Despite Herod’s persecutions, the word of God continued to spread & the body of Christ continued to grow (262). Barnabas & Saul finished their relief mission in Jerusalem & returned to Syrian Antioch, taking young Mark with them. Paul was about 40 years old by this time.
In the church in Syrian Antioch there were several men who served as prophets & teachers: Barnabas, Simeon (called the Black), Lucius (from Cyrene), Manaen (who had actually been brought up with Herod), and Saul. Once, while they were serving God & fasting, the Holy Spirit said to them, “Set apart for me Barnabas & Saul, to do the work to which I have called them.”
So the church leaders continued to fast & they prayed for confirmation of this word from God. When God answered that prayer, the church leaders laid hands on Barnabas & Saul and sent them off, accompanied by Mark, to follow the Spirit’s leading.
The Spirit first led them to the Mediterranean island of Cyprus, where they preached the good news of Jesus as Messiah in the synagogues in the city of Salamis.
Then they went across the island to the city of Paphos, where they met a magician named Bar-Jesus, a Jew who claimed to be a prophet. Bar-Jesus was a friend of the governor of the island, Sergius Paulus, who was an intelligent man.
Because he wanted to hear the word of God, the governor called Barnabas & Saul before him. But another magician, named Elymas, interrupted & tried to turn the governor away from the faith.
In response, Saul (who now was known also as Paul) was emboldened by the Holy Spirit. Looking straight at Elymas he declared, “You son of Satan! You’re the enemy of everything that is good. You’re full of evil tricks, and you always keep trying to turn God’s truth into lies! Now God’s hand will strike you & make you blind for a while.”
At once, a dark mist covered the eyes of Elymas, and he needed someone to lead him by the hand.
When the governor saw this, he believed; he was greatly amazed by the power of God, as well as by Paul’s teaching about God.
(262) Acts 12:24-13:12