Missionaries Sent To Start New Churches
Book of Acts Chapter 13
The persecution of Christians had finally led the Church to obeying the Lord Jesus Christ.
The Lord Jesus had said:
Mar 16:15 And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.
Mar 16:16 He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.
The Christian Church at Antioch had launched forth a deliberate effort to carry the Gospel to the entire world.
This Church commissioned its first two missionaries to tell the world of the desperate need for the Lord Jesus Christ.
This world does have a desperate need for the Lord Jesus Christ!
His message has not changed, and His message is the same today as it was when He first walked upon this earth!
There is no salvation without the Lord Jesus Christ, the Anointed One of God!
Not the Church at Jerusalem but the Church at Antioch had accepted the challenge of the Lord Jesus Christ and were determined to spread the “Gospel”.
As Christians this is our main job given to us by the Lord.
We all have a part to play in spreading the “Gospel of Jesus Christ”.
Of the many who had escaped the persecution in Jerusalem some had stopped in Antioch of Syria and formed a new church.
It appears that instead of having one man designated as the Pastor this church had five prophets and teachers.
*****Act 13:1 Now there were in the church 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.
This church at Antioch was determined to do the commandments of Jesus Christ.
This church reached out to the world of the lost to teach them about the truth of the “Gospel”, the “Good News” to all the world and for all mankind.
In reality, there are thousands of Christians doing the work of Christ and the Bible cannot mention them all, but here in this passage the Bible mentions several men who were working hard in this church in Antioch Syria.
Barnabas was also called Joses.
Act 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
We see he was also a Levite and Luke described him as a good man.
He was born of Jewish parents but he was a native of Cyprus where he owned some land which he had sold to help with the Church at Jerusalem.
It is possible that Barnabas attended the same school of Gamaliel at the time of Paul.
It was Barnabas who was selected to lead the missions at this church in Antioch.
By following the lead of the Holy Spirit, Barnabas sought out Saul (Paul) to assist him.
We also first see John Mark who was still a young man, not yet thirty years old.
Simeon was no doubt a black man. Some say this was Simon of Cyrene who carried the cross for Jesus Christ.
Lucius was from Cyrene.
Cyrene which is located in Northern Africa and maybe the same location as modern-day Tripoli. He was probably a poor man but very rich in Jesus Christ as are all true Christians.
There were many Jews located at this place and many who had escaped the persecution going on in Jerusalem against the Church.
It is said that this man who was a teacher or prophet at Antioch was brought up with Herod Antipas and was possibly his “foster-brother”.
This type thing happened often in the Roman society where another child was selected to grow up a lone child of a high-ranking politician.
He was possibly educated in Rome.
**Then there was Saul.
Saul may have been mentioned last but only God knew what He was calling on Paul to do.
Act 9:15 But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel:
Act 9:16 For I will shew him how great things he must suffer for my name’s sake.
They all ministered for the Lord.
Rom 10:12 For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him.
Rom 10:13 For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.
We, as a part of the Church need to clearly understand this truth!
We can see that the Church at Antioch thrived because the Church leadership was diverse and from all social classes, but they all loved the Lord Jesus Christ.
Teaching is a high calling and is one of the great callings of the Holy Spirit.
Teaching is ranked second only to the Spiritual gift of prophet or pastor.
In the New Testament most preachers were also called prophets.
A prophet is a man who has the message given to them by God the Holy Spirit.
Every prophet or pastor should also be a teacher, but not every teacher will become a pastor or prophet.
There is no doubt every teacher will give a strict account to God for his faithfulness to the Word of God.
The sole goal of the teacher is to share the glorious truths of God with God’s people!
*****Act 13:2 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.
Ministering to the Lord means they spent much time in prayer and fasting to give themselves more undistracted time to spiritual things such as teaching the truth of God.
They often gathered together seeking the commands of the Lord.
When we do this we will find that the Holy Spirit will find us something to do in the power of the Church and the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit had a specific work for Saul and Barnabas.
We should be able to see that if we are not faithful to the ministry we are already in, then the Holy Spirit will not give us some other work of God to do.
Col 3:23 And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men;
Col 3:24 Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ.
Col 3:25 But he that doeth wrong shall receive for the wrong which he hath done: and there is no respect of persons.
It is faithfulness that gains the trust of the Lord to do greater things for Him!
God will only call those who are already faithful to minister the Word of God.
Those who are not faithful to the Word of God but still say they are called are not God called, but they have called themselves and are the children of the Devil.
God will only use those who sense the desperate need of the world to find the Lord Jesus Christ when He is not hard to find because He is the One who is doing the seeking!
As I write all these things down, I can see clearly how I fail the Lord!
We should understand that Paul and Barnabas were not only called to a life of witnessing for the Lord. We are all called to do this!
The Holy Spirit was calling them to a lifetime in ministry of the Lord, the special calling of the Missionary.
God does not have a retirement plan other than our home in Heaven when our time is complete upon this earth.
The Holy Spirit will only speak to us when our heart and mind are clear in the work of the Lord!
To belong to the work of the Lord Jesus Christ, is to belong to the Holy Spirit and surrendered to the Holy Spirit’s use and His will.
Eph 4:12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:
Eph 4:13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:
Prayer and fasting truly become even more important to the ministry and the call of Christ.
*****Act 13:3 And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them away.
It is of an immense importance to bathe “all” the missions of the Church with prayer and fasting.
It is foolish to launch a new mission without prayer and fasting!
We must always seek the face of God before we ever seek the arm of God!
Every mission must be commissioned by the Church body!
We must understand, it was the Holy Spirit who called Barnabas and Paul and set them apart for the mission field.
They did not call themselves!
The Body of Christ must acknowledge the call of the Holy Spirit.
The Body of Christ must commit its support and prayers to those called of God to do such things.
The Body of Christ must be obedient to the Holy Spirit’s leadership by allowing these men to be separated from the church at Antioch.
This laying on of the hands was not like an ordination, but was an act showing the Church was in fellowship in the ministry of spreading the Gospel.
Any so-called church that does not support missions are not in obedience to the will of God for the Church!
These two men would be an arm of the church at Antioch reaching out into the world. This is what all missionaries are.
They must go out into the world with the Blessing of God, and with the blessing of this Church, but there must always be some means of accountability.
It is God the Holy Spirit who will decide where a mission is to begin!
*****Act 13:4 So they, being sent forth by the Holy Ghost, departed unto Seleucia; and from thence they sailed to Cyprus.
Act 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.
We will notice that the Holy Spirit paints a graphic picture of the problems that arise in missions and evangelism.
Seleucia was the closest port to Antioch and from this port they would sail to Cyprus.
The Bible teaches us that this was Paul’s first missionary journey not Barnabas.
It is extremely important for us to know that the call to foreign missions is a work of the Holy Spirit!
The Church is to manage the local missions and also assist the foreign missions and evangelism!
Those missions that strike out without the Holy Spirit will fail!
We should not just strike out on our own in mission work. Not even local visitation should be taken on without prayer and the blessings of the Church!
This does not mean we are not to be witnesses for Jesus Christ at every opportunity as we should.
This work is already sanction by Jesus Christ Himself but all the work of the Church must be centered upon prayer and the Holy Spirit!
Paul and Barnabas were sent by the Holy Spirit and the Church was to assist in the many ways that a Church can.
We must clearly understand the leadership of the Holy Spirit is critical to every servant of God!
Rom 8:14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.
Rom 8:15 For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.
Without the guidance of the Holy Spirit we will never succeed in any work for the Lord!
Joh 16:13 Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.
Joh 16:14 He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you.
The Holy Spirit will even be giving us the words to say.
Joh 14:26 But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.
Cyprus lay in the northeast corner of the Mediterranean Sea. It was a place that commercial ships would stop on their journeys to other places.
Cyprus was famous for their copper mines and shipbuilding industries, but it was as a resort area that brought the most revenue to this place.
The population was of Greeks and Phoenician, but there were also many Jews.
The false goddess Venus was worshipped as the goddess of love and lusts, and immorality.
Wickedness had taken over the island and they were in dire need of the Gospel.
The Romans had now ruled this island for about one hundred years and immorality followed the Romans everywhere they went and the Greeks were not much better in this day.
Keep in mind this was the home of Barnabas.
Salamis was the largest city on the island but was not the capitol city.
*****Act 13:6 And when they had gone through the isle unto Paphos, they found a certain sorcerer, a false prophet, a Jew, whose name was Barjesus:
Paphos was the capitol city of Cypress.
We should understand that from the day these missionaries landed on the Island of Cypress until they had come to Paphos, they had preached in every city and town along that route.
Paphos was a thriving city and a seat of the Roman government on this island.
Paphos was also a pagan stronghold for the worship of Venus, the Roman goddess of love. A false deity.
Cypress was great tourist attraction because of its beaches and warm climate and its cities were usually very busy with people from all walks of life.
These are places that Satan loves to get involved in.
There was a false prophet by the name of Barjesus in this city.
We should understand that if there were no false prophets, then there would be no false teaching!
Mat 7:15 Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.
Mat 7:16 Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?
Mat 7:17 Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit.
Mat 7:18 A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.
We can also be sure that when our missionaries preach the truth, Satan’s false prophets will go against them.
It can be much easier to preach against some idea than to preach against a false prophet, especially one who is deep seated in the government.
We have this in our own government today!
Most all false prophets will reach out to the governments long before they ever reach out to the people!
Christianity reaches out to people as instructed by the Lord Jesus.
It is those Christians that should seek to be a part of the government.
Our world is full of false prophets and false ideas about God!
The is the reason a Bible translated from the original text are so important!
Notice this false prophet was also a sorcerer.
We should not doubt the Satan will be behind any power that these children of the Devil may have, and they may be able to show certain powers.
*****Act 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.
That term “deputy” has the meaning of Roman proconsul who the Bible says he was a prudent man.
A prudent man can be a “man of understanding” who is cautious before he acts upon things.
He possessed some knowledge of many things but at this time did not possess the knowledge of the One True God.
He was controlled more by his mind than by his feelings and emotions.
As Christians this is a good trait for us all to have.
We cannot allow our feelings and emotions to be our guide, we need the truth of God!
The Word of God is about the truth, and not about feelings and emotions.
Up until this time of Barnabas and Paul, he had been seeking the truth in philosophy, science, and religion.
None of these things will lead you to salvation!
Most all those in government will have someone like this sorcerer around them and they will trust them for answers when they are confused and this is where Satan will dominate them.
This man had a desire to hear the Word of God.
No doubt this proconsul had heard of what was going on his island and he wanted to hear it for himself.
One other important thing to mention is the fact that without believers witnessing for the Lord, no one will hear the Word of God.
Rom 10:13 For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.
Rom 10:14 How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?
This man “Barjesus” had a truthful name.
*****Act 13:8 But Elymas the sorcerer (for so is his name by interpretation) withstood them, seeking to turn away the deputy from the faith.
The name Elymas has the meaning of magician and corrupter. The term Elymas was the official title of this sorcerer.
We can be sure he was more a corrupter than a magician!
Elymas was doing his absolute best to keep this proconsul from hearing the Word of God.
The name Barjesus means the son of Jesus or sone of Joshua.
The name Jesus was a name that was popular in this age.
When this man stood toe to toe against God’s missionaries, then God brought judgment against him.
It is dangerous to go against the One True God.
Mar 9:40 For he that is not against us is on our part.
Mar 9:41 For whosoever shall give you a cup of water to drink in my name, because ye belong to Christ, verily I say unto you, he shall not lose his reward.
Mar 9:42 And whosoever shall offend one of these little ones that believe in me, it is better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he were cast into the sea.
It is not Paul who put a stop to this corrupter, it was the Holy Spirit!
*****Act 13:9 Then Saul, (who also is called Paul,) filled with the Holy Ghost, set his eyes on him,
Act 13:10 And said, O full of all subtilty 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?
Act 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.
I am sure there are things like this that go on today but the difference here is, the Church was just getting started and God was not going to allow the Devil to stop it.
Mat_16:18 And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
God will only tolerate so much sin from any individual!
When the Holy Spirit is working on an individual, He will not allow Satan to interfere with His work and Satan certainly does not have the power to stand up to God and he will always have to flee the power of the Holy Spirit.
Those under Holy Ghost conviction will get their opportunity to decide for themselves if they accept the Word of God or not!
God will not do His work of salvation any other way!
It was Sergius Paulus that had decided to hear the Word of God and God was certainly going to allow this to happen, even if He already knew the results.
The Apostle Paul knew this man Barjesus was a fraud!
This child of the Devil was an enemy of all righteousness!
1Jn 3:10 In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother.
What do false prophets do? They pervert the right ways of the Lord Jesus Christ!
We should also note that this is the first place that Saul is called Paul.
There are many things we can determine about this “judgment” of Elymas.
1) The blindness will only be for a season, so he is given room to repent.
God is also God of the second chance and most of us know that we did not come to Christ the first time that the Holy Spirit called.
2) This was a just judgment.
This was blindness for blindness and darkness for darkness.
When we blind ourselves to the truth of God, then God may pass judgement in that act of blindness.
3) This judgment was immediate.
By rejecting the truth of God we have given ourselves over to sin!
We cannot take the right ways of God and make them crooked; God will not allow this to happen for very long.
We see much of this going on today.
Isa_5:20 Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!
There are a certain group of politicians who claim to be Christian, but they still approve of the sins of our world today.
This is taking the right ways of God and making them crooked.
Their salvation is a false salvation and they need to repent.
Just as this false prophet was perverting the cause of Christ these politicians are doing the same thing.
This man Barjesus was an agent for Hell and so are all those who pervert the Word of God!
Notice false prophets are full of craftiness and malice.
One man became a believer once he knew the truth.
*****Act 13:12 Then the deputy, when he saw what was done, believed, being astonished at the doctrine of the Lord.
This deputy had spent a lot of time with this Elymas and thought him to have certain powers which he probably did have of Satan’s power.
When he saw the power that the Holy Spirit had shared with Paul, he was amazed and astonished.
We do not know of this man’s salvation other than what the Bible says, “he believed”.
Tradition says this man not only helped with the spreading of the “Gospel” on the island of Cyprus but that he became bishop of Narbonne in France and was left there by the Apostle Paul as he traveled to Spain.
Mission work is doing the work that God has given us to do.
Mission work is being obedient to the commands of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Not everyone can be a missionary, but we all can share in the responsibility of mission work in our church.
If we can do nothing else, we can pray!
It is the Holy Spirit who calls missionaries, some to foreign lands, some to our homeland, and even some to be locals but we of the church are still to do our own mission work bathed in prayer and fasting.
Today our church reaches around the world with our broadcast, our supported missions, and our church people.
This is what the Lord expects us all to do and we must continue until the Lord returns.