Some 12 years after Paul is converted, we see him fully taking on the mission that God prepared him for: “this man is my chosen instrument to carry my name before Gentiles and kings and the people of Israel” (9:15). From this point forward Saul (Hebrew name) is now Paul (Greek name), since his ministry is primarily to the Gentiles. We also see that “Barnabas and Saul” becomes “Paul and Barnabas,” seemingly indicating a transfer of authority.
This chapter records the beginning of Paul’s 1st missionary journey. He and Barnabas are chosen by the Holy Spirit and sent out by the church in Antioch. How did the Spirit speak to them? Literally, or by impressing upon them all the same idea/feeling? The second is most like what we would experience today, but we can’t discount the possibility of the other! Don’t be confused by the reference to Pisidian Antioch in verse 14. It’s actually about 300 miles northwest of what is called Syrian Antioch, which is where we started the chapter.
While they are on Cyprus they encounter a Jewish false prophet and magician. How freaked out do you think he was to actually encounter the supernatural, rather than his pretending?!?! And how neat is it that Paul compresses 1500 years of Bible history into 10 verses? Don’t you wish your pastor could be that concise?!?!?
Paul’s life up to this point should remind us of the importance of patience and faithfulness. We do have some hints about what was going on in the 12 years or so since he was converted, but his formal ministry and mission seems to start now. Do you think that he was impatient? Was he ready to get moving long before his official assignment? There is no way for us to know. But the time wasn’t wasted. God was preparing him through ongoing ministry and study for an even greater impact later. Paul dutifully did what he needed to do while he waited. We need to have that same faithfulness and patience in our own lives!
Matthew 25:14-30 “For it (the kingdom of heaven) is like a man going on a journey, who summoned his slaves and entrusted his property to them. To one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one, each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey. The one who had received five talents went off right away and put his money to work and gained five more. In the same way, the one who had two gained two more. But the one who had received one talent went out and dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money in it. After a long time, the master of those slaves came and settled his accounts with them. The one who had received the five talents came and brought five more, saying, ‘Sir, you entrusted me with five talents. See, I have gained five more.’ His master answered, ‘Well done, good and faithful slave! You have been faithful in a few things. I will put you in charge of many things. Enter into the joy of your master.’ The one with the two talents also came and said, ‘Sir, you entrusted two talents to me. See, I have gained two more.’ His master answered, ‘Well done, good and faithful slave! You have been faithful with a few things. I will put you in charge of many things. Enter into the joy of your master.’ Then the one who had received the one talent came and said, ‘Sir, I knew that you were a hard man, harvesting where you did not sow, and gathering where you did not scatter seed, so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. See, you have what is yours.’ But his master answered, ‘Evil and lazy slave! So you knew that I harvest where I didn’t sow and gather where I didn’t scatter? Then you should have deposited my money with the bankers, and on my return I would have received my money back with interest! Therefore take the talent from him and give it to the one who has ten. For the one who has will be given more, and he will have more than enough. But the one who does not have, even what he has will be taken from him. And throw that worthless slave into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’”