Acts 13:1-3 . BARNABAS AND SAUL, DIVINELY CALLED TO LABOR AMONG THE GENTILES, ARE SET APART AND SENT FORTH BY THE CHURCH AT ANTIOCH.
26-31. children . . . of Abraham, and whosoever among you feareth God--Gentile proselytes.
to you is the word of this salvation sent--both being regarded as one class, as "the Jew first," to whom the Gospel was to be addressed in the first instance.
27. For they that dwell at Jerusalem, and their rulers, because they knew him not, &c.--The apostle here speaks as if the more immediate guilt of Christ's death lay with the rulers and people of the metropolis, to which he fondly hoped that those residing at such a distance as Antioch would not set their seal.
29. they took him down . . . and laid him in a sepulchre--Though the burial of Christ was an act of honor and love to Him by the disciples to whom the body was committed, yet since His enemies looked after it and obtained a guard of soldiers to keep watch over it as the remains of their own victim, the apostle regards this as the last manifestation on their part of enmity to the Saviour, that they might see how God laughed all their precautions to scorn by "raising Him from the dead."
31. he was seen many days of them which came up with him from Galilee to Jerusalem, &c.--that is, by those who, having gone out and in with Him in closest intimacy during all His public ministry, which lay chiefly in Galilee, and having accompanied Him on His last journey to Jerusalem, could not possibly be mistaken as to the identity of the risen One, and were therefore unexceptionable and sufficient witnesses.
33. God hath fulfilled the same--"hath completely fulfilled."
in that he hath raised up Jesus again--literally, "raised up"; but the meaning is (notwithstanding the contrary opinion of many excellent interpreters) "from the dead"; as the context plainly shows.
as it is written in the second psalm--in many manuscripts "the first Psalm"; what we call the first being regarded by the ancient Jews as only an introduction to the Psalter, which was considered to begin with the second.
this day have I begotten thee--As the apostle in Romans 1:4 regards the resurrection of Christ merely as the manifestation of a prior Sonship, which he afterwards ( Acts 8:32 ) represents as essential, it is plain that this is his meaning here. (Such declarative meaning of the verb "to be" is familiar to every reader of the Bible). See John 15:8 , "So shall ye be," that is, be seen to be "My disciples." It is against the whole sense of the New Testament to ascribe the origin of Christ's Sonship to His resurrection.
34-37. now no more to return to corruption--that is, to the grave where death reigns; and compare Romans 6:9 , "Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more, death hath no more dominion over him."
I will give you the sure mercies of David--( Isaiah 55:3 ). The word rendered "mercies" is peculiar, denoting the sanctity of them, as comprehending the whole riches of the new covenant; while the other word, "sure," points to the certainty with which they would, through David's Seed, be at length all substantiated. But how do these words prove the resurrection of Christ? "They presuppose it; for since an eternal kingdom was promised to David, the Ruler of this kingdom could not remain under the power of death. But to strengthen the indefinite prediction by one more definite, the apostle adduces Psalms 16:10 , of which Peter had given the same explanation Acts 2:30 Acts 2:31 ), both apostles denying the possibility of its proper reference to David" [OLSHAUSEN].
36. For David, after he had served his own generation by the will of God--rather, "served," in his own generation, the will (or "counsel") of God; yielding himself an instrument for the accomplishment of God's high designs, and in this respect being emphatically "the man after God's own heart." This done, he "fell asleep, and was gathered to his fathers, and saw corruption." David, therefore (argues the apostle), could not be the subject of his own prediction, which had its proper fulfilment only in the resurrection of the uncorrupted body of the Son of God, emphatically God's "Holy One."
38-41. the forgiveness of sins--the first necessity of the sinner, and so the first experienced blessing of the Gospel.
39. by him all that believe are justified from all things--The sense requires that a pause in the sentence be made here: "By him the believer is absolved from all charges of the law." What follows,
from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses--is not an exceptional but an explanatory clause. The meaning is not, "Though the law justifies from many things, it cannot justify from all things, but Christ makes up all deficiencies"; but the meaning is, "By Christ the believer is justified from all things, whereas the law justifies from nothing." (Note.--The deeper sense of justification, the positive side of it, is reserved for the Epistles, addressed to the justified themselves: and whereas it is the resurrection of Christ here, and throughout the Acts chiefly, which is dwelt on, because the first thing in order to bring peace to the guilty through Christ was to establish His Messiahship by His resurrection, in the Epistles to believers His death as the way of reconciliation is fully unfolded).
40. Beware, therefore, &c.--By this awful warning of the Old Testament the apostle would fain "shut them up unto the faith."
41. ye will not believe though a man declare it unto you--that is, even on unexceptionable testimony. The words, from Habakkuk 1:5 , were originally a merciful but fruitless warning against the approaching destruction of Jerusalem by the Chaldeans and the Babylonish captivity. As such nothing could more fitly describe the more awful calamity impending over the generation which the apostle addressed.
42, 43. And when the Jews were gone out of the synagogue, the Gentiles besought that these words might be preached to them the next sabbath--rather (according to what is beyond doubt the true reading), "Now, as they were going out [of the synagogue], they besought"--that is, not the Gentiles, whose case comes in afterwards, but the mixed congregation of Jews and proselytes, to whom the discourse had been addressed, entreated to have another hearing of such truths; those of them, that is, who had been impressed. "And after the breaking up of the synagogue, many of" both classes, Jews and religious; proselytes, followed Paul and Barnabas (observe, from this time forward, the inverted order of these names; except Acts 14:14 , 13:7 , 12:25 ; what they had heard, and felt a clinging to their spiritual benefactors.
43. who, speaking to them--following up the discourse in the synagogue by some further words of encouragement.
persuaded them to continue in the grace of God--which they had experienced through the Gospel. (Compare Acts 11:23 ).
44-48. the next sabbath came almost the whole city together to hear the word of God--the intervening days having been spent in further inquiry and instruction, and the excitement reaching the Gentiles, who now for the first time crowded, along with the usual worshippers, into the synagogue.
45. But when the Jews--those zealots of exclusive Judaism.
saw the multitudes, they were filled with envy--rather, "indignation," and broke out in their usual manner.
contradicting and blaspheming--There is nothing more awful than Jewish fury and execration of the name of Jesus of Nazareth, when thoroughly roused.
46. Then Paul and Barnabas waxed bold, and said, &c.--This is in the highest style of a last and solemn protestation.
It was necessary that the word should first have been spoken to you--See the direction of Christ in Luke 24:47 ; also Romans 1:16 .
since ye judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life--pass sentence upon yourselves.
47. For so hath the Lord commanded us, saying, &c.--These and other predictions must have been long before this brought vividly home to Paul's mind in connection with his special vocation to the Gentiles.
I have set thee--that is, Messiah; from which Paul inferred that he was but following out this destination of his Lord, in transferring to the Gentiles those "unsearchable riches" which were now by the Jews rejected and despised.
48. when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad--to perceive that their accession to Christ was a matter of divine arrangement as well as apostolic effort.
and glorified the word of the Lord--by a cordial reception of it.
and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed--a very remarkable statement, which cannot, without force, be interpreted of anything lower than this, that a divine ordination to eternal life is the cause, not the effect, of any man's believing.
49-52. And the word of the Lord was published throughout all the region--implying some stay in Antioch and missionary activity in its vicinity.
50. the devout and honourable women--female proselytes of distinction, jaundiced against the new preachers by those Jewish ecclesiastics to whom they had learned to look up. The potent influence of the female character both for and against the truth is seen in every age of the Church's history.
expelled them--an easier thing than to refute them.
51. shook off the dust of their feet against them--as directed ( Matthew 10:14 ).
came unto Iconium--a populous city about forty-five miles southeast from Pisidian Antioch: at the foot of Mount Taurus; on the borders of Lycaonia, Phrygia, and Pisidia; and in later times largely contributing to the consolidation of the Turkish empire.
52. the disciples--who, though not themselves expelled, had to endure sufferings for the Gospel, as we learn from Acts 14:22 .
were filled with joy and with the Holy Ghost--who not only raised them above shame and fear, as professed disciples of the Lord Jesus, but filled them with holy and elevated emotions.