And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.

Acts 13:52

Paul and Barnabas were teaching in the synagogue of Pisidian Antioch (in modern-day Turkey).

People were responding by the thousands. So much that “almost the whole city gathered to hear the word of the Lord” (Acts 13:44). But of course, there was opposition.

The Jewish leaders who rejected the gospel message were jealous (Acts 13:45). So they stirred up influential people in the city, rallying them to persecute Paul and Barnabas and throw them out of the city.

Then, Acts 13:52 shares a puzzling detail: they were “filled with joy”!

Have you ever wondered why the disciples consistently responded to persecution with joy?! Click To Tweet

It’s counterintuitive.

Counterintuitive Joy in Acts 13:52

Think about us, today. What Christian who gets blasted and defamed on social media drops a heart emoji? Who claps when they’re mistreated or lied about?

I’m sure there are some who do—but I know it wouldn’t be my first response. Would it be yours?

Here’s one of the reasons for their puzzling joy.

The disciples' mission was not acceptance and approval—it was faithfulness and effectiveness. Click To Tweet

Acts 13:52 shows the disciples' mission was not acceptance and approval—it was faithfulness and effectiveness.

If their goal was cultural acceptance there would be no joy. But because it was obedience and fruitfulness, getting lied about, beaten up, thrown in jail, and kicked out of cities was proof they were hitting the mark.

And because they were filled with the Holy Spirit, they had an unshakeable source of joy unlike any other we can find in this world.

Aligned With Christ in Acts 5:41

Acts 5:41 sheds even more light on their surprising reactions:

“The apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name.”

Jesus was persecuted, betrayed, suffered injustice, and crucified. He was disgraced by the world and they expected treatment no different.

To be like Jesus means to stand opposed to the powers and principalities at war against the Kingdom of Heaven. And those dark powers have influence over culture.

The same is true today.

Acts 13:52 is a guiding light for how we should view persecution.

Now, that’s really easy for me to right in my warm house and safe American neighborhood. However, the disciples point the way for us.

So to whatever degree you face rejection, betrayal, criticism, or persecution, hold onto verses like Acts 13:52 and ask the Holy Spirit to help you be filled with this same puzzling joy.

I know this is what I’m doing!


Today’s devotion by Jordan Loftis, author of two bestselling books Today We Win and The Men With Bare Feet, host of The Bible Better Podcast, and editor of Short Daily Devotions.