Acts Chapter Thirteen
Read Acts 13:1-3
v1. “NOW THERE WERE IN THE CHURCH THAT WAS AT
We read in Acts about Agabus coming
v2. “AS THEY MINISTERED TO THE LORD, AND FASTED, THE HOLY GHOST SAID, SEPARATE ME BARNABAS AND SAUL FOR THE WORK WHEREUNTO I HAVE CALLED THEM.”
What they’re doing is described here as “ministering to the Lord”, what is Luke talking about? They were preaching and teaching the gospel to the unsaved to convert them and to the saved to edify and strengthen them.
They fasted, should we fast today? It would probably do some of us some good physically to fast a little bit, especially around the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays. But fasting is a voluntary act, not required by God in the New Testament teaching by Jesus and his Apostles. In my own imagination I can picture them fasting, praying and petitioning God to provide them with more opportunity to reach out to the lost souls around them. I wonder what God’s providence would provide if we followed the same practice and level of dedication today?
God had a special purpose for Saul didn’t he? When he sent Ananias to Saul He told him.
Acts “….GO THY WAY: FOR HE IS A CHOSEN VESSEL UNTO ME, TO BEAR MY NAME BEFORE THE GENTILES, AND KINGS, AND THE CHILDREN OF ISRAEL.”
Now the time has come for them to accomplish God’s plan to
expand the teaching of the gospel beyond the immediate area connected with the
eastern end of the
v3. “AND WHEN THEY HAD FASTED AND PRAYED, AND LAID their HANDS ON THEM, THEY SENT them AWAY.”
that the prophets of
We’re not directed to do this a commandment. It is described to us as having been done but this is not considered an “approved example” nor does it imply (provide necessary inference) that we be required to do this today. Commandment, approved example or implication or “necessary inference”, of course, are the ways we determine what should be done today in terms of worshipping God, governing God’s people etc.
Read Acts 13:4-13
v4. “SO THEY, BEING SENT FORTH BY THE HOLY GHOST,
find the writer referring to the Holy Spirit as their source of direction,
sending Barnabas and Saul on their journey.
Would the gospel have been preached to the extent that it was throughout
the world without the direct intervention of God? Human nature tells me that it probably would
not have been. They had had several
years and no doubt opportunity but the spread of the gospel, so far as we have
recorded for us, has been limited up until this point. Not only that, without God’s encouragement
through persecution, etc. I personally doubt that mankind would have spread the
redemption of Christ beyond
v5. “AND WHEN THEY WERE AT
is the closest seaport to
Acts “Then Paul and Barnabas waxed bold, and said, It was necessary that the word of God should first have been spoken to you: but seeing ye put it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles.
It was God’s plan that the gospel be preached first to the Jews and then to the Gentiles. Because, first of all they were God’s people, rebellious, unrepentant and sinful perhaps; but they would have first opportunity and secondly because it’s much easier to teach someone about Jesus if they already know about God and are willing to listen. Something we should remember in our own evangelistic efforts.
v6. “AND WHEN THEY HAD GONE THROUGH THE ISLE UNTO PAPHOS, THEY FOUND A CERTAIN SORCERER, A FALSE PROPHET, A JEW, WHOSE NAME was BARJESUS.”
they had gone through the entire island preaching Jesus, Cyprus is about 150 miles long and 60 miles
wide, they come to the western end and the it’s capital, Paphos. Paphos is not the capital of
v7. “WHICH WAS WITH THE DEPUTY OF THE COUNTRY, SERGIUS PAULUS, A PRUDENT MAN, WHO CALLED FOR BARNABAS AND SAUL, AND DESIRED TO HEAR THE WORD OF GOD.”
We learn a
little more about Bar-Jesus, he is politically connected; he was with the
“deputy” of the country. What does that
word mean? The original language is
translated in other places as proconsul, so deputy was just another name for a
ruler appointed by Caesar to rule a province in the
v8. “BUT ELYMAS THE SORCERER (FOR SO IS HIS NAME BY INTERPRETATION) WITHSTOOD THEM, SEEKING TO TURN AWAY THE DEPUTY FROM THE FAITH.”
The name given here is an Arabic name that means “a wise man.” So this sorcerer has built himself up as a wise man, even though he is a false prophet, has a prominent place in the government of this island as an advisor to the governor, or deputy, or proconsul and he tries to keep Barnabas and Saul away from this ruler. He doesn’t want this ruler converted to Christ, why? Probably because when Sergius Paulus is converted, he just might be able to recognize Elymas for what he really is.
v9. “THEN SAUL, (WHO ALSO is called PAUL,) FILLED WITH THE HOLY GHOST, SET HIS EYES ON HIM,”
This tells us two things about Saul. First of all he is beginning to be called Paul, the name whereby we know him best and secondly he is filled with the Holy Spirit. Saul was his Jewish name, Paul is his Roman name. He understands Elymas, he recognizes him for what he is, and he is going to challenge him because he’s working against him and Barnabas, against the Word of God and against having this ruler hear the gospel of Christ.
v10. “AND SAID, O FULL OF ALL SUBTLETY AND ALL MISCHIEF, thou CHILD OF THE DEVIL, thou ENEMY OF ALL RIGHTEOUSNESS, WILT THOU NOT CEASE TO PERVERT THE RIGHT WAYS OF THE LORD?”
Paul sounds a little like Jesus in Matthew 23 doesn’t he? This man Elymas, he says is “FULL OF ALL SUBTLETY” or “FULL OF ALL GUILE” (ASV) what does that mean? He’s a charlatan, a trickster, he uses deceit and knows that he is deceiving people. He’s also full of all “MISCHIEF” or “VILLANY”, which means that he practices this deceit with ease, he’s good at it, and his conscience is not bothered by the fact that he is deliberately deceiving people. Paul also calls him a child of the devil, or son of Satan and an enemy of all righteousness. He’s perverting the ways of God, or making the ways of God seem to be crooked, sort of like some of our false teachers today. Jesus used some of the same language speaking to some of the Jews in:
John “YE ARE OF your FATHER THE DEVIL, AND THE LUSTS OF YOUR FATHER YE WILL DO. HE WAS A MURDERER FROM THE BEGINNING, AND ABODE NOT IN THE TRUTH, BECAUSE THERE IS NO TRUTH IN HIM. WHEN HE SPEAKETH A LIE, HE SPEAKETH OF HIS OWN: FOR HE IS A LIAR, AND THE FATHER OF IT.”
v11. “AND NOW, BEHOLD, THE HAND OF THE LORD is UPON THEE, AND THOU SHALT BE BLIND, NOT SEEING THE SUN FOR A SEASON. AND IMMEDIATELY THERE FELL ON HIM A MIST AND A DARKNESS; AND HE WENT ABOUT SEEKING SOME TO LEAD HIM BY THE HAND.”
obviously by the direction of the Holy Spirit, placed a curse on this man. He’s is to be blind for a season, not able to
even find his way around without someone leading him by the hand. Where else do we find the results of the hand
of the Lord being on someone? During the
Exodus 9:3 “BEHOLD, THE HAND OF THE LORD IS UPON THY CATTLE WHICH is IN THE FIELD, UPON THE HORSES, UPON THE ASSES, UPON THE CAMELS, UPON THE OXEN, AND UPON THE SHEEP: there shall be A VERY GRIEVOUS MURRAIN.”
I Samuel 5:6 “BUT THE HAND OF THE LORD WAS HEAVY UPON THEM OF ASHDOD, AND HE DESTROYED THEM, AND SMOTE THEM WITH EMERODS, even ASHDOD AND THE COASTS THEREOF.”
v12. “THEN THE DEPUTY, WHEN HE SAW WHAT WAS DONE, BELIEVED, BEING ASTONISHED AT THE DOCTRINE OF THE LORD.”
This Roman proconsul, or deputy, we remember was a wise and prudent man. Consequently when he understood that he was being deceived by this charlatan and understood the doctrine, or teaching, of the Lord he believed. He also understood the overwhelming power that Paul and Barnabas exhibited when Elymas was struck blind.
v13. “NOW WHEN PAUL AND HIS COMPANY LOOSED FROM
PAPHOS, THEY CAME TO PERGA IN PAMPHYLIA: AND JOHN DEPARTING FROM THEM RETURNED
Barnabas now leave the
Read Acts 13:14-37
v14. “BUT WHEN THEY DEPARTED FROM PERGA, THEY CAME
not stay in this city of
v15. “AND AFTER THE READING OF THE LAW AND THE PROPHETS THE RULERS OF THE SYNAGOGUE SENT UNTO THEM SAYING, ye MEN and BRETHREN, IF YE HAVE ANY WORD OF EXHORTATION FOR THE PEOPLE, SAY ON.”
think that this might have been the reason that they hurried on their way from
Luke “AND HE CAME TO
The rulers of the synagogue had the responsibility for conducting the service much the same as we do here today. Their worship may not have been as structured as ours is today with a regular sermon planned and scheduled in advance but rather allowed those to speak who wished to do so and Paul and Barnabas are invited to address the congregation.
v16. “THEN PAUL STOOD UP, AND BECKONING WITH his
HAND SAID, MEN OF
as the leader of his group, stands up, gets the attention of the audience and
starts to speak. He addresses them as
v17. “THE GOD OF THIS PEOPLE OF
He begins his lesson with the history of the Israelite people, building the foundation in their minds before getting to the ultimate purpose of his sermon. He starts with God bringing them out of captivity, God’s instructions to Moses:
Exodus 6:6 “WHEREFORE SAY UNTO THE CHILDREN OF ISRAEL, I am THE LORD, AND I WILL BRING YOU OUT FORM UNDER THE BURDENS OF THE EGYPTIANS, AND I WILL RID YOU OUT OF THEIR BONDAGE, AND I WILL REDEEM YOU WITH A STRETCHED OUT ARM, AND WITH GREAT JUDGMENTS.”
a chosen people:
Deuteronomy 7:6 “FOR THOU art AN HOLY PEOPLE UNTO THE LORD THY GOD: THE LORD THY GOD HATH CHOSEN THEE TO BE A SPECIAL PEOPLE UNTO HIMSELF, ABOVE ALL PEOPLE THAT are UPON THE FACE OF THE EARTH.”
v18. “AND ABOUT THE TIME OF FORTY YEARS SUFFERED HE THEIR MANNERS IN THE WILDERNESS.”
The ASV reads “AS A NURSING FATHER BARE HE THEM IN THE WILDERNESS.” He reminds them that God was very patient with their fathers; he “SUFFERED” them for forty years. He didn’t destroy all of them when they disobeyed, when they thumbed their noses at Him, rebelled against His wishes but preserved the younger generation until they could realize His promise:
Numbers -34 “AND YOUR CHILDREN SHALL WANDER IN THE WILDERNESS FORTY YEARS, AND BEAR YOUR WHOREDOMS, UNTIL YOUR CARCASES BE WASTED IN THE WILDERNESS. AFTER THE NUMBER OF THE DAYS IN WHICH YE SEARCHED THE LAND, even FORTY DAYS, EACH DAY FOR A YEAR, SHALL HE BEAR YOUR INIQUITIES, even FORTY YEARS, AND YE SHALL KNOW MY BREACH OF PROMISE.”
v19. “AND WHEN HE HAD DESTROYED SEVEN NATIONS IN
Deuteronomy 7:1 “WHEN THE LORD THY GOD SHALL BRING THEE INTO THE LAND WHITHER THOU GOEST TO POSSESS IT, AND HATH CAST OUT MANY NATIONS BEFORE THEE, THE HITTITES, AND THE GIRGASHITES, AND THE AMORITES, AND THE CANAANITES, AND THE PERIZZITES, AND THE HIVITES, AND THE JEBUSITES, SEVEN NATIONS GREATER AND MIGHTIER THAN THOU;”
This distribution of the promised land we find recorded as well:
Joshua 14:1-2 “AND THESE are the countries WHICH
THE CHILDREN OF ISRAEL INHERITED IN THE LAND OF CANAAN, WHICH ELEAZAR THE
PRIEST, AND JOSHUA THE SON OF NUM, AND THE HEADS OF THE FATHERS OF THE TRIBES
OF THE CHILDREN OF ISRAEL, DISTRIBUTED FOR INHERITANCE TO THEM. BY
v20. “AND AFTER THAT HE GAVE unto them JUDGES ABOUT THE SPACE OF FOUR HUNDRED AND FIFTY YEARS, UNTIL SAMUEL THE PROPHET.”
God gave them Judges:
Judges “NEVERTHELESS THE LORD RAISED UP JUDGES, WHICH DELIVERED THEM OUT OF THE HAND OF THOSE THAT SPOILED THEM.”
We should remember from our studies the cycle that the Israelite nation went through very well. They disobeyed God, denied God, abandoned God then God would punish them with oppression and they would repent and return. The judges ruled until the time of Samuel, when Samuel was established by God as his prophet:
I Samuel “AND ALL ISRAEL FROM DAN EVEN TO BEERSHEBA KNEW THAT SAMUEL was ESTABLISHED to be A PROPHET OF THE LORD.”
Now I will point out that there is some controversy between Bible scholars about this 450 years that Paul refers too. However, Paul is speaking by the Holy Spirit and therefore we know that his words are accurate. I’m not going to get into that but if you’re interested H. Leo Boles has an excellent explanation in is commentary on the book of Acts.
v21. “AND AFTERWARD THEY DESIRED A KING: AND GOD GAVE UNTO THEM SAUL THE SON OF CIS, A MAN OF THE TRIBE OF BENJAMIN, BY THE SPACE OF FORTY YEARS.”
in the history of
I Samuel 8:5 “AND SAID UNTO HIM, BEHOLD, THOU ART OLD, AND THY SONS WALK NOT IN THY WAYS: NOW MAKE US A KING TO JUDGE US LIKE ALL THE NATIONS.”
We have the record of Samuel anointing Saul to be that first king:
I Samuel 10:1 “THEN SAMUEL TOOK A VIAL OF OIL, AND POURED it UPON HIS HEAD, AND KISSED HIM, AND SAID, Is it NOT BECAUSE THE LORD HAD ANOINTED THEE to be CAPTAIN OVER HIS INHERITANCE?”
v22. “AND WHEN HE HAD REMOVED HIM, HE RAISED UP UNTO THEM DAVID TO BE THEIR KING; TO WHOM ALSO HE GAVE TESTIMONY, AND SAID, I HAVE FOUND DAVID THE son OF JESSE, A MAN AFTER MINE OWN HEART, WHICH SHALL FULFUL ALL MY WILL.”
Paul goes on to tell how that Saul was subsequently removed from his responsibility as king over God’s people and replaced with David the son of Jesse.
v23. “OF THIS MAN’S SEED HATH GOD ACCORDING TO his
PROMISE RAISED UNTO
Now Paul gets to the main point of his lesson, bringing in Jesus of Nazareth, the Messiah, that God had promised:
Psalms 132:11 “THE LORD HATH SWORN in TRUTH UNTO DAVID; HE WILL NOT TURN FROM IT; OF THE FRUIT OF THY BODY WILL I SET UPON THY THRONE.”
Isaiah 11:1 “AND THERE SHALL COME FORTH A ROD OUT OF THE STEM OF JESSE, AND A BRANCH SHALL GROW OUT OF HIS ROOTS:”
they understood that these prophecies referred to the coming of the Deliverer, the Messiah, who would come from the lineage of Jesse through David.
Luke “HE SHALL BE GREAT, AND SHALL BE CALLED THE SON OF THE HIGHEST: AND THE LORD GOD SHALL GIVE UNTO HIM THE THRONE OF IS FATHER DAVID:”
v24. “WHEN JOHN HAD FIRST
PREACHED BEFORE HIS COMING THE BAPTISM OF REPENTANCE TO ALL THE PEOPLE OF
John had preached concerning the coming of Christ, and preached the baptism of repentance. We also understand and Paul is explaining to them that he was the herald that announced the coming of the new king.
v25. “AND AS JOHN FULFILLED HIS COURSE, HE SAID, WHOM THINK YE THAT I AM? I AM NOT he. BUT, BEHOLD, THERE COMETH ONE AFTER ME, WHOSE SHOES OF his FEET I AM NOT WORTHY TO LOOSE.”
Paul continues, they probably knew of the teaching of John because they were Jews and perhaps they had even heard about Jesus and his teaching. John had told those who came to him that he was not the Messiah that they looked for and that the Messiah would be much greater that he, that is John, would be. This part of Paul’s sermon combines the thoughts of two verses in John:
John “AND HE CONFESSED, AND DENIED NOT; BUT CONFESSED, I AM NOT THE CHRIST.”
John “HE IT IS, WHO COMING AFTER ME IS PREFERRED BEFORE ME, WHOSE SHOE’S LATCHET I AM NOT WORTHY TO UNLOOSE.”
v26. “MEN and BRETHREN, CHILDREN OF THE STOCK OF ABRAHAM, AND WHOSOEVER AMONG YOU FEARETH GOD, TO YOU IS THE WORD OF THIS SALVATION SENT.”
Paul is preaching a conversion sermon. He appeals to them as children of Abraham and anyone else among them who fears God. Salvation has been sent, freedom from the curse of sin is available, Jesus himself had told those to whom he spoke:
Luke 24:47 “AND THAT REPENTANCE AND REMISSION OF SINS
SHOULD BE PREACHED IN HIS NAME AMONG ALL NATIONS, BEGINNING AT
I wonder sometimes if the emphasis of our preaching is misplaced. We need always to convict or convince men that they have sin in their lives, and many already know that but I wonder if we emphasize enough that redemption is available, especially to those outside of Christ.
v27. “FOR THEY THAT DWELL AT JERUSALEM, AND THEIR RULERS, BECAUSE THEY KNEW HIM NOT, NOR YET THE VOICES OF THE PROPHETS WHICH ARE READ EVERY SABBATH DAY, THEY HAVE FULFILLED them IN CONDEMING him.”
is answering their objections even before they are made. They might ask “Just who is this man Jesus,
wasn’t he removed, how can he be the Messiah, the King that was to lead them
out of bondage?” But because, Paul says,
they didn’t know him, didn’t hear the voices of the prophets who prophesied
that Jesus would die, even though they read them every sabbath
worship they actually fulfilled those prophesies by their ignorance and their
condemning him to die. Paul writes to
I Corinthians 2:8 “WHICH NONE OF THE PRINCES OF THIS WORLD KNEW, FOR HAD THEY KNOWN it, THEY WOULD NOT HAVE CRUCIFIED THE LORD OF GLORY.”
v28. “AND THOUGH THEY FOUND NO CAUSE OF DEATH in him, YET DESIRED THEY PILATE THAT HE SHOULD BE SLAIN.”
v29. “AND WHEN THEY HAD FULFILLED ALL THAT WAS WRITTEN OF HIM, THEY TOOK him DOWN FROM THE TREE, AND LAID him IN A SEPULCHRE.”
All that was written or prophesied about Jesus was indeed fulfilled and Paul continues in his sermon saying when this was done they placed him in the sepulchre or grave. Of course, we have this recorded for us in the actions of Joseph of Arimathaea
Matthew 27:59-60 “AND WHEN JOSEPH HAD TAKEN THE BODY, HE WRAPPED IT IN A CLEAN LINEN CLOTH, AND LAID IT IN HIS OWN NEW TOMB, WHICH HE HAD HEWN OUT IN THE ROCK: AND HE ROLLED A GREAT STONE TO THE DOOR OF THE SEPULCHRE, AND DEPARTED.”
v30. “BUT GOD RAISED HIM FROM THE DEAD.”
Simple, straightforward statement, “but God raised him from the dead” of course we remember the proof:
Matthew 28:6 “HE IS NOT HERE: FOR HE IS RISEN, AS HE SAID. COME, SEE THE PLACE WHERE THE LORD LAY.”
v31. “AND HE WAS SEEN MANY DAYS OF THEM WHICH CAME
UP WITH HIM FROM
presents further evidence that Jesus was indeed the Messiah, he was not only
raised from the dead but he tarried many days, a little over a month wasn’t
it? And among those from
I Corinthians 15:5-7 “AND THAT HE WAS SEEN OF CEPHAS, THEN OF THE TWELVE: AFTER THAT, HE WAS SEEN OF ABOVE FIVE HUNDRED BRETHREN AT ONCE; OF WHOM THE GREATER PART REMAIN UNTO THIS PRESENT DAY, BUT SOME HAVE FALLEN ASLEEP. AFTER THAT, HE WAS SEEN OF JAMES; THEN OF ALL THE APOSTLES.”
v32. “AND WE DECLARE UNTO YOU GLAD TIDINGS, HOW THAT THE PROMISE THAT WAS MADE UNTO YOUR FATHERS,”
The glad tidings abound, the promise that God had made to Abraham has now been fulfilled:
Genesis 12:3 “AND I WILL BLESS THEM THAT BLESS THEE, AND CURSE HIM THAT CURSETH THEE: AND IN THEE SHALL ALL FAMILIES OF THE EARTH BE BLESSED.”
And that promise was not made through the law, that is the law of Moses:
Romans 4:13 “FOR THE PROMISE, THAT HE SHOULD BE THE HEIR OF THE WORLD, was NOT TO ABRAHAM, OR TO HIS SEED, THROUGH THE LAW, BUT THROUGH THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF FAITH.”
but rather through Christ, the Messiah, the one whom Pilate ordered crucified:
Galatians ‘NOW TO ABRAHAM AND HIS SEED WERE THE PROMISES MADE. HE SAITH NOT, AND TO SEEDS, AS OF MANY; BUT AS OF ONE, AND TO THY SEED, WHICH IS CHRIST.”
v33. “GOD HATH FULFILLED THE SAME UNTO US THEIR CHILDREN, IN THAT HE HATH RAISED UP JESUS AGAIN; AS IT IS ALSO WRITTEN IN THE SECOND PSALM, THOU ART MY SON, THIS DAY HAVE I BEGOTTEN THEE.”
The second chapter of Psalms is probably familiar to them as it should be to us:
“YET HAVE I SET MY KING UPON MY HOLY HILL OF
God had decreed that his son would be king on the “Holy hill of Zion” and Paul is confirming to these Jews that Jesus of Nazareth is that Son, just as the Hebrew writer did:
Hebrews 1:5 “FOR UNTO WHICH OF THE ANGELS SAID HE AT ANY TIME, THOU ART MY SON, THIS DAY HAVE I BEGOTTEN THEE? AND AGAIN, I WILL BE TO HIM A FATHER, AND HE SHALL BE TO ME A SON?”
v34. “AND AS CONCERNING THAT HE RAISED HIM UP FROM THE DEAD, now NO MORE TO RETURN TO CORRUPTION, HE SAID ON THIS WISE, I WILL GIVE THE SURE MERCIES OF DAVID.”
This resurrection of Jesus placed him beyond the power of death. Remember that all others that had been brought back to life, died again but Jesus did not. Just as we will be, when we are raised from the dead, raised never to die again. Paul also folds in the words of the prophet Isaiah into his lesson, observe:
Isaiah. 55:3 “INCLINE YOUR EAR, AND COME UNTO ME: HEAR, AND YOUR SOUL SHALL LIVE; AND I WILL MAKE AN EVERLASTING COVENANT WITH YOU, even THE SURE MERCIES OF DAVID.”
we don’t always think of it that way but God’s covenant with mankind today is an everlasting covenant, not like the covenants of old with the fathers or the covenant with Israel, but everlasting, never to be ended.
v35. “WHEREFORE HE SAID ALSO IN ANOTHER psalm, THOU SHALT NOT SUFFER THINE HOLY ONE TO SEE CORRUPTION.”
Again we find Paul using scripture reference much the same as those that preach today, or perhaps we should say that those that preach today, that preach God’s Word, refer to scripture just like Paul does here:
Psalms “FOR THOU WILT NOT LEAVE MY SOUL IN HELL; NEITHER WILT THOU SUFFER THINE HOLY ONE TO SEE CORRUPTION.”
v36. “FOR DAVID, AFTER HE HAD SERVED HIS OWN GENERATION BY THE WILL OF GOD, FELL ON SLEEP, AND WAS LAID UNTO HIS FATHERS, AND SAW CORRUPTION.”
Paul is telling them that David isn’t talking about himself, he’s talking about a king who would die, be raised from the dead, and whose body would never see corruption, i.e. would not be in the grave long enough to decay. The scripture they knew told them that and Paul is reminding them:
I Kings “ SO DAVID SLEPT
WITH HIS FATHERS, AND WAS BURIED IN THE CITY OF
if these Jews had been to
Acts “MEN AND BRETHREN, LET ME FREELY SPEAK UNTO YOU OF THE PATRIARCH DAVID, THAT HE IS BOTH DEAD AND BURIED, AND HIS SEPULCHRE IS WITH US UNTO THIS DAY.”
v37. “BUT HE, WHOM GOD RAISED AGAIN, SAW NO CORRUPTION.”
Again the crowning proof that Jesus of Nazareth was indeed the Messiah, the one for which they had sought for so many years in the fact that he was raised from the dead and his body did not see corruption. This was a sign given by the inspiration of God through David in his own writing as well as through other prophets.
Read Acts 13:38-44
v38. “BE IT KNOWN UNTO YOU THEREFORE, MEN and BRETHREN, THAT THROUGH THIS MAN IS PREACHED UNTO YOU THE FORGIVENESS OF SINS:”
We can point out that Paul’s preaching here parallels Peter’s sermon on Pentecost and much of Stephen’s sermon to the Sanhedrin. Of course, he’s preaching to Jews who are familiar with these things, Jews that understand the points he’s making. Therefore this is a very effective way of presenting Christ, salvation, and the Word of God to these people. He tells them that it is through this Jesus, that the complete forgiveness of sin is available, something that their law had never provided. Daniel prophesied about it:
Daniel 9:24 “SEVENTY WEEKS ARE DETERMINED UPON THY PEOPLE AND UPON THY HOLY CITY, TO FINISH THE TRANSGRESSION, AND TO MAKE AN END OF SINS, AND TO MAKE RECONCILIATION FOR INIQUITY, AND TO BRING IN EVERLASTING RIGHTEOUSNESS, AND TO SEAL UP THE VISION AND PROPHECY, AND TO ANOINT THE MOST HOLY.”
Jesus preached it.
Luke 24:47 “AND
THAT REPENTANCE AND REMISSION OF SINS SHOULD BE PREACHED IN HIS NAME AMONG ALL
NATIONS, BEGINNING AT
John, as directed by the Holy Spirit confirmed it:
I John “I WRITE UNTO YOU, LITTLE CHILDREN, BECAUSE YOUR SINS ARE FORGIVEN YOU FOR HIS NAME’S SAKE.”
v39. “AND BY HIM ALL THAT BELIEVE ARE JUSTIFIED FROM ALL THINGS, FROM WHICH YE COULD NOT BE JUSTIFIED BY THE LAW OF MOSES.”
The fact that Jesus would be able to provide justification of men’s souls is inherent in the seed promise and confirmed by prophecy:
Isaiah 53:11 “HE SHALL SEE OF THE TRAVAIL OF HIS SOUL, and SHALL BE SATISIFIED: BY HIS KNOWLEDGE SHALL MY RIGHTEOUS SERVANT JUSTIFY MANY; FOR HE SHALL BEAR THEIR INIQUITIES.”
The law of that Moses brought from God was never intended to justify mankind or remove his sins:
Hebrews 7:19 “FOR THE LAW MADE NOTHING PERFECT, BUT THE BRINGING IN OF A BETTER HOPE did; BY THE WHICH WE DRAW NIGH UNTO GOD.”
but the Gospel of Christ did through our obedient faith as Paul wrote later:
Romans “THEREFORE WE CONCLUDE THAT A MAN IS JUSTIFIED BY FAITH WITHOUT THE DEEDS OF THE LAW.”
and some folks think that this teaches faith only but it doesn’t but that’s another lesson:
Romans 8:3 “FOR WHAT THE LAW COULD NOT DO, IN THAT IT WAS WEAK THROUGH THE FLESH, GOD SENDING HIS OWN SON IN THE LIKENESS OF SINFUL FLESH, AND FOR SIN, CONDEMNED SIN IN THE FLESH.”
v40. “BEWARE THEREFORE, LEST THAT COME UPON YOU, WHICH IS SPOKEN OF IN THE PROPHETS;”
Now that he has made them aware of the Messiah, the gift of grace that has been brought from God by him and the opportunity to remove the stain of sin from their lives entirely, he now gives them a warning.
v41. “BEHOLD, YE DESPISERS, AND WONDER, AND PERISH: FOR I WORK A WORK IN YOUR DAYS, A WORK WHICH YE SHALL IN NO WISE BELIEVE, THOUGH A MAN DECLARE IT UNTO YOU.”
Paul draws this warning from one of the minor prophets:
Habakkuk 1:5 “BEHOLD YE AMONG THE HEATHEN, AND REGARD, AND WONDER MARVELLOUSLY: FOR i WILL WORK A WORK IN YOUR DAYS, which YE WILL NOT BELIEVE, THOUGH IT BE TOLD you.”
v42. “AND WHEN THE JEWS WERE GONE OUT OF THE SYNAGOGUE, THE GENTILES BESOUGHT THAT THESE WORDS MIGHT BE PREACHED TO THEM THE NEXT SABBATH.”
Earlier in our study Paul addressed Jews and “YE THAT FEAR GOD” and now we understand why, the next verse mentions religious proselytes, devout proselytes in the ASV so a number of the congregation at Antioch were converted Gentiles. The KJV translation makes it sound like only the proselytes asked Paul to come back the next week but when we study other translations they say “the people” and of course we understand that the leaders of the synagogue, those responsible for the service, would have to extend the invitation to speak. Suffice to say that they wanted to hear more.
v43. “NOW WHEN THE CONGREGATION WAS BROKEN UP, MANY OF THE JEWS AND RELIGIOUS PROSELYTES FOLLOWED PAUL AND BARNABAS: WHO, SPEAKING TO THEM, PERSUADED THEM TO CONTINUE IN THE GRACE OF GOD.”
As would be typical, after worship, a number of people gather to talk with these visitors discussing Paul’s sermon perhaps and generally getting to know them. They don’t immediately accept what Paul told them do they? What do you think Paul told them to persuade them to “CONTINUE IN THE GRACE OF GOD”?
Titus 2:11-12 “FOR THE GRACE OF GOD THAT BRINGETH SALVATION HATH APPEARED TO ALL MEN, TEACHING US THAT, DENYING UNGODLINESS AND WORLDLY LUSTS, WE SHOULD LIVE SOBERLY, RIGHTEOUSLY, AND GODLY, IN THIS PRESENT WORLD;”
First of all he probably continued to encourage them to accept the grace of God and the cleansing of salvation through Jesus Christ, then secondly to live as he would later write to Titus. The Hebrew writer expresses it this way:
Hebrews 12:14-15 “FOLLOW PEACE WITH ALL men, AND HOLINESS, WITHOUT WHICH NO MAN SHALL SEE THE LORD: LOOKING DILIGENTLY LEST ANY MAN FAIL OF THE GRACE OF GOD; LEST ANY ROOT OF BITTERNESS SPRINGING UP TROUBLE you, AND THEREBY MANY BE DEFILED;”
but peace is not going to last long is it.
Read Acts 13:44-52
v44. “AND THE NEXT SABBATH DAY CAME ALMOST THE
Do you think that Paul and Barnabas only preached on the Sabbath? Probably not, they probably preached continually during the week that passes after their first opportunity at the synagogue. Now almost the entire city turns out to hear the word of God proclaimed. The rulers of this synagogue should be ecstatic with their attendance but such is not the case:
v45. “BUT WHEN THE JEWS SAW THE MULTITUDES, THEY WERE FILLED WITH ENVY, AND SPAKE AGAINST THESE THINGS WHICH WERE SPOKEN BY PAUL, CONTRADICTING AND BLASPHEMING.”
What problems did these Jews have? First of all they had the problem of jealousy or envy as we see translated here. What was the problem? They were jealous of the influence that Paul and Barnabas had in this city with their teaching. They are not concerned with the souls of men but rather they’re jealous of the following of people that Paul and Barnabas had gathered in a very short period of time. After all these Jews were God’s people in Antioch and here these men come in and in just a few days the numbers that listen to them are much greater than the Jews had ever even dreamed of converting, if they had tried; so they become jealous. Is that a source of problems in the church today? They’re kind of like those Jude writes about aren’t they:
Jude “BUT THESE SPEAK EVIL OF THOSE THINGS WHICH THEY KNOW NOT: BUT WHAT THEY KNOW NATURALLY, AS BRUTE BEASTS, IN THOSE THINGS THEY CORRUPT THEMSELVES.”
v46. “THEN PAUL AND BARNABAS WAXED BOLD, AND SAID, IT WAS NECESSARY THAT THE WORD OF GOD SHOULD FIRST HAVE BEEN SPOKEN TO YOU: BUT SEEING YE PUT IT FROM YOU, AND JUDGE YOURSELVES UNWORTHY OF EVERLASTING LIFE, LO, WE TURN TO THE GENTILES.”
The Jews expel Paul and Barnabas from the synagogue as a result of their envy and their refusal to accept the good news of Jesus, the grace of God, BUT that doesn’t stop their preaching does it? They have fulfilled God’s requirement:
Romans “FOR I AM NOT ASHAMED OF THE GOSPEL OF CHRIST: FOR IT IS THE POWER OF GOD UNTO SALVATION TO EVERY ONE THAT BELIEVETH; TO THE JEW FIRST, AND ALSO TO THE GREEK.”
is to be preached to the Jew first and then to the Greek. This is the same pattern that we find in the
Isaiah 55:5 “BEHOLD, THOU SHALT CALL A
NATION that THOU KNOWEST NOT, AND NATIONS that KNEW NOT THEE SHALL
RUN UNTO THEE BECAUSE OF THE LORD
THY GOD, AND FOR THE HOLY ONE OF
v47. “FOR SO HATH THE LORD COMMANDED US, saying, I HAVE SET THEE TO BE A LIGHT OF THE GENTILES, THAT THOU SHOULDEST BE FOR SALVATION UNTO THE ENDS OF THE EARTH.”
Then Paul and Barnabas tell these people what they are going to do and that this is a commandment of the Lord, found in prophesy:
Isaiah 42:6 “I THE LORD HAVE CALLED THEE IN RIGHTEOUSNESS, AND WILL HOLD THINE HAND, AND WILL KEEP THEE, AND GIVE THEE FOR A COVENANT OF THE PEOPLE, FOR A LIGHT OF THE GENTILES.”
and Isaiah wasn’t talking about
making them proselyte Jews. The prophecy
that gives the commandment referred to in the beginning of Acts 13:47 is not the same prophesy that Paul or Barnabas is quoting
prophesy in the latter part of Acts
13:47 but another verse in Isaiah
and through the direction of the Holy Spirit he is applying it to the
conversion of all nations. The Jews,
through Jesus being of
Isaiah 49:6 “AND HE SAID, IT IS A LIGHT THING THAT THOU SHOULDEST BE MY SERVANT TO RAISE UP THE TRIBES OF JACOB, AND TO RESTORE THE PRESERVED OF ISRAEL: I WILL ALSO GIVE THEE FOR A LIGHT TO THE GENTILES, THAT THOU MAYEST BE MY SALVATION UNTO THE END OF THE EARTH.”
Confirmed by the angel to Joseph and Mary when they are told about the son about to be born:
Luke “A LIGHT TO LIGHTEN
THE GENTILES, AND THE GLORY OF THY PEOPLE
v48. “AND THEN THE GENTILES HEARD THIS, THEY WERE GLAD, AND GLORIFIED THE WORD OF THE LORD: AND AS MANY AS WERE ORDAINED TO ETERNAL LIFE BELIEVED.”
The Gentiles receive this good news with open hearts, glad of the opportunity to share in the grace of God, and glorify God as a result.
People have a lot of problem with this verse though, for other reasons, do we know why? Predestination, after all Luke records that “AS MANY AS WERE ORDAINED (or appointed) TO ETERNAL LIFE BELIEVED” and if they were appointed or ordained to eternal life then they were predestined weren’t they? No. We run into all kinds of problems if we take this approach. The Holy Spirit, speaking through Paul would then immediately be out of harmony with the rest of the Word of God. If God was going to predestine or fore-ordain who was to be saved and who wasn’t then why provide mankind with a mind to think for himself?
If God fore-ordained or predestined when people would be saved and which wouldn't then why the foolishness of preaching? And we could go on and on. Then what is the problem with the wording our English translations here? The word translated ordained here is translated ordained only twice in the New Testament according to Vine’s Dictionary. The word also could, perhaps more appropriately be translated “determined” that would change the reading just a little wouldn’t it. Let’s see “AS MANY AS WERE DETERMINED TO ETERNAL LIFE BELIEVED” how is it different? I think that it’s different because the action required is shifted in our minds, if we are ordained to do something that means we were appointed, if we’re determined to do something it means something entirely different doesn’t it? It means that we’ve set our minds to do something.
v49. “AND THE WORD OF THE LORD WAS PUBLISHED THROUGHOUT ALL THE REGION.”
Out of this effort the Word of God was indeed taught or published throughout the entire region, perhaps even throughout even all of Pisidia.
v50. “BUT THE JEWS STIRRED UP THE DEVOUT AND HONOURABLE WOMEN, AND THE CHIEF MEN OF THE CITY, AND RAISED PERSECUTION AGAINST PAUL AND BARNABAS, AND EXPELLED THEM OUT OF THEIR COASTS.”
The enemies of Jesus and his apostles didn’t stay idle for long did they? They worked and worked and stirred the people. Understand especially the influence of the women of the congregation. It reminds me of something I overheard my grandmother say one time. Someone asked her how she managed to never disagree with her husband but outwardly allowed it to be obvious that he was indeed the head of that household. I don’t remember her exact response but her words indicted that the husband must indeed be the head of the house but the wife can be the neck that turns the head and must take care of that privately. But Paul and Barnabas are expelled, apparently not just from the city but from the entire region. Paul remembers in his letter to Timothy:
II Timothy “PERSECUTIONS, AFFLICTIONS, WHICH CAME UNTO ME AT ANTIOCH, AT ICONIUM, AT LYSTRA; WHAT PERSECUTIONS I ENDURED: BUT OUT OF them ALL THE LORD DELIVERED ME.”
v51. “BUT THEY SHOOK OFF THE DUST OF THEIR FEET AGAINST THEM, AND CAME UNTO ICONIUM.”
They followed the instructions that Jesus gave his disciples at the beginning didn’t they?
Matthew 10:14 “AND WHOSOEVER SHALL NOT RECEIVE YOU, NOR HEAR YOUR WORDS, WHEN YE DEPART OUT OF THAT HOUSE OR CITY, SHAKE OFF THE DUST OF YOUR FEET.”
v52. “AND THE DISCIPLES WERE FILLED WITH JOY, AND WITH THE HOLY GHOST.”
Even though Paul and Barnabas have to leave this region; their influence and their fruit remains doesn’t it? The disciples that remained in Antioch of Pisidia were filled with joy, joy because now they had received salvation from their sins and could look forward to spending their eternity with God living rather than separated from God and spiritually dead. They also were filled with the Holy Ghost, why? They would need this guidance until the perfect law was available, until the mind of God is completely revealed and until the book containing the mind of God was completed.