ACTS OF THE APOSTLES CHAPTER 13
With the state sponsored persecution of the Church very much welcomed by the religious Jews put to rest culminating in the unimaginable death of the earthly monarch Herod being eaten up alive by worms, the Church was ready to record its onward march of its expansion with the preaching of the gospel in foreign lands. Having fulfilled their relief ministry at Jerusalem, Barnabas and Saul returned to the Gentile church at Antioch and this chapter documented their first missionary foray that began a worldwide movement of preaching the gospel far and wide inspired by their work. From here on, the church at Jerusalem was put on the backburner and the focus now would be raising up churches of the Gentiles and the restoration of Kingdom to the nation of Israel would be held in abeyance.
Acts 13:1: Now there were in the church that was at Antioch certain prophets and teachers; as Barnabas, and Simeon that was called Niger, and Lucius of Cyrene, and Manaen, which had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul.
Acts 13:2: 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.
So there were prophets and teachers in the church at Antioch like the church at Jerusalem. This was a healthy church. This shows that a church is not run by a pastor or a senior pastor acting as a CEO of an organisation with a fat pay compensation that is so fashionable in this day and age. Barnabas and Saul were named among these prophets and teachers and Saul was named last. Saul was a junior member led to the church at Antioch by Barnabas. These men came from different places and they were gathered at the church with no discrimination on their races and cultures and they served the Lord in unity ministering to the Lord. In Jerusalem, this set up would not be possible where strong nationalistic sentiments still prevailed within the church where quarrels between the widows of the Hebrews and the Greceans were recorded. As a result, godly men were appointed to ensure the smooth functioning of the church in Jerusalem recorded in Acts 6.
These men in the church practised fasting waiting upon the Lord. The Holy Ghost spoke to these men and instructed these leaders of the church to separate Barnabas and Saul for the work the Lord had for them. Barnabas was again named before Saul as he was the leader and was more senior than Saul. This again shows that the Lord speaks to His people directly and those people concerned would know about the Lord’s will. The modern day churches practise pastoral authority claiming that God speaks to the pastor or senior pastor and it is only through the pastor that God calls others for the work. This is not only unbiblical, it opens the door to abuse where these men called pastors assume upon them the power and the rights to tell members what God wants the members to do especially in the service of the Lord.
It was very clear that the Lord spoke to these men directly and individually and they received the same message and understood God’s will. There was no misreading and misunderstanding what the will of the Lord was concerning Barnabas and Saul. There was no quarrel, no envy and no confusion in the church at Antioch. These were faithful and godly men who were practising spiritual exercise in fasting while waiting upon the Lord. Fasting is an important spiritual exercise to prepare oneself to be spiritually alert and discerning to hear the Lord’s still small voice. Fasting will keep a believer away from the noise of this noisy and colourful world and keep him away from all distraction attending upon the Lord. Without fasting casting out certain devils would be impossible let alone knowing what the Lord’s will is especially concerning preaching the gospel in a mission field.
Thus Barnabas and Saul were to be separated from the other prophets and teachers in the church. While they were ministering fruitfully at the church as well as being entrusted to bring relief to the church at Jerusalem not long ago, the time had come for them to be separated from the other leaders for a more prolonged work away from the church at Antioch. Barnabas had vast experience travelling between churches in the past and this experience gained would be useful for the future work at hand. Saul likewise had been travelling as well and he went to Damascus to persecute the saints and ended up ministering at the church there. He went to Arabia to received revelation directly from the Lord as well (Galatians 1:17). Though he ministered for a short time at Jerusalem, he was more fruitful ministering in Gentile lands than in Israel. Moreover, he was born in Tarsus and had lived outside of Israel before, so Barnabas and Saul were natural choices for the gospel work in the mission field where no other Jewish apostles could easily adopt and adapt to the lives of the Gentiles outside of Israel. Even the apostle Peter failed trying to live among the Gentiles and had to be rebuked by Paul in later years (Galatians 2:11-14).
Acts 13:3: And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them away.
Acts 13:4: So they, being sent forth by the Holy Ghost, departed unto Seleucia; and from thence they sailed to Cyprus.
These God called men were sent away in simplicity for the work the Lord had prepared for them. Again, prayers and fasting were practised before such an important work where blessings from heaven must be sought. They laid hands on Barnabas and Saul not for the purpose of giving them the gift of the Holy Ghost but for showing their approval and fellowship for this great work where the church would undertake the responsibility to care for their welfare and to uphold them before the Lord for their work. While the church sent them off to the mission field, it was actually the Holy Ghost who was the active agent behind the whole mission to direct them off to the foreign lands. So the church at Antioch sent out Barnabas and Saul as evangelists for a mission to preach the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Modern day Christians and churches called these men missionaries. The term “missionary” is not found in the Bible. Notwithstanding, these men are sent out by a church for a mission and the mission is to preach the gospel of Christ and so calling them missionaries is not inappropriate. However, it must be understood that they are evangelists out to evangelise the world for Christ. Otherwise, the work of missionaries could become confused where some men go out to get involved in all kinds of humanistic projects where preaching the gospel becomes incidental instead of being their primary objective in the mission fields.
It is also clear from the practice of sending out men for the gospel work where there is only one church involved. Barnabas and Saul needed not spend a few years going to hundreds of churches to solicit support and funding for their work. They were certainly called by God for the work and those leaders in the church recognised their calling. Going to the mission field as an evangelist is a calling and not a career option. The Lord called these men and will provide for them along the way. The sending church is also responsible for their work to provide the necessary support required of them. The need to make presentation in front of a church to solicit support is unbiblical. Such calling would be well observed by members in the church and the need to convince others of God’s calling for them is a modern day humanistic practice of seeking funding for business adventure. Barnabas and Saul did not approach any mission board to facilitate their work. They did not go out on a deputation for a few years to raise financial support for their work. They did not attempt to convince other churches to believe that God had called them for a work and thereby seeking their support in any way possible.
The modern day practice for some groups is that the man called by God has to align himself with a Mission Board acting as an agent to facilitate his funding for the mission work. This man would then travel across the vast expanse of the country to present his calling to some particular country to churches seeking financial support for the work. Some spent years doing such fund raising exercise and never made it into the mission field. Fund raising became a career as such and the mission field ended up in vapour where the missionary’s mission became preaching to different congregations across the country.
Acts 13:5: 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.
So they left the church at Antioch with another young man John Mark, who was a relative of Barnabas from the church at Jerusalem who came with them to Antioch. John Mark was the nephew of Barnabas according to Colossians 4:10. When these men reached their first mission field, they started work immediately. Being Jews and having a legal platform to speak to the Jewish people, they associated themselves with the Jews in the synagogues to preach the gospel to the Jews first. This was always their usual practice to preach to the Jews first before going to the Gentiles.
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. (Romans 1:16)
The Lord Jesus Christ while ministering to the Samaritan woman also affirmed this to be true that the Jews had the first priority to God’s dealing with fallen man.
Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews. (John 4:22)
This also implies the Jews would be the first to receive punishment for the privilege of having been the first to be dealt with by the Lord.
Tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile; But glory, honour, and peace, to every man that worketh good, to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile: (Romans 2:9&10)
Hence, as far as the mission work for Barnabas and Saul was concerned, they always preached to the Jews first before ministering to the Gentiles.
Acts 13:6: And when they had gone through the isle unto Paphos, they found a certain sorcerer, a false prophet, a Jew, whose name was Bar-jesus:
Acts 13:7: 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.
Here was a prudent man in authority who wished to hear the word of God from Barnabas and Saul. However, with him was a sorcerer, a false prophet, a Jew whose name ironically was Bar-jesus, meaning son of Jesus. This man had been prophesying falsehood to the deputy. How long had this Jewish false prophet been bewitching the deputy, no one knew. The deputy knew the name of this sorcerer as Bar-jesus, a son of Jesus but this time he was about to hear about the true Jesus, the Son of the living God, the saviour of the world from the mouth of Barnabas and Saul, the servants of the Most High God.
Acts 13:8: But Elymas the sorcerer (for so is his name by interpretation) withstood them, seeking to turn away the deputy from the faith.
Acts 13:9: Then Saul, (who also is called Paul,) filled with the Holy Ghost, set his eyes on him,
Acts 13:10: And said, O full of all subtilty 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?
Acts 13:11: 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.
Acts 13:12: Then the deputy, when he saw what was done, believed, being astonished at the doctrine of the Lord.
Of course, this false prophet was not going to give up his influence and power over the deputy without a fight. So when the word of God was preached to the deputy, he withstood Barnabas and Saul to turn the deputy from the faith. Here was a spiritual warfare being fought openly in the court of this deputy. This deputy was an important person and his conversion would have a major impact on those around him just like Cornelius in Acts 10. As this Elymas sought to turn the deputy away from hearing the gospel of Christ by Barnabas and Saul, he was soundly rebuked and punished before the eyes of the deputy. This was the beginning of the manifestation of the power of God upon Saul confirming his apostleship and calling from God.
Just as Saul pronounced God’s judgment upon the sorcerer, which came to pass, the deputy also responded in believing in the true and living God preached by Barnabas and Saul. This was indeed an eye opener for the deputy. This was the first time such manifestation of power was demonstrated before this Gentile deputy by Saul where this apostle also testified to the believers in Corinth concerning the ministry of his preaching: And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: (1 Corinthians 2:4) For indeed Saul did not seek to debate with this sorcerer in order to convince the deputy concerning the faith of Christ. He simply rebuked him and manifested this power of the gospel as an apostle of Christ to bring forth this message of salvation to this lost and seeking deputy being waylaid by the sorcerer at hand.
No doubt this sorcerer was a child of the devil and an enemy of all righteousness seeking to pervert the ways of the Lord. Since he was a child of darkness, he should have a taste of physical darkness that descended upon him immediately. So for trying to blind the eyes of the deputy to the true faith in Christ, he was blinded physically for his mischief. There are still many such sorcerers in our day and there is no need to debate with such enemies of the cross. Quoting verse 10 to rebuke such enemies and leaving it to the Lord to deal with them for their wicked work would be right thing to do for any child of God when encountering such people in the course of their gospel work for the Lord.
Acts 13:13: Now when Paul and his company loosed from Paphos, they came to Perga in Pamphylia: and John departing from them returned to Jerusalem.
Having accomplished what the Lord intended for them at Paphos, they moved on to Perga where John departed from them. John was privy to all that happened at Paphos concerning the conversion of the deputy and the judgment on the sorcerer Elymas. Notwithstanding, despite the victory achieved, John could not continue the mission work with Barnabas and Saul. Perhaps it was hardship along the way or maybe he was homesick and not really ready for such demanding work of evangelising the Gentile world that John decided to return to Jerusalem.
It was not easy to move out of the comfort zone being a Jew and Jerusalem would be the place where familiarity would be much welcomed by this young inexperienced Jewish convert. The Lord’s timing would be of utmost importance concerning the work of the Lord. It is no point trying to convince or coerce anyone to do the Lord’s work when he is not ready for such serious work at hand. The discouragement experienced could cause a long lasting damage from which some could never recover. While it was a good idea and with good intention that Barnabas brought John along this mission trip, the result was not up to his expectation from this young man. This incident turned out to be an issue of sharp contention between Barnabas and Saul in the future where their partnership in the mission work had to come to an end.
Since Barnabas was travelling with Saul, John decided it was better to return to Jerusalem instead of going back to the sending church at Antioch. There would be too much questioning and awkward moments for this young man to deal with at Antioch. However, John was not put on the shelves just because of this initial failure to keep up with the mission trip with Barnabas and Saul. He was much sought after by Paul in the later years when he had better prepared and proved himself in the Lord’s work: Only Luke is with me. Take Mark, and bring him with thee: for he is profitable to me for the ministry. (2 Timothy 4:11) Christians should do well not to pass premature judgment on other fellow Christians in their walk and service for the Lord for they are indeed the Lord’s servants and only the Lord has the prerogative to deal with them in His own time according to His perfect will.
Acts 13:14: But when they departed from Perga, they came to Antioch in Pisidia, and went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and sat down.
After the departure of John Mark to Jerusalem, Barnabas and Saul travelled on to Antioch in Pisidia. Nothing was recorded to have been done for the Lord in Perga where John left them. Perhaps there was much discussion and even contention among them concerning John’s desire to depart. There might have been much time spent counselling John and encouraging him to continue with them and as such the gospel work could have been hindered. Notwithstanding, another opportunity to preach the gospel in Perga would be given at a later date.
Over in Antioch with the burden of John removed from them, Barnabas and Saul went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day to get ready for some action for the Lord. The mission for their first missionary trip was to reach the lost for Christ. For them, the starting point was the Jews and hence there was no better place to begin than the synagogue where the Jews congregate to hear the words of the Lord. So a captive audience would be prepared and ready in the synagogue. Such an opportunity should not be missed regardless of whether those who listen would receive or reject the gospel message.
Acts 13:15: 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.
The church of the Lord is modelled after the Jewish congregations where they meet regularly to hear the words of the Law. For the Jews, their meeting is held on the Sabbath day. There are rulers called elders to take care of worshippers. They are overseers to watch over the flock, to teach them and instruct them in the ways of the Lord. Reading of the words of God is a regular item when believers meet to worship. They all have the words of God in their hands and these are not the original copies written by the writers centuries ago and yet these are still the inspired words of the living God. Only men are invited to speak while the women remain in silence in the congregation. The apostle Paul wrote to give instruction on how women should conduct themselves in churches.
Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law. And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church. (1 Corinthians 14:34&35)
Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence. (1 Timothy 2:11&12)
Only men are permitted to speak in the church. Exhortation follows and the people search the Scriptures to confirm whether the preachers are preaching to them the truth from the words of God. Congregational worship is not a one-way affair. Participation from the congregation for exhortation is the usual practice of the Jews. This was so when the Lord Jesus Christ stood up to read the Scriptures and exhorted the people during His earthly ministry. Likewise, Barnabas and Saul were given the opportunity to address the congregation.
Acts 13:16: Then Paul stood up, and beckoning with his hand said, Men of Israel, and ye that fear God, give audience.
Acts 13:17: The God of this people of Israel chose our fathers, and exalted the people when they dwelt as strangers in the land of Egypt, and with an high arm brought he them out of it.
Acts 13:18: And about the time of forty years suffered he their manners in the wilderness.
Acts 13:19: And when he had destroyed seven nations in the land of Chanaan, he divided their land to them by lot.
Acts 13:20: And after that he gave unto them judges about the space of four hundred and fifty years, until Samuel the prophet.
Just like the apostle Peter and Stephen preached to the Jews in Jerusalem, Saul now called Paul, addressed the Jews outside of Israel in liked manner. He brought them through the beginning of the nation of Israel starting with Moses to the times of the judges. Though these Jews no longer reside in Israel since their dispersion when the northern state of Israel fell and subsequently when the Babylonians destroyed the southern state of Judah, they still had this nationalistic sentiment in connection with the nation of Israel. They would still attend to the feasts held in Jerusalem like the event of Pentecost recorded in Acts 2. While being foreigners living in a foreign land, they were still Jewish at heart and they long for the restoration of the Kingdom to Israel. These Jews no doubt listened attentively to the preaching of Paul bringing them back to remembrance of their glorious past.
Acts 13:21: 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.
Acts 13:22: 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 fulfil all my will.
Acts 13:23: Of this man’s seed hath God according to his promise raised unto Israel a Saviour, Jesus:
So Paul brought them up to the times of their kings and now the message would come closer home where they could recognise the prophecy of the coming son of David who would ascend the throne of David to restore the nation of Israel to her rightful place. The Jews have always been waiting for the Messiah of Israel to come. The trouble was these Jews did not know the Messiah of Israel had already come. Hence Paul had this arduous task of introducing the Messiah Jesus Christ to the Jews residing outside of Israel. At this point Jesus was introduced as the seed of David. More information would be necessary for these Jews to get to know the person of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Acts 13:24: When John had first preached before his coming the baptism of repentance to all the people of Israel.
Acts 13:25: 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 continued his message with the beginning of the ministry of John the Baptist whose mission was to manifest the Messiah of Israel to the nation according to the words of John himself: And I knew him not: but that he should be made manifest to Israel, therefore am I come baptizing with water. (John 1:31) This was precisely the reason why John the Baptist came to baptize the people in Israel. This event was already in the past for quite a while back then and these Jews needed to get to know this Messiah Jesus Christ.
Acts 13:26: Men and brethren, children of the stock of Abraham, and whosoever among you feareth God, to you is the word of this salvation sent.
Acts 13:27: 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 condemning him.
Acts 13:28: And though they found no cause of death in him, yet desired they Pilate that he should be slain.
Acts 13:29: And when they had fulfilled all that was written of him, they took him down from the tree, and laid him in a sepulchre.
Acts 13:30: But God raised him from the dead:
The call for these Jews in the synagogue to respond to the message had come. Paul called them the stock of Abraham whom God promised to send them this Messiah to save them. Of all people, they were the most qualified people to get to know their Messiah. Unfortunately, their rulers in Israel rejected Christ and condemned Him to death thus fulfilling Bible prophecy of the suffering Messiah whose death would take away the sin of the nation and the world at large. Moreover, their Messiah did not remain dead and remain buried in the tomb.
Acts 13:31: And he was seen many days of them which came up with him from Galilee to Jerusalem, who are his witnesses unto the people.
Acts 13:32: And we declare unto you glad tidings, how that the promise which was made unto the fathers,
Acts 13:33: 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.
Acts 13:34: 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 you the sure mercies of David.
Acts 13:35: Wherefore he saith also in another psalm, Thou shalt not suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.
Acts 13:36: 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:
Acts 13:37: But he, whom God raised again, saw no corruption.
The evidence of the resurrection of Christ was authenticated by many eyewitnesses as well as promised of Scriptures. The Messiah Jesus Christ had risen and they had every reason to believe in Him and trust in Him. Paul made his case concerning the Messiah Jesus with Scriptures reasoning with the Jews who were familiar with the promises of God in the Old Testament. Paul pressed on with the closing of his message that there was no other way the sin of the people could be forgiven except through the Messiah Jesus.
At this point it should be noted that the perverse NIV once again seeks to undermine the deity of Christ.
33he has fulfilled for us, their children, by raising up Jesus. As it is written in the second Psalm: ” ‘You are my Son; today I have become your Father. (NIV)
This is blasphemous to say the least. When was the day when God became the Father of the Lord Jesus Christ? The implication is very clear. There was a time God was not the Father of the Lord Jesus Christ.
The context of verse 33 concerns the resurrection of Christ where Paul was telling those Jews to believe in Him. Comparing Scripture with Scripture, it is not difficult to learn that the Lord Jesus Christ is the first begotten of the dead according to Revelation 1:5: And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, as well as the firstborn from the dead which took place in time and history recorded in Colossians 1:18: And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence. To claim that God became the Father of Christ in time and history is not only misleading but mischievous. The same modus operandi of the NIV to pervert the Scriptures concerning this truth that the Lord Jesus Christ is from everlasting where God is His Father could be found from the Old Testament as well.
Doubtless thou art our father, though Abraham be ignorant of us, and Israel acknowledge us not: thou, O LORD, art our father, our redeemer; thy name is from everlasting. (Isaiah 63:16)
16 But you are our Father, though Abraham does not know us or Israel acknowledge us; you, O LORD, are our Father, our Redeemer from of old is your name. (NIV)
Is Jehovah God from everlasting or of old? Does old mean everlasting? It does not take a lot of education to know the difference. So how old is old? Is old as old as everlasting defined by the King James Bible in Micah 5:2?
But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting. (Micah 5:2)
2 “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.” (NIV)
Is the ruler of Israel, the Lord Jesus Christ from everlasting or from ancient times? Does everlasting have a beginning or ancient times have a beginning? It is clear that the NIV portrays Christ as having an origin in time and history. No wonder Acts 13:33 is writing as such according to the NIV. They are not doing a translating job but a perverting of the truth. They imply that there was a time where God was not the Father of the Lord Jesus Christ. Should anyone trust the NIV anymore?
Acts 13:38: Be it known unto you therefore, men and brethren, that through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins:
Acts 13:39: And by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses.
The Jews had been conditioned for centuries to attend to temple worship and the daily animal sacrifices required of them. All these works however could not justify them before Jehovah God. For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins. (Hebrews 10:4) But the perfect sacrifice, the Lamb of God had already come. If only they would believe Him and accept Him as their Messiah, they could immediately be justified before God. This was a new revelation and a new doctrine to them. They were told explicitly that sins could be forgiven through Christ.
Acts 13:40: Beware therefore, lest that come upon you, which is spoken of in the prophets;
Acts 13:41: 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.
The final exhortation was for them to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ for Paul had fulfilled his duty to declare to them the way of salvation. Failing which the consequence for the rejection of their Messiah would be disastrous. This message and exhortation brought to them was extraordinary indeed. This was not just another Sabbath day worship and exhortation they were so used to receiving. A new dawn had come upon these Jews in the synagogue at Antioch in Pisidia. The Lord had sent His servants to preach peace to them and to introduce Christ to them. It would be entirely up to them to receive Christ or reject Him.
Unlike the apostle Peter in the past when preaching to the Jews in Israel would offer them repentance through Christ followed by water baptism to receive the gift of the Holy Ghost, Paul did not pursue the matter any further. Times had moved on and the mode of previous gospel presentation had changed with the restoration of the Kingdom to Israel postponed because of the nation of Israel’s rejection of their Messiah and killing of the messengers who preached Christ to them. The time for them to respond to this new revelation had come.
Acts 13:42: And when the Jews were gone out of the synagogue, the Gentiles besought that these words might be preached to them the next sabbath.
Acts 13:43: 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.
The result of Paul’s preaching was encouraging with many Jews and religious proselytes believed what Paul preached and followed them. Here Paul was finally named before Barnabas. Paul had become the more prominent member of the team with the previous manifestation of power in blinding the sorcerer and converting the deputy and here with the preaching of the words of God to these people. Moreover, the Gentiles also requested that Paul preached Christ to them again the following Sabbath day. No doubt, this was the first time they had heard about Christ, the Messiah of Israel that they had been waiting for so long. They would like to know more about this Saviour and learn more about Him.
Paul did not baptize any of those who followed them and offer them the gift of the Holy Ghost: For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect. (1 Corinthians 1:17) The significance of water baptism had changed over times. The offer of water baptism given by the apostle Peter after his famous sermon on the day of Pentecost followed by water baptism for the thousands who believed that day had now been moved to the sidelines. Paul only persuaded them to continue in the grace of God who through Christ had perfected all their sacrifices and could save them to the uttermost.
Acts 13:44: And the next sabbath day came almost the whole city together to hear the word of God.
Acts 13:45: But when the Jews saw the multitudes, they were filled with envy, and spake against those things which were spoken by Paul, contradicting and blaspheming.
The following Sabbath day came and trouble accompanied Paul and Barnabas. The Jews had been so comfortable and complacent with their own little religious world all those times did not reach out to the people in the city. They were supposed to be a light to the Gentiles but they were so powerless and careless in the discharge of their duties with the oracles of God committed to them. When Paul and Barnabas showed up and preached to them a week ago, the desire of the people to hear these words of God’s saving grace and to know the Messiah of Israel spread like wild fire. Almost the whole city came to the synagogue waiting to hear the word of God from Paul.
As expected, the Jews were filled with envy over the success and power of Paul and Barnabas. These Jews could not command such influence to bring the people of this city to believe in their God of Israel. They did not want to share their Messiah with these Gentiles whom they regarded as dogs. They still had this mindset that they were the chosen people of God: 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. (Deuteronomy 7:6) 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; To open the blind eyes, to bring out the prisoners from the prison, and them that sit in darkness out of the prison house. (Isaiah 42:6&7)
But the nation of Israel had not kept the covenant with Jehovah God. They had failed to be a light to the Gentiles. In consequence, the nation of Israel had been set aside in fulfilling what God had already told them.
But I say, Did not Israel know? First Moses saith, I will provoke you to jealousy by them that are no people, and by a foolish nation I will anger you. I say then, Have they stumbled that they should fall? God forbid: but rather through their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles, for to provoke them to jealousy. (Romans 10:19; 11:11)
Hence, the Lord is now dealing with the Gentiles directly instead of going through the nation of Israel. The Jews would continue to be jealous over God calling the Gentiles to be His people. They could not accept the fact that God was now calling these Gentiles to become His people to share the glory with Israel. So they would continue to be troublemakers turning others away from the Lord by contradicting what Paul preached and even blaspheming the name of the Lord. Paul and Barnabas had given the Jews a chance to know that the Messiah of Israel had already come and Paul had declared to them the fulfilment of all that was written in the Law concerning the son of David who had suffered and died, buried and rose again from the dead waiting to come back to restore the Kingdom to Israel.
Acts 13:46: 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.
Paul and Barnabas had fulfilled their obligation to the Jews and since the Jews rejected their Messiah and His messengers, they were moving on to preach to the Gentiles. Indeed, these Jews proved themselves to be unworthy of everlasting life. There was no point wasting time with them by casting pearls before swine. There were many whom God would want Paul and Barnabas to reach to tell them the wonderful story of Jesus and become recipients of everlasting life.
Acts 13:47: 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.
Acts 13:48: And when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad, and glorified the word of the Lord: and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed.
Acts 13:49: And the word of the Lord was published throughout all the region.
Since the nation of Israel had failed to be a light to the Gentiles, the gospel would now be preached directly to the Gentiles instead of going through this rebellious nation. Salvation unto the ends of the world was now made available through the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ preached to the Gentiles. There was no more requirement to meet in synagogues Sabbath after Sabbath hearing the Old Testament Law that could not justify them. For once, they could know that justification could be obtained through the Lord Jesus Christ who is not only the Messiah of Israel but the saviour of the whole world. Thus the Gentiles were delighted and glad and they glorified the word of the Lord upon hearing the words spoken by Paul. These hearers who believed received eternal life without having to be baptized in water or laying on of the hands via Paul and Barnabas to receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. The gospel door was now swung wide open and the word of the Lord was published throughout all the region in which for centuries, the Jewish believers congregating in synagogues had been powerless to declare to these people how they could be justified by the true and living God.
Acts 13:50: 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.
Acts 13:51: But they shook off the dust of their feet against them, and came unto Iconium.
Acts 13:52: And the disciples were filled with joy, and with the Holy Ghost.
Needless to say, these unbelieving Jews would not accept their fate and humiliation quietly. They stirred up those in authority and persecuted Paul and Barnabas and expelled them from their coasts. They thought by declaring Paul and Barnabas with the help of the authority as persona non grata would stop the spread of the gospel and stamp out all influence of the preaching of Paul and Barnabas. They could not be more wrong. It would be impossible to revert back to their previous status quo where the Jews and proselytes remained contented with their small little Jewish world worshipping God on the Sabbath day in the synagogues. Believers in the Lord Jesus Christ would multiply and churches established much to the dismay and displeasure of those Jews who would constantly trouble and persecute the saints of the Lord.
The ministry of Paul and Barnabas was a resounding success thus far. They moved on when they were not welcome. This should be the way Christians carry out their Christian ministry. There will be those willing listeners whom the Lord will prepare for them to minister. There is no need to stay and be contentious. Anyone has an ear to hear will hear. They are not responsible for those who reject the gospel and the Lord. They have had their chance and they have been warned. For those disciples in that city, they were filled with joy and with the Holy Ghost. They had the Holy Ghost they moment they believed and they did not get it through the laying on of hands or through water baptism administered by Paul and Barnabas. Paul and Barnabas had fulfilled their mission in this city and soon the next city would get to hear the words of the living God. To God be the glory.
|Chapter 12||Chapter 14|