There, in the town of Salamis, they went to the Jewish synagogues and preached the word of God. John Mark went with them as their assistant. Afterward they traveled from town to town across the entire island until finally they reached Paphos, where they met a Jewish sorcerer, a false prophet named Bar-Jesus. He had attached himself to the governor, Sergius Paulus, who was an intelligent man. The governor invited Barnabas and Saul to visit him, for he wanted to hear the word of God. But Elymas, the sorcerer (as his name means in Greek), interfered and urged the governor to pay no attention to what Barnabas and Saul said. He was trying to keep the governor from believing. Saul, also known as Paul, was filled with the Holy Spirit, and he looked the sorcerer in the eye.
Then he said, “You son of the devil, full of every sort of deceit and fraud, and enemy of all that is good! Will you never stop perverting the true ways of the Lord? Watch now, for the Lord has laid His hand of punishment upon you, and you will be struck blind. You will not see the sunlight for some time.” Instantly mist and darkness came over the man’s eyes, and he began groping around begging for someone to take his hand and lead him. When the governor saw what had happened, he became a believer, for he was astonished at the teaching about the Lord. . .
Paul and his companions then left Paphos by ship for Pamphylia, landing at the port town of Perga. There John Mark left them and returned to Jerusalem.Acts 13:5-13
Up until now Luke has simply been setting the scene. There have been a number of little touches that have taken us behind the scenes as this First Missionary Journey began. I haven’t bothered to pick up on every little word and analyse it for you. To do that would have taken too much time and would really have been pointless. Now that we know clearly where we are and who is with us in the party the action is about to begin. Again there are numbers of things to note in this short account, as is usually the case. I am going to leave you to look at this passage and determine for yourself what the important features are.
There are a number of points or principles which rise to the surface after a cursory read of this section. Notice Barnabas and Saul spent time going through the entire island of Cyprus before they stopped in Paphos. As the NLT text tells us, they traveled from town to town across the entire island until they finally reached Paphos. They must have taken some time to do. Luke gives us no indication of the time frame involved here. But however long it was you can be sure it was a considerable time. It reminds me of the time we spent surveying villages across the whole region in Sulawesi before making the choice as to where to start and who to begin with. That took well over a year. I suspect these few sentences from Luke have that kind setting behind them. I suspect too that the approach stated here: The synagogues first and then the non-Jews, is something Barnabas and Saul did each time in a new place. Notice too that in Salamis Luke was not telling us they went to one synagogue. Rather it seems they went to all synagogues in the town. It would be likely to assume that is what happened also in all of the other towns they visited across the whole island.
This is akin to what we did in starting out in the area we worked in as well. I have many memories and comments I could make at this time but I will refrain. Suffice to say Barnabas and Saul were putting into practice Paul’s principle related to the power of the Gospel stated in Romans 1:16 – “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.” In this phase of their ministry, Barnabas and Saul adopt this principle:- The Jew first and then the Greek / non-Jew / Gentile. The focus here is not Jews and Greek people. The focus is Jews and then the others. It is a sequence which these men are set to repeat time after time.
Notice also the brevity associated with John Mark. I haven’t made much comment about him yet. Just like Luke, I passed him by in terms of introductory comments. He does not last very long in the story. He is there one minute and gone the next. I told you in the previous Gems that you could go to John Mark (read Mark) for the answers to any questions you had on the journey. What I didn’t mention was that you had better get your questions in quick because he won’t be with us long. Take time to notice the subtleties of personnel changes in this brief summary. But notice too what is important. The aspects which Luke himself draws our attention to. I am going to give you the time to take all of these features in and ponder them before I go on to make comment about them. There are a number of subtle little touches in this short passage which you need to pick up on if you are going to click to what Luke is telling us.
You might ask yourself why I have separated out verse 13 as I have.
What is going on here?
It is almost like something is going on behind the scenes that we are not aware of.
Reading this section should spark a series of questions in you. (Reading any section of the Bible should cause the questions to flow. As I have said many times before, the quality of your questions determines the quality of your findings.) I will leave you at this point to ponder and ask your questions. Again share them with me if you so wish.
Overt action is easy to spot, the subtle personal issues behind the scenes can go unnoticed.Ian Vail
He made known His ways to Moses, His acts to the sons of Israel.Ps 103:7
Most of us see the things God does at the surface level, few people catch the subtleties of the whys behind the scenes or the clues to the reasons why people do the things they do.Ian Vail
When we are happy, we listen with our hearts. When we are hurt and angry, we listen with our ears.D Ridgley
The perfect relationship isn’t actually perfect at all, it consists of two people who NEVER give up on each other despite any hurt or pain.Anon
How many of you know that God tests you from time to time? Pass your test now. If you don’t, you’ll get to take it again.Joyce Meyer