Acts 13

Acts 13:1

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

Herod the tetrarch should not be confused with Herod Agrippa of the last chapter (see entry for Acts 12:1). Herod the tetrarch was Herod Antipas the ruler of Galilee at the time of Christ’s crucifixion (see entry for Luke 3:1). He should not be confused with his father, Herod the Great, who slaughtered the infants at Bethlehem, or his nephew, Herod Agrippa, who executed James (Acts 12:2).

Acts 13:4

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

Cyprus. Why did Paul and Barnabas begin their international ministry in Cyprus? Probably because it was Barnabas’s home and he had connections there (Acts 4:36). Another reason is the church in Antioch had been planted by Cypriot believers (Acts 11:20).

Acts 13:5

When they reached Salamis, they began to proclaim the word of God in the synagogues of the Jews; and they also had John as their helper.

The word of God is the good news of Jesus. If Saul and Barnabas had been preaching the law or Old Testament prophets, the Jews would not have contradicted him (Acts 13:45). The apostles were preaching about the grace of God revealed in Jesus.

See entry for Word of God.

(b) Synagogues. As a Jew and a former Pharisee from Jerusalem, Paul would have found a welcome in any synagogue he visited. Upon entering a city where there was no church, it became his habit to visit the synagogue (Acts 17:1–2).

(c) John; see entry for Acts 12:12.

Acts 13:6

When they had gone through the whole island as far as Paphos, they found a magician, a Jewish false prophet whose name was Bar-Jesus,

Bar-Jesus means son of Joshua or son of the savior. However, Paul called him a son of the devil (Acts 13:10).

Acts 13:7

who was with the proconsul, Sergius Paulus, a man of intelligence. This man summoned Barnabas and Saul and sought to hear the word of God.

The word of God is the good news of Jesus. See entry for Word of God.

Acts 13:9

But Saul, who was also known as Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, fixed his gaze on him,

Also known as Paul. Saul did not change his name to Paul. Instead, he had two (or possibly three) names. As a zealous Jew he went by his Hebrew name Saul; as an apostle to the Gentiles he went by his Roman name Paul.

Acts 13:10

and said, “You who are full of all deceit and fraud, you son of the devil, you enemy of all righteousness, will you not cease to make crooked the straight ways of the Lord?

(a) Son of the devil. Elymas was known as Bar-Jesus, literally the son of the savior (Acts 13:6), but Paul called out his true identity.

(b) The devil; see entry for Matt. 4:1.

(c) Make crooked. Elymas put stumbling blocks in front of the proconsul to hinder him from coming to the Lord (Acts 13:8).

Acts 13:13

Now Paul and his companions put out to sea from Paphos and came to Perga in Pamphylia; but John left them and returned to Jerusalem.

Paul and his companions. At the start of the trip, it was “Barnabas and Saul with John helping.” But now Saul, or Paul, has become the leader of the traveling trio.

Acts 13:14

But going on from Perga, they arrived at Pisidian Antioch, and on the Sabbath day they went into the synagogue and sat down.

(a) Pisidian Antioch. Paul and Barnabas began their trip in Syrian Antioch and visited another Antioch, this one in Psidia.

(b) Synagogue; see entry for Acts 13:5.

Acts 13:15

After the reading of the Law and the Prophets the synagogue officials sent to them, saying, “Brethren, if you have any word of exhortation for the people, say it.”

The Law refers to the Law of Moses, the commandments, ordinances, punishments, and ceremonial observances given to the nation of Israel through Moses (Jos. 8:31, John 1:17). This law is sometimes referred to as the law of commandments (Eph. 2:15) or the law of the Jews (Acts 25:8). See entry for The Law.

Acts 13:22

“After He had removed him, He raised up David to be their king, concerning whom He also testified and said, ‘I HAVE FOUND DAVID the son of Jesse, A MAN AFTER MY HEART, who will do all My will.’

A man after my heart. To be a man or woman after God’s heart is to run toward God and not away from him, even when you sin. David, after committing one of the most infamous sins of the Old Testament, ran to God when he said, “Be gracious to me, O God, according to your lovingkindness” (Ps. 51:1). Adam the sinner hid from God, while David ran to God and received the grace that God freely gives to sinners.

Acts 13:27

“For those who live in Jerusalem, and their rulers, recognizing neither Him nor the utterances of the prophets which are read every Sabbath, fulfilled these by condemning Him.

Recognizing neither Him. The rulers of Israel did not recognize the time of God’s coming. They did not recognize the Son of God even as he walked among them (see entry for Luke 19:42).

Acts 13:38

“Therefore let it be known to you, brethren, that through Him forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you,

(a) Forgiveness. The original word (aphesis) for forgiveness is a noun that is sometimes translated as remission and means a letting go or dismissal. Forgiveness in a new covenant sense means God has remitted or dismissed all your sins (see entry for Luke 24:47).

(b) Forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you. This is the gospel of grace! Because of his great love for you, God has dealt with your sins once and for all (Heb. 9:26). Because of his grace, he is no longer holding your sins and trespasses against you (2 Cor. 5:19), and he chooses to remember your sins no more (Heb. 8:12, 10:17). In Christ, you have the forgiveness of sins (Col. 1:14). In him, you are completely and eternally forgiven according to the riches of his grace (Eph. 1:7).

On the night he rose from the dead, Jesus told the disciples to preach the remission of sins or the good news of unconditional forgiveness (Luke 24:47). After the cross, the apostles described forgiveness in the past tense and as a gift to receive (Acts 2:38, 5:31, 10:43, 26:18, Rom. 4:7, 2 Cor. 5:19, Eph. 1:7, 4:32, Col. 1:14, 2:13, 3:13, Heb. 9:22, 10:18, 1 John 2:12). God dealt with your sins once and for all time on the cross. Your part is to receive his forgiveness with thanksgiving.

Acts 13:39

and through Him everyone who believes is freed from all things, from which you could not be freed through the Law of Moses.

The Law of Moses refers to the commandments, ordinances, punishments, and ceremonial observances given to the nation of Israel through Moses (Jos. 8:31, John 1:17, 7:19). This law is sometimes referred to as the law of commandments (Eph. 2:15) or the law of the Jews (Acts 25:8). See entry for The Law.

Acts 13:43

Now when the meeting of the synagogue had broken up, many of the Jews and of the God-fearing proselytes followed Paul and Barnabas, who, speaking to them, were urging them to continue in the grace of God.

To continue in the grace of God is to continue trusting in Jesus.

In the New Testament we are exhorted to continue in God’s kindness (Rom. 11:22), continue in the faith (Acts 14:22, Col. 1:23), continue in the teaching of Christ (2 John 1:9), and continue in what we have learned and been convinced of (2 Tim 3:14). In short, we are to continue in the grace of God.

Every Christian knows what it means to begin with the grace of God but not every Christian continues in the grace of God. The temptation to take out a little works insurance is strong in a culture where performance is idolized.

As you have received Christ Jesus (by faith), so walk in him (by faith; see Col. 2:6). One sign that you are not continuing in the faith is that you are more conscious of your lack than you are of the Lord’s supply. You may think, I’m not holy enough, righteous enough, or fruitful enough. Paul corrects this misperception by reminding us “in Christ you have been brought to fullness” (Col. 2:10). How do you continue in the faith? By recognizing that in Christ you lack no good thing. In Christ, you are as righteous and holy as he is and you are eternally pleasing to God.

Further reading: “Continue in the grace of God

Acts 13:44

The next Sabbath nearly the whole city assembled to hear the word of the Lord.

The word of the Lord is synonymous with the word of God. The gospel of Jesus, in other words. See entry for Acts 12:24.

Acts 13:45

But when the Jews saw the crowds, they were filled with jealousy and began contradicting the things spoken by Paul, and were blaspheming.

Jealousy. If Paul and Barnabas had been preaching the law or Old Testament prophets, the Jews would not have contradicted him. The apostles were preaching about the grace of God revealed in Jesus.

Acts 13:46

Paul and Barnabas spoke out boldly and said, “It was necessary that the word of God be spoken to you first; since you repudiate it and judge yourselves unworthy of eternal life, behold, we are turning to the Gentiles.

(a) The word of God is the good news of Jesus.

The word of God is the way by which God makes himself and his will known (1 Sam. 3:21). The word of God can be conveyed via prophecies (2 Sam. 24:11, 1 Kgs. 14:18), dreams (Num. 12:6), visions (Gen. 15:1), the Law (Num. 36:5, Deu. 5:5, Is. 2:3), and angels (Luke 1:35). The word of God can also be communicated via the scriptures, a sermon, a song, a sonnet, and countless other ways. However, the primary way God reveals himself is through his Son. Jesus is the Word of God made flesh (John 1:14, Rev. 19:13), and the exact radiance or representation of God the Father (Heb. 1:3).

See entry for Word of God.

(b) You repudiate it and judge yourselves unworthy. In the new covenant, faith is described as a rest (Rom. 4:5, Heb. 4:3), while unbelief is described in terms of actions and verbs.

In contrast with faith, unbelief is a work. Unbelief is resisting the Holy Spirit and clinging to worthless idols (Acts 7:51, 14:15). Unbelief is rejecting Jesus (John 3:36) and denying the Lord (Jude 1:4). It’s thrusting away the word of God and judging yourself unworthy of life (Acts 13:46). It’s suppressing the truth (Rom. 1:18) and delighting in wickedness (2 Th. 2:12). It’s turning away (Heb. 12:25), going astray (2 Pet. 2:15), and trampling the Son of God underfoot (Heb. 10:29).

(c) Eternal life is a gift we receive when come to Christ (John 3:15, 5:24). Those who refuse to come to Christ will not have eternal life but remain dead in their sins (Eph. 2:1).

Acts 13:47

“For so the Lord has commanded us,

(a) Salvation. The original word for salvation means deliverance or rescue. Jesus is the great Deliverer who rescues us from our enemies (Luke 1:71). See entry for Salvation.

(b) The earth. The great commission to make disciples of all nations was being fulfilled (Col. 1:6).

Acts 13:48

When the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord; and as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed.

(a) Eternal life is living forever in union with Jesus; see entry for John 3:15.

(b) Believed. We are not born immortal (Rom. 2:6–8, Eph. 2:1). Eternal life is a gift we receive when come to Christ (John 3:15). The moment you put your faith in Christ you crossed over from death to life (John 5:24). Whoever believes in Christ has eternal life and shall not perish (John 3:16).

Acts 13:49

And the word of the Lord was being spread through the whole region.

(a) The word of the Lord; see entry for Acts 12:24.

(b) Spread through the whole region. The Christians of the early church bore witness to the great fruitfulness of the gospel (Acts 12:24, 19:10, 20). By the time Paul wrote to the Colossians, the gospel was bearing fruit all over the world (Col. 1:6).

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