Barnabas and Saul Commissioned for Missionary Service

Jesus Christ didn’t commit the gospel to an advertising agency; He commissioned disciples. And He didn’t command them to put up signs and pass out tracts; He said that they would be His witnesses. (Lou Nicholes - Missionary/Author). … More


Chapter 13 marks a major division in the book of Acts. The first twelve chapters have recorded the events concerning the spread of Christianity in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria. Now we find where the Gospel is taken to the uttermost part of the earth. At least forty cities are mentioned.

Up to this point, Jerusalem had been the center of ministry, and Peter had been the key apostle. Now we see everything shifting to Antioch as the new center, and Paul becomes the new leader. God had already called Paul to minister to the Gentiles, and now He summoned Barnabas to labor with him. They were what we today call foreign missionaries. The church confirmed their calling, commissioned them, and sent them forth (vv. 2-3). The Church was now poised to take the greatest of all steps. They had decided, quite deliberately, to take the Gospel out to all the world. It was a decision taken under the direct guidance of the Holy Spirit. The men of the early Church never did what they wanted to do, but always what God wanted them to do.

In addition to Paul and Barnabas, the church at Antioch was blessed with a number of outstanding leaders (v. 1). Perhaps you would be surprised to know that one of them (Manaen) was a foster brother of the wicked king Herod who had put John the Baptist to death. This means that he was raised with the prince in his court. Antipas (Herod) and Manaen went to school together, played together, and studied together. Manaen became a believer, and Herod became a beast. Then there was Niger (quite possibly the man who carried the cross for Christ), who was probably a black man. No doubt the Antioch church was a racially integrated church. There seems to have been little delay in Paul and Barnabas getting started on their missionary journey.  They didn’t even have to do deputation work first to raise their support. The Holy Spirit was sending them out, and the Holy Spirit would see to it that their needs were met.



If the Lord should ask me to be a missionary in a foreign country I don’t particularly like, am I willing to go? If God asks me to do something, I can be sure that He will enable me in every way to do it.

Acts 13:1-3 (English Standard Version)

Now there were in the church at Antioch prophets and teachers, Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen a member of the court of Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, "Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them." Then after fasting and praying they laid their hands on them and sent them off.

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