Acts 13

The Spirit leads the Antioch church to send Saul and Barnabas out.  They go to Cyprus first (Barnabas' homeland - Acts 4:36), with John Mark assisting.  They get an audience with the Roman Governor, but a court magician opposes them.  Saul says he'll be blind, and he is, convincing the governor, Sergius Paulus.  Luke starts calling Saul Paul, he takes leadership of the group, John Mark leaves, and they head for Pisidian Antioch.  Paul leads the speaking, working in his ancestor King Saul (vs 21), focusing on the death and resurrection of Christ and how it fulfills Scripture as Peter said at Pentecost.  They are very interested, but next week many come to listen, making the Jews envious (they think the Gospel is only for Israel).  So they reject Paul and his message.  He says they then turn to the Gentiles.  Many believe, but the Jews turn the city leaders against them.  They go on to the next town, leaving a joyful planted church behind.

Reading between the lines
This is a bit speculative, but I think Saul changed his name to Paul at this point, not when he was converted on the Damascus road.  Verse 9 isn't an out of place "oh, yeah," on Luke's part harking back to his conversion.  He changes it to mark the Roman governor who believed at their first stop, and took a deliberate strategy of going to the Gentiles (though to the Jew first).  This explains the name change being mentioned here, and John Mark's departure.

  • When the Spirit leads, it isn't always some extraordinary and unexpected thing.  Barnabas went HOME for their first missionary stop.
  • The apostolic witness to Jesus' resurrection remains central, though Paul didn't see it.  He points to their witness.

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