After establishing leaders and teachers in the church in Antioch, Saul and Barnabas are called out by the Holy Spirit on a mission trip. After prayer and fasting, the church sends them forth. They travel broadly and deliver the good news to many.
5. a. Told by the Holy Spirit
b. Pray, fast and ask other members of the faith to do the same. Seek the blessing of the church.
6. a. Barnabas (and Saul) / Saul AKA Paul
b. Filled Paul with the H/S, Blinded Elymas, converted the procounsel
7. a. Pamphylia to return to Jerusalem
b. We don’t know. Could have been that he felt called back to Jerusalem. Could have been fear. Could have been concern over Paul’s illness and if this was right (Gal 4:13), Could have been issues that power was switching from Barnabas (his cousin) to Saul. We don’t know!
c. For a period of time, he lost Saul’s respect. He also lost participation in what was happening next in their mission
e. We don’t know. Maybe it taught Mark a lesson and he grew to be a stronger missionary?
f. (Personal) Have I not gone a mission trip that later I regretted? Have I ever let someone down and that shaped me to be a better person so that I wouldn’t do it again? Have I fallen back to a position of comfort and safety when I wasn’t ready to face the trials around me? Yes, yes and yes. France and Joplin. Too many people to name including close family and friends. Almost on a weekly basis.
Conclusion: I become frustrated by the “just suppose” questions. I’m of the belief that if it was material for the message of truth, then we would know, but little is gained by guessing the what’s and why’s that an action was taken. We know that Mark left. We know Saul was frustrated by it. We know that later Saul’s opinion of Mark changes with the conclusion that this is because Mark changed. We know Mark later wrote the gospel. We know that all events in our life and the decisions we make shape our learning and growth. But we seldom know why.
Now, off of my soap box. We are getting into territory that I struggle with. Not that I don’t understand maps, because I do, but because the names and arrows don’t tell me about the culture of the city. For business I have travelled a lot and each town and city has it’s own feel to it. So instead of focusing on distances and maps and arrows and miles, I researched the places in regard to feel of the town.
Antioch, we know, was a city of big commerce. This was a hub of activity, a city with solid roots, great infrastructure and good growth. It was one of the first cities to light their streets at night. It was a hub of commerce on major trade routes. This was a New York, Chicago, Denver, Dallas or LA.
From Antioch they travelled to the nearest major port city, Seleucia. There isn’t mention of specific preaching in this area, it seems like more of a launching off point, like a train or shipping hub. New Orleans, Houston, Philedephia.
From here they go to the island of Cyprus. We know that Barnabas grew up in Cyprus from Acts 4:36 and that many of the original preachers in Antioch were from Cyprus and Cyrene (Acts 11: 20). So this was in some ways a first trip into a land with some ties to the church at Antioch. They would have places to stay and people to meet.
While on the island of Cyprus, they travel to the western edge to Paphos. From what I’ve read, Paphos was the Las Vegas of that time. (Interesting that the sin-city of their day was also the seat of government – no further comment on that one!). There was heavy worship of Venus and Aphrodite, the goddesses of love and sex and immorality was rampant. (No offense to God fearing christians living in Vegas who might read this).
There is tradition to indicate that while souls were converted it was not without price or pain. Paul indicates in 2 Cor 11:24 that on 5 previous instances he had received 39 lashes (it was believed that 40 would kill a man). It is tradition in the area that the first of these lashings for speaking of Jesus in the synagogues occurred in Cyprus in Paphos and that Bar-Jesus aka Elymas may have been present.
In Paphos they encounter the Jewish Sorcerer (that is an interesting oxy-moron), who had attached himself to the court. After a smack down by Saul he is blinded but the proconsuls eyes are opened to faith in Jesus. From this point forward, Saul is now Paul.
Next they catch a boat off the island and head north and landed by Perga, which is a major coastal city, 5 miles inland from a major port of Attalia. Perga is a very wealthy city and the capital of Pamphylia. Mark catches a boat back to Jerusalem and Paul and Barnabas head farther inland to the north to Pisidian Antioch, which was the home of Sergius Paulus, the proconsul who had accepted the gift of salvation. We finish our verses today as they enter the synagogue in that city.