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Acts 13
Table of Contents
The Bible Exposition Commentary. 1
The Bible Knowledge Commentary. 1
Wiersbe’s Expository Outlines.
The Bible Exposition Commentary
*Antioch in Syria—Decision (Acts 13:1–5)*
That sainted missionary to India and Persia, 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.
Until now, Jerusalem had been the center of ministry, and Peter had been the key apostle.
But 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: /Barnabas/, whom we have already met (Acts 4:36–37; 9:27; 11:22–26); /Simeon,/ who may have been from Africa since he was nicknamed “Black”; /Lucius/, who came from Cyrene and may have been one of the founders of the church in Antioch (Acts 11:20); /Manaen/, who was an intimate friend (or perhaps an adopted foster brother) of Herod Antipas, who had killed John the Baptist; and /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 (Ephesians 2:20 "And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone;"; 1 Corinthians 14:29-32 "Let the prophets speak two or three, and let the other judge.
If any thing be revealed to another that sitteth by, let the first hold his peace.
For ye may all prophesy one by one, that all may learn, and all may be comforted.
And the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets.").
They were more “forth-tellers” than “foretellers,” though at times the prophets did announce things to come (Acts 11:27–30).
The teachers helped to ground the converts in the doctrines of the faith (2 Tim.
God had already called Paul to minister to the Gentiles (Acts 9:15; 21:17–21), and now He summoned Barnabas to labor with him.
The church confirmed their calling, commissioned the men, and sent them forth.
*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 (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;)"), and his mother’s home in Jerusalem was a gathering place for the believers (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.").
It is likely that it was Peter who led John Mark to faith in Christ (1 Peter 5:13 "The church that is at Babylon, elected together with you, saluteth you; and so doth Marcus my son.").
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.
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” or “wise man” (cf. the “wise men” of Matt.
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.
The Roman official believed and was saved.
Acts 13:9 is the first place you find the familiar name /Paul/ in the New Testament.
As a Jewish Roman citizen, the apostle’s full name was probably “Saul Paulus,” for many Jews had both Jewish and Roman names.
*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?
Perhaps he was just plain homesick, or 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*).
Mark was a devoted Jew, and he may have felt uncomfortable with the saved Gentiles.
Some students think that John Mark’s return to Jerusalem helped start the opposition of the legalistic Judaizers who later opposed Paul (see Acts 15 and the Epistle to the Galatians).
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.").
During my years of ministry as a pastor and as a member of several mission boards, I have seen first-term workers do what John Mark did; and it has always been heartbreaking.
But I have also seen some of them restored to missionary service, thanks to the prayers and encouragement of God’s people.
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.
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.”
*/Preparation (vv.
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.
Every pious 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.
*/Declaration (vv.
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”).
He explained to them why their leaders in Jerusalem rejected and crucified the nation’s Messiah.
It was not because they had not read or heard the message of the prophets, but because they did not understand the message.
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.)
It was the resurrection of Jesus Christ that was the crucial event: “But God raised Him from the dead” (Acts 13:30).
(See Acts 13:33–34, 37, and note that “raised” in Acts 13:22–23 means “brought.”)
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!
Since Paul was addressing a synagogue congregation, he used the Old Testament Scriptures to support his argument.
In Acts 13:33, Psalm 2:7 is quoted; and note that it refers to the /resurrection/ of Christ, not to the birth of Christ.
The “virgin tomb” (John 19:41) was like a “womb” that gave birth to Jesus Christ in resurrection glory.
Then he quoted Isaiah 55:3, referring to the covenant that God made with David, “the sure mercies of David.”
God had promised David that from him the Messiah would come (2 Sam.
This was an “everlasting covenant” with a throne to be established forever (2 Sam.
7:13, 16).
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.
His third quotation was from Psalm 16:10, the same passage Peter quoted in his message at Pentecost (Acts 2:24–28).
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.
*/Application (vv.
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: the forgiveness of their sins and justification before the throne of God.
Justification is the act of God whereby He declares the believing sinner righteous in Jesus Christ.
It has to do with the believer’s standing before the throne of God.
The Jews were taught that God justified the righteous and punished the wicked (2 Chron.
But God justifies the ungodly who will put their faith in Jesus Christ (Rom.
The Law cannot justify the sinner; it can only condemn him (Rom.
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