Verse 25. "Returned from Jerusalem" - That is, to Antioch, after the death of Herod.
"When they had fulfilled their ministry" - When they had carried the alms of the Christians at Antioch to the poor saints at Jerusalem, according to what is mentioned, chap. xi. 29, 30, to support them in the time of the coming famine.
"And took with them John, whose surname was Mark." - This was the son of Mary, mentioned ver. 12. He accompanied the apostles to Cyprus, and afterwards in several of their voyages, till they came to Perga in Pamphylia. Finding them about to take a more extensive voyage, he departed from them. See the case, chap. xiii. 13; xv. 37-40.
1. WHEN the nature, spirit, and tendency of Christianity are considered, we may well be astonished that it should ever find a persecutor among the souls it was designed to instruct and save! Devils can have no part in it, and therefore we may naturally expect them, through envy and malice, to oppose it; but that men, for whose use and salvation the wisdom and mercy of God made it, should reject its offers of mercy, and persecute to death those who proclaimed it, is the most unaccountable thing that can be conceived. What a proof is this of mere maliciousness, where the persecutor not only serves no self-interest by it, but destroys, as far as he can, all that could promote his own present and eternal happiness! This argues such blindness of understanding, hardness of heart, and derangement of mind, as can be accounted for only on the supposition of a nature totally fallen from God, righteousness, and truth. The Jews crucify Christ, and martyr Stephen; and Herod murders James; and both join together to persecute the followers of Christ and destroy his cause. Reader, consider the consequences: this bad people were permitted to remain till they had filled up the measure of their iniquity, and were then cut of by a most terrible judgment; and Herod was visited for his transgressions in such a most awful way as strongly marked the displeasure of God against persecutors. If a man contend with a man, the contest is in a certain way equal-the potsherds strive with the potsherds of the earth; but when a man enters the lists against his Maker, as every persecutor does, wo unto that man!-he must be torn in pieces, when there is none to deliver.
2. How true is the saying, there is neither counsel nor might against the Lord! In the midst of all troubles and afflictions, that kingdom of heaven which is like a grain of mustard seed grew and increased, and became a mighty tree which is now filling the whole earth, and fowl of every wing are flying to lodge in its branches. Ride on, and be thou prosperous, O Christ! We wish thee good luck with thine honour.