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Christians First at Antioch

The Bible Study Hour / James Boice
The Truth Network Radio
August 26, 2020 8:00 am

Christians First at Antioch

The Bible Study Hour / James Boice

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August 26, 2020 8:00 am

Everyone knows the name "Christian," but where was it first used? Believers were first called Christians in a sophisticated, tolerant, and corrupt city; a business power where all the wealth of the East passed through on its way to Rome, Antioch in Syria. There, Barnabas saw what God was doing, and introduced Paul to the church.

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Everyone knows the name Christian, but where was it first used believers were first called Christians in a sophisticated, tolerant and corrupt city of business power were all the wealth of the east pass through on its way to Rome, Antioch in Syria. There, Barnabas saw what God was doing and introduced Paul to the church are welcome to the Bible study our radio and Internet program featuring the teaching of Dr. James Boyce preparing you to think and act quickly today will be studying the account of how Barnabas went to the new community of believers in Antioch Antioch was a city known by the pagans to be sophisticated, cosmopolitan, wealthy and corrupt, it was also a city where the Holy Spirit planted a vibrant and effective church. Let's listen now to Dr. Boyce regarding the nights of the 11th chapter of acts. Now it's important to note when we come to verse 19 that Lucas deliberately picking up on where he had left off the expansion of the gospel to the Gentile cities in chapter 8 return back to chapter 8 verse four. You'll find they are virtually the same words we find here in chapter 11 chapter 1119 we read now those who had been scattered by the persecution in connection with Stephen traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus and Antioch telling message back to the eighth chapter and that's almost the same thing. Those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went out that point in chapter rated picked up with the ministry of Philip began to take the gospel into mixed regions. That is, regions that were part Jewish and part Gentile Samaritans were a mixed race in that respect. So it begins with his ministry there and then we saw was the read through the eighth, ninth and 10th chapters, but God expanded that so the gospel was preached not only in Samaria, which was composed of those were both Jew and Gentile eventually to the Ethiopian then up the coast of the Mediterranean.

Eventually to Caesarea largely to Jews.

But then, as we saw in this great vision that Peter received in the direction that he had for his ministry to a Roman citizen. This centurion Cornelius, we saw that when the gospel was preached to him and his households. They all believed in were received as members of the church. Just as those who were Jews, so already, we noticed a great expansion.

Here we have the same thing only here it goes a bit further say when the gospel was preached in Caesarea to Cornelius.

The Roman he was at least what was described in that story as a God-fearing's to say wasn't a Jew who wasn't even 1/2 Jew away Samaritans were but he was the kind of Gentile that was attracted to Jewish religion sat in the back of the pew where the Gentiles had to sit in that section that was especially reserved for them they could, they could listen, but they were not circumcised and were not members of the Jewish race.

The Jews were glad to have them. They thought it was beneficial for them. Nevertheless, that's where they said was his context.

You say he had already begun to learn something about the God of Israel.

Now in the city of Antioch where mission now in these verses is described, we find the preaching given out not just the Jews and just those who are part Jewish or not even the Gentiles were God theaters. But those we would have to call just water pagans because it was a pagan city and when it says is, it does that there were certain of them that went and began to speak to Greeks also letters to the Gentiles. Well, these are people who were coming right out of paganism using the progression is not an incidental or haphazard telling of the story showing step-by-step exactly what happened when we begin to understand that we understand why was necessary to have the previous chapters might have said, if you were writing this is to share a story ended this business in Chapter 11 should follow right after what were told of in chapter 8. Here gospel is expanding to Ethiopia along the coast of all of that now. Why didn't you just go right on and say that now establish route and Antioch. Well, it's because you needed the kind of preparation that you have in chapter 10 is difficult for the Jews understand how the gospel could be proclaimed. Gentiles.

And so step-by-step.

God began to show that it was possible for the Gentiles to hear the gospel and come to Christ and be saved and have all the privileges that anybody else in the church of Jesus Christ happened to do that without becoming Jews in the first place. Moreover, that the gospel didn't have to be preached only first of all, to those who showed some interest, but it was to be taken by the Disciples of Christ, and to be preached everywhere, allowing the Holy Spirit who blesses the preaching of the gospel to cause it to bring forth fruit, in whom ever God chose to say, usually by the time you get to chapter 11.

We are getting much closer to the kind of evangelism you and I know today. Oh, it's true. Often we speak.

Indeed, in the church as we speak largely to those who have some acquaintance with the gospel some interest in religion, even if they're not safe there in the church to have some sort of interest in the kind of things were talking about and we preach the gospel to them in the churches we are evangelistic as well as just doing teaching messages, but the chief part of our evangelistic witness today is to those who are without your to go in the whole world with the gospel, even though the pagans even those don't want to hear it, and what we have here in this chapter. Now is the beginning of that kind of pattern significant to say that chapter from out when we get to chapter 13 that it is from Antioch. This city that the great missionary movement led by the apostle Paul starts here is a city where there's a church composed people converted out of paganism.

Naturally, these people have on their minds and their parts. The pagans from which they had, and so the missionary movement. As such, starts out there in the city of Antioch is an interesting city.

It was founded city and Syria. Others number of antioxidants. One is in Syria. It was founded after the conquest of Alexander the great by one of his generals know I'm sure that after the death of Alexander the great kingdom that he had established divided into four parts, and one of those parts was ruled over by mandamus… I parked was roughly what we would call Syria and this man's… Establish the city see it was an importance that it was on the river Barrantes where could trade that is down the river with the coast of the Mediterranean. Again was far enough inland that it was strategically centered to the command post for the area of Syria to the Arabs, the natural capital of this area of the world was Damascus, but you say, the Greeks came from further west and the Romans did likewise insult to them Antioch and bought Damascus was the natural capital so it grew in importance when Ptolemy later conquered solicitous and established his kingdom. He made Antioch the official capital of this area so it grew, it became a great cosmopolitan city. Braden mingling of people here as we relax, we find that each of these cities has its own characteristics.

One evidence of the veracity of Lucas and historian Jerusalem is very much a Jewish city it's filled with volatile Jewish temperaments and great hatred of the Gentiles were all quite different city, a city well aware of the power of the Empire and the Emperor and people much in fear of the Roman government and so on through all these different cities. Athens, the great intellectual capital of the day Antioch at his own character and the character of Antioch was, as I said that it was very cosmopolitan.

You had a great mixture of people in the city geography would indicate that was north of the Jewish states so a lot of Jews were naturally up there. Cephas tells us there were 25,000.

His day.

There was also an seriously had many of the Arab peoples there and then there were the Greeks, who were the descendents of the Seleucids, Ptolemy, and then eventually there were the Romans and it was situated in such a way that it was a great amount of trade it had grown by this time to be the third most important city in the Empire of Rome was first Alexandria was second in Egypt and then there was Antioch of Syria and, obviously, because it's trade cities in Egypt produced the grain came around, they were important. Without reason, as well as for cultural reasons. Antioch was chiefly a business and all of the wealth of the east flowed through Antioch on his way to Rome.

All the armies marched through Antioch back-and-forth and see what kind of a city.

It was sophisticated yes tolerant everybody there with all these different backgrounds live side-by-side. It was somewhat like the American ideal that same time is a very corrupt city is corrupt not only because we look back on it is Christians and say well we know some things will on their was dropped even the ancients thought that Antioch was corrupt and had a grove outside the city was called the Grove of Apollo. It was a place of licentious sexual indulgence.

People went there for that reason, it was like an outdoor brothel.

As a matter fact it was so well known for its debauchery that on one occasion not long after this, when a Roman senator in the Senate chamber in Rome trying to describe how Rome which once had been upright in the days of the Republic had become corrupted by the moral values of the East. He referred to the river Barrantes on the banks of which Antioch was situated in said and picturesque language. They are aunties has flowed into the Tiber, is what the Roman slots of the city was here in this cosmopolitan mixed business city, which at the same time was most corrupt, that this great great church was established church that mixture of races. A church that was grounded in the word and a church because it was grounded in the word was anxious to obey. Jesus Christ became the first great missionary church of the New Testament were told how things got going.

People would been scattered there as well as other places.

As a result of the persecution in Jerusalem and some of those who were scattered went were told to Phoenicia and Cyprus. That is the island off the coast which the missionaries themselves later returned and Antioch telling the message.

First of all, only the Jews, some of them there, who had been scattered about a Jewish background of perhaps with a great deal of contact with their Gentile neighbors men from Cyprus and styrene Irene from North Africa went to Antioch and we are told began to speak to the Greeks also as they went right in the heart of paganism began to preach the gospel were told to us is good news.

Namely, that as they told the good news about Jesus the Lord's hand was with them and a great number of people believed in turn to the Lord. Dallas News got back to Jerusalem, saying that the news was always getting back to Jerusalem because it's always that way whenever anything is done is always somebody run back to those were supposed to be important and say oh my goodness you know it's going on let's with the did somebody went down to Jerusalem and said all their preaching to the Greeks in Antioch. You know that the preaching of the Greek Antioch was bad enough to know that Peter went up there and spoke to Delia's main eye was bad enough but at least he was a God-fearing, but now Antioch. It is going out the streets talking everybody do something about that. And so the church in Jerusalem got together and they dispatched someone to go up and that man was Barnabas we know Barnabas is because he's already been introduced to us earlier when we were told about the setting aside of the first deacons and the deacons were mentioned and named Barnabas was one of them. Two of them were named with particular emphasis bunch of them there but Stephen the first because he was the first martyr than Barnabas, who, we are told. Even at that point was named Barnabas because his name means a son of encouragement was in his original name, but he was named Barnabas because he had a gift of encouraging other people in the Christian life. At any rate, these Jews in Jerusalem looked around and said we have to send somebody up there. I don't know why at this point didn't send Peter. It might be that Peter was just involved might be that the others were scattered they were doing their work and at any rate, Barnabas was a good man and so they said without anybody has judgments and balance can handle the delicate situation well and can report back with seems to be happening with the gods in this are not. Certainly Barnabas is capable of that kind of task.

So they set them up and Barnabas began to investigate out.

It's interesting what he did.

First of all, that when Barnabas arrived he rejoiced at what he saw. Here God was at work.

Barnabas rejoiced charge translation says he was glad. I guess it's possible to pass over something like that was they will Garcia be glad your God was working all these Gentiles were getting converted never remember this was a novel situation and it was not a foregone conclusion that the Julie was. He was a Levite priest while he live in Cyprus had some experience Gentile communities. It was not a foregone conclusion. The Jew is going to rejoice in such a situation, he might've said begrudgingly.

Well I guess Gentiles have a right to hear to know if they must.

God determined to do that will let God do what God will do. I will stand in his way he bite if the situation like that, but he did in real heart for what God was doing so, he saw that the gospel is bearing fruit Gentile communities.

He was really glad to see that he was so happy wasn't his denomination.

It wasn't his people was in his city your God was working and he was happy to learn from that. One thing you learn here to learn to be happy when God works somewhere else. All of us are happy, or at least most of Tiber happy when he works in our midst to be blessed our denomination, our church, our people are family.

When does someone else always so happy we think somehow all those other people don't deserve it. We don't deserve as much as we do, and so we hold back quite happy. And then again we see that not only did he rejoice at what was going on. Encourage them so he was not only happy got in there right with them side-by-side. He said God is working here I want to be at work. God's work and his gift was a gift of encouragement.

So he said I want to put my gift to work in this city where God is so evidently working.

I wonder if the two don't go together when you really glad about what God is doing it in their work with other people. And when you work with other people, where God is working.

You inevitably are glad about it. Reason why some of us are so sour supposes that we stand back we say well let God work we say which I made is even worse. Let them work with somebody else do it. We don't get in there. We don't pitch in when you do you know some of the joy, the blessing God brings rubs off on the Bible study where God is blessing people and teaching them people are growing our survey because a great sense of joy at that kind of a study. If you're not involved in witnessing in some way to someone. I got to do that is great joy in seeing how God blesses that kind of a witness in any rate, that's what they did. I think when we see this in the context of everything that has gone before we see that God really had been preparing this field and he had been preparing the laborers say when we were talking about Peter. We saw that that was true God had prepared Cornelius and his family to receive the gospel, but he also prepared Peter to go and preach it.

You have the same thing here. God was pairing the entire Christian community for this expansion of the gospel to the Gentiles that it was necessary to have chapters by intent before you have Chapter 11 know in our lives. We need to realize that is sometimes also often the case, we tend to think because were Americans. We like to think in terms of schedules regular progress certain amount of percentage of return on the things we do know that the work of God to go ahead in a very formal regular way and so was frustrating us. When that doesn't happen even in our own Christian lives.

We think we ought to be making regular progress. We go through sometimes seems like a long period seem to be any progress was nothing we can see nothing we can perhaps only a very restless that we say now. Why is not working anymore. Well, God is working it is not working the way we want to say we think in terms of things we can say God thinks in terms of what's invisible is more interested in the quality of what is done in the quantity here, God was preparing this whole church getting their mindset understand the nature of the gospel that it was not a particularistic Jewish thing get them thinking in terms of others, Gentiles, and so forth all straight get that all sorted out before this great moment a blessing here.

The church of Antioch could take place, and it obviously prepared this ban Barnabas beginning with him so very long before we go through plateaus Christian life we go through plateaus in the development of our churches often, but I purposely get something sorted out first attracted God has for us and them blessing follows a little bit more about this man. Barnabas was already dead. He arrived from Jerusalem on the official visit was glad encourage them ask the question well why why did he respond in this way gives the answer. Verse 24 was because Luke said he was a good man. I don't know exactly what sense Moo contended that, but you can't read that he was a good man without thinking of the way the Lord Jesus Christ handled a similar statement on one occasion when the rich young man came to him and said, good master, what must I do to be saved. Jesus response to him was, why do you call me good. Now anybody could receive that title. Good it was Jesus and he said why do you call me good, and the point he was making is that you had to start with a better view of Jesus Christ and lap, the rich young man was calling them good master, which was the equivalent of calling them good man and he wanted a rich young man to say that either he was good daughter. He was a bad man, those things have to go together. I had here been Luke's weeks of this ban Barnabas without any apparent difficulty or embarrassment is as well. He was a good man and so we say when what's wrong. How are we to understand that the answer you see is what comes immediately after he was a good man, not because being a man.

He was good was slowly up the laddie would have to say Willie was a bad man. He was a sinner like the rest of us wasn't that said he was a good man because he was full of the Holy Spirit. He had the spirit of Jesus Christ within and that's why he was good at the spirit of Christ had faith, which is a gift of the Spirit through the spirit was strong in those things. He was strong in those graces, and it was because of that, but when he got to this town of Antioch. He was able to rejoice.

What was going on. You see the spirit within him was bearing witness to the spirit that was in these Gentile converts and he was saying yes we are. What this is marvelous what God is doing and not only that he had faith that God was going to do more and so he got busy and he encouraged him we learn another thing about Barnabas at this point in maybe he is most to be praised for this Barnabas was self-effacing. I remember Barnabas is the official delegate from Jerusalem.

He was one of the first deacons.

He was probably the most prominent deacon after the death of Stephen anybody could come up here with any kind of clout other than an apostle course at special clout. It was this man Barnabas equal to come up and he could've acted a bit like little for these people say I am the official representative from Jerusalem when I tell you what to do and how to run your fear has to be done, just like the Jerusalem church and I'm the official vehicle to communicate that to us and seem to have any of that spirit whatsoever, where we see the spirit of self placements the most is not merely that he was glad of what was happening or that encourage the work there. But then he went out of his way to go and get a man whom he had known years before now in Jerusalem but home he recognized being led.

Undoubtedly, at this point. By the spirit of God as being just the man for this church at Antioch was a mixed church were some Jews were largely now was a Gentile church Gentiles and have any knowledge of the word know the Scriptures that is lights coming right either paganism what the church like this need of it wasn't to go off in one crazy direction after the other, become we divided all sorts of things kind of things happen at your lot is in sound teaching they needed to learn the law they needed to learn the Scriptures, and in order to learn that they need someone to teach and who could do that was capable of that kind of systematic regular teaching for this Gentile church. Barnabas thought to himself, that is my gift. The gift of teaching I'm in, encourage her and glad to be that, but I'm not the one to teach them at glad to try and so on will be somebody better than that.

And so we thought of was when Saul interesting is when they first met. It was after solid come to Jerusalem and nobody else would have anything to do with Saul, Saul, at that point needed Barnabas, Barnabas, the son of encouragement went through Saul encouraged him and brought him to the other person said no you see this is a man in whom the spirit of God's work is really converted and slowly brought a man and then there was trouble and Saul had to leave him when away went back to his home of our system we call turkey and all these years gone by, but now you say it wasn't Saul needed Barnabas it was Barnabas that needed Saul and so Barnabas that I just better set time aside and go get it now had to go along way. It was about 100 miles manioc up to Tarsus where he was and he didn't even know I sense since it says he went to look for Saul when he found them seems to be. As I read that you know exactly where he wants. He had gone to Tarsus was he still there. I don't know was didn't know what the body go try and find them so he made this long journey Ironside, in his commentary hasn't little speculative dialogue at this point I don't know whether it's right but he imagined that since we haven't heard anything about Saul knowledge years. It may be.

Saul was feeling a little bit discouraged at this point God had sent him to be a missionary to the Gentiles. Knowing what things he would suffer for Christ's sake could stand before kings, that's what God told me hands good before any kings we don't hear anything was happening up there now maybe, maybe it was found in churches of these days I don't know but we don't hear about them passes overridden Ironside imagines Saul sitting at home one day just a little bit dejected when Barnabas arrives box on the door opens the door. There's an old friend Barnabas all Barnabas and so good to see sort of been down in civilian Barnabas says oh I'm glad to see you and I number very important reason. I have a great need in Antioch and you're just the man for it so slow I don't think so.

I've been trying out.

Have been doing very well in the know. Maybe God can't use me and Barnabas the sun. Encouragement says no God. This is the moment. This is what got you for church. God's blessing is the conversions the evangelists are doing their job, but this whole church full of people to know any thing about the Bible need someone to teach that you know the Bible you could come and do it and so he pictures the scene in which Barnabas wins Saul over and says now you come with me to send them off diseases. Come with me, know that I will show you what I mean and so we get there. Barnabas introduces Saul the congregation and says another Saul is going to preach and then stepped back.

Saul and Paul begins his ministry told here that they ministered for a whole year. There for the church in Antioch and they taught great numbers of people that phrase. Great numbers of people is exactly the phrase that is used earlier when it says that there were a great number that were brought to the Lord. So what this verse is saying is that all those who were brought to the Lord were now taught and saved many in LA taught many creative church with thousands of a taught church of the thousand year Saul and Barnabas carried on this joint ministry.

Working together, that's great. You know that's really the way it should be one of the weaknesses of our church planting in our day is that we send an individual out to do it and he's isolated out there and carries on the best he can.

God bless as many of those efforts. But you know in the Lord that it isn't about 2 x 2 you have to follow Barnabas working together with mutual and mutually supporting gifts. Saul, the expositor of the teacher Barnabas encourager. That's the way it should be nine congregations need to understand that they look to one pastor or another and expected to have all the gifts I guess are some pastors who were flattered by that. Try to pretend that they have all the gifts congregation things they should have well good there.

Glad to have all the guests of the try to do everything the way it should be.

God gives one gift, one God is one gift to another in congregation where God raises up a number to carry on the work of the ministry, delete it while that's only way it should be because we need are the mutual guests of the various members of the body that's true the church as a whole. The leadership and so we rejoice in that we need to support people in the particular gift God has given God certainly done that here attends church with a variety of gifts and skills among those guns taught to lead us now it's at this point where God is establish this great church Antioch really mix church Jews and Gentiles but with many many Gentiles and is brought this dual ministry of Paul and Barnabas to lead it carried on for work. It's in that context, which is the closest of anything we've seen so far to the church as we know today. It's at this point. Now for the first time in history that the disciples of Jesus Christ are called Christians in the text says the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch. While they had been called a lot of other things before this first word that was used to describe them as disciples because they were disciples of their master, disciples, Lord. This is the name that prevailed all the way through the lifetime of Jesus Christ, then, is not used quite so much. After that, because the very word disciple met one who was following along after a master so was very appropriate for the dates of Christ's earthly ministry. Now we are also disciples of Christ today, the word was used in a special way there. At that time were called saints and Jesus himself given them that were to call them only once. Now you are holy because of what I've spoken unto you, that's what he said how we have ruined that word some sectors of the church because we use it for people who we consider particularly good and in some liturgical areas of the church become someone who is elevated to a special area is an eminent individual is done a miracle or some such thing.

That's not the right word is used in the New Testament to say this one was set apart to God who is committed to God was devoted to God which we are by definition, when we become followers of Jesus Christ so early Christians sometimes were called saints.

They were called believers. That means not merely intellectual belief, but one sin whom the Holy Spirit had brought forth the gift of faith, so when the gospel is preached to them.

They responded to it naturally because God put it within them, so responded, believe what the Holy Spirit said they believed the word are called brothers great sense of brotherhood and sisterhood develop these members of the early church. Nothing like Christian brotherhood had existed before this time I knew they were part of a new order new order of humanity, and they were very conscious of that. Even the pagans look at the Christians and said, behold how these Christians love one another.

That's brotherhood and then they were called witnesses. Jesus said to you will be my witnesses so they worriedly testified to the truth about Jesus Christ throughout the world. All those names to say now here for the very first time these disciples who were saints and believers and brothers and witnesses were also called Christians as Christian Christians of Christ, one where they get that name, but I didn't get it from the Jews because Christ means Messiah and the Jews denied Christ was the Messiah, so they didn't call Christians followers of the Messiah false Messiah perhaps put on the Jews call them that wasn't good believers. Apparently the called themselves that either they had all these other names must've been the pagans serve Gentiles in this entire community. Those who surrounded them to these people. Followers of the way these disciples of Jesus and they said they are Christ wants.

I belong to that man Christ trying to be like him.

I don't think they necessarily did it in a derogatory way.

In some cases it could be used in a derogatory way. I think it was a genuine confession of what it was that seem to motivate these people. They wanted to be like Jesus say we should be like that to Ironside says in his book that what he was traveling in China was in Canton was introduced once as a geisha.

Jan and he did know what that meant but he asked what it meant in the Kennedys dialect.

If I have it right issue is the word for Jesus and Jan meant man so he was introduced as a Jesus man is Jan using that's exactly what was going on here.

These former Gentiles. These pagans had no knowledge of Christ, of the word were bound by the Holy Spirit brought to faith in him and they were Christians. Christ once and so they wanted to follow him, is appropriate in that context, at this very last paragraph begins to show Ellie function profits came from Jerusalem, Antioch, one of them was named Ida Bussey shows up later in connection with the apostle Paul predicted rightly through the Holy Spirit that the famine was going to spread over the entire Roman world now doesn't say that I got this bowl discharge what they should do about it. He merely prophesied it that you say are filled with the spirit of Christ, and so they do what Christ would do, and were told that they each according to his ability decided to provide help for the brothers living in Judea, so they didn't.

They collected their money and they sent the gifts down there by the elders and by Barnabas and Saul far as I know this is the first thing like this in all of recorded history, one nation and one race of people collect their own money and give it to support people of another race of another nation from Plan B would help their own families since rights are meant to help their own nationalities or certain city that had a great city consciousness. You can take up a collection to do something would help the city and benefit everybody.

The first time in history so far as I know that a group of people collected money and then sent off to help people in another nation who are of another nationality but you say it's the spirit of Christ within. They were rightly called Christians first in Antioch. Now when they were called Christians first Antioch country understand sense in which that spoken this is the first place. They were called Christians to close with this thought only believers called Christians in Antioch Christians first in Antioch to see they could've been something else first and Christian second, they could've been Gentiles first and Christian second and I could've said, what were Gentiles. Why should we send money to those Jews or the could've been pagans first and Christian second and they could've said well we have to cleaned all our old forms of worship and all the traditions of our city is been very poor examples which is a work that there Christians first first Gentiles.

Yes, they were Greek speaking SSA were from Antioch. Yes, yes, all that but you labor Christians first because there Christians. First, they felt that brotherhood with those were Christians elsewhere in the world wherever they were found.

The question of Ross's log is when we Christians first that the most important thing about Ofc. We most of all, happy to be followers of Jesus Christ. All yes romantic woman there.

We have this job or that job or all sorts of things that produce distinctions among us when we first of all Christians well so gospel will go forward.

God will bless it to the leaders made and does it says here.

Great numbers of people. We brought the Lord through such a witness) of other help us to be what we automate what we are by grace Christians be Christians first give us sensitivity to your leading thankfulness of the ways in which you blessed, especially for those that you will given to lead us father be with them. Bless them rent that their ministries might not only be fruitful, but that they might be recognize also other ministries exercised in obedience to and out of love for Jesus Christ's name.

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