13 Now Paul and his companions set sail from Paphos and came to Perga in Pamphylia. And John left them and returned to Jerusalem, 14 but they went on from Perga and came to Antioch in Pisidia. And on the Sabbath day they went into the synagogue and sat down. 15 After the reading from the Law and the Prophets, the rulers of the synagogue sent a message to them, saying, “Brothers, if you have any word of encouragement for the people, say it.” 16 So Paul stood up, and motioning with his hand said:
“Men of Israel and you who fear God, listen. 17 The God of this people Israel chose our fathers and made the people great during their stay in the land of Egypt, and with uplifted arm he led them out of it. 18 And for about forty years he put up with them in the wilderness. 19 And after destroying seven nations in the land of Canaan, he gave them their land as an inheritance.
Alright team, it’s time to leave your app or email and go find that big paper study bible. In the back, there should be some fancy maps on thicker paper than the rest of the Bible. If you don’t have one of these, then get thee to the Vineyard or Barnes & Noble and make it happen! (Or you can look at this link but that’s not as much fun.)
“Paul and his companions,” it says. Before this, it was Barnabas and Saul. The crew is becoming more Greek as they travel! Not only that, but Paul is the frontman now. He’s probably in his early 40s and Barnabas is about 10 years older. With average life-spans in the mid-50s at this time in history, Barnabas is preparing to put Paul in the lead and to drop back in the work.
We don’t know why John Mark left at this point, but we know that Paul is in bad shape. The region they went to is also known as Galatia, and in Paul’s letter to the Galatians, he talks about what terrible shape he was in when he first met them. There are historical accounts of malaria outbreaks in the region of Cyprus and the coast of Asia. Those that could would flee to the mountains to be free of mosquitoes and either escape or recover from malaria.
Pisidian Antioch also has some evidence of Sergius Paulus having roots there. That was the guy that ruled Cyprus and believed in Jesus after his wizard was struck blind. (You do NOT want to miss a day of this action!) It could be that Sergius gave them a military escort to Galatia because that road was known to be treacherous.
Now among Hellenized mountain Jews, Paul follows his pattern and is invited to speak in the synagogue. The traveling isn’t easy, and neither is the work of preaching, but the Holy Spirit is with us to continue the work.
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