Notice the emphasis on who’s in charge – instead of Barnabas, Paul is listed first. In fact he is now referred to as Paul instead of Saul. God did not change his name as He is want to do but rather Paul has chosen his Roman name over his Jewish one. Maybe because he believes he will be better received and appreciated in the countries he is visiting.
So, Paul and Co. sail north from Cyprus to Asia Minor (Turkey specifically). In Perga John Mark leaves them to return to Jerusalem – no explanation but remember this- it’s going to come up later. They move on to Antioch in Pisidia, the capital city of the Romans in Galatia. There are Jews living there and on the Sabbath, Paul and friends go to the synagogue. After the usual readings, etc. the rulers send a message inviting these new “brothers” to speak for the encouragement of the people. (Ever have someone just come right out and ask you about Jesus? Paul must have been elated!)
Paul stood up and preached – the whole story of God and Israel – right up to the punch line: Let it be known to you therefore, brothers, that through this man (Jesus) forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you, and by him everyone who believes is freed from everything from which you could not be freed by the law of Moses.
Pretty strong stuff but the people loved it and invited them back next Sabbath! As they were leaving many Jews and devout converts to Judaism encouraged them to continue in the grace of God. (I think that it is remarkable that these people sensed Paul and Barnabas were walking in the grace of God and not in their own power. Oh to have that aroma!)
Next Sabbath almost the entire city comes to hear the word of the Lord. Here’s where the local Jewish leaders get jealous and try to “out speak” Paul and bad mouth them to the people. So much for the nice welcome! (Jealousy is a quick and effective tool of the enemy. It consumes your thinking and plays on every negative emotion – suspicion, fear, resentment, possessiveness, envy. It creates exactly the divisiveness the Enemy seeks. I have never been able to overcome an attack apart from a sincere diligence to continually ask the Lord to constantly and methodically renew my thinking and cleanse my heart.)
Interestingly this rejection by the Jews is a turning point in Paul’s ministry.
“It was necessary that the word of God be spoken first to you. Since you thrust it aside and judge yourselves unworthy of eternal life, behold, we are turning to the Gentiles.”
(I can’t get over this phrase – you have judged yourselves unworthy of eternal life. Paul did not judge them unworthy. God did not judge them unworthy. They judged themselves unworthy. Boy, sadly this reeks with pride – to hold one’s own view above the view of God. How often do I judge myself unworthy? Jealousy is one way but how many other ways do I flaunt my “knowing” over the truth of what God says about me? A lot to ponder here.)
Of course, God had planned this open door policy from the beginning.
“‘I have made you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.’” (Is.49:6)
…when the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord, and as many as were appointed to eternal life believed. And the word of the Lord was spreading throughout the whole region.
Spreading but not without opposition. Remember the word that I said to you: …’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. Jesus had spoken these words to His disciples.
So these leaders, devout women of high standing and leading men of the city, drove Paul and Barnabas out of town. But P & B were not dampened or distressed – they were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit! You gotta love it!
He opens the doors. When we walk through them – joy awaits.
You are not unworthy; you are beloved.
About the World?
Let it be known…that through Jesus…forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you.