Antioch in Syria—Decision (Acts 13:1–5)
· Henry Martyn, once said, “The Spirit of Christ is the spirit of missions, and the nearer we get to Him, the more intensely missionary we must become.”
· Paul (Saul) and Barnabas had that experience as they ministered in Antioch and were called by the Spirit to take the Gospel to the Roman world.
· From this point on, Antioch in Syria would become the new center (Acts 11:19ff), and Paul the new leader. The Gospel was on the move!
· Luke listed five different men who were ministering in the church:
o Barnabas, whom we have already met (Acts 4:36–37; 9:27; 11:22–26);
o Simeon, who may have been from Africa since he was nicknamed “Black”;
o Lucius, who came from Cyrene and may have been one of the founders of the church in Antioch (Acts 11:20 "And some of them were men of Cyprus and Cyrene, which, when they were come to Antioch, spake unto the Grecians, preaching the Lord Jesus.");
o Manaen, who was an intimate friend (or perhaps an adopted foster brother) of Herod Antipas, who had killed John the Baptist;
o Saul (Paul), last on the list but soon to become first.
· These men were serving as “prophets and teachers” in a local church.
· The prophets helped lay the foundation for the church as they proclaimed the Word of God
o Ephesians 2:20 "And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone;"
o They were more “forth-tellers” than “foretellers,” though at times the prophets did announce things to come (Acts 11:27–30).
o The teachers helped to ground the converts in the doctrines of the faith (2 Tim. 2:2).
· It is the ministry of the Holy Spirit, working through the local church, to equip and enlist believers to go forth and serve. The modern mission board is only a “sending agency” that expedites the work authorized by the local church.
· ***HELPS MINISTRY: Barnabas and Paul took John Mark with them as their assistant. He was a cousin to Barnabas
o Colossians 4:10 "Aristarchus my fellowprisoner saluteth you, and Marcus, sister’s son to Barnabas, (touching whom ye received commandments: if he come unto you, receive him;)"
o His mother’s home in Jerusalem was a gathering place for the believers
o Acts 12:12 "And when he had considered the thing, he came to the house of Mary the mother of John, whose surname was Mark; where many were gathered together praying."
o It is likely that it was Peter who led John Mark to faith in Christ
o 1 Peter 5:13 "The church that is at Babylon, elected together with you, saluteth you; and so doth Marcus my son."
o John Mark no doubt helped Barnabas and Paul in numerous ways, relieving them of tasks and details that would have interfered with their important ministry of the Word.
Paphos—Deception (Acts 13:6–12)
· It was logical to go first to Cyprus, for this was the home of Barnabas (Acts 4:36). Luke gives us no details of the ministry in Salamis, the great commercial center at the east end of the island. We trust that some people did believe the Gospel and that a local assembly was formed. The men then moved ninety miles to Paphos on the west end of the island, and there they met their first opposition.
· Opportunities usually produce opposition
· 1 Corinthians 16:9 "For a great door and effectual is opened unto me, and there are many adversaries."
· Here is another example of the parable of the tares (Matt. 13:24–30, 36–43)
God sowed the good seed (Paul and Barnabas),and Satan sowed a counterfeit.
· Paphos was the capital of Cyprus, and the chief Roman official there was Sergius Paulus, “an understanding man” who wanted to hear the Word of God. He was opposed by a Jewish false prophet named “Son of Jesus [Joshua].”
· It is unusual to find a Jewish false prophet and sorcerer, for the Jews traditionally shunned such demonic activities. The name Elymas means “sorcerer”
· This event is an illustration of the lesson that Jesus taught in the Parable of the Tares (Matt. 13:24–30, 36–43): wherever the Lord sows His true children (the wheat), Satan comes along and sows a counterfeit (the tares), a child of the devil.
· Paul recognized that Elymas was a child of the devil (John 8:44), and he inflicted blindness on the false prophet as a judgment from God. This miracle was also evidence to Sergius Paulus that Paul and Barnabas were servants of the true God and preached the true message of salvation (Heb. 2:4). The Roman official believed and was saved.
· Acts 13:9 is the first place you find the familiar name Paul in the New Testament.
o 13:9. At this juncture Saul, now for the first time called Paul, stepped to the fore and assumed leadership. He probably was more aggressive and also knew Gentile minds better than Barnabas.
o From this point on Paul was the leader and his name preceded Barnabas’ name except when they were in Jerusalem (15:12, 25) and in 14:14.
o Furthermore, the Roman name Paul was used from here on; the Jewish name Saul was used only when he in his personal testimonies referred to his former life (22:7; 26:14).
· Perga—Desertion (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.")
· Why did John Mark desert his friends and return to Jerusalem?
o Perhaps he was just plain homesick
o He may have become unhappy because Paul had begun to take over the leadership from Mark’s cousin Barnabas (note “Paul and his company” in Acts 13:13).
o Mark was a devoted Jew, and he may have felt uncomfortable with the saved Gentiles.
o Another possibility is the fear of danger as the party moved into new and difficult areas.
· But whatever the cause of his defection, John Mark did something so serious that Paul did not want him back on his “team” again!
· Acts 15:36 "And some days after Paul said unto Barnabas, Let us go again and visit our brethren in every city where we have preached the word of the Lord, and see how they do."
· Later, Paul would enlist Timothy to take John Mark’s place (Acts 16:1–5).
· John Mark did redeem himself and was eventually accepted and approved by Paul
· 2 Timothy 4:11 "Only Luke is with me. Take Mark, and bring him with thee: for he is profitable to me for the ministry."
· A.T. Robertson said that Mark “flickered in the crisis,” but the light did not completely go out. This is an encouragement to all of us.
Antioch in Pisidia—Disputation (Acts 13:14–52)
· Paul and Barnabas traveled 100 miles north and about 3,600 feet up to get to this important city on the Roman road.
· As you follow Paul’s journeys in Acts, you will notice that he selected strategic cities, planted churches in them, and went on from the churches to evangelize the surrounding areas.
· You will also notice that, where it was possible, he started his ministry in the local synagogue, for he had a great burden for his people (Rom. 9:1–5; 10:1), and he found in the synagogue both Jews and Gentiles ready to hear the Word of God.
· Note the emphasis in Acts 13 on the Word of God (vv. 5, 7, 15, 26, 44, 46, 48–49). In his preaching, Paul quoted from 1 Samuel, Isaiah, Habakkuk, and Psalms. He preached salvation by faith in Jesus Christ whom God raised from the dead (vv. 38–39). Our words do not last, but the Word of the Lord endures forever.
· This is the first of Paul’s sermons recorded in the Book of Acts, and it may be divided into three parts, each of which is introduced by the phrase “men and brethren.”
1. Preparation (vv. 16–25).
a. In this section, Paul reviewed the history of Israel, climaxing with the ministry of John the Baptist and the coming of their Messiah. He made it clear that it was God who was at work in and for Israel, preparing the way for the coming of the promised Messiah. He also reminded his hearers that the nation had not always been faithful to the Lord and the covenant, but had often rebelled.
b. Every devoted Jew knew that the Messiah would come from David’s family, and that a prophet would announce His coming beforehand. John the Baptist was that prophet.
2. Declaration (vv. 26–37).
a. As Paul addressed both the Jews and the Gentile “God-fearers” in the congregation, he changed his approach from third person (“they”) to second person (“you”).
i. He explained to them why their leaders in Jerusalem rejected and crucified the nation’s Messiah.
ii. It was not because they had not read or heard the message of the prophets, but because they did not understand the message.
iii. Furthermore, the crucifixion of Jesus of Nazareth was even promised in the prophets. (Peter took this same approach in his second message, Acts 3:12–18.)
b. It was the resurrection of Jesus Christ that was the crucial event:
i. “But God raised him from the dead:” (Acts 13:30).
ii. Paul has declared the Gospel to them, “the word of this salvation” (Acts 13:26) and “the glad tidings” (Acts 13:32). Christ died, He was buried, and He arose again!
c. Acts 13:33
i. Psalm 2:7 "I will declare the decree: the LORD hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee."
ii. It refers to the resurrection of Christ, not to the birth of Christ.
d. Then he quoted 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."
e. The covenant that God made with David, “the sure mercies of David.”
f. 2 Samuel 7:16 "And thine house and thy kingdom shall be established for ever before thee: thy throne shall be established for ever."
g. If Jesus is the Messiah, and He died and remained dead, this covenant could never be fulfilled. Therefore, Jesus had to be raised from the dead or the covenant would prove false.
h. H Psalm 16:10 "For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.", the same passage Peter quoted in his message at Pentecost (Acts 2:24–28).
i. The Jews considered Psalm 16 to be a messianic psalm, and it was clear that this promise did not apply to David, who was dead, buried, and decayed. It had to apply to Jesus Christ, the Messiah.
3. Application (vv. 38–52).
a. Paul had declared the Good News to them (Acts 13:32), and now all that remained was to make the personal application and “draw the net.” He told them that through faith in Jesus Christ, they could have two blessings that the Law could never provide:
i. the forgiveness of their sins
ii. and justification before the throne of God.
b. Justification is the act of God whereby He declares the believing sinner righteous in Jesus Christ.
i. It has to do with the believer’s standing before the throne of God.
c. The Law cannot justify the sinner; it can only condemn him
i. Romans 3:19-20 "Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin."
ii. Galatians 2:16 "Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified."
d. God not only forgives our sins, but He also gives us the very righteousness of Christ and puts it on our account!
e. Paul closed his message with a note of warning taken from 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."
i. Isaiah 29:14 "Therefore, behold, I will proceed to do a marvellous work among this people, even a marvellous work and a wonder: for the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the understanding of their prudent men shall be hid."
ii. In Habakkuk’s day, the “unbelievable work” God was doing was the raising up of the Chaldeans to chasten His people, a work so remarkable that nobody would believe it. After all, why would God use an evil pagan nation to punish His own chosen people, sinful though they might be? God was using Gentiles to punish Jews!
iii. But the “wonderful work” in Paul’s day was that God was using the Jews to save the Gentiles!
f. What was the result?
i. Many Jews and Gentile proselytes believed and associated with Paul and Barnabas.
ii. The Gentiles were especially excited about Paul’s message and wanted him to tell them more, which he did the next Sabbath.
iii. The people had done a good job of spreading the news, because a great crowd gathered. They were probably predominantly Gentiles, which made the Jews envious and angry.
g. Paul’s final message in the synagogue declared that God had sent the Word to the Jews first (Acts 3:26; Rom. 1:16), but they had now rejected it.
i. Therefore, Paul would now take the Good News to the Gentiles; and he quoted
ii. 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."
iii. Luke 2:29-32 "Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word: For mine eyes have seen thy salvation, Which thou hast prepared before the face of all people; A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel."
iv. He was ready to go to the ends of the earth to win souls to Christ!
Acts 13:48 gives us the divine side of evangelism, for God has His elect people (Eph. 1:4). The word translated ordained means “enrolled,” and indicates that God’s people have their names written in God’s book (Luke 10:20; Phil. 4:3). But Acts 13:49 is the human side of evangelism: if we do not preach the Word, then nobody can believe and be saved. It takes both (see 2 Thes. 2:13–14 and Rom. 10:13–15).
The unbelieving Jews were not going to sit back and let Paul and Barnabas take over. First, they disputed with them, and then brought legal action against them and expelled them from their borders. The missionaries were not discouraged: they shook off the dust of their feet against them (Luke 9:5 "And whosoever will not receive you, when ye go out of that city, shake off the very dust from your feet for a testimony against them."; Luke 10:11 "Even the very dust of your city, which cleaveth on us, we do wipe off against you: notwithstanding be ye sure of this, that the kingdom of God is come nigh unto you.") and went to the next town, leaving behind them a group of joyful disciples.