In Acts 12, 13, Paul is taking center stage.
Previously, Peter had been the center.
Now, the gospel is taking a different direction.
Acts 12:25 – Saul and Barnabas go to Jerusalem during the famine. The saints had gathered food and money to take to those in Jerusalem.
After Saul (Paul) and Barnabas did this, they returned to Antioch.
There were prophets and teachers there.
Luke, the writer of Acts points out the offices and roles of people in the ministry. (Acts 13)
Also, Paul writes of the roles and offices in the church in Romans 12.
To each who is a member of the body of Christ, gifts, anointing, functions are given by the Holy Spirit.
What is our place?
What is our ministry?
What are our gifts?
Where can we serve?
We should pursue these things to serve the Lord and edify one another within the church.
Start somewhere, and the Holy Spirit will make it clear where you belong.
1 Corinthians 12:28 – God has appointed apostles, prophets, teachers, miracles, healing, administration, tongues.
Ephesians also mentions evangelist between prophet and teacher (Eph. 4:11)
Apostles, prophets, evangelists, teachers.
These gifts are given to help others in the church grow up to serve others – to build up the body of Christ, ultimately.
Luke, in Acts, names 5 prophets and teachers in Antioch.
These different names show they come from a variety of social and ethnic backgrounds – they aren’t all Jews from the same small town.
Barnabas was instrumental in introducing Saul to the other apostles.
Barnabas was then sent from Jerusalem to Antioch (Acts 11:23) to witness the many who became Christians there. He encouraged them and was overjoyed to see the gospel spread to the Gentiles.
Barnabas (real name Joseph), means “son of encouragement” – that was his nickname given by the other apostles.
(v. 24) – He was a good man.
Acts 4:36-37 – He was a Levite, real name Joseph, who owned a tract of land and sold it, and laid the money at the apostles feet.
He was good, encourager, generous.
2. Simeon – Latin name “Niger” = dark skin, may have been given the nickname to distinguish him from others.
3. Lucius from Cyrene in North Africa. He may have first preached at Antioch.
4. Manaen – brought up with the Herod of the gospels (Jesus called him “that fox”) – in Mark 6, he captured John the Baptist and killed him. Manaen may have been brought up in the court of Herod.
Two foster brothers (Herod and Manaen) brought up together, one brought honor upon himself by becoming a Christian, the other brought disgrace by killing John the Baptist and the trial of Jesus.
5. Paul is last mentioned.
After introducing us to the leaders, Luke tells us the church is worshiping and fasting, and considering a missionary venture.
The HS says, “set apart Barnabas and Saul.”
How does the HS speak?
Clearly through a prophetic utterance – from one of the prophets present there.
Here, there are echoes of the OT prophets, bringing the message of God.
Ex: Johosephat – king, his people were fasting, crying out to God – the spirit of the Lord came upon a prophet “Do not fear or be dismayed, the battle is not yours, but God’s.”
Now at Antioch, God is showing again his will about a different concern – spreading the gospel around the Roman empire.
Missions are not the will of man, not accomplished through man’s efforts. The HS is the source and guide of these initiatives.
In Acts, Luke shows how the HS is the leader and guide of the church.
Acts 4, when the church prayed together, they were filled with the HS, preached boldly the word of God, even against the command of the govt.
Acts 8, after the revival in Samaria, HS led Philip to Ethiopia (8:29) – the HS said to Philip, “Go to the chariot” – the man was reading Isaiah but couldn’t understand it – so Philip preached Christ to him, he believed, and went on to preach in his home.
Acts 10, Peter preaches to Cornelius, a Gentile, the HS convicts and converts him. Peter acknowledges that it is the whole work of the HS.
All through Acts, there is a sensitivity to the leading and guiding of the HS.
So, through the spirit, Barnabas and Saul are separated for the task of evangelism and sent (v.4). The church “sent” them, but the HS “SENT” them truly.
Paul is not a lone ranger, but in constant contact with the sending church.
This is the beginning of the story of Paul’s first missionary journey (Acts 13-14). Took 3 years in total.
They set out for Cyprus (journey by boat = 130 miles). Cyprus is 140miles x 60 miles. It was a Roman island.
It made sense to start the ministry here, because Barnabas is from here – his native land.
Some Christian communitees probably existed, so they could support their efforts a bit.
The first place they land at is Salamis.
John Mark (writer of Mark’s gospel, mother Mary had the house church that Peter went to after escaping prison) accompanied them.
There Barnabas and Paul proclaimed the gospel in the synagogues (where the Jews would learn about the Law of Moses). So, here is where the apostles proclaimed the Law of Moses all pointed to Jesus.
At Paphos, the island’s leader, requests a meeting with the apostles (actually orders it).
(v. 6) – They met Bar-Jesus – problem.
Bar-Jesus = “son of Jesus”
Bar – Jesus = Elymas (translated)
Elymas = “the magician” was opposing them and trying to keep the island’s leader away from the apostles and belief in Christ.
Paul, filled with the HS – stared him down and powerfully spoke against him. “You are not the son of Jesus but the son of the devil!…”
Paul prophecies that he will be blinded – and he is immediately.
These are echoes of Paul’s own experience. Paul also was blinded, literally, because of his opposition to the gospel.
Elymas’ physical judgment was the same as his spiritual predicament – blind.
Also, we all were blind to the gospel before meeting Jesus. We were dead in our sins, lost. But God, because of his love, in his great mercy, saved us.
It would be interesting to see the after-story. Was Elymas convicted? Did he become a Christian?
Similar story, when Philip went to Samaria, met a sorcerer there as well.
Similar story, in Egypt, sorcerers and magicians tried to outdo Moses with magic.
Similar story, Elijah and the prophets and magicians of Baal.
But, every time, the Lord God is shown to be the most powerful.
So, Paul and Barnabas eventually preached to the island leader, and he was amazed. – There was power in the gospel, it was effective, bad people became good, people were healed, lives changed.
The island leader saw it, and believed. It would be interesting to see what happened in the after-story.
So, in Paul’s preaching, we see not only blessing (to seekers), but also blasting (to the wolves – those who oppose the gospel). In Romans 1, we see God gives people over to their sins. When spiritually blind, God increases their blindness.
Yet, even in judgment, there is mercy.
I once was lost, I now am found.
Amazing Grace Hymn
Jesus comes in to our lives and cleanses us and saves us.
How to be saved?
Acknowledge your sin, confess, repent, turn to Christ, ask him to set you free, come into your life, lead you, guide you, change you.