Acts 13:1–14:28 comment (0)
July 17, 2008
By Cecil Taylor
Related Scripture: Acts 13:1–14:28
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Dean, School of Christian Studies, University of Mobile
GALATIA: FACING TROUBLES
Getting the Call to Missions (13:1–3)
The church at Antioch had multiple ministers — “prophets and teachers.” Since Barnabas and Saul (later Paul) were introduced earlier, the account gives no additional information about them. Symeon (also Simeon) was called “Niger,” Latin for “black, dark-complexioned.” Lucius was “of Cyrene,” a province in North Africa. Manaen was “the foster brother” (a title of honor given to boys who were the same age as princes and brought up with them at court) of Herod Antipas the tetrarch (a title lower than king or prince, like “duke” or “earl” in Britain). As they served the Lord, the Spirit made known His will (perhaps by one of the prophets) that they set aside Barnabas and Saul for the specific purpose of taking the gospel where it hadn’t been heard. After prayer and fasting, the leaders (and possibly the congregation) laid hands on the two. This was not ordination to ministry; they had done the work of the ministry for years.
More than a half-million pagans lived in Antioch, but God sent two of His choicest servants to fields abroad.
Obeying the Call to Missions (13:4–14:28)
This mission lasted about two years and took them to the southern part of the Roman province of Galatia. Barnabas was named first. Before they returned, however, the order reversed, suggesting that Saul assumed leadership. John Mark went with them.
Seleucia was the seaport for Antioch. No mention is made of preaching there.
Cyprus was Barnabas’ birthplace. Christian refugees from Jerusalem came there earlier. Acts highlights the work in its two principal cities. In Salamis, they preached in synagogues and in Paphos, they confronted a sorcerer and led the governor, Sergius Paulus, to faith and Saul shifted from using his Jewish name to using his Roman name Paul.
At Perga, Paul took leadership. This may be why John Mark went home.
In Pisidian Antioch, Paul preached first in the synagogue to the Jews (and to any God-fearers present). It is his first recorded sermon. When the service was over, some asked Paul and Barnabas to repeat the message the next Sabbath and many followed them to ask questions. A week later, almost the whole city assembled to hear Paul preach. Jealous at the response, Jewish leaders violently and stubbornly contradicted Paul’s message.
So Paul and Barnabas announced they would go to the Gentiles with the gospel. It was well received. But jealous Jews stirred up influential Gentile women and city leaders to persecute Paul and Barnabas and drive them from the district.
In Iconium, the missionaries preached in the synagogue and people responded. Again, Jewish legalists stirred up city leaders against Paul and Barnabas. A plot to stone the missionaries came to light and they fled the city.
In Lystra, Paul gave a crippled man the power to walk. The pagans began shouting that Barnabas was Jupiter (or Zeus), chief of the gods, and Paul was Mercury (or Hermes), the messenger of the gods and spokesman for Jupiter. Even the priest of Jupiter showed up to offer sacrifice to the pair. When their cries were translated for Paul and Barnabas, the response was a sermon. It is not clear who preached but since Paul was spokesman, it was probably him. Nothing is said of conversions. Jewish enemies from Antioch and Iconium came to town and turned the Lystrans against Paul. Citizens stoned Paul and cast him out of their city, thinking him dead.
In Derbe, their preaching met with success.
Then the two started home, retracing their steps to Lystra, Iconium and Antioch, confirming and exhorting the disciples they made earlier. They also appointed elders in each congregation. Outbound they simply passed through Perga, but on the way home, they spoke the word there. From Perga, they proceeded to Attalia (the seaport of Perga) and from there, sailed directly to Antioch of Syria. For some reason, they skipped Cyprus on the way back. In Antioch, they gave a report of all that God had done, especially in throwing open the gates of faith to the Gentiles.