The Holy Spirit’s Sending Ministry
We continue to see the guidance of the Holy Spirit in the church in Antioch in Acts 13:1-2
In the church in Antioch there were prophets and teachers; Barnabas, Simeon called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen (who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch) and Saul. While they were worshipping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, "Set apart for Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them."
In this situation, the Holy Spirit told the church at Antioch that He had selected two people, Barnabas and Saul, for a specific task. Afterwards, the Holy Spirit continued to give direction to them, and that is how these two men left Antioch and, under the direction of the Holy Spirit, set sail for Cyprus, as we can read in Acts 13:4
The two of them, sent on their way by the Holy Spirit, went down to Seleucia and sailed from there to Cyprus.
Once at the island of Cyprus, they travelled throughout the island until they came to a place called Paphos. The Holy Spirit led them to meet a man named Bar-Jesus. He was a Jewish sorcerer and a false prophet. This man had great influence over the pro-consul, a man named Sergius Paulus, as we can read in Acts 13:6-7
They travelled through the whole island until they came to Paphos. There they met a Jewish sorcerer named Bar-Jesus, who was an attendant of the pro-consul Sergius Paulus. The pro-consul, an intelligent man, sent for Barnabas and Saul because he wanted to hear the word of God.
Sergius Paulus had heard of Barnabas and Saul and invited them to share the gospel with him, but that was not pleasing to the Jewish sorcerer Bar-Jesus. He knew that if Sergius Paulus would hear the gospel, he, Bar-Jesus would be exposed for what he was; a false prophet, and he would lose his good standing with the pro-consul. That must not happen, so he tried to turn the pro-consul from believing in the gospel message. But Saul (or Paul, which is the name we are more familiar with), empowered by the Holy Spirit, spoke boldly to this false prophet, as we can read in Acts 13:9-10
Then Saul, who was also called Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked straight at Elymas and said, "You are a child of the devil and an enemy of everything that is right! You are full of all kinds of deceit and trickery. Will you never stop perverting the right ways of the Lord? Now the hand of the Lord is against you. You are going to be blind and for a time you will be unable to see the light of the sun.”
The Holy Spirit enabled Paul to prophesy a word of judgement over this man, and it happened exactly as Paul had said. This caused the pro-consul to come to faith in Christ Jesus, as we can read in Acts 13:12
When the pro-consul saw what had happened, he believed, for he was amazed at the teaching about the Lord.
From Paphos, Paul and Barnabas continued their travels as led by the Holy Spirit. They would usually enter a synagogue whenever that was possible to preach about the Lord Jesus. Some people believed, while others opposed their message. Nevertheless, whatever the circumstances the disciples were glad, as enabled by the Holy Spirit, as we can read in Acts 13:52
And the disciples were filled with joy and the Holy Spirit.