Acts 13:5

ESV When they arrived at Salamis, they proclaimed the word of God in the synagogues of the Jews. And they had John to assist them.
NIV When they arrived at Salamis, they proclaimed the word of God in the Jewish synagogues. John was with them as their helper.
NASB When they reached Salamis, they began to proclaim the word of God in the synagogues of the Jews; and they also had John as their helper.
CSB Arriving in Salamis, they proclaimed the word of God in the Jewish synagogues. They also had John as their assistant.
NLT There, in the town of Salamis, they went to the Jewish synagogues and preached the word of God. John Mark went with them as their assistant.
KJV And when they were at Salamis, they preached the word of God in the synagogues of the Jews: and they had also John to their minister.

What does Acts 13:5 mean?

Barnabas and Saul are on the island of Cyprus—Barnabas' homeland (Acts 4:36)—spreading the story about Jesus. Salamis is a port town on the east coast of Cyprus (Acts 13:4).

God's plan, ever since the Abrahamic Covenant (Genesis 12:3), was to provide salvation for the world through the Jews and then send the Jews to the world to invite them into a saving relationship with God. To that end, the offer of forgiveness goes to the Jews first, whether in Jerusalem (Acts 2—7) or in all the cities and towns Paul travels to. It is the Jews who have the prophecies of the Messiah and the Jews who should understand the importance of Jesus' death, burial, and resurrection.

So, Barnabas and Saul go to the synagogues first. In the times of Jehoshaphat and Josiah, kings of the southern kingdom of Judah, Levites went throughout the land teaching the people how to obey the Mosaic law (2 Chronicles 17:7–9; 35:3). When the kingdom of Judah was taken into exile in Babylon and the temple was destroyed, groups of Jews would join in "assemblies" or synagogues to study the Scriptures. The practice of the synagogue spread as Jews settled all over the Roman Empire, wherever there were twelve or more Jewish men. The Jews in the island of Cyprus appear to be the descendants of those Antiochus the Great settled in west-central, modern-day Asia Minor who spread throughout the region.

John Mark is a relative of Barnabas (Colossians 4:10), who traveled with Barnabas and Saul after they delivered aid to the church in Jerusalem (Acts 12:25). His mother is Mary whose house Peter went to after his arrest (Acts 12:12). Many believe John Mark is the young man who fled, naked, during Jesus' arrest (Mark 14:51–52). Having him as an attendant would free Barnabas and Saul to focus on preaching, but he will not stay long. When the group leaves Cyprus and lands on the mainland, John Mark will return to Jerusalem (Acts 13:13); later, he will author the gospel of Mark.

Although Saul preaches the "word of God" in every synagogue he can, Luke only records the content of the message once: in Acts 13:16–41. He starts with Israel in Egypt and quickly runs through the history until David is king. He identifies David's offspring, who will sit on his throne forever, as Jesus of Nazareth, using the message of John the Baptist as evidence. By this time, John's message of repentance has spread throughout the Jewish diaspora (Acts 18:25; 19:3). Saul ties in the story of Jesus with the Jewish prophecies and shows how Jesus offers true forgiveness of sins.

Although Luke only records Paul's presentation in a synagogue once, we do have information about other speeches. In Athens, confronted with Greek philosophers, Paul relates Jesus to their own culture (Acts 17:22–34). Three other times, while he is imprisoned, he offers his testimony (Acts 22:1–21; 24:10–21; 26:1–23).
What is the Gospel?
Download the app: