Saul and Barnabas Sent Out as Apostles
1In the church at Antioch there were a number of prophets and teachers of the Word, including Barnabas, Simeon from Niger, # 13:1 The Aramaic word niger means “someone who works with wood, a carpenter.” The Latin word niger means “black.” Lucius the Libyan, Manean (the childhood companion of King Herod Antipas), # 13:1 Or “who was like a brother to Herod the tetrarch.” and Saul. 2While they were worshiping as priests # 13:2 Or “serving the Lord.” The Greek word used here is also used for priestly duties. before the Lord in prayer and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, # 13:2 Here we see the Lord of the harvest, the Holy Spirit, sending out laborers into the harvest field. The Holy Spirit speaks in many different ways. Perhaps he spoke a prophecy through one of the prophets in the church, or a divine voice may have interrupted their worship. God’s Spirit still speaks today in any way he chooses. “I have called Barnabas and Saul to do an important work for me. Now, release them # 13:2 Or “appoint them.” The Greek word used here is found in the Septuagint of Num. 8:11 for consecrating Levites for God’s service as priests. to go and fulfill it.” 3So after they had fasted and prayed, they laid hands on them and sent them off. # 13:3 Or “dispatched them” (a military term). This was the commissioning of Barnabas and Saul as apostles. The word apostle means “sent one.” They were sent by the Holy Spirit and by the church and released as missionaries. The New Testament shows there were many other apostles besides the Twelve. See also Eph. 4:11–13.
4-5So Saul and Barnabas, and their assistant Mark (known as John), were directed by the Holy Spirit to go to Seleucia, # 13:4–5 Implied in the text. Seleucia (modern-day Samandag) was a coastal city in Syria from which Paul and Barnabas left with John Mark for their first missionary journey in AD 49. Seleucia means “white light.” and from there they sailed to Cyprus. # 13:4–5 Cyprus was the home of Barnabas. When they arrived at Salamis, # 13:4–5 Salamis is a city on the southeastern coast of Cyprus. Salamis means “in the middle of salty water.” they went to the synagogues and declared the Word of God. 6From there they crossed the island as far as Paphos, # 13:6 Paphos is a city on the southwestern coast of Cyprus. Paphos means “boiling hot.” where they encountered a Jewish false prophet, a sorcerer named Elymas, # 13:6 Or “spiritual advisor.” The Greek word magos is often translated “astrologer.” Although the text does not give us his name, Elymas, until v. 8, it is included here for the sake of the English narrative. who also went by the name of “son of Jesus.” # 13:6 Or “Bar-Jesus” (son of Joshua). The Aramaic is “Bar-Shuma.” 7He had gained influence as the spiritual advisor to the regional governor, Sergius Paulus, considered by many to be a wise and intelligent leader. The governor requested a meeting with Barnabas and Saul because he wanted to hear the message of God’s word. # 13:7 The Aramaic can be translated “the manifestation of God.” 8But Elymas, whose name means “sorcerer,” # 13:8 The Aramaic name Elymas means “magician” or “sorcerer.” This would be similar to the Arabic name Alumas, which also means “magician.” stood up against them and tried to prevent the governor from believing their message.
9Saul, also known as Paul, # 13:9 From here on in Acts, Saul is only referred to as Paul. Saul means “sought after,” and Paul means “little.” The name change is descriptive of what happened within Paul, leaving behind greatness in his own eyes and being content to be insignificant. This is the journey every believer must take. stared into his eyes and rebuked him. Filled with the Holy Spirit, he said, 10“You son of the devil! # 13:10 Or “son of the accuser.” You are full of every form of fraud and deceit and an enemy of all that is right. When will you stop perverting the truth of God into lies? 11At this very moment the hand of God’s judgment comes down upon you and you will be blind—so blind you won’t even be able to see the light of the sun.” # 13:11 The Aramaic is “until the end of the age.”
As Paul spoke these words, a shadowy mist # 13:11 The Aramaic can be translated “gloom.” and darkness came over the sorcerer, leaving him blind and groping about, begging someone to lead him around by the hand. 12When the governor witnessed this, he believed and was awestruck by the power of the message of the Lord.
Paul and Barnabas at Antioch in Turkey
13Paul and his companions sailed from the Cyprus port of Paphos to Perga in southern Turkey. # 13:13 Or “Pamphylia,” which may mean “a place of mingled races.” It is a region in southern Turkey. John left them # 13:13 The sudden departure of John from the team became an issue between Paul and Barnabas. See Acts 15:36–39. there and returned to Jerusalem 14as they journeyed on to the city of Antioch in the region of Pisidia. # 13:14 Antioch in the region of Pisidia is situated in the Sultandag Mountains about one hundred miles north of Perga. This would have been an arduous journey from the sea into the mountains. God was directing his missionaries where to go.
On the Sabbath they went into the synagogue and took their seats. 15After the reading from the scrolls of the books of Moses and the prophets, the leader of the meeting # 13:15 Or “president of the synagogue.” sent Paul and Barnabas a message, saying, “Brothers, do you have a word of encouragement to share with us? If so, please feel free to give it.”
16Paul stood and motioned that he had something to say. He said, “Listen, all of you Jews and non-Jews who worship God. 17The God of Israel divinely chose our ancestors to be his people. While they were enslaved in Egypt, he made them great, both in numbers and in strength, until he unveiled his mighty power and led them out of bondage. # 13:17 See Ex. 6:6; 12:51. 18For nearly forty years, he nourished them in the wilderness. # 13:18 As translated from the Aramaic and some Greek manuscripts. See also Ex. 16:35; Num. 14:34. 19He was the one who destroyed the seven nations inhabiting the land of Canaan # 13:19 See Deut. 7:1. and afterward gave the land to his people as their inheritance. 20This took about four hundred and fifty years. # 13:20 There is much debate over where this clause fits. It is possible that it would go with the next sentence, “For four hundred and fifty years God raised up deliverers.”
“Then God raised up deliverers for the people until the time of the prophet Samuel. 21The people craved for a king, so God gave them one from the tribe of Benjamin: Saul, the son of Kish, who ruled for forty years. 22After removing him, God raised up David to be king, for God said of him, ‘I have found in David, son of Jesse, a man who always pursues my heart # 13:22 See 1 Sam. 13:14; Ps. 89:19–29. and will accomplish all that I have destined him to do.’ # 13:22 Or “he will do all my pleasure.”
23“From David’s lineage God brought Israel a Savior, just as he promised. 24So before Jesus appeared, John preached the message of a baptism of repentance # 13:24 The Aramaic is “the baptism of grace.” to prepare all of Israel. 25As John was about to finish his mission, he said repeatedly, ‘If you think that I am the one to come, you’re mistaken. He will come after me, and I don’t even deserve to stoop down and untie his sandals!’
26“Fellow Jews, Abraham’s descendants, and all those among you who worship and reverence God, this message of life # 13:26 As translated from the Aramaic. The Greek is, “the message of salvation.” See Ps. 107:20. has been sent for us all to hear. 27But the people of Jerusalem and their leaders didn’t realize who he was, nor did they understand the prophecies written of him. Yet they fulfilled those very prophecies, which they read week after week in their meetings, by condemning him to death. 28Even though they could come up with no legal grounds for the death sentence, they pleaded with Pilate to have him executed. 29And they did to him all that was prophesied they would do.
“Then they took him down from the cross and laid him in a tomb. 30But God raised him from the dead! 31And for many days afterward he appeared on numerous occasions to his disciples who knew him well and had followed him from Galilee to Jerusalem. Those disciples are now his witnesses, # 13:31 The Greek word for “witnesses” can also be translated “martyrs.” telling the people the truth about him.
32“So here we are to share with you some wonderful news! The promise God made to our forefathers 33has now been fulfilled for us, their children. For God has raised Jesus from the dead, as it says in Psalms:
‘Today I reveal you as my Son, and I as your Father.’ # 13:33 See Ps. 2:7.
34“God had promised to not let him decay in the tomb or face destruction again, so God raised him from the dead. He gave this promise in the Psalms:
‘I will give to you # 13:34 The Greek is plural, “you all,” or “to you and yours.” what I gave to David:
Faithful mercies # 13:34 Or “decrees.” See Isa. 55:3. that you can trust.’ # 13:34 The Aramaic is “I will give to you the grace [favor] I gave to faithful David.”
35“He explains it further in another Psalm:
‘You will not allow your holy one
to experience bodily decay.’ # 13:35 See Ps. 16:10.
36“This cannot be a reference to David, for after he passionately served God’s purpose for his generation, he died. He was buried with his ancestors and his body experienced decay. 37But the one whom God raised from the dead has never experienced corruption in any form.
38“So listen, friends! Through this Jesus, the forgiveness # 13:38 Or “cancellation.” of sins is offered to you. 39Everyone who believes in him is set free from sin and guilt—something the law of Moses had no power to do. 40So be very careful that what the prophets warned about does not happen to you:
41‘Be amazed and in agony, you scoffers! # 13:41 As translated from the Aramaic. The Greek is “Be amazed and perish, you scoffers.”
For in your day I will do something so wonderful
that when I perform mighty deeds among you,
you won’t even believe that it was I who did it!’ ” # 13:41 As translated from the Aramaic. The Greek text seems to quote from the Septuagint version of Hab. 1:5, “I am doing a work in your days that you won’t believe even when it is announced to you.”
42As Paul and Barnabas started to leave, the people pleaded with them to share more about these things on the next Sabbath day. 43When the meeting had finally broken up, many of those in attendance, both Jews and converts to Judaism, tagged along with Paul and Barnabas, who continued to persuade them to go deeper in their understanding of God’s grace.
44The following week, nearly everyone in the city gathered to hear the word of God. 45When the Jewish leaders saw the size of the crowds, vicious jealousy filled their hearts and they rose up to oppose what Paul was teaching. They insulted him # 13:45 Or “blasphemed.” and argued with him over everything he said.
46Yet Paul and Barnabas did not back down. Filled with courage, they boldly replied, “We were compelled to bring God’s message # 13:46 Or “word.” first to you Jews. But seeing you’ve rejected this message and refuse to embrace eternal life, # 13:46 Or “You view yourselves as unworthy of eternal life.” we will focus instead on the nations and offer it to them. 47This will fulfill what the Lord has commanded us:
‘I have destined you to become
a beacon light for the nations
and release salvation to the ends of the earth!’ ” # 13:47 See Isa. 42:6; 49:6; 60:1–3.
48When the non-Jewish people in the crowd heard these words, they were thrilled and they honored # 13:48 Or “praised.” the word of the Lord. All who believed that they were destined to experience eternal life received the message. # 13:48 As translated from the Aramaic. The Greek is “Those who were appointed to experience eternal life believed.” The Greek word for “appointed” can also be translated “stationed in battle order.” 49God’s word spread like wildfire throughout the entire region.
50The Jewish leaders stirred up a violent mob against Paul and Barnabas, including many prominent and wealthy people of the city. They persecuted them and ran them out of town. 51As they left, they shook the dust off their feet as a sign of protest against them, and they went on to the city of Iconium. # 13:51 This is present-day Konya, a large city about sixty-two miles (one hundred kilometers) from Antioch. This journey would have taken a number of days. Iconium means “small image” (idol). In Israel, Iconium is a girl’s name that means “coming.” 52They left the new converts in Antioch overflowing with the joy of the Holy Spirit.