"Biblical Theology Weekly Bible Study" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Biblical Theology Weekly Bible Study Acts 13:1-52. Called to Missions
Date: December 1st 2017
Called to Missions
God's plan and purpose for mankind has been shown to us as He has revealed Himself throughout history, first in the lives and testimony of the prophets and patriarchs, and finally in the person of Jesus Christ. YAHWEH came in the Person of Jesus Christ with the clear and simple message of the gospel: salvation from the consequence of our sin is found in placing our faith and trust in God, and Him alone. Jesus paid the penalty for the sins of all who place their faith and trust in God when He took them on Himself on Calvary's cross. This message of grace is the most important message that any person receives throughout their entire lives. The opportunity to respond to that message is the greatest gift that God has given us: eternal life with Him.
God has communicated that message of salvation through various means over the ages, and continues to communicate that message today through His Word and through those who are faithful to share it. Prior to His ascension, Jesus commanded the faithful to continue to share that message as we are to be witnesses of Him and make disciples.
Just as God calls upon every believer to be a witness to His love and purpose, He also calls upon the church and individuals in the church to take the message to those who need to hear it. This is one of the primary missions of the church; hence, we often refer to the work of sharing the gospel with the lost world as the work of missions.
The book of Acts, or the Acts of the Apostles, considerably “The Acts of the Holy Spirit,” is an historical account of many of the events that took place from Jesus' ascension through the early years of the church as it came to embrace this mission. We find a wonderful example of this call when the church in Antioch ordained two if its own to a ministry of full-time mission work.
Chapter 12 in the book of Acts saw the imprisonment of Peter under the authority of Herod grandson of Herod the Great, Peter’s miraculous escape from prison, and the death of Herod. These events took place during the Passover when many people had come to Jerusalem for the celebration. The active persecution of the church temporarily ebbed with the death of Herod. Barnabas, Saul, and John Mark left Jerusalem for Antioch where Barnabas and Saul had previously been working with the church there. Chapter 13 picks up shortly after their arrival in Antioch.
Acts 13:1. Now there were in the church that was at Antioch certain prophets and teachers; as Barnabas, and Simeon that was called Niger, and Lucius of Cyrene, and Manaen, which had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul.
Some of the leadership of the church in Antioch is described here, and the variety of the backgrounds of these men is interesting. Often, lists of people are organized with the most important mentioned first, and we might assume that at the point of this event, this is an appropriate speculation. First mentioned is Barnabas, a Jewish Christian from the Greek island of Cyprus. His dedication to the mission ministry is evident in the several biblical references that include him. Simeon is assumed by many scholars to be a black man from the continent of Africa because the name "Niger" means "black," and was a direct, literal, reference to the black African tribes. Cyrene is also located in Northern Africa, so it is likely that Lucius was also African, though his race is unclear. Manaen, who was raised in the family with Herod the Tetrarch, was brought up in an upper-class Jewish setting. Saul was a converted zealous leader of the Jerusalem Pharisees. If there is one common thing about these men, it is that they have little in common in their backgrounds. This diversity describes the nature of the first-century church. There was a genuine love for God and for each other that broke down walls of prejudice that could not have been broken any other way. Their leadership in the body of Antioch Christians represented the diversity of their congregation.
1. CALLED TO REPRESENT THE TRUTH.
Acts 13:2. As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them.
What part did Barnabas and Saul have in the church in Antioch? They had been there at least for a year, providing leadership, encouragement, teaching, and serving the congregation. The sincerity of their calling in that church was evident in their worship and fasting. The rest of the congregation recognized their spiritual maturity as they subjected themselves to their leadership. As they were actively engaged in worship, the Holy Spirit made it known to the members of the church that it was time for Barnabas and Saul to leave the congregation and start on a missionary "journey."
Would it not have been easier for Barnabas and Saul to stay in the church in Antioch? What would have been some of the advantages of staying there? They were comfortable there; they had friends, positions of respect and leadership. When the Holy Spirit prompts the believer to action, most likely it is prompting a change, something that does not come natural to many people. Such a prompting was taking place in the lives of Barnabas and Saul.
What are some of the ways the Holy Spirit prompts Christians to take action? God communicates to the faithful through His word, through the testimony of other Christians, through prayer, and through circumstances. It is through any or all of these that we learn of a need that exists in God’s Kingdom. The Holy Spirit takes this knowledge and places it on our hearts. The agape love that we share, guided by God’s wisdom, gives us a desire to see that need met in a manner that is consistent with God’s purpose.
Often, the Holy Spirit may simply be a prompting one to be faithful in prayer concerning that need. On other occasions, one may be prompted to take an active part in meeting the need. In yet other occasions when we feel the prompting to pray, that heartfelt concern may be the indication that we are also to be part of meeting that need since we have been inspired to take the need to the Lord in prayer. Barnabas and Saul could see that their ministry in Antioch was no longer that of a church plant and was now one of maintenance. There were other leaders there, including Simeon, Lucius and Manean, who had already demonstrated and exercised the gifts that were needed to continue the ministry. The Holy Spirit placed in their hearts a burden concerning the lost people in other cities, and that burden translated to their clear understanding of the part that they would play in meeting that need: Barnabas and Paul would have to leave the comfort of the Antioch church and strike out on the road, in faith, spreading the gospel to new and different cities, starting more churches. The church in Antioch must be willing to let Barnabas and Saul go with their support, their prayers, and blessing, though they preferred to keep them in their fellowship.
Acts 13:3. And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them away.
Who was fasting and praying here? The church, upon understanding this call of the Holy Spirit upon them, spent time in fasting and prayer before they took action. This illustrates the sincerity of the people and desire to seek God in the decision that was about to be made. These people were considering giving up the daily fellowship and ministry of two of their most beloved leaders. Maybe they were concerned that they would have future difficulty without their leadership. Maybe they doubted their sufficiency in their knowledge of Christian doctrine. After seeking God in prayer, they laid their hands on Barnabas and Saul, and sent them out. The laying on of hands was a common practice in their time. It brought them close together. It brought affirmation to the one blessed. In this situation, it gave Barnabas and Saul the affirmation of their support. By laying their hands on them, the members of the Antioch church were telling Barnabas and Saul that they agreed with their call to ministry, and promised to continue to be part of it through their prayers and support.
We still practice laying hands on others in prayer and in ordination. It is a powerful form of expression that should not be overlooked. When you pray for someone who is in your midst, go to that person and place your hand on them when you pray. If someone around you asks for prayer, consider having that person kneel, and have everyone surround that person, place their hands on them, and pray. The one being prayed for will sense an affirmation that will never be forgotten, and the context of your prayer takes on new life.
Acts 13:4-5. So they, being sent forth by the Holy Ghost, departed unto Seleucia; and from thence they sailed to Cyprus. 5And when they were at Salamis, they preached the word of God in the synagogues of the Jews: and they had also John to their minister.
Antioch was the third largest city in the Roman Empire, behind Rome and Alexandria. Seleucia was the mainland seaport closest to Antioch. So, Barnabas and Saul left Antioch from there to travel to Cyprus. At first, the two were not traveling to an unknown territory: Cyprus was Barnabas’ home. The Holy Spirit did not send the two missionaries off to a strange and foreign land right away. It was God’s grace that brought them to Barnabas’ home where Saul would learn more of who Barnabas is, and he would experience some of Barnabas’ home life. This would serve to bring the two closer together, making them a stronger team.
The first recorded point of their combined ministry was in the city of Salamis, a city large enough to have several Jewish synagogues. Their experience in that city formed the pattern for future evangelism for Barnabas and Saul. They would start their ministry in the synagogues, taking the gospel first to the Jews. God intended his gospel to be brought to the Jews, since this was the very purpose of everything that God had ever revealed to them. However, the Jews were so steeped in traditional thought that they could not discern the truth of the gospel through the complex web of generational tradition and legalistic dogma that so defined them.
Notice that Saul and Barnabas did not leave Antioch alone. They took with them John-Mark, who would later be attributed as the writer of the second gospel. John-Mark came with them from Antioch as their "helper." Notice that it is possible that the congregation did not lay hands on John Mark. If he were anointed by the congregation it is reasonable that this would have been included in the biblical narrative. It is more likely that John Mark came on the trip because it sounded like a good idea. However, his lack of “calling” by the Holy Spirit would shape the nature of his ministry in the months to come.
John Mark had one asset that neither Saul nor Barnabas had: though he was not one of the apostles, John Mark had been one of the disciples who personally witnessed Jesus’ earthly ministry. This would greatly help Saul and Barnabas providing their troupe with an authoritative testimony of Jesus’ ministry. It gave their testimonies additional credibility. However, as qualified as John-Mark was for the missionary task, it will be apparent that his heart and calling were not yet entirely committed to it.
It is also possible for us to jump into a ministry because it sounds like a good idea. We may feel ideally suited to a ministry, or we might feel particularly coerced into that ministry for a similar reason. However, what can happen if we jump into some activity in an attempt to do what we think is God’s work, but do not have a real calling from the Holy Spirit? Most likely, we will become frustrated, exhausted, and disillusioned when we depend on our own strength and are not as fully empowered by the Holy Spirit. We may be exhausting ourselves doing things in one area when God would prefer that we are ministering somewhere else where we will receive empowerment and joy that comes from the LORD.
It is evident that John Mark came on this trip out of logical or emotional altruism rather than as a heartfelt call of the Holy Spirit. It is tacitly evident by the details of the "ordination ceremony" in Antioch, and overtly evident through events that are about to take place.
2. CALLED TO DEFEND THE TRUTH.
Acts 13:6-7. And when they had gone through the isle unto Paphos, they found a certain sorcerer, a false prophet, a Jew, whose name was Barjesus: 7Which was with the deputy of the country, Sergius Paulus, a prudent man; who called for Barnabas and Saul, and desired to hear the word of God.
The Roman Empire was divided into two types of governance, one where the lands came under the direct control of the Roman Emperor (imperial), and another where the lands were granted to the authority of the Roman Senate (senatorial). Cyprus was senatorial, and came under the governance of the proconsul. Sergius Paulus was, literally, the governor of Cyprus, appointed by the Roman senate. His influence would greatly shape the nature of life on the island. Satan never rests when there is opportunity to block the work of God. Paulus was curious about the teaching of Saul and Barnabas and was willing to hear their message. He already had a "religious" man as his attendant in a Jew who called himself Bar-Jesus, or literally, "Son of Jesus," or more literally, “Son of Joshua.” However, this “son of Jesus” is described as a false-prophet, a sorcerer, who used his knowledge of Jewish tradition for his personal gain rather than as a platform to share God with others.
Acts 13:8. But Elymas the sorcerer (for so is his name by interpretation) withstood them, seeking to turn away the deputy from the faith.
When Bar-Jesus learned of the proconsul’s desire to hear what Saul and Barnabas had to say, he tried to convince the proconsul to ignore them. He tried to turn the proconsul away from the ministry of Saul and Barnabas. Why? His lucrative and profitable position with the proconsul was threatened by these two missionaries. He had managed to bring himself into the center of Greek Cypriote life at its highest level through lies and deceit, claiming to be of Christ, yet fully aware of his own hypocrisy and ignorance of the true gospel. These two missionaries carried the truth, and his position was consequently challenged. He had to do everything he could to keep Saul and Barnabas away from the proconsul so that his own hypocrisy would not be exposed.
Acts 13:9-12. Then Saul, (who also is called Paul,) filled with the Holy Ghost, set his eyes on him, 10And said, O full of all subtlety and all mischief, thou child of the devil, thou enemy of all righteousness, wilt thou not cease to pervert the right ways of the Lord? 11And now, behold, the hand of the Lord is upon thee, and thou shalt be blind, not seeing the sun for a season. And immediately there fell on him a mist and a darkness; and he went about seeking some to lead him by the hand. 12Then the deputy, when he saw what was done, believed, being astonished at the doctrine of the Lord.
This is the first recorded use of the name Paul. Paul is the Greek form of the Hebrew name, Saul. What does this name change from Saul to Paul signify? Though he was a Jew and a Pharisee, Saul started using the Greek form of his name in order to be able to minister more effectively with the Greeks, literally eschewing his “Jewishness.” This willingness to identify himself with those to whom he ministered is a very evident part of Paul’s approach to ministry. We might often think that our identity is so fixed that we cannot effectively minister to others who are much different than ourselves. Paul looked at ministry quite differently. He always sought to become one of those to whom he ministered. Just as Jesus taught the disciples to take what was offered to them when they went from place to place in the ministry, Paul did the same.
We have the potential of insulting and embarrassing others and damaging our Christian witness when we are unwilling to accept the cultural differences between ourselves and those we are called upon to interact. Sometimes we must set aside some of the character of our culture and immerse ourselves in the culture of those that God has called us to minister in order to do so more effectively. A good position to hold in culturally diverse ministry is, “It is not better, it is not worse: it is simply different. Embrace the differences.” Of course, this implies that we undergo this cultural tolerance without taking on sinful practices.
When Bar-Jesus stood between Saul and the proconsul, the Holy Spirit illumined an experience from Saul’s own past. As a persecutor of Christians, Saul met Jesus, who blinded him for a time in order to get his attention. Like Bar-Jesus, Saul was a Jew who was striving against Christ. Bar-Jesus, who was thought of as a likewise zealous religious authority was struck blind, and like Paul lost all access to the synagogue, and his position of status with the people, becoming dependent upon others for his care. Much was taking place in the life of Bar-Jesus at this point. We have no knowledge of what happened to Bar-Jesus after this event, but historical documents may help us out, based upon the results of what happened next.
The explanation that Paul made before Sergius Paulus is not provided in scripture, but it does not take much imagination to see Saul starting his explanation of the gospel with a testimony of his own blinding experience on the Damascus road. The testimony Paul shared with the proconsul resulted in his belief in Jesus Christ, and his salvation. The scripture says no more about Sergius Paulus, but historical documents do. His name comes to the surface as one who was involved with the spread of Christianity in Rome. By his conversion, the gospel was able to be spread on the island of Cyprus without persecution from the Roman government. Sergius Paulus’ true salvation is evident in that he was active in the spread of the gospel even when the government did not sanction the practice. One would speculate that since Paul stated that Bar-Jesus’ blindness would only be for a time, that like Paul, Bar-Jesus would repent, turn to the LORD in faith, return to his original name, and be part of the work of the gospel that God did through the Roman Proconsul of Cyprus.
3. CALLED TO SHARE THE TRUTH.
Acts 13:13-15. Now when Paul and his company loosed from Paphos, they came to Perga in Pamphylia: and John departing from them returned to Jerusalem. 14But when they departed from Perga, they came to Antioch in Pisidia, and went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and sat down. 15And after the reading of the law and the prophets the rulers of the synagogue sent unto them, saying, Ye men and brethren, if ye have any word of exhortation for the people, say on.
When Paul and Barnabas returned to the mainland, John Mark left the two missionaries and returned to his home in Jerusalem. Though little is said here, we will find later that Mark’s leaving them was perceived, at least by Paul, as a literal desertion of the ministry. When Mark would later desire to come with them again, Paul would remember this event and would not allow it. When Barnabas defended Mark, Paul separated himself from both of them, resulting in two missionary teams: Paul and Silas in one, and Barnabas and Mark in the other. This appears a lot like the methodology that some modern churches use in order to create new churches.
Pisidian Antioch is not the same Antioch from which they were sent. There were three cities that bore this name in the region. As was the case on Cyprus, Paul and Barnabas started teaching in the synagogues, sharing the gospel from the context whereby the listeners could identify with it: in this case in the Old Testament Law and the Prophets, since these were devout Jews. Initially, the church leaders were pleased by what they were hearing: a message that contained scriptural authority. These two travelers appeared to know what they were talking about, so their continued teaching was encouraged.
As the Jews shared the scriptures amongst themselves in the synagogue, they shared its poetry and its history. However, without the indwelling Holy Spirit they could not share its power. When Paul and Barnabas spoke, the Jews heard a context of power and confidence that they had not previously experienced much like that which was experienced by Jesus disciples during His ministry. Consequently, they invited the missionaries to speak on. When a Christian shares God's Word there is a power in it that is absent when one who does not know the LORD attempts to do the same. The call to mission that is placed upon the heart of every Christian is a call to share His word with a lost world, and when that word is shared, it carries the power of God to bring repentance and salvation.
Rather than teach the Torah as the Jewish leaders would do, sharing only history, law, poetry, and tradition, Paul used these portions of the Hebrew Bible to share the gospel message and demand a response from his listeners. A complete example of such a sermon follows in the next several verses.
Paul would start by reminding the Jews of the historical Exodus from Egypt, including its context and purpose and the desire of the nation to have a king like the other nations, kings that would lead them to their political and spiritual demise. Reminding them of the promise to deliver them through the ancestors of King David, Paul would turn their attention to Jesus Christ, as the Son of David, drawing attention to John the Baptist’s fulfillment of prophecy when he declared Jesus to be the Promised Messiah. He would then share the details of His ministry, His passion and His resurrection, followed by a presentation of the good news of salvation.
For the most part, Paul’s message was embraced by many Gentiles and tolerated at first by many of the Jews. The popularity of Paul’s authoritative teaching grew quickly and his tolerance by the Jews was short-lived.
What follows in the next several verses is another of Paul’s apostolic sermons, delivered after his message began to spread throughout the region.
Acts 13:44-45. And the next Sabbath day came almost the whole city together to hear the word of God. 45But when the Jews saw the multitudes, they were filled with envy, and spake against those things which were spoken by Paul, contradicting and blaspheming.
The dynamic power of the sermon that Paul presented became known throughout the city. Consequently, the next Sabbath became somewhat of an event. What was an enlightening sermon one week became a major movement the second, and the religious leaders started to resent the spiritual authority given to these missionaries. The leaders suddenly found themselves pushed to the rear of the action rather than being those prominently in front, and this filled them with jealousy and rage. As was invariably the case, they were not able to place this "new wine" into their "old wineskins" and rather than hearing the gospel and responding, they were filled with fear of the loss of their own positions of authority in the city. In order to counter this movement, the religious leaders started using their position to argue against what Paul and Barnabas were teaching, attempting to defend and maintain their own prominence and power in the community.
One can expect God's word to be accepted as long as that word does not affect people's lives. However, when God starts to work on a person's heart, true change takes place, and people are resistant to that change. As the religious leaders started to see real things happening around them, like the sorcerer Elymas, Bar Jesus, they began to perceive the message of Paul and Barnabas as a threat, necessitating a firm and bold response.
Acts 13:46. Then Paul and Barnabas waxed bold, and said, It was necessary that the word of God should first have been spoken to you: but seeing ye put it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles.
Though we make ourselves available and share the word of God with others, not all will respond positively to its message. The religious leaders were not rejecting Paul and Barnabas: they were rejecting the message. Paul and Barnabas had the confidence in their faith to know that they were obedient in sharing without compromise what they know is the truth. One of the most common arguments that people use to defend their timidity towards sharing the gospel message is their own fear of rejection. Note the response of Paul and Barnabas to the rejection they received. They simply acknowledged the rejection and politely took their message elsewhere. By so doing they continued to show respect for those to whom they witnessed, and they left the encounter with the full knowledge that they had been obedient to the gospel.
Acts 13:47-52. For so hath the Lord commanded us, saying, I have set thee to be a light of the Gentiles, that thou shouldest be for salvation unto the ends of the earth. 48And when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad, and glorified the word of the Lord: and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed. 49And the word of the Lord was published throughout all the region. 50But the Jews stirred up the devout and honourable women, and the chief men of the city, and raised persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and expelled them out of their coasts. 51But they shook off the dust of their feet against them, and came unto Iconium. 52And the disciples were filled with joy, and with the Holy Ghost.
As the people of the city heard the dynamic message of the gospel, many responded in faith. Most of those who were coming to the Lord were Gentiles, further inciting the religious leaders to action. As a result Paul and Barnabas were forced out of the coastal region for a time. However, they left behind a few Jews who came to the knowledge of Jesus, and many Gentiles who did the same. These would fellowship together and the gospel of Jesus Christ would flourish in the region.
The response of Paul and Barnabas is curious. When they left the region they literally shook the dust from their feet, leaving it behind as a testimony against those who would not hear their message. This symbolic gesture was instructed by Jesus to remind those who face rejection that it is the LORD who is being rejected, not the angel who is sharing the gospel message. Leaving the dirt behind has important significance to the ancient near-eastern communities. The ancients had a belief that the domains of gods were local to the communities that worshipped them. When one would leave a territory they would honor the local gods by taking some soil with them, and by so doing bringing a little part of their god with them. To reject the dirt is to reject their god in a form of subtle recognition of that god's powerlessness. To leave the dirt behind is to testify to the hardness of the heart of those who refuse to respond to God’s grace.
What should we do when someone rejects our attempt at sharing Christ? Rather than becoming anxious, feeling failure, or taking on any other negative feelings, we are instructed to simply shake the dust off of our feet and go on. When one rejects our testimony it is not we who are being rejected, but Christ. Jesus has “big shoulders.” He can handle the rejection better than we can, so we are taught to simply recognize their rejection as their own choice and walk away knowing that we have been obedient to God’s call to witness.
This chapter provides us with some guidance concerning God’s call in our lives concerning the task of evangelism. We need to listen to the Holy Spirit’s call to be involved in the spread of the gospel through prayer, giving, learning, and going. When going, we should be doing so in response to God’s call, not through some altruistic or logical motive. We should not allow opposition to our message to deter us in our ministry, but rather we should expect it, and not take it personally. Such rejection should not discourage us. Rejection can serve to encourage us by clearly identifying the scope of our obedience to Christ. When we are obedient to the Spirit, sharing God’s love at every opportunity, we will see people come to Christ, and we will receive the blessing of our lives.
Matthew 13:16-43. Then Paul stood up, and beckoning with his hand said, Men of Israel, and ye that fear God, give audience. 17The God of this people of Israel chose our fathers, and exalted the people when they dwelt as strangers in the land of Egypt, and with an high arm brought he them out of it. 18And about the time of forty years suffered he their manners in the wilderness. 19And when he had destroyed seven nations in the land of Canaan, he divided their land to them by lot. 20And after that he gave unto them judges about the space of four hundred and fifty years, until Samuel the prophet. 21And afterward they desired a king: and God gave unto them Saul the son of Cis, a man of the tribe of Benjamin, by the space of forty years. 22And when he had removed him, he raised up unto them David to be their king; to whom also he gave testimony, and said, I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after mine own heart, which shall fulfil all my will. 23Of this man’s seed hath God according to his promise raised unto Israel a Saviour, Jesus: 24When John had first preached before his coming the baptism of repentance to all the people of Israel. 25And as John fulfilled his course, he said, Whom think ye that I am? I am not he. But, behold, there cometh one after me, whose shoes of his feet I am not worthy to loose. 26Men and brethren, children of the stock of Abraham, and whosoever among you feareth God, to you is the word of this salvation sent. 27For they that dwell at Jerusalem, and their rulers, because they knew him not, nor yet the voices of the prophets which are read every sabbath day, they have fulfilled them in condemning him. 28And though they found no cause of death in him, yet desired they Pilate that he should be slain. 29And when they had fulfilled all that was written of him, they took him down from the tree, and laid him in a sepulchre. 30But God raised him from the dead: 31And he was seen many days of them which came up with him from Galilee to Jerusalem, who are his witnesses unto the people. 32And we declare unto you glad tidings, how that the promise which was made unto the fathers, 33God hath fulfilled the same unto us their children, in that he hath raised up Jesus again; as it is also written in the second psalm, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee. 34And as concerning that he raised him up from the dead, now no more to return to corruption, he said on this wise, I will give you the sure mercies of David. 35Wherefore he saith also in another psalm, Thou shalt not suffer thine Holy One to see corruption. 36For David, after he had served his own generation by the will of God, fell on sleep, and was laid unto his fathers, and saw corruption: 37But he, whom God raised again, saw no corruption.
38Be it known unto you therefore, men and brethren, that through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins: 39And by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses. 40Beware therefore, lest that come upon you, which is spoken of in the prophets; 41Behold, ye despisers, and wonder, and perish: for I work a work in your days, a work which ye shall in no wise believe, though a man declare it unto you.
42And when the Jews were gone out of the synagogue, the Gentiles besought that these words might be preached to them the next sabbath. 43Now when the congregation was broken up, many of the Jews and religious proselytes followed Paul and Barnabas: who, speaking to them, persuaded them to continue in the grace of God.
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