1 Kings 19:15-20:15; Acts 12:24-13:12; Psalms 137:1-4; Proverbs 29:2-4
NT: “Now in the church at Antioch there were prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen, a close friend of Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. As they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” Then after they had fasted, prayed, and laid hands on them, they sent them off. So being sent out by the Holy Spirit, they went down to Seleucia, and from there they sailed to Cyprus. Arriving in Salamis, they proclaimed the word of God in the Jewish synagogues. They also had John as their assistant.” (Acts 13:1-5 CSB)
The church at Antioch, Syria was the first church consisting of both Messianic Jews and converted gentiles; and was becoming a hub of the Lord’s Kingdom focused ministry. The structure of ministry in this New Testament church was quite different from the traditional Jewish model. Throughout the historical Jewish scriptures, individual people would receive special anointing to either prophecy or lead. The responsibility for teaching the law and ways of God fell exclusively to the priesthood. In Antioch, the model was much different, for the Holy Spirit had been poured out on every believer… every believer was anointed, and every believer was part of a royal priesthood. Dr. Luke (the author of Acts) mentioned five men from a varied background (all empowered, anointed, and led by the Holy Spirit) that were serving in both the role of prophet (forth-telling the heart of God) and teacher (explaining the word and ways of God). In the church that I attend, we have a saying that “no one of us is as gifted as all of us.” That is why, in the New Testament age, it is so key that we work as a team – that we work as part of a body, where every part of the body is graced with its unique flavor of giftings, insights, and perspectives. Paul (Saul) later taught that as individuals, we only prophesy in part and only see in part – but when we work together as a team… as part of a body – we are able to minister in the manifold wisdom of God as all of our parts come together. It was within that context of the manifold wisdom of God that the Holy Spirit spoke to the leadership of the Antioch Church and led them to initiate a new strategy in taking the gospel of the Kingdom to the rest of the world. The Holy Spirit spoke to the team of leaders and told them to set apart, not just Barnabas, nor just Saul (Paul); but to set apart both Barnabas and Saul and send them out to take the Gospel of the Kingdom with accompanying signs and wonders, to the rest of the world. And Barnabas and Saul didn’t limit their team to two, they also brought along John Mark. Another saying in our church is, “the Bible is not a me book, it is a we book.” To see the gospel reach everyone and to see God’s kingdom fully established on earth, it requires a community of individual believers working together in unity under the anointing and leadership of the Holy Spirit.