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Why Division?

Acts 13:14-16
    But when they departed from Perga, they came to Antioch in Pisidia, and went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and sat down.
    And 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.
    Then Paul stood up, and beckoning with his hand said, Men of Israel, and ye that fear God, give audience.

    This "sharing time" was common following the presentation of scripture in the synagogues. Paul and Barnabas utilized this opportunity in each city that they visited to teach "men of Israel" the Word of God regarding the Lord Jesus Christ.

    Paul focused his sharing on GODGod promised Israel a savior and salvation is available according to God's plan.  To get born again and receive salvation a person must confess with their mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in their heart that God raised him from the dead (Romans 10:9-10).

     Paul began with God's choosing of His people and took his audience from God's promise to its fulfillment in God's resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. 

Acts 13:17
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 [GOD] them out of it.

     God chose, God exalted, God brought them out.

Acts 13:18-22
    And about the time of forty years suffered he [GOD] their manners in the wilderness. . .he [God] destroyed seven nations . . . he [God] divided the land . . .he [GOD] gave them judges . . . God gave them Saul as king . . . he [God] removed Saul from the kingship . . . he [God] raised up David . . . he [God] called David a man after His own heart . . . and

Acts 13:23
    Of this man's seed hath God according to his
[GOD's] promise raised unto Israel a Saviour, Jesus:

    God's plan was for a savior from the seed of David. Jesus Christ was that man. Paul quickly brings his sharing to God's fulfillment of his promise in Jesus Christ. The first thing the audience must know to get saved is that Jesus is Lord - the promised Christ.

    Next, Paul reminds them of the teaching of John and lets them know that salvation is available NOW!

Acts 13:26
    Men and brethren, children of the stock of Abraham, and whosoever among you feareth God, to you is the word of this salvation sent.

    The Word of God regarding salvation is for YOU and it is available NOW!  The audience is on the edge of their seat. What more do they need to know to get saved???

Acts 13:28-30
    And though they found no cause of death in him, yet desired they Pilate that he should be slain.
    And when they had fulfilled all that was written of him, they took him down from the tree, and laid him in a sepulchre.
    But God raised him from the dead:
Acts 13:33 - he hath raised up Jesus again:
Acts 13:34 - he raised him up from the dead,
Acts 13:37 - he, whom God raised again,

THAT'S IT! - Confess the Lord Jesus and believe that God raised him from the dead!

Acts 13:42
    And when the Jews were gone out of the synagogue, the Gentiles besought that these words might be preached to them the next sabbath.

    Some of the Jews and religious proselytes followed Paul and Barnabas out of the synagogue to hear more. The Word of God spoken by Paul spread like wild fire. By the time the next sabbath rolled around the whole city turned out to hear.

Acts 13:44
    And the next sabbath day came almost the whole city together to hear the word of God..

    It seemed the whole city was blessed by the Word of God Paul and Barnabas were sharing. However, some of the Jews saw the multitudes following Paul and Barnabas and they were not blessed.  They were envious and saw the Word of God drawing away their followers.

Acts 13:45-46
    But when the Jews saw the multitudes, they were filled with envy, and spake against those things which were spoken by Paul, contradicting and blaspheming.
    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.

    As God's chosen people the children of Israel were approached first by Paul and Barnabas with an opportunity to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. But God's Word of salvation is for all people. Once rejected by Israel, Paul turned to the Gentiles and spoke God's Word to them.

Acts 13:48-50
    And 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.
    And the word of the Lord was published throughout all the region.
    But 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.

     The response to Word of God spoken by Paul and Barnabas was mixed. Some believed and got saved! Some raised persecution and had Paul and Barnabas thrown out of the city.  The city was divided.

Acts 13:51-52
    But they shook off the dust of their feet against them, and came unto Iconium.
    And the disciples were filled with joy, and with the Holy Ghost.

    "Shaking the dust from your feet" is a Bible Lands saying which means to shake off the animosity and bitter feelings which arose between another and you as you leave, so that you may go on your way with your heart full of peace and joy, as a believer should.  Yes, there was division when the Word of God was spoken in  Antioch.  But those who believed were filled with holy spirit and with joy (which is a fruit of the spirit) indicating that they were manifesting the power of God in their lives.  It is God working in those that believe that is the evidence of a true movement of His Word.

Acts 14:1

    And it came to pass in Iconium, that they went both together into the synagogue of the Jews, and so spake, that a great multitude both of the Jews and also of the Greeks believed.

    Just as they had done in Cyprus and Antioch, Paul and Barnabas spoke God's Word boldly in the synagogue of the Jews and among the Gentiles. Many of those who heard the Word of God believed and there was a mighty turn to God in the city of Iconium. But all was not kindness and light.  Not everyone was blessed by the truth of God's Word.

Acts 14:2
    But the unbelieving Jews stirred up the Gentiles, and made their minds evil affected against the brethren.

    Sometimes we think that when God sends forth His Word everything is peace and unity.  But, in each place that Paul and Barnabas spoke God's Word it upset the established order of the religious community and to a large degree resulted in confusion and division. What happened here in Iconium was not just an isolated instance. Remember, they had just been thrown out of Antioch for preaching God's Word. Did the negative attitude of those who did not believe stop Paul and Barnabas from speaking the Word?  No, not at all.

Acts 14:3
   Long time therefore abode they speaking boldly in the Lord, which gave testimony unto the word of his grace, and granted signs and wonders to be done by their hands.

    Paul and Barnabas did not stop speaking God's Word because of the actions of the unbelievers.  How could they stop when they saw how God continued to back up the teaching of His Word with signs and wonders?  Yet, there were many who did not believe God's powerful Word even though they too saw the signs and wonders which followed it.

Acts 14:4
    But the multitude of the city was divided: and part held with the Jews, and part with the apostles.

    In the city of Iconium there was division and confusion. Not just one family or the synagogue was divided - the entire city was split: both Jews and Gentiles. The trouble did not quiet as Paul and Barnabas continued to speak and work signs and wonders. Rather, the division and tension grew to the point of a planned assault.

Acts 14:5
    And when there was an assault made both of the Gentiles, and also of the Jews with their rulers, to use them despitefully, and to stone them, . . .

    The division in the city rose to the point of riot and violence. Again, some will say that this could not be a true move of God if the result was division and violence. Yet this is what happened and still does happen today when the truth of God's Word is taught and believed. Satan and the power of darkness that is behind the organized systems of this world, even though cloaked in religion, will fight when exposed by the truth of God's Word spoken boldly by believers. Evil hides in the darkness of this world and will respond negatively when revealed by the light of God's rightly divided Word.

     It is not peace and harmony that testify to the move of God. Nor is it trouble and division that is evidence of God's move.   Let me say that again just to be clear - PEACE AND HARMONY do not mean that the truth is being spoken.  TROUBLE AND DIVISION do not mean that the truth is being spoken.  The Word of God is not to be judged by our experience or by the evidence of the senses world.  It is God's power, signs and wonders which follow the Word spoken that give testimony to the Word of His grace.  The truth is known by what God does, not by what man (or the Devil) does! 

Acts 14:5-6
    And when there was an assault made both of the Gentiles, and also of the Jews with their rulers, to use them despitefully, and to stone them,
    They were ware of it, and fled unto Lystra and Derbe, cities of Lycaonia, and unto the region that lieth round about:
    And there they preached the gospel.

    Paul and Barnabas, barely escaped with their lives from Iconium, but they moved on and immediately began once more to speak the Word of God. Not many of us would welcome this kind of response as we speak the Word of God, yet this was a very powerful move of God. God's gift of holy spirit: God's grace and power in the lives of those who hear us will be evidence of God's Word moving. 
    As believers we need to stand like-minded on God's Word and hold it forth boldly to those who desire to hear and believe.  Certainly, we need also to be well established in the kindness and love of God and endeavor to keep the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace. We are all members of the body of Christ and should not be divided as believers. Unity is important as we move forward in spite of the opposition that surely will arise as we move God's Word.

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