In case you have not yet seen a continuous theme in Paul’s life of both conversion work and persecution, we find yet another example in Acts 13:5-12 of opposition to the gospel along with belief in the gospel. As Paul and Barnabas set sail from their church at Antioch on their first missionary journey, they sail to the island of Cyprus and reach the city of Salamis. As they begin to proclaim Jesus to the whole island of Cyprus they run into a man named Bar-Jesus who was a false prophet. Paul and Barnabas continue to preach Jesus to the Jews, and Bar-Jesus works against them. The Holy Spirit works through Paul and causes Bar-Jesus to go blind for the sake of the Jews believing in the Lord Jesus (Acts 13:12).
In this passage we should be struck by a couple of things. First, we need to realize that opposition to Christ should not stop us from living for Christ. All too often we shy away from the role of Jesus in our lives because of the opposition we may or will face. This is not how we see Paul and Barnabas reacting. Consider also that this is the first stop on the first journey they will take in being sent out by the church at Antioch. It must have been frustrating to see such opposition right out of the gate. Yet they are not swayed from the mission because of the pushback. Second, we need to recognize the work and protection of the Holy Spirit in our lives. We need not fear man, or any opposition of this world because we possess within us the one who overcame the world (1 Corinthians 3:16). Paul and Barnabas recognize they are sent out by the Spirit, and they overcome their opposition through the Spirit. Third, when we fear God more than men, and we work at loving and proclaiming Him even in the face of opposition, God is honored through many coming to believe. We see the Jewish council in Cyprus believing in the Lord Jesus because of the work of the Holy Spirit through Paul.
We exist to glorify God by proclaiming His Excellencies to all of the world (1 Peter 2:9-10). In this we may face opposition. We must hold fast to the Holy Spirit within us which is capable of overcoming all opposition and convicting many to repentance and belief.
Nick McElrath | Growth Pastor
Discussion Question – Can you think of a time where you experienced the help of the Holy Spirit when you needed boldness to proclaim Jesus? If you cannot, why do you think that is the case?