Antioch was an Apostolic Center, meaning a sending base, unlike most churches which primarily focused on reaching their own people group. As established in Acts 11 the church of Antioch was rich in culture and gifts. Here in Acts 13, we see the five-fold offices of Prophet and Teacher.
One of them being Simeon who is described as black, why weren't the skin of the others highlighted? It was rare in the culture of the time to see a black person working alongside white people, this was brought forth so that we can see that in the Kingdom of God there is no respecter of persons, we are all one in Christ Jesus, and equal in value.
It also highlighted Manaen, a close friend of Herod the tetrarch. A friend of a ruler was most likely wealthy and a person of high influence. This reveals that in the Kingdom there is no divide amongst the class. Rich and poor are all alike and equally empowered by the Holy Spirit to do God's work.
It also named Barnabus and Saul known as Apostles but yet doing the work of Prophets and Teachers. Apostles have the grace to step into whatever office is needed at the time until others have been established and then they can move forward in apostolic initiatives.
In verse 2-3 it says "that as they ministered to the Lord and fasted, the Holy Spirit said set Barnabus and Saul apart for the work I have called them to." Then the leaders laid hands on them and sent them off.
Ministers can get so caught up in helping others that they forget their number one purpose is to minister to God. We were created for fellowship with our creator above all and all ministry should come as the result of the overflow of our relationship with Him. The purpose of fasting is not to get God to do something for us, no, it is so we can become more one with Him in the Spirit. Until we are delivered from our earthly bodies their will always be a struggle with our flesh. Fasting kills the flesh, it helps us live a more Spirit-filled life. Fasting clears up our thought life so we can hear more clearly and receive divine direction. For Christian leaders to lead well they need to be led by God, fasting must be a regular discipline if a church is going to be moving in the timing of the Lord.
Some people go out but they just went because they weren't sent. There are occasions though when people don't have a support team of leaders who fast, pray and hear from God and the Lord sends them anyway. Ideally, it is best to receive confirmation from the leadership of your church before going out. The support of the body of Christ is so important regarding successful missionary activity. If the Holy Spirit is not leading us our good missional intentions can turn into utter chaos.
The key to praying effectively is heaven down approach rather than heaven up. God, the Father directing us what to pray rather than us telling Him what we think He should do. The disciples recognized that the source behind Jesus walking in authority was His prayer life and so they asked Him how to pray? In the Lord's prayer, it says "thy kingdom come, they will be done, here on earth, as it is in heaven." We first must believe that we can hear from God, secondly if we are struggling to hear we got to ask why? The possible reasons for hindrances in prayer are unforgiveness, unconfessed sins, wrong motives, and biblical illiteracy. If we remove these hindrances we are ready to step into becoming prayer warriors.
Another way of understanding effective prayer is through baseball. God the Father is the pitcher, the ball is prayer, we are the batters. It is like a Father teaching their child how to hit the ball, they pitch it so it is easy not to miss. As long as we are willing to listen, God will speak, and He will show us what is on His heart. Vision is the key to hitting the ball and the same as praying the will of God. We often pray according to whatever comes to our mind, but that can be misleading, we have spiritual senses, and sight is given so we can receive pictures and divine knowledge so we can pray the perfect will of God. Jesus said He only did what He saw the Father doing. Seeing is the key to hearing and then being sent with His authority to do. A baseball player doesn't hit the ball and stares and watch, they run, prayer without faith which is a verb meaning action goes nowhere. Prayer allows us to see the unseen, Faith manifests it into being.
A ball can be hit in many different directions, foul balls, infield, outfield, and home runs. In this spiritual analogy, foul balls are prayers sent to those within the boundaries of our own home, church family. Infield represent prayers sent to our work, school, community (Jerusalem), the outfield is our region (Judea, Samaria), and home runs are the world (uttermost parts). We are all sent somewhere, prayer opens the way, and faith establishes it. We may not all be sent out like Paul to other nations but as long as we are saved out of darkness, we have been sent into the world wherever we may be.
Paul, Barnabas, and their assistant John Mark were sent out by the Holy Spirit on their first mission trip. While in Paphos they met a Jewish sorcerer, a false prophet named Bar-Jesus who was closely connected to the governor who upon hearing about them invited them to come and share the word of God. The sorcerer interfered trying to prevent the governor from hearing the Truth.
When we are sent out by the Holy Spirit we have the delegated authority to face whatever opposition we experience with the power of God. Prayer with fasting is what the Father uses to help prepare us for high-level spiritual warfare. We are sent out to take ground and the enemy is not just going to leave without a fight so we should not be surprised when all hell breaks loose.
The key to being a great athlete is one's level of dedication in training. We are not saved by works but for us to grow in spiritual authority we need to learn obedience. 1 Corinthians 9:24-27 describe the strict training necessary to discipline our flesh. If we are going to be agents of change like Paul and Barnabus we need to make ourselves ready, and as we do, we will receive missions from the Lord.
Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, stared straight at the sorcerer and put him in his place speaking judgment over him that he would be struck with blindness.
When we are filled with the Holy Spirit we are no longer speaking in our own authority but that of the Father. Words that would be seriously offensive and cause a major uproar silence the enemy because the King of kings is the one speaking. When the lion of Judah roars every creature must bow. There is nobody that can stand against the word of the Lord!
Through Paul's obedience and not backing down to the witchcraft around him, a man of great influence the Proconsul came to believe, being astonished at the teaching about the Lord. Now the Kingdom of God would have the opportunity to affect the government in this land.
In verse 13 it says Paul and his companions set sail but John, however, left them. Paul we find out later was upset with John Mark and didn't want him to travel with them and it caused a dispute between Barnabus and himself. It doesn't give John's reason but from the previous scriptures, it would seem he was not ready for this level of spiritual warfare or that maybe since he was an original disciple he expected to be in charge, not Paul who was just starting out.
Holy Spirit is all about harmony between leaders but sometimes one or both individuals have disagreements, we must try to reconcile, but yet, be ready to move on if it can't be found.
Paul and Barnabus searched for towns that had synagogues to pass on the good news. They did this knowing that the message would be easier to understand by those who had a biblical background. What it would take was convincing them that Jesus Christ was their promised Messiah, revealed through scripture. The God-fearers were most open, for they had not been allowed to fully convert unless they completely abandoned their culture. These are those who Paul used to establish as leaders in each community where he planted a church as it spread further to the Gentiles.
We cannot expect to be effective missionaries if we don't seek Holy Spirit for strategy before we are sent into new territories. Some people like to figure things out as situations arise but the wise pray and seek wisdom before stepping into new ground.
In a different city called Antioch in the area Pisidia, Paul preached a sermon that was well received, and he was asked to preach the following Sabbath. Many Jews and proselytes began to follow and the next week nearly the whole town showed up. This enraged the Jewish leaders and out of jealousy they spread lies about Paul and Barnabus amongst the Jews, and so they now focused on the Gentiles which received the message with joy. The Jews stirred up persecution and they were forced out of that region but the message continued to spread.
There will be times that our mission seems to fall short but as long as we know we did everything we can, we can trust the Lord will build on it. His word never comes back void it will accomplish what it was sent to perform. What man may think is a failure time will prove it a success.