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Beyond Jerusalem and Antioch

November 13, 2023

Daily Scripture

Acts 13:1-4, 8-15, 26-39

1 The church at Antioch included prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon (nicknamed Niger), Lucius from Cyrene, Manaen (a childhood friend of Herod the ruler), and Saul. 2 As they were worshipping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Appoint Barnabas and Saul to the work I have called them to undertake.” 3 After they fasted and prayed, they laid their hands on these two and sent them off. 4 After the Holy Spirit sent them on their way, they went down to Seleucia. From there they sailed to Cyprus.

8 But Elymas the sorcerer [Or magician (Greek magos)] (for that’s what people understood his name meant) opposed them, trying to steer the governor away from the faith. 9 Empowered by the Holy Spirit, Saul, also known as Paul, glared at Bar-Jesus and 10 said, “You are a deceiver and trickster! You devil! You attack anything that is right! Will you never stop twisting the straight ways of the Lord into crooked paths? 11 Listen! The Lord’s power is set against you. You will be blind for a while, unable even to see the daylight.” At once, Bar-Jesus’ eyes were darkened, and he began to grope about for someone to lead him around by the hand. 12 When the governor saw what had taken place, he came to believe, for he was astonished by the teaching about the Lord.
13 Paul and his companions sailed from Paphos to Perga in Pamphylia. John deserted them there and returned to Jerusalem. 14 They went on from Perga and arrived at Antioch in Pisidia. On the Sabbath, they entered and found seats in the synagogue there. 15 After the reading of the Law and the Prophets, the synagogue leaders invited them, “Brothers, if one of you has a sermon for the people, please speak.”

26 “Brothers, children of Abraham’s family, and you Gentile God-worshippers, the message about this salvation has been sent to us. 27 The people in Jerusalem and their leaders didn’t recognize Jesus. By condemning him they fulfilled the words of the prophets that are read every Sabbath. 28 Even though they didn’t find a single legal basis for the death penalty, they asked Pilate to have him executed. 29 When they finished doing everything that had been written about him, they took him down from the cross and laid him in a tomb. 30 But God raised him from the dead! 31 He appeared over many days to those who had traveled with him from Galilee to Jerusalem. They are now his witnesses to the people.
32 “We proclaim to you the good news. What God promised to our ancestors, 33 he has fulfilled for us, their children, by raising up Jesus. As it was written in the second psalm, You are my son; today I have become your father [Psalm 2:7].
34 “God raised Jesus from the dead, never again to be subjected to death’s decay. Therefore, God said, I will give to you the holy and firm promises I made to David [Isaiah 55:3]. 35 In another place it is said, You will not let your holy one experience death’s decay [Psalm 16:10]. 36 David served God’s purpose in his own generation, then he died and was buried with his ancestors. He experienced death’s decay, 37 but the one whom God has raised up didn’t experience death’s decay.
38 “Therefore, brothers and sisters, know this: Through Jesus we proclaim forgiveness of sins to you. From all those sins from which you couldn’t be put in right relationship with God through Moses’ Law, 39 through Jesus everyone who believes is put in right relationship with God.

Daily Reflection & Prayer

Before leaving earth, Jesus laid out a vision of an ever-expanding global mission (cf. Acts 1:7-8). Antioch, in ancient Syria, was a large city, with a growing, important community of Christians. But Antioch couldn’t be a stopping point; it needed to be a launching pad. So, the Holy Spirit moved that church to send Paul and Barnabas out into the wider world. They began in the area then known as Asia Minor (mostly modern Turkey). Acts 13 reported Paul’s message, which won many believers.

  • Paul told Jews and Gentiles that he preached new life and forgiveness “from all those sins from which you couldn’t be put in right relationship with God through Moses’ Law.” Some early Christians wanted to say besides having faith in Christ people still needed to keep Moses’ Law. Have you ever heard the idea that salvation takes “faith plus something” (or thought it)? What made Paul’s message especially vital as the faith spread outside the culture where it began?
  • Paul surely knew Abraham’s story, in which God said, “Leave your land, your family, and your father’s household for the land that I will show you” (Genesis 12:1). It didn’t seem to bother him when the Holy Spirit told the Antioch church to appoint him and Barnabas “to the work I have called them to undertake” without filling in any details. How well are you able to trust and follow God’s call even when God does not lay out all of the details in advance for you?

Lord God, keep always fresh in my mind the truth that “through Jesus everyone who believes is put in right relationship with God.” I want to live a holy life, not to earn a place in your kingdom, but in gratitude that you’ve already welcomed me in. Amen.

GPS Insights

Picture of Katy Nall

Katy Nall

Katy Nall is the Program Director of Missions for Resurrection West. She is a mom of two and loves to be outside in the sunshine, especially if it involves mountains or ocean. She loves hiking, reading, learning, and connecting.

It is easy to get comfortable in church. I love Church of the Resurrection. I love seeing people I know every Sunday, I love the sense of community from thought provoking classes and intentional small groups. I love singing my heart out with my people to our God every Sunday morning. The feeling of belonging is just so cozy! 

It’s really easy to come to church on Sunday, wave hello to my BBM friend, chat with the volunteer teacher in my kid’s Sunday School class, stop and share a word with my location pastor on the way out the door. But is that where we stop? No! God is always calling us onward! Resurrection is not meant to be our stopping point–it is meant to be a launching pad, just like Antioch was for Barnabas and Paul. What happens inside the walls of the church is meant to prepare us to take our faith, our friendliness, and our coziness OUTSIDE these walls and share it!

When we stay in our comfort zone, it is like putting a dolphin in a fishbowl or an eagle in a netted enclosure. We are called to soar and to take all our gifts and love outside the church to everyone we encounter. Even though the ocean might be rough, or the sky vast and daunting, the adventure God is calling us to is better than the nicest fishbowl or safest enclosure. Let’s get out there and connect with and serve everyone we can! Let’s tell people out there about the love and grace we have found! Soar the skies and jump the waves, and then come back to Resurrection and share the love you find there with your church.

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Scripture quotations are taken from The Common English Bible ©2011. Used by permission. All rights reserved.