The First Missionary Journey Begins
October 27 - Nº 300 Acts 12:25 – 13:52
After Barnabas and Saul delivered the gift to the church leaders in Jerusalem (see #298 - Called "Christians" in Antioch), they returned to Antioch in Syria. When they arrived, they met with the leaders of their church. While they were fasting and worshiping God together, the Holy Spirit announced that God had a special job for Barnabas and Saul. They were to share the Gospel message with Jews and Gentiles all over the Roman empire. So, when they had finished praying, the leaders placed their hands on Saul and Barnabas. They blessed them and sent them on this special journey God had prepared for them. John Mark went along as their helper. (It was during this trip that “Saul” began using the Roman version of his name. From then on, he was called “Paul.”) After boarding a ship at the closest port, the three men sailed to Cyprus. They traveled across the island teaching about Jesus in all the Jewish synagogues. When they came to the city of Paphos, the Roman governor named Sergius Paulus invited them to meet with him. He had been told about Barnabas and Paul and wanted to hear first-hand what they were teaching. As they were meeting, a Jewish sorcerer named Elymas kept interrupting them. He did not want the governor to hear the truth. Paul looked straight at the sorcerer and said, “You are a child of the devil and an enemy of everything that is true, so God is going to make you blind.” Instantly Elymas couldn’t see! He had to be led from the room. When the governor witnessed this, he believed. He listened very carefully to what Barnabas and Paul were teaching and was amazed at what he learned! When they left the island, the three missionaries sailed to Pamphylia on the coast of Asia Minor. For some reason we are not given, John Mark left and went back to Jerusalem. Barnabas and Paul continued inland to a city in Galatia called Pisidian Antioch (not the same “Antioch” where their journey had begun). On the Sabbath they went into a synagogue to worship. The leaders of the synagogue asked if the two visitors had something they wanted to share with the people in the congregation. Paul stood up and explained clearly how Jesus had fulfilled all the promises in the Old Testament Scriptures, yet the Jewish leaders had rejected his message and killed him by nailing him to a cross. He went on to explain that after Jesus was buried, God raised him from the dead! “We are here to tell you that Jesus is the Son of God, and he forgives the sins of those who believe in him,” Paul explained. “We are sharing this because we don’t want you to miss out on what God has done for you!” The people were so excited that they invited Paul and Barnabas to return the next Sabbath and share more. The next week almost everyone in the city, both Jews and Gentiles, showed up to listen! The Jewish leaders were very jealous. They began to say bad things about the two men. Barnabas and Paul told them, “We wanted to share with you first, but since you won’t accept what we say and don’t want eternal life, from now on we will teach the Gentiles. They are eager to learn more.” Many Gentiles accepted the message about Jesus and put their faith in him. But the Jews were furious. They persecuted Paul and Barnabas and drove them out of town.
Barnabas and Paul faced opposition to their faith wherever they went! But that did not stop them. It was not their job to worry about those who did not accept them or their message. It was their privilege to rejoice with those who did!