21 Paul and Barnabas preached the good news in the city of Derbe. They won large numbers of followers. Then they returned to Lystra, Iconium and Antioch. 22 There they helped the believers gain strength. They told them to remain true to what they had been taught. “We must go through many hard times to enter God’s kingdom,” they said. 23 Paul and Barnabas appointed elders for them in each church. The elders had trusted in the Lord. Paul and Barnabas prayed and fasted. They placed the elders in the Lord’s care. 24 After going through Pisidia, Paul and Barnabas came into Pamphylia. 25 They preached the word in Perga. Then they went down to Attalia. 26 From Attalia they sailed back to Antioch. That was where they had been committed to God’s grace. They had now completed the work God had given them to do. 27 When they arrived at Antioch, they gathered the church together. They reported all that God had done through them. They told how he had opened the way for non-Jews to believe. 28 And they stayed there a long time with the believers.
Paul and Barnabas spent much time in Derbe, Lystra, Iconium and Antioch preaching the gospel and making disciples. They also made it clear to the believers that following Christ
would not be easy hence the need for ongoing encouragement and disciple
ship. Paul and Barnabas also committed themselves to praying and fasting for suitable leaders for the churches. This shows the importance of Godly leadership.
What strikes me in this passage is the importance of discipleship. Paul and Barnabas invested a lot of time into the believers and establishing leaders. On this occasion, interestingly, Paul and Barnabas started in Antioch and finished in Antioch. In a way this reflects the cyclical nature of discipleship. As disciples we receive guidance and encouragement in doing God’s will. We then implement what we have been taught and then provide feedback to leaders who in turn encourage and help us again and so it goes. What a blessing it is to be a disciple and also to have the opportunity to disciple someone else!
Lord we thank you for the wonderful process of discipleship. May you continue to disciple people across your church. Amen.
Written by Ainslie Woods