Barnabas and Saul Are Sent From Antioch
Verse 1 – Now in the church that was at Antioch there were certain prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul.
The prophets and teachers had both a gift of foretelling things to come, as Agabus and others, and of explaining the prophecies of the Old Testament.
Verse 2 – As they ministered to the Lord and fasted, the Holy Spirit said, “Now separate to Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.”
Verse 3 – Then having fasted and prayed and laid hands on them, they sent them away.
Verse 4 – So, being sent out by the Holy Spirit, they went down to Seleucia, and from there they sailed to Cyprus.
Verse 5 – And when they arrived in Salamis, they preached the word of God in the synagogues of the Jews. They also had John as their assistant (John Mark).
Controversy with Bar-Jesus
Verse 6 – Now when they had gone through the island to Paphos, they found a certain sorcerer, a false prophet, a Jew whose name was Bar-Jesus,
Verse 7 – who was with the proconsul, Sergius Paulus, an intelligent man. This man called for Barnabas and Saul and sought to hear the word of God.
A proconsul was a high Roman official. Here he functioned as the governor of the island. Such leaders often kept private sorcerers. Bar-Jesus realized that if the governor believed in Jesus, he would soon be out of a job.
Verse 8 – But Elymas the sorcerer (for so his name is translated) withstood them, seeking to turn the proconsul away from the faith.
Verse 9 – Then Saul, who also is called Paul, filled with the Holy spirit, looked intently at him
Verse 10 – and said, “O full of all deceit and all fraud, you son of the devil, you enemy of all righteousness, will you not cease perverting the straight ways of the Lord?
In verse 9, Saul is called Paul. Saul was a Jew by birth, his parents called him Saul but he was also a Roman citizen, and the Roman name for Saul was Paul.
Verse 11 – “And now indeed, the hand of the Lord is upon you, and you shall be blind, not seeing the sun for a time. And immediately a dark midst fell on him, and he went around seeking someone to lead him by the hand.
This punishment wasn’t permanent, giving the sorcerer time to repent. There will be times when a Christian has to confront others, we just need to be guided by the Holy Spirit to know when.
Verse 12 – Then the proconsul believed, when he saw what had been done, being astonished at the teaching of the Lord.
Verse 13 – Now when Paul and his party set sail from Paphos, they came to Perga in Pamphylia; and John departing from them returned to Jerusalem.
No reason is given for John Mark returning to Jerusalem. But later on when Paul and Barnabas are going on another trip, Barnabas suggests they take John Mark and Paul refuses.
Paul Preaches on First Sabbath
Verse 14 – But when they departed from Perga, they came to Antioch in Pisidia, and went into the synagogue and sat down.
This is not the Antioch of Syria where a church was already established. This area had a large Jewish population.
Verse 15 – And after the reading of the Law and the Prophets, the rulers of the synagogue sent to them, saying, “Men and brethren, if you have any word of exhortation for the people, say on.”
The ruler read from the first five books of Moses a passage, every Sabbath. A different person was chosen to lead each week. Since it was customary for the synagogue leader to invite visiting rabbis to speak, Paul and Barnabas usually had an open door when they first went in the synagogue.
Verse 16 – Then Paul stood up, and motioning with his hand said, “Men of Israel, and you who fear God, listen:
Verse 17 – “The God of this people Israel chose our fathers, and exalted the people when they dwelt as strangers in the land of Egypt, and with an uplifted arm He brought them out of it.
Verse 18 – “Now for a time of about forty years He put up with their ways in the wilderness.
Verse 19 – “And when He had destroyed seven nations in the land of Canaan, He distributed their land to them by allotment.
Verse 20 – “After that He gave them judges for about four hundred and fifty years, until Samuel the prophet.
Verse 21 – “And afterward they asked for a king; so God gave them Saul the son of Kish, a man of the tribe of Benjamin for forty years.
Verse 22 – “And when He had removed him, He raised up David as king, to whom He also gave testimony and said, ‘I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after My own heart, who will do My will.’
David didn’t take the throne until Saul was dead, but while Saul was still living God rejected him. There were many reason, but they all pointed to one offense, a spirit of pride, that Saul knew better than God.
Verse 23 – “From this man’s seed, according to the promise, God raised up Israel a Savior – Jesus –
Verse 24 – “after John had first preached, before His coming, the baptism of repentance to all the people of Israel.
Verse 25 – “And as John was finishing his course, he said, ‘Who do you think I am? I am not He. But behold, there comes One after me, the sandals of whose feet I am not worthy to loose.’
Verse 26 – “Men and brethren, sons of the family of Abraham, and those among you who fear God, to you the word of this salvation has been sent.
Verse 27 – “For those who dwell in Jerusalem, and their rulers, because they did not know Him, nor even the voices of the Prophets which are read every Sabbath, have fulfilled them in condemning Him.
Even though the prophets words were read every Sabbath in the synagogues, they did not recognize Jesus when He came, but condemned Him to death.
Verse 28 – “And though they found no cause for death in Him, they asked Pilate that He should be put to death.
Verse 29 – “Now when they had fulfilled all that was written concerning Him, they took Him down from the tree and laid Him in a tomb.
Verse 30 – “But God raised Him from the dead.
Verse 31 – “He was seen for many days by those who came up with Him from Galilee to Jerusalem, and who are witnesses to the people.
Verse 32 – “And we declare to you glad tidings – that promise which was made to the fathers.
Jesus resurrection confirmed that God had fulfilled His promise (citing Psalm 2:7).
Verse 33 – “God has fulfilled this for us their children, in that He has raised up Jesus. As it is also written in the second Psalm: ‘You are My son, today I have begotten You.’
Verse 34 – “And that He raised Him from the dead, no more to return to corruption, He has spoken this: ‘I will give you the sure mercies of David: (blessings)
Verse 35 – “Therefore He also says in another Psalm: ‘You will not allow Your Holy One to see corruption.’
Verse 36 – “For David, after he had served his own generation by the will of God, fell asleep, was buried with his fathers, and saw corruption;
Verse 37 – “but He whom God raised up saw no corruption.
Verse 38 – “Therefore let it be known to you, brethren, that though this Man is preached to you the forgiveness of sins;
Verse 39 – “and by Him everyone who believes is justified from all things from which you could not be justified by the law of Moses.
This is the “Good News” of the Gospel; that forgiveness of sins and freedom from guilt are available through faith in Jesus Christ to all people. This is something the law of Moses could never accomplish on its own, because no one could keep the law perfectly.
Verse 40 – “Beware therefore, lest what has been spoken in the prophets come upon you:
Verse 41 – ‘Behold, you despiser’s, marvel and perish; for I work a work in your days, a work which you will by no means believe, though one were to declare it to you.’ ”
Paul referred to Habakkuk 1:5, as a conclusion to his preaching. Some people would scoff and refuse to believe what God was doing, even though it was explained to them.
Verse 42 – And when the Jews went out of the synagogue, the Gentiles begged that these words might be preached to them the next Sabbath.
Verse 43 – Now when the congregation had broken up, many of the Jews and devout proselytes followed Paul and Barnabas, who, speaking to them, persuaded them to continue in the grace of God.
Verse 44 – And the next Sabbath almost the whole city came together to hear the word of God.
Verse 45 – But when the Jews saw the multitudes, they were filled with envy; and contradicting and blaspheming, they opposed the things spoken by Paul.
Word spread in one weeks time, to the next Sabbath. A multitude came to hear the word preached by Paul. Jealousy and envy are spirits that always show their true motives from some. These Jews were envious that Paul and Barnabas could draw huge crowds. If the true Gospel of Jesus Christ is being preached and the Holy Spirit is allowed to flow, that small beginning of believers will grow into a massive crowd of followers of Christ.
Verse 46 – Then Paul and Barnabas grew bold and said, “It was necessary that the word of God should be spoken to you first; but since you reject it, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, behold, we turn to the Gentiles.
Why was it so important to preach to the Jews first? God’s plan was for all the world to come to know Him through the Jewish nation (Genesis 12:3). Paul was a Jew himself, and wanted to give them every opportunity to proclaim God’s salvation. Unfortunately many Jews did not recognize Jesus as the Messiah, same as today. They also didn’t want to believe that God’s plan of salvation was for everyone, Jew or Gentile.
Verse 47 – “For so the Lord has commanded us: ‘I have set you to be a light to the Gentiles, that you should be for salvation to the ends of the earth.’ ”
Verse 48 – Now when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and glorified the word of the Lord. And as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed.
This verse expresses one of the greatest truths of Scripture: “All who had been appointed to eternal life believed.” This touches both on God’s elect (appointed) and the human responsibility to choose to believe.
John 6:44 – “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day.”
Verse 49 – And the word of the Lord was being spread throughout all the region.
Verse 50 – But the Jews stirred up the devout and prominent women and the chief men of the city, raised up persecutions against Paul and Barnabas, and expelled them form their region.
Verse 51 – But they shook off the dust from their feet against them, and came to Iconium.
Verse 52 – And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.
The shaking the dust off their feet was told by Jesus to do whenever a house or city would not receive their words. In other words: Those who refuse to listen or listen and then reject the word of God, shake the dust from your feet and go on to another who will accept (Matthew 10:14).