The church in Jerusalem has come out of persecutions stronger than ever. The gospel has been spread throughout Judea and Samaria, even as far as Antioch. God has brought in the first gentile converts into the fold. Jews and Gentiles in the Antioch church are able to fellowship as one body. The time has come for the church to enter the third phase of the Great Commission witnessing for Christ to the end of the earth. Being instructed by the Holy Spirit, the church in Antioch sent Barnabas and Paul unto the first organized missionary journey beyond Judea. As you read the passage, refer to Map B and locate the various places that Barnabas and Paul visited.
Did You Know...?
1. Seleucia (13:4) was the sea-port of Antioch, near the mouth of the Orontes. It was about 16 miles west of Antioch.
2. Salamis (13:5) was a city on the south-east coast of Cyprus not far from the modern Famagousta.
3. Paphos (13:6): “the capital of the island of Cyprus, and therefore the residence of the Roman governor… It is new Paphos which is here meant. It lay on the west coast of the island, about 8 miles north of old Paphos. Its modern name is Baffa.” [ref]
4. Paul (13:9): Being a Jew of the Diaspora who had much exposure to the Gentile world, Saul also bore the Greek name, Paul, which meant “little.” This had become his cognomen and was used in Gentile contexts.11/420 Starting with 13:9, Luke refers to him only by this Greek name.
- Barnabas and Saul Returned from Jerusalem (12:25)
- The Commission (13:1-3)
- Ministry at Cyprus (13:4-12)
- Preaching in the synagogue in Salamis (13:4-5)
- Preaching to the proconsul in Paphos (13:6-12)
What was the ministry that Barnabas and Saul had come to fulfill in Jerusalem?Hide Answer
They had gone up to Jerusalem to send the gifts from the Antioch church to the brethren in Judea, who were suffering a great famine (Acts 11:27-30).
Who commissioned the missionary effort?Hide Answer
The Holy Spirit (2,4).
What were the prophets and teachers in the church of Antioch doing when the Holy Spirit spoke to them?Hide Answer
They were ministering to the Lord and fasting (2).
What did they do before sending Barnabas and Saul on their way?Hide Answer
They fasted and prayed, laid hands on Barnabas and Saul, and sent them away.
What lessons can we learn from this group of workers in Antioch and from the way the first missionary journey was launched?Hide Answer
This new phase in the church’s missionary work had a remarkable beginning. This ministry was not the result of careful planning. While they were ministering to the Lord and fasting, the prophets and teachers in Antioch received direct revelation from the Holy Spirit to set apart Barnabas and Saul to carry out His work.
Today, while we may have the ambition to fulfill the Lord’s commission or have some plans on how to do so, it is even more important for us to first seek the Lord’s will through prayer and fasting. If we have the guidance of the Holy Spirit, then our work will have the blessings of God, and we will effectively carry out what He wants us to do.
What role does fasting and prayer play in the ministry and decision-making of your local church?
Who was Barnabas’ and Saul’s assistant?Hide Answer
John, who was also called Mark
What does the opposition of Elymas the sorcerer tell us about the nature of the devil’s work?Hide Answer
Elymas was a false prophet and a sorcerer. He tried to dissuade the proconsul from accepting the gospel by means of either false teachings or witchcraft. As Paul pointed out through the Holy Spirit, Elymas was an instrument of the devil.
From the story of Elymas, we can see that the devil is the enemy of all righteousness and often seeks to turn those who thirst for the truth from the faith. He uses deceit and fraud to pervert the straight ways of the Lord. In other words, he uses false teachings, philosophies, and values to confuse those who are searching for the truth in order to mislead them away from the true gospel of Christ.
Recall from your experience or someone else’s experience where the devil had tried to oppose the work of the gospel. How was the devil’s work overcome?
What gave Paul the courage and authority to stop the work of Elymas? What lesson can we learn from this?Hide Answer
Paul rebuked Elymas through the power of the Holy Spirit (9). When we face the opposition of the devil, we cannot use our fleshly courage or anger to stop the opposition. We need to pray for the fullness of the Holy Spirit to overcome the works of the devil. Spiritual warfare must be won by the power of God, not by our own resources.
What punishment came upon Elymas?Hide Answer
Upon Paul’s rebuke, a dark mist fell on Elymas immediately, and he became blind (11).
What was its impact on the proconsul?Hide Answer
When the proconsul saw this mighty deed of God that accompanied Paul’s preaching, he was astonished at the teaching of the Lord and believed (12). Signs and miracles serve to confirm the message of the gospel and to lead people to the faith.