Is heaven your passion? Really your passion? In Philippian letter, Paul had just described how he pressed toward that heavenly prize, pressing, ever pressing to attain unto the resurrection of Christ (Phil. 3:7-14). Like the one who found the pearl of great price, he went and sold all that he had to buy that one pearl (Matt. 13:45). He cast aside all the things that could be counted as gain in this life so that he might reach that heavenly goal (Phil. 3:7,8). Paul made several points in this context that need to be stressed.

First, as Christians, our life, or conversation, is in heaven. As we often sing, “This world is not my home, I’m just a passing through, My treasures are laid up somewhere beyond the blue. The angels beckon me from heaven’s open door and I just can’t feel at home in this world anymore.” With the hope of heaven before us, how could we feel at home here? In many ways, this is the devil’s domain as he influences and beguiles so many (II Cor. 4:4). Just as Jesus prayed and desired to be back with the Father (John 17:1-16), so we, too, should have a desire to be with Him (Phil. 1:23; Heb. 12:1,2).

Our heart is in heaven because that is where our treasure is (Matt. 6:21). That is where what we value most is. While we live in this world, we know that we must stay separate from it (II Cor. 6:17,18). Those “Christians” who are indistiguishable from the world really do not long for heaven. Old testament saints looked and longed for a heavenly city and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims in the earth (Heb. 11:13-16). Our affections should be set on things above and not on things on this earth (Col. 3:1-3).

Second, we know that Jesus is coming again. Knowing this, we look for Him, we wait patiently, we anticipate the Lord’s return (Matt. 24:42-44). Peter said we look for and haste unto the coming of the day of God (II Pet. 3:12). We look for that blessed hope and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ (Tit. 2:13). We are assured of His return because we know He was raised from the dead (Acts 17:30,31). He left so that He could prepare a place for us in those heavenly mansions and is coming again to receive us unto Himself (John 14:1-4).

When the Lord returns we know also that our vile bodies will be changed. Our bodies are vile, or humble, or lowly, because they are subject to decay and deterioration that sin brought with it (Rom. 5:12). The creature was made subject to vanity but we wait, groaning and waiting for the adoption, that is, the redemption of our body (Rom. 8:20-23). Our bodies will not be exchanged as some like to read it, but they will be changed (I Cor. 15:50-53).

Our bodies will be made like His glorious body. We do not know what we shall be but we know that when He appears we shall be like Him for we shall see Him as He is (I John 3:2). All the suffering and vanity to which we are now subjected is not worthy to be compared to the glory which shall be revealed in us (Rom. 8:18). When Christ, Who is our life, shall appear, then shall we also appear with Him in glory (Col. 3:4).

The Lord has the power to do all this and subdue all things unto Himself. He will gather together in one all things in Christ (Eph. 1:9,10). The exceeding greatness of His power was demonstrated when He raised up Christ to His own right hand in heavenly places and it is that same power with which He will raise us up at the last day (Eph. 1:18-21). It is the same power which quickens us from being dead in sins and which delievers us from the prince of the power of the air (Eph. 2:1-3).

Eric L. Padgett

The Image of the Invisible

The apostle Paul wrote the epistle to the Colossians in order to stem the tide of a menacing heresy greatly affecting the churches in the region (cf. 2:4, etc.,). What is known of this particular heresy comes through the themes which Paul stresses in his epistle. This heresy, among other things, apparently diminished the authority and supremacy of Christ and His work of redemption and distorted the role of knowledge. Paul’s epistle to the Colossians and the Laodiceans responds to these errors.

In part, Paul’s response to these errors is to describe the magnificence of Christ. His description is nothing short of astounding. This brief description gives us only a literary glimpse into the glory of God, we see only the hinder parts as it were, yet we still tremble and shake in fear at His majesty and glory. Even more, we rejoice and are thankful to share in this glory with Him (1:12). Let us turn our minds to fathom the breadth and height of these glories.

First, Paul describes the Lord as the image (icon) of the invisible God (1:15). Not only is the Lord the image of God but He is also the “express image” (kharaktar) of His person (Heb. 1:3). Once Philip asked the Lord, “Show us the Father and it sufficeth us” (John 14: 8). Jesus replied “Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me” (John 14:9). Jesus said “he that hath seen me hath seen the Father.” As Paul observed, “For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (II Corinthians 4:6). It is only through Jesus that we can truly know the Father.

Next, Paul states that the Father has made us suitable to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light (1:12). This is no small task seeing that our sins separate us from His holiness (Is. 59:2). But we have been made meet, or suitable, through His Son Jesus Christ. This inheritance is incorruptible, undefiled and fades not away and is reserved in heaven for us if we remain faithful (I Pet. 1:4). Indeed, it is that everlasting kingdom of Christ which has been prepared from the foundation of the world (Matt. 25:34).

Third, that kingdom of His Son is a Kingdom of Light (Col. 1:12,13). As Christians, we are called out from under the power of darkness and into His kingdom of His marvelous light (I Pet. 2:9). This is because God is light, clothed in unapproachable light, and in Him is no darkness at all (I John 1:5; Psalm 104:2; I Tim. 6:16). Being the image of God He is also the brightness of the glory of God (Heb. 1:3) and His glorious gospel brings the light of truth (II Cor. 4:4).

Fourth, He is the firstborn of every creature (1:15). The point that Paul makes here is that Christ occupies a special place in the world with God. The firstborn received special privilege and was given the place of preeminence (Psalm 89:27; cf. Deut. 21:15-17). This does not mean, as some try to interpret, that Christ had a beginning or was created. This cannot be since Paul further states “for by Him were all things created” (1:16).

Thus, Jesus is the Creator of all things. John wrote that all things were created by Him and without Him was not anything made that was made (John 1:3). John also shows that Jesus, the Word, was with God and was God (John 1:1,2). In the beginning, God said “Let Us…” (Gen. 1:26). That “us” included the Son, as well. Paul said God created all things by Jesus Christ (Eph. 3:9).

Therefore, He is before all things. The Lord is the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the ending (Rev. 1:8). He is the first and the last (Rev. 1:11). Micah says that His goings forth have been from of old, even from everlasting (Micah 5:2). Moses said that God was from everlasting to everlasting (Psalm 90:1,2). Jesus, Himself, said, “Before Abraham was, I am” (John 8:58). Paul quotes Psalm 102:24-27 and applies it to Jesus Christ in Hebrews 1:10-12. Paul further states that Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever (Heb. 13:8). Not only is He before all things, but by Him all things consist. He upholds all things by the word of His power (Heb. 1:3).

Finally, Paul says that it pleased the Father that in Him should all the fulness dwell (1:17). That is, all the fulness of the godhead was present in Jesus bodily (Col. 2:9). Everything that is God was in Jesus. That is why He is head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fulness of Him that filleth all in all.

Eric L. Padgett

“I Am Ready”

The apostle Paul, heading for Jerusalem, was warned often that bonds and afflictions awaited him there (Acts 20:23). While he was in Caesarea, the Holy Spirit guided the prophet Agabas to once again graphically warn Paul that he would be bound and delivered into the hands of the Gentiles (Acts 21:11). Because of this, all of Paul’s companions urged him not to go (Acts 21:12). But Paul firmly responded, “I am ready not to be bound only, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus” (Acts 21:13). Paul said he was ready. Are we?

Paul said he was ready to die for the name of the Lord. During his second and final Roman imprisonment, he knew his time was short and he had prepared himself mentally and emotionally for that eventuality (Acts 21:13). He said, “I am now ready to be offered and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith” (II Tim. 4:6,7). Though we, in this age, in this country, may never face the opposition Paul did, we must have the same attitude (i. e., I John 3:16; Rev. 2:10).

In saying he was ready to die for the name of the Lord, he also indicated he was ready to preach the gospel. Paul wrote the letter to the Rome church of Christ saying he was ready to preach the gospel to them there (Rom. 1:15). Being prepared to preach requires effort. Paul told Timothy, a young gospel preacher, “study to show thyself approved unto God” (II Tim. 2:15). Even though the apostle Paul was inspired, he still wanted to study (II Tim. 4:13). If Paul and Timothy needed to study, then we most certinly will need to, as well.

Studying will also help us be prepared to give an answer for the reasons for the hope that is in us (I Pet. 3:15). When Paul stood before Felix, he reasoned of righteousness, temperance and judgement to come. Upon hearing this, Felix trembled (Acts 24:25). Many on the day of Pentecost were pricked in their hearts when they heard the gospel for the first time (Acts 2:37). The apostle Paul spent weeks teaching and defending the gospel with the Thessalonians Jews and some of them believed (Acts 17:2-4). We, likewise, must be able to defend what we believe.

We must also be ready to hear. The scriptures implore us to keep our feet when we go into the house of God and “be more ready to hear, than to give the sacrifice of fools” (Eccl. 5:1). James told us to be swift to hear, slow to speak (James 1:19). How many times did the Lord condemn those whose ears were dull of hearing (cf. Matt. 13:14)? Most people are willing to talk, but really few are ready to hear.

In order to be the kind of Christians we need to be, that God wants us to be, we must be ready to every good work (Tit. 3:1). We must be steadfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord (I Cor. 15:58). Jesus warned His disciples to be ready and “watch” (Mark 13:37). We need to be filled with the fruits of righteousness (Phil. 1:11) and the fruits of the spirit (Gal. 5:22,23).

We must also be ready to avoid temptation (Mark 14:38). In being prepared, we must put on the whole armor of God so that we can stand (Eph. 6:13). The devil is not going to sit idly by; he is active. He will go about as a roaring lion on one hand, seeking to devour and as an angel of light on the other seeking to deceive (I Pet. 5:7; II Cor. 11:14). We have to be prepared so that we can recognize his attacks as they are being set up and meet them.

Finally, we must be ready for the Lord’s return (Matt. 24:44). We know neither the hour or the day when the Son of man will return (Matt. 25:13) but we do know He will return because He was raised from the dead (Acts 17:30,31). Therefore, the Lord could return at any moment and it will be a most unfortunate day if we are not prepared when He does. If we are not prepared, we will be like the five foolish virgins who did not prepare and were locked out. They cried, “Lord, Lord open to us” (Matt. 25:11). But the Lord responded, “I know you not.”

Are you ready?

Eric L. Padgett

Great Statements From The Book Of Romans

1:16 – I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation

2:16 – In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel.

3:23 – For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;

4:8 – Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin.

5:8 – But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

6:4 – Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.

7:4 – Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God.

8:31 – What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?

9:33 – As it is written, Behold, I lay in Sion a stumblingstone and rock of offence: and whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.

10:17 – So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

11:26 – And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob:

12:1 – I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.

13:14 – But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.

14:12 – So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God.

15:4 – For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.

16:17 – Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them.

The apostle Paul via Eric L. Padgett

It’s WAR!

Jesus said “Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword” (Matthew 10:34). It is true that Jesus is the Prince of Peace (Is. 9:6). And it is true that He is our peace (Eph. 2:14-15). He came so that we might have peace with God through Himself (Rom. 5:1). Yet there is never really a true peace until there is first a complete and total victory over the enemy (cf. Matt. 12:29). As Alexander Campbell observed, “Hence the Prince of Peace never sheathed the sword of the Spirit while he lived. He drew it on the banks of the Jordan and threw the scabbard away” (“Religious Controversy,” Millennial Harbinger, 1830).

The apostle Paul said we are engaged in a war but it is not a war after the flesh, that is, not a physical war with material weapons (II Cor. 10:3). But it is a war, nevertheless. It is a spiritual war. Since the beginning of time, satan has attempted to lead a rebellion against the God of heaven. Down through the ages, beginning with Adam and Eve, he has enlisted men in this battle, most of whom unwittingly joined his ranks. The god of this world has beguiled people into being a friend of this world, which makes them the enemy of God (James 4:4).

Paul described his work as an apostle as pulling down strong holds, casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ (II Cor. 10:4,5). These things are much harder than taking up a sword and trying to remove an enemy from a geographical territory. We are trying to remove sinful, rebellious thoughts from people’s minds and replace them with obedient, righteous thoughts (I Peter 4:1; Phil. 2:5; etc.).

As Christians, we also fight the good fight of faith (I Tim. 6:12; II Tim. 4:7). In order to fight this fight to win, we must array ourselves with the appropriate armor. When David went out to fight Goliath, he could not wear Saul’s armor, for he had not proved them (I Sam. 17:39). In order to win this battle, we must put on proven armor, the whole armor of God (Eph. 6:13). That is, our loins girt about with truth, having on the breastplate of righteousness; our feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; taking the shield of faith, and taking the helmet of salvation and, last but not least, the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God (Ephesians 6:14-17). These are the weapons that win this war.

Paul said this spiritual war involved casting down imaginations. In Noah’s day, man’s ability to imagine got him into serious trouble. “And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (Genesis 6:5). Man has, down through the centuries, devised every kind of sin imaginable. Paul said of the ancient world, that “when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools” (Romans 1:21,22). Romans chapter one lists many of the horrendous sins that man has devised (Rom. 1:19-32). We fight to cast down these imaginations in ourselves and in others.

When God called Jeremiah to be a prophet to the nations (Jer. 1:5), He put His words in his mouth and said that he set him over the nations and kingdoms to “root out, and to pull down, and to destroy, and to throw down, to build, and to plant” (Jer. 1:10). This “pulling down” was accomplished by means of his words, inspired words, the word of God. Just as the Lord defeated the devil in the temptation with the word of God (Matt. 4:1-11), so we defeat the devil by the sword of the spirit, the word of God.

Not only did the Lord defeat satan with His words, He triumphed over and spoiled principalities and powers, and made a shew of them openly, through His cross (Col. 2:14,15). It had been prophesied even in the garden that the woman’s seed, Jesus (Gal. 4:4), would bruise the serpent’s head, that is, give it mortal wound (Gen. 3:15). Jesus came into this world for this purpose–to destroy the works of the devil (I John 3:8; cf. John 12:31; 16:11; Heb. 2:14,15).

One of the great scenes in all the Bible is found in the book of Revelation. In chapter twelve we have a scene of a great battle and though satan attacks the Lord’s church, he is defeated, unable to prevail, cast out and cast down (Rev. 12:1-10). In chapter twenty, the devil, though he persecuted the camp of the saints, the church, is cast into the lake which burns with fire and brimstone (Rev. 20:19-21). The good news is, we know who wins this one. All we need to decide now is for which side do we fight.

Eric L. Padgett


In contrasting the old covenant with the new (II Cor. 3:6ff), the apostle Paul described their relative glories. The comparison left the old covenant wanting by that measure. Paul wrote:

For if the ministration of condemnation be glory, much more doth the ministration of righteousness exceed in glory. For even that which was made glorious had no glory in this respect, by reason of the glory that excelleth. For if that which is done away was glorious, much more that which remaineth is glorious (II Corinthians 3:9-11).

Paul described the old covenant as a ministration of condemnation, while the new he described as a ministration of righteousness. While the old covenant was glorious in its own right, the new far exceeded the old in glory.

The word “glory” most used in the Old Testament comes from a root word meaning “heavy” or “weight.” By extension, it means that which has substance and hence is used of that which is substantial, including abundance, wealth, greatness, power, brightness and majesty. Both the Old and New Testament words for glory have a variety of uses.

Glory cannot be separated from God’s nature (I Chron. 29:10-13). All nature itself, that is, the material creation, declares the glory of God (Ps. 19:1). The whole earth is full of His glory (Is. 6:). His glory is set high above the heavens (Ps. 8:1; 113:4). He is the God of glory (Ps. 29:3). God’s glory, as is every attribute of His nature, is eternal (I Pet. 5:10). Contrast this to man whose glory fades away as does the grass (I Pet. 1:24). The Lord is jealous of that glory and will not share it with dumb idols (Is. 42:8). Yet, it is just this glory in which His people are allowed to participate (John 17:22), and which prophets and angels have desired to more fully understand (I Pet. 1:10-12).

God’s glory manifests itself in moral nature, as well. Moses once requested to see the glory of God (Ex. 33:18). In granting his request, the Lord allowed Moses to see only His hinder parts for no man can look into the face of glory and live (Ex. 33:20). As Moses was safe in the cleft of the rock (Ex. 33:22), the Lord descended in the cloud and stood with him there, passing before him and declaring “The LORD, The LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, Keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children’s children, unto the third and to the fourth generation” (Ex. 34:6,7). As Moses saw the glory of God, the Lord spoke of His great moral attributes.

Furthermore, after Moses had ascended into the mount to receive the tablets of Law, the skin of his face shone, reflecting the glory of God in whose presence he was, so that Aaron and all Israel were afraid to come to him (Ex. 34:30). Because of this, Moses put a vail upon his face so that the children of Israel could not stedfastly behold the glory of his countenance (Ex. 34:35; II Cor. 3:7). The apostle Paul observed that this was not only to placate the fears of the Israelites (Ex. 34:30) but also to cover the fading glory of the old covenant, as his face ceased to shine at some point after not being in God’s presence (Ex. 34:29; II Cor. 3:13). And sadly, he observed, that vail was still over their eyes, or rather their hearts, blinding their minds to the truth of the Lord (II Cor. 3:16).

But Christians have no such vail over their eyes or hearts and look into the face of the Son of God and reflect His glory or rather are changed into same image with ever increasing glory (I Cor. 3:13). In this life we are transformed by the renewing of our minds (Rom. 12:1,2; Eph. 4:22-24; Col. 3:10) and we share in His glory (I Pet. 1:8). We shall also share in His glory after this life is over (John 17:24; I John 3:2; Col. 3:3-4; Rom. 8:17; Phil3:20,21).

It is the glorious gospel of Christ that shines in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ (II Cor. 4:4-6). No matter what we suffer in this life, it cannot even begin to be compared to the glory that shall be revealed in us (Rom. 8:18). The afflictions we suffer in this life are light compared to the “far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory” (II Cor. 4:17). In heaven, the glory of God and of the Lamb will give us light (Rev. 21:23). Glorious indeed!

Eric L. Padgett

O Ye Corinthians

The culture of Corinth was well known for its pursuit of pleasure. To be a Corinthian was proverbial for the hedonistic life. It is not surprising, then, that the church at Corinth faced many problems, many of them brought on by embracing that culture of worldliness (I Cor. 3:3). Some of what Paul wrote to the church there was a response to questions which they apparently asked him concerning these things (I Cor. 7:1). Other things he wrote were things which he and the Holy Spirit thought they needed to know. Studying the problems in that congregation can be instructive to us as members of modern congregations.

One of the biggest problems about which Paul had heard was the problem of division within the congregation (I Cor. 11:8). The division had escalated to such heights that the members of the congregation were identifying themselves after certain pillars of the church (I Cor. 1:12). Paul had heard from the house of Chloe that there were contentions and divisions among the church at Corinth (I Cor. 1:13). Paul’s remedy was that they all be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgement (I Cor. 1:10). He wanted no divisions amongst the people of God. Man was to follow man only so far as they followed the Lord (I Cor. 11:1). This is a lesson that can be learned today so that no Christian ever follows any man but after the Christ.

That problem of division boiled over into their worship. When the church at Corinth partook of the Lord’s supper, they were not contemplating the great sacrifice of Christ nor were they examining their own lives but they were focused on their own pleasure. Blurring the distinction between their own common meal and the holy act of worship in partaking of the Lord’s supper, they not only polluted their worship but greedily ate their own food and left others without (I Cor. 11:21). There was no concern for one another but rather bitter strife.

One of the clearest and most notable examples of their worldliness and division was the order, or lack thereof, in the worship service. The worship service seems to have devolved into a state of utter disarray, with people speaking in foreign languages when there was no interpreter, speaking out of order and women speaking out of turn (I Cor. 14:26-32). Paul called it confusion (I Cor. 14:33). Much of this stemmed from their pride in their ability to perform miracles for they seemed to believe that their particular gift was the most important than another’s (I Cor. 12:12-26). Paul taught them that they needed each other as the body needs each part (I Cor. 12:27ff).

Their worldliness also left them callous to moral sin. It was reported commonly that one Christian in the congregation was in a sinful relationship with his father’s wife (I Cor. 5:1). That was bad enough but the sin was compounded by the congregation’s handling of the situation. Incredibly, they were puffed up (I Cor. 5:2). Either they were puffed up because they believed they had superior wisdom (I Cor. 4:19) or, worse, because of the sin. At the very least they were indifferent to the well publicized immorality in their midst. This was not unlike the congregation at Thyatira which allowed false teaching and perhaps immorality amongst them (Rev. 2:19). In both instances the sin required action not apathy (I Cor. 5:4,5; Rev. 2:22-24).

Another indication of their spiritual corruption and worldly contamination was their taking of personal congregational problems before secular courts for ajudication (I Cor. 6:1). Paul called this a shame and a fault (I Cor. 6:5,7). It did not and does not evince a Christ-like attitude. They should have taken the wrong or go to their own brethren for a resolution to these problems (I Cor. 6:5,7).

Yet another problem, alluded to earlier, was the congregation’s pride in the wisdom of men (I Cor. 2:5; 4:19). Paul made a point of saying he came not to them with the wisdom of men, that is, sophistical speech, but with the power of God, the gospel of Christ (I Cor. 2:1-4). There were those in the congregation who also boasted of their own authority and questioned that of Paul’s apostolic authority (I Cor. 9:3; II Cor. 10:7-10; 11:4,5; 12:11,12). Some were even preaching that there was no resurrection of the dead, among other things (I Cor. 15:12).

The congregation in Corinth had many problems. Paul warned them that they needed to correct those problems or he would come to them with a rod of correction (I Cor. 4:21; II Cor. 13:2,10). Just as the Lord warned the churches in Asia that they needed to repent, we need to correct those problems that arise in our congregations lest we also face judgement.

Eric L. Padgett


There was a time in the early church when Barnabas held greater influence than the apostle Paul (cf. Acts 13:1,2). Some time before Saul of Tarsus was immersed into Christ, Barnabas was already expending a great amount of his own financial resources assisting needy saints (Acts 4:36,37) and he had a close relationship to the apostles (Acts 4:36; 9:27). Paul’s reputation as a persecuter and a blasphemer of Christ had preceded him and Christians were reluctant to accept him, thinking he was, perhaps, feigning his conversion to gain an advantage (Acts 9:26). Even after his conversion, up until the first evangelistic tour, when their names are mentioned together, Barnabas is always mentioned first.

After Paul and Barnabas returned from delivering aid to the poor saints in Judea, the Holy Spirit instructed the church at Antioch that Barnabas and Saul were presently to be used in the special work for which He had called them (Acts 13:2). Saul had been called to be an apostle by the Lord at his conversion and was told he would be sent to the Gentiles (Acts 9:15,16; Gal. 2:7,8). When Barnabas was called for this task, we do not know, just as we do not know when or where Barnabas was converted to Christ. Was Barnabas one of the original disciples of Christ (Acts 1:15), was he converted on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:41) or was he among the five thousand men who believed (Acts 4:4)? We do not know. But we do know he was separated by the Lord very early on to take the gospel to the Gentiles along with the apostle Paul.

Immediately after the establishment of the church, when Jews from distant lands were converted by the preaching of the apostles (Acts 2:5-11), instead of immediately returning to their own countries, many of them apparently continued in Jerusalem with the apostles and the rest of the church. In order to help support these brethren, some sold their property and gave the money to the apostles to distribute to every man as he had need (Acts 4:35). Barnabas was one of those who supported brethren in need in this way and the Holy Spirit saw fit to make particular note of his contributions (Acts 4:36).

Barnabas was not his birth name. His real name was Joses (or Joseph). It was the apostles who called him Barnabas, which literally meant “son of prophecy” or, by extension, “son of consolation” (Acts 4:36; cf. Acts 15:32). His preaching, along with others’, produced many converts in Antioch (Acts 11:24) and he is listed first among the prophets and teachers in the church there (Acts 13:1). When the the apostles had heard that there was a great response to the teaching of the gospel in the regions of Cyprus, Cyrene and Antioch, they chose Barnabas to organize the work, even though Paul had already been called by the Lord (Acts 11:22). It was Barnabas who, after he had seen the work in Antioch, sought out Saul in Tarsus to assist him in that vital work (Acts 11:25,26).

Barnabas’ reputation among the apostles is further seen in the fact that it was Barnabas that brought Saul of Tarsus to the apostles after his conversion. He was able to convince them that the Lord had, indeed, appeared unto Saul and that he had preached boldly at Damascus in the name of Jesus (Acts 9:27). Some have surmised that Barnabas and Saul had known each other prior to their connection in Christ. They had a close relationship and both truly seemed to admire the other.

It was during their first evangelistic tour that Barnabas begins to recede into the background. In Paphos, Sergius Paul, the deputy or proconsul of the country, called for Barnabas and Saul to hear the word of God. But Elymas the sorcerer withstood them, seeking to turn away the deputy from the faith” (Acts 13:8). Saul then stepped up and struck Elymas the sorcerer blind as a punishment for his opposition to the gospel (Acts 13:8-11). It is during this time that Saul begins to be called Paul (Acts 13:9). It seems also as though Paul begins to take the lead because the group is now called “Paul and his company” (Acts 13:13). Further, it is no longer “Barnabas and Saul” but “Paul and Barnabas” (Acts 13:43).

Some time later, when Paul and Barnabas were at Antioch, Peter visited and was eating with the Gentiles until certain came from James in Jerusalem. Then Peter, fearing them of the circumcision, “withdrew and separated himself” (Gal. 2:12). Paul observed that Barnabas “also was carried away with their dissimulation” (Gal. 2:13). Paul then had to confront Peter to his face before them all, including Barnabas (Gal. 2:14). This all happened after the conference in Jerusalem in which it was determined by the Holy Spirit that the Gentiles need not be circumcised (Acts 15:28, 29).

After some days had passed, Paul purposed to go and visit the brethren to whom he and Barnabas had preached on their first evangelistic tour (Acts 15:36). Barnabas wanted to take with them John Mark, but Paul thought it not good because John Mark, who had begun with them on their first tour, left the work prematurely (Acts 13:13), making him untrustworthy. Because of this sharp disagreement, the two men parted ways. Barnabas and Mark went to Cyprus and Paul and Silas, whom the brethren recommended, went through Syria and Cilicia, confirming the churches (Acts 15:41). Later, Paul would acknowledge Barnabas’ wisdom when he told Timothy “Take Mark, and bring him with thee: for he is profitable to me for the ministry” (II Tim. 4:11).

Eric L. Padgett


The apostles were left awestruck! All they could do was to keep gazing up into the clouds in amazement. Jesus had only moments before been standing with them and giving them instructions to be His witnesses unto the uttermost part of the earth (Acts 1:7,8). That, in and of itself was marvelous for just a little over a month before He had been crucified and raised from the dead. Now, on this last day, after having shown Himself alive by many infallible proofs for forty days and having spoken with them during that time, “while they beheld, He was taken up; and a cloud received Him out of their sight” (Acts 1:9). Jesus literally ascended up into the air and a glory cloud enveloped Him as He disappeared from view!

While they continued to gaze into heaven with astonishment, two angels brought them back to earth. “Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven” (Acts 1:11). In effect, they were saying: Don’t just stand here with your mouths hanging open, there is work to be done. “This same Jesus which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven” (Acts 1:11). The message: He is coming again! Now work!

The truly amazing thing about this event is the change which took place in these men. Immediately after Jesus’ arrest, “all the disciples forsook Him and fled” (Matt. 25:56). Peter, who had said “though all men should be offended because of Thee, yet will I never be offended” (Matt. 26:33), and “Though I should die with Thee, yet will I not deny Thee” (Matt. 26:35) denied the Lord that same night a little over a month ago! After Jesus had been crucified, the apostles apparently hid behind closed doors for fear of the Jews (John 20:19). They were a group of men cowering in fear behind locked doors. Some witnesses.

However, after Jesus’ ascension back into Heaven, the apostles went back to Jerusalem and waited for the promise of the Father of which Jesus had spoken (Acts 1:4-8; John 14:26; 16:13). On the day of Pentecost, these men, who before had cowered in fear of persecution and death, now, after receiving the promised baptism of the Holy Ghost, boldly and publicly proclaimed Jesus openly! “Ye men of Israel, hear these words,” they said to the multitude that had gathered:

Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know: Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain: Whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that he should be holden of it (Acts 2:22-24).

Later, Peter and John openly entered the temple (Acts 3:1) and healed a man who was lame from his mother’s womb (Acts 3:2-10). Peter then told them that “ye denied the Holy One and the Just, and desired a murderer to be granted unto you; And killed the Prince of life, whom God hath raised from the dead; whereof we are witnesses” (Acts 3:14,15). What boldness (cf. Acts 4:29,31)!

These were strong words. Powerful words! These words laid the responsibility for the death of the Messiah squarely at the feet of the “men of Israel” (Acts 2:22). Forty days ago neither Peter nor John nor any of the other apostles would have dared speak such words privately, much less publicly (cf. Matt. 15:12). Now, however, you could not keep these men from openly speaking what they knew to be true. When the council dragged Peter and John in for questioning after a night in a cell (Acts 4:1-5), they charged and threatened them that they never again speak at all or teach in the name of Jesus (Acts 4:17,18). Peter’s response: “Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard” (Acts 4:19,20).

These men were changed men. What made the difference? They did not take a Dale Carnegie course on how to sharpen social skills and improve relationships. The High priest and their kindred said it best when they “saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marvelled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus” (Acts 4:13). Undoubtedly their reception of the Holy Spirit endowed them with extra courage but their years with the Lord had ultimately prepared them for this occasion. When we spend time with the Lord in His word, we become changed men and women (Eph. 4:22-24; Col. 3:10; II Cor. 3:18).

Eric L. Padgett


All the faithful followers of Jesus must have been stunned and disheartened. Here was the Man that walked on water, that calmed the stormy sea, that multiplied a few loaves and fishes to feed thousands, that raised His friend Lazarus and others from the dead, that healed a host of sick folk, that restored withered limbs, that restored sight to the blind and so many other miracles the world itself could not contain their account if they should all be written (John 20:30,31), here is that Man now crucified and buried in a borrowed tomb. There must have been many, including the apostles, who were emotionally drained and deflated. They must have felt as though all hope was lost.

A group of women that followed Jesus from Galilee, standing far enough away not to be too involved but close enough to observe, had seen the Lord hang on an old, rugged cross and then die and agonizing death (Luke 23:49). They also saw Joseph of Arimethea take the Lord’s body down from that cross and wrap it in a linen cloth and then lay it in a newly hewn sepulchre (Luke 23:53-55). Knowing now where He was lain, they returned and prepared spices for the embalming of the body (Luke 23:56). They obviously had no expectation of a resurrection at that time.

On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women, Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James, Joanna, Salome and certain others with them which came from Galilee (Mark 16:; Luke 23:5524:1,10), brought the spices unto the sepulchre expecting to prepare the body of the Lord. When they found the stone already rolled away from the opening, they went in and found not the body of the Lord (Luke 24:3). Mary Magdalene, distressed at the missing body, immediately ran away from the sepulchre and found herself running to Peter and John (John 20:2), leaving the other women at the tomb perplexed (Luke 24:4). She told the two apostles that someone must have taken the body because it was no longer there and she did not know where they could have lain Him (John 20:2). Again, there is not yet the notion of Jesus’ resurrection in her mind, for she fears His body had been stolen. But the apostles are nursing their own thoughts.

In the meantime, the other women who had remained at the sepulchre encountered “two men in shining garments” (Luke 24:4), one standing by them and the other “young man sitting on the right side, clothed in a long white garment” (Mark 16:5). The women fell to the ground in fear (Luke 24:5). This “young man,” an angel, told the women not to be afraid because Jesus has risen. “Behold,” he says, “the place where they lay Him” (Mark 16:6). He further told them to go and tell His disciples and Peter that “He goeth before you into Galilee: there shall ye see Him, as He said unto you” (Mark 16:7). The women were frightened and fled, perhaps wandering and thinking what they should do, but they do not immediately follow the instructions of the angel because they did not tell anyone and were afraid and amazed (Mark 16:8).

After Mary Magdalene had spoken to them, Peter and John immediately set out to see this (John 20:3). They both ran together and as they came closer to the sepulchre, John outran Peter, reaching the sepulchre first (John 20:4). John stopped at the opening and looked but did not go in. His heart must have been racing from running and from wonder. He saw the linen clothes in which they had wrapped the body of the Lord. Peter finally made it to the sepulchre and entered immediately and saw the napkin and the linen burial clothes. John summoned the courage to enter and, seeing these things, believed (John 20:8). Did they speak to one another about their thoughts or did they instinctively know what each other were thinking?

Mary had followed behind Peter and John, who had now left, for she was standing there “without the sepulchre weeping” (John 20:11). She, herself, now looked again into the sepulchre and saw the two angels “sitting, one at the head, and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain” (John 20:12). They ask her why she wept and she still did not consider the possibility that Jesus had risen. She told them someone had taken the body of the Lord and she knew not where (John 20:13). Then turning around she saw Jesus but only thought He was the gardener (John 20:15). He asked her why she wept and she inquired if He had taken the body, she would be glad to remove it for Him.

Just then, Jesus spoke her name, “Mary” (John 20:16). There was no mistaking this voice and the way He spoke her name. She knew then that He was Jesus, her Master, risen from the dead (John 20:16). Jesus told her to go and tell the apostles that He was ascending back to the Father. Mary then “came and told the disciples that she had seen the Lord, and that He had spoken these things to her” (John 20:18). At no time did Mary think the Lord had risen until she had spoken with Him herself.

Now as the other women finally decided to tell the disciples of what had happened, Jesus appeared to them as they returned. He met them saying, “All hail. And they came and held Him by the feet, and worshipped Him” (Matt. 28:9). He then told them to tell His brethren that they would see Him in Galilee (Matt. 28:10). When the women told the apostles, adding their testimony to Mary Magdalene’s, to them their words seemed as idle tales and they believed them not (Luke 24:11).

However, when Peter heard the testimony of the women, that they had seen the Lord, he once again headed for the empty tomb. He ran again to the sepulchre, no doubt anxious to see the Lord for himself, and looked in and saw everything as he had seen it before (Luke 24:12). He “departed, wondering in himself at that which had come to pass” (Luke 24:12). But sometime while he was separated from the rest of the apostles, the Lord appeared to Peter alone (I Cor. 15:5). We are not given the details of that appearance, but it must have been a very emotional one for Peter.

Later that day, the Lord also appeared to two disciples on the road to Emmaus. He casually drew Himself near to them as they were walking, and discussing the things which had happened that day (Luke 24:14,15). He engaged them in conversation and explained to them the events that happened by means of the scriptures (Luke 24:25-27). As it was getting toward evening he tarried with them and ate (Luke 24:28-30). As He ate, their eyes were opened and they now recognized Him. But just as they recognized Him, He “vanished out of their sight” (Luke 24:31). In the very same hour, they rushed back to Jerusalem to tell the apostles of the events they, themselves, had witnessed (Luke 24:33).

As they told the apostles of the things that had happened to them, they were told that the Lord had appeared to Peter as well as the women (Luke 24:34,35). “And as they thus spake, Jesus Himself stood in the midst of them, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you” (Luke 24:36). But the disciples were terrified and affrighted and thought Jesus was a spirit. He showed them His hands and His feet and they could hardly believe for joy (Luke 24:41). Over the next forty days the Lord would show Himself “alive after His passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God” (Acts 13).

Eric L. Padgett