So Barnabas and Saul were sent out by the Holy Spirit. They went down to the seaport of Seleucia and then sailed for the island of Cyprus. There, in the town of Salamis, they went to the Jewish synagogues and preached the word of God. John Mark went with them as their assistant.Acts 13:4-5
Now we are off on this journey with Barnabas and Saul. But there are a lot of us in the party, so you will have to be patient if you are not always right up there where the action is. There are just too many of us for all of us to be up with Barnabas and Saul. Furthermore we will not all be able to stay in one hotel together. There are no hotels large enough to take us all. Remember what I told you “yesterday” – travel light. We are going down to Seleucia with some donkeys so your luggage can be put on the donkeys and you will not have to carry it on this part of the journey. Barnabas has managed to arrange a sufficient number of donkeys to cover us all he thinks. But fortunately it is a short journey. We leave at sunrise – walking. No, you can’t ride on one of the donkeys. The donkeys are only for the luggage, hence the reason for travelling light.
The journey down to the coast to Seleucia is only 25 kms and then we have walk 8 kilometres up to the port. The port is at the mouth of the Orontes River. Antioch is a landlocked city and has no port of its own or airport. (I don’t need to comment on why there is no airport in Antioch do I? The fact is the Wright Brothers haven’t been born yet). The average human walking speed is 5 km / hour so you can see it is going to take us about 6 and a half hours to get to the port. That is why we are leaving at daybreak. But you don’t have to worry about missing the sailing. The ships leave at night in order to make the crossing to Cyprus when the seas are the calmest. So we have plenty of time and you will be able to rest on the ship in the cool of the evening. You can see we don’t have to worry about accommodation in Seleucia. Barnabas will arrange members of his family to put us up on Cyprus. While we are on Cyprus we will make our base at Salamis. That is where most of Barnabas’ family are. To help you with information of where we are going I have clipped for you some background information on Seleucia and Salamis and Cyprus so you can familiarise yourself with your surroundings.
Seleucia is the port city of Antioch in Syria. The port of Antioch was founded by Seleucus Nicanor and so bears his name. It was an artificial harbour created on the straight coastline of the eastern Mediterranean in order to provide shelter for ships in the stormy winter weather. Ships sailed from here to all ports around the Mediterranean sea. Antioch was a large city in Syria and therefore needed a substantial port. As in most large ports there is a sleazy part of town down in the old port area. You will not have much time to spend here as we will board soon after we have eaten and settle ourselves in for the journey. Most of us will have to sleep on the deck so boarding early allows us to pick a prime spot. I guess we didn’t tell you this trip with Barnabas and Saul will at times be rather spartan at best.
Cyprus from the eighteenth century B.C. was called Alashiya, the Elishah of Gen_10:4. [It is usually called Kittim in the Old Testament, from the name of its chief Phoenician settlement Kition (modern Larnaka).] Its inhabitants in early days were known to the Greeks as Eteocypriots, but in historical times it was extensively colonized by Greeks and Phoenicians. It was annexed by Rome in 57 B.C., and was incorporated in the province of Cilicia two years later. In 27 B.C. it became a separate province, governed on behalf of Augustus by an imperial legate; in 22 B.C. Augustus transferred it to the control of the Roman senate, and from that year, like other senatorial provinces, it was administered by a proconsul. The capital of Cyprus is now New Paphos and not Salamis. Its principal export was copper, to which it gave its name. [cuprum = aes cyprium, “Cyprian bronze.”] Don’t be tempted to buy any of the copper artefacts you will see all over Cyprus. Firstly the carvings and the statues have religious symbolism and whatever you buy you carry. Well at the least copper is not the heaviest of metals.
Salamis was a Greek city on the east coast of the island and the administrative center of eastern Cyprus. But it was also the largest town on Cyprus and not only the administrative centre but also a flourishing commercial entrepôt and the main trading centre. So any further supplies you need will be best to be bought in Salamis. When we head out with Barnabas and Saul preaching we have to take our supplies with us. It was a Jewish, and its Jewish community, dating probably from the time when the island belonged to the Ptolemies, was apparently large enough to require more synagogues than one. Many Jews came here to be close to the copper mines in Syria and to set up assaying services and copper trading centres. Anything you want to know you will be able to ask John Mark, Barnabas’ cousin. He has local knowledge and will answer any of your questions. He will be our guide and the one to take care of the logistics. Barnabas will be too busy preaching and working with Paul.
It is clear that the Holy Spirit allowed Barnabas and Saul a certain degree of free choice in deciding where to go. That being the case, it was natural that Barnabas would choose to first take the Gospel to his own home territory. Given the fact that Barnabas appears to be the team leader at this point it is to be expected that he would want to start “at home”. Also there was a Cypriot connection to the initial thrust of taking the Gospel to Antioch as I have commented on before. So there may well have been a sense also of reporting back to the believers on Cyprus what the Holy Spirit had been doing in Antioch. But whatever the reason, there was still a mission field awaiting them on Cyprus. I suspect we will be busy during our time here following Barnabas and Saul around. There will likely be some opposition as well. Despite the fact that this is “Barnabas country” there are a large number of Jews here indicated by the fact that there was not just one synagogue but many.
Ok we need to be going now as we don’t want to miss the sailing for Cyprus.
When you are in a storm, remember that the rough weather won’t last forever.Joyce Meyer
Be miserable or motivate yourself. Whatever has to be done, it’s always your choice.Wayne Dyer
It is remarkable how one’s wits are sharpened by physical exercise or a testing journey.Pliny the Younger
It is no use walking anywhere to preach unless our walking is our preaching.St. Francis of Assisi