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Mission and Magic

13 In the church at Antioch there were prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Symeon called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen from the court of Herod the Tetrarch, and Saul. As they were worshipping the Lord and fasting, the holy spirit said, ‘Set apart Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.’ So they fasted and prayed; and then they laid their hands on them and sent them off.

So off they went, sent out by the holy spirit, and arrived at Seleucia. From there they set sail to Cyprus, and when they arrived in Salamis they announced God’s word in the Jewish synagogues. John was with them as their assistant. They went through the whole of the island, all the way to Paphos. There they found a magician, a Jewish false prophet named Bar-Jesus. He was with the governor, Sergius Paulus, who was an intelligent man. He called Barnabas and Saul and asked to hear the word of God. The magician Elymas (that is the translation of his name) was opposing them, and doing his best to turn the governor away from the faith. But Saul, also named Paul, looked intently at him, filled with the holy spirit.

10 ‘You’re full of trickery and every kind of villainy!’ he said. ‘You’re a son of the devil! You’re an enemy of everything that’s right! When are you going to stop twisting the paths that God has made straight? 11 Now see here: the Lord’s hand will be upon you, and you will be blind for a while; you won’t even be able to see the sun!’

At once mist and darkness fell on him, and he went about looking for someone to lead him by the hand. 12 When the governor saw what had happened, he believed, since he was astonished at the teaching of the Lord.

Address in Antioch

13 Paul and his companions set off from Paphos and came to Perga in Pamphylia. John, however, left them and went back to Jerusalem. 14 But they came through from Perga and arrived in Antioch of Pisidia, where they went into the synagogue on the sabbath day and sat down. 15 After the reading of the law and the prophets, the ruler of the synagogue sent word to them.

‘My brothers,’ he said, ‘if you have any word of exhortation for the people, let us hear it.’

16 So Paul stood up and motioned with his hand for attention.

‘Fellow Israelites,’ he said, ‘and the god-fearers among you: listen. 17 The God of this people Israel chose our ancestors, and he raised the people up to greatness during their stay in the land of Egypt. Then he led them out from there with his hand lifted high, 18 and for about forty years he put up with them in the desert. 19 He drove out seven nations from the land of Canaan, and gave them the land as their inheritance 20 for about four hundred and fifty years. After that, he gave them judges, up until Samuel the prophet. 21 After that, they asked for a king, and God gave them Saul the son of Kish, a man from the tribe of Benjamin. He ruled for forty years, 22 and after God had removed him he raised up for them David as king. He is the one to whom God bore witness when he said, “I have found David, son of Jesse, a man after my own heart; he will accomplish all my purpose.”

23 ‘From this man’s offspring, in accordance with his promise, God has produced a saviour for Israel: Jesus! 24 Before he appeared, John had announced a baptism of repentance for the whole people of Israel. 25 As John was finishing his course, he said, “What do you suppose I am? I am not the one. But look: someone is coming after me, and I am not worthy to untie the sandals on his feet.”

The Messianic Challenge

26 ‘My brothers and sisters,’ Paul continued, ‘children of Abraham’s family, and the God-fearers among you: it is to us that the word of this salvation has been sent! 27 The people who live in Jerusalem, and their rulers, didn’t recognize him, and they fulfilled the words of the prophets which are read to them every sabbath by condemning him. 28 Even though they found no reason to condemn him to death, they asked Pilate to have him killed. 29 When they had completed everything that had been written about him in prophecy, they took him down from the cross and put him in a tomb. 30 But God raised him from the dead, 31 and he was seen for several days by those who had come with him from Galilee to Jerusalem. They are now his witnesses to the people.

32 ‘We are here now to bring you the good news which was promised to our ancestors, 33 that God has fulfilled this promise to us, their children, by raising Jesus. This corresponds, indeed, to what is written in the second Psalm:

You are my son; this day I have begotten you.

34 ‘That he raised him from the dead, never more to return to corruption, conforms to what was written:

I will give you the holy and faithful mercies of David.

35 ‘Because, as it says in another place,

You will not hand over your holy one to see corruption.

36 ‘Now David served his own generation, and in the purposes of God he fell asleep and was gathered to his fathers. He did experience corruption. 37 But the one God raised up did not experience corruption. 38 So let it be known to you, my brothers and sisters, that forgiveness of sins is announced through him, and that everything from which you were unable to be set right by the law of Moses, 39 by him every one who believes is set right.

40 ‘Beware, then, lest what the prophets foretold comes true of you:

41 Look out, you scoffers – be amazed, and disappear!
I am doing something in your days, a work which you wouldn’t believe
even if someone were to explain it to you.’

42 As Paul and Barnabas were leaving, they begged them to come back the next sabbath and tell them more about these things. 43 Many of the Jews and devout proselytes followed them once the synagogue was dismissed. They spoke to them some more, and urged them to remain in God’s grace.

A Light to the Gentiles

44 On the next sabbath, almost the whole city came together to hear the word of the Lord. 45 But when the Jews saw the crowds, they were filled with righteous indignation, and spoke blasphemous words against what Paul was saying.

46 Paul and Barnabas grew very bold.

‘God’s word had to be spoken to you first,’ they declared. ‘But since you are rejecting it, and judging yourselves unworthy of the life of God’s new age, look! We are turning to the Gentiles! 47 This is what the Lord has commanded, you see:

I have set you for a light to the nations,
so that you can be salvation-bringers to the end of the earth.’

48 When the Gentiles heard this, they were thrilled, and they praised the word of the Lord. All those who were marked out for the life of God’s new age became believers. 49 And the word of the Lord spread through the whole land.

50 But the Jews incited the devout aristocratic women and the leading men of the city. They stirred up persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and drove them out of their district. 51 They, however, shook the dust off their feet and went on to Iconium. 52 The disciples were filled with joy and with the holy spirit.