Event(s): Barnabas and Saul Appointed
Today’s Text: Acts 12:25-13:12
Tomorrow’s Text: Acts 13:13-52
After the violent death of Herod in chapter 12, Paul and Barnabas return to Jerusalem and are about to discover a new assignment God has for them.
Acts 12:25 “took with them John whose surname was Mark” John Mark was Barnabas’ cousin (Colossians 4:10).
Acts 13:2 “as they ministered to the LORD” To minister to the Lord meant they were fulfilling their service in the church. These men were found faithfully doing what was required of them. The word ministered comes from the Greek word, ‘leitourgeo” from which we get the word, “liturgy” or “liturgical”. Defined, it means performing religious or charitable acts, fulfilling an office, discharging a function, officiating as priests, serving God. In other words, they were being faithful with what they had been given to do, not just with a “complete-the-task” attitude; but from the right heart, as prophets and teachers whose work was done as “unto the Lord”.
The verse also indicates they were fasting, which is a voluntary spiritual exercise in which one restrains from food in order to seek God more intently. So, what we see here is that they were faithful with their responsibilities, and they went above and beyond to seek God even more by doing that which was voluntary. The Holy Spirit probably revealed His “call” through one or more of these prophets.
One of the best ways to keep progressing in our growth and keep moving forward in our call is to be found faithful and diligent in the place we have currently been called or appointed to.
Acts 13:6 “they found a certain sorcerer, a false prophet, a Jew whose name was Bar-Jesus,” This man, much like Simon the sorcerer who Peter encountered in chapter 8, was one who claimed to be a prophet of God, but was not. It was very unusual for such a character to be attached to the household of a Roman dignitary. A proconsul was the highest Roman government official on the island. So when Elymas saw Paul and Barnabas, he probably felt threatened that his relationship with the proconsul would suffer if he were to believe in the Gospel.
Acts 13:9 “Saul, who is also called Paul” From here on out, the book of Acts primarily refers to the apostle Saul as Paul, seeing as this is where his ministry to the Gentiles really becomes more focused. For the sake of consistency, we will do the same through the rest of the study. (For more on the difference between the names Saul and Paul, please see notes from day 17.)
Acts 13:10 “then Paul filled with the Holy Spirit looked intently at him…” “The fact that Luke attributes Paul’s rebuke to the fullness of the Holy Spirit indicates he was acting as God’s mediatorial agent of divine judgment, not speaking forth personal judgment or vindictiveness.” – The New Spirit Filled Life Bible
Elymas’ name, or we could say, what he promoted himself to be, meant “son of a savior”, or the “follower of Jesus” (Bar-Jesus). But Paul knew he was a fraud. He was the opposite of what he proclaimed to be. Instead of being the promoter of righteousness, his was making the straight ways of the Lord crooked and perverse, causing anyone who followed to stumble.
Acts 13:11 “you shall be blind” “Perhaps Paul hoped that when God darkened Elymas’ physical eyesight, He might restore his spiritual eyesight, as had been his own experience.” –Expository, Book of Acts
The events in this chapter mark a turning point in Paul’s whole ministry. But let’s go back to the issue of where this particular chapter in his life started – or where he was found: being faithful in the place of his current assignment. There is a great likelihood that many of us are in a place right now – whether it be at a specific job, or in school, or maybe even just dealing with a situation that we don’t completely understand, are frustrated with, or that just doesn’t make sense or seem to fit. We may want so badly to move on. But how we pass this test – how faithful and diligent we are in our current assignment – can determine if we are ready for what lies ahead. Let us always seek God for vision for the future, but remain faithful and diligent to where He has us now.
When we live with a focus of just doing what needs to be done, we will only do what is minimally required of us. But when we live according to God’s love in our hearts, we will seek to do what is needed – and more. Paul and Barnabas were faithful with what was required, but went above that to keep the fire of God’s love fresh in their hearts. Think about your work, your family, your responsibilities – what can you do today, that is above and beyond what is simply needed or required? What acts of love or service – as unto God – can you do that will stir up the passion and love in your heart? Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal this to you and then, act on it.