Now there were in Antioch, in the Church there--as Prophets and teachers--barnabas, Symeon surnamed `the black,' Lucius the Cyrenaean, Manaen (who was Herod the Tetrarch's foster-brother), and Saul.
While they were worshipping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, "Set apart for Me, now at once, Barnabas and Saul, for the work to which I have called them."
So, after fasting and prayer and the laying on of hands, they let them go.
They therefore, being thus sent out by the Holy Spirit, went down to Seleuceia, and from there sailed to Cyprus.
Having reached Salamis, they began to announce God's Message in the synagogues of the Jews. And they had John as their assistant.
When they had gone through the whole length of the island as far as Paphos, they there met with a Jewish magician and false prophet, Bar-Jesus by name,
who was a friend of the Proconsul Sergius Paulus. The Proconsul was a man of keen intelligence. He sent for Barnabas and Saul, and asked to be told God's Message.
But Elymas (or `the Magician,' for such is the meaning of the name) opposed them, and tried to prevent the Proconsul from accepting the faith.
Then Saul, who is also called Paul, was filled with the Holy Spirit, and, fixing his eyes on Elymas,
said, "You who are full of every kind of craftiness and unscrupulous cunning--you son of the Devil and foe to all that is right--will you never cease to misrepresent the straight paths of the Lord?
The Lord's hand is now upon you, and you will be blind for a time and unable to see the light of day." Instantly there fell upon him a mist and a darkness, and, as he walked about, he begged people to lead him by the hand.
Then the Proconsul, seeing what had happened, believed, being struck with amazement at the teaching of the Lord.
From Paphos, Paul and his party put out to sea and sailed to Perga in Pamphylia. John, however, left them and returned to Jerusalem.
But they themselves, passing through from Perga, came to Antioch in Pisidia. Here, on the Sabbath day, they went into the synagogue and sat down.
After the reading of the Law and the Prophets, the Wardens of the synagogue sent word to them. "Brethren," they said, "if you have anything encouraging to say to the people, speak."
So Paul rose, and motioning with his hand for silence, said, "Israelites, and you others who fear God, pay attention to me.
The God of this people of Israel chose our forefathers, and made the people great during their stay in Egypt, until with wondrous power He brought them out from that land.
For a period of about forty years, He fed them, like a nurse, in the Desert.
Then, after overthrowing seven nations in the land of Canaan, He divided that country among them as their inheritance for about four hundred and fifty years;
and afterwards He gave them judges down to the time of the Prophet Samuel.
Next they asked for a king, and God gave them Saul the son of Kish, a Benjamite, who reigned forty years.
After removing him, He raised up David to be their king, to whom He also bore witness when He said, "`I have found David the son of Jesse, a man I love, who will obey all My commands.'
"It is from among David's descendants that God, in fulfilment of His promise, has raised up a Saviour for Israel, even Jesus.
Before the coming of Jesus, John had proclaimed to all the people of Israel a baptism of repentance.
But John, towards the end of his career, repeatedly asked the people, "`What do you suppose me to be? I am not the Christ. But there is One coming after me whose sandal I am not worthy to unfasten.'
"Brethren, descendants of the family of Abraham, and all among you who fear God, to us has this Message of salvation been sent.
For the people of Jerusalem and their rulers, by the judgement they pronounced on Jesus, have actually fulfilled the predictions of the Prophets which are read Sabbath after Sabbath, through ignorance of those predictions and of Him.
Without having found Him guilty of any capital offence they urged Pilate to have Him put to death;
and when they had carried out everything which had been written about Him, they took Him down from the cross and laid Him in a tomb.
"But God raised Him from the dead.
And, after a few days, He appeared to the people who had gone up with Him from Galilee to Jerusalem and are now witnesses concerning Him to the Jews.
And we bring you the Good News about the promise made to our forefathers,
that God has amply fulfilled it to our children in raising up Jesus; as it is also written in the second Psalm, `Thou art My Son: to-day I have become Thy Father.'
And as to His having raised Him from among the dead, never again to be in the position of one soon to return to decay, He speaks thus: `I will give you the holy and trustworthy promises made to David.'
Because in another Psalm also He says, `Thou wilt not give up Thy Holy One to undergo decay.'
For David, after having been useful to his own generation in accordance with God's purpose, did fall asleep, was gathered to his forefathers, and did undergo decay.
But He whom God raised to life underwent no decay.
"Understand therefore, brethren, that through this Jesus forgiveness of sins is announced to you;
and in Him every believer is absolved from all offences, from which you could not be absolved under the Law of Moses.
Beware, then, lest what is spoken in the Prophets should come true of you:
`Behold, you despisers, be astonished and perish, because I am carrying on a work in your time--a work which you will utterly refuse to believe, though it be fully declared to you.'"
As Paul and Barnabas were leaving the synagogue, the people earnestly begged to have all this repeated to them on the following Sabbath.
And, when the congregation had broken up, many of the Jews and of the devout converts from heathenism continued with Paul and Barnabas, who talked to them and urged them to hold fast to the grace of God.
On the next Sabbath almost the whole population of the city came together to hear the Lord's Message.
Seeing the crowds, the Jews, filled with angry jealousy, opposed Paul's statements and abused him.
Then, throwing off all reserve, Paul and Barnabas said, "We were bound to proclaim God's Message to you first. But since you spurn it and judge yourselves to be unworthy of the Life of the Ages--well, we turn to the Gentiles.
For such is the Lord's command to us. "`I have placed Thee,' He says of Christ, `as a light to the Gentiles, in order that Thou mayest be a Saviour as far as the remotest parts of the earth.'"
The Gentiles listened with delight and extolled the Lord's Message; and all who were pre-destined to the Life of the Ages believed.
So the Lord's Message spread through the whole district.
But the Jews influenced the gentlewomen of rank who worshipped with them, and also the leading men in the city, and stirred up persecution against Paul and Barnabas and drove them out of the district.
But they shook off the dust from their feet as a protest against them and came to Iconium;
and as for the disciples, they were more and more filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.