on Acts 14 :22
Confirming the souls of the disciples - The word disciple signifies literally a scholar. The Church of Christ was a school, in which Christ himself was chief Master; and his apostles subordinate teachers. All the converts were disciples or scholars, who came to this school to be instructed in the knowledge of themselves and of their God: of their duty to Him, to the Church, to society, and to themselves. After having been initiated in the principles of the heavenly doctrine, they needed line upon line, and precept upon precept, in order that they might be confirmed and established in the truth. Though it was a great and important thing to have their heads, their understanding, properly informed, yet, if the heart was not disciplined, information in the understanding would be of little avail; therefore they confirmed the Souls of the disciples. As there must be some particular standard of truth, to which they might continually resort, that their faith might stand in the power of God, it was necessary that they should have such a system of doctrine as they knew came from God. These doctrines were those which contained all the essential principles of Christianity, and this was called The Faith; and, as they must have sound principles, in order that they might have righteous practices, so it was necessary that they should continue in that faith, that it might produce that obedience, without which even faith itself, however excellent, must be useless and dead.
Again, as the spirit of the world would be ever opposed to the spirit of Christ, so they must make up their minds to expect persecution and tribulation in various forms, and therefore had need of confirmed souls and strong faith, that, when trials came, they might meet them with becoming fortitude, and stand unmoved in the cloudy and dark day. And as the mind must faint under trouble that sees no prospect of its termination, and no conviction of its use, it was necessary that they should keep in view the kingdom of God, of which they were subjects, and to which, through their adoption into the heavenly family, they had a Divine right. Hence, from the apostles teaching, they not only learned that they should meet with tribulation, much tribulation, but, for their encouragement, they were also informed that these were the very means which God would use to bring them into his own kingdom; so that, if they had tribulation in the way, they had a heaven of eternal glory as the end to which they were continually to direct their views.
on Acts 14 :22
Confirming - "strengthening" ἐπιστηρίζοντες epistērizontes. The expression "to confirm" as in some churches a technical signification, denoting "to admit to the full privileges of a Christian by the imposition of hands" (Johnson). It is scarcely necessary to say that the word here refers to no such rite. It has no relation to an imposition of hands, or to the thing which is usually supposed to be denoted by the rite of "confirmation." It means simply that they established, strengthened, made firm, or encouraged by the presentation of truth and by the motives of the gospel. Whether the rite of confirmation, as practiced by some churches, be founded on the authority of the New Testament or not, it is certain that it can receive no support from this passage. The truth was, that these were young converts; that they were surrounded by enemies, and exposed to temptations and to dangers; that they had as yet but a slight acquaintance with the truths of the gospel, and that it was therefore important that they should be further instructed in the truth, and established in the faith of the gospel. This was what Paul and Barnabas returned to accomplish. There is not the slightest evidence that they had not been admitted to the full privileges of the church before; or that any ceremony was now performed in confirming or strengthening them.
The souls - The minds, the hearts, or the disciples themselves.
Disciples - They were as yet scholars, or learners, and the apostles returned to instruct them further in the doctrines of Christ.
And exhorting them ... - Acts 13:43.
In the faith - In the belief of the gospel.
And that we must - καὶ ὅτι δεῖ kai hoti dei. That it is fit or proper that we should. Not that it is fixed by any fatal necessity, but that we are not to expect that it will be otherwise. We are to calculate on it when we become Christians. Why it is proper, or fit, the apostle did not state. But we may remark that it is proper:
(1) Because such is the opposition of the world to pure religion that it cannot be avoided. Of this they had had striking demonstration in Lystra and Iconium.
(2) it is necessary to reclaim us from wandering, and to keep us in the path of duty, Psalm 119:67, Psalm 119:71.
(3) it is necessary to wean us from the world; to keep before our minds the great truth that we have here "no continuing city and no abiding place." Trial here makes us pant for a world of rest. The opposition of sinners makes us desire that world where "the wicked shall cease from troubling," and where there shall be eternal friendship and peace.
(4) when we are persecuted and afflicted, we may remember that it has been the lot of Christians from the beginning. We tread a path that has been watered by the tears of the saints, and rendered sacred by the shedding of the best blood on the earth. The Saviour trod that path; and it is enough that the "disciple be as his master, and the servant as his lord," Matthew 10:24-25.
Through much tribulation - Through many afflictions.
Enter into the kingdom of God - Be saved. Enter into heaven. See the notes on Matthew 3:2.
on Acts 14 :22