Bible Verse Explanations and Resources


Acts 28:31

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

Preaching the kingdom of God - Showing the spiritual nature of the true Church, under the reign of the Messiah. For an explanation of this phrase, see the note on Matthew 3:2.

Those things which concern the Lord - The Redeemer of the world was to be represented as the Lord; as Jesus; and as the Christ. As the Lord, ὁ Κυριος, the sole potentate, upholding all things by the word of his power; governing the world and the Church; having all things under his control, and all his enemies under his feet; in short, the maker and upholder of all things, and the judge of all men. As Jesus - the Savior; he who saves, delivers, and preserves; and especially he who saves his people from their sins. For the explanation of the word Jesus, see the note on John 1:17. As Christ - the same as Messiah; both signifying the Anointed: he who was appointed by the Lord to this great and glorious work; who had the Spirit without measure, and who anoints, communicates the gifts and graces of that Spirit to all true believers. St. Paul taught the things which concerned or belonged to the Lord Jesus Christ. He proved him to be the Messiah foretold by the prophets, and expected by the Jews; he spoke of what he does as the Lord, what he does as Jesus, and what he does as Christ. These contain the sum and substance of all that is called the Gospel of Christ. Yet, the things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ, necessarily include the whole account of his incarnation, preaching in Judea, miracles, persecutions, passion, death, burial, resurrection, ascension, intercession, and his sending down the gifts and graces of the Holy Spirit. These were the subjects on which the apostle preached for two whole years, during his imprisonment at Rome.

With all confidence - Παρῥησιας, Liberty of speech; perfect freedom to say all he pleased, and when he pleased. He had the fullest toleration from the Roman government to preach as he pleased, and what he pleased; and the unbelieving Jews had no power to prevent him.

It is supposed that it was during this residence at Rome that he converted Onesimus, and sent him back to his master Philemon, with the epistle which is still extant. And it is from Philemon 1:23, Philemon 1:24, of that epistle, that we learn that Paul had then with him Epaphras, Marcus, Aristarchus, Demas, and Luke.

Here St. Luke's account of Paul's travels and sufferings ends; and it is probable that this history was written soon after the end of the two years mentioned in Acts 28:30.

That the apostle visited many places after this, suffered much in the great cause of Christianity, and preached the Gospel of Jesus with amazing success, is generally believed. How he came to be liberated we are not told; but it is likely that, having been kept in this sort of confinement for about two years, and none appearing against him, he was released by the imperial order.

Concerning the time, place, and manner of his death, we have little certainty. It is commonly believed that, when a general persecution was raised against the Christians by Nero, about a.d. 64, under pretense that they had set Rome on fire, both St. Paul and St. Peter then sealed the truth with their blood; the latter being crucified with his head downward; the former being beheaded, either in a.d. 64 or 65, and buried in the Via Ostiensis. Eusebius, Hist, Eccles. lib. ii. cap. 25, intimates that the tombs of these two apostles, with their inscriptions, were extant in his time; and quotes as his authority a holy man of the name of Caius, who wrote against the sect of the Cataphrygians, who has asserted this, as from his personal knowledge. See Eusebius, by Reading, vol. i. p. 83; and see Dr. Lardner, in his life of this apostle, who examines this account with his usual perspicuity and candour. Other writers have been more particular concerning his death: they say that it was not by the command of Nero that he was martyred, but by that of the prefects of the city, Nero being then absent; that he was beheaded at Aquae Salviae, about three miles from Rome, on Feb. 22; that he could not be crucified, as Peter was, because he was a freeman of the city of Rome. But there is great uncertainty on these subjects, so that we cannot positively rely on any account that even the ancients have transmitted to us concerning the death of this apostle; and much less on the accounts given by the moderns; and least of all on those which are to be found in the Martyrologists. Whether Paul ever returned after this to Rome has not yet been satisfactorily proved. It is probable that he did, and suffered death there, as stated above; but still we have no certainty.

There are several subscriptions to this book in different manuscripts: these are the principal: - The Acts of the Apostles - The Acts of the holy Apostles - The end of the Acts of the holy Apostles, written by Luke the Evangelist, and fellow traveler of the illustrious Apostle Paul - By the holy Apostle and Evangelist Luke, etc. etc.

The versions are not less various in their subscriptions.

The end of the Acts, that is, the History of the holy Apostles. - Syriac.

Under the auspices and help of God, the book of the Acts of the pure Apostles is finished; whom we humbly supplicate to obtain us mercy by all their prayers. Amen. And may praise be ascribed to God, the Lord of the universe! - Arabic.

This (book) of the Acts of the Apostles, which has been by many translated into the Roman tongue, is translated from the Roman and Greek tongue into the Ethiopic. - Aethiopic.

On the nature and importance of the Acts of the Apostles, see what is said in the preface to this book. To which may be added the following observations, taken from the conclusion of Dr. Dodd's Commentary.

"The plainness and simplicity of the narration are strong circumstances in its favor; the writer appears to have been very honest and impartial, and to have set down, very fairly, the objections which were made to Christianity, both by Jews and heathens, and the reflections which enemies cast upon it, and upon the first preachers of it. He has likewise, with a just and honest freedom, mentioned the weaknesses, faults, and prejudices, both of the apostles and their converts. There is a great and remarkable harmony between the occasional hints dispersed up and down in St. Paul's epistles, and the facts recorded in this history; insomuch as that it is generally acknowledged that the history of the Acts is the best clue to guide us in the studying of the epistles written by that apostle. The other parts of the New Testament do likewise agree with this history, and give great confirmation to it; for the doctrines and principles are every where uniformly the same; the conclusions of the gospels contain a brief account of those things which are more particularly related in the beginning of the Acts. And there are frequent intimations, in other parts of the gospels, that such an effusion of the Spirit was expected; and that with a view to the very design which the apostles and primitive Christians are said to have carried on, by virtue of that extraordinary effusion which Christ poured out upon his disciples after his ascension; and, finally, the epistles of the other apostles, as well as those of St. Paul, plainly suppose such things to have happened as are related in the Acts of the Apostles; so that the history of the Acts is one of the most important parts of the sacred history, for neither the gospels nor epistles could have been so clearly understood without it; but by the help of it the whole scheme of the Christian revelation is set before us in an easy and manifest view.

"Even the incidental things mentioned by St. Luke are so exactly agreeable to all the accounts which remain of the best ancient historians, among the Jews and heathens, that no person who had forged such a history, in later ages, could have had that external confirmation, but would have betrayed himself by alluding to some customs or opinions since sprung up; or by misrepresenting some circumstance, or using some phrase or expression not then in use. The plea of forgery, therefore, in later ages, cannot be allowed; and for a man to have published a history of such things so early as St. Luke wrote; (that is, while some of the apostles and many other persons were alive who were concerned in the transactions which he has recorded); if his account had not been punctually true, could have been only to have exposed himself to an easy confutation and certain infamy.

"As, therefore, the Acts of the Apostles are in themselves consistent and uniform, the incidental things agreeable to the best ancient historians which have come down to us, and the main facts supported and confirmed by the other books of the New Testament, and by the unanimous testimony of so many of the ancient fathers, we may, I think, very fairly, and with great justness, conclude that, if any history of former times deserves credit, the Acts of the Apostles ought to be received and credited; and, if the history of the Acts of the Apostles be true, Christianity cannot be false: for a doctrine so good in itself, and attended with so many miraculous and Divine testimonies, has an the possible masks of a true revelation."

On St. Paul's character and conduct, see the observations at the end of Acts 9:43; (note), where the subject is particularly considered.

The book of the Acts is not only a history of the Church, the most ancient and most impartial, as it is the most authentic extant, but it is also a history of God's grace and providence, The manner in which he has exerted himself in favor of Christianity, and of the persons who were originally employed to disseminate its doctrines, shows us the highest marks of the Divine approbation. Had not that cause been of God, could he have so signally interposed in its behalf? Would he have wrought such a series of miracles for its propagation and support? And would all its genuine professors have submitted to sustain the loss of all things, had not his own Spirit, by its consolations in their hearts, given them to feel that his favor was better than life?

That the hardships suffered by the primitive apostles and Christians were great, the facts themselves related in this book sufficiently declare: that their consolation and happiness were abundant, the cheerful manner in which they met and sustained those hardships demonstrates. He who cordially embraced Christianity found himself no loser by it; if he lost earthly good in consequence, it was infinitely overbalanced by the spiritual good which he received. Paul himself, who suffered most, had this compensated by superabounding happiness. Wherever the Gospel comes, it finds nothing but darkness, sin, and misery; wherever it is received, it communicates light, holiness, and felicity. Reader, magnify thy God and Savior, who hath called thee to such a state of salvation. Should thou neglect it, how grievous must thy punishment be! Not only receive its doctrines, as a system of wisdom and goodness, but receive them as motives of conduct, and as a rule of life; and show thy conscientious belief of them, by holding the truth in righteousness, and thus adorn these doctrines of God thy Savior in all things. - Amen.

I have often with pleasure, and with great advantage to my subject, quoted Dr. Lardner, whose elaborate works in defense of Divine revelation are really beyond all praise. The conclusion of his Credibility of the Gospel History is peculiarly appropriate; and the introduction of it here can need no apology. I hope, with him, I may also say: -

"I have now performed what I undertook, and have shown that the account given by the sacred writers of persons and things is confirmed by other ancient authors of the best note. There is nothing in the books of the New Testament unsuitable to the age in which they are supposed to have been written. There appears in these writers a knowledge of the affairs of those times, not to be found in authors of later ages. We are hereby assured that the books of the New Testament are genuine, and that they were written by persons who lived at or near the time of those events of which they have given the history.

"Any one may be sensible how hard it is for the most learned, acute, and cautious man, to write a book in the character of some person of an earlier age; and not betray his own time by some mistake about the affairs of the age in which he pretends to place himself; or by allusions to customs or principles since sprung up; or by some phrase or expression not then in use. It is no easy thing to escape all these dangers in the smallest performance, though it be a treatise of theory or speculation: these hazards are greatly increased when the work is of any length; and especially if it be historical, and be concerned with characters and customs. It is yet more difficult to carry on such a design in a work consisting of several pieces, written, to all appearance, by several persons. Many indeed are desirous to deceive, but all hate to be deceived; and therefore, though attempts have been made to impose upon the world in this way, they have never, or very rarely, succeeded; but have been detected and exposed by the skill and vigilance of those who have been concerned for the truth.

"The volume of the New Testament consists of several pieces: these are ascribed to eight several persons; and there are the strongest appearances that they were not all written by any one hand, but by as many persons as they are ascribed to. There are lesser differences in the relations of some facts, and such seeming contradictions as would never have happened if these books had been all the work of one person, or of several who wrote in concert. There are as many peculiarities of temper and style as there are names of writers; divers of which show no depth of genius nor compass of knowledge! Here are representations of titles, posts, behavior of persons of higher and lower ranks in many parts of the world; persons are introduced, and their characters are set in a full light; here is a history of things done in several cities and countries; and there are allusions to a vast variety of customs and tenets, of persons of several nations, sects, and religions. The whole is written without affectation, with the greatest simplicity and plainness, and is confirmed by other ancient writers of unquestionable authority. If it be difficult for a person of learning and experience to compose a small treatise concerning matters of speculation, with the characters of a more early age than that in which he writes, it is next to impossible that such a work of considerable length, consisting of several pieces, with a great variety of historical facts, representations of characters, principles, and customs of several nations, and distant countries, of persons of ranks and degrees, of many interests and parties, should be performed by eight several persons, the most of them unlearned, without any appearance of concert.

"I might perhaps call this argument a demonstration, if that term had not been often misapplied by men of warm imagination, and been bestowed upon reasonings that have but a small degree of probability. But though it should not be a strict demonstration that these writings are genuine, or though it be not absolutely impossible, in the nature of the thing, that the books of the New Testament should have been composed in a later age than that to which they are assigned, and of which they have innumerable characters, yet, I think, it is in the highest degree improbable, and altogether incredible.

"If the books of the New Testament were written by persons who lived before the destruction of Jerusalem, that is, if they were written at the time in which they are said to have been written, the things related in them are true. If they had not been matter of fact, they would not have been credited by any persons near that time, and in those parts of the world in which they are said to have been done, but would have been treated as the most notorious lies and falsehoods. Suppose three or four books should now appear amongst us, in the language most generally understood, giving an account of many remarkable and extraordinary events, which had happened in some kingdom of Europe, and in the most noted cities of the countries next adjoining to it; some of them said to have happened between sixty and seventy gears ago, others between twenty and thirty, others nearer our own time; would they not be looked upon as the most manifest and ridiculous forgeries and impostures that ever were contrived? Would great numbers of persons in those very places, change their religious principles and practices upon the credit of things reported to be publicly done, which no man ever heard of before? Or, rather, is it possible that such a design as this would be conceived by any sober and serious persons, or even the most wild and extravagant? If the history of the New Testament be credible, the Christian religion is true. If the things that were related to have been done by Jesus, and by his followers, by virtue of powers derived from him, do not prove a person to come from God, and that his doctrine is true and divine, nothing can. And as Jesus does here, in the circumstances of his birth, life, sufferings, and after exaltation, and in the success of his doctrine, answer the description of the great person promised and foretold in the Old Testament, he is at the same time showed to be the Messiah.

"From the agreement of the writers of the New Testament with other ancient writers, we are not only assured that these books are genuine, but also that they are come down to us pure and uncorrupted, without any considerable interpolations or alterations. If such had been made in them, there would have appeared some smaller differences at least between them and other ancient writings.

"There has been in all ages a wicked propensity in mankind to advance their own notions and fancies by deceits and forgeries: they have been practised by heathens, Jews, and Christians, in support of imaginary historical facts, religious schemes and practices, and political interests. With these views some whole books have been forged, and passages inserted into others of undoubted authority. Many of the Christian writers of the second and third centuries, and of the following ages, appear to have had false notions concerning the state of Judea between the nativity of Jesus and the destruction of Jerusalem; and concerning many other things occasionally mentioned in the New Testament. The consent of the best ancient writers with those of the New Testament is a proof that these books are still untouched, and that they have not been new modelled and altered by Christians of later times, in conformity to their own peculiar sentiments.

"This may be reckoned an argument that the generality of Christians had a very high veneration for these books; or else that the several sects among them have had an eye upon each other, that no alterations might be made in those writings to which they have all appealed. It is also an argument that the Divine providence has all along watched over and guarded these books, (a very fit object of especial care), which contain the best of principles, were apparently written with the best views, and have in them inimitable characters of truth and simplicity." - See Dr. Lardner's Works, vol. i. p. 419.

Let him answer these arguments who can. - A. C.

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

Preaching the kingdom of God - See the notes on Acts 20:25.

With all confidence - Openly and boldly, without anyone to hinder him. It is known also that Paul was not unsuccessful even when a prisoner at Rome. Several persons were converted by his preaching, even in the court of the emperor. The things which had happened to him, he says Philemon 1:12-14, had fallen out rather to the furtherance of the gospel, so that his bonds in Christ were manifested in all the palace, and in all other places; and many brethren in the Lord, says he, waxing confident by my bonds, are much more bold to speak the Word without fear. In this situation he was remembered with deep interest by the church at Philippi, who sent Epaphroditus to him with a contribution to supply his needs. Of their kindness he speaks in terms of the tenderest gratitude in Philemon 2:25; Philemon 4:18. During his confinement also, he was the means of the Conversion of Onesimus, a runaway servant of Philemon, of Colosse in Phrygia Philemon 1:10, whom he sent back to his master with a letter to himself, and with an epistle to the church at that place. See the Epistle to the Colossians, Colossians 4:8-9, Colossians 4:18. During this imprisonment, he wrote, according to Lardner, the following epistles, in the order and time mentioned, namely,:

d Ephesians, April of61 a.d.


d 2Timothy, May of61 a.d.


d Philippians, before the end of62 a.d.


d Colossians62 a.d.


d Philemon62 a.d.


d Hebrews, the spring of63 a.d.



Here closes the inspired account of the propagation of Christianity; of the organization of the Christian church, and of the toils and persecutions of the apostle Paul. Who can but be deeply affected when he comes to the conclusion of this inspired book recording the history of the spread of the Christian religion, and the labors and trials of that wonderful man, the apostle Paul. Who can help heaving a sigh of regret that the historian did not carry forward the history of Paul until his death, and that henceforward, in the history of the church, we want this faithful, inspired guide; and that, from the close of this book, everything becomes at once so involved in obscurity and uncertainty? Instead, however, of pouring forth unavailing regrets that the sacred historian has carried us no further onward, we should rather employ the language of praise that God inspired the writer of this book to give a history of the church for 30 years after the ascension of the Saviour; that he has recorded the accounts of the first great revivals of religion; that he has presented us the examples of the early missionary zeal; that he has informed us how the early Christians endured persecution and toil; that he has conducted us from land to land, and from city to city, showing us everywhere how the gospel was propagated, until we are led to the seat of the Roman power, and see the great apostle of Christianity there proclaiming, in that mighty capital of the world, the name of Jesus as the Saviour of people.

Perhaps there could be no more appropriate close to the book of the inspired history than thus to have conducted the apostle of the Gentiles to the capital of the Roman world, and to leave the principal agent in the establishment of the Christian religion in that seat of intelligence, influence, and power. It is the conducting of Christianity to the very height of its earthly victories; and having shown its power in the provinces of the empire, it was proper to close the account with the record of its achievements in the capital.

Why Luke closed his history here is not known. It may have been that he was not afterward the companion of Paul; or that he might have been himself removed by death. It is agreed on all hands that he did not attend Paul in his subsequent travels; and we should infer from the conclusion of this book that he did not survive the apostle, as it is almost incredible, if he did, that he did not mention his release and death. It is the uniform account of antiquity that Luke, after the transactions with which the Acts of the Apostles closes, passed over into Achaia, where he lived a year or two, and there died at the age of 84 years.

Everything in regard to the apostle Paul, after the account with which Luke closes this book, is involved in doubt and uncertainty. By what means he was set at liberty is not known; and there is a great contradiction of statements in regard to his subsequent travels, and even in regard to the time of his death. It is generally agreed, indeed, that he was set at liberty in the year of our Lord 63 a.d. After this some of the fathers assert that he traveled over Italy and passed into Spain. But this account is involved in great uncertainty. Lardner, who has examined all the statements with care, and than whom no one is better qualified to pronounce an opinion on these subjects, gives the following account of the subsequent life of Paul (Works, vol. v. pp. 331-336, London edition, 1829). He supposes that after his release he went from Rome to Jerusalem as soon as possible; that he then went to Ephesus, and from thence to Laodicea and Colosse; and that he returned to Rome by Troas, Philippi, and Corinth. The reason why he returned to Rome, Lardner supposes, was that he regarded that city as opening before him the widest and most important field of labor, and that, therefore, he proposed there to spend the remainder of his life.

In the year of our Lord 64 a.d., a dreadful fire happened at Rome which continued for six or seven days. It was generally supposed that the city had been set on fire by order of the Emperor Nero. In order to divert the attention of the people from this charge against himself, he accused the Christians of having been the authors of the conflagration, and excited against them a most furious and bloody persecution. In this persecution it is generally supposed that Paul and Peter suffered death, the former by being beheaded, and the latter by crucifixion. Paul is supposed to have been beheaded rather than crucified, because he was a Roman citizen, and because it was unlawful to put a Roman citizen to death on a cross. Lardher thinks that this occurred in the year 65. Where Paul was beheaded is not certainly known. It is generally supposed to have occurred at a place called the Salvian Waters, about 3 miles from Rome, and that he was buried in the Ostian Way, where a magnificent church was afterward built. But of this there is no absolute certainty.

It is far more important and interesting for us to be assured from the character which he evinced, and from the proofs of his zeal and toil in the cause of the Lord Jesus, that his spirit rested in the bosom of his Saviour and his God. Wherever he died, his spirit, we doubt not, is in heaven. And where that body rested at last, which he labored “to keep under,” and which he sought to bring “into subjection” 1 Corinthians 9:27, and which was to him so much the source of conflict and of sin Romans 7:5, Romans 7:23, is a matter of little consequence. It will be guarded by the eye of that Saviour whom he served, and will be raised up to eternal life. In his own inimitable language, it was “sown in corruption, it shall be raised in incorruption; it was sown in dishonor, it shall be raised in glory; it was sown in weakness, it shall be raised in power; it was sown a natural body, it shall be raised a spiritual body,” 1 Corinthians 15:42-44. And in regard to him, and to all other saints, “when that corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and that mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory,” 1 Corinthians 15:54.

To Paul now, what are all his sorrows, and persecutions, and toils in the cause of his Master? What but a source of thanksgiving that he was permitted thus to labor to spread the gospel through the world? So may we live - imitating his life of zeal, and self-denial, and faithfulness, that when we rise from the dead we may participate with him in the glories of the resurrection of the just.

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
Paul persuaded the Jews concerning Jesus. Some were wrought upon by the word, and others hardened; some received the light, and others shut their eyes against it. And the same has always been the effect of the gospel. Paul parted with them, observing that the Holy Ghost had well described their state. Let all that hear the gospel, and do not heed it, tremble at their doom; for who shall heal them, if God does not? The Jews had afterwards much reasoning among themselves. Many have great reasoning, who do not reason aright. They find fault with one another's opinions, yet will not yield to truth. Nor will men's reasoning among themselves convince them, without the grace of God to open their understandings. While we mourn on account of such despisers, we should rejoice that the salvation of God is sent to others, who will receive it; and if we are of that number, we should be thankful to Him who hath made us to differ. The apostle kept to his principle, to know and preach nothing but Christ and him crucified. Christians, when tempted from their main business, should bring themselves back with this question, What does this concern the Lord Jesus? What tendency has it to bring us to him, and to keep us walking in him? The apostle preached not himself, but Christ, and he was not ashamed of the gospel of Christ. Though Paul was placed in a very narrow opportunity for being useful, he was not disturbed in it. Though it was not a wide door that was opened to him, yet no man was suffered to shut it; and to many it was an effectual door, so that there were saints even in Nero's household, Php 4:22. We learn also from Php 1:13, how God overruled Paul's imprisonment for the furtherance of the gospel. And not the residents at Rome only, but all the church of Christ, to the present day, and in the most remote corner of the globe, have abundant reason to bless God, that during the most mature period of his Christian life and experience, he was detained a prisoner. It was from his prison, probably chained hand to hand to the soldier who kept him, that the apostle wrote the epistles to the Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and Hebrews; epistles showing, perhaps more than any others, the Christian love with which his heart overflowed, and the Christian experience with which his soul was filled. The believer of the present time may have less of triumph, and less of heavenly joy, than the apostle, but every follower of the same Saviour, is equally sure of safety and peace at the last. Let us seek to live more and more in the love of the Saviour; to labour to glorify Him by every action of our lives; and we shall assuredly, by his strength, be among the number of those who now overcome our enemies; and by his free grace and mercy, be hereafter among the blessed company who shall sit with Him upon his throne, even as He also has overcome, and is sitting on his Father's throne, at God's right hand for evermore.
Ellen G. White
The Acts of the Apostles, 449-54

Few realize the significance of those words of Luke, that when Paul saw his brethren, “he thanked God, and took courage.” In the midst of the weeping, sympathizing company of believers, who were not ashamed of his bonds, the apostle praised God aloud. The cloud of sadness that had rested upon his spirit was swept away. His Christian life had been a succession of trials, sufferings, and disappointments, but in that hour he felt abundantly repaid. With firmer step and joyful heart he continued on his way. He would not complain of the past, nor fear for the future. Bonds and afflictions awaited him, he knew; but he knew also that it had been his to deliver souls from a bondage infinitely more terrible, and he rejoiced in his sufferings for Christ's sake. AA 449.1

At Rome the centurion Julius delivered up his prisoners to the captain of the emperor's guard. The good account which he gave of Paul, together with the letter from Festus, caused the apostle to be favorably regarded by the chief captain, and, instead of being thrown into prison, he was permitted to live in his own hired house. Although still constantly chained to a soldier, he was at liberty to receive his friends and to labor for the advancement of the cause of Christ. AA 449.2

Many of the Jews who had been banished from Rome some years previously, had been allowed to return, so that large numbers were now to be found there. To these, first of all, Paul determined to present the facts concerning himself and his work, before his enemies should have opportunity to embitter them against him. Three days after his arrival in Rome, therefore, he called together their leading men and in a simple, direct manner stated why he had come to Rome as a prisoner. AA 450.1

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Ellen G. White
Christ's Object Lessons, 78

So the work of grace in the heart is small in its beginning. A word is spoken, a ray of light is shed into the soul, an influence is exerted that is the beginning of the new life; and who can measure its results? COL 78.1

Not only is the growth of Christ's kingdom illustrated by the parable of the mustard seed, but in every stage of its growth the experience represented in the parable is repeated. For His church in every generation God has a special truth and a special work. The truth that is hid from the worldly wise and prudent is revealed to the child-like and humble. It calls for self-sacrifice. It has battles to fight and victories to win. At the outset its advocates are few. By the great men of the world and by a world-conforming church, they are opposed and despised. See John the Baptist, the forerunner of Christ, standing alone to rebuke the pride and formalism of the Jewish nation. See the first bearers of the gospel into Europe. How obscure, how hopeless, seemed the mission of Paul and Silas, the two tentmakers, as they with their companions took ship at Troas for Philippi. See “Paul the aged,” in chains, preaching Christ in the stronghold of the Caesars. See the little communities of slaves and peasants in conflict with the heathenism of imperial Rome. See Martin Luther withstanding that mighty church which is the masterpiece of the world's wisdom. See him holding fast God's word against emperor and pope, declaring, “Here I take my stand; I can not do otherwise. God be my help.” See John Wesley preaching Christ and His righteousness in the midst of formalism, sensualism, and infidelity. See one burdened with the woes of the heathen world, pleading for the privilege of carrying to them Christ's message of love. Hear the response of ecclesiasticism: “Sit down, young man. When God wants to convert the heathen, He will do it without your help or mine.” COL 78.2

The great leaders of religious thought in this generation sound the praises and build the monuments of those who planted the seed of truth centuries ago. Do not many turn from this work to trample down the growth springing from the same seed today? The old cry is repeated, “We know that God spake unto Moses; as for this fellow [Christ in the messenger He sends], we know not from whence he is.” John 9:29. As in earlier ages, the special truths for this time are found, not with the ecclesiastical authorities, but with men and women who are not too learned or too wise to believe the word of God. COL 79.1

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Ellen G. White
Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, 453-4

“The wrath of man shall praise Thee,” says the psalmist; “the remainder of wrath shalt Thou restrain.” God means that testing truth shall be brought to the front and become a subject of examination and discussion, even if it is through the contempt placed upon it. The minds of the people must be agitated. Every controversy, every reproach, every slander, will be God's means of provoking inquiry and awakening minds that otherwise would slumber. 5T 453.1

Thus it has been in the past history of God's people. For refusing to worship the great golden image which Nebuchadnezzar had set up, the three Hebrews were cast into the fiery furnace. But God preserved His servants in the midst of the flames, and the attempt to enforce idolatry resulted in bringing the knowledge of the true God before the assembled princes and great men of the vast kingdom of Babylon. 5T 453.2

So when the decree went forth forbidding prayer to any God save the king. As Daniel, according to his custom, made his supplications three times a day to the God of heaven, the attention of the princes and rulers was called to his case. He had an opportunity to speak for himself, to show who is the true God, and to present the reason why He alone should receive worship, and the duty of rendering Him praise and homage. And the deliverance of Daniel from the den of lions was another evidence that the Being whom he worshiped was the true and living God. 5T 453.3

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