God’s Word for You
Acts 13:4-6-a Through Cyprus
by Pastor Timothy Smith on Tuesday, May 12, 2020
4 So, sent by the Holy Spirit, they went down to Seleucia and sailed from there to Cyprus. 5 When they arrived at Salamis, they proclaimed the word of God in the Jewish synagogues. They had John with them as their helper. 6 They traveled through the whole island until they came to Paphos.
Seleucia is just a little west of Antioch, on the northwest coast of the Levant. With a fair wind, it was a modest days’ sailing (75 miles) southwest to Cape Andreas, the tip of the island of Cyprus. But Cape Andreas is the far eastern end of a long finger jutting out from the island. From there it was another fifty miles to Famagusta Bay and the port of Salamis (two miles north of the modern city of Famagusta). This Cyprian Salamis should not be confused with the more famous Greek island where the great naval Battle of Salamis took place in 480 BC when Xerxes (“the Xerxes who ruled over 127 provinces stretching from India to Cush,” Esther 1:1) was repulsed from his attempt to invade the Greek mainland.
Luke says that they traveled “through the whole island.” While this might mean that they just walked one road, stopping at the towns along the way, I think it’s more likely that they traveled into each district of the island. A few miles southwest of Salamis is Larnaca Bay and the port of Citium. Northward from there up to the Kyrenian Mountains they would have found the cities of “Little Athens” (Athienou), Nicosia, Kythria, Kyrenia, and others. Traveling west from there they would have entered the valley below Mount Troodos and the inland trade center of Tarnassos. From there they could have skirted the mountain north and west to visit Soli, Chrysochous, and then to Paphos, or south through the fishing villages before coming to Paphos.
It was their pattern to go to the Jewish synagogues where the word of God was already preached and the prophecies about the Messiah were already known. Their task was to demonstrate that Jesus Christ was the fulfillment of those prophecies, and they did this from place to place all through the island. This is the gospel of the forgiveness of sins, of the end of sacrifice, of the abolition of distinctions between Jew and Gentile. The preaching of Jesus was and still is the message of relief as we are lifted up from our fear of retribution, the terror over our well-deserved punishment: “You will not fear the terror of the night” (Psalm 91:4). We are brought into God’s throne room, where we are shocked to learn that we do not have a specially planned punishment in store, but a chosen spot as guests at his table; rooms prepared for us by Jesus himself, and an invitation to remain forever. It is the gospel of joy, of hope, and of peace (Romans 15:13), all through Jesus. And only through Jesus.
Pastor Timothy Smith