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Bible Commentaries
Acts 13

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The Missionary Journeys Begin Acts Thirteen

Acts chapter thirteen begins with a time of fasting and prayer in Antioch. There is power in prayer. The Holy Spirit directed the church to appoint Barnabas and Saul to do the work for which He had chosen them. They were appointed to this work with prayer, fasting and the laying on of hands.

As their missionary work began Barnabas and Saul preached the gospel in Cyprus. There they meet a Jewish false prophet named Elymas. Sergius Paulus was a good man that wanted to hear God's message. Elymas tried to keep the governor from having faith in Christ. Saul, who is better known as Paul dealt with this false teacher. Elymas was made blind as punishment for his evil deeds. When Sergius Paulus saw what had happened, he was amazed at the teaching about the Lord and he became a Christian.

Paul and the others left Paphos and sailed to Perga in Pamphylia. Here John Mark left them and went back to Jerusalem. This would later cause very difficult problems between Barnabas and Paul. In Antioch of Pisidia Paul preached a sermon very much like the one preached by Stephen that led to his stoning. He proved that Jesus was the fulfillment of all Hebrew history. This sermon was followed by another Jewish persecution. This persecution caused Paul and Barnabas to departure for the city of Iconium.

Verses 1-3

The mission of Paul and Barnabas Act_13:1-3 : Antioch in Syria was located about 300 miles north of Jerusalem, and 16 miles from the Mediterranean Sea. It became the starting place for Paul's missionary journeys. At the conclusion of each journey Paul and his companions returned to Antioch to report to the church concerning the work they had done. There were several strong prophets and teachers of the gospel in the church at Antioch.

Barnabas and Saul were to be separated for a special work that the Lord had called them to. Their great missionary journeys would change the face of Christianity forever. There would now be no doubt that the gospel is for all. As a gesture of approval the brethren laid their hands on these missionaries and prayed for them. Paul became the apostle to the Gentiles.

Verses 4-12

Elymas, a false prophet, a sorcerer Act_13:4-12 : John Mark accompanied Paul and Barnabas as they went to Seleucia and then sailed to the island of Cyprus. In Salamis they began to preach God's message in the synagogues of the Jews. In the city of Paphos Barnabas and Saul met a Jewish man named Bar-Jesus. He was a sorcerer. He was also called Elymas. Sergius Paulus was the governor of the island. He was a good man that wanted to hear God's message.

Elymas was very much against Sergius Paulus obeying the gospel. He tried to keep him from having faith in the Christ. Saul, who is better known as Paul, called Elymas a son of the devil. Paul said that he was an enemy of all righteousness and that he was perverting the right ways of the Lord. The Lord punished him by making him blind for a while. Elymas had to try to find someone to lead him by the hand. When Sergius Paulus saw what had happened, he was amazed at this teaching about the Lord. He became one that believed.

Verses 14-41

Paul's powerful sermon at Antioch Act_13:14-41 : At Perga in Pamphylia John Mark left Paul and Barnabas and went back to Jerusalem. Later, this would cause no small trouble between these brethren. We are not told why John Mark deserted them, but what he did was very disturbing to Paul.

At Antioch in Pisidia the missionaries went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day. This gave them an opportunity to preach the gospel. Paul's sermon was very much like that of Stephen in Acts seven. All that he said was designed to cause the people to accept Jesus as the promised Lord and Christ, the Messiah. It was a sermon about God's mercy and long-suffering. He showed that in spite of all that God did man was ungrateful and perverse.

Paul traced Hebrew history moving from David to the Son of David. This son of David is Jesus, the Savior of the world. The apostles always preached Christ crucified, His burial and resurrection. In his sermon Paul dealt with such things as: (1) Saul reigning over Israel for forty years, (2) David was both the fleshly and spiritually ancestor of the Savior, (3) John preached a baptism of repentance to prepare the way for Christ, (4) the Jews were the first to know of God's promises to Abraham, (5) the Jews condemned Jesus to death, (6) Jesus was buried, (7) God raised Him from the dead, (8) "glad tidings" is another term for the gospel of Christ, (9) Jesus arose from the dead to die no more, (10) Jesus was not left in the grave long enough to see corruption, (11) Through Jesus and only through Him is the forgiveness of sins preached, (12) The law of Moses could not bring the justification that is possible by belief in Christ, and (13) he warned of the coming Judgment Day.

Verses 42-52

Paul preached to the Gentiles and is persecuted Act_13:42-52 : The people were eager to hear more of the preaching done by Paul and Barnabas on the next Sabbath. Many of both the Jews and Gentiles became Christians. They were encouraged to continue in the grace of God. The next Sabbath almost everyone in town came to hear the message about the Lord. This led the Jews to begin a persecution of Paul. They blasphemed and denied the truth that Paul taught. The Jews heard God's word first but they rejected it. By rejecting the gospel the Jews had judged themselves unworthy of everlasting life.

God had sent Paul to be a light of the Gentiles. No person will be either saved or lost by any predestined decree. The Jews had the opportunity of salvation but the rejected the gospel. So now Paul turned to the Gentiles with the word of God. "When the Gentiles heard this, they were glad, and glorified the word of the Lord: and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed." How wonderful it must have been when the message about the Lord spread all over that region.

The Jewish leaders started making trouble and drove Paul and Barnabas out of their city. Paul and Barnabas shook the dust from that place off their feet and went to the city of Iconium. Notwithstanding the opposition of the Jews the disciples were filled with joy, and with the Holy Ghost. The Lord's followers are happy in His service.

Bibliographical Information
Box, Charles. "Commentary on Acts 13". "Box's Commentaries on Selected books of the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/box/acts-13.html. 2014.
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