Monday, May 22 – Acts 13:1-2
Now there were prophets and teachers at Antioch, in the church that was there: Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. While they were serving the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set Barnabas and Saul apart for Me for the work to which I have called them.”
In terms of church life in the earliest days of Christianity, the church at Antioch served as the example. It was the place where believers were first called “Christians” (Acts 11:26); its leadership included incredibly gifted prophets and teachers; and it was a mission-minded, sending congregation.
Of course, every church has its challenges. Antioch was certainly no different—a fact we can easily understand as we read Acts 13:2. While this vibrant church served and fasted, God’s Spirit told them to set apart two of their strongest leaders for mission work. Barnabas and Saul would leave their ministry at Antioch to go spread the gospel elsewhere.
Acts gives us few details of the days that followed this disruption in the leadership structure of the church at Antioch. No matter what worries or hesitations the congregation may have had, Scripture only tells us that they followed the leadership of the Spirit.
As Antioch served as an example for churches in its day, it continues to serve as an example for us today. As we serve the Lord locally, we are to seek the Spirit’s calling and leadership in other places. We are not called to accumulate spiritual leaders for ourselves; we are called to prayerfully set leaders apart for global, gospel missions.
- How was the church at Antioch able to discern the Spirit’s calling of Barnabas and Saul?
- The Spirit had set apart Barnabas and Saul. The two men had likely already received that call. Why, then, do you think the Spirit also told the church to set the two men apart?
- Thank God for His call to go and spread the gospel to all the nations. Invite Him to lead you in joining Him in that calling, both as one He has called and as an advocate for other people as they hear His call.