a Bible passage

Click a verse to see commentary
Select a resource above

Barnabas and Saul Commissioned


Now in the church at Antioch there were prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen a member of the court of Herod the ruler, and Saul. 2While 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.” 3Then after fasting and praying they laid their hands on them and sent them off.

The Apostles Preach in Cyprus

4 So, being sent out by the Holy Spirit, they went down to Seleucia; and from there they sailed to Cyprus. 5When they arrived at Salamis, they proclaimed the word of God in the synagogues of the Jews. And they had John also to assist them. 6When they had gone through the whole island as far as Paphos, they met a certain magician, a Jewish false prophet, named Bar-Jesus. 7He was with the proconsul, Sergius Paulus, an intelligent man, who summoned Barnabas and Saul and wanted to hear the word of God. 8But the magician Elymas (for that is the translation of his name) opposed them and tried to turn the proconsul away from the faith. 9But Saul, also known as Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked intently at him 10and said, “You son of the devil, you enemy of all righteousness, full of all deceit and villainy, will you not stop making crooked the straight paths of the Lord? 11And now listen—the hand of the Lord is against you, and you will be blind for a while, unable to see the sun.” Immediately mist and darkness came over him, and he went about groping for someone to lead him by the hand. 12When the proconsul saw what had happened, he believed, for he was astonished at the teaching about the Lord.

Paul and Barnabas in Antioch of Pisidia

13 Then Paul and his companions set sail from Paphos and came to Perga in Pamphylia. John, however, left them and returned to Jerusalem; 14but they went on from Perga and came to Antioch in Pisidia. And on the sabbath day they went into the synagogue and sat down. 15After the reading of the law and the prophets, the officials of the synagogue sent them a message, saying, “Brothers, if you have any word of exhortation for the people, give it.” 16So Paul stood up and with a gesture began to speak:

“You Israelites, and others who fear God, listen. 17The God of this people Israel chose our ancestors and made the people great during their stay in the land of Egypt, and with uplifted arm he led them out of it. 18For about forty years he put up with them in the wilderness. 19After he had destroyed seven nations in the land of Canaan, he gave them their land as an inheritance 20for about four hundred fifty years. After that he gave them judges until the time of the prophet Samuel. 21Then they asked for a king; and God gave them Saul son of Kish, a man of the tribe of Benjamin, who reigned for forty years. 22When he had removed him, he made David their king. In his testimony about him he said, ‘I have found David, son of Jesse, to be a man after my heart, who will carry out all my wishes.’ 23Of this man’s posterity God has brought to Israel a Savior, Jesus, as he promised; 24before his coming John had already proclaimed a baptism of repentance to all the people of Israel. 25And as John was finishing his work, he said, ‘What do you suppose that I am? I am not he. No, but one is coming after me; I am not worthy to untie the thong of the sandals on his feet.’

26 “My brothers, you descendants of Abraham’s family, and others who fear God, to us the message of this salvation has been sent. 27Because the residents of Jerusalem and their leaders did not recognize him or understand the words of the prophets that are read every sabbath, they fulfilled those words by condemning him. 28Even though they found no cause for a sentence of death, they asked Pilate to have him killed. 29When they had carried out everything that was written about him, they took him down from the tree and laid him in a tomb. 30But God raised him from the dead; 31and for many days he appeared to those who came up with him from Galilee to Jerusalem, and they are now his witnesses to the people. 32And we bring you the good news that what God promised to our ancestors 33he has fulfilled for us, their children, by raising Jesus; as also it is written in the second psalm,

‘You are my Son;

today I have begotten you.’

34 As to his raising him from the dead, no more to return to corruption, he has spoken in this way,

‘I will give you the holy promises made to David.’

35 Therefore he has also said in another psalm,

‘You will not let your Holy One experience corruption.’

36 For David, after he had served the purpose of God in his own generation, died, was laid beside his ancestors, and experienced corruption; 37but he whom God raised up experienced no corruption. 38Let it be known to you therefore, my brothers, that through this man forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you; 39by this Jesus everyone who believes is set free from all those sins from which you could not be freed by the law of Moses. 40Beware, therefore, that what the prophets said does not happen to you:


‘Look, you scoffers!

Be amazed and perish,

for in your days I am doing a work,

a work that you will never believe, even if someone tells you.’ ”

42 As Paul and Barnabas were going out, the people urged them to speak about these things again the next sabbath. 43When the meeting of the synagogue broke up, many Jews and devout converts to Judaism followed Paul and Barnabas, who spoke to them and urged them to continue in the grace of God.

44 The next sabbath almost the whole city gathered to hear the word of the Lord. 45But when the Jews saw the crowds, they were filled with jealousy; and blaspheming, they contradicted what was spoken by Paul. 46Then both Paul and Barnabas spoke out boldly, saying, “It was necessary that the word of God should be spoken first to you. Since you reject it and judge yourselves to be unworthy of eternal life, we are now turning to the Gentiles. 47For so the Lord has commanded us, saying,

‘I have set you to be a light for the Gentiles,

so that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.’ ”

48 When the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and praised the word of the Lord; and as many as had been destined for eternal life became believers. 49Thus the word of the Lord spread throughout the region. 50But the Jews incited the devout women of high standing and the leading men of the city, and stirred up persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and drove them out of their region. 51So they shook the dust off their feet in protest against them, and went to Iconium. 52And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.

27. He doth wisely, and in due time, prevent an offense which might have been a great hindrance to their faith, [men’s faith.] For Jerusalem was God’s sanctuary, the king’s seat, the fountain of truth, and the light of the whole world; but Christ was put to death there. Furthermore, nothing could seem more absurd to look to than to receive him who was cast out of the temple of God; and to seek the doctrine of salvation any where else than there whence God himself had testified it should come. Moreover, by believing in Christ, they seemed to make a departure from the Church; and, therefore, this one objection was strong enough to refute all Paul’s sermon, Why dost thou force upon us, under color of God’s covenant, a man whom the principal part of the holy people condemned? This objection doth Paul answer, lest it hinder the course of the gospel; and not that only, but he turneth it also to the contrary part; for seeing that the author of life was despised and rejected at Jerusalem, Paul exhorteth the men of Antioch, at least those who among them feared God, that they receive him so much the more joyfully; for this doth the causal word declare, as if he should have said, Seeing that Jerusalem knew not her good, it behoveth you to be the more awakened and inflamed, lest the same unthankfulness and forwardness be found in you.

But he useth another reason to remove the offense, to wit, that their ungodliness was so far from diminishing any whit of Christ’s divine excellency, that it ought rather to serve to prove and establish the same, for whereby doth Christ better appear than because all that was fulfilled in him which had been foretold in the law and prophets? (Luke 24:25, 26.) Furthermore, what got the enemies of Christ, save only that in him shined the plain truth of the Scripture? It must needs be that Christ should be rejected of the chief, for it was so foretold,

“The stone which the builders refused hath
God made the head of the corner,” (Psalm 118:22.)

Christ must needs have been condemned among the wicked, that he might acquit us before God; it was expedient that sins should be laid upon him, that he might make satisfaction for the same; that he should be offered upon the cross, that the shadowish sacrifices of the law might cease; for even the Scripture contained these things, (Isaiah 53:4, 5; Daniel 9:26.)

Therefore, the more violently the captains of the people sought to extinguish Christ, they did in very deed prove him to be Christ, and the Lord did wonderfully deceive [frustrate] them, so that their obstinate impiety doth more edify the faith of the godly than destroy it. Of the same sort are almost all offenses which lead away weak and inconstant souls from Christ; for if they would thoroughly ponder the whole process of the work of God, there should be matter of confirmation where they faint. Therefore it cometh to pass, for the most part, that 802802     “Nostra socordia,” by our sluggishness. we be troubled with offenses and stumbling-blocks, because, whilst we behold those things which belong to Christ with purblind eyes, 803803     “Torvis aut lusciosis,” with stern or purblind eyes. we imagine that to be black which is white; and we see how far Paul is from dissimulation, and how freely 804804     “Ingenue,” ingenuously. he professeth the truth of the matter, that Christ was hated not only of the common sort, but also of the chief chieftains; and that he was not hissed at by a few, but oppressed by the wicked conspiracy of all the people. That was hard and hateful at the first conflict; but Paul opposeth a more strong engine, that God used them against their wills as a touchstone, whereby he might try his Son. Seeing that the gospel standeth in the same state at this day, let us not be ashamed, with Paul, to confess that the proud princes of the world, and those who bear the greatest sway in the Church, are the deadly enemies of Christ, seeing that doth rather turn to Christ’s praise than reproach; for by this means is the Scripture fulfilled.

Seeing they knew him not. Though deliberate malice did enforce the rulers to oppress Christ, yet doth Paul truly impute it to ignorance, 805805     “Sicut alibi, quum dicit, absconditam esse mundi principibus evangelii sapientiam,” as elsewhere, when he says, That the wisdom of the gospel was hid from the princes of the world, omitted. because otherwise they would never have crucified the Lord of glory, (1 Corinthians 2:8.) For the malice of the wicked is like to raging madness, and in seeing it doth not see. Undoubtedly, we need not doubt of this, that they were deprived of a sound mind and the light of the Spirit, who were not afraid to fight against God to their own destruction. Again, he hitteth them in the teeth with ignorance of the Scripture; and lest any should object that he speaketh of some dark and unknown manner; he addeth also, that he doth speak of no other prophecies than of those which are read every Sabbath day; as if he should say, that the oracles of Scripture are most plain and known to the most ignorant, and yet they knew them not. Thus doth Paul teach how monstrous their unbelief was, that he may make the hearers loathe it; and by this example are we taught, that although the Lord appears to us by the Scripture, yet all men have not eyes. After that also the blockishness of the nation waxed more gross, as Paul saith elsewhere, that there is a veil put before their face, that they cannot see Moses when he is present, (2 Corinthians 3:15.) In the mean season, we must note that we are recalled to the Scripture, lest the authority of great men deceive us, neither is there any cause why any man, inventing to himself a prejudice according to the wicked meaning of other men, should think that he is acquitted; for Paul exhorteth the men of Antioch to judge out of the Scripture against the visored governors of the Church; 806806     “Larvatos Ecclesiae praesules,” pretended prelates of the Church. for this cause is it given, that it may be read; and reading is not appointed in vain by the Lord; but that all godly men may thereby profit and judge what is right.

This they fulfilled. So that we see that not only creatures void of understanding, but even the very devil, and also the wicked, are subject to the power 807807     “Providentiae,” the providence. of God, that he may execute by them that which with himself he hath decreed. The same had we in the third and fourth chapters, (Acts 3:23; Acts 4:28,) that when the enemies of Christ did most of all rage to destroy him, yet could they not obtain their purpose; but rather they brought that to pass with their own hands which God had in his counsel determined; which thing maketh not a little for commendation of God’s truth, because he is not only of sufficient power to perform those things which he hath promised; but also those who go about to bring his counsels to nought do their endeavor to establish them, though it be against their will. For how should not the truth of God stand which the chiefest enemies are enforced to fulfill? Yet wisdom is necessary here, lest we join God and Satan together.

For the Jews are not therefore excusable, because they fulfilled the Scriptures; because we must consider their wicked will, and not the event, which they did not look for, yea, which ought to be counted a miracle. If we look into their work by itself, it is quite contrary to God; but as God doth, in the sun and other planets, by wonderful cunning, temper contrary motions, and such as strive among themselves, so he directeth the perverse endeavors of the wicked, by his secret power, unto another end than they thought upon and did desire, lest they should do any thing but that which he would. They, indeed, as touching themselves, do contrary to his will; but it falleth out according to the will of God after an incomprehensible manner. Forasmuch as this course is contrary to nature, no marvel if the wisdom of the flesh see it not. Therefore, it must be discerned with the eye of faith, or rather it must be reverenced; and those dogs who bark against it must be despised with their wantonness. 808808     “Petulantla,” petulance.

28. When as they found no cause of death. It was very pertinent to the matter that they should know that Christ was put to death guiltless, for we could not have been justified by his death, if he had suffered death for his own evil deeds; therefore it was requisite that he should be guiltless, that his death might be a satisfaction for the sins of the world. And, undoubtedly, I think that Paul did plainly declare that Pilate condemned Christ, not according to the office of a judge, but that he consented that he should be put to death after that he was overcome with the ungodly requests of the people; and also that the Jews were driven by lust, and not enforced by reason, to desire Christ’s death.: For it stood him upon to terrify the hearers, that they might not couple themselves 809809     “Se adjungerent socios,” join themselves as associates. to so wicked a fact. But Luke doth now in few words set down, after his common custom, those things which Paul did then more at large declare.

VIEWNAME is study