SAY WHAT? (What is the passage saying?)
- This chapter marks a turning point in the book of Acts. Peter was the primary focus of the first half of the book, but now Saul, also called Paul, is highlighted. Saul is called a prophet and a teacher. A prophet is someone who speaks what God says directly to them, and a teacher is someone who talks about God. Saul is both, which we will see in this chapter.
- We read that the believers in Antioch were fasting and praying. To fast is to intentionally abstain from food for a set period of time. Fasting is a way to grow closer to God. By giving up something our body needs to focus on prayer, worship, and Bible study, we become more in tune with God. This is what happened to the prophets and teachers. They were in tune with the Holy Spirit and could hear his direction on what they should do next.
- Saul was teaching and sharing Jesus to a man named Sergius when a sorcerer Elymas opposed him. Saul the prophet responded, filled with the Holy Spirit's guidance, to oppose the evil and strike the man blind. Immediately, Sergius was amazed and believed in the Lord.
- Paul then traveled to Pisidian Antioch. Preaching in the synagogue, Paul gives a history of God's relationship with the Jews from Egypt through the time of Jesus. He shares that there is forgiveness of sins through Jesus. The people were so impressed they invited him back the following Sabbath to continue teaching.
- The following week the entire city gathered to hear what Paul had to say. But, the Jews were jealous and plotted to persecute him and throw him out of town. So, he and Barnabas left telling them that if they did not want the good news, they would share it with the Gentiles instead.
- The forgiveness of sins comes through Jesus. When God gave the law through Moses, justification for sin was provided by the blood of animal sacrifices that were meant to cover a person's sin. This foreshadowed Jesus' sacrifice on the cross, which can cleanse a person from their sin. Through acceptance of Jesus' death on the cross, God can forgive us our sin. With forgiveness comes freedom from guilt and shame.
- We are to share the good news of Jesus with everyone. Paul mentions that God commanded them to be "a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth." What God began with the Jews was meant for each and every person on the planet. Jesus' sacrifice for sins was for everyone. Anyone, regardless of their race, is invited to receive the forgiveness of sins and a relationship with God by placing their faith and trust in Jesus.
- The followers of Jesus were fasting and praying when they needed to hear from God. Do you pray fervently like the apostles? Have you ever fasted? Prayer and fasting bring about transformation in our life. If you want to become closer to God, these are two biblical ways to shut out the world and focus on God.
- Who do you know that needs to hear the message of Jesus? Invite them to join you at Verve this Sunday.