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Bible Commentaries
Acts 13

Hampton's Commentary on Selected BooksHampton's Commentary

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Verses 1-3

Barnabas' and Saul's Special Work

Once Barnabas and Saul had completed their task of delivering the gift for the needy saints in Jerusalem, they returned to Antioch. Barnabas' cousin, John Mark, also went with them ( Col_4:10 ). It will be remembered that Mark's mother was Mary. Luke had just reported that the church met in her house for prayers while Peter was in prison. It is even possible her house was used as a resting place during Barnabas' Saul's stay in Jerusalem.

The church in Antioch was blessed with inspired men who delivered God's word, or prophets, and teachers. Among that number were: Barnabas, the son of consolation, Simeon, whose nickname was "black," Lucius, who was somehow closely associated with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. As these men were carrying out their various ministries for the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit called for Barnabas and Saul to be set apart for their specially chosen work. Apparently the whole church fasted and prayed as they sent them on their way. The laying on of hands did not impart any special gift but was a sign of the agreement they had with the good work to be done. With these acts, the church sent them on their way ( Act_12:25 ; Act_13:1-3 ).

Verses 4-12

Preaching at Paphos

The company first went to Seleucia, which was the port city of Antioch. It was located about 16 miles downstream. They sailed approximately one hundred miles to Salamis, the largest city on the eastern end of the island of Cyprus. Coffman reports that some 50 years after Barnabas and Saul were there, there was a Jewish uprising in which 240,000 Gentiles were slaughtered. Hadrian, a future Roman emperor, put down the rebellion and expelled the Jews from the city. Luke told Theophilus that Barnabas and Saul preached in the synagogues within the city. John Mark served as their attendant.

They crossed the island to Paphos, the capital city and home of the proconsul, Sergius Paulus, identified by Luke as a wise man. He had a Jewish adviser known as Bar-jesus, who Luke also describes as a sorcerer, or one who used magic and incantations, and a false prophet. The name Elymas is an Arabic word meaning sorcerer. Sergius Paulus sent for Barnabas and Saul because he wanted to hear God's word.

Elymas did everything he could to deter the proconsul from hearing these preachers, likely fearing he would lose his influence. Luke says Saul, who was also known by his Greek name, Paul, was filled with the Holy Spirit when he challenged the sorcerer. The apostle described him as a deceiver who opposed righteous living. By the power of God, Paul struck him blind for a season. Coffman notes the word "mist" was used by Hippocrates to describe any dimming of vision brought on by cataracts or disease. The teachings of Jesus which had been presented and the power of the miracle convinced Sergius Paulus to follow Christ in full obedience ( Act_13:4-12 ).

Verses 13-41

Proclaiming the Gospel in Antioch of Pisidia

Ash says they would have landed at the port of Attalia and then gone on the short distance to Perga. For some reason, John Mark decided to leave "Paul and his company," as Luke writes, at Perga. They went on to Antioch in Pisidia, which, at that time, was considered to be part of Galatia. The missionary group went into the synagogue on the Sabbath and listened to the reading of the scriptures. The rulers of the synagogue asked if they had some instruction to give them. Paul seized the moment and addressed the men of Israel and God fearers assembled there.

Paul briefly related the story of God's deliverance of the children of Israel from Egyptian bondage. He told of the forty years of wilderness wandering and how God defeated seven nations so Israel could have a home in Canaan. He reminded those assembled that God had ruled in Israel for 450 years by using judges. When the people asked for a king, God gave them Saul, then, David, after Saul was removed. It was from the seed of David, that God raised up a Savior for his people named Jesus. First, though, he sent John to prepare the way by preaching the baptism of repentance. John had told the people he was not the Messiah, but the One coming was He ( Act_13:13-25 ).

Paul then proclaimed that the message of the salvation brought by the Messiah was being delivered to them. The Jewish leaders and people fulfilled the prophecies about Christ's death because they did not recognize the Savior nor understand what the prophets had foretold. They crucified the Innocent and fulfilled all the other prophecies concerning his rejection, death and burial. However, God did not abandon Jesus, but raised him up. Many witnesses could tell of their seeing the resurrected Lord. So, Paul and Barnabas were delivering the message of the coming of the Holy One promised by God. The fact that Jesus' body was raised and did not stay in the tomb set him apart above David as God's promised Messiah ( Isa_55:3 ; Psa_16:10 ). Through him, then, remission of sins was made available to all who would obey him. The apostle warned them not to fulfill the prophecy of Hab_1:5 which said some would reject the one God had clearly approved by great signs ( Act_13:26-41 ).

Verses 42-52

The Response to the Gospel in Antioch of Pisidia

As they went out of the synagogue, some were stirred to ask Paul and Barnabas to return the following week to speak again. The next sabbath day saw nearly the whole city gather to hear God's word proclaimed. Some of the Jews were jealous, upon seeing the large gathering, and contradicted the message Paul delivered and spoke against God. The apostle immediately let them know that they were required to preach to the Jews first, but if they were determined to reject the gospel, then they would preach to the Gentiles. This statement led to great rejoicing among the Gentiles and all who willingly obeyed the word were added to the kingdom by the Lord. Thus, the truth was spread throughout the region ( Act_13:42-49 ).

The Jews, meanwhile, stirred up the prominent women of the city and those in authority. They caused Paul and Barnabas to be persecuted and, finally, cast outside the city. Because they had so rejected the message, Paul and Barnabas shook the dust off their feet and went on to Iconium. Despite the opposition, those who had believed God's word rejoiced and were filled with the Holy Spirit ( Act_13:50-52 ).

Bibliographical Information
Hampton, Gary. "Commentary on Acts 13". "Hampton's Commentary on Selected Books". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ghc/acts-13.html. 2014.
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