Scripture: Acts chapters 13-14
Commentary: The Church at Antioch is talked about first in Chapter 13, as we see it is the first Gentile Church – and it is also the first church to send off missionaries to distant places. They sent off two of the best leaders, Barnabas and Saul (now to be called Paul). They were committed to doing God’s work. Therefore, Barnabas and Paul took John Mark with them, who assisted them. They all sailed for Cyprus and immediately began preaching in the Synagogues. After this, they went west for Paphos, preaching the Gospel all around. Their preaching even resulted in the ruler of the Island to believe, even if the magician in the land persuaded him otherwise.
Then, they arrive at Perga, and John Mark left the other two and returned to Jerusalem. Paul saw failure in John Mark on this situation. However, from Perga, Paul and Barnabas went north to Galatia, and visited Antioch – some call this Pisidian Antioch, because it isn’t the same one as Antioch, Syria. They preached in the Synagogue, and the preaching was similar to Peter and Stephen’s. He outlined the history of Israel, and then showed them about the promised Savior who had come in the person of Jesus Christ. Even though the Jews in Jerusalem rejected and killed Jesus, God raised Him from the dead to show people that He truly was The Messiah, Son of David.
Those who repented and believed on Him would be forgiven. That next week, almost the entire population locally in Pisidian Antioch came to the Synagogue to hear them preach. The Jews boiled in anger about this and feared that the missionaries were taking their Gentile converts by offering them an easier religion – one promising Salvation through faith with no regard for Jewish Law.
Paul and Barnabas, however, stated that it was God’s Plan for Israel to carry out His Message of Salvation to the Gentiles. If the Jews didn’t accept Salvation, then they couldn’t preach it to the Gentiles or do God’s Will. Therefore, Paul and Barnabas turned from the Jews, and then offered Salvation to the Gentiles directly. Angering the Jews even more, they were driven away from the city. The converts, however, spread the Gospel through the nation and kept going with the work.
As we move on to chapter 14, we see Paul and Barnabas go to Iconium, where they did similar things as in Antioch. It was a similar situation, that once salvation grew/conversion grew, the Jewish people became angry and drove them away from the city. As they moved on, they healed a crippled man in Lystra, and people thought they were two of the Greek gods – therefore, the people prepared an offering for them. After doing some work in Lystra, the Jewish people stirred up trouble, and Paul was almost killed.
Then, they move to Derbe, where another Church was founded. They returned to cities where they were once persecuted, but they wanted to strengthen the churches, and therefore, they appointed elders. After a short time in Perga, they returned to the Church that sent them out. They gave thanks to God for the work He’d done through them for the Gentiles.