Barnabas and Saul are sent out as Missionaries: Acts 13:1-3.
As the believers were worshiping and fasting, the Holy Spirit tell the church in Antioch to send Barnabas and Saul for the ministry. Early church practiced fasting by abstaining from worldly pleasures to concentrate on God to know His will. The believers were united in love and harmony. It was a spiritually growing church. The revelation of the Holy Spirit probably came through a prophet. Christians are commissioned to make disciples (Matt 28:20). Barnabas and Saul were the first missionaries send from a church. They started a 900-mile discipleship making journey and the gospel began to spread even to the end of the earth (Act 1:8). They were separated for the ministry by laying hands on them. The laying of hands was to confirm their calling and to show the church’s fellowship with them. Throughout the scripture, it is always God who calls people to serve others. There is no reference of mission boards in the book of Acts. Pray that God would use you to share the gospel with others and open their eyes to see the reality of Jesus.
Paul’s First Missionary Journey: Acts 13:4-13.
Barnabas and Saul sailed for Cyprus, the large island in the Mediterranean Sea. John Mark was there to assist the missionaries. He later wrote the Gospel of Mark. Finally they reached Paphos, where they met a Jewish sorcerer. He was an adviser to the governor, Sergius Paulus. The governor invited Barnabas and Saul to visit and share the word of God with him. But Elymas, the sorcerer attempted to interfere with the visit and urged the governor to pay no attention to Barnabas and Saul. He tried to keep the governor from believing in Christ. At this point Saul changed his name to Paul to identify with the people of Greek culture. Paul was filled with the Holy Spirit and rebuked the false prophet. He was struck with blindness for some time. When the governor saw what had happened, he became a believer and amazed at the teaching of Paul. When the word of God is preached in the power of the Holy Spirit, lives are transformed. Now Paul and his friends sailed to modern day Turkey. When they reached Perga, for some unknown reason John Mark return to Jerusalem. Paul took this seriously and refused to give him a second chance (15:37). But Barnabas reconciled with Mark and restored him for effective ministry (2 Tim 4:11). Antioch became the base to send missionaries into the gentile world. If we do not obey the great commission the church will be in danger of becoming little more than a comfortable social club.
Paul Preaches in Antioch of Pisidia: Acts 13:14-45.
Paul and Barnabas reached Antioch in Pisidia. This is the modern day Turkey. They enter the synagogue on the Sabbath day. When visitors were asked, “If they have a word of encouragement for the people” Paul took the opportunity to give an overview of Israel’s history. He proved that Jesus Christ is the fulfillment of God’s promises to Israel. Scripture reveals the historical facts of what God has done in the history. Philosophy is man’s world view. The Bible is the unfolding history about God and His eternal kingdom. The better we know the story of the Bible, the fuller we will see the glory of Jesus Christ. The resurrection of Christ was the central theme of Paul’s message. The evangelistic message always centers in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ (13:32-37). Here Paul quotes Psalm 2 and 16 to prove his point. With the coming of Christ, forgiveness of sin is now available to all (13:38). The law gave only the understanding of sin but powerless to forgive sins. Christ came to become our ultimate sin offering to provide eternal forgiveness to all those who trust Him (Roman 8:3). Only God’s grace motivates us to love God. It is true that the law is perfect, true and righteous altogether (Psalms 19:7-9). But only the grace of God empowers us to obey the word of God (Titus 2:11, 12). Based on the finished work of Christ, the forgiveness of sin is available to all. Paul’s Message created great excitement among the hearers and they begged Paul to speak again. Many Jews followed Paul and Barnabas. This provoked envy among some Jews and they slandered Paul and argued against Paul’s message (13:45). This will be the case always.
Paul Turns to the Gentiles: Acts 13:46-52.
Acts 14:46 marks Paul and Barnabas turning to gentiles to bring the gospel to them. It was God's plan all along and foretold by the prophet (Isaiah 49:6). It was necessary that the gospel should be first preached to Jews. But they rejected the gospel and made themselves unworthy of God’s gracious gift. The preaching of the gospel among gentiles played a crucial role in the advancement of it in the world. When the gentiles heard the gospel, many who were chosen for eternal life believed (13:48). It is a reference to predestination of those who believed. God is sovereign in sending his messengers with his message to open their hearts to believe. Luke shows that even our faith in the gospel is a gift of God’s grace. But it is our responsibility to carry the message of Christ to whole world. Luke records that not only the majority of Jews rejected the gospel but also they stirred up persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and drove them out of their town. But they shook off the dust from their feet against them and went to Iconium. The disciples were not discouraged by this incident but were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit. Pray that God would increase your faith and appreciation for the gospel so that even in the midst of persecution you may faithfully proclaim the Gospel.