Theology Prompt: Utilize the Interpretative Journey to determine what Acts 13:1-3 means to believers today.
There were prophets and teachers in the church that was at Antioch. The prophets and teachers were ministering to the Lord, and they were fasting. The Holy Spirit had told them to set apart Barnabas and Saul for special work. They had then prayed, fasted, laid hands, and sent off.
Reading this in past tense, I am grasping that there was a high level of spirituality occurring in the text, and that the Holy Spirit utilized the prophets, like the days of old, to commission spiritual leaders, emanating the Old Testament commission of Kings.
This is a New Testament passage, after the resurrected Christ. They had experienced at least second-hand knowledge of Y’shua in His earthly ministry, Saul/Paul had seen Christ on the road to Damascus. In modern times, we have not. This group was also heavily influenced by Jewish tradition and Hellenization, whereas today is more of a post-Roman system with Gentile influence.
They had no real technology and limited knowledge of physical science, whereas we can see people across the world on a glass monitor and can diagnose any physical ailment or even supposed spiritual encounters. They were an era of spirituality, while we are an era of science. This is quite a large river to cross to understand them, and will require the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
To try to cross the bridge, we must come to the realization that we must think spiritually, not scientifically. Even in regards to science, it is incomplete and imperfect, flawed by our own humanistic thinking and interpretation. What do we have in common with the biblical audience? We both live in a post-Law world. We both believe in the resurrected Christ. We both desire to serve Him. We both want to hear from the Holy Spirit and be guided by the Spirit.
What principle can we claim from this passage of Scripture? It must be congruent with biblical teaching. What if we were to say that spiritual practices, such as fasting and praying, when practiced in a humble and reverent manner, impacts the spiritual world and gives us spiritual authority in the world, permitting the Holy Spirit to use us to a greater extent?
Is this reflected in the text? Yes.
Is it timeless, and tied to specific situations? Yes.
Is it free of cultural bindings? Yes.
Does it align with the rest of the teaching of Scripture? Yes.
Is it relevant to both audiences? Yes.
So, how could this apply to our lives today? Let’s look at a few possibilities:
Spending time in prayer and fasting establishes spiritual authority in this world.
If we want to hear from the Holy Spirit, we should deny ourselves, seek Him, and wait on Him.
If we feel called or need direction, we should fast and pray for confirmation.