Many Are Called, Few Are Chosen

(Acts 13:1-3)

A great many people have and will yet come to The Lord. Some will receive ministry work to do in the church. Others will simply live their life as examples of the faith in action, humbly and respectfully praising and worshipping their Lord and ours.

Many are called but few are chosen
Many are called but few are chosen

But there are a few who for one reason or another are not simply called by The Lord to come into the flock, they are brought into the church to do a specific task or ministry. The hand of The Lord rests heavily upon these people to carry out God’s purpose and to do his will.

In this section of scripture we see the choosing of Paul and Barnabas by The Lord through the Holy Spirit where they were commissioned to carry the gospel to the world. And they did a very good job as we can still see the fruit of their labours in the words of the bible as were ad it still today.

Paul in particular was chosen to speak to god’s people and in his speaking and his letters to the churches we see the unfolding of the mystery of the ministry of the new covenant. Such was the insight Paul had and the trust The Lord had in Paul to do this work.

Paul and Barnabus

In earlier posts I covered the calls of both Paul and Barnabus to The Lord, and they could not have been more different. Paul’s as a hot-headed Pharisee tearing up the region to imprison any Christians he came upon. That is, until The Lord appeared to him on the Damascus road and turned his life around.

Contrast this with Barnabus who it appears walked with Jesus from a very early point in the Lord’s ministry and was highly regarded by the church. His real name was Joseph, but the apostles nicknamed him Barnabas, which translates as “Son of Encouragement.” (see Acts 4:36) This was a testimony to his work and stature among the people and the apostles.

Bringing these two together was a great masterpiece of wisdom and insight by The Lord for in them we had the fire of Paul to preach the message, tempered by the steady and considered approach of Barnabus. It was one of the truly great partnerships in biblical history.


Now in this section of Acts 13 this partnership is brought together through The Lord speaking by the Holy Spirit. Verse 2 says this,

While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.”

These two men had become quite close and were both teachers in the church at Antioch. We see in Acts 9:27 where Barnabas helped Paul when he first came to Jerusalem after escaping from Damascus. Paul had been ravaging the early church and imprisoning the Christians. But after his Damascus road experience and his conversion to Christianity he preached boldly…and incurred the ire of the Jewish leaders. But on returning to Jerusalem the early church did not believe he had been converted and thought he may have been playing at some ruse to find more believers and imprison them. It was not until Barnabas came to Paul’s aid that the disciples finally believed and accepted him into the early church.

And now the Holy Spirit chose them to go out and do a work. They were to go to the Gentiles and bring the word of God to the world. And in this work Paul would write the letters to the churches that eventually would define and describe the doctrine of Christianity to the world, and to which we are indebted today for it is the words of Paul that fill much of the New Testament.

Right from the very beginning of his call The Lord had plans for Paul. The Lord said as much to Ananias when he was instructed to go and lay his hands on Paul to receive his sight and the Holy Spirit after Paul’s Damascus road experience. He said in Acts 9:15,

But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel.

Right from the beginning of his acceptance of Christianity Paul was chosen to speak the words of the gospel to the Gentiles and the authorities. He was brought up and chosen for this very work.

Chosen Today

I am equally sure that there are people chosen to do specific works today, as there have been down through the ages.

Ever since the end of the first period of the church and from the time of reformation there has been a gradual re-enlightenment going on in the church and I am certain the messages that the various men and women proclaimed in the reawakening of the church was through people who were specifically chosen to open up the message.

Consider the likes of John Calvin, Charles Wesley, William Tyndale, Mary Baker Eddy, Martin Luther, William Booth and so on. These people were given specific instruction and messages by The Lord that revolutionised the church in their day. They were given insights into the truth of the gospel that had been lost in the dark ages. They were chosen instruments of The Lord to re-open the truth and unravel the mysteries of the doctrine of Christianity, and then preach it to the masses.

Such people, like Paul and Barnabas, were chosen instruments of The Lord to do His work so that all who followed would benefit. Progressively since the time of reformation, The Lord has been opening up the fullness of the gospel through His chosen workers. Piece by piece, bit by bit, The Lord has added to the knowledge of the gospel through His chosen ministers so that we will come to a time when the fullness of His work and word is available and we can come to the fulness of the stature of Jesus Christ, completed in his name by the working of the Holy Spirit in our lives.

(Image sourced from stock.xchng provided by Joerg Beyer)

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