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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."

Cyprus

"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.

13:6 And when they had gone through the isle unto Paphos, they found a certain sorcerer [see Sorcery], a false prophet, a Jew, whose name was Barjesus: 13:7 Which was with the deputy of the country, Sergius Paulus, a prudent man; who called for Barnabas and Saul, and desired to hear the word of God. 13:8 But Elymas the sorcerer (for so is his name by interpretation) withstood them, seeking to turn away the deputy from the faith. 13:9 Then Saul, (who also is called Paul,) filled with the Holy Ghost, set his eyes on him, 13:10 And said, O full of all subtlety and all mischief, thou child of the devil, thou enemy of all righteousness, wilt thou not cease to pervert the right ways of the Lord? 13:11 And now, behold, the hand of the Lord is upon thee, and thou shalt be blind, not seeing the sun for a season.

And immediately there fell on him a mist and a darkness; and he went about seeking some to lead him by the hand. 13:12 Then the deputy, when he saw what was done, believed, being astonished at the doctrine of the Lord." (Acts 13:4-12 KJV)

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.

Paul's First Missionary Journey

"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.

13:22 And when he had removed him, he raised up unto them David to be their king [see Israel In History and Prophecy: King David]; to whom also he gave testimony, and said, I have found David the son of Jesse [see Jesse The Bethlehemite], a man after mine own heart, which shall fulfil all my will.

13:23 Of this man's seed hath God according to his promise raised unto Israel a Saviour, Jesus [see Israel In History and Prophecy: Alpha and Omega]: 13:24 When John had first preached before his coming the baptism of repentance to all the people of Israel. 13:25 And as John fulfilled his course, he said, Whom think ye that I am? I am not he. But, behold, there cometh one after me, whose shoes of his feet I am not worthy to loose [see Jesus And John: Similarities And Differences].

13:26 Men and brethren, children of the stock of Abraham [see Israel In History and Prophecy: Roots and Branches], and whosoever among you feareth God, to you is the word of this salvation sent. 13:27 For they that dwell at Jerusalem, and their rulers, because they knew him not, nor yet the voices of the prophets which are read every sabbath day, they have fulfilled them in condemning him. 13:28 And though they found no cause of death in him, yet desired they Pilate that he should be slain [see Innocent Blood]. 13:29 And when they had fulfilled all that was written of him, they took him down from the tree [see Crossing The T], and laid him in a sepulchre. 13:30 But God raised him from the dead: 13:31 And he was seen many days of them which came up with him from Galilee to Jerusalem, who are his witnesses unto the people [see Counting On The Resurrection].

13:32 And we declare unto you glad tidings, how that the promise which was made unto the fathers, 13:33 God hath fulfilled the same unto us their children, in that he hath raised up Jesus again; as it is also written in the second psalm, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee [see The Messianic Psalms].

13:34 And as concerning that he raised him up from the dead [see What Does The Bible Really Say About Your Soul?], now no more to return to corruption, he said on this wise, I will give you the sure mercies of David. 13:35 Wherefore he saith also in another psalm, Thou shalt not suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.

13:36 For David, after he had served his own generation by the will of God, fell on sleep [see Could Christ Return Tonight?], and was laid unto his fathers, and saw corruption: 13:37 But he, whom God raised again, saw no corruption.

13:38 Be it known unto you therefore, men and brethren, that through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins: 13:39 And by him all that believe are justified from all things [see Christ Died For Repentant Sinners], from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses. 13:40 Beware therefore, lest that come upon you, which is spoken of in the prophets; 13:41 Behold, ye despisers, and wonder, and perish: for I work a work in your days, a work which ye shall in no wise believe, though a man declare it unto you." (Acts 13:16-41 KJV)

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."

False Witnesses

"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].

13:44 And the next sabbath day came almost the whole city together to hear the word of God [see What Does Word of God Mean To You?]. 13:45 But when the Jews saw the multitudes, they were filled with envy, and spake against those things which were spoken by Paul, contradicting and blaspheming [see Blaspheming The Name Of God].

13:46 Then Paul and Barnabas waxed bold, and said, It was necessary that the word of God should first have been spoken to you: but seeing ye put it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles [see What Did The Messiah Say About Gentiles?]. 13:47 For so hath the Lord commanded us, saying, I have set thee to be a light of the Gentiles, that thou shouldest be for salvation unto the ends of the earth.

13:48 And when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad, and glorified the word of the Lord: and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed [see When And Where Your Eternal Life Will Begin].

13:49 And the word of the Lord was published throughout all the region. 13:50 But the Jews stirred up the devout and honourable women, and the chief men of the city, and raised persecution [see Why Does The LORD Permit Persecution?] against Paul and Barnabas, and expelled them out of their coasts. 13:51 But they shook off the dust of their feet against them, and came unto Iconium. 13:52 And the disciples were filled with joy, and with the Holy Ghost." (Acts 13:42-52 KJV)

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).

The Stoning Of Stephen

"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.

14:11 And when the people saw what Paul had done, they lifted up their voices, saying in the speech of Lycaonia, The gods are come down to us in the likeness of men. 14:12 And they called Barnabas, Jupiter; and Paul, Mercurius, because he was the chief speaker. 14:13 Then the priest of Jupiter, which was before their city, brought oxen and garlands unto the gates, and would have done sacrifice with the people.

14:14 Which when the apostles, Barnabas and Paul, heard of, they rent their clothes, and ran in among the people, crying out, 14:15 And saying, Sirs, why do ye these things? We also are men of like passions with you, and preach unto you that ye should turn from these vanities unto the living God, which made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all things that are therein: 14:16 Who in times past suffered all nations to walk in their own ways. 14:17 Nevertheless he left not himself without witness, in that he did good, and gave us rain from heaven, and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness. 14:18 And with these sayings scarce restrained they the people, that they had not done sacrifice unto them.

14:19 And there came thither certain Jews from Antioch and Iconium, who persuaded the people, and, having stoned Paul, drew him out of the city, supposing he had been dead. 14:20 Howbeit, as the disciples stood round about him, he rose up, and came into the city: and the next day he departed with Barnabas to Derbe." (Acts 14:8-20 KJV)

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").

Pharisees and Herodians

"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].

15:6 And the apostles and elders came together for to consider of this matter. 15:7 And when there had been much disputing, Peter rose up, and said unto them, Men and brethren, ye know how that a good while ago God made choice among us, that the Gentiles by my mouth should hear the word of the gospel, and believe. 15:8 And God, which knoweth the hearts, bare them witness, giving them the Holy Ghost, even as he did unto us [see The Joppa Lessons Of Jonah And Peter]; 15:9 And put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith. 15:10 Now therefore why tempt ye God, to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear? 15:11 But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved, even as they.

15:12 Then all the multitude kept silence, and gave audience to Barnabas and Paul, declaring what miracles and wonders God had wrought among the Gentiles by them. 15:13 And after they had held their peace, James [see also The Epistles: James] answered, saying, Men and brethren, hearken unto me: 15:14 Simeon hath declared how God at the first did visit the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for his name. 15:15 And to this agree the words of the prophets; as it is written,

15:16 After this I will return, and will build again the tabernacle of David [see David's Tabernacle; see also Where Is Your Tabernacle?], which is fallen down; and I will build again the ruins thereof, and I will set it up: 15:17 That the residue of men might seek after the Lord, and all the Gentiles, upon whom my name is called, saith the Lord, who doeth all these things. 15:18 Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world.

15:19 Wherefore my sentence is, that we trouble not them, which from among the Gentiles are turned to God: 15:20 But that we write unto them, that they abstain from pollutions of idols, and from fornication, and from things strangled, and from blood. 15:21 For Moses of old time hath in every city them that preach him, being read in the synagogues every sabbath day." (Acts 15:5-21 KJV)

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."

Damascus

"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 apostles and elders and brethren send greeting unto the brethren which are of the Gentiles in Antioch and Syria and Cilicia:

15:24 Forasmuch as we have heard, that certain which went out from us have troubled you with words, subverting your souls, saying, Ye must be circumcised, and keep the law: to whom we gave no such commandment: 15:25 It seemed good unto us, being assembled with one accord, to send chosen men unto you with our beloved Barnabas and Paul, 15:26 Men that have hazarded their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. 15:27 We have sent therefore Judas and Silas, who shall also tell you the same things by mouth. 15:28 For it seemed good to the Holy Ghost, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things; 15:29 That ye abstain from meats offered to idols, and from blood, and from things strangled, and from fornication: from which if ye keep yourselves, ye shall do well. Fare ye well.

15:30 So when they were dismissed, they came to Antioch: and when they had gathered the multitude together, they delivered the epistle: 15:31 Which when they had read, they rejoiced for the consolation. 15:32 And Judas and Silas, being prophets also themselves, exhorted the brethren with many words, and confirmed them. 15:33 And after they had tarried there a space, they were let go in peace from the brethren unto the apostles. 15:34 Notwithstanding it pleased Silas to abide there still. 15:35 Paul also and Barnabas continued in Antioch, teaching and preaching the word of the Lord, with many others also." (Acts 15:22-35 KJV)

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?
See What Did Peter And Paul Say About Each Other?


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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.





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