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Acts 13:1–3 HCSB
1 In the church that was at Antioch there were prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius the Cyrenian, Manaen, a close friend of Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. 2 As they were ministering to the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for Me Barnabas and Saul for the work I have called them to.” 3 Then after they had fasted, prayed, and laid hands on them, they sent them off.
acts 13:1-3

I. Devoted Workers

Acts 13:1 HCSB
1 In the church that was at Antioch there were prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius the Cyrenian, Manaen, a close friend of Herod the tetrarch, and Saul.
acts

In the church that was at Antioch there were prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius the Cyrenian, Manaen, a close friend of Herod the tetrarch, and Saul.

In the church that was at Antioch there were prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius the Cyrenian, Manaen, a close friend of Herod the tetrarch, and Saul.
Preaching the Word: Acts—The Church Afire The Commission of the Church Militant (Vv. 1–3)

This was the church staff at Antioch—a racially integrated group of go-getters

This was the church staff at Antioch—a racially integrated group of go-getters:

Barnabas shows the sweetness of the Lord in the church. ...as Barnabas... Remember Barnabas, the "son of consolation"? He was the one who took Paul under his wing before anyone else in Jerusalem believed Paul was born again. Later on, we'll see Barnabas take John Mark under his wing and walk with him through a season of failure.

Application:

He was a man with a kind and loving disposition. He reminds us of the sweetness of Jesus, and like the Lord Jesus he went about doing good. Every local church needs a Barnabas, a man addicted to good works, given to visiting the sick and helping the poor, willing to weep with those that weep and rejoice with those that rejoice.

Simon Niger show us of the sufferings of the Lord in the church. ...and Simeon that was called Niger... Simon was from present-day Nigeria. This is probably Simon the Cyrene, the one who carried the Cross to Golgotha after Jesus sank beneath its weight ().

...and Simeon that was called Niger... Simon was from present-day Nigeria. This is probably Simon the Cyrene, the one who carried the Cross to Golgotha after Jesus sank beneath its weight ().

Application:

Every church needs a Simon Niger as an elder, a man who has been to Calvary, a man whose vision is filled with the vision of Christ and Him crucified, and who, having carried the cross for Christ, finds all other burdens light, so that no toil or labor is too much.

Simon lived what Author: Thomas Shepherd (1693) wrote best.

Author: Thomas Shepherd (1693) wrote best.

1 Must Jesus bear the cross alone, and all the world go free? No, there's a cross for everyone, and there's a cross for me.

2 How happy are the saints above, who once went sorrowing here! But now they taste unmingled love and joy without a tear.

3 The consecrated cross I'll bear till death shall set me free; and then go home my crown to wear, for there's a crown for me.

4 Upon the crystal pavement down, at Jesus' pierced feet, joyful I'll cast my golden crown and His dear name repeat.

5 O precious cross! O glorious crown! O resurrection day! When Christ the Lord from heaven comes down and bears my soul away.

Lucius of Cyrene show us the sovereignty of the Lord in the church. ...and Lucius of Cyrene... How did Lucius get saved? I suggest Simon the Cross-bearer went back to Cyrene, talked to his buddy Lucius, and together they started walking with the Lord, eventually becoming significant figures in ministry.

...and Lucius of Cyrene... How did Lucius get saved? I suggest Simon the Cross-bearer went back to Cyrene, talked to his buddy Lucius, and together they started walking with the Lord, eventually becoming significant figures in ministry.

Application:

Simon Niger and Lucius of Cyrene and Saul of Tarsus. Related or not, former acquaintances or not, look at them: saved in different places and at different times, brought by different routes to Antioch and there linked together in the common cause of Christ. It is a picture of the sovereignty of the Lord.

II. Diligent Worshippers

...and Manaen, which had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch.... Manaen was a foster-brother of Herod Antipas—the Herod who cut off John the Baptist's head. Talk about the grace and sovereignty of God! Manaen grew up in Herod's vile, polluted family—yet the Lord rescued him and saved him for ministry.

Manaen show us of the salvation of the Lord in the church. ...and Manaen, which had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch.... Manaen was a foster-brother of Herod Antipas—the Herod who cut off John the Baptist's head. Talk about the grace and sovereignty of God! Manaen grew up in Herod's vile, polluted family—yet the Lord rescued him and saved him for ministry. Application:

As boys, Antipas and Manaen went to school together, played together, studied together, laughed together, wrestled together. Manaen became a believer, Herod became a beast; Manaen became a minister, Herod became a murderer; Manaen found salvation in the arms of Jesus, Herod found shame in the arms of Herodias, a woman who provoked him on to ruin. Look at Manaen. Look at what he was saved from and look at what he was saved for.

...and Saul. We'll see Saul's name change later in this chapter. The word "Saul" means "requested one"—even as King Saul was requested by the people (). What does "Paul" mean? "Little." You see, something happened in Paul's life when he was converted to Christ. No longer did he identify himself as Saul, the "requested one," the "an in demand." No, he said, "Call me little." In the early part of his ministry, Paul said, "I am the least of the apostles" (see ). In the middle of his ministry, he said, "I am less than the least of all saints" (see ). At the end of his life, he said, "I am the chief of sinners" (see ). I find it interesting that the longer Paul walked with the Lord, the more he realized how far he was from Him. That's always the way it is. The Pharisee, praying on the street corner said, "God, I thank thee, I am not as other men," while the true convert beat his breast and said, "God be merciful to me a sinner" ( ).

II. Diligent Worshippers

Saul show us of the service of the Lord in the church. ...and Saul.

We'll see Saul's name change later in this chapter. The word "Saul" means "requested one"—even as King Saul was requested by the people (). What does "Paul" mean? "Little." You see, something happened in Paul's life when he was converted to Christ. No longer did he identify himself as Saul, the "requested one," the "an in demand." No, he said, "Call me little." In the early part of his ministry, Paul said, "I am the least of the apostles" (see ). In the middle of his ministry, he said, "I am less than the least of all saints" (see ). At the end of his life, he said, "I am the chief of sinners" (see ). I find it interesting that the longer Paul walked with the Lord, the more he realized how far he was from Him. That's always the way it is. The Pharisee, praying on the street corner said, "God, I thank thee, I am not as other men," while the true convert beat his breast and said, "God be merciful to me a sinner" ( ).

Application:

He was a man with all the gifts—apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor, and teacher. And every one of his talents was at the service of the Lord Jesus. He dedicated to Christ, too, his great intellectual powers, his tireless energy, his world vision, and his roots in the three worlds of his day—Jewish, Roman, and Greek. No one will ever count how many people he personally led to Christ, how many churches he planted, how many unhappy homes he saved, how many millions upon millions of people have been saved down through the ages because of his writings. But he said I’m little and the least.

II. Diligent Worshippers

He said I’m just a nobody trying to tell everybody about somebody who can save anybody. II. Diligent Worshippers

As they were ministering to the Lord......

As they were ministering to the Lord

Luke doesn't say they ministered for the Lord. He says they ministered to the Lord. Lots of people desire to minister for the Lord, but there are few who desire to minister to the Lord. The most important ministry is not ministering for Him, but ministering to Him in worship and praise, in prayer and adoration. We are so busy ministering for Christ that we have little time in which to see His face. Remember, God is more concerned with our nearness to Him than with anything accomplished for Him.

Luke doesn't say they ministered for the Lord. He says they ministered to the Lord. Lots of people desire to minister for the Lord, but there are few who desire to minister to the Lord. The most important ministry is not ministering for Him, but ministering to Him in worship and praise, in prayer and adoration.

III. Devoted Warriors

..... and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, .....

and fasting, the Holy Spirit said,

"Fasting" means going without food for a specified period of time in order to focus on the Lord. People who are fasting can set aside the time of preparing and eating meals and use it to worship and pray. Also, their hunger pangs will remind them of their complete dependence upon God.

They Prayed:

Praise/Thanksgiving for such a message to proclaim, for the eternal God, for grace, for love, for life, for a Savior who died to pay the penalty of sin, for His rising from the dead, and for God’s sufficiency whatever predicament arises during the venture.

Confession should any sense selfish motives. One such motive would be to retain the choice men so as to enjoy their ministry here. The same is true of any other attitude that can cut against what is God’s will.

The believers in John Mark's house prayed for Peter when he was in prison, and the Lord delivered him both from prison and from death (). The church at Antioch fasted and prayed before sending out Barnabas and Paul (; and note 14:23). It was at a prayer meeting in Philippi that God opened Lydia's heart (), and another prayer meeting in Philippi opened the prison doors (). Paul prayed for his friends before leaving them (; ). In the midst of a storm, he prayed for God's blessing (), and after a storm, he prayed that God would heal a sick man (). In almost every chapter in Acts you find a reference to prayer, and the book makes it very clear that something happens when God's people pray. This is certainly a good lesson for the church today. Prayer is both the thermometer and the thermostat of the local church; for the "spiritual temperature" either goes up or down, depending on how God's people pray. In the Book of Acts, you see prayer accomplishing all of these things.

Petition for wisdom, strength and endurance.

The believers in John Mark's house prayed for Peter when he was in prison, and the Lord delivered him both from prison and from death (). The church at Antioch fasted and prayed before sending out Barnabas and Paul (; and note 14:23). It was at a prayer meeting in Philippi that God opened Lydia's heart (), and another prayer meeting in Philippi opened the prison doors (). Paul prayed for his friends before leaving them (; ). In the midst of a storm, he prayed for God's blessing (), and after a storm, he prayed that God would heal a sick man (). In almost every chapter in Acts you find a reference to prayer, and the book makes it very clear that something happens when God's people pray. This is certainly a good lesson for the church today. Prayer is both the thermometer and the thermostat of the local church; for the "spiritual temperature" either goes up or down, depending on how God's people pray. In the Book of Acts, you see prayer accomplishing all of these things.

Intercession praying on behalf of someone else. This is for every need men and women will face when they are thrust out, and in the total effort after that. Pleadings could call on God to supply courage, to nourish faith that expects great things of Him, for health, traveling safety, protection from evil people, various provisions, open doors of witness, and wisdom to be effective in different cultures. Intercession could summon the Lord’s power for speaking, for counseling, for coping with questions, for gracious responses to hateful opposition, and for supplies to sustain through particular needs.

The believers in John Mark's house prayed for Peter when he was in prison, and the Lord delivered him both from prison and from death (). The church at Antioch fasted and prayed before sending out Barnabas and Paul (; and note 14:23). It was at a prayer meeting in Philippi that God opened Lydia's heart (), and another prayer meeting in Philippi opened the prison doors (). Paul prayed for his friends before leaving them (; ). In the midst of a storm, he prayed for God's blessing (), and after a storm, he prayed that God would heal a sick man (). In almost every chapter in Acts you find a reference to prayer, and the book makes it very clear that something happens when God's people pray. This is certainly a good lesson for the church today. Prayer is both the thermometer and the thermostat of the local church; for the "spiritual temperature" either goes up or down, depending on how God's people pray. In the Book of Acts, you see prayer accomplishing all of these things.

Application:

Reading of to observe what the missionaries come to face is an eye-opener to how the church need to pray.

Reading of to observe what the missionaries come to face is an eye-opener to how

IV. Directed Work

......the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for Me Barnabas and Saul for the work I have called them to.” 3 Then after they had fasted, prayed, and laid hands on them, they sent them off.

the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for Me Barnabas and Saul for the work I have called them to.” 3 Then after they had fasted, prayed, and laid hands on them, they sent them off.

the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for Me Barnabas and Saul for the work I have called them to.” 3 Then after they had fasted, prayed, and laid hands on them, they sent them off.

The Holy Spirit’s commission—“Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them” (v. 2)—came while they worshiped God (v. 2—“While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said…”).

The Holy Spirit’s commission—“Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them” (v. 2)—came while they worshiped God (v. 2—“While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said…”).

What is significant to notice here is that the choosing of Saul and Barnabas is not due to the church’s careful planning and strategizing. The Holy Spirit directly leads the church to send these two men out on an important mission. The context for receiving this special guidance of the Spirit is the community’s gathering for worship. The fact that they are also fasting may imply that they are earnestly seeking the Lord’s guidance.

Jon Courson, Jon Courson's Application Commentary – Jon Courson's Application Commentary New Testament, (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2004), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, 717.
Bruce B. Barton et al., Life Application Bible Commentary – Acts, (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale, 1999), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, Under: "".
Ivor Powell, Ivor Powell Commentaries – Amazing Acts, (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel, 1987), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, 214.
John Phillips, The John Phillips Commentary Series – Exploring Acts: An Expository Commentary, (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 1986), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, 244.
Clinton E. Arnold, ed., Zondervan Illustrated Bible Backgrounds Commentary on the New Testament – John, Acts, (USA: Zondervan, 2002), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, 333.
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