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The Power Of Encouragement

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Introduction

Encyclopedia of 7700 Illustrations 1168 Ford Encouraged by Edison

Henry Ford once said that the ability to encourage others is one of life’s finest assets. The auto inventor and manufacturer knew the power of encouragement. He had learned of it as a young man.

Memorable to him was the time, at the beginning of his career, when he made a drawing of his newly-built engine for Thomas. A. Edison. Young Ford had endured criticism and ridicule. Most mechanical experts of that day were convinced that electric carriages would be the popular passenger cars of the future.

But attending a dinner one evening at which Edison was present, Ford began explaining his engine to men nearest him at table. He noticed that Edison, seated several chairs away, was listening. Finally the great man moved closer and asked the young inventor to make a drawing.

When the crude sketch was complete, Edison studied it intently, then suddenly banged his fist on the table. “Young man,” he said, “that’s the thing! You have it!”

Years later, Ford recalled, “The thump of that fist upon the table was worth worlds to me.”

—Jack Kytle

With this chapter and verse we enter the final section of Acts. We have seen the gospel go out in Jerusalem, Judea, and Samaria. Now it is about to go to the ends part of the earth. So that is the last section…
With this chapter and verse we enter the final section of Acts. We have seen the gospel go out in Jerusalem, Judea, and Samaria. Now it is about to go to the ends of the earth. So that is the last section…
With this chapter and verse we enter the final section of Acts. We have seen the gospel go out in Jerusalem, Judea, and Samaria. Now it is about to go to the ends part of the earth. So that is the last section…
The Spread Of The Gospel To The End Of The Earth Chs. 11:19-28:31
In the rest of ch. 11 through ch. 12 we find that…
God Uses Circumstances To Spread The Gospel Chs. 11:19-12:24
The section we will deal with today details how the gospel…
Spread Through Persecution And Famine 11:19-30
Persecution and famine set the stage, but the tool God uses is encouragement.
Encyclopedia of 7700 Illustrations 1168 Ford Encouraged by Edison

Henry Ford once said that the ability to encourage others is one of life’s finest assets. The auto inventor and manufacturer knew the power of encouragement. He had learned of it as a young man.

Memorable to him was the time, at the beginning of his career, when he made a drawing of his newly-built engine for Thomas. A. Edison. Young Ford had endured criticism and ridicule. Most mechanical experts of that day were convinced that electric carriages would be the popular passenger cars of the future.

But attending a dinner one evening at which Edison was present, Ford began explaining his engine to men nearest him at table. He noticed that Edison, seated several chairs away, was listening. Finally the great man moved closer and asked the young inventor to make a drawing.

When the crude sketch was complete, Edison studied it intently, then suddenly banged his fist on the table. “Young man,” he said, “that’s the thing! You have it!”

Years later, Ford recalled, “The thump of that fist upon the table was worth worlds to me.”

—Jack Kytle

Encouragement is a powerful thing. There are countless stories about how a word of encouragement spoken at just the right time gave someone the strength to carry on. Some of our worlds greatest inventions came after the inventor received encouragement.
Encouragement is a powerful tool in the propagation of the gospel.
Today what we will learn is that…
Encouragement is a powerful tool in the propagation of the gospel.
Therefore, every believer must seek to encourage others.
Why? 2 reasons are presented in the text.
First…

1. Encouragement Creates Gospel Opportunities vv. 19-26

We serve a sovereign God. Do you believe that? What does it mean for God to be sovereign?
Scripture teaches that God orchestrates the affairs of life for His glory.
When God’s people respond appropriately to the circumstances of life, God uses them to accomplish His will.
In useing you and me to accomplish His will, God exercises the gifts He has given us.
What we see in these verses is God working through His people, in difficult circumstances, using the gifts that He has given.
As we are taught of encouragement from this passage we are first confronted with…

a. The occasion for encouragement vv. 19-21

READ v. 19
To understand what this is talking about turn back to .
Acts 8:1–4 NKJV
Now Saul was consenting to his death. At that time a great persecution arose against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles. And devout men carried Stephen to his burial, and made great lamentation over him. As for Saul, he made havoc of the church, entering every house, and dragging off men and women, committing them to prison. Therefore those who were scattered went everywhere preaching the word.
The gospel is spreading, but most are preaching only to Jews. Now we get to others. So we have Jews, Samarians, Gentiles in Judea, and Hellenists. DEFINE! These are the people that God used Saul to scatter through persecution.
God was sovereignly using Saul, even before he had trusted Christ!
i. Scattered preachers v. 19
These scattered preachers reveal the sovereignty of God. Can we all agree that persecution is a bad thing?
Yet God is using it to spread the gospel!
They are preaching the word. “Word” here is logos meaning message. What is the message?
The first place this appears is in . Turn there please.
Acts 2:41 NKJV
Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them.
What is Peter’s message that they are receiving? Let’s summarize it. Vv. 22-24 Jesus, God in the flesh, was crucified and raised from the dead. Vv. 32-33 Jesus was resurrected, exalted, and has sent the Holy Spirit. Vv. 36-38. Jesus, crucified, raised, and exalted, is Master and Messiah! The only proper response to Him is faith! Repent, be baptized, have your sins forgiven, and receive the Holy Spirit!
This is the message Peter preached and it is the message, the Word, the logos, that has been preached ever since.
Jesus tells the parable of the sower and the seed. The sower in this parable is not carefully placing the seed. He is broadcasting it everywhere! Anyone know what this is? (Spreader, seeder) technically it is a broadcaster. It is for spreading seeds or fertilizer. A great example of this would be reseeding a lawn. You don’y carefully place each seed! You put it in a broadcaster and you let it spread everywhere.
God put His people in the broadcaster of persecution. Everywhere these men and women went, they preached the gospel.
They have gone to Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Antioch (S).
However, they have only been preaching to the Jews.
READ v. 20
Some of those who were persecuted and scattered were from Cyprus and Cyrene (S). These people were a little less prejudiced, so they were willing to preach the gospel to more than just the Jews.
There is a manuscript difference here. Some translations have Greeks, some have Hellenist or Greek speaking Jews. When we consider the context, it seems best to understand this as speaking of Greeks or Gentiles. The point is that some people who were scattered had begun preaching the gospel to Gentiles just like Peter had!
These men from Cyprus and Cyrene are doing some strong preaching in Antioch (S).
ii. Strong preaching v. 20
Notice the content of their message. The Lord Jesus.
They are preaching (proclaiming)that Jesus, the carpenter from Nazareth, is Lord! He is Kurios. He is THE Master. Many of those they preached to would have considered Caesar Lord.
The result of their preaching is found in v. 21.
READ v. 21
iii. Supported preaching v. 21
The hand of the Lord is mentioned off and on throughout the OT. Sometimes it is referencing judgment, other times it is in reference to Him directly working His will. That is how it appears here.
The hand of the Lord speaks of His direct activity and power.
God is directly and powerfully involved in our lives. Especially when we are sharing the gospel.
When God is involved in our lives, great things happen!
As the gospel is preached and God works, people believe and turn to the Lord. These scattered preachers are having their strong preaching be supported by God Himself!
Turned – ἐπιστρέφω (epistrephō) return; turn; turn back. To direct one’s interest, attention, or trust towards something.
Turned – ἐπιστρέφω (epistrephō)
I love this description.
“Believed and turned” is not a two step process. It is two sides of the same coin. You can’t believe without turning to the Lord and you can’t turn to the Lord without believing. It is a simultaneous thing.
Here is the process of events. Believers are persecuted, they flee the persecution and preach Christ everywhere they go! They don’t discriminate; they preach the gospel to everyone. The result is that the Lord is active on their behalf and many, many people believe and come to Christ!
This is the activity of a sovereign God! He can even use persecution to advance His purpose.
Kent Hughes makes a powerful point in his commentary on this passage.
Preaching the Word: Acts—The Church Afire Ground-Breaking Preaching (Vv. 19–21)

Antioch was evangelized not by apostles but by average members of Christ’s Body who were willing to share their faith.

I want us to be encouraged by this. God can and will use the difficulties of life for His glory.
There is persecution, there are people coming to Christ, they need encouragement! And so, as we continue, we learn of…
Perfume - lingers and everyone knows it is you. That’s kind of the idea here.

b. The occurrence of encouragement vv. 22-24

READ v. 22
We have met Barnabas before. In ch. 4 he sold property and gave all of the money to the apostles for distribution. In ch. 9 he was instrumental in bringing Saul to the disciples, we will talk more of that in a moment. What I want us to look at is .
Acts 4:36–37 NKJV
And Joses, who was also named Barnabas by the apostles (which is translated Son of Encouragement), a Levite of the country of Cyprus, having land, sold it, and brought the money and laid it at the apostles’ feet.
Barnabas is an encourager. Every time we see him in Scripture, that is his role. This is so much a part of his personality that the leaders in Jerusalem send him to Antioch.
Let me give you just a little background about Antioch. Half a million + population at this time. 3rd largest city in the ancient world.
Tyndale Bible Dictionary Antioch of Syria

Because of its location on navigable waters reaching to a Mediterranean port 15 miles (24 kilometers) away and because of its ready access through passes in the Taurus Mountains eastward to the interior, Antioch was a busy, cosmopolitan center of trade, religious ferment, and high levels of intellectual and political life. Under Roman authority Antioch received lavish attention in the form of beautiful public works, harbor improvements, and special trade advantages.

However, Antioch was also home to fertility religions, gladiatorial sports, and mystery religions. Flip back to .
Acts 6:5 NKJV
And the saying pleased the whole multitude. And they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and the Holy Spirit, and Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas, a proselyte from Antioch,
Nicolas, one of the first “deacons” was from Antioch.
This would be a difficult city to minister in. The large Jewish presence combined with all the other religions would make the persecution of Christians all but guaranteed. Yet this city becomes the hub of evangelism!
When the church in Jerusalem hears about people in Antioch coming to Christ, they send Barnabas. I believe that He was sent to encourage.
Sent to encourage v. 22
READ v. 23
This is a really cool expression. He saw the grace of God! How? In the salvation of sinners! Considering the types of people who lived in Antioch, this church may have had some very interesting members.
Barnabas sees people who have been saved by grace, and He is glad. He rejoices!
However, he doesn’t just pat them on the back with a smile and a thumbs up and walk away.
Barnabas is an encourager. And so we find him in this verse seeking to encourage.
ii. Seeking to encourage v. 23
Encouraged – παρακαλέω (parakaleō) urge; implore; exhort. To earnestly support or encourage a response or action.
v. 23 – Barnabas is an encourager.
Encouraged – παρακαλέω (parakaleō)
This is the same root word we find in ch. 4 when he is described as a son of encouragement. And it is the same root word for parakletos or comforter which is a title for the Holy Spirit.
Barnabas encourages them to a specific action.
They need to continue with the Lord in purpose of heart.
Purpose – πρόθεσις (prosthesis) plan; purpose; setting forth. Determination n. — the quality of being determined to do or achieve something.
Purpose – πρόθεσις (prosthesis)
He wants them to be determined, to plan and purpose to continue with the Lord.
Continue – προσμένω (prosmenō) remain; continue; stay with. To remain firm and steadfast in one’s association (with someone or something).
Continue – προσμένω (prosmenō)
What is Barnabas doing? He is is exhorting, imploring, and encouraging these young believers to plan and determinedly purpose to be steadfast in their faith.
This reveals something very important to us.
Growth is intentional. It doesn’t just happen. It must be worked for.
This is something I believe the body of Christ desperately needs to understand. Passive inactivity will never result in growth! Growth is achieved when we have a plan and a purpose and we pursue it with everything we have!
Why would they need to be encouraged to continue in the Lord? Because there is pressure and temptation not to! This hasn’t changed! There is an enormous amount of pressure to have “Sunday only” Christianity. There is pressure to be half-hearted and not to take this whole “Jesus thing” too seriously. There is pressure to consider Jesus your fire insurance and never give Him another thought!
We need to be encouraging one another to stand firm! To press on! To fight the good fight of faith!
We must come alongside our brothers and sisters in Christ and encourage them to continually pursue Him!
However, if we are going to do that. What is true of Barnabas, must be true of us.
READ v. 24
Would anyone describe us like this? Barnabas was supplied to encourage. He had all the necessary elements in place.
iii. Supplied to encourage v. 24
He is a good man. Think of the people we describe as good. High moral character. Kind. Giving. Gracious. Loving. Generous. That was Barnabas.
Not only is he a good man, He is full of the Holy Spirit.
In Acts, every time people are filled with the Holy Spirit, incredible things happen. In ch. 2 they speak in languages they had never learned declaring the wonderful works of God! In ch. 4 Peter preaches Christ to the Sanhedrin and all the disciples preach with boldness. In ch. 6 all the men chosen as Deacons were filled and as a result many people are saved. In ch. 7 Stephen is filled and powerfully preaches Christ, resulting in his death! In ch. 9 Saul is filled and preaches so convincingly that many people believe! Now we find Barnabas filled with the Spirit and again, many people are being saved.
Not only is he filled with the Spirit. He is also full of faith.
What does it mean to be full of faith? Turn to .
Hebrews 11:32–34 NKJV
And what more shall I say? For the time would fail me to tell of Gideon and Barak and Samson and Jephthah, also of David and Samuel and the prophets: who through faith subdued kingdoms, worked righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, became valiant in battle, turned to flight the armies of the aliens.
This is just a tiny piece of what has in it.
When you are full of the Holy Spirit and you walk by faith, anything is possible.
Do we believe that?
Because of the man of God Barnabas was, a great many people come to Christ. Great many = considerable crowd.
Great many = considerable crowd.
Do we want to be used by God? Do we want to see people come to Christ? Be full of the Holy Spirit and faith! How? Don’t quench or grieve the Spirit. Yield to His control. Work hard at not sinning.
To be the encouragers we need to be, we must be like Barnabas.
Barnabas isn’t done. As the work in Antioch grows, Barnabas needs some help. He needs someone who is educated, articulate, and energetic. Who does he need? We learn of this as we discover…

c. The occupation of encouragement vv. 25-26

READ v. 25
Barnabas seeks Saul. This is just so awesome.
Already knew him from . Turn there please.
Acts 9:26–30 NKJV
And when Saul had come to Jerusalem, he tried to join the disciples; but they were all afraid of him, and did not believe that he was a disciple. But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles. And he declared to them how he had seen the Lord on the road, and that He had spoken to him, and how he had preached boldly at Damascus in the name of Jesus. So he was with them at Jerusalem, coming in and going out. And he spoke boldly in the name of the Lord Jesus and disputed against the Hellenists, but they attempted to kill him. When the brethren found out, they brought him down to Caesarea and sent him out to Tarsus.
Barnabas has already been an encouragement to Saul. Now he does it again! Saul was sent to Tarsus in 9:30 (S). Brings him to Antioch (S). In my opinion, v. 25 is one of the most important verses in Acts. This explains the entire ministry of Saul (Paul). At risk of overstating things, There would be no Paul without Barnabas.
Sent to Tarsus in 9:30 (S). Brings him to Antioch. First called Christians in Antioch. In my opinion, v. 25 is one of the most important verses in Acts. This explains the entire ministry of Saul (Paul). At risk of overstating things, there would be no Paul without Barnabas.
Encouraging is so much a part of Barnabas’ nature that he grabs Saul to encourage him and the believers in Antioch at the same time! Barnabas is searching for opportunities to encourage.
i. Searching for opportunity v. 25
READ v. 26
When he finds Saul, he brings him to Antioch where they stay for a year teaching.
Barnabas and Saul are supporting the church. How?
First, by assembling with them. This simply means that they gathered them all together. How is this supporting and encouraging the church? Because the body of Christ is supposed to gather! We are to encourage, lift up, and bear each others burdens. We cannot do that if we are not together.
ii. Supporting the assembly v. 26
Second, by teaching them. Barnabas and Saul spent a year instructing these believers. This also lends itself to understanding v. 20 as Greeks instead of Hellenists. They are teaching them the things of the Lord. Teaching them Scripture.
These are two very important lessons for us as believers today. If we are to encourage one another, we must gather together! There can be no Godly encouragement outside of fellowship. We also must be teaching and learning. This is vital for encouragement.
The believers’ greatest encouragement comes from learning the promises of God.
The end of the verse reveals that believers were first called Christians in Antioch. May have heard that this was a derogatory term. I haven’t found evidence of that.
First called Christians in Antioch. May have heard that this was a derogatory term. I haven’t found evidence of that.
Instead I believe they were called this because they so resembled their Messiah! They looked, talked, acted, and lived like Jesus!
We must seek to be encouragers because it creates gospel opportunities. In these verses people come to Christ because Barnabas is an encourager!
When we encourage the body of Christ, it gives opportunity to proclaim Him! So many people have been turned off to Christianity because they see us fighting amongst ourselves. Stop it! Love one another, encourage one another, then there will be opportunities to preach Christ.
The second reason every believer must seek to encourage others is because…

2. Encouragement Displays Godly Character vv. 27-30

How do people know we are Christians?
There are two options. By what we say, and/or by what we do. There is a saying that pretty much everyone knows, “actions speak louder than words”. Therefore, A believer in Jesus Christ is primarily recognized by how they act.
I believe this explains why so much time is spent in the epistles detailing how we as believers are to act.
What we are about to see is how the teaching and lifestyle of Barnabas and Saul has impacted the believers in Antioch.
We get a look at how actions provide encouragement. First we see…

a. Relief needed vv. 27-28

READ v. 27
Prophet in the technical sense. People who can foretell the future. Again, this is a temporary sign gift that passed off the scene with the completion of Scripture.
Prophets travel from Jerusalem to Antioch (S). Not a short trip. Why? Didn’t come to give this prophecy. Most likely came to fellowship with and encourage this new church in Antioch.
READ v. 28
There is a key phrase here. “By the Spirit”. This is not Agabus discovering something or having this innate ability. This is a Spiritual gift given and activated by the Holy Spirit.
Foretold a famine. They send relief.
Foretold a famine. Will affect everyone. Poss. just Roman empire. Not clear.
They hear of this need prophetically through the Holy Spirit. How do we hear today? We have to tell each other!
We are told that this famine actually happened.
They hear of this need prophetically through the Holy Spirit. How do we hear today? We have to tell each other!
They hear of this need prophetically through the Holy Spirit. How do we hear today? We have to tell each other!
I believe that we wound the heart of God when we deny our brothers and sisters the blessing of helping us in our need.
ii. Need announced v. 28
To bear burdens, we must share burdens.
How many people remember the Y2K scare? The year 2,000 was supposed to crash all computer systems. The world was going to be plunged back into the dark ages. Power outages were predicted, food shortages, the availability of water. Some people talked about it like it was going to be an apocalypse. I personally knew people who started to stockpile supplies. People bought generators and all kinds of survival gear. Now, nothing happened. Midnight on December 31, 1999 ticked over to January 1, 2000 and nothing changed. The point is this.
What is a normal response to knowing there will be famine? Hoard!
What happens here? In the next few verses we see the…

b. Relief supplied vv. 29-30

READ v. 29
This is incredible! They send relief. Here is the result of Barnabas and Saul’s teaching and lifestyle. This local body of believers have so learned encouragement, they want to encourage others!
i. Supplied by ability v. 29
There are some important points here. The disciples send relief according to their ability.
They send relief.
Ability – ὐπορέω (euporeō) prosper. To be prosperous v. — to be or become marked by being in fortunate circumstances financially.
Ability – ὐπορέω (euporeō)
They are sending out of their surplus. The idea is not to make yourself a beggar so you can give. It is to live within your means so that you can give. The word “determined” has the idea of intention. They are examining their resources and ordering them in such a way that they are able to give. We call this a budget. One very strong argument for a budget is that it enables you to give to the Lord. To be an encouragement and blessing to others!
Here are two very clear passages that deal with giving. ; (S).
; (S).
;
1 Corinthians 16:2 NKJV
On the first day of the week let each one of you lay something aside, storing up as he may prosper, that there be no collections when I come.
2 Corinthians 9:7 NKJV
So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver.
They are giving according to their ability. The suggestion seems to be that everyone is able to give something. The amount is not the issue.
The issue is one of obedience to God and dedication of heart.
We ought to have a desire to advance the work of God’s church.
The heart issue is made abundantly clear by Jesus in (S).
Mark 12:41–44 NKJV
Now Jesus sat opposite the treasury and saw how the people put money into the treasury. And many who were rich put in much. Then one poor widow came and threw in two mites, which make a quadrans. So He called His disciples to Himself and said to them, “Assuredly, I say to you that this poor widow has put in more than all those who have given to the treasury; for they all put in out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all that she had, her whole livelihood.”
Do we have giving hearts? Hearts willing to sacrifice a little to see God’s church accomplish His mission?
These young believers in Antioch give. They send relief.
Relief – διακονία (diakonia) service; ministry. Assistance n. — the activity of helping especially as it relates to a person’s sustenance.
Relief – διακονία (diakonia)
We last saw this word in in connection with the first deacons. The desire of these young believers is to serve their brothers and sisters who are about to be in need.
What is interesting is that according to this prophecy, they will also be affected by this famine!
They are not concerned about themselves. Instead, they are giving anything extra they have to help those in Judea.
ii. Supplied by activity v. 30
Would we?
READ v. 30
They didn’t just desire to do it, they did it.
Do you think people outside the church noticed?
I picture them asking the believers how they were destitute one day and had food the next. The believers in Judea would than have had the opportunity to speak of how we in the body of Christ care for one another! This gives a natural pathway into the gospel.
One of the things I love about being part of IFCA is that we have a benevolent fund. When hurricane Katrina hit, money was sent. When the Tsunami hit Japan, money was sent. But this money was sent to Bible teaching, Gospel preaching churches in those areas!
When we give as God has commanded, we open doors to the gospel!
This body of believers who are, at most, only a few years old in the Lord give to help the churches in Judea. They send what is collected back with Barnabas and Saul.
The godly character of the early church was displayed through their generosity to one another. This in turn provides gospel opportunities.
Failure to give ensures that we miss opportunities for the gospel.

Conclusion

What do I want us to walk away with from this passage?
Encouragement is essential.
Why?
It creates gospel opportunities and it display godly character.
So what?
This goes back to our purpose as believers.
states (S).
Ephesians 2:10 NKJV
For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.
We have been created for the purpose of good works!
adds to this (S).
2 Corinthians 5:20 NKJV
Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God.
We exist to bring God glory. We bring Him glory through functioning as He has commanded. We do good works, we plead with people to be reconciled to God through Jesus Christ.
Giving encouragement enables the body of Christ to function as God has designed.
In this passage, Barnabas encourages the believers in Antioch and more people come to Christ. He and Saul fellowship and teach in Antioch and people start calling believers little Christ’s! The believers in Antioch bless and encourage those in Judea through provision of resources!
Encouragement is a powerful tool in the propagation of the gospel.
May we be an encouragement to those around us.
May our encouragement advance the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Acts 11:19–30 NKJV
Now those who were scattered after the persecution that arose over Stephen traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Antioch, preaching the word to no one but the Jews only. But some of them were men from Cyprus and Cyrene, who, when they had come to Antioch, spoke to the Hellenists, preaching the Lord Jesus. And the hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number believed and turned to the Lord. Then news of these things came to the ears of the church in Jerusalem, and they sent out Barnabas to go as far as Antioch. When he came and had seen the grace of God, he was glad, and encouraged them all that with purpose of heart they should continue with the Lord. For he was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith. And a great many people were added to the Lord. Then Barnabas departed for Tarsus to seek Saul. And when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch. So it was that for a whole year they assembled with the church and taught a great many people. And the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch. And in these days prophets came from Jerusalem to Antioch. Then one of them, named Agabus, stood up and showed by the Spirit that there was going to be a great famine throughout all the world, which also happened in the days of Claudius Caesar. Then the disciples, each according to his ability, determined to send relief to the brethren dwelling in Judea. This they also did, and sent it to the elders by the hands of Barnabas and Saul.
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