What is the work to which the Holy Spirit has called Saul and Barnabas? It is the work of an itinerant evangelist throughout the Mediterranean world. They would go from place to place, and, by God’s grace, establish a church through their preaching ministry.
Christians rightly get excited about these missionary endeavors, but we forget the cost. Think of the church in Antioch: God is asking them to release their best and brightest to go out. No doubt, some met this prompting of God with stiff resistance. The Kingdom-mindedness that is seen here in Acts is far removed from most churches today. Rather than realizing that releasing our best and brightest would result in more people hearing the gospel, we hold on to them tightly.
Things were going well in Antioch, and that is why God intervened. Antioch could have remained thriving, but at the expense of the world. To whom much is given, much is required (Luke 12:48).
While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” Then after fasting and praying they laid their hands on them and sent them off. (Acts 13:2-3)
Almighty and everlasting God, we thank you for thy servants., whom thou didst call to preach the gospel to those who are lost. Raise up, we beseech thee, in this and every land evangelists and heralds of thy kingdom, that thy Church may proclaim the unsearchable riches of our Savior Jesus Christ; who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.