Acts 14:1-7 The Word Of His Grace.
The last verse of the last chapter makes mention of the reality that the disciples were filled with joy and the Holy Spirit (v. 52). So it is after being filled with the Spirit that they went together to the synagogue at Iconium and spoke to both Jews and Greeks, and as a result many believed (v. 1). So once again we are reminded that it is the sovereign work of God’s Spirit which makes the word effectual for those “appointed to eternal life” (v. 48). However, as we also know, it is in these situations that the devil is also at work, as the unbelieving or apostate Jews sought to embitter the people against the brethren (v. 2). For this reason, the apostles “stayed there a long time, speaking boldly in the Lord, who was bearing witness to the word of His grace, granting signs and wonders to be done by their hands” (v. 3). We know that these signs and wonders bore witness to the apostolic ministry, because the very next verse mentions them specifically (v. 4). This is in keeping with the rest of the biblical testimony, that these signs and wonders were ordained for this specific time and purpose (Cf. 2:43; Mk. 16:20; Heb. 2:4).
We also must not lose sight of what set the apostolic message apart from those who opposed them, a message which was based on the law and the prophets, which their opponents had rejected. The apostles preached “the word of His grace” (v. 3). This contrasted with a religion of works righteousness that their opponents took pride in. In Antioch the apostles had encouraged the believers there “to continue in the grace of God” (v. 43). It was and remains “the word of His grace, which is able to build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified” (20:32). When this word is truly preached, it will cause divisions, as it must (Cf. Lk. 12:51). There can be no admixture between the religion of grace, and any of works. Those opposed invariable turn to governmental or political authorities to persuade them to misuse their power to try and silence the true religion (v. 5). When they had thus persuaded the latter to help them, it then became necessary for the apostles to move on. This also served the purposes of the spread of the gospel, since this is what they did when they moved on to Lystra and Derbe (vv. 6-7 C. Mt. 10:23; II Tim. 3:11).