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Separated Unto Grace
Part I

Acts 13:2-3

Acts 13:2-3
As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them. And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them away.

As the Administration of Grace opens Paul and Barnabas are separated and sent out.

What does it mean that these men were separated? 

The Greek word is aphorizo, from apo meaning away from, and horizo which means to mark off as boundaries, or to appoint, or to set apart. 

For what were these men set apart?

When it comes to Barnabas God’s Word gives us very little direct information about his calling as a leader in the Administration of Grace. We know his titles as a minister. We know from Acts 14:14 that Barnabas is an apostle in the Administration of Grace. We also know from Acts 13:1 that Barnabas is a prophet. We can glean some of his calling from the definitions we have for a prophet and an apostle. Then from other verses we can see some of the character and heart of Barnabas.

Acts 4:36-37
And Joses, who by the apostles was surnamed Barnabas, (which is, being interpreted, the son of consolation,) a Levite, and of the country of Cyprus, having land, sold it, and brought the money, and laid it at the apostles' feet.

From these verses we see that Barnabas is not considered an apostle during the Revealing Administration. Nor is Barnabas identified as an apostle in the other verses pertaining to the Revealing Administration where he is mentioned.

We also learn in Acts chapter 4 that Barnabas is from Cyprus. We will see more about this connection to Cyprus as we continue to look at Barnabas.

We can also see the trust Barnabas has toward God in Acts 4. He “having land” sold it. Since land is in the singular, he appears to have sold his only asset and then he gave this money to the apostles for the needs of the ministry. This shows us the trust Barnabas had toward God to meet his needs. This also stands as the antitheses of Ananias and Sapphira in the next chapter in Acts. 

Chapters that we see today were placed in the Bible around 1551. The Geneva Bible of 1557 was the first Bible published with chapters. Placing Acts 4:34-37 as the start of Acts chapter 5 would have kept the contextual flow of Barnabas and Ananias and Sapphira together. My only point about chapters is to realize chapters were added by man and carry no spiritual authority. 

Acts 5:1-2
But a certain man named Ananias, with Sapphira his wife, sold a possession, and kept back part of the price, his wife also being privy to it, and brought a certain part, and laid it at the apostles' feet.

You can deceive a man, but you cannot deceive God. As Peter explained to Ananias in verse 4, the land they sold did not have to be sold, God did not require it. Nor did they have to give any of the price of their land to the work of the ministry. Both the land and then the money were theirs to do with as they desired. 

This lie of Ananias and Sapphira was performed to impress men. It also demonstrated a complete lack of trust toward God’s ability and willingness to provide for them. Therefore, God judged them, and they died. 

I would venture a guess that nine out of ten people would agree with me when I say playing Russian Roulette is a foolish game. Yes, you survived the last round but eventually one of these rounds will take your life.

God is life, away from God is death. When you disobey God, when you ignore what God has declared, you have rejected life and embraced death. Yes, you survived your last sin, but eventually one of these times when you embrace death, it will welcome you with open arms.

This is another clear example of the difference between the Revealing Administration and the Administration of Grace. In the Revealing Administration God still did, and will do, the judging, while in the Administration of Grace God does not act in judgment.

Consider the end of Acts chapter 12 when a grand celebration was held for Herod.

Acts 12:21-23
And upon a set day Herod, arrayed in royal apparel, sat upon his throne, and made an oration unto them. And the people gave a shout, saying, it is the voice of a god, and not of a man. And immediately the angel of the Lord smote him because he gave not God the glory: and he was eaten of worms and gave up the ghost.

God judged Herod immediately. In the Revealing Administration God is the judge. When God holds the Revealing Administration in abeyance, He also holds His judgment in abeyance. When the Revealing Administration resumes so too will God’s judgment. Remember, there are two aspects to the Covenant Israel entered into with God, the blessing and the curse. Jesus fulfilled the blessing. The Revealing Administration is about the curse. That is why it includes the wrath of God and the time of tribulation. Ananias and Sapphira, as well as Herod are living during this time. When the Revealing Administration is no longer being held in abeyance the world of unrighteousness will be embraced by the antichrist and they will encounter the wrath of God.

But during the Administration of Grace, God withholds His judgment upon the unrighteousness of mankind; now it is an Age, now it is an Administration, of God’s abundant grace. 

In every administration man has received God’s grace. God’s mercy and God’s grace have always been attached at the hip. God’s grace is defined as God’s unmerited favor. While God’s mercy has been defined as withholding merited judgment. Neither definition conveys the depth of God’s love and God’s forbearance. God needs to withhold the judgment man has earned to bestow His grace.

Adam earned judgment but received God’s grace when he and Eve were allowed to live beyond the Garden in Eden. In the Patriarchal Administration mankind earned judgment when every imagination of the thoughts of their heart was only evil continually. But mankind received grace when God inspired Noah to be a preacher of righteousness and in that God winked at these days (Acts 17:30). In the Law Administration Israel earned judgment as they repeatedly broke their covenant with God but received God’s grace in that they were allowed to live and even prosper. In the Revealing Administration Israel earned judgment when they rejected and murdered the Messiah but again, received God’s grace in that they are afforded the opportunity to receive salvation and be filled with God’s gift of holy spirit.

Grace is what God gives.
Grace is a manifestation of God’s love.
Life is grace.
God is grace.

Ephesians 2:4-5
But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)

Both God’s grace and God’s mercy flow from God’s love.

You probably noticed that I skipped the Christ Administration a few moments ago when I spoke of God’s grace in each administration. In the Christ Administration the world has God’s manifestation of grace and truth in the man Jesus. 

Grace makes no demands upon its recipient, except, receive me.
Grace has no harshness as it envelops you in a blanket of love.
Grace fills the ears with sounds of deliverance and forgiveness.
Grace is the heartbeat of the Father, God.

John 1:14
And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.

“Full” is pleres and means to be filled to the point of overflowing. Jesus Christ was overflowing in both, grace and truth. Jesus is God’s manifestation of both grace and truth.

John 1:16
And of his fulness have all we received, and grace for grace.

The Critical Greek text opens this verse with the word hoti which is a conjunction that means because. “Fulness” is the Greek word pleroo and means filled to capacity. The Greek word for “received” is lambano and means to receive into manifestation. So, has everyone been filled to capacity with grace and truth? 

The words “all” and “we” make the figure of speech synecdoche. This is a figure of speech whereby one word receives something from another word. The word “all,” rather than indicate the whole world, becomes limited by the word “we.” The “we” are those who believe.

The word “for” between “grace for grace” is the preposition anti and means instead of. So, we have received grace instead of grace. Now that makes no sense, until you consider the context. Verse 14 has just told us Jesus is God’s manifestation of grace and truth. Verse 17 is about to tell us the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.

It sounds as though Moses did not give Israel the truth and that there was no grace before Jesus.

What does it mean grace instead of grace?

It means that before Jesus the truth was limited and before Jesus God’s grace was limited. God has always loved, God is love. Everything God has spoken has always been the truth. But until the only begotten son of God came, who was and is the personification of truth and grace, God was limited in how much He could declare and how greatly He could demonstrate His love.

Jesus did not come because of mercy; Jesus came so that God could be faithful to His Word in Genesis 3. Jesus is God’s manifestation of grace and truth. True grace is embodied in Jesus and was in his every word and action, yet he does not say the word grace even one time.

When the about 5,000 were hungry because it was late in the day, Jesus blessed the five loaves and two fishes and God provided food for their comfort. This is God’s grace, God’s love, manifested in the action of Jesus. When the Canaanite asked for healing for her daughter Jesus told her he was sent to the lost sheep of the house of Israel (Matthew 15:21-28) and she was not of Israel. Yet her daughter was healed. This was God’s grace to provide healing.

It has always been the will of God to heal, to provide, to care for and to comfort, for He is a God of grace, a God who is love. 

John 1:17
For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ. 

There has been grace and truth in every administration, but the fullness of grace and truth comes through Jesus Christ. Then why did not Israel receive the fullness of God’s grace in the Revealing Administration? Israel did not receive the fulness of grace in the Revealing Administration because they are still under the covenant made with Israel through Moses. When the judgment of that Covenant is fulfilled, Israel will enter the Millennial Kingdom Administration, under the New Covenant and then Israel will receive the fullness of grace and truth through Jesus Christ.

1 Peter 1:9-11
Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls. Of which salvation the prophets have enquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you: Searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow.

In the earliest Greek texts, the words “Spirit of Christ” are not together. It should read, “…the spirit, which was in them did signify Christ, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow.”

Peter is saying, the Old Testament prophets searched God’s Word, by the spirit that was in them, looking for the timing as to Christ’s sufferings and the glory that would follow. They understood there was a gap between the two periods, the suffering and the glory. They searched to see if they could find how long was that gap.

That gap is the Administration of Grace. That gap is the time during which Israel is held in abeyance. That gap brings a pause to Israel, it brings a pause to God’s judgment, it brings a pause to fulfilling God’s Covenant with Israel.

The Administration of Grace is under no covenant and was under no covenant and therefore can receive of God’s fullness of grace and truth NOW! This is the administration in which Barnabas has been called to serve as an apostle. Barnabas is an apostle of the fulness of God’s grace.

We saw in Acts chapter 4 the trust and confidence Barnabas demonstrated toward God as he gave his only physical asset to the apostles for the movement of God’s Word. Now we continue in Acts chapter 9.

Acts 9:26-27
And when Saul [Paul] was come to Jerusalem, he assayed to join himself to the disciples: but they were all afraid of him and believed not that he was a disciple. But Barnabas took him, and brought him to the apostles, and declared unto them how he had seen the Lord in the way, and that he had spoken to him, and how he had preached boldly at Damascus in the name of Jesus.

In Acts chapter 9 Barnabas is mentioned again, this time in connection with Paul. When Paul was come to Jerusalem, three years after he had believed God’s Word, all the disciples were afraid of Paul. Although Barnabas has not yet been identified as a prophet, you can see the ministry of a prophet in operation as he calls God’s people back to the Word of God. You should not fear another believer.

You can also see why the apostles in Acts 4 called Barnabas the son of consolation. Consolation in the Greek is paraklesis, which can also be translated exhortation. To exhort another is to encourage that person. The basic meaning of paraklesis is to call another to your side to produce an effect. In Acts 9 Barnabas is calling the believers in Jerusalem to his side to produce the effect of fellowship with a fellow believer, Paul.

Acts 11:19-20
Now they which were scattered abroad upon the persecution that arose about Stephen travelled as far as Phenice, and Cyprus, and Antioch, preaching the word to none but unto the Jews only. And some of them were men of Cyprus and Cyrene, which, when they were come to Antioch, spake unto the Grecians, preaching the LORD Jesus.

In verse 19 we learned that those who were scattered abroad in Acts chapter 8 held forth God’s Word to only those who were Judeans. Then verse 20 appears to contradict this by saying they spoke to the Grecians. The Greek word in the text is Hellenistes and is referring to Greek speaking Judeans.

Acts 11:21-22
And the hand of the Lord was with them: and a great number believed and turned unto the Lord. Then tidings of these things came unto the ears of the church which was in Jerusalem: and they sent forth Barnabas, that he should go as far as Antioch.

Remember, in Acts 8, when the Samarians heard God’s Word, Jerusalem sent forth two apostles to see what was taking place. Remember also, that these apostles encountered a problem with those who had received manifesting their gift of holy spirit. Now when Jerusalem hears of Antioch having received God’s Word, they sent forth Barnabas. Look at the esteem with which the leadership in Jerusalem holds Barnabas. They know there could be problems as in Samaria, yet they did not send apostles, they sent Barnabas. Perhaps Barnabas is now recognized as a prophet.

Acts 11:23
Who, when he came, and had seen the grace of God, was glad, and exhorted them all, that with purpose of heart they would cleave unto the Lord. 

What did Barnabas do? First, when he saw God’s grace, he rejoiced. The Greek word chairo means to rejoice. One of the Greek words that comes from chairo is charis which is grace. When Barnabas saw the grace of God he rejoiced and then he exhorted. 

Now Barnabas is calling the believers in Antioch to his side to, “with purpose of heart…to cleave unto the Lord.” The effect you are endeavoring to produce is what you are currently doing, as in fellowshipping with Paul or cleaving unto the Lord with purpose of heart.

Acts 11:23
When he arrived and saw the grace of God, he was glad and encouraged all of them to remain true to the Lord with a firm resolve of the heart.
Holman Christian Standard Bible

Acts 11:23
Then when he arrived and witnessed the grace of God, he rejoiced and began to encourage them all with resolute heart to remain true to the Lord. 
New American Standard Bible

Then the account continues.

Acts 11:24
For he was a good man, and full of the Holy Ghost and of faith [pistis = believing]: and much people was added unto the Lord.

The word used for full here is pleres that we saw earlier pertaining to Jesus and grace and means filled to overflowing. Barnabas is filled to overflowing with God’s gift of holy spirit and faith, which is better translated believing. Although not identified as a prophet until Acts 13:1 we can see here in Acts 11 that Barnabas is already functioning as a prophet as he exhorts God’s family.

Now, look back at the direction Barnabas received from the leadership in Jerusalem, “go as far as Antioch.” Is that what Barnabas does?

Acts 11:25-26
Then departed Barnabas to Tarsus, for to seek Saul: And when he had found him, he brought him unto Antioch. And it came to pass, that a whole year they assembled themselves with the church, and taught much people. And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch.

Barnabas is filled to overflowing with God’s gift of holy spirit and with resolute purpose of heart he is cleaving unto the Lord. In other words, he is walking in the spirit, he is walking by revelation. Leadership cannot always see all the needs in a situation when it is distant. So, Barnabas, by revelation, goes beyond his directions and takes it a step further departing Antioch for Tarsus seeking Paul. What a tremendous walk with God!

For the next year Barnabas and Paul teach the believers in Antioch. Were they teaching the gospel of grace pertaining to the Administration of Grace? No, Paul is not called to begin teaching what God has specifically called him to teach until Acts chapter 13.

Acts 13:2
As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them.

You can change or add to directions leadership has given you, according to revelation you have received from the Lord. But you never change nor alter what God has told you to do. And God does not tell Paul to begin teaching the gospel of grace until Acts 13:2.

Notice also at the end of verse 26 the Judean believers in Antioch are the first to be called Christians. Peter also uses this term.

1 Peter 4:16
Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf.

Then, Agrippa also uses this term.

Acts 26:28
Then Agrippa said unto Paul, almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian.

This is every time the term Christian is used in the Word of God.

But what does this term mean? It means people who are endeavoring to be Christ like, or like Christ. In the Revealing Administration it is speaking of walking according to the Law of Liberty, also called the Royal Law. 

James 1:25
But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.

1 Peter 1:13-16
Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance: But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.

The walk of Jesus was holy because he was not just a hearer of God’s Word, he was a doer of that Word. Jesus was holy because he followed the holy words of God. Now Israel is encouraged to do the same so that at the revealing of Jesus Christ they will receive the fulness of God’s grace.

When the term Christian is used concerning the Administration of Grace, it is speaking of walking in the spirit, walking according to the Christ in you.

Colossians 1:26-27
Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints: To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory:

Returning to Acts 11, we again read of Barnabas and Paul.

Acts 11:27
And in these days came prophets from Jerusalem unto Antioch.

In these days refers to the time after Barnabas and Paul had taught in Antioch for a whole year.

Acts 11:28
And there stood up one of them named Agabus and signified by the Spirit that there should be great dearth throughout all the world: which came to pass in the days of Claudius Caesar.

There were five famines during the reign of Claudius, which lasted from 41 to 54 AD. The first was in 42 AD and mostly dealt with Rome itself. The second was in 45 AD and had a great affect on Judea. This is the famine Agabus was speaking of in Acts 11. That this is the famine spoken of by Agabus is collaborated by the death of Herod Agrippa which took place in 44 AD.

Acts 11:29-30
Then the disciples, every man according to his ability, determined to send relief unto the brethren which dwelt in Judaea: Which also they did, and sent it to the elders by the hands of Barnabas and Saul.

Barnabas and Paul returned from this mission in Acts 12.

Acts 12:25
And Barnabas and Saul returned from Jerusalem, when they had fulfilled their ministry, and took with them John, whose surname was Mark.

This is the calling, and the heart, and the character of Barnabas, an apostle of grace before the Lord.

©  Auxano Ministry 2021

A Journey through the Book of Acts