Search Bible
Click for Help   Click for QuickNav   Click for Advanced Search Options
Search KJV

Search a pre-defined list

OR Select a range of biblical books



OR Custom Selection:

Use semicolons to separate groups:
'Gen;Jdg;Psa-Mal' or 'Rom 3-12;Mat 1:15;Mat 5:12-22'

Your Bible Version is the KJV
Go to Top
Link to This PageCite This Page
Version Selector Up Arrow
Share this pageFollow the BLB
Version Selector Up Arrow

Follow the Blue Letter Bible on:



Or subscribe to our Newsletter:

Printable Page
Left Contextbar EdgeLeft Contextbar Edge BackgroundRight Contextbar Edge2Prior BookPrior ChapterReturn to CommentariesReturn to Author BiographyNext ChapterNext BookRight Contextbar Edge2Right Contextbar Edge BackgroundRight Contextbar Edge1
The Blue Letter Bible
BLB Searches
Search the Bible
Search KJV

Advanced Options

Search a pre-defined list

OR Select a range of biblical books



OR Custom Selection:

Use semicolons to separate groups: 'Gen;Jdg;Psa-Mal' or 'Rom 3-12;Mat 1:15;Mat 5:12-22'

Other Searches

Multi-Verse Retrieval
Search KJV

Line-By-Line Order:
Line-By-Line Verse-ReferenceVerse-Reference
Line-By-Line Reference-VerseReference-Verse
Line-By-Line Separate LineSeparate Line
Line-By-Line Verse OnlyVerse Only
Line-By-Line Reference OnlyReference Only
Reference Delimiters:
No Reference DelimitersNone — Jhn 1:1 KJV
Square Reference DelimitersSquare — [Jhn 1:1 KJV]
Curly Reference DelimitersCurly — {Jhn 1:1 KJV}
Parenthesis Reference DelimitersParens — (Jhn 1:1 KJV)
Paragraph Order:
Paragraph Verse-ReferenceVerse-Reference
Paragraph Reference-VerseReference-Verse
Paragraph Reference-OnlyReference-Only
Number Delimiters:*
No Verse NumbersNo Number
No Verse DelimetersNo Delimiter — 15
Square Verse DelimitersSquare — [15]
Curly Verse DelimitersCurly — {15}
Parenthesis Verse DelimitersParens — (15)
Other Options:
Abbreviate BooksAbbreviate Books
Use SBL Abbrev.Use SBL Abbrev.
En dash not HyphenEn dash not Hyphen
Quotes Around VersesQuotes Around Verses
Remove Square BracketsRemove Square Brackets
Sort CanonicallySort Canonically

* 'Number Delimiters' only apply to 'Paragraph Order'

Let's Connect

Connect on Facebook Connect on Twitter Connect on Instagram Connect on Pinterest Connect on YouTube

Daily Devotionals

Blue Letter Bible offers several daily devotional readings in order to help you refocus on Christ and the Gospel of His peace and righteousness.

Daily Bible Reading Plans

Recognizing the value of consistent reflection upon the Word of God in order to refocus one’s mind and heart upon Christ and His Gospel of peace, we provide several reading plans designed to cover the entire Bible in a year.

One-Year Plans

Two-Year Plan

David Guzik :: Study Guide for Acts 13

toggle collapse
Choose a new font size and typeface

Customize your font sizeIncrease your font sizeDecrease your font sizeReturn to default font size

Choose a Bible text color
Read the Bible in blackRead the Bible in dark blueRead the Bible in blue

Customize your text type
Arial font
Trebuchet MS font
Georgia font
Times New Roman font

Customize your Hebrew text type
SBL Hebrew font
Times New Roman font
Arial font

Customize your Greek text type
Gentium font
Times New Roman font
Arial font

Close font preferences

Paul's First Missionary Journey Begins

A. Barnabas and Saul are called and sent by the Holy Spirit.

1. (Act 13:1) The people at the church in Antioch.

Now in the church that was at Antioch there were certain prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul.

a. In Acts 12:25, we learn Barnabas, Saul, and John Mark were all at the church in Antioch, having returned from delivering a gift of support to the church in Jerusalem (Acts 11:27-30). Saul and Barnabas were among the teachers and prophets there, as were Simeon, Lucius, and Manaen.

b. Simeon who was called Niger: Since Niger means black, he was presumably a black African among the congregation at Antioch, and possibly he was the same Simeon who carried Jesus' cross (Luke 23:26).

c. The Manaen mentioned here had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch. This was the same Herod who beheaded John the Baptist and presided over one of Jesus' trials (Luke 23:7-12).

2. (Act 13:2) The Holy Spirit calls Barnabas and Saul.

As they ministered to the Lord and fasted, the Holy Spirit said, "Now separate to Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them."

a. As they ministered to the Lord: The call came when they ministered to the Lord. This is the first job of any servant of God, to minister unto the Lord.

i. They were doing the service of priests under the new covenant, offering their bodies as living sacrifices (Romans 12:1). "The word translated worshipping [ministered, NKJV] is that usually employed in the LXX for the service of priests and Levites in the temple." (Williams)

b. As part of their service to the Lord, they also fasted. Why did they fast? It is likely they sensed an urgency about something, a need to seek God in a special way. What did they seek God about? Judging from the response, it was about the need to spread the gospel to all the earth.

c. The Holy Spirit said: Presumably, the call came through the ministry of prophets in the church at Antioch, though it could have come simply through the inner witness of the Holy Spirit.

i. "I do not for a moment imagine that the assembly heard a voice. That is the mistake we too often make. We try to force ourselves into ecstasies in order to hear the voice, then we imagine we hear it!" (Morgan)

d. Separate to Me: Before Barnabas and Saul can do anything great for God, they must first be separated to Him. If you will separate to God, it means you must separate from some other things.

i. You can't really say "yes" to God's call on your life until you can say "no" to things that will keep you from that call.

e. For the work to which I have called them: God had a specific work He had appointed to Barnabas and Saul to do. Paul would later write in Ephesians 2:10: For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. God is calling Barnabas and Saul to these good works!

i. The calling God had for the life of Paul had already been stated in Acts 9:15-16: He is a chosen vessel of Mine to bear My name before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel. For I will show him how many things he must suffer for My name's sake. This was not a touchy-feely "feel good" call - it was a serious call to a serious ministry.

f. Now separate to Me: God gave a timetable - now. Before, God had told Paul through Ananias what his calling was, but not that it was now. Now meant there was to be no delay.

g. If we assume they were fasting and praying about the need of the world for Jesus, we can see how God was answering their prayer - by using them! This is often how God moves, by sending the people who have it on their hearts to pray.

i. Many want to be "back seat drivers" in the ministry. They hope to say, "I'll have the burden and you do the work." But God's typical way of working is to send the people who have the burden to do the work.

3. (Act 13:3) The Holy Spirit sends Barnabas and Saul.

Then, having fasted and prayed, and laid hands on them, they sent them away.

a. Having fasted and prayed: They were sent with fasting and prayer; now they had something to really pray and depend on God about!

b. And laid hands on them: The laying on of hands was a formal commissioning to this ministry; certainly Barnabas and Saul were "ordained" before this, but now they were entering a different sphere of ministry.

c. They sent them away: Notice that the church in Antioch sent Barnabas and Saul out. They were supported and sent by a specific congregation. As far as we know, this had never happened before in the history of the church. Certainly, people went out as "accidental missionaries" (as in Acts 8:4 and 11:19) but there was never a concerted and organized effort to win people to Jesus like this.

d. Where is the committee report? Where are the demographics? Where is the marketing survey? Where is the "spiritual mapping"? Barnabas and Saul went out without any of these things, only with the call and power of the Holy Spirit.

B. Ministry in the cities of Seleucia, Salamis and Paphos.

1. (Act 13:4) First stop: Seleucia.

So, being sent out by the Holy Spirit, they went down to Seleucia, and from there they sailed to Cyprus.

a. So, being sent out by the Holy Spirit: Yes, the Christians of the church at Antioch sent Saul and Barnabas. But more importantly, it was the Holy Spirit sending them. And group of Christians can send someone, but if the Spirit doesn't send them, it won't amount to eternally effective ministry.

b. Went down to Seleucia: We aren't told of any specific ministry taking place in Seleucia, a city near Antioch. Saul and Barnabas may have gone there merely because it was the port city near Antioch, but it is hard to imagine them not doing any ministry there.

c. Since Seleucia wasn't far from Antioch, where there was a thriving church, it isn't difficult to assume there was already a group of Christians there in that city.

2. (Act 13:5) On the island of Cyprus: The city of Salamis, on the east coast.

And when they arrived in Salamis, they preached the word of God in the synagogues of the Jews. They also had John as their assistant.

a. We are not told why they went to Cyprus first, but we do know Barnabas grew up on that island (Acts 4:36).

b. They preached the word of God in the synagogues: This custom of the "open synagogue" would Barnabas and Saul many opportunities to preach. The custom of the open synagogue invited any learned man to speak to the congregation on the Sabbath.

c. They also had John as their assistant: This man, also known as John Mark, was mentioned previously in Acts 12:25. He is traveling with Barnabas and Saul on this trip.

i. This is the same Mark who will later write the Gospel that bears his name.

ii. Mark would have been a valuable companion for Barnabas and Saul. He grew up in Jerusalem, and was an eyewitness of many of the events in the life of Jesus and could relate them with special power to Barnabas and Saul, and to others whom they were preaching to.

3. (Act 13:6-12) Ministry in Paphos, a city on the west coast of Cyprus.

Now when they had gone through the island to Paphos, they found a certain sorcerer, a false prophet, a Jew whose name was Bar-Jesus, who was with the proconsul, Sergius Paulus, an intelligent man. This man called for Barnabas and Saul and sought to hear the word of God. But Elymas the sorcerer (for so his name is translated) withstood them, seeking to turn the proconsul away from the faith. Then Saul, who also is called Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked intently at him and said, "O full of all deceit and all fraud, you son of the devil, you enemy of all righteousness, will you not cease perverting the straight ways of the Lord? "And now, indeed, the hand of the Lord is upon you, and you shall be blind, not seeing the sun for a time." And immediately a dark mist fell on him, and he went around seeking someone to lead him by the hand. Then the proconsul believed, when he saw what had been done, being astonished at the teaching of the Lord.

a. Paphos: This city was known for its immorality: "Paphos was infamous for its worship of Venus, the goddess of [sexual] love" (Barclay). We will see in Paphos a familiar combination: Immorality connected with spiritual darkness.

b. While ministering in the city (presumably after the same fashion - going into the synagogues and presenting Jesus), the representative of the Roman government (the proconsul) sought to hear the word of God.

i. "All Roman provinces were divided into two classes, those that required troops and those that did not. The latter were administered by the Senate and ruled by proconsuls; the former were under the administration of the emperor." (Williams)

c. Elymas the sorcerer (for so his name is translated): Paul is opposed by a man named Elymas. His real name was Bar-Jesus, which means "son of Jesus," and Luke couldn't bear to call him that! This Elymas attempts to frustrate the missionary efforts of Saul and Barnabas with the local Roman leader.

i. We should not be surprised or shaken by opposition. "Wherever there is likely to be great success, the open door and the opposing adversaries will both be found. If there are no adversaries, you may fear that there will be no success. A boy cannot get his kite up without wind, nor without a wind which drives against his kite." (Spurgeon)

d. Saul, who also is called Paul: It was common for people in that day to have names that were similar, yet different according to the language or culture they were in. Certainly, Saul's given name was Saul, a Jewish name after the first king of Israel. But his Roman name was Paul, sounding similar to "Saul."

i. "Saul's father gave the child a Roman and a Latin name because he was a Roman citizen with all the rights in the Roman Empire this implied. The child had both names from infancy. When his father called him he shouted, 'Saul, Saul!' but when the Greek boys with whom he played called him they shouted, 'Paul, Paul!'" (Lenski)

e. Filled with the Holy Spirit … "O full of all deceit and all fraud": Paul, using spiritual discernment and operating in the gift of faith, rebukes and pronounces the judgment of God upon Elymas (you shall be blind).

i. As Elymas is struck with blindness, we can't help but think Paul would remember his own experience with God. Paul was struck blind at his conversion on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:9). Certainly, those who are resisting God are blind spiritually, so God is just giving Elymas a physical blindness corresponding to his spiritual blindness. However, we never hear of Elymas repenting, as Paul did.

f. Then the proconsul believed: Is Paul being too harsh here? Who does he think he is, coming against Elymas this way? Paul is acting correctly, because the eternal destiny of Sergius Paulus is at stake.

i. If you want to commit spiritual suicide, that's one thing. But how dare you bring others down with you? If you want to give up on the things of God and grow bitter in your heart against Him, that's your choice. But it is a heavy sin to draw anyone else away with you, either with your words or your example.

ii. "The severest words of the Bible, Old and New Testaments, are reserved for those who stand between men and truth, for those who stand between men and God … It must be the heart that loves Sergius Paulus that speaks in anger to Elymas the sorcerer." (Morgan)

g. When he saw what had been done: What was it that the proconsul saw?

i. He saw the courage of Paul. Here was a man of conviction, bold in his belief, and willing to make a stand for what he believed.

ii. He saw the just result of Elymas' sin, physical blindness corresponding to his spiritual blindness. If only we would see more of the trouble sin gets people into, we might run after the things of God a little harder!

h. Being astonished at the teaching of the Lord: As amazing as the miracle of Elymas' sudden blindness was, the good news the proconsul heard from Paul was even more amazing. His astonishment is said to be at the teaching of the Lord (presumably, the doctrines of God's gracious gift to man in Jesus, through the cross) not the miraculous work before his eyes.

4. (Act 13:13) From Paphos to Perga.

Now when Paul and his party set sail from Paphos, they came to Perga in Pamphylia; and John, departing from them, returned to Jerusalem.

a. They came to Perga: Paul, Barnabas and their companions leave the island of Cyprus, coming to Perga on the mainland of what is today Turkey.

b. John, departing from them, returned to Jerusalem: We don't know exactly why John Mark went home to Jerusalem. Was he homesick for his family? Was he afraid of the tough and dangerous travel through the mountains ahead of them? Was he resentful that the team of his cousin Barnabas and Saul (Acts 12:25) had now become Paul and his party? Was he a pessimist because Paul was suffering from poor health (Galatians 4:13)? Whatever the reason, Paul didn't appreciate the fact that John Mark abandoned the missionary journey here.

i. Who was right? Who was wrong? God had to deal with each party involved, but a great work was still going to be done for the glory of the Lord. Paul would continue to reach the world for Jesus, and John would write one of the gospels.

C. The sermon at Pisidian Antioch.

1. (Act 13:14-15) The customary invitation in the synagogue gives Paul an opportunity to preach the gospel.

But when they departed from Perga, they came to Antioch in Pisidia, and went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day and sat down. And after the reading of the Law and the Prophets, the rulers of the synagogue sent to them, saying, "Men and brethren, if you have any word of exhortation for the people, say on."

a. Went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day and sat down. And after the reading of the Law and the Prophets. A synagogue service generally went like this: Opening prayers were offered, then there was a reading from the Law (the first five books of the Old Testament). Then, a reading from the Prophets. Then, if there was an educated person present, they were invited to speak on subjects related to the readings.

b. Men and brethren, if you have any word of exhortation for the people, say on: Paul wasn't the kind of man who you invited to give a word of exhortation without expecting that he would take you up on the offer.

2. (Act 13:16-23) Paul begins his sermon in the synagogue, explaining how God's work in history culminates in Jesus.

Then Paul stood up, and motioning with his hand said, "Men of Israel, and you who fear God, listen: "The God of this people Israel chose our fathers, and exalted the people when they dwelt as strangers in the land of Egypt, and with an uplifted arm He brought them out of it. Now for a time of about forty years He put up with their ways in the wilderness. And when He had destroyed seven nations in the land of Canaan, He distributed their land to them by allotment. After that He gave them judges for about four hundred and fifty years, until Samuel the prophet. And afterward they asked for a king; so God gave them Saul the son of Kish, a man of the tribe of Benjamin, for forty years. And when He had removed him, He raised up for them David as king, to whom also He gave testimony and said, 'I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after My own heart, who will do all My will.' From this man's seed, according to the promise, God raised up for Israel a Savior; Jesus."

a. Men of Israel and you who fear God addresses both groups who would be at the synagogue on a typical Sabbath: Jews and "near Jews," those Gentiles who admired Jewish religion but did not make a full commitment to Judaism.

b. In this survey of Israel's history, Paul notes important events - the choosing of the patriarchs, the deliverance from Egypt, the time in the wilderness, the conquest of Canaan, the time of the Judges, the creation of a monarchy - but it all culminates in Jesus (according to the promise, God raised up for Israel a Savior; Jesus).

c. This survey of Israel's history demonstrates that God has a plan for history, and we need to sense a connection to that plan. Jesus is the goal of history, and as we are in Jesus, we are in the flow of God's great plan of redemption.

3. (Act 13:24-29) Using the examples of John the Baptist and the Jewish rulers, Paul shows how people both received and rejected Jesus.

"After John had first preached, before His coming, the baptism of repentance to all the people of Israel. And as John was finishing his course, he said, 'Who do you think I am? I am not He. But behold, there comes One after me, the sandals of whose feet I am not worthy to loose.' Men and brethren, sons of the family of Abraham, and those among you who fear God, to you the word of this salvation has been sent. For those who dwell in Jerusalem, and their rulers, because they did not know Him, nor even the voices of the Prophets which are read every Sabbath, have fulfilled them in condemning Him. And though they found no cause for death in Him, they asked Pilate that He should be put to death. Now when they had fulfilled all that was written concerning Him, they took Him down from the tree and laid Him in a tomb."

a. As John was finishing his course, he said: John the Baptist responded to Jesus the right way. He prepared the hearts of others of Jesus, and he saw Jesus as who He is. John knew Jesus was the One greater than all others. He knew Jesus was more than a teacher, He was the Lord God we must all answer to.

i. The sandals of whose feet I am not worthy to loose: This statement shows that John knew Jesus was high above him. In that day, it was not uncommon for a great teacher to have disciples follow him, and it was expected that the disciples would serve the teacher in various ways. This arrangement came to be abused, so the leading rabbis established certain things that were too demeaning for a teacher to expect of his disciple. It was decided that for a teacher to expect his disciple to undo the strap of his sandal was too much; it was too demeaning. Here, John insists he isn't even worthy to do this for Jesus!

b. For those who dwell in Jerusalem, and their rulers, because they did not know Him: Those who didn't know the Scriptures rejected Jesus, and delivered Him to Pilate to be executed, and Jesus was executed, and laid in a tomb.

i. They took Him down from the tree: In calling the cross a tree, Paul is drawing on the idea from Deuteronomy 21:22-23. In that passage, it says that God curses a person who is hanged from a tree. Paul wants to communicate the idea that Jesus was cursed so we could be blessed (Galatians 3:13).

4. (Act 13:30-37) Paul preaches the resurrected Jesus.

"But God raised Him from the dead. He was seen for many days by those who came up with Him from Galilee to Jerusalem, who are His witnesses to the people. And we declare to you glad tidings; that promise which was made to the fathers. God has fulfilled this for us their children, in that He has raised up Jesus. As it is also written in the second Psalm: 'You are My Son, Today I have begotten You.' And that He raised Him from the dead, no more to return to corruption, He has spoken thus: 'I will give you the sure mercies of David.' Therefore He also says in another Psalm: 'You will not allow Your Holy One to see corruption.' For David, after he had served his own generation by the will of God, fell asleep, was buried with his fathers, and saw corruption; but He whom God raised up saw no corruption."

a. But God! What glorious words! Man had done his best to fight against God - even to kill Him - but God was greater than man's sin and rebellion, and rose in triumph over sin and death.

b. The fact is simply stated (But God raised Him from the dead). But evidence from eyewitnesses is offered (He was seen for many days by those who came up with Him).

c. Then, Paul applies the truth of resurrection. The resurrection means that Jesus truly is the unique Son of God (Psalm 2:7), and it proves He was utterly holy even in His work on the cross (Psalm 16:10).

5. (Act 13:38-41) With a promise and a warning, Paul applies the truth of who Jesus is and what He has done.

"Therefore let it be known to you, brethren, that through this Man is preached to you the forgiveness of sins; and by Him everyone who believes is justified from all things from which you could not be justified by the law of Moses. Beware therefore, lest what has been spoken in the prophets come upon you: 'Behold, you despisers, Marvel and perish! For I work a work in your days, a work which you will by no means believe, though one were to declare it to you.'"

a. Through this Man is preached to you the forgiveness of sins: The promise is that, because of who Jesus is and what He has done for us, forgiveness is offered to us freely in Jesus. We may be justified from all things from which you could not be justified by the law of Moses.

i. What's wrong with justifying ourselves before God? It assumes God grades on a curve; it gives us the glory for our own salvation - instead of simply saying For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9)

ii. Some refuse to embrace the salvation of Jesus in the secret place of their heart, because they want a salvation of their own making. They want to be saved the old-fashioned way - they want to earn it.

iii. In only a few months, Paul will be writing a letter to these churches in Galatia, dealing with these same themes of being justified by God's grace and not by keeping the law.

b. Everyone who believes is justified: Jesus does not only forgive us, but we are also justified by Him. Forgiveness takes care of the debt of sin, but justification puts a "credit" on our account before God.

c. Beware, therefore: The warning is that if we do not embrace the person and work of Jesus with our whole lives, we are despisers who will perish.

d. Some commentators have complained that Paul preaches too much like Peter did on Pentecost. But what is to complain about? It shows us that Peter and Paul preached the same gospel, and the same gospel was preached some fifteen years after Pentecost as was preached on that first day.

i. Others note similarities between Paul's sermon here and the sermon of Stephen in Acts 7. That was a sermon that Paul heard when he still hated the name of Jesus. Perhaps the sermon of the first martyr of the church was still ringing in the ears of the man who led his execution!

D. The Response to the sermon at Pisidian Antioch.

1. (Act 13:42-43) Many people, both Jews and Gentiles, express interest in Paul's message.

So when the Jews went out of the synagogue, the Gentiles begged that these words might be preached to them the next Sabbath. Now when the congregation had broken up, many of the Jews and devout proselytes followed Paul and Barnabas, who, speaking to them, persuaded them to continue in the grace of God.

a. We should assume that many of these believed, because Paul and Barnabas persuaded them to continue in the grace of God. This means they had already started to trust in the grace of God.

b. Continuing in grace is as important as beginning in grace; we must never leave it as the basic principle of our relationship with God. Far too many only think of grace as the introduction to the Christian life, but God wants grace to remain as the foundation for our life with Him.

2. (Act 13:44-45) On the next Sabbath, envy creates opposition.

On the next Sabbath almost the whole city came together to hear the word of God. But when the Jews saw the multitudes, they were filled with envy; and contradicting and blaspheming, they opposed the things spoken by Paul.

a. On the next Sabbath almost the whole city came together to hear the word of God: The scene is easy to picture. The whole city is ready to hear the gospel from Paul on the next Sabbath, and this dramatic response makes the leaders of the synagogue envious, because they aren't in charge any more!

i. This is inevitable for those who are more concerned about being popular than serving God. When someone else is more popular, they get envious! We can't all be popular to the same degree, but we can all serve and please God to the same degree in Jesus Christ.

b. Contradicting and blaspheming, they opposed the things spoken by Paul: Suddenly, Paul's preaching is opposed as if he were conducting a debate, his opponents contradicting him, and blaspheming God.

i. The blasphemy mentioned probably has to do with abusive and degrading language directed towards Jesus, whom Paul preached.

c. Why? Why would these religious people reject the Messiah they had waited for so long? One great reason was they wanted to keep the division between Jew and Gentile, and if Jesus was to be the Messiah of all men, they wanted no part of Him.

i. "They simply could not accept a teaching that opened such floodgates. For themselves and their adherents they could accept a message as God-sent and tolerate some change in their teaching and practice, but they could not endure that the Gentiles should be made equal with God's ancient people." (Williams)

ii. "The Jews could not endure that the Gentiles should be equal to them, being as much concerned against the Gentiles being exalted, as against their own being depressed." (Poole)

iii. Some people end up rejecting Jesus because of the way He changes our relationship with other people. Some would rather hold on to their bitterness and animosity towards others than turn to Jesus and be reconciled.

3. (Act 13:46-50) Paul and Barnabas respond to the Jewish opposition.

Then Paul and Barnabas grew bold and said, "It was necessary that the word of God should be spoken to you first; but since you reject it, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, behold, we turn to the Gentiles. For so the Lord has commanded us: 'I have set you as a light to the Gentiles, that you should be for salvation to the ends of the earth.'" Now when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and glorified the word of the Lord. And as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed. And the word of the Lord was being spread throughout all the region. But the Jews stirred up the devout and prominent women and the chief men of the city, raised up persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and expelled them from their region.

a. Then Paul and Barnabas grew bold: Praise God for their zeal for the things of God! They wouldn't let this challenge go unanswered, because they really believed the truth about Jesus.

b. Since you reject it, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, behold, we turn to the Gentiles: They rebuke those who reject Jesus, letting the Jews know that it was a privilege that this message should come to them first, a privilege they are rejecting.

c. Now when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and glorified the word of the Lord. And as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed: They respond with more evangelism to open hearts, now directing their efforts to the Gentiles, in obedience to God's command (Romans 1:16) and in fulfillment of prophecy (the quotation from Isaiah 49:6).

i. The Gentiles respond to Paul's invitation with enthusiastic belief, learning with joy that God does not hate Gentiles, but offers them salvation in Jesus.

ii. Paul shows wisdom in not spending all his time trying to persuade hardened hearts. We know that even after he made Gentiles the focus of his evangelistic efforts, he still prayed earnestly for the salvation of Israel (Romans 10:1), but he spent his missionary time ministering to more open hearts.

d. And the word of the Lord was being spread: It was being spread through the efforts of Paul and Barnabas, but especially through the lives of these people being brought to Jesus Christ.

e. But the Jews stirred up the devout and prominent women and the chief men of the city, raised up persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and expelled them from their region: Wherever there is revival, the second party to be revived is the Devil. Jewish opposition was strong enough to force Paul and Barnabas to leave the area.

4. (Act 13:51-52) Paul and Barnabas react to their expulsion from the city of Pisidian Antioch.

But they shook off the dust from their feet against them, and came to Iconium. And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.

a. But they shook off the dust from their feet against them: In doing this, Paul and Barnabas are treating the city as if they were a God-rejecting Gentile city.

i. If Jewish people had to go in or through a Gentile city, when leaving the city they would shake the dust off their feet as a gesture saying, "We don't want to take anything from this Gentile city with us." In this sense, Paul is saying "I don't want to take anything with me from you Jesus-rejecting religionists."

ii. This rejection did not make Paul and Barnabas think there was anything wrong with themselves.  They knew the problem is with their opposition, not themselves.

b. And came to Iconium: They carry on the work, going next to Iconium. All too often, rejection and opposition for the sake of the gospel makes us want to give up. But Paul and Barnabas respond with appropriate determination.

c. They were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit. Being filled with joy and being filled with the Holy Spirit go together, and they have a joy that contradicts their circumstances.

i. Paul is a great example of his own command to be constantly being filled with the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 5:18).

ii. "The happiness of a genuine Christian lies far beyond the reach of earthly disturbances, and is not affected by the changes and chances to which mortal things are exposed. The martyrs were more happy in the flames than their persecutors could be on their beds of down." (Clarke)

© 2001 David Guzik - No distribution beyond personal use without permission

Study Guide for John 1 ← Prior Book
Study Guide for Romans 1 Next Book →
Study Guide for Acts 12 ← Prior Chapter
Study Guide for Acts 14 Next Chapter →

The Blue Letter Bible ministry and the BLB Institute hold to the historical, conservative Christian faith, which includes a firm belief in the inerrancy of Scripture. Since the text and audio content provided by BLB represent a range of evangelical traditions, all of the ideas and principles conveyed in the resource materials are not necessarily affirmed, in total, by this ministry.


Verse Tools Arrow
Login to your account

Email / username or password was incorrect!

Check your email for password retrieval


Complete the form below to register  [?]

Error: That Email is already registered

Error: Please provide a valid Email

Error: Passwords should have at least 6 characters

Error: Passwords do not match

Error: Please provide a valid first name

Error: That username is already taken

Error: Usernames should only contain letters, numbers, dots, dashes, or underscores

[ Cancel ]← Login to Your Account

Passwords should have at least 6 characters.
Usernames should only contain letters, numbers, dots, dashes, or underscores.

Thank you for registering. A verification email has been sent to the address you provided.

Error: That Email / Username is not registered

Enter Your Email or UsernameUsername or Email Address


← Return to Login

Close LoginCLOSE
Tap to Close