Acts 12: 18-25, 13: 1-2

Written by kathleen on Jul 12, 2015 in - No Comments

Acts 12:18-25, 13: 1-2

A Generation of Transformers

18 Then, as soon as it was day, there was no small stir among the soldiers about what had become of Peter. 19 But when Herod had searched for him and not found him, he examined the guards and commanded that they should be put to death. And he went down from Judea to Caesarea, and stayed there.

20 Now Herod had been very angry with the people of Tyre and Sidon; but they came to him with one accord, and having made Blastus the king’s personal aide their friend, they asked for peace, because their country was supplied with food by the king’s country.

These two cities on the sea coast were in the region of Phoenicia; for some reason Herod was enraged with the people so much so that he was ready to declared war against them and at this point he had forbid all commerce with them, which if it had been continued, would have been the ruin of them. (Put sanctions on them)

So they made a deal (likely a bribe) with Blastus to get them an audience with the king.

21 So on a set day Herod, arrayed in royal apparel, sat on his throne and gave an oration to them.

Josephus says, this took place on the second day of the sports and plays being done in honor of Herod; and that his royal apparel was all of silver; and that it was very early in the morning as he went into the theatre, and the silver sparkled with the rays of the rising sun, and that it struck the spectators with terror and admiration:

22 And the people kept shouting, “The voice of a god and not of a man!” 23 Then immediately an angel of the Lord struck him, because he did not give glory to God. And he was eaten by worms and died.

Josephus makes mention of pains in his belly while he was alive”; caused by the gnawing of the worms: this was considered by the Jews a very accursed death; of which Herod died 4 days later

There is something interesting about the mention of these “worms”

Church tradition says, that the spies which brought a bad report on the promise land, died this same death: the account is that “Their tongues swelled and fell upon their navels, and worms came out of their tongues and went into their navels, and out of their navels they went into their tongues!

There are many oppressors, and persecutors of the Jews who reportedly died of the same affliction; such as Antioch Epiphanies who had sacrificed a pig in the temple, fried people on a large skillet, and slaughtered children for amusement. Theratima Queen of Cyrene, Herod the great who killed the babies in Bethlehem, Cornelius Galanius- emperor of Rome, Philip II of Spain; all persecutors of the Jews. Here’s where it gets interesting!  Jesus Warns of Offenses Mark 9:42-44 “But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were thrown into the sea.  43 If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter into life maimed, rather than having two hands, to go to hell, into the fire that shall never be quenched  44 where ‘Their worm does not die And the fire is not quenched.’

 If that isn’t bad enough Jesus said in Matt 8:12-13 concerning the sons of the kingdom of darkness that they will be cast out into outer darkness where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

This is just part of the everlasting punishment of those who reject Jesus Christ as their savior as well as a sense of separation from the presence of the love of God which no person has ever experienced except Jesus Christ.

Knowing this should cause our hearts to ache for our friends and loved ones who do not want anything to do with Jesus. Not only ache but want to do something about their rejection of Jesus.

24 But the word of God grew and multiplied. Among death and persecution Gods word continued.

25 And Barnabas and Saul returned from Jerusalem when they had fulfilled their ministry, and they also took with them John whose surname was Mark. (300 mile trip)

13: 1.Now in the church that was at Antioch there were certain prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul.

“There were certain prophets and teachers.” Notice the distinction:  #1 Prophets are those who, under the inspiration of the Spirit, guide the church as they speak the heart of God through edification, exhortation, and comfort.

#2 Teachers are those who ground the church as they point out the ways and mind of God revealed through His Word.

Now a list of leaders within the church of Antioch

Remember Barnabas from Cyprus, the “son of consolation”? He was the one who took Paul under his wing before anyone else in Jerusalem believed Saul was born again. Later on, we’ll see Barnabas take John Mark under his wing and walk with him through a season of failure.

Then there was Simon called Niger, was from present-day Nigeria. Since Niger means black, he was presumably a black African among the congregation and is probably Simon the Cyrene, the one who carried the Cross to Golgotha after Jesus couldn’t physically continue and Lucius of Cyrene…There is a good chance that Simon the Cross-bearer went back to Cyrene, talked to his buddy Lucius (he gets saved) and together they started walking with the Lord, eventually becoming significant figures in ministry.

Manaen was a foster-brother of Herod Antipas of the Herod family who is known for their evil and bizarre behavior. Manaen had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch. He was a son of Herod the Great. This was the same Herod who beheaded John the Baptist and presided over one of Jesus’ trials yet the Lord rescued him and saved him for ministry.

So here from many backgrounds, from the royal court to guys from Africa, to Barnabas from the island of Cyprus and Saul who originated in Tarsus, These were the prominent prophets and teachers in the church. —Talk about the grace and sovereignty of God!

We’ll see Saul’s name change later in this chapter just as his life changed. Interestingly the word “Saul” means “requested one”—even as King Saul was requested by the people (1 Samuel 8:6).

Even more interesting is the name “Paul” means “Little.” You see, something happened in Paul’s life when he was converted to Christ. No longer did he identify himself as Saul, the “requested one,” or the “in demand one.” No, he said, “Call me little.”

In the early part of his ministry (1 Corinthians 15:9), Paul said, “I am the least of the apostles” In the middle of his ministry (Ephesians 3:8), he said, “I am less than the least of all saints” At the end of his life (1 Timothy 1:15), he said, “I am the chief of sinners”

It is interesting that the longer Paul walked with the Lord, the more he realized how far he was from Him. That’s always the way it is. Example: The Pharisee, praying on the street corner said, “God, I thank you, I am not as other men,” while the true convert beat his breast and said, “God be merciful to me a sinner”.

2 As they ministered to the Lord and fasted, the Holy Spirit said, “Now separate to Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.”

Notice what the Holy Spirit says; this shows the Spirit to be a divine person, and truly God, and equal with God, since calling to a sacred office is attributed to him; and a separation to it is ordered for himself, for His service, His honor, and His glory; he does not say separate them to the Lord, or to God, but to himself!

This is another picture of the reality of the great mystery called the Trinity.

Luke doesn’t say they ministered for the Lord. He says they ministered to the Lord. Not seeking what they could get but just seeking Him that they might know Him better.

Praising Him, thanking Him, worshiping Him to draw close to Him,

Just to be WITH Him!

We usually think of ministering to an individual or the congregation but here they are ministering to the Lord. That’s the primary purpose of the church and of any born again believer is to minister to the Lord.

Paul told the Ephesians; That we are for the praise to the glory of His grace! Ephesians 1:6 And the outflow of course of the ministry to the Lord is the ministry to others.

“The word translated ministered in the Bible usually describes the service of priests and Levites in the temple.” So these leaders of the church were doing the service of priests under the new covenant, offering their bodies as living sacrifices.

Romans 12:1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.

Rom 12:1 And so, dear brothers, I plead with you to give your bodies to God. Let them be a living sacrifice, holy-the kind he can accept. When you think of what he has done for you, is this too much to ask? TLB

Whenever you come to the word “therefore,” stop and ask, what it’s there for. It’s as if Paul is saying, “In light of who you are in Christ and what you enjoy because of Christ, I beseech (plead with) you.” Give yourself to Him completely. Because of what He did for you!

It seems very reasonable to give yourself to the Lord, to say, “I’m laying my life down for You Lord, because You gave Yourself for me. ( Giving up or changing habits for His sake)

As part of their service to the Lord, they also fasted.

Considering the context of this passage it is likely the call came through the ministry of prophets in the church at Antioch, though it could have come simply through the inner witness of the Holy Spirit.

This is often how God moves, by sending the people who have it on their hearts to pray and are willing to deny themselves and set aside special time just to focus upon and hear from the Lord.

As in this case there was a work of the Holy Spirit saying, “Separate these guys. They’re to go and minister.”

Before Barnabas and Saul can do anything great for God, they must first be separated to Him. Being separate to God, it means you must separate from that old way of life and habits.

You can’t really say “yes” to God’s call on your life until you can say “no” to things that will keep you from that call. Just like you can’t minister for the lord till you minister to the lord!

The Holy Spirit will begin to guide you and separate you as you keep your focus on Jesus. How do we do that? Scripture says in Psalms and Hebrews concerning Jesus.

Lo, I have come in the volume of the book,” By reading your Bible; especially the 4 gospels learning who Jesus is and how He deals with life. (read the red letters)

You see, you can give your body to the Lord and that’s a real key.

But it’s incomplete in and of itself unless you keep your focus on Jesus and that happens through a consistent time in the “volume of the book,” called The Bible.

However, you can read your Bible every morning for devotions; you can study it with us every Wednesday night; you can know the Word backward and forward and still not be lead by Gods Holy Spirit.

The Apostle Paul would say that, in and of itself, the letter kills (2 Corinthians 3:6) meaning if you read the Scriptures just to get insights into theology, or practical tips about parenting or relationships, change may not take place because transformation occurs when we study the Word not for the sake of the Word, but in order to minister to the Lord. When our study becomes a time of fellowship praise and worship to Father; and that time of communion takes place and becomes part of who we are and what we do!

John wrote, John 1:1, 14 “In the beginning was the Word… And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us”

It’s the Word becoming flesh, becoming personable, touchable, and relatable that will transform you. And again; if you approach the Word strictly from an intellectual, academic, theological perspective, you might learn a point or two, but you’ll not be changed.

God had a specific work He had appointed to Barnabas and Saul to do. If you remember the calling God had for the life of Paul had already been stated in Acts 9:15-16: He is a chosen vessel of Mine to bear My name before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel. For I will show him how many things he must suffer for My name’s sake.

This call was not a touchy-feely “feel good” call of networking and playing church life- it was a serious call to a serious ministry.

Paul would later write in Ephesians 2:10: For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.

So God is calling Barnabas and Saul to these good works to go and preach the Gospel among the Gentiles,

This is the same Calling God has given to us today that is given by Jesus in Mathew 28:18-20 And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.

With a personal application of these verses known as the Great Commission takes on a much broader perspective. We’re to be sharing and teaching wherever we’re going, whatever we’re doing In this verse, the word “go” literally means “as you are going.” In other words, “As you are going to the grocery store, as you are going to school, as you are going to work, as you’re baptizing, as you’re teaching, share the gospel.” Knowing that Jesus is with you always even unto the end of the age.”

The Apostle Paul once made the statement to the people of Galatia

Gal 2:20 I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. “Christ lives in me.” That’s the beauty of the Resurrection and wonder of Salvation.

Can you make this statement today?