January 10th, 2007
In today’s reading the Holy Spirit instructed the church at Antioch to set Barnabas and Saul apart for the work to which they had been called. What an amazing feeling, to be especially called by God to have a very significant role in the course of human history, to have the privilege of being the first people to bring the good news of Jesus to thousands of people around the world who had never heard it. If you’re a follower of Jesus, the good or bad news, depending on how you look at it, is that God has also especially set you apart for the work to which he has called you.
The Acts of the Apostles — Chapter 13
13:1 The church at Antioch had some prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen the foster brother of Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. 13:2 As they were worshipping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart Barnabas and Saul for me, for the work to which I have called them.”
13:3 When they had fasted and prayed and placed their hands on them, they sent them out. 13:4 So, being sent out by the Holy Spirit, they went to Seleucia and from there they sailed to Cyprus. 13:5 When they arrived at Salamis, they proclaimed the message of God in the Jewish synagogues. They had John as their assistant. 13:6 When they had travelled across the island to Paphos, they encountered a Jewish sorcerer, a false prophet named Bar Jesus. 13:7 He was with the proconsul, Sergius Paulus, an intelligent man, who summoned Barnabas and Saul and asked to hear the word of God. 13:8 But the sorcerer Elymas (that is what his name is when translated) opposed them, and tried to divert the proconsul from the faith. 13:9 But Saul, who was also called Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked intently at him 13:10 and said, “You son of the devil and enemy of all righteousness are full of deceit and cunning. Will you not stop corrupting the right ways of the Lord? 13:11 The hand of the Lord is on you, and you will be blind, unable to see the sun for a while!” Immediately a mist and darkness fell on him. He went around looking for someone to lead him by the hand. 13:12 Then the proconsul believed when he saw what happened. He was amazed at the teaching of the Lord.
13:13 Paul and his companions set sail from Paphos, and arrived in Perga in Pamphylia. John left them to return to Jerusalem. 13:14 But they continued on from Perga, arriving in Antioch of Pisidia. They went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and sat down. 13:15 After the reading of the law and the prophets, the synagogue leaders sent them a message asking, “Brothers, if you have any word of ecouragement for the people, say it.”
13:16 Paul stood up, and motioning with his hand said, “People of Israel and God-fearing Gentiles, listen. 13:17 The God of the people of Israel chose our ancestors, and made the people great when they were living as foreigners in the land of Egypt. He led them out of that land with a mighty arm. 13:18 He put up with them in the wilderness for a period of about forty years. 13:19 He destroyed seven nations in the land of Canaan, and gave them their land as an inheritance, over a period of about four hundred and fifty years. 13:20 After this he gave them judges until Samuel the prophet. 13:21 Then they asked for a king, and God gave them Saul the son of Kish, a man of the tribe of Benjamin, for forty years. 13:22 When God had removed him, he raised up David to be their king, about whom he said, ‘I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after my heart, who will do all my will.’ 13:23 In accordance with his promise God has brought to Israel from this man’s descendants the saviour, Jesus.
13:24 “Before Jesus arrived, John had preached the baptism of repentance to Israel. 13:25 As John was completing his mission, he said, ‘Who do you think that I am? I am not the one. He is coming after me, and I am not worthy to untie the sandals on his feet.’ 13:26 Brothers, descendants of Abraham, and God-fearing Gentiles, this message of salvation was sent to us. 13:27 The people of Jerusalem and their leaders did not recognise the man and they did not realise that by condemning him they were fulfilling the predictions of the prophets which are read every Sabbath. 13:28 Although they could find no justification for the death penalty, they still asked Pilate to have him executed. 13:29 When they had fulfilled everything that had been predicted about him, they took him down from the tree and placed him in a tomb. 13:30 But God raised him from the dead, 13:31 and he was seen on numerous days by the people who had accompanied him from Galilee to Jerusalem. They are his witnesses to the people. 13:32 We bring you good news. The promise made to our ancestors 13:33 has now been fulfilled by God for us, their descendants, by raising up Jesus. As the second psalm predicted, ‘You are my Son. Today I have become your father.’
13:34 “He made this prediction about raising him up from the dead, never to return to corruption: ‘I will give you the holy and sure blessings of David.’ 13:35 In another psalm he says, ‘You will not allow your Holy One to see decay.’ 13:36 David, after he had served the will of God in his own generation, died and was buried with his fathers, and his body decayed. 13:37 But the one whom God raised up did not decay. 13:38 So understand, friends, that forgiveness of sins is offered to you through this man. Many things prevented you from being justified under the law of Moses, 13:39 but everyone who believes is now justified by this man. 13:40 Take care to prevent the prophets’ prediction happening to you: 13:41 ‘Look, you scoffers; wonder and perish, because I am doing something in your days, something which you will not believe if someone tells you.'”
13:42 As they were leaving, the people asked for this message to be preached to them again the next Sabbath. 13:43 When the meeting finished, many Jews and devout converts to Judaism followed Paul and Barnabas, who spoke with them and encouraged them to continue in the grace of God. 13:44 The next Sabbath almost the whole city was gathered together to hear the message of God. 13:45 But the Jews were filled with jealousy when they saw the crowds, and they abusively contradicted the things which Paul said.
13:46 Paul and Barnabas spoke out boldly, “It was necessary for God’s message to be spoken to you first. Because you reject it, and consider yourselves unworthy of eternal life, we will go to the Gentiles. 13:47 This is what the Lord has instructed us, ‘I have placed you as a light for the Gentiles, so that you should bring salvation to the furthest parts of the earth.'”
13:48 The Gentiles were glad to hear this, and honoured the message of God. Those who were selected for eternal life believed. 13:49 The Lord’s message spread throughout all the region. 13:50 But the Jews stirred up the devout and prominent women and the senior men of the city, and incited harassment of Paul and Barnabas, and expelled them from their area. 13:51 But Paul and Barnabas shook off the dust of their feet against them, and travelled to Iconium. 13:52 The disciples were filled with joy and the Holy Spirit.
Entry Filed under: Hope