Acts 13

acts-13.jpgGreetings! 

Barnabas and Saul Sent Off

13     In the church at Antioch there were prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen (who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch) and Saul. 2 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.” 3 So after they had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them off.

Fasting is mentioned many times in the Bible, but I am not aware of any specific teachings about it.  Do you fast?  If so, what type and what duration do you do? 

I haven’t done much fasting myself.  It seems like it would be an easy trap to turn it into another “works” exercise.  If done properly, I can see how it would shift our focus to God and make us more grateful for what He supplies for us so bountifully. 

On Cyprus

4 The two of them, sent on their way by the Holy Spirit, went down to Seleucia and sailed from there to Cyprus. 5 When they arrived at Salamis, they proclaimed the word of God in the Jewish synagogues. John was with them as their helper.

I never pictured John as interacting much with Saul (Paul).  One thing I’ve enjoyed about doing this blog is that it makes me slow down a bit when reading the Bible.  I notice more things that way.

6 They traveled through the whole island until they came to Paphos. There they met a Jewish sorcerer and false prophet named Bar-Jesus, 7 who was an attendant of the proconsul, Sergius Paulus. The proconsul, an intelligent man, sent for Barnabas and Saul because he wanted to hear the word of God. 8 But Elymas the sorcerer (for that is what his name means) opposed them and tried to turn the proconsul from the faith. 9 Then Saul, who was also called Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked straight at Elymas and said, 10 “You are a child of the devil and an enemy of everything that is right! You are full of all kinds of deceit and trickery. Will you never stop perverting the right ways of the Lord? 11 Now the hand of the Lord is against you. You are going to be blind, and for a time you will be unable to see the light of the sun.”

V. 9 notes that Saul was also known as Paul.  I used to think that Jesus changed his name, but I think it was one of those language things.

Paul is so direct!  I wish today’s false teachers would be rebuked as in v. 10.

Immediately mist and darkness came over him, and he groped about, seeking someone to lead him by the hand. 12 When the proconsul saw what had happened, he believed, for he was amazed at the teaching about the Lord.

In Pisidian Antioch

13 From Paphos, Paul and his companions sailed to Perga in Pamphylia, where John left them to return to Jerusalem. 14 From Perga they went on to Pisidian Antioch. On the Sabbath they entered the synagogue and sat down. 15 After the reading from the Law and the Prophets, the synagogue rulers sent word to them, saying, “Brothers, if you have a message of encouragement for the people, please speak.”

16 Standing up, Paul motioned with his hand and said: “Men of Israel and you Gentiles who worship God, listen to me! 17 The God of the people of Israel chose our fathers; he made the people prosper during their stay in Egypt, with mighty power he led them out of that country, 18 he endured their conduct for about forty years in the desert, 19 he overthrew seven nations in Canaan and gave their land to his people as their inheritance. 20 All this took about 450 years.

“After this, God gave them judges until the time of Samuel the prophet. 21 Then the people asked for a king, and he gave them Saul son of Kish, of the tribe of Benjamin, who ruled forty years. 22 After removing Saul, he made David their king. He testified concerning him: ‘I have found David son of Jesse a man after my own heart; he will do everything I want him to do.’

23 “From this man’s descendants God has brought to Israel the Savior Jesus, as he promised. 24 Before the coming of Jesus, John preached repentance and baptism to all the people of Israel. 25 As John was completing his work, he said: ‘Who do you think I am? I am not that one. No, but he is coming after me, whose sandals I am not worthy to untie.’

26 “Brothers, children of Abraham, and you God-fearing Gentiles, it is to us that this message of salvation has been sent. 27 The people of Jerusalem and their rulers did not recognize Jesus, yet in condemning him they fulfilled the words of the prophets that are read every Sabbath. 28 Though they found no proper ground for a death sentence, they asked Pilate to have him executed. 29 When they had carried out all that was written about him, they took him down from the tree and laid him in a tomb. 30 But God raised him from the dead, 31 and for many days he was seen by those who had traveled with him from Galilee to Jerusalem. They are now his witnesses to our people.

32 “We tell you the good news: What God promised our fathers 33 he has fulfilled for us, their children, by raising up Jesus. As it is written in the second Psalm:

“‘You are my Son; today I have become your Father.’

34 The fact that God raised him from the dead, never to decay, is stated in these words:

“‘I will give you the holy and sure blessings promised to David.’ 35 So it is stated elsewhere:

“‘You will not let your Holy One see decay.’

36 “For when David had served God’s purpose in his own generation, he fell asleep; he was buried with his fathers and his body decayed. 37 But the one whom God raised from the dead did not see decay.

38 “Therefore, my brothers, I want you to know that through Jesus the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you. 39 Through him everyone who believes is justified from everything you could not be justified from by the law of Moses. 40 Take care that what the prophets have said does not happen to you:

41 “‘Look, you scoffers, wonder and perish, for I am going to do something in your days that you would never believe, even if someone told you.’”

42 As Paul and Barnabas were leaving the synagogue, the people invited them to speak further about these things on the next Sabbath. 43 When the congregation was dismissed, many of the Jews and devout converts to Judaism followed Paul and Barnabas, who talked with them and urged them to continue in the grace of God.

What a beautiful and concise message.  It reminds me of Stephen’s speech to the Sanhedrin (the Jewish council in Jerusalem) where he summarized the Old Testament and then pointed to Jesus.  Paul focuses on the bodily resurrection of Jesus and the message that forgiveness of sins is obtained through belief in him.

44 On the next Sabbath almost the whole city gathered to hear the word of the Lord. 45 When the Jews saw the crowds, they were filled with jealousy and talked abusively against what Paul was saying.

Just as with the leaders in Israel, some people covet their power and prestige more than the truth of God.  These leaders should have known the prophecies of Jesus and embraced the truth of his life, death and resurrection.

46 Then Paul and Barnabas answered them boldly: “We had to speak the word of God to you first. Since you reject it and do not consider yourselves worthy of eternal life, we now turn to the Gentiles. 47 For this is what the Lord has commanded us:

“‘I have made you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.’”

48 When the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and honored the word of the Lord; and all who were appointed for eternal life believed.

49 The word of the Lord spread through the whole region. 50 But the Jews incited the God-fearing women of high standing and the leading men of the city. They stirred up persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and expelled them from their region. 51 So they shook the dust from their feet in protest against them and went to Iconium. 52 And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

Shaking the dust from their feet was a reference to Jesus’ words to the Disciples in Matthew 10:14.  If people reject the Gospel message we should move on.  Perhaps another person will bring the Gospel message when the hearers are ready.  I am trying to be more diligent in properly applying this verse when dealing with skeptics.  I want to plant a seed with them, but I don’t want to polarize them further. 

Also, some people, even those claiming to be Christian yet who deny most or all of the essentials of the faith, can waste a lot of your time if you let them.  They argue endlessly and are not open to the truth of God.  I am trying to take that valuable time to share the truth with people who are open to it.

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One Response

  1. I believe the “John” mentioned in verse 5 is not John of the Gospel of John, but rather John Mark. This only makes sense because when John left, Paul was dissatisfied with his choice (noted in chapter 15), causing the rift between Paul and Barnabas. Suggested reasons for John Mark’s return to Jerusalem have been homesickness to get back home, an illness of Paul necessitating a change in plans and a trip to Galatia, and a change in leadership from Barnabas to Paul.

    Saul / Paul – It was customary to have a given name, in this case Saul (Hebrew, Jewish background), and a later name, in this case Paul (Roman, Hellenistic background). From now on Saul is called Paul in Acts. This may be due to Saul’s success in preaching to Paulus or to the fact that he is now entering the Gentile phase of his ministry. The Gentile name, Paul could have been applied to him already in childhood by his Gentile playmates as a result of the similarity in sound. Paul was not only a Jew, but also a Roman citizen, so the use of either name would make sense.

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