Summary: Paul begins the first of his three meaningful adventures. Here I believe that we are going to see some of the things that we can all expect in our personal adventure for God.
APR 14 2013PM The First Missionary Journey Part 1
Acts 13: 1-52
Tonight we come to the 13th chapter of Acts were Paul begins the first of his three meaningful adventures. Here I believe that we are going to see some of the things that we can all expect in our personal adventure for God.
READ Acts 13:1-3. The central character of the book of Acts has been Peter up until this point. Now it’s switching to Paul. As we read this story we’ll see the progress that Paul makes as a leader. The order the names are in is significant. Verse 2 says, "Barnabas and Saul." Verse 9 says, "Saul, who was also called Paul."
Verse 13 says, "Paul and his companions." Verse 14 says, "Paul and Barnabas."
Verse 46 says, "Paul and Barnabas." And it will continue this way throughout the book. The switch in the order from the beginning to the end is significant. What Luke is telling us is that Paul is taking on the responsibility of the leader now.
There were several cities called Antioch at this time. This one is about 300 miles north of Jerusalem in the region of Syria. Where as Jerusalem was the headquarters of the church in the first years of the church (up through chapter 7), now the church is scattered and Paul’s missionary work is going to be based in Syrian Antioch. There are still some events that will take place in Jerusalem, but Paul and the book of Acts will based in Syrian Antioch throughout the rest of the book.
Now about prophets and teachers. Luke says there were certain prophets and teachers in the church in Syrian Antioch. What is the difference between prophets and teachers? The dictionary defines the gift of prophecy as the special ability that God gives to certain members of the Body of Christ to receive and communicate an immediate message of God to His people through a divinely anointed utterance. The gift of teaching is the special ability that God gives to certain members of the Body of Christ to communicate information relevant to the health and ministry of the Body and its members in such a way that others will learn. The Greek word for prophet simply means an inspired speaker, while the word for teacher means an instructor or professor. And this we know: if the church at Syrian Antioch had five good teachers and speakers, the church had good leadership and was being well-fed.
Verse two says that the church was worshipping and fasting. Worshipping or ministering here are interchangeable translations for the Greek. They’re worshiping or ministering to the Lord; corporately giving God the Glory. They were gathering together for the purpose of ministering to God by giving Him the praise and glory due His name.
They were also fasting. That means they were abstaining from food for a specific purpose. Fasting in a Christian since is to abstain from food for the purpose of seeking God’s Will in a particular area. Luke doesn’t tell us the specific thing they were fasting for, he just says they were fasting.
Not everyone should fast; Baptists because we like to eat so much, (not really), there are people who have health reasons that should not take illogical risks with their life in order to seek God’s will. But there are some great benefits that come from seeking God’s will because the Bible says three times, that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD. (Deuteronomy 8:3; Matthew 4:4; Luke 4:4)
There is something that happens when we abstain from food and seek God’s will and that something is that God begins to speak to us in new and specific ways. And while the church was worshipping and fasting, the HS did speak to them.
The HS gave them guidance into what God’s will was for Saul and Barnabas. God’s will was for them to be missionaries. God’s will was for them to travel the world preaching the gospel. God’s will was for them to preach first in the synagogues to the Jews. God’s will was for them to preach also to the Gentiles. While the church was worshipping and fasting, the HS called Saul and Barnabas to the mission field. This was something that was evident to the whole church and not just the two. And so the church fasted and prayed some more and then they had a laying on of hands ceremony to set them aside for the purpose to which God had called them.
Now let’s talk about the calling of God in our lives. God has a purpose for all of us. If you don’t know what that is yet, maybe you need to do some fasting and praying. But God calls all of us into some aspect of ministry. God calls all of us into some type of need-meeting. God calls all of us to help further the kingdom of God in some specific way.