Bible Verse Explanations and Resources


Acts 11:23

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

Had seen the grace of God - That is, had seen the effects produced by the grace of God. By the grace of God, we are to understand:

  1. His favor.
  • The manifestations of that favor in the communication of spiritual blessings. And,
  • Principles of light, life, holiness, etc., producing effects demonstrative of the causes from which they sprung.
  • Barnabas saw that these people were objects of the Divine approbation; that they were abundantly blessed and edified together as a Christian Church; and that they had received especial influences from God, by his indwelling Spirit, which were to them incentives to faith, hope, and love, and also principles of conduct.

    Was glad - Not envious because God had blessed the labors of others of his Master's servants, but rejoiced to find that the work of salvation was carried on by such instruments as God chose, and condescended to use. They who cannot rejoice in the conversion of sinners, because they have not been the means of it, or because such converts or their ministers have not precisely the same views of certain doctrines which they have themselves, show that they have little, if any thing, of the mind that was in Christ, in them.

    With purpose of heart they would cleave unto the Lord - These converts had begun well; they must continue and persevere: God gave them the grace, the principle of life and action; it was their business to use this. If they did not, the gift would be resumed. Barnabas well knew that they must have the grace of God in them to enable them to do any good; but he knew, also, that its being in them did not necessarily imply that it must continue there. God had taught him that if they were not workers together with that grace they would receive it in vain; i.e., the end for which it was given would not be answered. He therefore exhorted them, τῃ προθεσει της καρδιας, with determination of heart, with set, fixed purpose and resolution, that they would cleave unto the Lord, προσμενειν τῳ Κυριῳ, to remain with the Lord; to continue in union and fellowship with him; to be faithful in keeping his truth, and obedient in the practice of it. To be a Christian is to be united to Christ, to be of one spirit with him: to continue to be a Christian is to continue in that union. It is absurd to talk of being children of God, and of absolute, final perseverance, when the soul has lost its spiritual union. There is no perseverance but in cleaving to the Lord: he who in his works denies him does not cleave to him. Such a one is not of God; if he ever had the salvation of God, he has lost it; he is fallen from grace; nor is there a word in the book of God, fairly and honestly understood, that says such a person shall absolutely and unavoidably arise from his fall.

    Albert Barnes
    Notes on the Whole Bible

    Had seen the grace of God - The favor, or mercy of God, in converting sinners to himself.

    Was glad - Approved of what had been done in preaching the gospel to the Gentiles, and rejoiced that God had poured down his Spirit on them. The effect of a revival is to produce joy in the hearts of all those who love the Saviour.

    And exhorted them all - Entreated them. They would be exposed to many trials and temptations, and he sought to secure their firm adherence to the cause of religion.

    That with purpose of heart - With a firm mind; with a fixed, settled resolution that they would make this their settled plan of life, their main object. A purpose, πρόθεσις prothesisis a resolution of the mind, a plan, or intention, Romans 8:28; Ephesians 1:11; Ephesians 3:11; 2 Timothy 1:9; 2 Timothy 3:10. It is especially a resolution of the mind in regard to future conduct, and the doctrine of Barnabas here was, undoubtedly, that it should be a regular, fixed, determined plan or design in their minds that they would henceforward adhere to God. Such a plan should be formed by all Christians in the beginning of their Christian life, and without such a plan there can be no evidence of piety. We may also remark that such a plan is one of the heart. It is not simply of the understanding, but is of the entire mind, including the will and affections. It is the leading principle; the strongest affection; the guiding purpose of the will to adhere to God, and, unless this is the prevalent, governing desire of the heart, there can be no evidence of conversion.

    They would cleave - Greek: that they would remain; that is, that they would adhere constantly and faithfully attached to the Lord.

    Matthew Henry
    Concise Bible Commentary
    The first preachers of the gospel at Antioch, were dispersed from Jerusalem by persecution; thus what was meant to hurt the church, was made to work for its good. The wrath of man is made to praise God. What should the ministers of Christ preach, but Christ? Christ, and him crucified? Christ, and him glorified? And their preaching was accompanied with the Divine power. The hand of the Lord was with them, to bring that home to the hearts and consciences of men, which they could but speak to the outward ear. They believed; they were convinced of the truth of the gospel. They turned from a careless, carnal way of living, to live a holy, heavenly, spiritual life. They turned from worshipping God in show and ceremony, to worship him in the Spirit and in truth. They turned to the Lord Jesus, and he became all in all with them. This was the work of conversion wrought upon them, and it must be wrought upon every one of us. It was the fruit of their faith; all who sincerely believe, will turn to the Lord, When the Lord Jesus is preached in simplicity, and according to the Scriptures, he will give success; and when sinners are thus brought to the Lord, really good men, who are full of faith and of the Holy Ghost, will admire and rejoice in the grace of God bestowed on them. Barnabas was full of faith; full of the grace of faith, and full of the fruits of the faith that works by love.
    Ellen G. White
    The Acts of the Apostles, 155-7

    This chapter is based on Acts 11:19-26; 13:1-3.

    After the disciples had been driven from Jerusalem by persecution, the gospel message spread rapidly through the regions lying beyond the limits of Palestine; and many small companies of believers were formed in important centers. Some of the disciples “traveled as far as Phenice, and Cyprus, and Antioch, preaching the word.” Their labors were usually confined to the Hebrew and Greek Jews, large colonies of whom were at this time to be found in nearly all the cities of the world. AA 155.1

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    Ellen G. White
    The Story of Redemption, 301-2

    This chapter is based on Acts 13:1-4 and 15:1-31.

    The apostles and disciples who left Jerusalem during the fierce persecution that raged there after the martyrdom of Stephen, preached Christ in the cities round about, confining their labors to the Hebrew and Greek Jews. “And the hand of the Lord was with them: and a great number believed, and turned unto the Lord.” Acts 11:21. SR 301.1

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    Ellen G. White
    This Day With God, 128

    Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord: and thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. Deuteronomy 6:4, 5. TDG 128.1

    Angels were expelled from heaven because they would not work in harmony with God. They fell from their high estate because they wanted to be exalted. They had come to exalt themselves, and they forgot that their beauty of person and of character came from the Lord Jesus. This fact the [fallen] angels would obscure, that Christ was the only begotten Son of God, and they came to consider that they were not to consult Christ. TDG 128.2

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