There are many ways to share the gospel. Some people use small booklets or pamphlets. Others memorize an outline and use questions as a discussion starter. Some people take a longer approach and develop a friendship that leads to spiritual conversations.
In today’s reading, we have a snapshot of how Saul (now called Paul) preached. The Holy Spirit directed the church at Antioch to set apart Paul and Barnabas “for the work to which I have called them” (v. 2). Luke doesn’t describe in detail how this call came, except to say that the Holy Spirit spoke to the church’s prophets and teachers while they were worshiping. John Mark, a cousin of Barnabas, also accompanied them as a servant or assistant (v. 5).
In Salamis, the chief town of Cyprus, they began by visiting the Jewish synagogues. In Paphos, the island’s official capital, they encountered a magician and false teacher named Bar-Jesus (perhaps meaning “son of Joshua”) or Elymas (which may have meant “wise” or “learned”). Elymas acted as a kind of court magician and seems to have felt threatened when the proconsul invited Paul and Barnabas to speak. When the magician argued against the gospel, Paul denounced him, saying that the Lord would make him temporarily blind.
A more detailed account of Paul’s message is in verses 13–41. Like Stephen in his message before the Sanhedrin in Acts 7, the apostle began with a short summary of Jewish history, tracing God’s dealing with the nation of Israel from the Exodus to Jesus.
>> Paul called his listeners to respond by placing their faith in Jesus: “Through him, everyone who believes is set free from every sin, a justification you were not able to obtain under the law of Moses” (v. 39). For an extra challenge today, try writing an outline of Paul’s message in your own words.
Father, help us submit to the transforming work of your Spirit. Show us how to overcome opposition and use every opportunity to spread the good news. May the apostle Paul’s zeal for the gospel serve as an inspiration to us today.