Separate unto God

Separate to God

Separate to God

William Stout / General

Acting Out Acts -16 / Acts 13



Acts 13:1–4 NKJV

1 Now in the church that was at Antioch there were certain prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul.

2 As they ministered to the Lord and fasted, the Holy Spirit said, “Now separate to Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.”

3 Then, having fasted and prayed, and laid hands on them, they sent them away.

4 So, being sent out by the Holy Spirit, they went down to Seleucia, and from there they sailed to Cyprus.


  • The Church at Antioch. Syria, North of Israel
  • There was a great church growing there of Jews and others who had come from other cities
  • This is the place where they were first called Christians (Mostly by non-Christians)
  • Barnabas was part of this church as was Saul

As they Ministered to the Lord and fasted

  • They were not just coming to church to be “entertained”
  • It also was not a “self-help” group, or motivational class
  • They “ministered” to the Lord
  • A group of people coming together to Worship the Lord, to serve and help one another, to earnestly desire of the Lord, what would He have them do – To minister to HIM
  • They were also fasting
  • Fasting should be a normal part of every Christian’s life
  • It is not extremism. It is not some weird fanatical thing.
  • We see repeatedly in the book of Acts, Christians praying and fasting when they wanted and needed breakthroughs
  • breakthroughs, in hearing and receiving direction from God
  • Breakthroughs in miracles and deliverance form God
  • Everyone can and should fast to some extent – and not foolishly

Diversity in the Church

  • Notice the diverse group of people who are named here, as Prophets and teachers
  • Barnabas, and Simeon who was called Niger (meaning black)
  • Many scholars believe this was the same Simeon who carried the cross of Jesus
  • Lucius of Cyrene. Cyrene was the capital of what is today Libya in Northern Africa
  • And Manaen who was brought up with Herod the Tetrarch
  • This is a person who was raised with Herod Antipas, like a foster brother, very close relationship
  • And Saul
  • Consider the diversity of this group of believers
  • It is obvious God does not want His church segregated
  • In “every Nation” whoever believes in Him and does righteousness…
  • He will gather “al nations” before Him and separate them- Not according to their color or gender, but rather their works
  • It is clear that the true sons of Israel are the ones who hear His Word and do it – By faith
  • Jesus said this Himself – “who is my mother and brother…
  • If you belong to Christ then you are Abraham’s offspring – Gal. 3:29
  • Jesus said If you were the children of Abraham you would love me (John 8)
  • God loves diversity. You can be sure that heaven will be a very, very diverse place

Revelation 7:9–10 NKJV

9 After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, with palm branches in their hands,

10 and crying out with a loud voice, saying, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!”


  • Now in speaking of diversity, please do not be confused:
  • There will be no diversity of religions: There is one God
  • By diversity, there will be mean and women of all races and backgrounds, not men claiming to be women, or women pretending to be men – that is not diversity it is confusion
  • We do not mean to insult anyone who may be struggling with their gender identity, but if you are, then you must know, it cannot be changed, God invites you into His diverse kingdom also, to come and to be healed. No matter what you feel like or look like, gender is determined by genetics, before you are even born, laid out by God. No mater what you change, you still have either x or y chromosomes
  • So there is no need to be offended or afraid – we are all accepted at the foot of the cross. It is God who gives us power to change
  • But be sure that God’s kingdom is diverse, and our church should also be diverse.

Acts 13:2 NKJV

2 As they ministered to the Lord and fasted, the Holy Spirit said, “Now separate to Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.”

  • As they fasted- the Lord said –
  • We all want to hear from the Lord, but maybe we don’t hear from Him as much, because we expect Him to speak on our terms
  • Make sure you squeeze your word into my busy schedule
  • They were “ministering”, waiting on the Lord, and fasting
  • And the Lord said “Separate me Barnabas and Saul”
  • One of the greatest example of ministry partnership
  • there is something about this – God wants us to work together
  • being accountable to one another
  • being supportive of one another
  • being helpful to one another
  • Jesus sent His disciples out two by two.
  • If we wait on the Lord, we will get the partners He chooses for us – He knows best
  • This is not only true in ministry, but in every area of your life
  • you should wait on the Lord concerning who you marry
  • you should wait on the Lord concerning business partnerships and jobs
  • and even concerning friendships and close relationships
  • “separate me” Not only did God call them, He called them to be separate
  • This is also a recurring theme – come out from among them and be ye separate…

2 Corinthians 6:17–18 NKJV

17 Therefore “Come out from among them And be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, And I will receive you.”

18 “I will be a Father to you, and you shall be My sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.”


  • You are a peculiar people, a chosen generation
  • We are supposed to be different, stop trying to fit in with the people who are not “in”
  • I want Jesus to recognize me when He comes. I want to be part of the fellowship of the unashamed
  • I want to wait on the Lord and hear the Lord, to know His Purpose for my life
  • it isn’t enough for me to have “stuff”, things that will rot and rust, or even friends and popularity, I have to know that my life has purpose. Separate me Oh Lord, to the work for which you  have called me!
  • God has a work for you too. We all have purpose. Want to find yours, start right here. Do what you can, while you pray and serve. He will lead. And be separate, dare to be different!


Acts 13:5–12 NKJV

5 And when they arrived in Salamis, they preached the word of God in the synagogues of the Jews. They also had John as their assistant.

6 Now when they had gone through the island to Paphos, they found a certain sorcerer, a false prophet, a Jew whose name was Bar-Jesus,

7 who was with the proconsul, Sergius Paulus, an intelligent man. This man called for Barnabas and Saul and sought to hear the word of God.

8 But Elymas the sorcerer (for so his name is translated) withstood them, seeking to turn the proconsul away from the faith.

9 Then Saul, who also is called Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked intently at him

10 and said, “O full of all deceit and all fraud, you son of the devil, you enemy of all righteousness, will you not cease perverting the straight ways of the Lord?

11 And now, indeed, the hand of the Lord is upon you, and you shall be blind, not seeing the sun for a time.” And immediately a dark mist fell on him, and he went around seeking someone to lead him by the hand.

12 Then the proconsul believed, when he saw what had been done, being astonished at the teaching of the Lord.

  • They went to Paphos (City in Cyprus),
  • They found a certain Sorcerer (Magos, not pharmekos)
  • Magos – is the same word translated in Matthew as “wise men” or “magi”
  • This was not necessarily a devil worshipper or someone practicing witchcraft
  • rather it was a man who had great wisdom, and perhaps gifts of faith, and would use them in a self serving way
  • He was with the proconsul – perhaps an advisor to him
  • And he withstood Paul and Barnabas, trying to turn the proconsul away
  • The devil will certainly send friends and “advisers” of those you are praying for and witnessing to, to try and turn them away from the faith
  • We should not be ignorant of the devil’s devices.
  • We also are not subject to the devil’s devices – as we see here
  • But rather, we have power to overcome them (Story)
  • Here we see that God is more than able to deal with Elymas – Paul doesn’t need to fight him
  • But Paul did have to have the courage and the backbone to stand up and speak the words God had given him
  • in this case bold words, that, unless God backs them up, he would be in trouble
  • He had to be willing to call out the false things that Elymas was saying, and clearly say where it was rooted
  • Full of “deceit” (subtilty) and “fraud”, son of the devil!
  • Trying to pervert the right ways of the Lord
  • This has not changed:
  • there are still wise men, who have positions of influence, who use “subtilty” and deceit to try to “alter” the rights ways of the Lord. (example of when we were pressured to change our program)
  • God is still able to help us if we will be bold enough to stand up and speak His Word!
  • In this case, Elymas was struck with blindness, (by God), and wen the proconsul saw this, he believed!
  • What the devil meant for evil, God turned to good. That became the final point of convincing for genuine faith and repentance for Sergius Paulus


Acts 13:13–15 NKJV

13 Now when Paul and his party set sail from Paphos, they came to Perga in Pamphylia; and John, departing from them, returned to Jerusalem.

14 But when they departed from Perga, they came to Antioch in Pisidia, and went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day and sat down.

15 And after the reading of the Law and the Prophets, the rulers of the synagogue sent to them, saying, “Men and brethren, if you have any word of exhortation for the people, say on.”


  • From there, John Mark left them, and they went on to preach, and got back to Antioch, and preached there.
  • Paul stood up and began to preach to the Jews there
  • after a substantial sermon, he came to this point:

Acts 13:38–41 NKJV

38 Therefore let it be known to you, brethren, that through this Man is preached to you the forgiveness of sins;

39 and by Him everyone who believes is justified from all things from which you could not be justified by the law of Moses.

40 Beware therefore, lest what has been spoken in the prophets come upon you:

41Behold, you despisers, Marvel and perish! For I work a work in your days, A work which you will by no means believe, Though one were to declare it to you.’ ”

  • Through Jesus Christ, you have the forgiveness of sins
  • through Jesus Christ, you “everyone” can be justified from “all things” that the law could not justify you from…
  • “all things” folks that is good news!
  • “Beware” therefore!
  • Interesting he would follow this with a warning.
  • We have great and precious promises
  • We are warned – these blessings of unlimited forgiveness and justification from sins, is not automatic
  • they are universal to all people – but to those who receive Jesus Christ by faith – who believe on Him and repent
  • You can be justified from all things, but you cannot continue in all things – and if you do, then you never knew Him at all
  • So, many people got saved, and the Gentiles asked if they could hear these things also the next week
  • And so the next week they brought the message again to the Gentiles


Acts 13:44–46 NKJV

44 On the next Sabbath almost the whole city came together to hear the word of God.

45 But when the Jews saw the multitudes, they were filled with envy; and contradicting and blaspheming, they opposed the things spoken by Paul.

46 Then Paul and Barnabas grew bold and said, “It was necessary that the word of God should be spoken to you first; but since you reject it, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, behold, we turn to the Gentiles.

  • How easily our pride can creep in and destroy our faith
  • They were happy with the message, until it was for everyone, not just the Jews
  • But Paul and Barnabas grew bolder – they didn’t back down
  • they had been here a couple of years, they had friends, relationships, etc. They probably didn’t want to lose favor with the people in power
  • But God is no respecter of persons

Acts 13:50–52 NKJV

50 But the Jews stirred up the devout and prominent women and the chief men of the city, raised up persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and expelled them from their region.

51 But they shook off the dust from their feet against them, and came to Iconium.

52 And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.

  • And so it was, that here in Antioch, in the place where they were first called “Christians”, they were “expelled” from the region.
  • They same thing may happen to you right here in Springfield Ohio, should you choose to really follow Jesus
  • there may be people who love you today and speak of you with complimentary words
  • and some of those same people tomorrow may want to run you out of town
  • So we have here, an example of how the early Christians responded to such events
  • they just shook it off – so can you.
  • shake it off.
  • Are you still held back from doing good today because of yesterdays letdowns and disappointments?
  • shake it off

And the Disciples were filled with JOY and The Holy Spirit

  • You don’t have to let your circumstances determine your emotional state
  • You can be filled with “joy” even in the midst of your trials



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