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THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 13 - Verse 3
Verse 3. And when they had fasted. They were fasting when they were commanded to set them apart. Yet this probably refers to an appointed day of prayer, with reference to this very purpose. The first formal mission to the Gentiles was an important event in the church; and they engaged in this appointment with deep solemnity, and with humbling themselves before God.
And prayed. This enterprise was a new one. The gospel had been preached to the Jews, to Cornelius, and to the Gentiles at Antioch. But there had been no solemn, and public, and concerted plan of sending it to the Gentiles, or of appointing a mission to the heathen. It was a new event, and was full of danger and hardships. The primitive church felt the need of Divine direction and aid in the great work. Two missionaries were to be sent forth amongst strangers, to be exposed to perils by sea and land; and the commencement of the enterprise demanded prayer. The church humbled itself; and this primitive missionary society sought, as all others should do, the Divine blessing, to attend the labours of those employed in this work. The result showed that the prayer was heard.
And laid their hands on them. That is, those who are mentioned in Ac 13:1. This was not to set them apart to the apostolic office. Saul was chosen by Christ himself, and there is no evidence that any of the apostles were ordained by the imposition of hands. See Barnes "Ac 1:26"; See Barnes "Mt 10:1"; See Barnes "Lu 6:12-16".
And Barnabas was not an apostle in the original and peculiar sense of the word. Nor is it meant that this was an ordination to the ministry, to the office of preaching the gospel. For both had been engaged in this before. Saul received his commission directly from the Saviour, and began at once to preach, Ac 9:20; Ga 1:11-17. Barnabas had preached at Antioch, and was evidently recognized as a preacher by the apostles, Ac 9:27; 11:22,23.
It follows, therefore, that this was not an ordination in the doctrinal sense of this term, either Episcopal or Presbyterian, but was a designation to a particular work—a work of vast importance; strictly a missionary appointment by the church, under the authority of the Holy Ghost. The act of laying hands on any person was practised, not only in ordination, but in conferring a favour; and in setting apart for any purpose. See Le 3:2,8,13; 4:4, Le 4:29; 16:21; Nu 8:12; Mr 5:23; 16:18; Mt 21:46.
It means, in this case, that they appointed them to a particular field of labour, and by laying hands on them they implored the blessing of God to attend them.
They sent them away. The church by its teachers sent them forth under the direction of the Holy Ghost. All missionaries are thus sent by the church; and the church should not forget its ambassadors in their great and perilous work.
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