This passage chronicles the beginning (of what we now refer to as) Paul's first missionary journey. The journey is initiated by the Holy Spirit. While prophets and teachers at the church of Antioch are worshiping The Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, "Set apart for Me Saul(Paul) and Barnabas for the work to which I have called them." The response: more fasting and praying, laying hands on them and sending them away.
The Holy Spirit led Paul and Barnabas (along with John as their helper) to the island of Cyprus, where they began to proclaim the Word of God in Jewish synagogues. When they had gone throughout he whole island, they encountered the governor (Sergius Paulus) and a magician who was a Jewish false prophet (Bar-Jesus or Elymas). The governor was eager to hear the word of God, but Elymas tried to thwart this. Paul rebuked Elymas and he temporarily became blind (as did Paul when he had opposed The Lord). This incident increased the governor's faith.
Paul and Barnabas (John returned to Jerusalem), traveled to Pisidian Antioch and entered a synagogue on the Sabbath. They were (initially) welcomed and encouraged to speak. Paul recounts God's dealings with His chosen (Jewish) people, culminating in the proclamation of Jesus as the fulfillment of His promise to them. He presents Jesus as bringing freedom (which the Law of Moses could not provide) through the forgiveness of sins. Paul's message was well-received and he and Barnabas were begged to return.
The next Sabbath nearly the whole city assembled to hear the word of The Lord. But when the Jews saw the the crowds (including Gentiles), "they were filled with jealousy" and began contradicting and slandering Paul. Paul and Barnabas boldly announced The Lord had appointed them to bring salvation to the Gentiles. The Gentiles rejoiced, but the Jews drove Paul and Barnabas out of their district. Paul and Barnabas (after shaking the dust off their feet in protest) went to Iconium. "And the disciples were continually filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit".
The Holy Spirit leads God's people in accomplishing His will in His time and His way. He will speak to us as we diligently seek (in worship, prayer, fasting) to know and obey His will, not ours. He may direct us in visible or behind the scenes "helper" tasks and roles; regardless, we are to follow, rejoicing in His love and grace. May we always marvel in the Father's heart that He has chosen any of us! We all deserve death; he has granted salvation through Jesus. May we seek to share His salvation with all He leads us to.
Dear Father, thank you for saving me! I confess my tendency to depend on myself rather than to wait on You and diligently seek your will, not mine, in Your time and way. I confess jealousy of my brothers and sisters in Christ-- their roles, gifts, possessions, etc. Father, thank you for delighting in all your children and leading each of us step by step. May I delight in my brothers and sisters in Christ and together may we seek Your will for our good and Your glory! Amen.
Posted on Fri, February 20, 2015
by Becky Pannunzio