-During prayer and fasting and ministering to the Lord, Barnabas and Saul were set apart by the Holy Spirit to go on their first major missionary journey to the island of Cyprus and Asia Minor. The narrative describes the miraculous encounters in these places and the unique experiences of bringing the gospel of Christ to Gentile regions. However, notice the strategy that is used in these missionary endeavors. They would always start with the established synagogue in a new city. This was to tie in the known with the unknown and show how Christ Jesus was a fulfillment of Old Testament truth given by God to His people (Remember Romans 1:16). They needed a reference point from which to share the good news of the crucifixion, the burial, and the resurrection of the Savior of the world. Also, notice that they went to the population centers where there could be a larger audience for their presentations. The idea was to proliferate the message outward towards the rural communities from the epicenters of the larger cities in each region. These proved to be effective methods as they were led by the Lord’s Holy Spirit (Acts 13:1-12). *Application* What strategy do we have for winning the lost to Christ Jesus? Seek the Spirit’s guidance and be intentional about evangelizing our world with the good news!
-An interesting tidbit of information is given in verse 13, which would later create tension and controversy between Paul (Saul) and Barnabas (Acts 15:36-40). In fact they would separate as missionary partners over the decision of John Mark to return back to Jerusalem. This was certainly not a move that Paul endorsed for whatever reason. But, Barnabas as was his nature was patient, compassionate, and encouraging of the young and growing brother in Christ. Later, Paul reconciled and approved of the help that John Mark was to the Kingdom work (2 Timothy 4:11). *Application* Let us not be too quick to dismiss and cast away people that make mistakes. John Mark demonstrated immaturity, possibly through fear, fatigue, and failure by his quick return from a missionary adventure. Perhaps he got homesick or the persecution and hardship was too much for him to handle. We really are not sure, but we do know that later Barnabas stuck with this young lad and helped to restore him in the Lord. We should have the same compassion on those who fail us.
-The scene in Pisidian Antioch becomes a familiar response to the gospel as it goes forth into these untapped regions. First, there is curiosity and intrigue as the message of Christ is preached. Then comes a Jewish response of jealousy and accusations of what they thought to be a false message. This usually ends up in a disturbance of some sort with some believing and receiving the message, but others adamantly against the word of the apostles. The Gentiles are awakened to God’s truth and rejoice, but the Jews drive out the apostles trying to thwart their message. The apostles shake the dust off their feet in protest against the rejection of the gospel and go on joyfully with the Holy Spirit to the next city and adventure (Acts 13:14-52). *Application* In our strategy to share the message of Christ we will find diverse responses as well. Be sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s guiding and leading when sharing faith. Remember that to some we will be an offense, but to others the fragrant aroma of a saving Christ (2 Corinthians 2:14-17).
Verses to Memorize: Acts 13:2, 38-39