New International Reader's Version

Acts 13

13 In the church at Antioch there were prophets and teachers. Among them were Barnabas, Simeon, and Lucius from Cyrene. Simeon was also called Niger. Another was Manaen. He had been brought up with Herod, the ruler of Galilee. Saul was among them too. While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit spoke. “Set apart Barnabas and Saul for me,” he said. “I have appointed them to do special work.” The prophets and teachers fasted and prayed. They placed their hands on Barnabas and Saul. Then they sent them off.

Events on Cyprus

Barnabas and Saul were sent on their way by the Holy Spirit. They went down to Seleucia. From there they sailed to Cyprus. They arrived at Salamis. There they preached God’s word in the Jewish synagogues. John was with them as their helper.

They traveled all across the island until they came to Paphos. There they met a Jew named Bar-Jesus. He was an evil magician and a false prophet. He was an attendant of Sergius Paulus, the governor. Paulus was a man of understanding. He sent for Barnabas and Saul. He wanted to hear God’s word. But the evil magician named Elymas opposed them. The name Elymas means Magician. He tried to keep the governor from becoming a believer. Saul was also known as Paul. He was filled with the Holy Spirit. He looked straight at Elymas. He said to him, 10 “You are a child of the devil! You are an enemy of everything that is right! You cheat people. You use all kinds of tricks. Won’t you ever stop twisting the right ways of the Lord? 11 Now the Lord’s hand is against you. You are going to go blind. For a while you won’t even be able to see the light of the sun.”

Right away mist and darkness came over him. He tried to feel his way around. He wanted to find someone to lead him by the hand. 12 When the governor saw what had happened, he believed. He was amazed at what Paul was teaching about the Lord.

Paul Preaches in Pisidian Antioch

13 From Paphos, Paul and his companions sailed to Perga in Pamphylia. There John Mark left them and returned to Jerusalem. 14 From Perga they went on to Pisidian Antioch. On the Sabbath day they entered the synagogue and sat down. 15 The Law and the Prophets were read aloud. Then the leaders of the synagogue sent word to Paul and his companions. They said, “Brothers, do you have any words of instruction for the people? If you do, please speak.”

16 Paul stood up and motioned with his hand. Then he said, “Fellow Israelites, and you Gentiles who worship God, listen to me! 17 The God of Israel chose our people who lived long ago. He blessed them greatly while they were in Egypt. With his mighty power he led them out of that country. 18 He put up with their behavior for about 40 years in the desert. 19 And he destroyed seven nations in Canaan. Then he gave the land to his people as their rightful share. 20 All this took about 450 years.

“After this, God gave them judges until the time of Samuel the prophet. 21 Then the people asked for a king. He gave them Saul, son of Kish. Saul was from the tribe of Benjamin. He ruled for 40 years. 22 God removed him and made David their king. Here is God’s witness about him. ‘David, son of Jesse, is a man dear to my heart,’ he said. ‘David will do everything I want him to do.’

23 “From this man’s family line God has brought to Israel the Savior Jesus. This is what he had promised. 24 Before Jesus came, John preached that we should turn away from our sins and be baptized. He preached this to all Israel. 25 John was coming to the end of his work. ‘Who do you suppose I am?’ he said. ‘I am not the one you are looking for. But there is someone coming after me. I am not good enough to untie his sandals.’

26 “Listen, fellow children of Abraham! Listen, you Gentiles who worship God! This message of salvation has been sent to us. 27 The people of Jerusalem and their rulers did not recognize Jesus. By finding him guilty, they made the prophets’ words come true. These are read every Sabbath day. 28 The people and their rulers had no reason at all for sentencing Jesus to death. But they asked Pilate to have him killed. 29 They did everything that had been written about Jesus. Then they took him down from the cross. They laid him in a tomb. 30 But God raised him from the dead. 31 For many days he was seen by those who had traveled with him from Galilee to Jerusalem. Now they are telling our people about Jesus.

32 “We are telling you the good news. What God promised our people long ago 33 he has done for us, their children. He has raised up Jesus. This is what is written in the second Psalm. It says,

“ ‘You are my son.
    Today I have become your father.’ (Psalm 2:7)

34 God raised Jesus from the dead. He will never rot in the grave. As God has said,

“ ‘Holy and sure blessings were promised to David.
    I will give them to you.’ (Isaiah 55:3)

35 In another place it also says,

“ ‘You will not let your holy one rot away.’ (Psalm 16:10)

36 “David carried out God’s purpose while he lived. Then he died. He was buried with his people. His body rotted away. 37 But the one whom God raised from the dead did not rot away.

38 “My friends, here is what I want you to know. I announce to you that your sins can be forgiven because of what Jesus has done. 39 Through him everyone who believes is set free from every sin. Moses’ law could not make you right in God’s eyes. 40 Be careful! Don’t let what the prophets spoke about happen to you. They said,

41 “ ‘Look, you who make fun of the truth!
    Wonder and die!
I am going to do something in your days
    that you would never believe.
    You wouldn’t believe it even if someone told you.’ ” (Habakkuk 1:5)

42 Paul and Barnabas started to leave the synagogue. The people invited them to say more about these things on the next Sabbath day. 43 The people were told they could leave the service. Many Jews followed Paul and Barnabas. Many Gentiles who faithfully worshiped the God of the Jews did the same. Paul and Barnabas talked with them. They tried to get them to keep living in God’s grace.

44 On the next Sabbath day, almost the whole city gathered. They gathered to hear the word of the Lord. 45 When the Jews saw the crowds, they became very jealous. They began to disagree with what Paul was saying. They said evil things against him.

46 Then Paul and Barnabas answered them boldly. “We had to speak God’s word to you first,” they said. “But you don’t accept it. You don’t think you are good enough for eternal life. So now we are turning to the Gentiles. 47 This is what the Lord has commanded us to do. He said,

“ ‘I have made you a light for the Gentiles.
    You will bring salvation to the whole earth.’ ” (Isaiah 49:6)

48 When the Gentiles heard this, they were glad. They honored the word of the Lord. All who were appointed for eternal life believed.

49 The word of the Lord spread through the whole area. 50 But the Jewish leaders stirred up the important women who worshiped God. They also stirred up the men who were leaders in the city. The Jewish leaders tried to get the women and men to attack Paul and Barnabas. They threw Paul and Barnabas out of that area. 51 Paul and Barnabas shook the dust off their feet. This was a warning to the people who had opposed them. Then Paul and Barnabas went on to Iconium. 52 The believers were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.

The Message

Acts 13

Barnabas, Saul, and Doctor Know-It-All

11-2 The congregation in Antioch was blessed with a number of prophet-preachers and teachers:

Barnabas,
Simon, nicknamed Niger,
Lucius the Cyrenian,
Manaen, an advisor to the ruler Herod,
Saul.

One day as they were worshiping God—they were also fasting as they waited for guidance—the Holy Spirit spoke: “Take Barnabas and Saul and commission them for the work I have called them to do.”

So they commissioned them. In that circle of intensity and obedience, of fasting and praying, they laid hands on their heads and sent them off.

4-5 Sent off on their new assignment by the Holy Spirit, Barnabas and Saul went down to Seleucia and caught a ship for Cyprus. The first thing they did when they put in at Salamis was preach God’s Word in the Jewish meeting places. They had John along to help out as needed.

6-7 They traveled the length of the island, and at Paphos came upon a Jewish wizard who had worked himself into the confidence of the governor, Sergius Paulus, an intelligent man not easily taken in by charlatans. The wizard’s name was Bar-Jesus. He was as crooked as a corkscrew.

7-11 The governor invited Barnabas and Saul in, wanting to hear God’s Word firsthand from them. But Dr. Know-It-All (that’s the wizard’s name in plain English) stirred up a ruckus, trying to divert the governor from becoming a believer. But Saul (or Paul), full of the Holy Spirit and looking him straight in the eye, said, “You bag of wind, you parody of a devil—why, you stay up nights inventing schemes to cheat people out of God. But now you’ve come up against God himself, and your game is up. You’re about to go blind—no sunlight for you for a good long stretch.” He was plunged immediately into a shadowy mist and stumbled around, begging people to take his hand and show him the way.

12 When the governor saw what happened, he became a believer, full of enthusiasm over what they were saying about the Master.

Don’t Take This Lightly

13-14 From Paphos, Paul and company put out to sea, sailing on to Perga in Pamphylia. That’s where John called it quits and went back to Jerusalem. From Perga the rest of them traveled on to Antioch in Pisidia.

14-15 On the Sabbath they went to the meeting place and took their places. After the reading of the Scriptures—God’s Law and the Prophets—the president of the meeting asked them, “Friends, do you have anything you want to say? A word of encouragement, perhaps?”

16-20 Paul stood up, paused and took a deep breath, then said, “Fellow Israelites and friends of God, listen. God took a special interest in our ancestors, pulled our people who were beaten down in Egyptian exile to their feet, and led them out of there in grand style. He took good care of them for nearly forty years in that godforsaken wilderness and then, having wiped out seven enemies who stood in the way, gave them the land of Canaan for their very own—a span in all of about 450 years.

20-22 “Up to the time of Samuel the prophet, God provided judges to lead them. But then they asked for a king, and God gave them Saul, son of Kish, out of the tribe of Benjamin. After Saul had ruled forty years, God removed him from office and put King David in his place, with this commendation: ‘I’ve searched the land and found this David, son of Jesse. He’s a man whose heart beats to my heart, a man who will do what I tell him.’

23-25 “From out of David’s descendants God produced a Savior for Israel, Jesus, exactly as he promised—but only after John had thoroughly alerted the people to his arrival by preparing them for a total life-change. As John was finishing up his work, he said, ‘Did you think I was the One? No, I’m not the One. But the One you’ve been waiting for all these years is just around the corner, about to appear. And I’m about to disappear.’

26-29 “Dear brothers and sisters, children of Abraham, and friends of God, this message of salvation has been precisely targeted to you. The citizens and rulers in Jerusalem didn’t recognize who he was and condemned him to death. They couldn’t find a good reason, but demanded that Pilate execute him anyway. They did just what the prophets said they would do, but had no idea they were following to the letter the script of the prophets, even though those same prophets are read every Sabbath in their meeting places.

29-31 “After they had done everything the prophets said they would do, they took him down from the cross and buried him. And then God raised him from death. There is no disputing that—he appeared over and over again many times and places to those who had known him well in the Galilean years, and these same people continue to give witness that he is alive.

32-35 “And we’re here today bringing you good news: the Message that what God promised the fathers has come true for the children—for us! He raised Jesus, exactly as described in the second Psalm:

My Son! My very own Son!
Today I celebrate you!

“When he raised him from the dead, he did it for good—no going back to that rot and decay for him. That’s why Isaiah said, ‘I’ll give to all of you David’s guaranteed blessings.’ So also the psalmist’s prayer: ‘You’ll never let your Holy One see death’s rot and decay.’

36-39 “David, of course, having completed the work God set out for him, has been in the grave, dust and ashes, a long time now. But the One God raised up—no dust and ashes for him! I want you to know, my very dear friends, that it is on account of this resurrected Jesus that the forgiveness of your sins can be promised. He accomplishes, in those who believe, everything that the Law of Moses could never make good on. But everyone who believes in this raised-up Jesus is declared good and right and whole before God.

40-41 “Don’t take this lightly. You don’t want the prophet’s sermon to describe you:

Watch out, cynics;
Look hard—watch your world fall to pieces.
I’m doing something right before your eyes
That you won’t believe, though it’s staring you in the face.”

42-43 When the service was over, Paul and Barnabas were invited back to preach again the next Sabbath. As the meeting broke up, a good many Jews and converts to Judaism went along with Paul and Barnabas, who urged them in long conversations to stick with what they’d started, this living in and by God’s grace.

44-45 When the next Sabbath came around, practically the whole city showed up to hear the Word of God. Some of the Jews, seeing the crowds, went wild with jealousy and tore into Paul, contradicting everything he was saying, making an ugly scene.

46-47 But Paul and Barnabas didn’t back down. Standing their ground they said, “It was required that God’s Word be spoken first of all to you, the Jews. But seeing that you want no part of it—you’ve made it quite clear that you have no taste or inclination for eternal life—the door is open to all the outsiders. And we’re on our way through it, following orders, doing what God commanded when he said,

I’ve set you up
    as light to all nations.
You’ll proclaim salvation
    to the four winds and seven seas!”

48-49 When the non-Jewish outsiders heard this, they could hardly believe their good fortune. All who were marked out for real life put their trust in God—they honored God’s Word by receiving that life. And this Message of salvation spread like wildfire all through the region.

50-52 Some of the Jews convinced the most respected women and leading men of the town that their precious way of life was about to be destroyed. Alarmed, they turned on Paul and Barnabas and forced them to leave. Paul and Barnabas shrugged their shoulders and went on to the next town, Iconium, brimming with joy and the Holy Spirit, two happy disciples.