Sent Out By The Holy Spirit
13:1-3 In the local church at Antioch there were prophets and teachers. There were Barnabas, and Simeon who is called Niger, and Lucius from Cyrene, and Manaen, who was brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. When they were engaged in worshipping God and in fasting, the Holy Spirit said to them, "Come now, set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them in my service." So after they had fasted and prayed they laid their hands on them and let them go.
The Christian Church was now poised to take the greatest of all steps. They had decided, quite deliberately, to take the gospel out to all the world. It was a decision taken under the direct guidance of the Holy Spirit. The men of the Early Church never did what they wanted to do but always what God wanted them to do.
Prophets and teachers had different functions. The prophets were wandering preachers who had given their whole lives to listening for the word of God then taking that word to their fellow men. The teachers were the men in the local churches whose duty it was to instruct converts in the faith.
It has been pointed out that this very list of prophets is symbolic of the universal appeal of the Gospel. Barnabas was a Jew from Cyprus; Lucius came from Cyrene in North Africa; Simeon was also a Jew but his other name Niger is given and, since this is a Roman name, it shows that he must have moved in Roman circles; Manaen was a man with aristocratic connections; and Paul himself was a Jew from Tarsus in Cilicia and a trained rabbi. In that little band there is exemplified the unifying influence of Christianity. Men from many lands and many backgrounds had discovered the secret of "togetherness" because they had discovered the secret of Christ.
One extremely interesting speculation has been made. Simeon not improbably came from Africa, for Niger is an African name. It has been suggested that he is the Simon of Cyrene who carried Jesus' Cross ( Luke 23:26 ). It would be a thing most wonderful if the man whose first contact with Jesus was the carrying of the Cross--a task which he must have bitterly resented--was one of those directly responsible for sending out the story of the Cross to all the world.
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