Monday, April 23, 2012

Acts 13:4-8

Summary retelling of Acts 13:4-8

(I will be using the name Paul from here on out instead of Saul)

Paul and Barnabas set out from Antioch and came to the island of Cyprus.  They (and John Mark) immediately went into the synagogues and started to preach about Jesus Christ.  They went throughout the whole island, teaching anyone that could listen.  Eventually they came to the proconsul – a Roman position very much like a governor of a region – and his magician.  The magician, Elymas, opposes the teaching of Barnabas and Paul.

Thoughts for Today
First Thought:
Paul, Barnabas, and John Mark immediately go to the synagogues to start their missionary work.  On one hand, the choice to go to the synagogues might seem like taking the easy way out.  After all, if anyone is going to understand the Messiah, it is going to be someone coming from a Jewish mindset.  On the other hand, it is also true that sometimes the people who are the most difficult to change are the people who are the most similar.  Think about whether it is easier to talk about Christianity to a Jew or to a Buddhist.  To the Jew, there is potential for argument because of the many things that are so similar.  With the Buddhist, there is not “alternate interpretation” to argue over.  To the Buddhist, it is all brand new.  So while going to the Jews might seem like taking the easy road, it is also perhaps the most difficult road as well.

Do you think it is easier to get people to understand what you are saying about your faith if they are already religious or not religious at all?

Second Thought:
The trio of men go throughout the whole island.  They could have stopped at one place and made it their home, but they don’t.  They go everywhere.  They are very thorough.  They are driven by something bigger than themselves.

Why do you think these three were able to give up everything and devote themselves to the Gospel?

Third Thought:
Elymas is called a magician.  We need to stop and think about what the ancient mind typically thinks of when they talk of magic.  We’re not talking about the magic like Harry Potter.  That kind of magic was born out of the Dark ages, which were over 1,000 years after the Greeks and Persians developed their idea of magic.  To an ancient person, a magician was a person who could get someone to do something else.  Someone with a silver-tongue was a magician.  Someone who could speak and the whole crowd would genuinely listen was also a magician.  To the ancient mindset, a magician was more about control over the people around them rather than control over some elemental power.

How does this definition seem to fit better with the story of Elymas and his service to the proconsul Sergius Paulus?

Passage for Tomorrow: Acts 13:9-12
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