Roman columnsThe first few verses of Acts 13 are fascinating on so many levels.  It was an exciting time for the newly established Church: gaining a reputation in Antioch, being taught by a strong team of disciple-makers and poised to send out the first missionaries.  Out of this backdrop comes our Paphos Paradigm.

Paul and Barnabas started the first missionary journey after leaving the staff of teachers at Antioch and headed to the island of Cyprus, Barnabas’ native country.  Arriving on the eastern coast (Salamis), they made thair way across the island, preaching the gospel,  and eventually reached Paphos, the capital city.  It was there that we are told of their first named convert, the proconsul Sergius Paulus.

But why the Roman governor?  Did he just happen to end up on Paul’s appointment list?  After all, Sergius was the one who summoned Paul and Barnabas (verse 7).  Why would author Luke make sure we know about this particular encounter?  Is there anything significant about targeted ministry to the political sphere? 

Consider these reasons why a great importance is placed on sharing biblical truth with leaders:

1)  Paul’s calling – When Paul was converted by Christ on the road to Damascus in Acts 9, you may recall he was blinded for a time.  The man God prepared to help Paul once he reached Damascus was a man named Ananias.  Hesitant to take a well-known killer of Christians into his home, Ananias was reassured of the Lord’s plan for Paul’s life: “Go, for he is a chosen instrument of Mine, to bear My name before the Gentiles and kings and the sons of Israel” (Acts 9:15).   A specific aspect of God’s call on Paul’s life was focused ministry to political leaders.

2)  Paul’s strategy – Paphos wasn’t the only capital Paul visited.  Because of the call in Acts 9:15, Paul strategically sought capitals in his journeys.  Twelve of the 14 cities Paul visited fell into this category: they were the centers of influence, philosophy, commerce and culture.  That’s also where governmental leaders would be found and we know from the rest of Acts that Paul consistently stood before leaders to deliver God’s message.

3)  Paul’s heart – When Paul wrote to Timothy many years after the conversion of Sergius Paulus, he still radiated with a spiritual concern for leaders.  Encouraging the practice of various types of prayer for all people, Paul also specifies prayers should be made for “kings and all who are in authority” (1 Timothy 2:2).  And what is the purpose of this prayer?  It’s two-fold: that believers would have a godly and dignified attitude toward their government and the salvation and growth of all people, including officials.  Paul’s heart beats with God’s heart: “God our Savior…desires all men to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:3, 4).

The significance of these reasons is that they weren’t just Paul’s personal calling and fulfillment of ministry.  The church as a whole has been given the role of caring for human leaders’ spiritual condition.  The prayer of 1 Timothy 2 is required of all followers of Jesus.  If God is concerned for the salvation of those in the political arena, we should be as well.

The question we have to honestly answer is: are we?