Acts 13:1-12 New Revised Standard Version December 10, 2017 International Bible Lesson Sunday December 10, 2017 Acts 13:1-12

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1 Acts 13:1-12 New Revised Standard Version December 10, 2017 The International Bible Lesson (Uniform Sunday School Lessons Series) for Sunday, December 10, 2017, is from Acts 13:1-12. Questions for Discussion and Thinking Further follow the verse-by-verse International Bible Lesson Commentary. Study Hints for Discussion and Thinking Further will help with class preparation and in conducting class discussion: these hints are available on the International Bible Lessons Commentary website along with the International Bible Lesson that you may want to read to your class as part of your Bible study. You can discuss each week s commentary and lesson at the International Bible Lesson Forum. (Acts 13:1) Now in the church at Antioch there were prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen a member of the court of Herod the ruler, and Saul. Antioch was the capital city of Syria under Greek kings and Roman emperors. The gospel spread to Antioch after the martyrdom of Stephen. Prophets foretold the future and revealed the will of God as the Holy Spirit moved within

2 P a g e 2 them. Teachers expounded the Old Testament Scriptures and the acts and words of Jesus as the Holy Spirit often revealed how Jesus the Messiah had fulfilled the authoritative written word of God and what Jesus expected from His followers. A Christian could be both a prophet and teacher. The followers of Jesus were first called Christians in Antioch. From what we know about Barnabas, he was a preacher and teacher. Barnabas means son of encouragement, and he advocated for Saul/Paul after his conversion. Niger is Latin for black, and he was probably from Africa. He was called Niger to distinguish him from the many others who had the common name Simeon, which means Obedient. Cyrene was the capital of Libya. Lucius is Latin for the Greek name Luke, probably not the same person as St. Luke, who wrote the Gospel bearing his name and Acts. The name Luke means Light giving. He is also mentioned in Romans 16:21. Manaen means a Comforter, leader, and he is not mentioned elsewhere in the Bible. He was a lifelong friend of Herod Antipas, who reigned over Galilee during Jesus ministry and died in 39 AD. The name Saul means Asked for, Prayed for. The Church in Antioch included both Jews and Gentiles, and most likely Church leaders were composed of Jews and Gentiles. (Acts 13:2) While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, Set apart for me

3 P a g e 3 Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them. Jesus said His followers would fast after He left them, and so they did. When fasting, they spent the time they would normally be eating to worshiping the Lord Jesus. As they were worshiping, the Holy Spirit probably revealed to all of those named above at the same time the will of Jesus for Barnabas and Saul. He spoke words in a way that left no doubt what Jesus wanted from Barnabas and Saul. (Acts 13:3) Then after fasting and praying they laid their hands on them and sent them off. In response to the Holy Spirit, they continued to fast and pray, and then they laid hands on Barnabas and Saul to commission them and assure them that the Church in Antioch would continue to support them with fasting and prayer as they obeyed the Holy Spirit. This became the first of three missionary journeys by the Apostle Paul. (Acts 13:4) So, being sent out by the Holy Spirit, they went down to Seleucia; and from there they sailed to Cyprus. Luke continued to emphasize that the Holy Spirit wanted this new organized missionary work to begin, and Saul and Barnabas had the assurance that they were obeying the Lord Jesus in the work. For this reason, some prefer to call

4 P a g e 4 this book the Acts of the Holy Spirit and the Gospel of Luke the Acts of Jesus Christ. Seleucia was a port city in Syria about 15 miles south of Antioch. They sailed to Cyprus, the home of Barnabas. Barnabas would serve as guide for the two of them, and could easily introduce Saul to those he knew. (Acts 13:5) When they arrived at Salamis, they proclaimed the word of God in the synagogues of the Jews. And they had John also to assist them. In the island of Cyprus, Salamis was the closest port city to Seleucia, about 130 miles distance. The Good News of Jesus Christ is the word of God, which eventually became the Gospels and the entire New Testament, the Word of God written. They were Jews and naturally went first to the Jews at their place of teaching, prayer, and worship: they brought the good news first to the Jews so they would know that their expected Messiah had come according to the Scriptures, and through faith in Jesus they could have their sins forgiven and be made right with God their Father. From among those Jews who came to faith in Jesus they would build the Church and these new believers would lead others to faith in Jesus, eventually leading their Gentile friends and God-fearers to faith in Jesus too. John Mark, later the writer of the Gospel of Mark, was with them as a helper (probably meaning he was not, or not yet, considered by the Church a preacher, prophet, or teacher).

5 P a g e 5 (Acts 13:6) When they had gone through the whole island as far as Paphos, they met a certain magician, a Jewish false prophet, named Bar- Jesus. They completely obeyed the Holy Spirit by travelling through the whole island preaching the gospel. Paphos was about 90 miles south of Salamis, from which the Roman proconsul governed the island. The name Bar- Jesus means son of Jesus, and he was both a false prophet and magician. As a Jewish sorcerer, he probably used demonic demonstrations to influence those who saw him to believe his false teachings. Believers are to beware of false signs and wonders, as Jesus warned: For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect (Mark 13:22). (Acts 13:7) He was with the proconsul, Sergius Paulus, an intelligent man, who summoned Barnabas and Saul and wanted to hear the word of God. Bar-Jesus advised the governor of Cyprus. Sergius Paulus was described as intelligent, probably because he knew history, logic, philosophy, Roman law, and something about the Jewish religion along with the mythologies about the Greek and Roman gods. Despite his intellectual

6 P a g e 6 abilities and curiosity, that influenced him to seek greater learning from Barnabas and Saul, he was misled by a false prophet who worked false signs and wonders to confirm his false teachings. He specifically wanted to hear the word of God, not a report of their travels throughout the island. (Acts 13:8) But the magician Elymas (for that is the translation of his name) opposed them and tried to turn the proconsul away from the faith. Elymas probably wanted to retain his power over the proconsul, the governor of the whole island, and his prestige over others as the advisor to the governor. He was also influenced to oppose the gospel because he had linked himself to demonic powers for the powers they gave him. These demonic powers guided his speech as he tried to turn the proconsul from believing the truths that Saul and Barnabas were sharing with him. Elymas had no interest in learning these truths for himself; he chose to remain blind to the truth so he could retain his powers over others. As Paul later wrote to the Corinthians: The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God (2 Corinthians 4:4). (Acts 13:9) But Saul, also known as Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked intently at him

7 P a g e 7 Here, for the first time, Saul is called by his Roman name, Paul, perhaps because he has been teaching a Roman proconsul. For the rest of the Book of Acts, he will be called Paul (except when referring to his past experiences). Paul did not say or do anything regarding Elymas until after the Holy Spirit had filled him. Up to that point, he had been preaching, teaching, and reasoning from the authoritative Old Testament, the Scriptures of the Jews, about Jesus the Messiah and His acts and words. At some point, the Holy Spirit decided that Elymas false teachings and reasonings needed to stop so Sergius Paulus could come to saving faith in Jesus the Messiah. (Acts 13:10) and said, You son of the devil, you enemy of all righteousness, full of all deceit and villainy, will you not stop making crooked the straight paths of the Lord? The Holy Spirit gave these words to Paul as he spoke before the governor. Jesus foretold that the Holy Spirit would do this for His followers: On my account you will be brought before governors and kings as witnesses to them and to the Gentiles. But when they arrest you, do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At that time you will be given what to say, for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you (Matthew 10:18-20). Since Elymas was advocating for the devil and trying to destroy the effectiveness of the truth of

8 P a g e 8 the gospel, the Holy Spirit called him a child of the devil and everything that is right. Until Jesus Christ returns, believers will experience conflicts with the children of the devil who in some way will do as Elymas did. Whereas Paul was filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the truth, the Holy Spirit revealed that Elymas was filled with all kinds of deceit and trickery. When the Holy Spirit revealed these facts as He spoke through Paul, He indicated that Elymas could choose to do differently. He could repent of his sins and place His faith in Jesus. He could stop perverting the right ways of the Lord. To influence Elymas to repent and turn to Jesus, and to show Sergius Paulus that he should not trust Elymas but believe the gospel, the Holy Spirit pronounced a judgment on Elymas that would also give him the opportunity to repent of his sins, turn from the devil to Christ, and become a child of God. (Acts 13:11) And now listen the hand of the Lord is against you, and you will be blind for a while, unable to see the sun. Immediately mist and darkness came over him, and he went about groping for someone to lead him by the hand. Elymas had demonstrated the power of the devil to deceive others. Now, the Holy Spirit would demonstrate the greater power of the Lord Jesus Christ to reveal the truth to others. For choosing to be spiritually blind in order to have the power to blind the eyes of others to control them,

9 P a g e 9 the Holy Spirit would make Elymas physically blind immediately. The fact that the Holy Spirit did not make him permanently blind indicates there was the possibility for him to repent given time and further understanding of Jesus the Messiah. He would now need to depend on others physically, even as he had sought to make others depend on him spiritually and intellectually. Perhaps during his time of temporary blindness, he would repent, even as Paul repented and trusted in Jesus during his time of temporary blindness that Jesus inflicted upon him on his way to persecute Christians in Damascus. This form of punishment, chosen by the Holy Spirit, would open a door for Paul to later give his testimony to Elymas and perhaps lead him to faith. (Acts 13:12) When the proconsul saw what had happened, he believed, for he was astonished at the teaching about the Lord. When Sergius Paulus heard and saw what happened, he believed on the basis of the evidence before his eyes and the right and reasonable gospel Paul preached. He was no longer influenced by the devil and his spiritually and rationally blinding arguments. He believed in Jesus and was amazed at the teaching about Jesus as Lord over all creation and as the Savior of the world. He was amazed at the power of Jesus, the resurrected Messiah of the Jews, that overcame the devil and freed him from his slavery to

10 P a g e 10 sin, satan, and the devils that had so spiritually blinded him through Elymas. As one who was intelligent, Sergius Paulus was also amazed at the quality of the teaching about the Lord and the teachings of the Lord as he learned them from Paul. Questions for Discussion and Thinking Further 1. What abilities and/or character, natural, supernatural, or personality traits did Paul and Barnabas have and/or demonstrate? 2. What abilities and/or character, natural, supernatural, or personality traits did Sergius Paulus have and/or demonstrate? 3. What abilities and/or character, natural, supernatural, or personality traits did Elymas have and/or demonstrate? 4. What abilities and/or character, natural, supernatural, or personality traits did the Holy Spirit demonstrate in this event? 5. What similar situations did Elymas and Paul experience? Do you think Elymas came to believe in Jesus as his Lord and Savior? Give a reason for your answer. Begin or close your class by reading the short weekly International Bible Lesson. Visit the International Bible Lessons Forum for Teachers and Students. Copyright 2017 by L.G. Parkhurst, Jr. Permission Granted for Not for Profit Use. Contact: P.O. Box 1052, Edmond, Oklahoma, and

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