmony restoredto the whole soul. All this is beautifully pointed out by St. Peter, 1 Peter2:4, 1 Peter2:5; : To whom (Jesus Christ) coming as unto a Living Stone, chosenofGod and precious, ye also, as Living Stones, are Built Up a spiritual House, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices to Godby Jesus Christ. And St. Paul, who, from his own profession as a tent-maker, could best seize on the metaphor, and press it into this spiritual service, goes throughthe whole figure at large, in the following inimitable words:Ye are the Household of God, and are Built upon the Foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief Cornerstone, in whom all the Building, Fitly Framed together, growethunto a Holy Temple in the Lord: in whom ye also are Builded togetherfor a Habitation of God, through the Spirit, Ephesians 2:19-22. Edificationsignifies, therefore, an increase in the light, life, and powerof God; being founded on the doctrine of Christ crucified; having the soul purified from all unrighteousness, and fitted, by increasing holiness, to be a permanent residence for the ever-blessedGod. Walking in the fear of the Lord - Keeping a continually tender conscience; abhorring all sin; having respectto every Divine precept; dreading to offend him from whom the soul has derived its being and its blessings. Without this salutary fear of God there never can be any circumspectwalking. In the comfort of the Holy Ghost - In a consciousnessoftheir acceptanceand union with God, through his Spirit, by which solid peace and happiness are brought into the soul; the truly religious man knowing and feeling that he is of God, by the Spirit which is given him: nothing less canbe implied in the comfort of the Holy Ghost. Were multiplied - No wonder that the Church of God increased, whensuch lights as these shone among men. This is a short, but full and forcible
  26. 26. description of the righteousness, purity, and happiness of the primitive Church. Copyright Statement These files are public domain. Bibliography Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Acts 9:31". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/acts- 9.html. 1832. return to 'Jump List' Albert Barnes'Notes onthe Whole Bible Then had the churches rest - That is, the persecutions againstChristians ceased. Those persecutions had been excitedby the opposition made to Stephen Acts 11:19;they had been greatly promoted by Saul Acts 8:3; and they had extended doubtless throughout the whole land of Palestine. The precise causes ofthis cessationof the persecutionare not known. Probably they were the following: (1) It is not improbable that the greatmass of Christians had been driven into other regions by these persecutions. (2) he who had been most active in exciting the persecution;who was, in a sort, its leader, and who was bestadapted to carry it on, had been converted. He had ceasedhis opposition; and even he was now removed from Judea. All this would have some effect in causing the persecutionto subside. (3) but it is not improbable that the state of things in Judea contributed much to turn the attention of the Jews to other matters. Dr. Lardner accounts for this in the following manner: “SoonafterCaligula‘s accession, the Jews at Alexandria suffered very much from the Egyptians in that city, and at length their oratories there were all destroyed. In the third year of Caligula, 39 a.d., Petronius was sent into Syria, with orders to set up the emperor‘s statue in the
  27. 27. temple at Jerusalem. This order from Caligula was, to the Jews, a thunderstroke. The Jews must have been too much engagedafterthis to mind anything else, as may appearfrom the accounts which Philo and Josephus have given us of this affair. Josephus says ‹that Caligula ordered Petronius to go with an army to Jerusalem, to setup his statue in the temple there; enjoining him, if the Jews opposedit, to put to death all who made any resistance,and to make all the rest of the nation slaves. Petronius therefore marched from Antioch into Judea with three legions and a large body of auxiliaries raisedin Syria. “All were hereupon filled with consternation, the army being come as far as Ptolemais.”See Lardner‘s Works, vol. i, pp. 101,102,London edition, 1829. Philo gives the same accountof the consternationas Josephus (Philo, DeLegat. a.d. Cai., pp. 1024,1025). He describes the Jews “as abandoning their cities, villages, and open country; as going to Petronius in Phoenicia, both men and women, the old, the young, the middle-aged; as throwing themselves on the ground before Petronius with weeping and lamentation,” etc. The effectof this consternationin diverting their minds from the Christians can be easily conceived. The prospectthat the images of the Roman emperor were about to be set up by violence in the temple, or, that in case ofresistance,deathor slavery was to be their portion, and the advance of a large army to execute that purpose, all tended to throw the nation into alarm. By the providence of God, therefore, this event was permitted to occurto divert the attention of bloody-minded persecutors from a feeble and bleeding church. Anxious for their own safety, the Jews would ceaseto persecute the Christians, and thus, by the conversionof the main instrument in persecution, and by the universal alarm for the welfare of the nation, the trembling and enfeebledchurch was permitted to obtain repose. Thus ended the first generalpersecutionagainst Christians, and thus effectually did God show that he had power to guard and protect his chosenpeople. All Judea, and Galilee, and Samaria - These three places included the land of Palestine. See the notes on Matthew 2:22. The formation of churches in Galilee is not expressly mentioned before this; but there is no improbability in supposing that Christians had traveled there, and had preached the gospel.
  28. 28. Compare Acts 11:19. The formation of churches in Samaria is expressly mentioned, Romans 14:19; Romans 15:2; 1 Corinthians 8:1. And walking - Living. The word is often used to denote “Christian conduct, or manner of life,” Colossians 1:10;Luke 1:6; 1 Thessalonians 4:1;1 John 2:6. The idea is that of travelers who are going to any place, and who walk in the right path. Christians are thus travelers to another country, an heavenly. In the fear of the Lord - Fearing the Lord; with reverence for him and his commandments. This expressionis often used to denote “piety” in general, 2 Chronicles 19:7; Job 28:28;Psalm 19:9; Psalm111:10;Proverbs 1:7; Proverbs 9:10; Proverbs 13:13. In the comfort of the Holy Ghost - In the consolationswhichthe Holy Spirit produced, John 14:16-17;Romans 5:1-5. Were multiplied - Were increased. Copyright Statement These files are public domain. Bibliography Barnes, Albert. "Commentaryon Acts 9:31". "Barnes'Notes onthe New Testament". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/acts-9.html. 1870. return to 'Jump List' The Biblical Illustrator Acts 9:31 Then had the Churches rest. Quiet times
  29. 29. The right use of quiet times is a greatsecretof Christian living. Human life is made up of alternations of storm and calm, of trouble and rest. It is so with the life of an individual, a nation, or a Church. The earlierpart of this chapter indicated a time of trouble. But now the chief persecutorhas himself felt the force of truth. Then again the Emperor Caligula was making an impious attempt to place his own image in the Temple, and so the attention of the Jews was wholly occupied with plans for frustrating his design. They had no time to persecute. So the Churches had peace:how did they use it? Did it make them indolent, unfruitful, unfaithful, quarrelsome? Two things are said of them: they were-- I. Edified. 1. The whole Church is one building, planned by one Architect, carried on by one Builder, designedfor one end, to be the habitation of God. This thought is full of comfort. It shows us that howeversmall the place of eachone, yet each one has his place, and that, if it be not filled, there is a blank, be it everso small. Is not that honour enough? Does it not say to each, See that thy place be not a blank, or worse? 2. The Church of eachland, age, town, is a building. It may be but a fragment, a buttress, or a pinnacle of the universal Church; but you all know how any building would look if one buttress fell; and therefore you will not count it a small thing if some such position belongs to our community. This congregationof ours is a building. Is it then being built up? is it rising, in solidity, unity, beauty? is it giving signs, more and more, of its destination as a habitation of God? 3. Eachhuman soulis a building. What a question is it, for eachone, How is that building which is I myself, getting on? Are the foundations deeply and soundly laid in the faith of Christ? Is the superstructure rising day by day gradually, regularly, quietly, yet consciously, perceptibly, visibly? Am I growing in grace? more and more prevailing over sinful passions? betterable to do the work which He has given me? Times of tranquillity ought to be times of edifying: alas I too often they are times of suspendedenergy.
  30. 30. II. Multiplied. A time of peace oughtto be a time of outward as well as inward progress. It was so of old. How is it now? Is there zeal in founding or reinforcing missionary institutions? Alas! you know that with much philanthropy there is little gospelzealamongstus; that, where a thousand pounds can be gatheredfor a work of charity, it is hard to collectten for a work of piety. And is the Church at all multiplying at home? Can we point, by tens, or fives, or units, to new persons brought to be worshippers by agencies now working amongstus? We are not left in the dark as to how this may be done. The Church multiplies, by its own progress, in two things: walking in-- I. The different parts of the descriptionhere given. 1. The Churches “were edified.” A Church may be edified by the addition of new members. The Church is a building, and those added to it are living stones;and by the addition of such stones the spiritual temple advances to completion. Such, however, cannot be the meaning of the word here; it means rather, “Growthin grace”;advancementin the principles and fruits of Divine love. The Churches were composedof individuals, and as the wealthof a country consists in the aggregatewealthof the individual inhabitants, and the national wealth increasesin proportion as the wealthof individuals increases, so with the Church. If we desire the edification of our ownChristian societyor the Church of God generally, the first requisite is our seeking personal advancementin knowledge,faith, and holiness;and the secondis our using all the appointed means for promoting the same among our brethren. Edification includes-- 2. They walked“in the fear of the Lord.” This-- 3. They walked“in the comfort of the Holy Ghost.” Edification and practical godliness were associatedwith spiritual enjoyment. The comfort of the Holy Ghostis comfortof which the Spirit of God is the greatAuthor. To walk in this comfort is to enjoy harmony within, and to display it externally to have
  31. 31. the powers of the mind and the affections ofthe heart engagedin duty. This comfort, then, is not an indolent, inactive enjoyment. It is only to be found in active service, not in a life of ascetic seclusion, orin feelings of spiritual epicurism. There is an intimate connectionbetweenwalking in the fear of the Lord and walking in the comfort of the Holy Ghost. All pretensions to the latter without the former are vain. There is no true legitimate comfort from the truths of God except to those that walk in the ways of God. II. The connectionsubsisting betweenthem and especiallybetweenthe characterof the churches with their multiplication. An undue regardto members has often done incalculable mischief. Increase is desirable, but it must be increase of those whose hearts are right with God. With Him respectability consists notin numbers but in character. He had a few names in Sardis who had not defiled their garments. But, as a corrupt body, the Church of Sardis is admonished, and “there is joy before the angels ofGod.” We rejoice more in an addition to than in the continued safetyof the sheep. We delight in seeing all the jewels of the Saviour’s crowncontinuing to shine with pure lustre; but our delight is still more elevatedwhen a new jewelis added to it. It is in this respectthat missions to the heathen are so supremely interesting. Notice, then, a connectionbetween-- 1. Restand edification. In the Church as well as in the state, times of difficulty and trial often callforth latent powers, and produce remarkable men where they were leastexpected;but it too generallyhappens that to the members of a persecutedbody such seasons are not times of steady thought, and deliberate and persevering study of Divine truth, and consequently of general improvement. A state of rest, on the contrary, affords opportunities for much study of the Divine oracles;for private and socialmeetings for conversation, and prayer, and mutual excitement. Let it be a serious question whether the rest which we enjoy is duly improved by us for the purposes of edification? 2. Restand increase. 3. The state of the Church as described--increase. Where these characteristics obtain--
  32. 32. The characteristicsandmultiplication of Christian Churches I. The grand characteristicsby which Christian Churches ought to be distinguished. We observe here-- 1. The Church is governed by the practicalinfluence of religion. “The fear of the Lord” is the scriptural equivalent for the whole of practicalreligion, and involves devout reverence ofthe Divine attributes, and continued obedience to the Divine commandments. Churches are places where impenitence and unbelief should never come;where the depravity of the human heart should be expelled by the energy of redeeming grace;where every heart should be imbued with the love, and should be devoted to the service of God, and where every individual soul should be growing and meetening for the possessionof holiness in heaven! True it is that, from time to time, there come among our communities those who have not the fearof the Lord, but “these are spots in our feasts ofcharity.” They have no part and no lot in the matter. 2. Churches enjoying the consolationsofreligion. “The comfort of the Holy Ghost” signifies, of course, the comfort which the Holy Ghost, in His characterof Comforter, is intended to bestow upon those who are truly walking in the fear of the Lord; and that comfort must be regardedas consisting in feeling that they are possessors ofvital piety: of a personalsense of their interest in the work of redemption; taking awayfrom them the spirit of fear, and implanting within them the Spirit of adoption, administering to them sufficient strength for all circumstances, and filling them with emotions of joy and gratitude. But the enjoyment of the consolations ofreligion must be regardedas arising from practicaldevotedness and eminence in piety. The inspired historian mentions one characteristic as a cause and the other as an effect. The Spirit administers comfort where the Spirit receives honour; and where the Spirit is grieved there the Spirit is restrained. His awakening influences precede, His consoling influences follow.
  33. 33. II. The blessings whichChristian Churches, as thus distinguished, may anticipate. These Churches were multiplied. 1. There are two principles connectedwith this multiplication of Christian Churches. It is intimately connected-- 2. This multiplication is a most desirable and happy event. There appears to be, in the language ofthe historian, an element of pleasure, but there are nominal Christians in modern times to whom it produces no pleasure at all to hear of the multiplication of Churches. There are two reasons,however, why this event is so desirable and so happy. Its intimate connection-- Restand prosperity of Churches Our text-- I. Describesthe Churches of the Holy Land. 1. Their nature. 2. Their quiet. “Thenhad the Churches rest.” (a) The conversionof Saul. “The grace ofGod was exceeding abundant towards him.” His opposition was destroyed, not by his punishment as a foe, but by his transformation into a friend. Is there no encouragementto us in this? His conversionis setforth by himself as a “pattern” of the powerand the mercy of the gospel. Then let Christians pray. (b) The solicitude and alarm of the Jews. At Alexandria the Jews suffered dreadfully from the Egyptians, and in Judea and elsewhere were inimminent peril of ruin. An attempt was made to bring the statue of Caligula unto the Holy of Holies, in consequenceofsome offence he had takenat the conduct of the Jews. Nothing could produce greaterconsternation. So they were too concernedabout their own affairs to meddle with those of others. God can “restrainthe wrath of man,” as well as make it “praise Him.” He can control
  34. 34. the circumstances as wellas change the characterof our foes. “Saulreturned from pursuing after David” when the “Philistines invaded the land.” 3. Their experience and conduct. (a) When the storm ceasedthey set earnestlyabout the completing of their moral temple. Persecutionis unfavourable to religious, as waris to secular, commerce. It dispirits, diverts attention, employs resources, and intercepts communication. Peace, however, permits the full and unfettered employment of the Church’s gifts and graces fortheir appropriate and appointed purposes. The Churches before us were edified when they had rest. Their principles became broaderin their base, and more perfect in their symmetry. Their faith increasedin intelligence and earnestness. As a natural result of this, they cherished and expressedthat filial reverence for God which is called for by His majestyand mercy; and they soughtand submitted to all the intimations and the influences of the Spirit of Christ. (b) This was their course. They “walked”according to this rule. It was not an occasional, but a constantthing. It described them in their relations as men of the Church and as men of the world. And what was the result? 4. Their increase. “Were multiplied.” They receivedlarge accessions from the world. There was more Christianity, and so there were more Christians. Saints were sanctified, and sinners became saints. These are the two elements of Church prosperity, the two ends of Church association. Christians are thus connectedthat they may promote eachother’s spirituality, and that, by the union of their gracesand the combination of their energies, they may be as light to a dark, and saltto a corrupt world. And these two things are inseparably connected. The Church cannot grow in grace without diffusing grace. II. Sets them before us for imitation. The text was written for our use. Consider-- 1. The connectionbetweenthe rest and the edification of these Churches. “Theyhad rest, and were edified.” They made spiritual advancementwhile
  35. 35. they enjoyed civil repose. Theydid not spend the seasonofcalm in luxury and sinfulness. 2. The connectionbetweenthe edification of these Churches and their increase. Prosperous Churches I. Their external circumstances. “Rest.”The hurricane of persecutionwas now hushed, and under the genialinfluence of peace they grew. Peace inthe nation is the time to build houses and develop resources.Peacein nature is the time for sowing and cultivation. Persecution, like storms, may deepen the roots of piety when it exists, but is unfavourable to the disseminationof seed and the growth of fragile plants. 1. This external condition Churches in England now have. We can sit under our own vine, etc. Once our Churches were very differently circumstanced-- e.g., under Mary and the Stuarts. 2. This condition we are bound to improve. Greatis our responsibility. All the waste land should be cultivated. Every spot brown with barrenness should be made emerald with life. II. Their mutual relation. There was-- 1. Organic independence. These Churches are spokenof as distinct; they were doubtless distinct organisations, eachhaving its own laws, managing its own affairs, and knowing no head but Christ. 2. Spiritual unity. They are all spokenof as belonging to one generic class, subject to one generalcondition, and pursuing the same order of life. And there is vital unity betweenall true Churches--the unity of spirit, aim, headship. They were “all members of one body.” That which really unites
  36. 36. Churches is not “unions,” “conferences,” etc., but Christ’s spirit of truth, love, and goodness. III. Their internal condition. 1. Living in godly reverence. 2. Receiving sacredinfluences. IV. Their leading signs. Increase-- 1. Of strength. 2. Of numbers. Strong Churches, like strong nations, will colonise. (D. Thomas, D. D.) The Churches increased I. What is meant by walking in the fearof God? 1. A habitual and profound veneration for His characterand institutions. 2. A humble and unreserved submission to His authority. The influence of this fear will extend to all the powers and faculties of the soul. It will-- 3. A holy jealousyof ourselves, end a watchful care to avoid everything which may grieve, displease, orprovoke Him to forsake us. Now, as Churches are composedof individuals, it follows that when all or nearly all the members of a Church live under the habitual influence of this principle, the Church will walk in the fear of God; and all the duties which are incumbent on it will be diligently and faithfully performed. These duties are-- II. What is meant by walking in the comforts of the holy ghost? Having--
  37. 37. 1. Peaceofconscience, orpeace with God, arising from a persuasionwrought in the soul by the Holy Spirit that we are pardoned and acceptedin the Beloved. 2. A strong and well-grounded hope, arising at times to a full assurance,that we are adopted into God’s family, and that consequentlywe have a title to all the privileges of His children. 3. Foretastes ofthe joys of heaven. III. When the members of Churches habitually walk in this manner, great additions will be made to them. This is probable when we consider-- 1. That such a life and temper will naturally and most powerfully tend to convince all around them of the reality and happy effects of religion, to remove their prejudices againstit, and to show them that its possessionis highly desirable. 2. That this state of things is exceedinglypleasing to God, and naturally tends to draw down His blessing. Them that honour Him He will honour. 3. That, when Churches walk in this manner, it proves that God is pouring out His Spirit upon them, and that a revival of religion is already begun. (E. Payson, D. D.) Complementary forces in the Christian life I. We are apt to regardthese two forces--fearand consolation--as contradictory. 1. “The fear of the Lord” marks an abiding characteristic ofthe Christian life--i.e., the fear which dwelt in our Lord Himself must dwell in His disciples. Christ “was heardin that He feared.” He was penetrated by a sense of religious awe and conscientiousness,and was delicatelyalive to the will of His Father; and thus He had powerwith God and prevailed. “The fear of the Lord,” like the love or the glory of the Lord, is to be participated in by His
  38. 38. disciples, and is altogethera noble thing. It is an anxious state of mind lest we should wound the love of God, violate the law of righteousness, orfail to reach the highestsanctificationof character(1 Peter1:16-17). 2. “The comfort of the Holy Ghost” is also an indispensable element. As the name of “Comforter” as applied to the Spirit of God means also “Helper,” “Advocate,” so the idea of comfort implies that of efficient succour, and the idea of efficient succourthat of comfort--the deep satisfactionimparted to the soul by the energyof the Spirit of God--“strong consolation,” as we have it in Hebrews. The primitive Christians felt this, and walkedin its power. Some praise ancient heathenism because, amid all its absurdities, it was a cheerful religion. Now, it must be acknowledgedthat Christianity is not a “cheerful religion” in the sense in which they were. Christ brought out the deeper meaning of life, and we have far deeper reasons forseriousness thanmen could possibly feel prior to the Advent. The superficial hilariousness of pagan worship was an impossibility to those who knew the Holy One of Israel, who had seenthe awful beauty of Christ, and who were expecting the manifestation of that perfectuniverse into which nothing canenter that defileth. But, on the other hand, Christ has given us such reasons forbravery and hope in the moral life as men never knew before. Do we fear lest we fail to realise the wondrous love of God? “The love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost.” Do we tremble lestwe fail to recognisethe mind of God? “When He, the Spirit of truth, is come, He will guide you into all truth.” Do we shrink to contemplate the wide gulf which comes betweenus and the perfection of our Father in heaven? The Spirit assures us of sonship, and gives us the earnestof the promised inheritance, and urges us forward to share in God’s everlasting glory and blessedness. II. So far from these two phases being, incompatible, they are complementary. In nature apparently contradictoryforces blend, and in blending produce the grandestresults. Widely as oxygen and nitrogen differ, they are complementary gases,and combined make the sweetand vital atmosphere. Attraction and repulsion are also complementary forces whose combined
  39. 39. actionpreserves the universe in harmonic movement. So the resultant of the double actionof the heart is life and health. Thus is it in Christian experience. 1. Fearis not inconsistent with-- 2. And so “comfort” is not inconsistentwith any grace ofthe Spirit. Thoughtfulness and a full assurance;a constanteye to the imperative ideal which is so far above us, and to the glorious grace dwelling so richly in us; a vivid sense of our high and holy calling, and of the dangerous path of pilgrimage which leads up to it; the recollectionof“the jealous God,” and of the God“keeping mercy for thousands”;the anticipation of judgment and glory, are coordinate and cooperative moods in the working out of our salvation. 3. The danger lies in the omissionof either. III. Whilst we cultivate both sentiments, we must maintain both in due proportions. Mostof us are under temptation to yield this or that undue preeminence, and the reasonis found both in our constitution and our circumstances. 1. To exaggeratethe sentiment of fear is the peril of some. An old writer tells us of a strange tribe which dwelt in caves because theywere afraid of the sunshine; many devout people are afraid of the sunshine of the mind. Such are burdened with a sense of imperfection, condemnation, peril, and are slow to considerthe gracious aspects ofthe Divine character, the inspiriting and mighty aid of the Comforter. Let those of a certain temperament watch againstthis danger. Let God lead you into greenpastures. “Abound in hope,” and you shall find yourself more than conqueror. 2. The peril of others lies in exaggerating the element of comfort. These chiefly ponder the element phases of religion, and remember that “like as a father pitieth his children,” etc. They dwell more on the promises of Christ than on His requirements. Those needto be reminded of the sterner side of things. “Work out your own salvationwith fear and trembling,” etc. All our austere
  40. 40. thinking must be relieved by gracious hope, and our bounding joy chastened by the hallowedfear. “Rejoicewith trembling.” IV. The text exhibits fearand comfort, not as alternative, but as co-existent and concurrent moods of the soul. At one and the same time they walked“in the fearof the Lord, and in the comfortof the Holy Ghost.” 1. The two streams ought to mingle in one full tide of feeling. “Happy is the man that fearethalway,” and blessedis he also who rejoices evermore, andin everything gives thanks. In the geologicworld, for distinct and protracted periods, different gasesprevailed;now you have the Carboniferous epoch, and then some other element predominates: but in the perfected earth the various gasesmingle in due proportions, and the life and beauty of the whole orb are securedand perpetuated. In the cruder and more imperfect stagesof our religious history, periods of anxiety are succeededby periods of jubilation; but in the higher and riper development of the soul there is more simultaneousness in our moods, and they happily mingle in one deep and rich experience. In the Psalms we frequently find the most rapid transitions of thought, the mingling of most diverse emotion--gladness suddenly becoming thoughtful, and again, sorrow smiling through her tears. And the same comprehensive experience finds expressionin the New Testament(2 Corinthians 4:8-10; 2 Corinthians 6:9-10). So far from deprecating this, we must regard it as God’s wonder-working order, and direct our self-culture accordingly. The artist ranges overthe whole chromatic scale, andmakes his picture so grand because the colours are so skilfully mixed; the musician rapidly passes fromkey to key, from stop to stop, and because he does so creates commanding music; thus in the believer’s life it is the constant concurrent appealto law and grace, to responsibility and privilege, to the God of righteousness and the God of love, to heaven near and heaven distant, that finally gives to the characterthat full and finished beauty of which all artistic perfection is but the coarse figure. 2. The concurrence of these two habits of feeling secures the highest welfare of the soul. It was whilst the first Churches walkedin this fear and comfortthat
  41. 41. they were “edified” and “multiplied.” The truest condition of Christian life is not found in the comparative absence offeeling. The text represents the soul as full of force and movement. A uniform experience is thought by some a satisfactorysign. The truth is far otherwise. How much grandeur would be lost to the world if the mountains were levelled; how much fruitfulness, and history, and poetry, and art! Somewhatthus is it with the soul. The true soul is full of greatcontending emotions, the upheavals and subsidences causedby the Spirit which workethin us mightily; and in the exaltations and humiliations, the soaring hopes and lowly fears, the confidence which touches the heights and the apprehensions which reachthe depths, lies the perfecting of the soul. The more life the more feeling, the more feeling the more life. 3. In an experience which contains the full measure and compass offeeling we secure the stability of the soul. The perfect lighthouse is a mighty column rising out of the rock, the very ideal of strength; yet it is a reed shakenwith the wind, and because it bends it stands. It is thus with the highestand safest characters. There must be strength of mind, of principle, of faith, or it is impossible that we should bear the strain of life. And yet with all this there must be that sensitiveness whichis ever the signof sublimest strength. “Let him that thinketh he standeth, take heed lesthe fall.” (W. L. Watkinson.) Honourable fear There is a filial fear. There is nothing more solicitous than love. A mother knows fearin connectionwith those children that she loves, but it is not degrading fear. The child, anxious to please, lookswith waiting expectancyto see if its task has pleasedfather or mother. The child that is learning to write, or that is studying art, and, making sketches, brings them to the teacher or to the parent, comes with a kind of trembling apprehension lestthey shall not be approved. That is honourable. That has the approval of affectionitself, and it is ennobling. But the fearof anger, the fear of penalty, the fear of our own suffering and loss, is admirable only in very remote degrees, andoccasionally, when other motives fail. And yet there is a filial fear, a love fear, which not only is permissible, but is honouring and uplifting. (H. W. Beecher.) The Church at rest
  42. 42. Some men seemto think that the glory of the Church consists in being let alone. What they esteemabove all other things is peace. A green mantling pool of what they call orthodoxy, with a minister croaking like a frog solitary--that is their conceptionof a Christian Church in a state of prosperity. But, according to the Bible, we are warriors. The battles we fight, however, are not battles of blood, but battles of love and mercy. We are sent to carry, not the swordand the spear, not rude violence, but conceptions ofhigher justice, nobler purity, wiserlaws, and more beneficent customs. The weapons ofour warfare are not carnal. With these we contest, and we will contest, against rage and wrath and bitterness, knowing that He that called us and sent us is the Godof battles, and will guide us and give us that victory which, if worth anything, is worth achieving in the severestconflict. Forvictories that are cheap, are cheap. Those only are worth having which come as the result of hard fighting. (H. W. Beecher.) Copyright Statement These files are public domain. Text Courtesyof BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission. Bibliography Exell, JosephS. "Commentary on "Acts 9:31". The Biblical Illustrator. https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tbi/acts-9.html. 1905-1909. New York. return to 'Jump List' Coffman's Commentaries on the Bible So the church throughout all Judaea and Galilee and Samaria had peace, being edified; and, walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, was multiplied.
  43. 43. See under Acts 6:7 for other examples of Luke's device of pausing at intervals to record the growth and prosperity of the church, thus giving several reminders of his grand designof showing how Christianity developedand spread to the whole world. It could be, also, that Luke intended that we should see the connectionbetweenthis period of relative tranquillity and the departure of Paul, just mentioned. Such was the fury and bitterness of the Jewishcommunity overthe defectionof one of their most able partisans, that they could hardly have suffered Paul's presence in Jerusalemwithout continued persecution;but, in his absence, there appearedfor a while a period of quietness during which the church grew and prospered. In time, of course, Paulwould return, speaking his epic words of wisdom and judgment againstIsrael; but for the present he would be left out of sight in Tarsus. In the meanwhile, Luke returned to stress two apostolic miracles performed by Peter, and which mighty signs contributed emphatically to the growth of the church. PETER HEALS AENEAS Luke's purpose here is evidently that of showing how the apostles continuedto preach the gospelin Judaea and Samaria and Galilee, these provinces actually being part of Palestine. It comes to light here that Peterhad traveled and preachedalong the whole seacoastofPalestine in some of the same cities evangelizedby Philip. As Harrison said: Peterfound in Lydda a group of Christians who had probably fled there in the dispersioncausedby the persecutionin Jerusalem. Here Peter healed Aeneas. This area was populated in part by Gentiles.[28] ENDNOTE: [28] Everett F. Harrison, The Wycliffe Bible Commentary (Chicago:Moody Press, 1971), p. 418.
  44. 44. Copyright Statement James Burton Coffman Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved. Bibliography Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on Acts 9:31". "Coffman Commentaries on the Old and New Testament". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bcc/acts-9.html. Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999. return to 'Jump List' John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible Then had the churches rest,.... Meaning not spiritual rest in Christ; this they had before, even in tribulation, but rest from persecution;not so much because ofthe conversionof Saul, the greatpersecutorof them, for his conversionhad been three years before; but rather because ofhis removal to other parts, the sight of whose person, and especiallyhis ministry, had afresh stirred up the Jews to wrath and fury. The Alexandrian copy, and some others, the Vulgate Latin, Syriac, and Ethiopic versions, readin the singular number, "the church": but the severalcountries hereaftermentioned shows that more are designed:for it follows, throughout all Judea, and Galilee, and Samaria; for by means of the dispersion, on accountof persecution, the Gospelwas preachedin these severalplaces, and churches gathered, and which sharedin the persecution until this time, when they began to have rest; Galatians 1:22 1 Thessalonians 2:14 and were edified; or built up on the foundation Christ, and their most holy faith, through the ministry of the word and ordinances, and their mutual love and holy conversation;and had an increase ofmembers, and of grace, and of spiritual knowledge: and walking in the fearof the Lord; which was always before their eyes, and upon their hearts, continuing in religious exercises, andin the discharge of every duty, both to God and man. Not in a slavish fear of the wrath of the
  45. 45. Lord, and of damnation for sin committed againsthim; for this is not consistentwith their characters,as Gospelchurches, made of persons who had receivednot the spirit of bondage to fear, but the Spirit of adoption, nor with their edification in faith and holiness;for "he that feareth is not made perfect in love"; 1 John 4:18 which edifies; nor with the comforts of the Holy Ghost, they are afterwards said to walk in: but in a godly fear, which has the Lord for its author, is not of a man's self, but of the grace of God, and is encouraged and increasedby the discoveries ofhis grace and goodness:and which has the Lord for its object, whose name is holy and reverend, and is to be fearedby all his saints: it shows itself in an hatred of sin; in a departure from it; in a carefulness notto offend the Lord; in withholding nothing from him, though ever so dear and valuable, he calls for; and in attending to all the parts of divine worship: and walking in it denotes a continuance in it, a constant progressionin all the acts of internal and external worship, which are both included in the fear of the Lord; and it requires strength, and supposes pleasure and freedom. It is said of Enoch, that "he walkedwith God"; which the Targum of Onkelos paraphrases, "he walkedin the fear of the Lord", Genesis 5:22 the same phrase which is here used. And in the comfort of the Holy Ghost:which he communicated by shedding abroad the love of God in them, taking the things of Christ, and showing them to them, applying covenantblessings and Gospelpromises to their souls, owning the word and ordinances, and making them useful to them, thereby leading them into fellowshipwith the Father, and with the Son. In all which he acts the part of a Comforter, and answers to the characterhe bears, and the office he is in: the love of God, which he directs into, and sheds abroad in the heart, refreshes and revives the Spirit of God's people; it influences and encourageseverygrace that is wrought in them; and makes them easyand comfortable under all providences, even the most afflicting ones:the things of Christ he takes and shows unto them are his blood, righteousness, and sacrifice;which being applied, and interest in them shown, produce abundance of peace, joy, and comfort: the promises of the covenant, and of the Gospel, he opens and applies, being such as hold forth the blessings of grace unto them; and being exceeding great, and precious, and suitable to their cases;and being absolute and unconditional, immutable, and sure,
  46. 46. afford them much pleasure and satisfaction:and the word and ordinances being attended with the Holy Ghost, and much assurance, are breasts of consolationto them: and "walking" in those comforts which he administers, by such means, denotes a continuance of them, a long enjoyment of them, which is not very common; for, generallyspeaking, these comforts lastbut for a small time; and also it intimates much delight and pleasure in them, Psalm 94:19 and so "were multiplied"; both in their gifts and graces,and in the number of converts added to them. Copyright Statement The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernisedand adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rightes Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario. A printed copy of this work can be ordered from: The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1 Iron Oaks Dr, Paris, AR, 72855 Bibliography Gill, John. "Commentary on Acts 9:31". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/acts- 9.html. 1999. return to 'Jump List' Geneva Study Bible 9 Then had the churches rest throughout all Judaea and Galilee and Samaria, and were n edified; and walking in the fear of the Lord, and in the comfort of the Holy Ghost, were multiplied. (9) The result of persecutions is the building of the Church, so that we will patiently wait for the Lord.
  47. 47. (n) This is a borrowedtype of speechwhich signifies establishment and increase. Copyright Statement These files are public domain. Text Courtesyof BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission. Bibliography Beza, Theodore. "Commentaryon Acts 9:31". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/gsb/acts-9.html. 1599- 1645. return to 'Jump List' Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible Flourishing state of the Church in Palestine atthis time. Then had all the churches rest — rather, “the Church,” according to the best manuscripts and versions. But this rest was owing not so much to the conversionof Saul, as probably to the Jews being engrossedwith the emperor Caligula‘s attempt to have his own image setup in the temple of Jerusalem [Josephus, Antiquities, 18.8.1, etc.]. throughout all Judea, and Galilee, and Samaria — This incidental notice of distinct churches already dotting all the regions which were the chief scenes of our Lord‘s ministry, and that were best able to testthe facts on which the whole preaching of the apostles was based, is extremely interesting. “The fear of the Lord” expresses their holy walk;“the comfort of the Holy Ghost,” their “peace andjoy in believing,” under the silent operationof the blessed Comforter.
  48. 48. Copyright Statement These files are a derivative of an electronic edition prepared from text scannedby Woodside Bible Fellowship. This expanded edition of the Jameison-Faussett-BrownCommentary is in the public domain and may be freely used and distributed. Bibliography Jamieson, Robert, D.D.;Fausset,A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Acts 9:31". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfb/acts-9.html. 1871-8. return to 'Jump List' McGarvey's OriginalCommentary on Acts Preparatoryto this transition in the narrative, the historian glances rapidly over the territory to which we are about to be introduced, stating the condition of things immediately after Saul's departure for Tarsus. (31)"Then the Churches had peachthroughout all Judea and Galilee, and Samaria;and being edified, and walking in the fear of the Lord, and the consolationofthe Holy Spirit, they were multiplied." Thus times of peace and quiet were seento be propitious to a cause which had sprung up amid strife and opposition, showing that it was not the obstinacyof human passion, but the legitimate working of unchangeable truth, which had brought it into being. According to the philosophy which Gamalielhad urged in the Sanhedrim, [Acts 5:34-39.]its claim to a divine origin was now vindicated. Copyright Statement These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian ClassicsEtherealLibrary Website. First published online at The RestorationMovementPages.
  49. 49. Bibliography McGarvey, J. W. "Commentary on Acts 9:31". "J. W. McGarvey's Original Commentary on Acts". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/oca/acts-9.html. Transylvania Printing and Publishing Co. Lexington, KY. 1872. return to 'Jump List' People's New Testament Then had the churches rest. After the departure of Saul there was a cessation of persecutionfor severalyears. The reasonis found in the history of the times. The Romanemperor, Caligula, had ordered his statue to be placed in the temple at Jerusalemfor worship, a desecrationofthe temple, and the Jews were too much engagedin their efforts to prevent this to persecute the church. Edified. Built up. Were multiplied. The result, always, of "walking in the fear of the Lord and comfort of the Holy Spirit." Copyright Statement These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian ClassicsEtherealLibrary Website. Original work done by Ernie Stefanik. First published online in 1996 atThe RestorationMovementPages. Bibliography Johnson, BartonW. "Commentary on Acts 9:31". "People'sNew Testament". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pnt/acts-9.html. 1891.
  50. 50. return to 'Jump List' Robertson's WordPictures in the New Testament So the church (Hē men oun ekklēsia). The singular ekklēsiais undoubtedly the true reading here (all the greatdocuments have it so). By this time there were churches scatteredoverJudea, Galilee, and Samaria (Galatians 1:22), but Luke either regards the disciples in Palestine as still members of the one great church in Jerusalem(instance already the work of Philip in Samaria and soon of Peterin Joppa and Caesarea)orhe employs the term ekklēsia in a geographicalorcollective sensecovering all of Palestine. The strictly local sense we have seenalreadyin Acts 8:1, Acts 8:3 (and Matthew 18:17)and the generalspiritual sense in Matthew 16:18. But in Acts 8:3 it is plain that the term is applied to the organizationof JerusalemChristians even when scatteredin their homes. The use of men oun (so) is Luke‘s common way of gathering up the connection. The obvious meaning is that the persecution ceasedbecause the persecutorhad been converted. The wolf no longerravined the sheep. It is true also that the effort of Caligula a.d. 39 to setup his image in the temple in Jerusalemfor the Jews to worship greatlyexcited the Jews and gave them troubles of their own (Josephus, Ant. XVIII. 8, 2-9). Had peace (eicheneirēnēn). Imperfect active. Kept on having peace, enjoying peace, becausethe persecutionhad ceased. Manyof the disciples came back to Jerusalemand the apostles beganto make preaching tours out from the city. This idiom (echō eirēnēn) occurs againin Romans 5:1 (eirēnēn echōmen present active subjunctive) where it has been grievouslymisunderstood. There it is an exhortation to keepon enjoying the peace with God already made, not to make peace with God which would be eirēnēn schōmen(ingressive aorist subjunctive). Edified (oikodomoumenē). Presentpassive participle, linear action also. One result of the enjoyment of peace afterthe persecutionwas the continued edification (Latin word aedificatio for building up a house), a favourite figure with Paul (1 Corinthians 14; Eph 3) and scatteredthroughout the N.T., old
  51. 51. Greek verb. In 1 Peter 2:5 Peterspeaks of“the spiritual house” throughout the five Roman provinces being “built up” (cf. Matthew 16:18). In the comfort of the Holy Spirit (tēi paraklēseitou hagioupneumatos). Either locative (in) or instrumental case (by). The Holy Spirit had been promised by Jesus as “anotherParaclete” andnow this is shownto be true. The only instance in Acts of the use of paraklēsis withthe Holy Spirit. The word, of course, means calling to one‘s side (parakaleō)either for advice or for consolation. Was multiplied (eplēthuneto). Imperfect middle passive. The multiplication of the disciples kept pace with the peace, the edification, the walking in the fear of the Lord, the comfort of the Holy Spirit. The blood of the martyrs was already becoming the seedof the church. Stephen had not borne his witness in vain. Copyright Statement The Robertson's WordPictures of the New Testament. Copyright � Broadman Press 1932,33,Renewal1960. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman Press (Southern BaptistSunday SchoolBoard) Bibliography Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on Acts 9:31". "Robertson's WordPictures of the New Testament". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/rwp/acts-9.html. Broadman Press 1932,33. Renewal1960. return to 'Jump List' Vincent's Word Studies
  52. 52. The churches The best texts read the church; embracing all the different churches throughout the three provinces of Palestine. Edified Or built up. Comfort ( παρακλήσει ) From παρακαλέω ,calltoward or to one's side for help. The word is rendered in the New Testamentboth exhortation and consolation. Compare Acts 13:15; Romans 12:8; 2 Corinthians 8:17; Hebrews 12:5; and Luke 2:25(see note);2 Thessalonians 2:16;Matthew 5:4. In some passagesthe meaning is disputed, as Philemon 2:1, where, as in 1 Corinthians 14:3, it is joined with παραμύθιον or παραμυθία , the meaning of which also varies betweenincentive and consolationorassuagement. Here exhortation is the rendering approved by the bestauthorities, to be construed with was multiplied: was multiplied by the exhortation of the Holy Ghost; i.e., by the Holy Spirit inspiring the preachers, and moving the hearts of the hearers. Copyright Statement The text of this work is public domain. Bibliography Vincent, Marvin R. DD. "Commentaryon Acts 9:31". "Vincent's Word Studies in the New Testament". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/vnt/acts-9.html. Charles Schribner's Sons. New York, USA. 1887. return to 'Jump List' Wesley's ExplanatoryNotes
  53. 53. Then had the churches rest throughout all Judaea and Galilee and Samaria, and were edified; and walking in the fear of the Lord, and in the comfort of the Holy Ghost, were multiplied. Then the Church — The whole body of Christian believers, had peace - Their bitterest persecutorbeing converted. And being built up — In holy, loving faith, continually increasing, and walking in - That is, speaking and acting only from this principle, the fearof God and the comfort of the Holy Ghost - An excellentmixture of inward and outward peace, temperedwith filial fear. Copyright Statement These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian ClassicsEtherealLibrary Website. Bibliography Wesley, John. "Commentary on Acts 9:31". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/acts-9.html. 1765. return to 'Jump List' Calvin's Commentary on the Bible 31.Thenthe Churches. Luke’s meaning is, that the enemies of the gospelwere greatly provokedby Paul’s presence. Forwhy was there such peace made suddenly by his departure, save only because the very sight of him did provoke the fury of the enemies? And yet this is no reproach to him, as if he had been, as it were, some trumpet in war; but Luke doth rather commend him for this, because he made the wickedrun mad, only with the smell of him when he was nearthem. For Christ meant so to triumph in him, that he might be no less a trouble than an ornament to his Church.

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