Acts 13

Preparing for the Mission Field

1 In the local church at Antioch there were prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius the Cyrenian, Manaen, a close friend of Herod the tetrarch, and Saul.
2 As they were ministering to[a] the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, "Set apart for Me Barnabas and Saul for the work that I have called them to."
3 Then, after they had fasted, prayed, and laid hands on them,[b] they sent them off.

The Mission to Cyprus

4 Being sent out by the Holy Spirit, they came down to Seleucia, and from there they sailed to Cyprus.
5 Arriving in Salamis, they proclaimed God's message in the Jewish synagogues. They also had John as their assistant.
6 When they had gone through the whole island as far as Paphos, they came across a sorcerer, a Jewish false prophet named Bar-Jesus.
7 He was with the proconsul, Sergius Paulus, an intelligent man. This man summoned Barnabas and Saul and desired to hear God's message.
8 But Elymas, the sorcerer, which is how his name is translated, opposed them and tried to turn the proconsul away from the faith.
9 Then Saul-also called Paul-filled with the Holy Spirit, stared straight at the sorcerer[c]
10 and said, "You son of the Devil, full of all deceit and all fraud, enemy of all righteousness! Won't you ever stop perverting the straight paths of the Lord?
11 Now, look! The Lord's hand is against you: you are going to be blind, and will not see the sun for a time." Suddenly a mist and darkness fell on him, and he went around seeking someone to lead him by the hand.
12 Then the proconsul, seeing what happened, believed and was astonished at the teaching about the Lord.

Paul's Sermon in Antioch of Pisidia

13 Paul and his companions set sail from Paphos and came to Perga in Pamphylia. John, however, left them and went back to Jerusalem.
14 They continued their journey from Perga and reached Antioch in Pisidia. On the Sabbath day they went into the synagogue and sat down.
15 After the reading of the Law and the Prophets, the leaders of the synagogue sent [word] to them, saying, "Brothers, if you have any message of encouragement for the people, you can speak."
16 Then standing up, Paul motioned with his hand and spoke: "Men of Israel, and you who fear God, listen!
17 The God of this people Israel chose our forefathers, exalted the people during their stay in the land of Egypt, and led them out of it with a mighty[d] arm.
18 And for about 40 years He put up with them[e] in the desert;
19 then after destroying seven nations in the land of Canaan, He gave their land to them as an inheritance.
20 This all took about 450 years. After this, He gave them judges until Samuel the prophet.
21 Then they asked for a king, so God gave them Saul the son of Kish, a man of the tribe of Benjamin, for 40 years.
22 After removing him, He raised up David as their king, of whom He testified: ' I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after My heart, [f] who will carry out all My will.'
23 "From this man's descendants, according to the promise, God brought the Savior, Jesus,[g] to Israel.
24 Before He came to public attention,[h] John had previously proclaimed a baptism of repentance to all the people of Israel.
25 Then as John was completing his life work, he said, 'Who do you think I am? I am not the One. But look! Someone is coming after me, and I am not worthy to untie the sandals on His feet.'
26 "Brothers, sons of Abraham's race, and those among you who fear God, the message of this salvation has been sent to us.
27 For the residents of Jerusalem and their rulers, since they did not recognize Him or the voices of the prophets that are read every Sabbath, have fulfilled their words[i] by condemning Him.
28 Though they found no grounds for the death penalty, they asked Pilate to have Him killed.
29 When they had fulfilled all that had been written about Him, they took Him down from the tree and put Him in a tomb.
30 But God raised Him from the dead,
31 and He appeared for many days to those who came up with Him from Galilee to Jerusalem, who are now His witnesses to the people.
32 And we ourselves proclaim to you the good news of the promise that was made to our forefathers.
33 God has fulfilled this to 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. [j] [k]
34 Since He raised Him from the dead, never to return to decay, He has spoken in this way, I will grant you the faithful covenant blessings [l] made to David. [m]
35 Therefore He also says in another passage, You will not allow Your Holy One to see decay. [n]
36 For David, after serving his own generation in God's plan, fell asleep, was buried with his fathers, and decayed.
37 But the One whom God raised up did not decay.
38 Therefore, let it be known to you, brothers, that through this man forgiveness of sins is being proclaimed to you,
39 and everyone who believes in Him is justified from everything, which you could not be justified from through the law of Moses.
40 So beware that what is said in the prophets does not happen to you:
41 Look, you scoffers, marvel and vanish away, because I am doing a work in your days, a work that you will never believe, even if someone were to explain it to you. "[o]

Paul and Barnabas in Antioch

42 As they[p] were leaving, they[q] [r] begged that these matters be presented to them the following Sabbath.
43 After the synagogue had been dismissed, many of the Jews and devout proselytes followed Paul and Barnabas, who were speaking with them and persuading them to continue in the grace of God.
44 The following Sabbath almost the whole town assembled to hear the message of the Lord.[s]
45 But when the Jews saw the crowds, they were filled with jealousy and began to oppose what Paul was saying by insulting him.
46 Then Paul and Barnabas boldly said: "It was necessary that God's message be spoken to you first. But since you reject it, and consider yourselves unworthy of eternal life, we now turn to the Gentiles!
47 For this is what the Lord has commanded us: I have appointed you as a light for the Gentiles, to bring salvation to the ends [t] of the earth. "[u]
48 When the Gentiles heard this, they rejoiced and glorified the message of the Lord, and all who had been appointed to eternal life believed.
49 So the message of the Lord spread through the whole region.
50 But the Jews incited the religious women of high standing and the leading men of the city. They stirred up persecution against Paul and Barnabas and expelled them from their district.
51 But shaking the dust off their feet against them,[v] they proceeded to Iconium.
52 And the disciples were filled with joy and the Holy Spirit.

Acts 13 Commentary

Chapter 13

The mission of Paul and Barnabas. (1-3) Elymas the sorcerer. (4-13) Paul's discourse at Antioch. (14-41) He preaches to the Gentiles, and is persecuted by the Jews. (42-52)

Verses 1-3 What an assemblage was here! In these names we see that the Lord raises up instruments for his work, from various places and stations in life; and zeal for his glory induces men to give up flattering connexions and prospects to promote his cause. It is by the Spirit of Christ that his ministers are made both able and willing for his service, and taken from other cares that would hinder in it. Christ's ministers are to be employed in Christ's work, and, under the Spirit's guidance, to act for the glory of God the Father. They are separated to take pains, and not to take state. A blessing upon Barnabas and Saul in their present undertaking was sought for, and that they might be filled with the Holy Ghost in their work. Whatever means are used, or rules observed, the Holy Ghost alone can fit ministers for their important work, and call them to it.

Verses 4-13 Satan is in a special manner busy with great men and men in power, to keep them from being religious, for their example will influence many. Saul is here for the first time called Paul, and never after Saul. Saul was his name as he was a Hebrew; Paul was his name as he was a citizen of Rome. Under the direct influence of the Holy Ghost, he gave Elymas his true character, but not in passion. A fulness of deceit and mischief together, make a man indeed a child of the devil. And those who are enemies to the doctrine of Jesus, are enemies to all righteousness; for in it all righteousness is fulfilled. The ways of the Lord Jesus are the only right ways to heaven and happiness. There are many who not only wander from these ways themselves, but set others against these ways. They commonly are so hardened, that they will not cease to do evil. The proconsul was astonished at the force of the doctrine upon his own heart and conscience, and at the power of God by which it was confirmed. The doctrine of Christ astonishes; and the more we know of it, the more reason we shall see to wonder at it. Those who put their hand to the plough and look back, are not fit for the kingdom of God. Those who are not prepared to face opposition, and to endure hardship, are not fitted for the work of the ministry.

Verses 14-31 When we come together to worship God, we must do it, not only by prayer and praise, but by the reading and hearing of the word of God. The bare reading of the Scriptures in public assemblies is not enough; they should be expounded, and the people exhorted out of them. This is helping people in doing that which is necessary to make the word profitable, to apply it to themselves. Every thing is touched upon in this sermon, which might best prevail with Jews to receive and embrace Christ as the promised Messiah. And every view, however short or faint, of the Lord's dealings with his church, reminds us of his mercy and long-suffering, and of man's ingratitude and perverseness. Paul passes from David to the Son of David, and shows that this Jesus is his promised Seed; a Saviour to do that for them, which the judges of old could not do, to save them from their sins, their worst enemies. When the apostles preached Christ as the Saviour, they were so far from concealing his death, that they always preached Christ crucified. Our complete separation from sin, is represented by our being buried with Christ. But he rose again from the dead, and saw no corruption: this was the great truth to be preached.

Verses 32-37 The resurrection of Christ was the great proof of his being the Son of God. It was not possible he should be held by death, because he was the Son of God, and therefore had life in himself, which he could not lay down but with a design to take it again. The sure mercies of David are that everlasting life, of which the resurrection was a sure pledge; and the blessings of redemption in Christ are a certain earnest, even in this world. David was a great blessing to the age wherein he lived. We were not born for ourselves, but there are those living around us, to whom we must study to be serviceable. Yet here is the difference; Christ was to serve all generations. May we look to Him who is declared to be the Son of God by his resurrection from the dead, that by faith in him we may walk with God, and serve our generation according to his will; and when death comes, may we fall asleep in him, with a joyful hope of a blessed resurrection.

Verses 38-41 Let all that hear the gospel of Christ, know these two things: 1. That through this Man, who died and rose again, is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins. Your sins, though many and great, may be forgiven, and they may be so without any injury to God's honour. 2. It is by Christ only that those who believe in him, and none else, are justified from all things; from all the guilt and stain of sin, from which they could not be justified by the law of Moses. The great concern of convinced sinners is, to be justified, to be acquitted from all their guilt, and accepted as righteous in God's sight, for if any is left charged upon the sinner, he is undone. By Jesus Christ we obtain a complete justification; for by him a complete atonement was made for sin. We are justified, not only by him as our Judge but by him as the Lord our Righteousness. What the law could not do for us, in that it was weak, the gospel of Christ does. This is the most needful blessing, bringing in every other. The threatenings are warnings; what we are told will come upon impenitent sinners, is designed to awaken us to beware lest it come upon us. It ruins many, that they despise religion. Those that will not wonder and be saved, shall wonder and perish.

Verses 42-52 The Jews opposed the doctrine the apostles preached; and when they could find no objection, they blasphemed Christ and his gospel. Commonly those who begin with contradicting, end with blaspheming. But when adversaries of Christ's cause are daring, its advocates should be the bolder. And while many judge themselves unworthy of eternal life, others, who appear less likely, desire to hear more of the glad tidings of salvation. This is according to what was foretold in the Old Testament. What light, what power, what a treasure does this gospel bring with it! How excellent are its truths, its precepts, its promises! Those came to Christ whom the Father drew, and to whom the Spirit made the gospel call effectual, ( Romans 8:30 ) . As many as were disposed to eternal life, as many as had concern about their eternal state, and aimed to make sure of eternal life, believed in Christ, in whom God has treasured up that life, and who is the only Way to it; and it was the grace of God that wrought it in them. It is good to see honourable women devout; the less they have to do in the world, the more they should do for their own souls, and the souls of others: but it is sad, when, under colour of devotion to God, they try to show hatred to Christ. And the more we relish the comforts and encouragements we meet with in the power of godliness, and the fuller our hearts are of them, the better prepared we are to face difficulties in the profession of godliness.

Footnotes 22

Acts 13 Commentaries