The Church: Goodbye to your best men! — Acts 13:1–13
Basil Howlett - Carey Baptist Church - 04 March 2007

The church at Antioch (verse 1) was one of the best local churches there has ever been. We are talking about Antioch in Syria, as opposed to Psidian Antioch (verse 14) which was in Asia Minor. Acts 11:19 explains how it was established. Following the persecution, at the time of Stephenís death, instigated by Saul (Paul) many Christian fled from Jerusalem and proclaimed the gospel in Antioch. The church in Jerusalem sent Barnabas to help in this new work (11:22). The fascinating thing is that Saul eventually became a member of this church following his conversion (11:25).

The church at Antioch was keen on missionary work. The first indication of this can be seen in Acts 11:27 but we see it in a big way in Acts 13, as the church sends out Barnabas and Saul.

A. The workers who were sent out

  1. They were converted by the grace of God. Saul: Acts 9:1–19, Galatians 1:23. Barnabas: Acts 11:24.
  2. They were called by the Spirit of God (verse 2, see also Romans 10:15, Jeremiah 23:21). The marks of this call are a sense of compulsion (1 Corinthians 9:16) and a feeling of inadequacy (Exodus 3:11, Judges 6:15, 2 Corinthians 2:16).
  3. They were confirmed by the church of God.
  4. In fact, they were conspicuous in Godís work (Acts 11:24, Acts 13:9).

B. The work they were sent to do (Acts 13:2)

They preached the Word of God (Acts 13:5). In particular, they preached about the Person who has centre spot in the Word of God (Acts 13:12).

  1. Itís demanding work.
  2. It can be dangerous work. The first person Saul and Barnabas met when they arrived in Paphos was a sorcerer (Acts 13:8), a false prophet also called Elymas who worked at the palace.
  3. Itís disappointing work. When Paul and Barnabas went to Cyprus they took with them (verse 5) a young man, by the name of John Mark, as their helper and all went well for a while, but when the time came for Paul and Barnabas to leave Cyprus (verse 13) and to move on to Perga in Pamphylia John Mark left them and went back to Jerusalem.

C. The way in which they were sent out

It was with the full support of the church (Acts 13:3). When the church leaders placed their hands on them they were saying, in effect, "You go as our representatives, with our full support. We will pray for you every day. We are making a commitment to you."

D. Was it all worthwhile?

The sacrifice made by Barnabas and Saul and the support given by the church? Yes. Sergius Paulus was converted (verse 12) and so were many others (verses 43, 44, 49, 52, 14:26).