WEEKLY SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON
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FAITH IN THE HOLY SPIRIT TO PROVIDE US WITH DISCERNMENT
(Barnabas and Saul (Paul) are sent out by the HOLY SPIRIT)
In Acts 13:1-3 we see that the Church at Antioch of Syria had become the base of operations for Barnabas, Saul (the Apostle Paul), and other missionaries. And, even though the Church at Jerusalem was still the mother Church of the Christian movement, the missionary branch of the Church became the Church at Antioch.
Here in the opening lines of this chapter, Luke gives us a vivid description of the background diversity of the leading men in the Church at Antioch. First of all, we see Barnabas, a Jew from the island of Cyprus, who had become known as “the enabling encourager” by those in the early Christian Church. He played a major role in persuading the Mother Church at Jerusalem to accept the Apostle Paul into their confidence after his conversion on the road to Damascus.
Then we see Simeon, who was also a Jew, but was called by his Latin nickname “Niger”, because of his dark complexion. This Latin name may also indicate to us, as to how he moved in Roman circles. He was most likely very well known to the local Gentile converts around Palestine.
Then there is Lucius, who was from Cyrene, a country in northern Africa. And there was also Manaen, a man with royal clout, who had been raised with Herod Antipas, the king who had John the Baptist beheaded during the time of CHRIST’s earthly ministry. Manaen had become a disciple of JESUS’ after Herod’s shameful treatment of CHRIST during HIS trials at Jerusalem.
And finally, there is Saul, a Jew who had been trained for Rabbinical work by the institutions of men, and then, was converted by CHRIST that faithful day on the road to Damascus (Acts chapter 9). He would later become the face of the Christian movement in its infancy, and the author of 13 books in the New Testament.
As these faithful men were praying and fasting one day, the HOLY SPIRIT, as HE often gave directives to GOD’s leaders in those days, came to them, and instructed that they separate Barnabas and Saul for a special task that GOD had called them to do. It was to be the first of Paul’s, now famous, “Missionary Journeys”, and it would include a circuit through the province of Asia Minor, and a voyage to Barnabas’ homeland, of the island of Cyprus. Cyprus was a Roman province, famous for its copper mines, and shipbuilding industry, and it was only fitting that Barnabas might first want to preach JESUS to his own people in his own hometown.
And so, taking up at verse 4, we see Barnabas and Saul, under the influence of the HOLY SPIRIT, set sail and go down, first, to the seaport known as Seleucia, and from there, they sailed to Barnabas’ home country, the island of Cyprus. Upon their arrival in Cyprus, they first visit the town of Salamis where they went into the Jewish synagogues to preach JESUS, taking young John Mark with them to assist them.
From there the men worked their way across the island preaching from town to town until they reached Paphos where they met a Jewish sorcerer who called himself, Bar-Jesus, which means “son of Jesus” in the Hebrew (“Elymas” in the Greek). Elymas had endeared himself to Sergius Paulus, the governor of the island, and had obtained considerable influence over him at that time.
The governor invited Barnabas and Saul to meet with him because he wanted to hear the new Gospel that they were teaching on the island. However, Elymas interfered, in an effort to turn away the governor’s interest in the Christian Faith, and urged him to pay no heed to what Barnabas and Saul were teaching.
Then Saul, who was coming to be known as “Paul” at this time, became filled with the HOLY SPIRIT and looked Elymas in the eyes and said, “You “son of the devil”, full of every sort of trickery and villainy, enemy of all that is good, will you never stop perverting the true ways of the LORD? And now the LORD has laid HIS hand of punishment upon you, and you will be stricken awhile with blindness” (Vs.10-11) (NLT).
Instantly a mist and darkness fell upon Elymas, and he began wandering around begging someone to take his hand and lead him. The governor was very impressed when he saw what had happened to Elymas, and he was even more impressed about what he had learned that day from Barnabas and Paul, about the LORD JESUS CHRIST.
A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander
LARRY D. ALEXANDER- Official Website