Acts 13 Barnabas and Saul Sent Out

Our main objective in the Acts studies is to see how certain doctrines developed in the early Church. We are at a point where everything from this point is going to revolve around the travels of Paul. To keep the studies from bogging down in minutiae, I will leave off much detailing of geography and places, and will concentrate primarily on events and messages.

This study will put us in 45 a.d.. It has been fifteen years since Pentecost 33 a.d. Great things have been happening, and great things are still in the making. With this chapter we enter into what is the considered the second part of Acts. From this point Acts shifts from Peter and the church in Jerusalem, to Paul and the church of Antioch.

This is Acts027 - Acts 13 Barnabas and Saul Sent out.

Vss1-3: "Now there were at Antioch, in the church that was there, prophets and teachers: Barnabas, and Simeon who was called Niger, and Lucius of Cyrene, and Manaen who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. While they were ministering to the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, 'Set apart for Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.' Then, when they had fasted and prayed and laid their hands on them, they sent them away."

.... "Prophets and teachers" - In this case the terms prophets and teachers do not necessarily speak of particular offices. The Greek allows for all five men to be prophetic teachers. A prophetic teacher could give insights in the Scriptures, that is, forthtell, and in certain instances provide something concerning the future, that is, foretell.

.... "Set apart for Me Barnabas and Saul." - A revelation was made to one of the five, and they all in turn bore witness. Paul later writes about this feature. He said, "Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others pass judgement." (1Co14:29)

.... "When they had fasted and prayed and laid their hands on them, they sent them away." It wasn't the fasting and praying that empowered Barnabas and Saul to their work. They already had this from the Lord. The fasting, prayer, and laying on of hands was to make the Church one with the work to be done. This would have been done under the oversight of the Holy Spirit.

Vss4,5: "So, being sent out by the Holy Spirit, they went down to Seleucia and from there they sailed to Cyprus. When they reached Salamis, they began to proclaim the word of God in the synagogues of the Jews; and they also had John as their helper."

.... "Being sent out by the Holy Spirit." There is no greater rule of faith than this. If what we are doing is not under the oversight of the Holy Spirit, then what we are doing cannot be of the Lord.

.... "Proclaimed the word of God in the synagogues of the Jews." The new covenant had to be offered to the Jews first before it could be given to the Gentiles. It wasn't a matter of God placing the Gentiles as second-class citizens in His kingdom. It is a matter of how His redemption program was set up. The Jewish nation was to provide the Messiah, and the new covenant was their responsibility to take to all the world.

.... "John as their helper." John Mark is the writer of the gospel of Mark. As earlier noted, John Mark was said to be Peter's scribe. For this reason the gospel of Mark could also be thought of as the gospel of Peter.

Vss6-13: In the city of Paphos a Jewish false prophet named Bar-Jesus, or son of Jesus, tries to turn the proconsul away from the faith. This is the first time we hear Saul also spoken of as Paul. (Saul was his Hebrew name. Paul was his Greek name.) Paul says:

.... "You who are full of all deceit and fraud, you son of the devil, you enemy of all righteousness, will you not cease to make crooked the straight ways of the Lord?" Paul then speaks blindness over the false prophet Elymas, and out of this the procounsel believes the message of the Lord.

Elymas is spoken of as an interpretation of his name. It may come from an Arabic word which means to 'mutter.' Peeping, whispering, and muttering were trademarks of spiritists.

.... "John left them and returned to Jerusalem." While John Mark was young and inexperienced, it doesn't say why he left. However, this did become a point of contention later on between Paul and Barnabas.

Vss14-16: "But going on from Perga, they arrived at Pisidian Antioch, and on the Sabbath day they went into the synagogue and sat down. After the reading of the Law and the Prophets the synagogue officials sent to them, saying, 'Brethren, if you have any word of exhortation for the people, say it.' Paul stood up, and motioning with his hand said, 'Men of Israel, and you who fear God, listen:'"

.... "They went into the synagogue and sat down." It was the custom among the Jews for the Law and Prophets to be read, and then a message to be given. It was also the custom to allow any male of age to speak at the end of the service. This custom paved the way for the gospel to be presented in orderly fashion to the Jewish peoples. The officials invited their visitors to address the assembled peoples.

.... "Paul stood up." This is the first time we find Paul taking the lead. But the lead will be his throughout the remainder of Acts.

Vss16-37: "...and motioning with his hand said, 'Men of Israel, and you who fear God, listen: The God of this people Israel...."

.... Paul begins with a common form of address to the Jewish peoples. In saying, 'you who fear God' Paul is addressing the proselytes, and to those known as God-fearers. The apostle then begins outlining the history of the Hebrew people.

Paul quickly goes to his point; "From the descendants of this man [David] God has brought to Israel a Savior, Jesus." He continues on to John the Baptist, then to how the Jewish authorities had Jesus crucified, then the resurrection and appearances of Jesus.

The apostle speaks from the prophets, and concludes with the following remarks:

Vss38,39: "Therefore let it be known to you, brethren, that through Him forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you, and through Him everyone who believes is freed from all things, from which you could not be freed through the Law of Moses."

.... One term that will continuously stand out in the preaching of the apostles, is the word 'believe.' Salvation is by faith in Jesus alone. We are to add nothing to this, and we are to take nothing away from it. But the key is understanding that the word 'believe' is a thing of the heart. When a person believes in the Biblical sense, it means he is taking to himself Jesus as Lord. The confession of that Lordship is merely a response to what has already taken place in the heart.

Next we have the warning that is often given to Jewish peoples....

Vss40,41: "Therefore take heed, so that the thing spoken of in the Prophets may not come upon you: 'Behold, you scoffers, and marvel, and perish; for I am accomplishing a work in your days, a work which you will never believe, though someone should describe it to you.'"

.... God gave this warning through the prophet Habakkuk, with a view to the rejecters of Jesus. The warning was not to Gentiles, but rather to those who should have accepted Jesus, that is, to the house of Israel.

Vss42,43: "As Paul and Barnabas were going out, the people kept begging that these things might be spoken to them the next Sabbath. Now when the meeting of the synagogue had broken up, many of the Jews and of the God-fearing proselytes followed Paul and Barnabas, who, speaking to them, were urging them to continue in the grace of God.

.... "Many of the Jews and of the God-fearing proselytes followed Paul and Barnabas." The preaching of the gospel of Jesus Christ had such an impact on Judaism that it could be compared to a sword. Many hundreds of thousands of Jews especially in the diaspora, turned to Jesus with all their heart. But it was the leadership in Jerusalem that renounced Him.

Here is where we begin to understand what Jesus meant, when He said, "Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I came to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in- law; and a man's enemies will be the members of his household. He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worth of Me...." (Cf. Matt10:34-37)

Let's see this happen...

Vss44-47: "The next Sabbath nearly the whole city assembled to hear the word of the Lord. But when the Jews saw the crowds, they were filled with jealousy and began contradicting the things spoken by Paul, and were blaspheming. Paul and Barnabas spoke out boldly and said, 'It was necessary that the word of God be spoken to you first; since you repudiate it and judge yourselves unworthy of eternal life, behold, we are turning to the Gentiles. For so the Lord has commanded us, 'I have placed You as a light for the Gentiles, that You may bring salvation to the end of the earth.'"

.... "The whole city assembled." The crowd outside the synagogue would largely be Gentiles. They want to hear this message.

.... "When the Jews saw the crowds, they were filled with jealousy." The term 'Jews' speaks of a certain group, not all the Jewish folk. Why were they jealous? In no way would they to accept that Gentiles could be equal to them in a covenant relationship with the God of Israel.

.... "It was necessary that the word of God be spoken to you first." Why was it necessary for God's message concerning His Messiah be spoken to the Jews first? Listen to Paul's explanation; "To whom belongs the adoption as sons, and the glory and the covenants and the giving of the Law and the temple service and the promises, whose are the fathers, and from whom is the Christ according to the flesh..." (Rom9:4,5)

.... "Judge yourselves unworthy of eternal life." No person is worthy of eternal life based on their genealogy or personal merits. These rejecters proved themselves unworthy in their rejection of the gospel.

.... "We are turning to the Gentiles." This was to be phase two for God's new covenant redemption program for the early Church. You will find this pattern repeating through the travels of Paul. It may sound like, 'If the Jews accept God's message, then the Gentiles will not be offered the message.' Quite the contrary. It was God's will from the beginning that the message be given to the whole world.

Thus we hear....

Vs47: "For so the Lord has commanded us, 'I have placed You as a light for the Gentiles, that You may bring salvation to the end of the earth." The apostle is quoting the prophet Isaiah. (Cf. Isaiah 42:6; 49:6)

There are a great many prophecies given concerning God's love for the Gentiles. We will cover more of them in future studies. Just keep in mind that the Lord setting aside the Hebrew peoples was not an end in itself. His purpose was to have a people prepared who could carry His message of redemption to all the world. The sad thing is that many of the Jews had become so self-righteous that they thought the message was all about them. Not so. It was about God's love for all humanity.

Vs48: "When the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord; and as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed."

.... "When the Gentiles heard this they began rejoicing."

The Gentile reference here is not about proselytes. It speaks to Gentiles in general. And the joy of the Gentiles overshadowed the grumblings and the blaspheming of the Jewish opponents; at least for now.

.... "And as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed."

Some would have this to read, "As many as were disposed to eternal life believed" but that does damage to the language. The Greek for 'appointed' is 'tasso.' It means to assign someone to a particular task, to arrange, to set in order. This sentence can also be translated, "Those who had been designated for eternal life became believers."

The word 'tasso' is seen in the following Scriptures: (I'll use caps for the English word.)

"But the eleven disciples proceeded to Galilee, to the mountain which Jesus had DESIGNATED." (Matt28:16)

"Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are ESTABLISHED by God." (Romans 13:1)

This issue of being appointed to eternal life is not something we easily grasp. To the natural mind it seems like unfairness, but we have to balance this out with the understanding that, not only is God totally just in all His ways, but He is also 'all knowing', and 'ever present.' This means that God is present in past, in the present, and in the future. He is outside of time and He often speaks in those tenses. For this reason it can be said that any person who is going to be saved, already has his name recorded in the Lamb's book of life. Revelation speaks of the saved having their names recorded in His book of life from the foundation of the world.

Vss49-52: "And the word of the Lord was being spread through the whole region. But the Jews incited the devout women of prominence and the leading men of the city, and instigated a persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and drove them out of their district. But they shook off the dust of their feet in protest against them and went to Iconium. And the disciples were continually filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit."

.... "The word of the Lord was being spread." The gospel is a powerful message. Paul tells us that it does its own work in the hearts of those who believe.

.... "The Jews incited the devout women .... and leading men of the city, and instigated a persecution against Paul and Barnabas." These are likely Gentile proselytes. You can see what is happening. These proselytes have done everything to become part of the Jewish religion. Now their religious feelings are being challenged by the fact that any Gentiles can partake in new covenant salvation without becoming a Jew.

.... "Shook the dust off their feet ... continually filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit." The disciples did exactly what Jesus had instructed; "Whoever does not receive you, nor heed your words, as you go out of that house or that city, shake the dust off your feet." (Matt10:14)

The disciples being filled with the joy of the Holy Spirit may be a general statement concerning both the apostolic band and the many new converts to the faith.

This study was originally part of a series on the book of Acts given to members of Hebraic Foundations from July 10, 2002 through January 19, 2003. They were written by Pastor Buddy Martin, a former United Pentecostal Church minister, who founded Christian Challenge International. Writings are the copyright of Buddy Martin and reprinted on this site by permission.

Page added October 22, 2004


August 23, 1997
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