Among the prophets and teachers of the church at Antioch of Syria were Barnabas, Simeon (called "the black man" a ), Lucius (from Cyrene), Manaen (the childhood companion of King Herod Antipas b ), and Saul.
One day as these men were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, "Dedicate Barnabas and Saul for the special work I have for them."
So after more fasting and prayer, the men laid their hands on them and sent them on their way.
Sent out by the Holy Spirit, Saul and Barnabas went down to the seaport of Seleucia and then sailed for the island of Cyprus.
There, in the town of Salamis, they went to the Jewish synagogues and preached the word of God. (John Mark went with them as their assistant.)
Afterward they preached from town to town across the entire island until finally they reached Paphos, where they met a Jewish sorcerer, a false prophet named Bar-Jesus.
He had attached himself to the governor, Sergius Paulus, a man of considerable insight and understanding. The governor invited Barnabas and Saul to visit him, for he wanted to hear the word of God.
But Elymas, the sorcerer (as his name means in Greek), interfered and urged the governor to pay no attention to what Saul and Barnabas said. He was trying to turn the governor away from the Christian faith.
Then Saul, also known as Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked the sorcerer in the eye 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." Instantly mist and darkness fell upon him, and he began wandering around begging for someone to take his hand and lead him.
When the governor saw what had happened, he believed and was astonished at what he learned about the Lord.
Now Paul and those with him left Paphos by ship for Pamphylia,* landing at the port town of Perga. There John Mark left them and returned to Jerusalem.
But Barnabas and Paul traveled inland to Antioch of Pisidia. c On the Sabbath they went to the synagogue for the services.
After the usual readings from the books of Moses and from the Prophets, those in charge of the service sent them this message: "Brothers, if you have any word of encouragement for us, come and give it!"
So Paul stood, lifted his hand to quiet them, and started speaking. "People of Israel," he said, "and you devout Gentiles who fear the God of Israel, listen to me.
"The God of this nation of Israel chose our ancestors and made them prosper in Egypt. Then he powerfully led them out of their slavery.
He put up with them d through forty years of wandering around in the wilderness.
Then he destroyed seven nations in Canaan and gave their land to Israel as an inheritance.
All this took about 450 years. After that, judges ruled until the time of Samuel the prophet.
Then the people begged for a king, and God gave them Saul son of Kish, a man of the tribe of Benjamin, who reigned for forty years.
But God removed him from the kingship and replaced him with David, a man about whom God said, 'David son of Jesse is a man after my own heart, for he will do everything I want him to.' e23
"And it is one of King David's descendants, Jesus, who is God's promised Savior of Israel!
But before he came, John the Baptist preached the need for everyone in Israel to turn from sin and turn to God and be baptized.
As John was finishing his ministry he asked, 'Do you think I am the Messiah? No! But he is coming soon -- and I am not even worthy to be his slave. f '
"Brothers -- you sons of Abraham, and also all of you devout Gentiles who fear the God of Israel -- this salvation is for us!
The people in Jerusalem and their leaders fulfilled prophecy by condemning Jesus to death. They didn't recognize him or realize that he is the one the prophets had written about, though they hear the prophets' words read every Sabbath.
They found no just cause to execute him, but they asked Pilate to have him killed anyway.
"When they had fulfilled all the prophecies concerning his death, they took him down from the cross and placed him in a tomb.
But God raised him from the dead!
And he appeared over a period of many days to those who had gone with him from Galilee to Jerusalem -- these are his witnesses to the people of Israel.
"And now Barnabas and I are here to bring you this Good News. God's promise to our ancestors has come true in our own time,
in that God raised Jesus. This is what the second psalm is talking about when it says concerning Jesus, 'You are my Son. Today I have become your Father. g '
For God had promised to raise him from the dead, never again to die. This is stated in the Scripture that says, 'I will give you the sacred blessings I promised to David.' h35
Another psalm explains more fully, saying, 'You will not allow your Holy One to rot in the grave.' i36
Now this is not a reference to David, for after David had served his generation according to the will of God, he died and was buried, and his body decayed.
No, it was a reference to someone else -- someone whom God raised and whose body did not decay.
"Brothers, listen! In this man Jesus there is forgiveness for your sins.
Everyone who believes in him is freed from all guilt and declared right with God -- something the Jewish law could never do.
Be careful! Don't let the prophets' words apply to you. For they said,
'Look, you mockers, be amazed and die! For I am doing something in your own day, something you wouldn't believe even if someone told you about it.' j "
As Paul and Barnabas left the synagogue that day, the people asked them to return again and speak about these things the next week.
Many Jews and godly converts to Judaism who worshiped at the synagogue followed Paul and Barnabas, and the two men urged them, "By God's grace, remain faithful."
The following week almost the entire city turned out to hear them preach the word of the Lord.
But when the Jewish leaders saw the crowds, they were jealous; so they slandered Paul and argued against whatever he said.
Then Paul and Barnabas spoke out boldly and declared, "It was necessary that this Good News from God be given first to you Jews. But since you have rejected it and judged yourselves unworthy of eternal life -- well, we will offer it to Gentiles.
For this is as the Lord commanded us when he said, 'I have made you a light to the Gentiles, to bring salvation to the farthest corners of the earth.' k "
When the Gentiles heard this, they were very glad and thanked the Lord for his message; and all who were appointed to eternal life became believers.
So the Lord's message spread throughout that region.
Then the Jewish leaders stirred up both the influential religious women and the leaders of the city, and they incited a mob against Paul and Barnabas and ran them out of town.
But they shook off the dust of their feet against them and went to the city of Iconium.
And the believers l were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.
Scripture quotations marked NLT are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright 1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved. (New Living Translation - The Bible Online)