1 Now in the church that was at Antioch there were certain prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul.
2 As they ministered to the Lord and fasted, the Holy Spirit said, “Now separate to Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.”
3 Then, having fasted and prayed, and laid hands on them, they sent them away.
4 So, being sent out by the Holy Spirit, they went down to Seleucia, and from there they sailed to Cyprus.
5 And when they arrived in Salamis, they preached the word of God in the synagogues of the Jews. They also had John as their assistant.
This probably took place in the spring of A.D. 46.
in the church (v.1) — by this time, it was an organized assembly
prophets (v.1) — see Acts 11:27.
teachers (v.1) — those giving clear instruction in the truth
Simeon (v.1) — his Hebrew name. Niger — Latin “black” — He may have been an African proselyte from Cyrene in Africa (Acts 11:20).
Lucius (v.1) — perhaps the same person mentioned in Romans 16:21
Manaen (v.1) — The name is identical with the Hebrew “Menahem.” Josephus tells us that a famous Essene of that name predicted that Herod the Great, while he was but a boy, would one day be king, and that the grateful monarch afterwards favored him and his sect. Some think that the Manaen of the text may have been that famous Essene’s son. The word “foster-brother” may signify that he was brought up with Herod the Great’s son Antipas. There is evidence from inscriptions, however, that the word was used as an honorable court title, “the king’s friend,” and so it may only indicate that Manaen was a favorite of Herod the tetrarch. — Walker, page 280.
Herod the tetrarch (v.1) — Herod Antipas, who ruled Galilee during Christ’s ministry. He beheaded John the Baptist.
sent them away (v.3) = released them (from their duties)
What did it mean that they laid hands on them? One of their number had uttered that which was the voice of the Holy Spirit. The assembly or church had heard this call. They accepted it as from the Holy Spirit and were obedient to it. Then by the laying on of hands they expressed outwardly their fellowship and identification with the two who had been set apart to do the work to which the Holy Spirit had called. They had nothing to do with their work but to wish them the blessing of the Lord and showing their fellowship in it.
This is seen by the last sentence in the third verse. Unfortunately, the authorized version states that “They sent them away.” Its correct rendering is “They let them go.” The church, or the elders of the church, did not send them away. The very next verse guards against such a thought, for it tells us “So, being sent out by the Holy Spirit.” — Gaebelein, page 234.