Commentary by Walter Albritton


February 9


Paul: He led the way with vision, obedience, and perseverance

Read Acts 25:23 – 26:32

Key Verse: Acts 26:19


            Sweet-spirited Barnabas recognized Paul’s gifts. He invited Paul to join his team to teach the disciples in Antioch, where they were the first to be called “Christians.” At first it was “Barnabas and Paul” teaching the gospel.

            Soon the names were reversed. Paul became the team leader. Humbly, Barnabas stepped aside. Then they became “Paul and Barnabas,” according to Doctor Luke. No tension is mentioned, though later they would have a “sharp disagreement.”  The cream simply rose to the top.

            A team of fellow Christians joined me to work for two weeks at a missions station in Costa Rica. Our assignment was to install two toilets and two showers. Quickly Jim, a master plumber, became our leader. He knew what to do. We got the job done by following his instructions.

            Evidently, Paul knew what to do in spreading and teaching the faith. Wisely, Barnabas recognized a leader when he saw one. His spirit allowed an effective partnership to be born. Later Paul would praise some of his fellow Christians for their “partnership in the gospel.” Paul saw this spirit first in his friend Barnabas.

            Some say leaders are born, not made. When it comes to the Christian movement, we can say that leaders are born again. Then they are “made” leaders by the grace of God. 

            Apart from Paul’s conversion experience, we cannot begin to understand the man. His encounter with Christ on the Damascus Road triggered Paul’s great qualities. Only his dramatic rebirth can explain his evangelistic zeal and his missionary fervor.

            Christ turned Paul around. He turned him inside out. He gave him a vision, a vision so compelling that obedience to God became second nature to Paul. We can smile when we hear his testimony to King Agrippa. When Paul said he had not been “disobedient to the heavenly vision,” his words were both fact and understatement.

            What a scene it must have been when John Newton arrived in heaven. I can see Paul greeting him warmly, and then saying, “Brother, let’s sing your song together.” Then the angels must have applauded to hear Paul and Newton sing, “Through many dangers, toils, and snares, I have already come; ‘tis grace hath brought me safe thus far, and grace will lead me home”!

            Can you not hear Paul saying, “Brother, you really nailed it when you called the gospel ‘amazing grace.’? That was the theme of my whole ministry. I was determined that nothing, absolutely nothing, would stop me from telling everyone I met about the saving grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

            Considering the hardships and rejections Paul faced, it is hard to believe he did not give up and turn back. Many of us would have turned in our badges. Not Paul. He pressed on, and on, practicing what he preached!

            Paul was at his best when he tried to persuade King Agrippa to accept Christ. With great faith and persistence, he pressed the king for a decision. He refused to quit.

            Any pastor would give his right arm to have a man like Paul on his team in a local church. Zeal like that of Paul is always contagious. However, eventually, a pastor would be hard pressed to turn his church over to a man like Paul – or send him out as a missionary!

            Would to God such zealous souls might be raised up in every church, in every generation! + + +