Barnabas and Saul began their missionary journey having been sent by the church at Antioch under the leadership of the Holy Spirit. They first went to Cyprus which was the homeland of Barnabas.
Notice how they approach spreading the gospel. They have been called to take the gospel to the Gentiles. However, they first go to the Jewish synagogues. Also, they begin their effort in Barnabas’ place of origin. The principle here is to start with those people who are the most open to the gospel. Barnabas has friends and relatives in Cyprus. He has contacts. He knows people. It is natural to take the gospel to those people with whom we already have a relationship. The Jews already know who God is. They understand the scripture. They are more likely to understand and receive the gospel than the Gentiles. While Barnabas and Saul begin with the Jews, they then move to the Gentiles.
Another strategy that they use is to reach people of influence. They take the gospel to the governor. An obstacle in the way is the sorcerer. Saul shows the superiority of the power of God and the governor came to faith in Christ.
A transition occurs in the narrative at this point. Luke starts calling Saul by the name Paul. This is his Greek name. From now on, the mission is to take the gospel to the Greek culture. Also, there is a shift in leadership. Up to this point, Luke has always listed Barnabas first. From now on, he lists Paul first. It seems that Paul takes over as leader. To Barnabas’ credit, he seems to follow the leadership of the Holy Spirit rather than get his feelings hurt.
Blessings to you,
Article originally posted Sunday, January 11, 2009