Reading For Tuesday Acts 13:13-52
The gospel is advancing as Paul and Barnabas move farther and farther away from Jerusalem. We are not given many details at this point, but we are informed that John Mark left his friends and will be a source of contention for Paul and Barnabas later. They arrive at Antioch Pisidia (not to be confused with Antioch in Syria where they started) and on the Sabbath, they went to the local synagogue and took their seats. This would usually occupy the third part of the liturgy following the shema but before the teaching which was normally based upon the reading. The leaders of the synagogue invite them to share a word of encouragement. Paul stood and addressed not only those that were ethnically Jews, but also the God-fearers, who were those that had been circumcised and were full converts to Judaism, and others (like Cornelius) which had adopted monotheism and Biblical morality, but had not fully converted.
Paul gives an overview of Jewish history beginning with the stay in Egypt. The focus of this historical account is to show God's intervention and his power to save his people. He reminds his listeners that the people had judges until Samuel, and then the people asked for a king. The judges had not been effective, and the nation transitioned to a monarchy. He reminds them that once Saul was removed that God raised up a king after his own heart in David. He connects Jesus the promised offspring of Abraham, David, and even Genesis 3. Paul reminded his audience that even John the Baptist had testified that Jesus was the promised king. Paul connects with them as one of their own. He then testifies to the salvation that is found in Jesus while walking through the details of what took place in Jerusalem. These leaders in Jerusalem fulfilled what they regularly read about from the scriptures. Paul further connects the prophecies concerning the Messiah and tells them that God raised Jesus from the dead while appearing to his followers who are his witnesses.
Paul tells those present in the synagogue the good news and connects Jesus to the ultimate fulfillment of the Davidic covenant. He reasons with them from Psalm 2 and Psalm 16 explaining that there is forgiveness of sins through the work of Jesus Christ who is greater than Moses and the law. Paul's message was well received, and the people wanted to hear more the following Sabbath. By the time the next Sabbath rolled around, the whole city had gathered to hear what Paul and Barnabas would say to them. However, not everyone was enthusiastic about hearing from them. Some were filled with jealousy, and they began to contradict what Paul had to say and reviled him publicly. Paul and Barnabas boldly announce that they were turning to the Gentiles because these particular Jews thrust aside the good news. The Gentiles began to rejoice and glorify God. Many believed and were saved. Word spread quickly throughout the region, and it was followed by persecution. Paul and Barnabas were driven out and as they departed they shook the dust from their feet as a sign of their condemnation. The disciples were filled with joy and the Holy Spirit for salvation had come to them.
Things To Consider:
- Why did Paul and Barnabas make a habit of going to the local synagogue first when they came to a new city?
- Why must we reason from the scripture?
- Why is it important to study all of the Bible?
- Why are we so captivated by the idea of a powerful political leader?
- How did Paul point to God's sovereignty in his sermon?
- Why is Jesus' death and resurrection necessary for salvation?
- Is jealousy an issue the churches faces today? How?
- Why was it necessary for the good news to be preached to the Jews first?
- Was reaching the Gentiles ever not in God's plan? How do you know?