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While the Seers and Teachers in Antioch were serving the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit made it clear that Barnabas and Saul (also called Paul) should be set apart for some special work. So they were sent off to do the work. They also had a man named John Mark with them.
They set off to sea and headed for Cyprus. When they arrived, they began to proclaim the word of God in the Jewish religious buildings. They traveled across the whole island.
At that time, one of the city officials called for Barnabas and Saul because he wanted to hear the word of God. But a false prophet magician was there too who fought against them and tried to turn the ruler around in the wrong direction.
Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, stared straight at that faker magician and said, “You son of the devil! You enemy of everything right! You are full of lies and deceit. Stop making God’s straight paths crooked! The Lord is against you, and you will be blind!”
Immediately, mistiness and darkness came over the man. He cried, “Help me! Help me! Someone take my hand. I can’t see.”
When the ruler saw what had happened, he believed in Jesus and His words.
From there Paul and his companions set out to sea, but John Mark went back home to Jerusalem (you’ll find out more about that later).
On the Sabbath day they went into the religious building and sat down. The leaders invited them to speak to the people there.
So Paul stood up, and started giving the people a little history lesson, kind of like Stephen had.
He said, “Men of Israel, and any of you who fear God from any other nations, listen up.” Then he told them all about how God had delivered the Israelites out of Egypt, and how he had given them the Promised Land as an inheritance. He told them about the Judges, and Samuel, and Saul and David.
Then Paul said, “From the children of David, God sent a Rescuer, Jesus, just as He’d promised. The people living in Jerusalem didn’t recognize Him. And even though they found no reason to kill Him, they asked to have Him killed anyway. Everything happened just like the prophets long ago said it would.
“Then they took Him down from the cross and placed Him in a tomb. But God raised Him from the dead, and for many days He appeared to those with Him. These people are now His witnesses — telling what they’ve Seen. So we are shouting to you the good news about Him! The promise from long ago… God has Kept it! This is the guy!
“Through Jesus, forgiveness of sins is trumpeted out to you, and by Jesus everyone who believes is made free, free, free.”
As Paul and Barnabas were leaving, the people asked them to tell them more. Many of the Jews and God-fearing people followed Paul and Barnabas around to keep hearing everything else they had to say.
On the next Sabbath, almost the whole city was together waiting to hear what God was saying. But when the religious naysayers saw the crowds, they were filled with jealousy. They began to contradict what Paul was saying by criticizing and attacking him.
But both Paul and Barnabas answered courageously, “We had to speak God’s word to you first. But since you don’t want to hear it and don’t consider yourselves good enough for forever life, we’ll just tell this message to the other nations. God has told us to ‘be a light for the nations, to bring salvation to the ends of the earth.’”
When the people from other nations heard this part, they started praising God because they were so happy. Many believed the message. So God’s truth kept spreading, spreading, spreading.
I’m sure you can guess what happened next… Enemies…
Religious enemies started stirring up bad trouble with the rich and important people in the city. They stirred up so much trouble that Paul and Barnabas got thrown out of the city.
But, no worries, Paul and Barnabas just moved on to a new place.
As they traveled, similar things happened along the way. Paul and Barnabas would speak to large crowds and many people would get excited. But, those who refused to believe in Jesus because they wanted to hold on to their past lives and traditions would stir up trouble and try to poison people’s minds. Some people even made plans to stone Paul and Barnabas, but that didn’t stop them. They continued to proclaim the good news courageously.
In another city, the people wanted to treat them like gods and offer sacrifices to them. But when Barnabas and Paul heard about it, they ripped their clothes in sadness and rushed out into the crowd, shouting, “Stop, stop! Why are you doing this? We’re men, just like you! We’re proclaiming the good news to you, so that you will turn from worthless things to the living God, who made the heaven, the earth, the sea, and everything that is in them. In the past, God let all the nations go their own ways, but even then He gave you evidence of who He is. He was the one doing good by giving you rain from heaven and fruitful times, and filling your bellies with food and your hearts with joy.”
But even after they said this, they could barely stop the crowds from sacrificing to them.
Eventually some enemies came from other towns and won the crowds over with their poisonous lies. They stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, thinking he was dead. But when the disciples surrounded him, Paul got up and went right back into the city.
Eventually, once their work was completed, Paul and Barnabas sailed back to Antioch. They gathered the church together and told them all the things God had done with them, and how He’d opened a door of faith for the not-Jews.