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rejoiced exceedingly that Christ recognized them as the children of God, and with grateful hearts they listened to the word preached. Those who believed were zealous in communicating the gospel message to others, and thus “the word of the Lord was published throughout all the region.”

Centuries before, the pen of inspiration had traced this ingathering of the Gentiles; but those prophetic utterances had been but dimly understood. Hosea had said: “Yet the number of the children of Israel shall be as the sand of the sea, which cannot be measured nor numbered; and it shall come to pass, that in the place where it was said unto them, Ye are not My people, there it shall be said unto them, Ye are the sons of the living God.” And again: “I will sow her unto Me in the earth; and I will have mercy upon her that had not obtained mercy; and I will say to them which were not My people, Thou art My people; and they shall say, Thou art my God.” 5

The Saviour Himself, during His earthly ministry, foretold the spread of the gospel among the Gentiles. In the parable of the vineyard, He declared to the impenitent Jews, “The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof." And after His resurrection, He commissioned His disciples to go “into all the world,” and “teach all nations." They were to leave none unwarned, but were to "preach the gospel to every creature."??

In turning to the Gentiles in Antioch of Pisidia, Paul and Barnabas did not cease laboring for the Hosea 1:10; 2: 23.

& Matt. 21:43. Matt. 28:19; Mark 16:15.

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Jews elsewhere, wherever there was a favorable opportunity to gain a hearing. Later, in Thessalonica, in Corinth, in Ephesus, and in other important centers, Paul and his companions in labor preached the gospel to both Jews and Gentiles. But their chief energies were henceforth directed toward the building up of the kingdom of God in heathen territory, among peoples who had but little or no knowledge of the true God and of His Son.

The hearts of Paul and his associate workers were drawn out in behalf of those who were "without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world.” Through the untiring ministrations of the apostles to the Gentiles, the “strangers and foreigners," who "sometimes were far off," learned that they had been “made nigh by the blood of Christ," and that through faith in His atoning sacrifice, they might become "fellow-citizens with the saints, and of the household of God." 8

Advancing in faith, Paul labored unceasingly for the upbuilding of God's kingdom among those who had been neglected by the teachers in Israel. Constantly he exalted Christ Jesus as “the King of kings, and Lord of lords,'"' and exhorted the believers to be “rooted and built up in Him, and stablished in the faith." 16

To those who believe, Christ is a sure foundation. Upon this living stone, Jews and Gentiles alike may build. It is broad enough for all, and strong enough to sustain the weight and burden of the whole world.

* Eph. 2:12, 13, 19. 91 Tim. 6:15.

10 Col. 2:7.

12 — Acts

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This is a fact plainly recognized by Paul himself. In the closing days of his ministry, when, addressing a group of Gentile believers who had remained steadfast in their love of the gospel truth, the apostle wrote, “Ye . . . are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief corner-stone." 11

As the gospel message spread in Pisidia, the unbelieving Jews of Antioch, in their blind prejudice, “stirred up the devout and honorable women, and the chief men of the city, and raised persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and expelled them” from that district.

The apostles were not discouraged by this treatment; they remembered the words of their Master: “Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for My sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.

The gospel message was advancing, and the apostles had every reason for feeling encouraged. Their labors had been richly blessed among the Pisidians at Antioch, and the believers whom they left to carry forward the work alone for a time, “were filled with joy, and with the Holy Ghost.” 11 Eph. 2:19, 20.

12 Matt. 5:11, 12.

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CHAPTER XVIII

Preaching Among the Heathen

From Antioch in Pisidia, Paul and Barnabas went to Iconium. In this place, as at Antioch, they began their labors in the synagogue of their own people. They met with marked success; “a great multitude both of the Jews and also of the Greeks believed.” But in Iconium, as in other places where the apostles labored, “the unbelieving Jews stirred up the Gentiles, and made their minds evil affected against the brethren."

The apostles, however, were not turned aside from their mission; for many were accepting the gospel of Christ. In the face of opposition, envy, and prejudice they went on with their work, “speaking boldly in the Lord;” and God "gave testimony unto the word of His grace, and granted signs and wonders to be done by their hands." These evidences of divine approval had a powerful influence on those whose minds were open to conviction, and converts to the gospel multiplied. This chapter is based on Acts 14:1–26.

The increasing popularity of the message borne by the apostles, filled the unbelieving Jews with envy and hatred, and they determined to stop the labors of Paul and Barnabas at once. By means of false and exaggerated reports, they led the authorities to fear that the entire city was in danger of being incited to insurrection. They declared that 'large numbers were attaching themselves to the apostles, and suggested that it was for secret and dangerous designs.

In consequence of these charges, the disciples were repeatedly brought before the authorities; but their defense was so clear and sensible, and their statement of what they were teaching so calm and comprehensive, that a strong influence was exerted in their favor. Although the magistrates were prejudiced against them by the false statements they had heard, they dared not condemn them. They could but acknowledge that the teachings of Paul and Barnabas tended to make men virtuous, law-abiding citizens, and that the morals and order of the city would improve if the truths taught by the apostles were accepted.

Through the opposition that the disciples met, the message of truth gained great publicity; the Jews saw that their efforts to thwart the work of the new teachers resulted only in adding greater numbers to the new faith. “The multitude of the city was divided: and part held with the Jews, and part with the apostles.”

So enraged were the leaders among the Jews by the turn that matters were taking, that they determined to gain their ends by violence. Arousing

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