Acts Chapter 13
Barnabas and Saul are sent out as Missionaries:
(Read Acts 13:1-3)
During the time of worship and fasting, the Holy Spirit tells the church in Antioch to send Barnabas and Saul for the ministry God has planned for them. 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 in their worship. It was a spiritually growing church. The revelation of the Holy Spirit probably came through a prophet. Christians are commissioned to make disciples of all the nations (Matthew 28:20). Barnabas and Saul were the first missionaries sent from a church. They started a 900-mile discipleship making journey and the gospel began to spread even to the end of the earth (Acts 1:8). They were set apart 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 for service. There is no reference to mission boards in the book of Acts. Pray that God would use you to share the gospel with others.
Paul’s First Missionary Journey:
(Read Acts 13:4-13)
Barnabas and Saul sailed for Cyprus, the large island in the Mediterranean Sea. John Mark was there to assist them. 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 share the Word of God with him. But Elymas, the sorcerer, attempted to interfere with the visit, urging 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 and gentiles. 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. Then Paul and his friends sailed to modern day Turkey. When they reached Pamphylia, for some unknown reason John Mark returned to Jerusalem. Paul took this seriously and refused to give him a second chance (15:37). But Barnabas took Mark and restored him for effective ministry (2 Timothy 4:11). Antioch became the base to send missionaries into the gentile world. The church that does not obey the great commission is in danger of becoming a comfortable social club.
Paul Preaches in Antioch of Pisidia:
(Read Acts 13:14-45)
Paul and Barnabas reached Antioch in Pisidia. This is modern day Turkey. They went to 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. Christians should take every opportunity to share the gospel. Paul proved that Jesus Christ is the fulfillment of God’s promises to Israel. He quoted Psalms 2 and 16 to affirm his point. The Bible is the unfolding history about God and His eternal kingdom. 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). With the coming of Christ, forgiveness of sin is now available to all (Acts 13:38). The better we know the story of the Bible, the fuller we see the glory of Jesus Christ. The law was given to give the knowledge 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). Because of the finished work of Christ on the cross, the forgiveness of sin is available to all. But people must acknowledge the need for forgiveness and believe in Christ. 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 (Acts 13:45). This will always be the case. Only the grace of God can save and transform lives.
Paul Turns to the Gentiles:
(Read 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). God offers the blessings of the gospel to everyone who believes (Romans 1:16). 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 (Acts 13:48). It is a reference to the predestination of those who believed. God is sovereign in sending his messengers with his message to open their hearts to believe the gospel. Luke shows that even our faith in the gospel is a gift of God’s grace. But it is our responsibility to preach the message of Christ to the whole world. Luke records that not only the majority of Jews rejected the gospel, but 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 and rejection you may faithfully proclaim the Gospel.