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Thursday, October 25 2012
The Ministry Of Paul And Barnabas
"As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them"
Much of the Book of Acts (which was actually an epistle; see The Epistles: Acts) is about the ministry of the apostle Paul, from his three major missionary journeys. Paul's First Missionary Journey is recorded from Acts 13:1 to 15:35, Paul's Second Missionary Journey is recorded from Acts 15:36 to 18:22 and Paul's Third Missionary Journey is recorded from Acts 18:23 to 21:17.
As we will read however, Paul's first missionary journey was moreover the missionary journey of Paul and Barnabas, who were united in service to the LORD after Paul's conversion (see The Meeting Of Paul And Barnabas). From Antioch in Syria, where "Christianity" began (i.e. "the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch" Acts 11:26 KJV), Paul and Barnabas departed, according to the command of the LORD: "Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them."
"13:1 Now there were in the church [see Can You See The Church? and The Church In The End Time; also Repent, For The Kingdom Of Heaven Is At Hand] that was at Antioch certain prophets and teachers; as Barnabas, and Simeon that was called Niger, and Lucius of Cyrene, and Manaen, which had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. 13:2 As they ministered to the Lord [see Who Is The LORD?], and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them. 13:3 And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them away." (Acts 13:1-3 KJV)
"They sailed to Cyprus," which was the birthplace of Barnabas ("4:36 And Joses, who by the apostles was surnamed Barnabas, which is, being interpreted, The son of consolation, a Levite, and of the country of Cyprus" Acts 4:26 KJV). Note also that "they had also John to their minister" - the then-youthful John Mark, better known as Mark, the writer of the Gospel Book of Mark, a relative of Barnabas. While on the island they encountered a sorcerer, who Saul, then becoming known as Paul, gave a blindness lesson to - just as the LORD had done to Paul on the road to Damascus (again, see The Meeting Of Paul And Barnabas).
"13:4 So they, being sent forth by the Holy Ghost [see Who Lights Your Walk?], departed unto Seleucia; and from thence they sailed to Cyprus. 13:5 And when they were at Salamis, they preached the word of God in the synagogues of the Jews: and they had also John to their minister.
Just as Peter had a more forward personality than others of the Twelve, Paul soon began to take the vocal lead with Barnabas - with Barnabas standing right beside him. Note also that "John departing from them returned to Jerusalem" at that time - as we will get to, that return by Mark would be the reason why Paul and Barnabas had only one missionary journey together,
"13:13 Now when Paul and his company loosed from Paphos, they came to Perga in Pamphylia: and John departing from them returned to Jerusalem. 13:14 But when they departed from Perga, they came to Antioch in Pisidia, and went into the synagogue on the sabbath day [see When Is The LORD's Day? and Why Observe The True Sabbath?], and sat down. 13:15 And after the reading of the law and the prophets the rulers of the synagogue sent unto them, saying, Ye men and brethren, if ye have any word of exhortation for the people, say on." (Acts 13:13-15 KJV)
Paul and Barnabas then delivered a history lesson to the people - a lesson of themselves as "Israel." While some appreciated the facts about their own history, then, as now, some became angry because the Truth deflated some of their historic fantasies. They preferred their toy world to the real one.
"13:16 Then Paul stood up, and beckoning with his hand said, Men of Israel, and ye that fear God, give audience. 13:17 The God of this people of Israel chose our fathers, and exalted the people when they dwelt as strangers in the land of Egypt [see Why Did They Go To Goshen?], and with an high arm brought he them out of it. 13:18 And about the time of forty years suffered he their manners in the wilderness [see Israel In History and Prophecy: The Sinai Journey]. 13:19 And when he had destroyed seven nations in the land of Chanaan, he divided their land to them by lot [see Israel In History and Prophecy: Joshua]. 13:20 And after that he gave unto them judges [see Israel In History and Prophecy: The Judges] about the space of four hundred and fifty years, until Samuel the prophet [see Israel In History and Prophecy: Samuel]. 13:21 And afterward they desired a king: and God gave unto them Saul [see Israel In History and Prophecy: Saul and David] the son of Cis, a man of the tribe of Benjamin, by the space of forty years.
While many welcomed the Truth that "Paul and Barnabas" presented to them, and grew much stronger from it, others "stirred up the devout and honourable women, and the chief men of the city, and raised persecution against Paul and Barnabas."
"13:42 And when the Jews were gone out of the synagogue, the Gentiles besought that these words might be preached to them the next sabbath. 13:43 Now when the congregation was broken up, many of the Jews and religious proselytes followed Paul and Barnabas: who, speaking to them, persuaded them to continue in the grace of God [see Works Means Obedience].
Paul and Barnabas "went both together into the synagogue of the Jews, and so spake, that a great multitude both of the Jews and also of the Greeks believed."
"14:1 And it came to pass in Iconium, that they went both together into the synagogue of the Jews, and so spake, that a great multitude both of the Jews and also of the Greeks believed [see also The Gospel To The Athenian Jews And Greeks]. 14:2 But the unbelieving Jews stirred up the Gentiles, and made their minds evil affected against the brethren. 14:3 Long time therefore abode they speaking boldly in the Lord, which gave testimony unto the word of his grace, and granted signs and wonders to be done by their hands. 14:4 But the multitude of the city was divided: and part held with the Jews, and part with the apostles. 14:5 And when there was an assault made both of the Gentiles, and also of the Jews with their rulers, to use them despitefully, and to stone them, 14:6 They were ware of it, and fled unto Lystra and Derbe, cities of Lycaonia, and unto the region that lieth round about: 14:7 And there they preached the gospel." (Acts 14:1-7 KJV)
In Lystra, the idol worshiping people declared Paul and Barnabas to be "gods" after a miraculous healing that they did there. Both immediately refuted the crowds, but Paul's more "forward" speaking resulted in him alone being stoned and left for dead. He had a rapid recovery (or perhaps, resurrection, since Barnabas thought that Paul was dead) - "the next day he departed with Barnabas to Derbe." Just as persecution had come upon the former persecutor, so then Paul was stoned, just as he had done to Stephen (again, see The Meeting Of Paul And Barnabas).
"14:8 And there sat a certain man at Lystra, impotent in his feet, being a cripple from his mother's womb, who never had walked: 14:9 The same heard Paul speak: who stedfastly beholding him, and perceiving that he had faith to be healed [see The Healing Spirit and The Healing Touch], 14:10 Said with a loud voice, Stand upright on thy feet. And he leaped and walked.
Most of the first "Christians" were Jews, as was the Messiah Himself. Many Jews thereby incorrectly assumed that one must become a Jew to become a "Christian." There are two major reasons why that isn't so: salvation is open to all people who repent (see Christ Died For Repentant Sinners and What Did The Messiah Say About Gentiles?), and what by that time became the religion of the people of Judah actually rejected the Savior (see Israel In History and Prophecy: Judaism and Israel In History and Prophecy: The New Covenant).
"15:1 And certain men which came down from Judaea taught the brethren, and said, Except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved [see Circumcision]. 15:2 When therefore Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and disputation with them, they determined that Paul and Barnabas, and certain other of them, should go up to Jerusalem unto the apostles and elders about this question. 15:3 And being brought on their way by the church, they passed through Phenice and Samaria, declaring the conversion of the Gentiles: and they caused great joy unto all the brethren. 15:4 And when they were come to Jerusalem, they were received of the church, and of the apostles and elders, and they declared all things that God had done with them." (Acts 15:1-4 KJV)
While Pharisees are often regarded as anti-Christian as a whole, many Pharisees became Christians. Paul was a Pharisee (see The Passed Over Pharisees). Nicodemus, who the LORD gave the famous "born again" and "John 3:16" teachings, was a Pharisee (see What Was The Lesson Of John 3:16?). Other Phariess also became Christians ("the Pharisees which believed"). Notice that, during that Jerusalem conference, Barnabas was on an equal speaking level as Peter or Paul (they "gave audience to Barnabas and Paul") and that Barnabas had done miracles just as Paul done (""Barnabas and Paul, declaring what miracles and wonders God had wrought among the Gentiles by them").
"15:5 But there rose up certain of the sect of the Pharisees which believed, saying, That it was needful to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses [see Israel In History and Prophecy: Law Of The LORD].
While there are other more famous epistles in the Bible (see our complete series beginning with The Epistles: What Is An Epistle?), the letter from the Jerusalem conference was recorded within Acts itself i.e. "they delivered the epistle."
"15:22 Then pleased it the apostles and elders, with the whole church, to send chosen men of their own company to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas; namely, Judas surnamed Barsabas, and Silas, chief men among the brethren: 15:23 And they wrote letters by them after this manner;
The parting of Paul and Barnabas occurred due to a dispute about Mark, who, as we read above, had returned to Jerusalem. All would reconcile later, but from then on, Paul and Barnabas served the LORD on their own. Uncompromising determination is a necessity for preaching the Truth in a world that hates the Truth, but often, unfortunately, "uncompromising determination" can also make some people very hard to get along with.
"15:36 And some days after Paul said unto Barnabas, Let us go again and visit our brethren in every city where we have preached the word of the Lord, and see how they do. 15:37 And Barnabas determined to take with them John, whose surname was Mark. 15:38 But Paul thought not good to take him with them, who departed from them from Pamphylia, and went not with them to the work. 15:39 And the contention was so sharp between them, that they departed asunder one from the other: and so Barnabas took Mark, and sailed unto Cyprus; 15:40 And Paul chose Silas, and departed, being recommended by the brethren unto the grace of God." (Acts 15:36-40 KJV)
Fact Finder: Why was it best that Paul and Peter served the LORD on their own, just as Paul and Barnabas did after their parting?
This Day In History, October 25
473: Emperor Leo I proclaimed his grandson Leo II as Caesar of the Byzantine Empire.
732: Charles Martel, ruler of the Franks, defeated the Saracens at Poitiers.
1147: Seljuk Turks (listen to our Sermon The Ottoman Empire) annihilated an army of Church of Rome "Crusaders" under the command of German King Conrad III at the Battle of Dorylaeum (see Constantine's Crusades In History And Prophecy).
1415: The Battle of Agincourt, in France. A bloody victory of 12,000 English led by Henry V over 60,000 French in the middle period of the Hundred Years War. The 3-hour battle resulted in the deaths of the French forces leader Charles d'Albret, 12 other members of the highest nobility, 1,500 knights, and 4,500 men-at-arms. The victory was made possible by a new British weapon - longbows, that devastated the enemy sword-armed armored knights at a distance. The English losses were negligible.
1555: Charles V (a Hapsburg) abdicated as Holy Roman Emperor. His son Philip II received Spain, the newly-discovered continent of North America (see Thanksgiving In History and Prophecy), Italy and the Netherlands, while his brother became Holy Roman Emperor as Ferdinand I.
1671: Giovanni Cassini discovered Iapetus, a moon of the planet that humans call Saturn.
1747: The British fleet under Admiral Sir Edward Hawke defeated the French fleet at the second battle of Cape Finisterre.
1760: King George III of England was crowned. The King's reign was marked by the rebellion of some of the citizens of the New England colonies (about 1/3 of the population of New England moved to Britain or Canada to escape the revolution) that Britain founded and built in the wilderness of north-eastern North America over a century earlier.
1813: During the War of 1812 (1812-1814; declared by U.S. President James Madison with the stated purpose to annex Canada), Canadian militia and Mohawk allies repelled U.S. invasion forces in the Battle of Chateauguay.
1854: During the Crimean War at the Battle of Balaclava, Lord Cardigan led the famous "charge of the Light Brigade" cavalry against the Russians.
1861: The Toronto Stock Exchange was established
1900: Britain's annexation of the Boer Republic came into effect. The territory was renamed Transvaal.
1923: Dr. Frederick Banting and Dr. J.R. Macleod of the University of Toronto were awarded the Nobel Prize in medicine for their discovery of the hormone insulin. The discovery made possible more effective control of diabetes.
1936: The government of Germany and Italy declared their formation of the "Rome-Berlin Axis" (listen to our Sermon The European World Wars).
1950: Communist Chinese forces crossed the Yalu River into North Korea.
1951: Winston Churchill was again elected Prime Minister of Britain after 6 years out of office.
1955: Austria was reinstated as a sovereign country when the last World War Two allied occupation forces left.
1971: The United Nations General Assembly voted to remove Taiwan from the U.N. and to admit communist China in its place.
1983: U.S. troops invaded Grenada to stop alleged Cuban and Soviet influence on the tiny Caribbean island. Britain was not informed before the invasion even though Grenada was a member of the British Commonwealth.
2004: Cuban President Fidel Castro banned the U.S. dollar from Cuba. Nearly 40 years earlier, the U.S. had already declared a trade embargo with Cuba after the Cuban revolution overthrew the Mafia (the Cuba scenes in the "Godfather" movies are actually historically correct) and CIA-backed fascist dictator Fulgencio Batista Zaldivar.