Today, we pick back up with Paul, and we have yet to mention his main companion that shows up in chapters 13 and 14 – Barnabas. Barnabas means “Son of Encouragement”, as he was an encourager to those around him. Barnabas travelled with Paul frequently when Paul would go to a different region to share the gospel message. They mostly got along great and accomplished a lot, but they did reach a disagreement down the road. Barnabas wanted to take his cousin, Mark, with them during one of their missionary journeys, but Paul did not since Mark abandoned them on a previous trip. We are getting ahead of ourselves a bit here though, so let’s rewind to chapter 13.
In chapter 13 of Acts, Paul and Barnabas set sail and visited a couple of places, most notably Cyprus and Antioch. It was at these different locations that they took advantage of their opportunity to share God’s message with others. It’s important to note that some places that they traveled to the gospel message already was presented and spread a bit, as they weren’t the only ones around spreading this gospel message. However, they were certainly instrumental in furthering the spread.
In verses 16-41 of chapter 13, Paul delivers a message to the people on the Sabbath. At the conclusion of this message that he presented, “the people begged that these things might be told them the next Sabbath,” (Acts 13:42). From a preacher’s perspective, this would be a dream come true! The people were so eager to hear the gospel message that they BEGGED! They didn’t just ask or hope or want, but they BEGGED to hear the gospel message. When was the last time that you were so eager to hear God’s message being shared? For most of us, it probably has been a while. Somehow, someway we need to find that passion again for God’s Word. Pray to God today, that he would fill your heart with a passion and desire to dig deeper into His Word. That would be a great place to start.
We fast forward a week from Paul’s message in verses 16-41, and we arrive at the next Sabbath in verse 44. Verse 44 reads, “The next Sabbath almost the whole city gathered to hear the word of the Lord,” (Acts 13:44). How awesome would that be?! The week prior, the people begged to hear more of God’s word being spoken, as they had so much excitement. It is evident that they didn’t contain their excitement to themselves. Apparently, their passion for God’s Word drove them to share with their friends and family about the word of God that they just listened to.
It’s a general notion that word of mouth is the best mode of advertisement. The group who listened to Paul’s first message did a great job of advertising to others by word of mouth. This proved to be extremely effective, as almost the whole city showed up the following week. This serves as a good reminder for us to advertise God’s Word by word of mouth with our friends and family. When was the last time that you shared a bit of God’s Word with someone who is not an active believer?
Paul continued to gain a following in the different locations that he traveled to. On the other hand, though, his adversaries were continuing to grow. In chapter 14, Paul was stoned nearly to death for his faith and his part in spreading the gospel message. My mind cannot stop thinking about the differences in how the early Christians were persecuted versus how we are persecuted (or the lack thereof) today in America. I’m grateful that we don’t have to experience some of the trials and tribulations that the likes of Paul went through. However, I can only imagine how much more serious we would take our faith if we had to physically risk our lives in order to share the gospel message with others. Something for you to ponder.
We continue to see the great works of some of the heroes of our faith in Acts. I hope that these great heroes, such as Paul and Barnabas, serve as an encouragement and lesson for all of us. God bless.
Today’s Bible passage can be read or listened to at BibleGateway here – Acts 13-14.
Tomorrow we will read James 1-5.