[Paul and Barnabas] returned to Lystra, Iconium and Antioch, strengthening the disciples and encouraging them to remain true to the faith. Acts 14:21–22
Encouragement is like oxygen—we can’t live without it. This was true for nine-year-old James Savage. The boy swam more than two miles from the San Francisco shoreline to Alcatraz Island and back, breaking the record for the youngest person to accomplish the feat. But thirty minutes into the swim, the choppy, frigid waters made James want to quit. However, a fleet of paddlers called out, “You can do it!” The words gave him the boost he needed to finish his goal.
When the choppy, frigid waters of tribulation made believers in Jesus want to give up, Paul and Barnabas encouraged them to continue their journey. After the apostles preached the gospel in the city of Derbe, they “returned to Lystra, Iconium and Antioch, strengthening the disciples and encouraging them to remain true to the faith” (Acts 14:21–22). They helped the believers to remain firm in their faith in Jesus. Troubles had weakened them, but words of encouragement strengthened their resolve to live for Christ. In God’s strength, they realized they could keep pressing on. Finally, Paul and Barnabas helped them understand that they would “go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God” (v. 22).
Living for Jesus can be difficult, and we’re sometimes tempted to give up. Fortunately, Jesus and fellow believers in Him can provide the encouragement we need to press on. With Him, we can do it!
What people in your circles of influence need to hear, “You can do it!”? What specific words of wisdom and encouragement can you share this week?
Jesus, when I’m tempted to give up, please send people to give me confidence and courage to continue my walk with You.
Without some familiarity with Paul’s missionary journeys and the geography in biblical times, passages like Acts 14 can be a bit confusing. While verses 21 and 26 both mention Antioch, the places aren’t the same. The one mentioned in verse 21 was in Pisidia (a district in southern Asia Minor); the one in verse 26 was in Syria. These two cities and fourteen others were named in honor of Antiochus, the father of Seleucus I Nicator, founder of the Seleucid Empire (fourth century bc). There were five cities named Antioch in Syria alone. The one mentioned in verse 26 was the third largest city in the Roman Empire in the first century and the most renown of all the cities. It became the hub of missions for believers in Jesus after Christianity took root there (see 11:19–30). In Antioch, the disciples were first called Christians (v. 26) there and all three of Paul’s missionary journeys began there (13:1–4; 15:36–41; 18:22–23).