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The Scriptorium

The Gospel in Cyprus

The whole truth. Period. Acts 13.4-7

On a Roll: Acts 13 (2)

Pray Psalm 145.1-3.
I will extol You, my God, O King;
And I will bless Your name forever and ever.
Every day I will bless You,
And I will praise Your name forever and ever.
Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised;
And His greatness is unsearchable.

Sing Psalm 145.1-3.
(Brother James’ Air: The Lord’s My Shepherd, I’ll not Want)
I will extol You, God, my King, and ever praise Your Name!
I bless You, Lord, for everything each day, and e’er the same
!Great are You, Lord, my praise I bring; unsearchable Your fame!

Read Acts 13.1-7; meditate on verses 4-7.

1. Who was Bar-Jesus?

2. Who was Sergius Paulus?

The Jews had been dispersed throughout the Roman Empire prior to the birth of Christ – a Roman attempt to dissipate and defang their rebellious tendencies. We can see how God was at work in this, laying a foundation for the coming of the Gospel. The dispersal of the Jews is one of the many ways God prepared the Roman world for the coming of the Gospel.

Paul preached in synagogues everywhere he went (v. 5), and, while he was frequently opposed by the rulers of those synagogues, a good many of the first Christians were enlisted there. To Barnabas and Saul, it made sense to begin their work in the synagogues, where they used the Old Testament to make the case for Christ.

As in the Old Testament (Joseph, Daniel, Mordecai), certain Jews in Paul’s day, scattered about in the Roman world, managed to insinuate themselves into high places among civil authorities. Bar-Jesus might have suggested some advantage to be gained by the magistrate in becoming familiar with this new teaching. Sergius’ interest was piqued, and being a thoughtful man (v. 7), he summoned the evangelists to meet with him. Luke tells us specifically that he wanted to hear the word of God (v. 7).

Saul and Barnabas took great care in teaching from the Old Testament – presenting Christ in terms their audience would be familiar with, and, therefore, might more readily understand and receive. But they were prepared to be all things to all people, whatever the situation might require (1 Cor. 9.23). And if that meant silencing a false prophet so an interested inquirer could hear the Good News, then that is what they would do.

Treasures Old and New: Matthew 13.52; Psalm 119.162
Here’s a heads-up to all who might be preaching a user-friendly, near-Christianity gospel to those around us –a sincere word of advice to pastors: Sometimes unbelievers get hungry to hear the true Word of God!

Sergius Paulus had his very own ear-tickler (2 Tim. 4.3, 4), who was a sorcerer and a false prophet. This satisfied for a while, but because Sergius Paulus was intelligent, eventually he tired of the fake, and desired more.

God in His goodness and mercy sent Saul and Barnabas to provide the true Gospel for him:
“…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3.23).
“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 6.23).
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (Jn. 3.16).
“For it is by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast” (Eph. 2.8, 9).
“But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” (Acts 1.8).
“If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me” (Lk. 9.23).
“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them” (Eph. 2.10).

And with a reinforcing miracle from the truth-teller, by which blindness fell upon the false prophet (Acts 12.11), Sergius Paulus became a believer!

We must make sure that we are speaking the whole truth of God; for it is this Word that people really need and want to hear. Not something that makes them feel good about themselves, or good about us, but the whole truth, nothing but the truth, so help us God!

Paul in Cyprus, you and I in our Personal Mission Fields. The whole truth. Period.

For reflection
1. Do you think people today are seeking the truth about life? Explain.

2. Review the Scripture quotes under “God in His goodness…” in the Treasure section. What is the Gospel?

3. What kind of “false prophets” are misleading people about truth today?

The island of Cyprus was a senatorial island, which means it was Roman-controlled. As a Roman official, Sergius was a Gentile. Unlike Cornelius (10:2), there is no evidence that Sergius attended the temple or was a God-fearer. This pagan government official was amazed at the power of God and believed the truth. Earl Radmacher (1931-2014), NKJV Study Bible Note on Acts 13.6-12

Pray Psalm 145.10-21.
Pray that God will increase the witness of His people in churches all around the world. Ask Him to give you an opportunity today to talk about Jesus with someone in your Personal Mission Field.

Sing Psalm 145.10-21.
(Brother James’ Air: The Lord’s My Shepherd, I’ll not Want)
Your works shall thank You; all Your saints shall bless and praise You, Lord.
Your reign we bless without restraint; Your power fills our words.
Our children we shall educate in all Your splendor, Lord.

Your Kingdom evermore shall be; You reign forever, Lord!
Your works You do so faithfully, according to Your Word.
The falling You uphold and the oppressed You rescue, Lord!

The eyes of all look up to You to meet our needs each day.
Open Your hand, provide the food we need, O Lord, we pray!
Kindness and righteousness You do, O Lord, in every way!

Be near to all who call on You; all those who fear You, bless.
Preserve all those whose love is true; save us in our distress.
Our mouths will speak with praise of You; Your holy Name we’ll bless!

T. M. and Susie MooreYou can listen to a summary of last week’s Scriptorium study by going to our website,, and clicking the Scriptorium tab for last Sunday. You can download any or all the studies in this series on Acts by clicking here.

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Except as indicated, all Scriptures are taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. For sources of all quotations, see the weekly PDF of this study. All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalter (Williston: Waxed Tablet Publications, 2006), available by clicking here.

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in the Champlain Valley of Vermont.
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