Reading For Monday Acts 13:1-12
The gospel had spread across cultures, and now it was about to increase geographically. The church at Antioch would be the ground zero for the gospel heading overseas. Paul and Barnabas had taken the offering that was collected for the coming famine to Jerusalem, and now they had returned. The list of leaders in the Church at Antioch was diverse Barnabas, a Cypriot Jew, Simeon was almost certainly black African, Lucian, from Cyrene in North Africa. Manaen was connected to Herod Antipas, placing him in the upper class. Also, don't forget Saul, who was a Jew. During their regular disciplines and practices, the Holy Spirit instructed them to set apart Barnabas and Saul for the work that he had called them to accomplish. They fasted, prayed, laid hands on them, and sent them off on mission.
Barnabas and Paul began their mission by going to Seleucia, which is northwest about sixteen miles away. These new missionaries then sailed for Cyprus, an island in the Mediterranean Sea. Barnabas was from Cyprus, which provided these missionaries with tremendous insight into the people, places, and culture. John Mark accompanied them on this journey. They established a pattern that they would follow almost everywhere they went. They went to the synagogues and proclaimed the gospel there first. They traveled across the island to the capital city of Paphos. There they were introduced to an intelligent leader named Sergius Paulus, the Roman governor of the island. Paulus was curious about Paul’s message, but Paul was hindered by a magician named Bar-Jesus (Elymas), who had profited from his association with the governor. He wanted to turn Paulus away from the faith. Luke gives a significant detail telling us that Saul was also called Paul and that he was filled with the Holy Spirit. Paul confronted the magician, and he was promptly struck with blindness. His blindness was only temporary, but it served to demonstrate the power of the Lord. Signs cannot save, they testify to the power of God, and they authenticate the messenger. The governor believed and was amazed about the teaching of the Lord.
Things To Consider:
- What do the regular worship patterns and disciplines of the church at Antioch teach us?
- Do you regularly give yourself to fasting? Why or why not?
- Why did they lay their hands on Paul and Barnabas?
- Why is important for a believer to understand that they are sent by the Holy Spirit?
- How do you see God's providence in this story?
- Do you think going to Barnabas' hometown made the mission more or less difficult? Why?
- How should we respond when we encounter opposition in sharing the gospel?
- What advantage do you think Paul and Barnabas enjoyed because of a believing proconsul?