Strengthening The Churches
In Acts 15:41 we read about the apostle Paul. The biblical text says
“He went through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches” (NIV).
This verse tells us both where he went and what he did. Many of us when we think about Paul probably think about the churches he planted or the letters he wrote (which are included in our New Testament).
In this verse we are told that he participated in strengthening the churches. Strength is important for survival, but churches should want to do more than just survive. I think God wants more than that; God wants churches to be strong and flourish.
At the time Paul engaged in this ministry, described in Acts 15:41, he had a new ministry partner, Silas (Acts 15:40). Paul had chosen him to be his traveling companion on this journey, Silas was a prophet (Acts 15:32).
Strengthening is one of the things that God does (Isa. 41:10), He strengthens His people. It is part of His nature in that He fosters life and vitality. We, even as believers, are weak human beings who need to be strengthened. As Acts 15:41 makes clear God also uses His people to strengthen others. So strengthening the church is a good ministry, in fact, it is a necessary ministry. Churches do not remain healthy or grow if they do not receive proper spiritual care. Please note the connection between churches being strengthened and growth in Acts 16:5,
“So the churches were strengthened in the faith and grew daily in numbers” (NIV).
We are not told all that Paul did to strengthen the churches. I am sure his visit was a great encouragement to the churches in and of itself. In addition I think that he probably did in person what he typically did in his letters, namely, he prayed for and instructed the believers.
The ministry of strengthening is a very refreshing one; it sounds positive and it is. This does not mean that everything that is said or done will make people feel comfortable, but it will always have in view the spiritual benefit and blessing of the body as a whole. In some churches today there is a lot of tearing down that goes on. Sometimes it is done by disgruntled church members and at other times it is done by church leadership. This is most unfortunate, especially since Jesus “feeds and cares” for the church (Eph. 5:29 NIV), if He does should we not join Him in the task? After all, the church is His body and we are part of it!
What may be surprising is that Paul could carry on this very positive ministry after his rather tumultuous break up with his long-time friend and co-worker, Barnabas (Acts 15:39-40). That had to have been a very painful parting since the two men shared a lot of history together.
Barnabas helped Paul be accepted by the church when people did not believe he was a genuine Christian, Barnabas spoke on his behalf (Acts 9:26-28). Paul also, at the invitation of Barnabas, taught the church in Antioch for a year (Acts 11:25-26). The two of them also went on a missionary journey together (Acts 13 & 14).
I will not, at this point, take sides about who was right (if anyone) in the dispute that these two men had. But I would like to call your attention to the fact that Paul did not allow the less than ideal circumstances in his own life to stop his ministry, nor, for that matter did Barnabas. Paul carried on this strengthening ministry in multiple locations to multiple churches! There is a lesson for us here. The work of the ministry goes on even if we are experiencing difficulties in our life. At times we must strengthen others even when we are in some way laboring under difficulty.
The strengthening described in Acts 15:41 was not the only time that Paul helped strengthen believers, there are other Scriptures which speak of him doing so. He did it before parting ways with Barnabas (Acts 14:22) and after the account in Acts 15 (Acts 18:23). Paul, was a spiritual leader, an apostle. Strengthening the church may especially be a function of leadership, but I do not believe it is something that is restricted only to leadership.
“Every member of the body of Christ should contribute to the strengthening of the church.”
We all have something we can do. We can pray, use our spiritual gifts, and obey the various “one another” texts which include Romans 15:7, James 5:16 and 1 Thessalonians 4:18. These all speak about our relationships with other Christians. Godly character, obedience, commitment, and gifting can go a long way in helping to strengthen the church. Let each of us purpose to use whatever influence we have for good; let us strengthen our churches!
John P. Lathrop is a graduate of Western Connecticut State University, Zion Bible Institute, and Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary’s Center for Urban Ministerial Education (CUME). He is an ordained minister with the International Fellowship of Christian Assemblies and has twenty years of pastoral experience.
https://www.beritamujizat.com/strengthening-the-churches/https://i2.wp.com/www.beritamujizat.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/66103166_2855280834546483_2048181976084854773_n-1.jpg?fit=726%2C514&ssl=1https://i2.wp.com/www.beritamujizat.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/66103166_2855280834546483_2048181976084854773_n-1.jpg?resize=726%2C514&ssl=1Teologi#bodyofChrist,#churches,#ecclesia,peopleIn Acts 15:41 we read about the apostle Paul. The biblical text says “He went through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches” (NIV). This verse tells us both where he went and what he did. Many of us when we think about Paul probably think about the churches he planted or...John P. Lathrop - United StatesJohn P. Lathrop - United States[email protected]ContributorJohn P. Lathrop is a graduate of Western Connecticut State University, Zion Bible Institute, and Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary’s Center for Urban Ministerial Education (CUME). He is an ordained minister with the International Fellowship of Christian Assemblies and has twenty years of pastoral experience.BeritaMujizat