Thursday, October 04, 2007

Acts 13:1-12

As we have already learned, the church in Antioch was made up of people from all over the world. This was reflected in their leadership. One day the prophets and teachers were together worshiping and fasting. Those present were:
  • Barnabas
  • Saul
  • Simeon - also called Niger, meaning "black-skinned"; some believe that this was Simon, the man from Cyrene who carried Jesus' Cross (Mark 15:21); though there is no proof
  • Lucius of Cyrene - Cyrene is in Northern Africa; it's quite possible that Lucius was one of the men who first preached the gospel in Antioch (Acts 11:20)
  • Manaen - he was a member of Herod's court, which meant that he had a high placement in the government
While they were worshiping and fasting, the Holy Spirit told them to "set apart Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them" (13:2). The leaders then laid hands on them and sent them off. John Mark traveled with them. They left Antioch around AD 45-48.

Their first stop was Seleucia. There they boarded a ship and sailed to Salamis, a city on the island of Cyprus, where Barnabas was from. They went straight to the Jewish synagogue and proclaimed Christ there. They continued to travel across the island (about 100 miles), finally arriving in Paphos. Here they encountered a magician named Bar-Jesus (aka Elymas). He worked for Sergius Paulus, the Roman governor over Cyprus. Sergius Paulus heard of Barnabas and Saul's arrival and wanted to hear what they had been proclaiming.

Bar-Jesus didn't like their message, and tried to persuade his boss from listening. Saul turned to him, gave him a strong rebuking ("you son of the devil"), and caused him to be blind. At this Sergius Paulus was astonished and asked Saul and Barnabas to share their message with him. After hearing the message he believed that Jesus was the Son of God.

Two other items of interest take place here. First, we find out that Saul also goes by Paul. I've often wondered if this had anything to do with the fact that their convert's name was Paulus. A better theory is that at this point Paul decided to use his Gentile name rather than his Jewish name (Saul). Second, up to this point Barnabas has taken the lead. Luke in fact has been referring to them as "Barnabas and Saul." From now on, though, he will refer to them as "Paul and Barnabas."

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