In Acts 13, Luke begins by describing how both the Holy Spirit and the church in Antioch sent out Barnabas and Paul. (Acts 13:1-4) The two traveled from Antioch to the port of Salamis, and from there they took a ship to Cyprus.
Once they spent some time in a couple of cities on the island of Cyprus, they boarded another ship and sailed to Perga. (Acts 13:5-12) From there, they traveled to another city called Antioch. This Antioch was in the region of Pisidia. (Acts 13:13-14)
On the first Sabbath that they were in Antioch of Pisidia, Barnabas and Saul proclaimed the good news of Jesus Christ to Jews who were gathered as a synagogue. (Acts 13:15-41) People begged Barnabas and Paul to come back the next Sabbath and teach again concerning the gospel. Some took it a step farther and followed Paul and Barnabas, and, as the text insinuates, begins living in the grace of God. (Acts 13:42-43)
But, then, things get ugly. You see, according to Luke, “the whole city” becomes interested in the message of the gospel and show up at the synagogue meeting the next Sabbath. The Jews get jealous and begin reviling Paul and Barnabas, who then begin to share the gospel directly with the Gentiles. (Acts 13:44-47) The Gentiles (non-Jews) are overjoyed at hearing the message of Jesus Christ and many believed. (Acts 13:48)
This brings me to the point that I want to consider in this post. After Luke says that many Gentiles believed, he makes another interesting statement:
And when the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord, and as many as were appointed to eternal life believed. And the word of the Lord was spreading throughout the whole region.
How was it possible for “the word of the Lord” to spread throughout the whole regions (not the city… but the region)? Were Paul and Barnabas responsible for spreading the message of the gospel throughout the region? No, it would be logistically impossible.
Instead, these new believers – these Jews and Gentiles who had only heard the gospel a few days previously – these immature believers who had not had disciples classes or evangelism training or Bible schools or anything like that – these people shared the good news of Jesus Christ to the region around their city and discipled those who believed. And, they did it immediately after they believed.
Oh, how things have changed…