5/9/16 Saul Preaches To A Roman Paulus and Becomes Paul

The church in Antioch is growing steadily and going strong under the leadership of Saul and Barnabas.  There are even some in the church who have been given gifts of teaching and prophecy by the Holy Spirit – besides Saul and Barnabas, there are Simeon (also called Niger), Lucius of Cyrene, and a man named Manean who had been a foster brother of Herod Antipas.  Manean’s grandfather had been an Essene prophet who had foretold that Herod the Great, Antipas’ father, would indeed be great.  This may in fact be the reason why he was called Herod the Great.  The king was grateful and took young Manean into his home, raising him as one of his own sons, in payment for the favorable prophecy.  Now a grown man, Manean has rejected the life that he was raised in and given his heart to Jesus.  As a group, these men have been fasting and praying to learn what God wants them to do next, now that the church in Antioch is thriving.  The Holy Spirit directs them to send Saul and Barnabas out do work that God is calling them to do, while the others stay in Antioch to lead the church.  The men who are remaining in Antioch fast and pray over Saul and Barnabas, laying their hands on the men’s heads and asking God to prepare their way for them on the journey.  Saul and Barnabas, accompanies once again by John Mark, go down to Seleucia, where they board a boat to sail to Cyprus.  When they arrive on the island, they go to the town of Salamis, a town with a large Jewish population, and begin to proclaim the message of Jesus’ gift of salvation from sin in all the synagogues in the area.  Together, they travel from Salamis on one end of the island to Paphos on the other end, teaching as they go.  When they get to Paphos, they encounter a strange community of Jews.  It is as if the people here have melded traditional Judaism with many other worldly religions.  Now they have a sorcerer as the head of their community and they are very proud to tell visitors that they have books filled with magic spells and charms that they claim has been passed down to them from the days of King Solomon.  Saul and Barnabas know that they will need to tread carefully here.  Not only is this strange Jewish community going to be hostile to the message of Jesus, but the Roman governor who is stationed here will also be wary of any disruption to the community.  They are surprised when they receive a message summoning them to go before the governor, a man named Sergius Paulus, who apparently wants to hear the Word of God.  The sorcerer of the town, a man called Bar-Jesus (son of Jesus) in Aramaic and Elymas (wise man) in Greek, feels threatened by these newcomers and tries to prevent them from speaking to the governor.  Saul and Barnabas do not let Elymas keep them away from their meeting with the governor, though Elymas insists on being present for the audience.  He is so disruptive, however, that the men are unable to present their message to Sergius Paulus.  After several tries, Saul suddenly feels the Holy Spirit leading him to intervene.  He stands straight and tall, looking right into Elymas’ eyes, and declares, “You are full of lies and falsehoods.  You are a son of Satan, and an enemy of all things good.  Will you ever stop trying to turn what God has meant for good into evil?  On your own, I believe that you never will!  Because you are trying to turn the living Light into darkness, God will now put you into darkness. You will be blind and unable to see the Light until you turn from you evil ways to embrace it!”  Saul is thinking about his own blindness and the effect that it had on him, hoping that the same will happen to this man.  At once, Elymas is struck blind by a dark mist falling on him, and reaches out for someone to help him.  Sergius Paulus, seeing this, and finally getting the opportunity to hear the whole message Saul and Barnabas have come to give him, immediately believes and accepts Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross to pay for his sins.  This is the first time that Saul has preached Jesus’ message to a Gentile, and the first Gentile to be saved from his sins through Saul’s preaching.  Hereafter, he decides to change his name to Paul, which means “small” in Greek, because he is so humbled by all the experiences he has had since his transformation on the road to Damascus.

 

Acts 13:1-12, https://www.lds.org/bc/content/shared/content/images/gospel-library/manual/10734/map-acts_1219535_inl.jpg

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