Acts 13:4
So they, being sent forth by the Holy Ghost, departed unto Seleucia; and from thence they sailed to Cyprus.
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(4) Being sent forth by the Holy Ghost.—The words may be only a summing up of the result of the previous facts, but looking to Acts 16:6-7, it seems more probable that they refer to a fresh revelation, following on what we should call the “ordination” or “consecration” of the Apostles, and guiding them as to the direction of their journey.

Departed unto Seleucia.—The town was situated at the mouth of the Orontes, about sixteen miles from Antioch, and served as the port for that city. It had been built by, and named after, Seleucus Nicator.

Thence they sailed to Cyprus.—The population of the island was largely Greek, and the name of the chief town at the east end recalled the history or the legend of a colony under Teucer, the son of Telamon, from the Salamis of the Saronic gulf. It owned Aphrodite, or Venus, as its tutelary goddess, Paphos being the chief centre of her worship, which there, as elsewhere, was conspicuous for the licentiousness of the harlot-priestesses of her temple. The copper-mines (the metal Cuprum took its name from the island), and its nearness to Syria, had probably attracted a considerable Jewish population, among whom the gospel had been preached by the Evangelistœ of Acts 11:19. An interesting inscription—the date of which is, however, uncertain, and may be of the second or third century after Christ—given in M. de Cesnola’s Cyprus (p. 422), as found at Golgoi in that island, shows a yearning after something higher than the polytheism of Greece:—




At the foot of the inscription there is the name HELIOS, the Sun, and we may probably see in it a trace of that adoption of the worship of Mithras, or the sun, as the visible symbol of Deity, which, first becoming known to the Romans in the time of Pompeius, led to the general reception of the Dies Solis (= Sunday) as the first day of the Roman week, and which, even in the case of Constantine, mingled with the earlier stages of his progress towards the faith of Christ. (See Note on Acts 17:23.) The narrative that follows implies that the prudence or discernment which distinguished the proconsul may well have shown itself in such a recognition of the unity of the Godhead; and it is worthy of note that M. de Cesnola (Cyprus, p. 425) discovered at Soli, in the same island, another inscription, bearing the name of Paulus the Proconsul, who may, perhaps, be identified with the Sergius Paulus of this narrative.

Acts 13:4-5. So they being sent forth by the Holy Ghost — By his immediate direction. This seems to be added to signify, that though they were solemnly recommended to God by the prayers of their brethren, their authority was not derived from them, but from the Holy Spirit himself. Departed unto Seleucia — A considerable port on the Mediterranean sea; and from thence they sailed to Cyprus — The island so infamous for the worship of Venus, who was supposed to hold her peculiar residence there, and therefore was commonly called the Cyprian goddess. When they were at Salamis — Situated on the eastern part of the island, and consequently was nearest to the place from whence they came; they preached the word in the synagogues of the Jews — For there were great numbers of that people in Cyprus. They had also John for their minister — Who willingly waited on them, not pretending to a character by any means equal to theirs.

13:4-13 Satan is in a special manner busy with great men and men in power, to keep them from being religious, for their example will influence many. Saul is here for the first time called Paul, and never after Saul. Saul was his name as he was a Hebrew; Paul was his name as he was a citizen of Rome. Under the direct influence of the Holy Ghost, he gave Elymas his true character, but not in passion. A fulness of deceit and mischief together, make a man indeed a child of the devil. And those who are enemies to the doctrine of Jesus, are enemies to all righteousness; for in it all righteousness is fulfilled. The ways of the Lord Jesus are the only right ways to heaven and happiness. There are many who not only wander from these ways themselves, but set others against these ways. They commonly are so hardened, that they will not cease to do evil. The proconsul was astonished at the force of the doctrine upon his own heart and conscience, and at the power of God by which it was confirmed. The doctrine of Christ astonishes; and the more we know of it, the more reason we shall see to wonder at it. Those who put their hand to the plough and look back, are not fit for the kingdom of God. Those who are not prepared to face opposition, and to endure hardship, are not fitted for the work of the ministry.Being sent forth by the Holy Ghost - Having been called to this world by the Holy Spirit, and being under his direction.

Departed unto Seleucia - This city was situated at the mouth of the river Orontes, where it fails into the Mediterranean. Antioch was connected with the sea by the Orontes River. Strabo says that in his time they sailed up the river in one day. The distance from Antioch to Seleucia by water is about 41 miles, while the journey by land is only 16 12 miles (Life and Epistles of Paul, vol. 1, p. 185. "Seleucia united the two characters of a fortress and a seaport. It was situated on a rocky eminence, which is the southern extremity of an elevated range of hills projecting from Mount Aranus. From the southeast, where the ruins of the Antioch gate are still conspicuous, the ground rose toward the northeast into high and craggy summits; and round the greater part of the circumference of 4 miles the city was protected by its natural position. The harbor and mercantile suburb were on level ground toward the west; but here, as on the only weak point at Gibraltar, strong artificial defenses had made compensation for the weakness of nature. Seleucus, who had named his metropolis in his father's honor (p. 122), gave his own name to this maritime fortress; and here, around his tomb, his successors contended for the key of Syria. 'Seleucia by the sea' was a place of great importance under the Seleucidae and the Ptolemies, and so it remained under the sway of the Romans. In consequence of its bold resistance to Tigranes when he was in possession of all the neighboring country, Pompey gave it the privileges of a 'free city;' and a contemporary of Paul speaks of it as having those privileges still.

Here, in the midst of unsympathizing sailors, the two missionary apostles, with their younger companion, stepped on board the vessel which was to convey them to Salamis. As they cleared the port, the whole sweep of the bay of Antioch opened on their left - the low ground by the mouth of the Orontes; the wild and woody country beyond it; and then the peak of Mount Casius, rising symmetrically from the very edge of the sea to a height of 5000 feet. On the right, in the southwest horizon, if the day was clear, they saw the island of Cyprus from the first. The current sets northerly and northeast between the island and the Syrian coast. But with a fair wind, a few hours would enable them to run down from Seleucia to Salamis, and the land would rapidly rise in forms well known and familiar to Barnabas and Mark" (Life and Epistles of Paul, vol. 1, pp. 135, 138).

They sailed to Cyprus - An island in the Mediterranean, not far from Seleucia. See the notes on Acts 4:36.

Ac 13:4-12. Arriving in Cyprus They Preach in the Synagogues of Salamis—At Paphos, Elymas Is Struck Blind, and the Governor of the Island Is Converted.

4, 5. departed unto Seleucia—the seaport of Antioch, from which it lay nearly due west fifteen miles, and five from the Mediterranean shore, on the river Orontes.

thence sailed to Cyprus—whose high mountain summits are easily seen in clear weather from the coast [Colonel Chesney in Howson]. "Four reasons may have induced them to turn in first to this island: (1) Its nearness to the mainland; (2) It was the native place of Barnabas, and since the time when Andrew found his brother Simon, and brought him to Jesus, and "Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus," family ties had not been without effect on the progress of the Gospel. (3) It could not be unnatural to suppose that the truth would be welcomed in Cyprus when brought by Barnabas and his kinsman Mark, to their own connections or friends. The Jews were numerous in Salamis. By sailing to that city, they were following the track of the synagogues; and though their mission was chiefly to the Gentiles, their surest course for reaching them was through the proselytes and Hellenizing Jews. (4) Some of the Cypriotes were already Christians. Indeed, no one place out of Palestine, except Antioch, had been so honorably associated with the work of successful evangelization" [Howson].

Seleucia; a sea town of Cilicia, nigh unto Antioch, and over against Cyprus, built by Seleucus, and was a town of some note, but mentioned here only as in their passage to Cyprus.

So they being sent forth of the Holy Ghost,.... This is said, lest it should be thought they were sent by men; it was the Holy Ghost that moved the prophets at Antioch to separate them from them, and to send them away; and who inclined their minds to go, and directed them what course to steer: and accordingly they

departed to Seleucia; which was a city of Syria, called by Pliny, Seleucia Pieria (d); it had its name from Seleucus Nicanor, king of Egypt, who was the builder of it: it was not far from Antioch, it is said to be twenty four miles from it; it is the first city of Syria from Cilicia, and was situated at the mouth of the river Orontes; wherefore Saul and Barnabas made no stay here; and it seems that their coming hither was only in order to take shipping for the island of Cyprus; for Seleucia was upon the sea coast, as appears from:

"King Ptolemee therefore, having gotten the dominion of the cities by the sea unto Seleucia upon the sea coast, imagined wicked counsels against Alexander.'' (1 Maccabees 11:8)

and was the proper place to set sail from to Cyprus. So we read of Apollonius Tyaneus and his companions (e), that

"they went down to the sea by Seleucia, where having got a ship, "they sailed to Cyprus:" and so it follows here,''

and from thence they sailed to Cyprus; an island in the Mediterranean sea, the native country of Barnabas, Acts 4:36 See Gill on Acts 4:36.

(d) L. 5. c. 12, 21. (e) Philostrat. Vita Apollon. l. 3. c. 16.

{3} So they, being sent forth by the Holy Ghost, departed unto {d} Seleucia; and from thence they sailed to Cyprus.

(3) Paul and his companions first bring Cyprus to the subjection and obedience of Christ.

(d) Seleucia was a city of Cilicia, so called after Seleucus, one of Alexander's successors.

Acts 13:4-5. Αὐτοί (see the critical remarks): such was the course taken with them; they themselves, therefore, ipsi igitur.

ἐκπεμφθ. ὑπὸ τοῦ πνεύμ.] for “vocatio prorsus divina erat; tantum manu Dei oblatos amplexa erat ecclesia,” Calvin.

They turned themselves at first to the quarter where they might hope most easily to form connections—it was, in fact, the first attempt of their new ministry—to Cyprus, the native country of Barnabas (Acts 4:36), to which the direct route from Antioch by way of the neighbouring Seleucia (in Syria, also called Pieria, and situated at the mouth of the Orontes), led. Having there embarked, they landed at the city of Salamis, on the eastern coast of the island of Cyprus.

γενομ. ἐν] arrived at. Often so in classical authors since Homer.[5]

Ἰωάννην] See on Acts 12:12.

ὙΠΗΡΈΤΗΝ] as servant, who assisted the official work of the apostles by performing external services, errands, missions, etc., probably also acts of baptism (Acts 10:48; 1 Corinthians 1:14). “Barnabas et Paulus divinitus nominati, atque his liberum fuit alios adsciscere,” Bengel.

As to their practice of preaching in the synagogues, see on Acts 13:14.

[5] See Nägelsbach on the Iliad, p. 295, ed. 3.

Acts 13:4. μὲν οὖν answered by δέ in Acts 13:5, so Weiss and Rendall, Appendix on μὲν οὖν, p. 161. Page takes διελ. δέ in Acts 13:6 as the antithesis, see his note on Acts 2:41.—ἐκπεμφ., cf. Acts 13:2; only in N.T. in Acts 17:10, cf. 2 Samuel 19:31, where it denotes personal conduct. Mr. Rendall’s note takes the verb here also of the personal presence of the Holy Spirit conducting the Apostles on their way.—κατῆλθον: “went down,” R.V., of a journey from the interior to the coast, cf. Acts 15:30; Vulgate, abierunt, and so A.V. “departed,” which fails to give the full force of the word.—Σελεύκειαν: the port of Antioch, built by the first Seleucus, about sixteen miles from the city on the Orontes; Seleucia ad mare and ἡ ἐν Πιερίᾳ to distinguish it from other places bearing the same name, see Wetstein for references to it. On its mention here and St. Luke’s custom see Ramsay, St. Paul, p. 70.—Κύπρον, cf. Acts 4:36. Although not expressly stated, we may well believe that the place was divinely intimated. But it was natural for more reasons than one that the missionaries should make for Cyprus. Barnabas was a Cypriote, and the nearness of Cyprus to Syria and its productive copper mines had attracted a large settlement of Jews, cf. also Acts 11:19-20, and the Church at Antioch moreover owed its birth in part to the Cypriotes, Acts 11:20 (Acts 21:16).

4. sent forth by the Holy Ghost] A repetition which marks the solemn character which St Luke and also his informant attached to this new form of the Christian work.

unto Seleucia] which was the seaport of Antioch at the mouth of the Orontes. See Dictionary of the Bible.

and from thence they sailed to Cyprus] Probably, if not specially directed, the missionary Apostles were induced to take this route because Cyprus was the birthplace of one of them, and there were in the island already many Jews resident, and also some Cypriote Christians (Acts 11:20), who perhaps had been in Jerusalem at the feast of Pentecost among the various nationalities then assembled, and who had, when driven away by persecution, turned their steps homeward and preached Jesus to their fellow-countrymen (Acts 11:19).

Acts 13:4. Ἐκπεμφθέντες) having been sent forth, whithersoever they should have to go.—[ὑπὸ τοῦ Πνεύματος Ἁγίου, by the Holy Spirit) Acts 13:2; Acts 13:9.—V. g.]—Κύπρον, Cyprus) the country of Barnabas: ch. Acts 4:36.

Verse 4. - Went down to for departed unto, A.V. (κατῆλθον). Seleucia was the sea-port of Antioch, about sixteen miles from it, and five miles north of the mouth of the Orontes. It was a free city by a grant from Pompey. It is now in ruins, but "the masonry of the once magnificent port of Seleucia is in so good a state that" it might be repaired and cleared out "for about £31,000" (Colonel Chesney, quoted in Lewin, 1. p. 119). They sailed to Cyprus. Barnabas, no doubt, took the lead, and was naturally drawn to his native island of Cyprus - within a hundred miles of Seleucia, and, on a clear day, visible from it. The number of Jews in the island, and the partial evangelization of it which had already taken place (Acts 11:19, 20), and which promised them assistance and support, no doubt further influenced them. John Mark went with them, as we learn from the fifth and thirteenth verses, and possibly other brethren as deacons and ministers (see next note). They sailed straight to Salamis, "a convenient and capacious harbor," in the center of the eastern end of the island, and the principal or one of the principal towns. It had a large population of Jews. It was destroyed in the reign of Trajan, in consequence of a terrible insurrection of the Jews, in which they massacred 240,000 of the Gentile population. No Jew was ever after allowed to land in Cyprus. Acts 13:4Sailed

On Luke's use of words for sailing, see Introduction.

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