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Acts 13

Utley's You Can Understand the BibleUtley Commentary

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Acts 13:0


Barnabas and Saul CommissionedBarnabas and Saul AppointedBarnabas and Saul in CyprusBarnabas and Saul are Chosen and SentThe MissionSent Out
(Acts 12:25-3)(Acts 12:23-12)
Acts 13:1-3Acts 13:1-3Acts 13:1-2Acts 13:13
Acts 13:3
The Apostles Preach in CyprusPreaching in CyprusIn CyprusCyprus: The Magician Elymas
Acts 13:4-12Acts 13:4-12Acts 13:4-12Acts 13:4-5Acts 13:4-5
Acts 13:6-11aActs 13:6-12
Acts 13:11-12
Paul and Barnabas at Antioch of PisidiaAt Antioch of PisidiaJourney to Antioch of Pisidia and IconiumIn Antioch in PisidiaThey Arrive at Antioch in Pisidia
Acts 13:13-16aActs 13:13-41Acts 13:13-16aActs 13:13-16aActs 13:13-16a
Acts 13:16-25Acts 14:16-25Acts 13:16-20aActs 13:16-25
Acts 13:20-25
Acts 13:26-41Acts 13:26-41Acts 13:26-41Acts 13:26-31
Acts 13:32-37
Acts 13:38-39
Blessing and Conflict at AntiochActs 13:40-41
Acts 13:42-43Acts 13:42-52Acts 13:42-43Acts 13:42-43Acts 13:42-43
Paul and Barnabas Preach to the Gentiles
Acts 13:44-52Acts 13:44-47Acts 13:44-47Acts 13:44-47
Acts 13:48-52Acts 13:48Acts 13:48-49
Acts 13:49-52
Acts 13:50-52

READING CYCLE THREE (from "A Guide to Good Bible Reading")


This is a study guide commentary, which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

Read the chapter in one sitting. Identify the subjects. Compare your subject divisions with the five modern translations. Paragraphing is not inspired, but it is the key to following the original author's intent, which is the heart of interpretation. Every paragraph has one and only one main subject.

1. First paragraph

2. Second paragraph

3. Third paragraph

4. Etc.


A. This is an account of Paul and Barnabas' first missionary journey. The rest of Acts will be given over to Paul's ministry.

B. It would be very helpful to turn to the map in the back of your Bible or atlas and follow the geographical locations mentioned in Acts 13:0 and 14.

C. There is an obvious transition in Acts 13:0 and 14 from the leadership of Barnabas to the leadership of Paul.


This is a study guide commentary, which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

These discussion questions are provided to help you think through the major issues of this section of the book. They are meant to be thought-provoking, not definitive.

1. Why can Acts 13:2-3 not be used as a proof-text for ordination by a select group?

2. Why did Paul preach in the synagogue first?

3. Why did John Mark leave the mission team? (cf. Acts 13:13)

4. How is Acts 13:39 related to Galatians 3:0?

5. Explain Acts 13:48b in relation to predestination and human free will.

Verses 1-3

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Acts 13:1-3 1Now 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. 2While they were ministering to the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, "Set apart for Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them." 3Then, when they had fasted and prayed and laid their hands on them, they sent them away.

Acts 13:1 "Antioch" See note at Acts 11:19.

"the church" See Special Topic at Acts 5:11.

"prophets and teachers" These two gifts of the Spirit are listed in 1 Corinthians 12:28 and Ephesians 4:11. The grammatical construction is such that it is uncertain whether the five men listed were both prophets and teachers or if the first three are prophets and the last two are teachers.

The problem with this term is, "How is the NT gift of prophecy related to OT prophets?" In the OT prophets are writers of Scripture. In the NT this task is given to the original twelve Apostles and their helpers. As the term "apostle" is retained as an ongoing gift (cf. Ephesians 4:11), but with a changed task after the death of the Twelve, so too, is the office of prophet. Inspiration has ceased; there is no further inspired Scripture. New Testament prophets' primary task is proclamation of the gospel, but also a different task, possibly how to apply NT truths to current situations and needs. See Special Topic at Acts 11:27.

The gift of teacher is mentioned in Acts 13:1 in combination with prophecy, but in Ephesians 4:11 it is linked with pastors. In 2 Timothy 1:11 Paul says he is a preacher, apostle, and a teacher. Here it seems to stand independently, as it does in Romans 12:7. It is also discussed separately in James 3:1ff. This implies that these leadership gifts can be combined in different ways in different believers to meet the need of the church in that day or area. Each of these gifted leaders (cf. Ephesians 4:11) proclaimed the gospel, but in different ways (ordering, preaching, instructing).



"Simeon who was called Niger" The term niger is Latin for dark or black. Some commentators try to relate this Simon to Mark 15:21.

"Lucius of Cyrene" Possibly this is one of the Hellenistic Jews that preached to the Gentiles in Antioch (cf. Acts 11:20). He is probably not the Lucius mentioned in Romans 16:21.

"Manaen who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch" Manaen is a Greek form of the Hebrew Manahem, which means "comforter." This man was either a foster brother (Greek literature) of Herod Antipas (see Introduction to Acts 12:0) or he grew up with him (Koine papyri). Luke probably got much of his information about Herod Antipas (the Tetrarch) from conversations with this man.

Acts 13:2

NASB"ministering" NKJV"ministered" NRSV"worshiping" TEV"serving" NJB"offering worship"

This is the Greek term leitourgia (a compound from "public" and "work") from which we get the English term liturgy. Originally it referred to someone who did public service at their own expense. In this context it implies a period of seeking God's will during a worship service. The verb could refer to the entire church or just the five men listed.

"had fasted" In the OT there is only one fast day a year, the Day of Atonement, Leviticus 16:0. However, during the first century, rabbinical Judaism had developed two fasts a week. Although fasting is not required of believers, many times it is helpful in discerning God's will (cf. Acts 14:23).


"the Holy spirit said" This is another biblical evidence for the personality of the Holy Spirit (see Special Topic at Acts 1:2). Whether it was audible or intuitive is uncertain (cf. Acts 8:29; Acts 10:19; Acts 11:12; Acts 20:23; Acts 21:11). It is obvious that this was a very specific message (cf. Acts 16:6-7), probably given through one of the prophets.

"Set apart" This is an aorist active imperative. The term aphorizô has the same connotation as "holy" (hagiazô). It implies set apart and equipped for an assigned divine task (cf. Romans 1:1; Galatians 1:15).

After "set apart" in the Greek text is the particle , which denotes intensity (cf. Luke 2:15; 1 Corinthians 6:20). It gives an earnestness to the Spirit's call. There is a parallel in Paul's statement of Acts 15:36.

"the work to which I have called them" This is a perfect middle (deponent) indicative. It is the Spirit who calls and equips for ministry tasks (cf. 1 Corinthians 12:7, 1 Corinthians 12:11).

Acts 13:3 The verse has three aorist participles describing the spiritual preparations to send out the first missionaries from the church at Antioch.

1. fasted

2. prayed

3. laid hands on them

This seems to be the united actions of the whole congregation, not just the other prophets and teachers. The whole church should be involved in Great Commission activities!

"laid their hands on them" This particular verse is one of the ambiguous texts on which our modern practice of ordination is based. However, it is inappropriate as a biblical foundation for our modern denominational practices. There are many physical examples of "laying on of hands" in the Bible.

1. in the OT for the purpose of

a. sacrificial identification (cf. Leviticus 1:4; Leviticus 3:2; Leviticus 4:4; Leviticus 16:21)

b. a blessing (cf. Genesis 48:13ff; Matthew 19:13, Matthew 19:15)

c. the commissioning of a successor (cf. Numbers 27:23; Deuteronomy 34:9)

2. In the NT the background is equally as varied

a. for healing (cf. Luke 4:40; Luke 13:13; Acts 9:17; Acts 28:8)

b. dedication or commissioning to a task (cf. Acts 6:6; Acts 13:3)

c. connected with receiving the Holy Spirit or spiritual gifts (cf. Acts 8:17; Acts 19:6; 1 Timothy 4:14; 2 Timothy 1:6)

d. a reference to the basic teachings of Judaism or the church (cf. Hebrews 6:2)

This laying on of hands was not an inaugurating experience. These men were already called, gifted, functioning leaders. It is not a new ministry they are called to, but an expansion of what they were already doing.

Ordination tends to encourage a distinction among believers. It gives credence to the clergy-laity dichotomy. The Greek word cleros (to inherit by lot) and laos (Greek word for people), when used in the NT, always refers to the entire group of believers. All believers are called, gifted, full time ministers of the gospel (cf. Ephesians 4:11-12). There is no biblical evidence for separating believers into hierarchal groups. All believers are gifted for ministry to the body of Christ (cf. 1 Corinthians 12:7, 1 Corinthians 12:11).

Verses 4-12

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Acts 13:4-12 4So, being sent out by the Holy Spirit, they went down to Seleucia and from there they sailed to Cyprus. 5When 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. 6When they had gone through the whole island as far as Paphos, they found a magician, a Jewish false prophet whose name was Bar-Jesus, 7who was with the proconsul, Sergius Paulus, a man of intelligence. This man summoned Barnabas and Saul and sought to hear the word of God. 8But Elymas the magician (for so his name is translated) was opposing them, seeking to turn the proconsul away from the faith. 9But Saul, who was also known as Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, fixed his gaze on him, 10and 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? 11"Now, behold, the hand of the Lord is upon you, and you will be blind and not see the sun for a time." And immediately a mist and a darkness fell upon him, and he went about seeking those who would lead him by the hand. 12Then the proconsul believed when he saw what had happened, being amazed at the teaching of the Lord.

Acts 13:4 "being sent out by the Holy Spirit" This context does not assert the authority of the local church, but the authority of the Spirit. He is that part of the Trinity (see Special Topic at Acts 2:32) emphasized in Acts. The "new Messianic age" was known as "the age of the Spirit." He calls, gifts, directs, convicts, and empowers (cf. John 14:16-17, John 14:26; John 15:26; John 16:7-15). No permanent or effective ministry can occur without His presence and blessing.

"Seleucia" This was the port city of Antioch of Syria. It was about fifteen miles southwest. Its name goes back to Alexander the Great's general (Seleucid), who ruled this area after Alexander's death.

"Cyprus" This was Barnabas' home (cf. Acts 4:36) where there was a large Jewish population. In the OT it is known as Kittim. This was not the first Christian witness on this island (cf. Acts 11:19-20).

Acts 13:5 "Salamis" This was the port city on the east coast of the island of Cyprus. It was the commercial center of the island.

"they began to proclaim the word of God in the synagogue" The reason for this is obvious.

1. these Jews already knew the OT

2. Jews were the chosen people (cf. Genesis 12:1-3) and had the first opportunity to respond (cf. Acts 3:26; Acts 13:46; Acts 17:2; Acts 18:4, Acts 18:19; Acts 19:8; Romans 1:16)

3. in the synagogue services were Gentiles who [a] had already been attracted to the one true God and [b] knew the OT

This became Paul's regular missionary method wherever there was a synagogue.

"John" This refers to John Mark in whose home the disciples met (cf. Acts 12:12). He is also the traditional writer of the Gospel of Mark, which seems to record the eyewitness testimony of the Apostle Peter. He is also the cause of the great argument between Paul and Barnabas which split the missionary team (cf. Acts 15:36-41). However, later on Paul mentions John Mark in a positive way (cf. Colossians 4:10; 2 Timothy 4:11 and Philemon 1:24). See fuller note at Introduction to Acts 16:0.

Acts 13:6 "when they had gone through the whole island" This probably means that they stopped and preached in every synagogue on the island.

"Paphos" This refers to new Paphos, in contradistinction from the older Phoenician city seven miles away. Both of these cities are named after the Phoenician goddess Paphian. This was the god of love also known as Aphrodite, Astarte, Venus, etc. This city was the official political capital of Cyprus.

"Bar-Jesus" This man was a Jewish false prophet. His name means "son of Joshua." We learn from Acts 13:8 that he went by the designation Elymas the magician. This term magician reflects the Greek equivalent of an Aramaic root that means "sorcerer" (cf. Acts 13:10). See Special Topic at Acts 8:9.

Acts 13:7 "the proconsul, Sergius Paulus" There has been much discussion about the historicity of Luke's accounts. Here is a good example of the accuracy of Luke the historian. He calls this man "a proconsul," which meant Cyprus was a Roman Senatorial province. We learn this occurred in A.D. 22 by decree from Augustus. We also learn from a Latin inscription at Soloi that Sergius Paulus began his proconsulship in A.D. 53. The more information archaeology discovers from the Mediterranean world of the first century, the more Luke's historical accuracy is corroborated.

"a man of intelligence" This term is used with a wide variety of connotations. In this context it implies he was able to rule effectively. Also characterizing him in this way shows that the gospel not only impacted the poor and uneducated, but also the wealthy and educated (cf. Manaen Acts 13:1). It is also possible that one of Luke's intents of writing Acts was to show that the gospel did not threaten Roman rule.

Acts 13:8 "Elymas" It seems that this Greek name is a transliteration of

1. an Arabic term for a wise man (a sage, a diviner, one who can foresee and control the future by manipulating the unseen powers/forces of the unseen realm, AB, vol. 2, p. 487)

2. an Aramaic word for one who interprets dreams

"magician" This is related to the term "magi," which meant Chaldean-Median wise men, like Daniel (cf. Daniel 2:2; Daniel 4:9; Matthew 2:1). However, by Paul's day, it was used of itinerant magicians and wandering quacks in the Greco-Roman world. See Special Topic at Acts 8:9.

"the faith" This term is used in three specific ways in the NT:

1. personal trusting in Jesus Christ as a Savior

2. faithful, godly living

3. theological content of the gospel (i.e., doctrine, cf. Jude 1:3, Jude 1:20)

The same ambiguity is seen in Acts 6:7. Here it seems to refer to #3 because of the article and the context. See Special Topics at Acts 3:16 and Acts 6:5.

Acts 13:9 "Paul" This is the first use of his Roman cognomen in the book of Acts. Paul is from a Greek term that means "little." Some think it refers to Paul's physical size, others to his own personal evaluation of himself as "the least of the apostles" because he persecuted the church. It was probably the second name given to him by his parents at birth.

"Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit" The power of the Spirit that guided the early church is described by the term "the filling" (cf. Acts 2:4; Acts 4:8, Acts 4:31; Acts 6:3; Acts 7:55; Acts 9:17; Acts 13:9, Acts 13:52). The ongoing, daily filling of the Spirit is the normal state of all believers (cf. Ephesians 5:18). In Acts it is usually associated with a boldness to proclaim the gospel.

"fixed his gaze" See fuller note at Acts 1:10.

Acts 13:10 Paul characterizes this Jewish false prophet by several terms.

1. "full by deceit," meaning to entrap with a bait (this is the only use of this term in Luke's writings)

2. "full of all fraud," this is from the Greek word that means to do something lightly or frivolously, but it came to have an evil connotation (cf. Acts 18:14). This term is found only in Acts (cf. Acts 13:10; Acts 18:14).

3. "son of the devil," this is a Semitic idiom (cf. Acts 3:25; Acts 4:36) for one characterized by the actions of the devil (cf. Matthew 13:38; John 8:38, John 8:41, John 8:44, see Special Topics at Acts 5:3)

4. "enemy of all righteousness," This term is used several times in Luke's writings involving OT quotes (cf. Luke 1:71, Luke 1:74; Luke 20:43; Acts 2:35). All that is like God, this man was against. See SPECIAL TOPIC: RIGHTEOUSNESS at Acts 3:14.

5. Paul uses the inclusive term "all" three times to show this man's complete volitional wickedness

"to make crooked the straight ways of the Lord" This question expects a "yes" answer. The word "right" or "straight" in the NT reflects the OT concept of righteousness, which meant a standard or measuring reed. The NT terms "crooked" or "perverted" reflect the OT terms for sin, which were a deviation from the standard, which is God Himself. This man made everything crooked (i.e., the opposite of righteousness). See Special Topic at Acts 3:14.

Acts 13:11 "the hand of the Lord" This is a Semitic anthropomorphic phrase referring to the power and presence of YHWH (cf. Luke 1:66; Acts 11:21). In the OT it often refers to God's judgment (cf. Exodus 9:3; 1 Samuel 5:6; Job 19:21; Job 23:2; Psalms 32:4; Psalms 38:2; Psalms 39:10), as it does here.

"you will be blind" These powerful descriptive terms of evil and rebellion by which Paul characterizes this man and the form of his temporary divine punishment may reflect Paul's own previous life. He looks back now and sees himself in this Jewish false teacher and his manipulation (cf. Acts 9:8).

Blindness is often used in a parabolic sense of a lack of spiritual receptivity (cf. John 9:0; Acts 9:0; also note Deuteronomy 28:28-29).

Acts 13:12 "believed when he saw what happened" This is the same Greek word (pisteuô, the noun can be translated as believe, faith, or trust) used throughout the NT for genuine belief. This governor responded to the gospel message. One man's eyes were closed (literally); one man's eyes were opened (metaphorically). This is the mystery of belief and unbelief (cf. John 9:0). See Special Topics: Faith (noun, verb, and adjective) at Acts 3:16 and OT Faith at Acts 6:5.

Verses 13-16

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Acts 13:13-16a 13Now Paul and his companions put out to sea from Paphos and came to Perga in Pamphylia; but John left them and returned to Jerusalem. 14But going on from Perga, they arrived at Pisidian Antioch, and on the Sabbath day they went into the synagogue and sat down. 15After 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." 16Paul stood up, and motioning with his hand said,

Acts 13:13 "Paul and his companions" Obviously the leadership has changed. From now on in the book of Acts Paul's name will be listed first.

"Perga in Pamphylia" Perga was the largest city of the small Roman coastal province of Pamphylia (mid-southern Turkey). It was located several miles inland to discourage attacks by sea-faring raiders.

Apparently Paul did not preach here at this time, but did so later (cf. Acts 14:25). There is no historical evidence of a Christian group in this area for several hundred years. He merely passed through this coastal region.

"John left them and returned to Jerusalem" Luke records this event, but gives no clue as to why (nor does any other NT author). See Introduction to Acts 16:0, he returned to the Lord's service!

Acts 13:14 "Pisidian Antioch" This literally means "Antioch towards Pisidia" because it was located in the ethnic area of Phrygia the Roman Province of Galatia. This was a distinct ethnic group, probably from Europe.

"on the Sabbath day" This would denote from sundown on Friday to sundown on Saturday. The Jews counted time from evening to evening, following Genesis 1:0.

"sat down" This may be an idiom denoting someone who was to speak in the synagogue. Rabbis always taught while seated (cf. Matthew 5:1; Luke 4:20). The synagogues regularly allowed itinerant visitors to speak if they wished (cf. Acts 13:15).

Acts 13:15 "the reading of the Law and the Prophets" This was the part of the typical order of service in a synagogue in Jesus' day. Originally only the Law of Moses was read, but Antiochus IV Epiphanes forbade this in 163 B.C. The Jews then substituted the reading of the Prophets. During the Maccabeen revolt, Judaism was restored and both the Law and the Prophets were continued to be read together as a basic format of synagogue services (cf. Acts 13:27). See Special Topic following.


"the synagogue officials" These were the men in charge of building maintenance and the order of worship (cf. Luke 8:41, Luke 8:49). They often invited guests to speak.

"if you have any word of exhortation" This is a first class conditional sentence, assumed to be true from the perspective of the author of for his literary purposes. This was a normal aspect of synagogue worship. Paul took full advantage of the opportunity.

Acts 13:16 "Paul stood up" Usually Jewish teachers sit when they teach; however, it was the Greco-Roman custom to stand while teaching. Paul modified his manner and presentation to the audience.

"motioning with his hand" Paul gestured for quiet. Luke mentions this eyewitness detail often (cf. Acts 12:17; Acts 13:16; Acts 19:33; Acts 21:40).

Verses 16-25

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Acts 13:16-25 16"Men of Israel, and you who fear God, listen: 17'The God of this people Israel chose our fathers and made the people great during their stay in the land of Egypt, and with an uplifted arm He led them out from it. 18For a period of about forty years He put up with them in the wilderness. 19When He had destroyed seven nations in the land of Canaan, He distributed their land as an inheritanceall of which took about four hundred and fifty years. 20After these things He gave them judges until Samuel the prophet. 21Then they asked for a king, and God gave them Saul the son of Kish, a man of the tribe of Benjamin, for forty years. 22After 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." 23From the descendants of this man, according to promise, God has brought to Israel a Savior, Jesus, 24after John had proclaimed before His coming a baptism of repentance to all the people of Israel. 25And while John was completing his course, he kept saying, 'What do you suppose that I am? I am not He. But behold, one is coming after me the sandals of whose feet I am not worthy to untie.'"

Acts 13:16b "Men of Israel, and you who fear God, listen" There were two groups present, Jews and Gentile "God-fearers" (cf. Acts 13:26; Acts 10:2, Acts 10:22, Acts 10:35). This sermon is very similar to Stephen's sermon of Acts 7:0. In many ways Paul was deeply influenced by Stephen's understanding of the OT and the gospel.

Acts 13:17 Paul began his review of OT history with the call of the Patriarchs (Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in Genesis) and the captivity and deliverance from Egypt (Exodus-Deuteronomy).

"with an uplifted arm He led them out" This is typical OT imagery (cf. LXX Exodus 6:0; Exodus 1:6) of YHWH in physical terms. It is similar to the anthropomorphic phrase, "His right arm." The Bible speaks of God in human vocabulary (i.e., anthropomorphism) even though He is an eternal, non-physical, all pervasive Spirit. These biblical analogies are the source of many misunderstandings and literal overstatements. The Bible speaks of God in analogy, metaphor, and negation. God is far greater than fallen, time-bound, earth-bound humans can comprehend or express! See Special Topic at Acts 2:33.

Acts 13:18 "For a period of about forty years He put up with them in the wilderness" This reflects Deuteronomy 1:31 and could be translated "fed as a nurse" (cf. MSS A, C). This reflects the OT books of Exodus and Numbers.

The term "forty" is often a round number. Literally the time from Horeb to Shittim was thirty-eight years with a two year period at Horeb (Sinai). See Special Topic at Acts 1:3.

Acts 13:19 "destroyed seven nations" The nations of Palestine can be characterized in several ways.

1. collective terms, Canaanite (i.e., lowlander, cf. Genesis 10:18-29; Judges 1:1) or Amorite (i.e., highlander, cf. Genesis 15:16)

2. two nations (Canaanites, Perizzites, cf. Genesis 13:7; Genesis 34:30; Judges 1:4-5)

3. three nations (Hivites, Canaanites, Hittites, cf. Exodus 23:28)

4. six nations (Canaanite, Hittite, Amorite, Perizzite, Hivite, Jebusite, cf. Exodus 3:8, Exodus 3:17; Exodus 33:2; Exodus 34:11; Deuteronomy 20:17; Joshua 9:1; Joshua 12:8)

5. seven nations (Hittites, Girgashites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites, Jebusites, cf. Deuteronomy 7:1; Joshua 3:10; Joshua 24:11)

6. ten nations (Kenites, Kenizzites, Kadmonites, Hittites, Perizzites, Rephaim, Amonites, Canaanites, Girgashites, Jebusites, cf. Genesis 15:19-21)


"an inheritance" The triple compound term kata + klçros + nemô is common in the Septuagint, but is used only here in the NT (other texts have kata + klçros + didômi). It implies the casting of lots as a means of dividing the Promised Land among the tribes (cf. Jos. 13-19). The word klçros is where we get the English word "clergy," but in the NT it always refers to the body of believers, not an elite group!

"four hundred and fifty years" This number seems to be arrived at by:

1. 400 year bondage in Egypt (cf. Genesis 15:13)

2. 40 year wilderness wandering period (cf. Exodus 16:35; Numbers 14:33-34; Numbers 32:13)

3. 7-10 year conquest (cf. Joshua 14:7, Joshua 14:10)

The Textus Receptus (KJV) moves the number to Acts 13:20 and seems to involve the Judges (following Josephus, Antiq. 8.3.1), but this wording is not in the older and better uncial Greek manuscripts (cf. א, A, B, C), which fits better with 1 Kings 6:1 dating. The dash found in the NASB is to accentuate the proper place of the number.

Acts 13:20 This refers to the period from the book of Judges through 1 Samuel 7:0.

Acts 13:21 This refers to 1 Sam. 8-10.

"for forty years" This time phrase is not found in the OT unless the OT manuscript problem connected to 1 Samuel 13:1 includes "forty" (NIV). Josephus, Antiq. 6.14.9 also mentions that Saul reigned "forty" years. The Septuagint just omits the entire sentence and starts with 1 Samuel 3:2. "Forty" was obviously a rabbinical tradition.

Acts 13:22 "I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after My heart" This is not a direct quote from the OT but it seems to be a combination of Psalms 89:20 and 1 Samuel 13:14. It needs to be remembered that this sermon by Paul follows the basic pattern of Stephen's historical rendition in Acts 7:0. That David can be called a man after God's heart, when he was such a notorious sinner (cf. Ps. 32,51; 2 Samuel 11:0), is a great encouragement to all believers.

This combination quote implies several things.

1. This was a standard practice with the rabbis, which explains many of the unusual OT quotes in the NT.

2. This was already a part of Christian catechism. Paul often quotes from early Christian hymns and possibly other literature.

3. This quote is unique to Paul and shows that Luke must have gotten his summary of this first recorded message of Paul in Acts from Paul himself.

NASB, NKJV"who will do all My will" NRSV"who will carry out all my wishes" TEV"who will do all I want him to do" NJB"who will perform my entire will"

This verse is a combination OT allusion. This part of the sentence is not in the OT passages. In the OT context Saul was disobedient and rejected. But David's life also had disobedience. God works with imperfect humans to accomplish His redemptive plan.

Acts 13:23 This is parallel to Acts 7:52. It points back to all the OT promises.

1. a redemption through the seed of a woman, Gen, Acts 3:15

2. a ruler from Judah, Genesis 49:10

3. a coming leader like Moses, the Prophet, Deuteronomy 18:15, Deuteronomy 18:18

4. a leader from David, 2 Samuel 7:0; Psalms 132:11; Isaiah 11:1, Isaiah 11:10; Matthew 1:1

5. a suffering servant, Isaiah 52:13-12

6. a savior, Luke 2:11; Matthew 1:21; John 1:29; John 4:42; Acts 5:31

For Luke #4 is prominent (cf. Luke 1:32, Luke 1:69; Luke 2:4; Luke 3:31; Acts 2:29-31; Acts 13:22-23). The Messiah would be of Jesse's line (cf. Isaiah 9:7; Isaiah 11:1, Isaiah 11:10; Isaiah 16:5).

Acts 13:24 John the Baptist's ministry and message is described in Mark 1:1-8; Matthew 3:1-11; Luke 3:2-17; John 1:6-8, John 1:19-28. John fulfilled the prophecies of Matthew 3:1; Matthew 4:5-6. His preaching of repentance also set the pattern for Jesus' early preaching (cf. Matthew 4:17; Mark 1:14-15).

John spoke of a Coming One, greater than himself (cf. Matthew 3:11; Mark 1:7; Luke 3:16; John 1:27, John 1:30; Acts 13:25).

Acts 13:25 "while John was completing his course" God had a specific task for John to perform. John's public ministry only lasted eighteen months. But, what a year and a half it was, filled with the Spirit's power and preparing the way for the Messiah.

Paul knew the OT from his youth in synagogue school and his training as a rabbi under Gamaliel in Jerusalem. He heard the gospel

1. from Stephen

2. from believers he persecuted

3. by a special vision from Jesus

4. from a believing Jewish layman from Damascus

5. by Jesus in Arabia

6. when he visited with the other Apostles

He tries to quote Jesus' whenever he can on a subject. Here he quotes the Gospel accounts of His life

Verses 26-41

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Acts 13:26-41 26"Brethren, sons of Abraham's family, and those among you who fear God, to us the message of this salvation has been sent. 27For 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. 28And though they found no ground for putting Him to death, they asked Pilate that He be executed. 29When they had carried out all that was written concerning Him, they took Him down from the cross and laid Him in a tomb. 30But God raised Him from the dead; 31and for many days He appeared to those who came up with Him from Galilee to Jerusalem, the very ones who are now His witnesses to the people. 32And we preach to you the good news of the promise made to the fathers, 33that God has fulfilled this promise to our children in that He raised up Jesus, as it is also written in the second Psalm, 'You are My Son; today have begotten You.' 34As for the fact that He raised Him up from the dead, no longer to return to decay, He has spoken in this way: 'I will give you the holy and sure blessings of David.' 35Therefore He also says in another Psalm, 'You will not allow Your Holy One to undergo decay.' 36For David, after he had served the purpose of God in his own generation, fell asleep, and was laid among his fathers and underwent decay; 37but He whom God raised did not undergo decay. 38Therefore let it be known to you, brethren, that through Him forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you, 39and through Him everyone who believes is freed from all things, from which you could not be freed through the Law of Moses. 40Therefore take heed, so that the thing spoken of in the Prophets may not come upon you: 41'Behold, you scoffers, and marvel, and perish; For I am accomplishing a work in your days, A work which you will never believe, though someone should describe it to you.'"

Acts 13:26 "sons of Abraham's family, and those among you who fear God" This refers to both the Jewish hearers (or proselytes) and the Gentiles (God-fearers) attached to Judaism's monotheism and morality.

"this salvation" This is referring to God's promise to redeem fallen humanity through a Messiah (cf. Genesis 3:15). It includes Gentiles (cf. Genesis 12:5; Exodus 19:5-6; and Acts 28:28 and Acts 13:46).

Acts 13:27 This is such a tragic verse. It succinctly summarizes the blindness of the Jews in Jerusalem about the Scriptures even though they read them continuously. By missing the prophetic signs (cf. Psalms 22:0; Isaiah 53:0; Zechariah; Malachi) and prophecies (Isaiah, Jonah) they became the prophetic sign! He came to His own, but His own received Him not (cf. John 1:11-12).

Acts 13:28 Acts records again and again the spiritual responsibility of the Jews in Jerusalem (cf. Acts 2:23, Acts 2:36; Acts 3:13-15; Acts 4:10; Acts 5:30; Acts 7:52; Acts 10:0:;39; 13:27-28).

Acts 13:29 "they. . .they" These must refer to different groups. The first were those who sought His death (i.e., Jewish leadership, the crowd before Pilate). The second involves those who wanted a proper burial. This could have involved sincere Jewish people who saw the injustice (similar to Acts 8:2, involving the burial of Stephen) or secret disciples like Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus (cf. John 19:38-42).

"all that was written concerning Him" Jesus' life was one of fulfilled prophecy. One strong evidence for the inspiration of the Bible and the Messiahship of Jesus of Nazareth is predictive prophecy (cf. Luke 22:22; Acts 2:23; Acts 3:18; Acts 4:28; Acts 10:43; Acts 13:29; Acts 24:14; Acts 26:22).

It is surely true that many of the details of Jesus' life, which we in the church today call prophecy, are in a sense typology. Many events happened in the life of Israel which later seem to also occur in Jesus' life (one example, Hosea 11:1). Often ambiguous, oblique passages, which would not have been understood in context as prophetic, seem to jump to life as one views Jesus' earthly experience (ex. Psalms 22:0; Isaiah 53:0). It takes inspiration and a sense of the flow of redemptive history to fully appreciate the OT foreshadowing of Jesus. I would also add that although inspired NT writers use typology, even allegory, that modern teachers and preachers should not use this method of interpretation! See Bob's Biblical Interpretation Seminar online at www.freebiblecommentary.org

"the cross" See notes at Acts 5:30 and Acts 10:29.

Acts 13:30, Acts 13:33, Acts 13:34, Acts 13:37 "But God raised Him from the dead" The NT affirms that all three persons of the Trinity were active in Jesus' resurrection:

1. the Spirit (cf. Romans 8:11)

2. the Son (cf. John 2:19-22; John 10:17-18)

3. the Father (cf. Acts 2:24, Acts 2:32; Acts 3:15, Acts 3:26; Acts 4:10; Acts 5:30; Acts 10:40; Acts 13:30, Acts 13:33, Acts 13:34, Acts 13:37; Acts 17:31; Romans 6:4, Romans 6:9; Romans 10:9; 1 Corinthians 6:14; 2 Corinthians 4:14; Galatians 1:1; Ephesians 1:20; Colossians 2:12; 1 Thessalonians 1:10).

This was the Father's confirmation of the truth of Jesus' life and teachings. This is a major aspect of the Kerygma (i.e., content of the sermons in Acts). See Special Topic at Acts 2:14.

Acts 13:31 "for many days" Acts 1:3 says "forty days." However, forty is a common OT round number. See Special Topic at Acts 1:3.

"He appeared" See Special Topic: Jesus' Post-resurrection Appearances at Acts 1:3

Acts 13:32 "the promise made to the fathers" This refers to the initial promise of YHWH to Abraham for a land and a seed (cf. Genesis 12:1-3; Romans 4:0). This same promise of God's presence and blessing was repeated to the Patriarchs and to their children (cf. Isaiah 44:3; Isaiah 54:13; Joel 2:32). The OT focuses on the land, while the NT focuses on "the seed." Paul alludes to this very promise in Romans 1:2-3.

Acts 13:33 This quote from Psalms 2:7, which is a royal messianic psalm about the conflict and victory of God's Promised Messiah. Jesus had been killed by evil forces (human and demonic), but God had raised Him to victory (cf. Romans 1:4).

This verse and Romans 1:4 were used by early heretics (adoptionists) to assert that Jesus became Messiah at the resurrection. There is surely a NT emphasis on Jesus being affirmed and glorified because of His obedience, but this must not be taken in isolation from His preexistent glory and deity (cf. John 1:1-5, John 1:9-18; Philippians 2:6-11; Colossians 1:13-18; Hebrews 1:2-3).

This same verb, "raised up" (anistçmi), is used in Acts 3:26 of God raising up "His Servant"; in Acts 3:22 of God raising up the Prophet (cf. Acts 7:37; Deuteronomy 18:19). This seems to be a distinct usage from "raised" from the dead (cf. Acts 13:30, Acts 13:34, Acts 13:37). Jesus was "raised up" before He died!

Acts 13:34 "no longer to return to decay" This statement refers to Jesus' death and resurrection. He was the first to be resurrected (first fruits of the dead, cf. 1 Corinthians 15:20) rather than resuscitated. Many people were brought back to physical life in the Bible, but they all had to die again. Enoch and Elijah were translated to heaven without death, but they were not resurrected.

"I will give you the holy and sure blessings of David" This is a quote from Isaiah 55:3 from the LXX. The quote includes the plural "sure blessings," but does not specify to what this refers. It is something that passed from God to David, to Jesus, then to His followers (plural "you" in the quote). The OT context shows the significance of "you" (cf. Isaiah 55:4-5 LXX, "Behold, I have made him a testimony among the Gentiles, a prince and commander to the Gentiles. Nations which know thee not, shall call upon thee, and peoples which are not acquainted with thee, shall flee to thee for refuge, for the sake of the Lord thy God, the Holy One of Israel, for he has glorified thee," The Septuagint, Zondervan, 1976, p. 890).

The blessings and promises to David (i.e., Jews) are now the blessing and promises of the Gentiles (i.e., the entire human race).

Acts 13:35-37 This is the same argument used earlier in Peter's Pentecost sermon (cf. Acts 2:24-32), also taken from Psalms 16:0. These early sermons in Acts reflect an early Christian catechism. Several OT Messianic texts were strung together. Therefore, often the pronouns and details do not seem to be relevant to the central purpose of the NT author, which was to affirm the physical resurrection of Jesus and the decay of David.

Acts 13:38 Paul is using an OT augmented argument, as does Peter (Acts 2:0) and Stephen (Acts 7:0) to reach these synagogue hearers.

Paul promises a full and complete forgiveness of sins, which Judaism could not provide (cf. Acts 13:39), to all who trust Jesus as the Christ (i.e., "This One," Acts 13:38, Acts 13:39).

Acts 13:39 "and through Him everyone" Notice the universal element. God loves all humans and all humans have the opportunity to respond to Him by faith (cf. Acts 10:43; Isaiah 42:1, Isaiah 42:4, Isaiah 42:6, Isaiah 42:10-12; Isaiah 55:0; Ezekiel 18:23, Ezekiel 18:32; Joel 2:28, Joel 2:32; John 3:16; John 4:42; Romans 3:22, Romans 3:29, Romans 3:30; Romans 10:9-13; 1 Timothy 2:4; 1 Timothy 4:10; Titus 2:11; 2 Peter 3:9; 1 John 2:1; 1 John 4:14).

"who believes" See Special Topics at Acts 3:16 and Acts 6:5.

NASB, NKJV"is freed from all things" (Acts 13:39) NRSV"is set free from all those sins" (Acts 13:39) TEV"is set free from all the sins" (Acts 13:39) NJB"justification from all sins" (Acts 13:38)

This is literally "justified" (present passive indicative). This is a legal term which describes our standing before God through Jesus Christ's righteousness (cf. 2 Corinthians 5:21). In Hebrew it originally means a "river reed" (see Special Topic at Acts 3:14). It reflects an OT construction term used metaphorically for God as the standard or ruler by which judgement is made.

"which you could not be freed through the Law of Moses" This was Paul's major theological point (cf. Romans 3:21-30). The Mosaic law was a tutor to bring us to an understanding of our personal sin and to cause us to desire Christ (cf. Galatians 3:23-29). The OT Law is not a means of salvation, because all sinned (cf. Romans 3:9-18, Romans 3:23; Galatians 3:22). It had become a death sentence, a curse (cf. Galatians 3:13; Colossians 2:14).


Acts 13:40-41 Paul calls on his hearers (present active imperative) to respond by trusting Jesus as the Promised Messiah, as the only way to receive forgiveness (cf. John 14:6; Acts 4:12; 1 Timothy 2:5).

He quotes Habakkuk 1:5 from the Septuagint as a warning. In other places in Paul's writings he quotes Habakkuk 2:4 as an appropriate response (cf. Romans 1:17; Galatians 3:11). Paul preaches for a decision. Intellectual assent is not enough; a complete personal surrender to Jesus as the only hope is required. This initial faith and repentant response must be matched by daily Christlike living.

Verse Acts 13:41 describes the shocking new methodology of salvation of the new covenant in Christ.

Verses 42-43

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Acts 13:42-43 42As Paul and Barnabas were going out, the people kept begging that these things might be spoken to them the next Sabbath. 43Now 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.

Acts 13:42 This shows the power of the Spirit (1) using Paul's sermon and (2) the hunger for forgiveness and restoration with God within the hearts of humans made in God's image.

Acts 13:43

NASB"God-fearing proselytes" NKJV"devout proselytes" NRSV"devout converts to Judaism" TEV"Gentiles who had been converted to Judaism" NJB"devout converts"

This phrase is literally "worshiping proselytes." This is a different group from the "ones fearing God" of Acts 13:16, Acts 13:26 (cf. Acts 10:2, Acts 10:22, Acts 10:35).

Verse Acts 13:43 refers to those Gentiles who had officially become Jews. This required

1. self baptism in the presence of witnesses

2. circumcision for males

3. offering a sacrifice at the Temple in Jerusalem when possible

There are a few references to Jewish proselytes in the NT (cf. Matthew 23:0; Matthew 15:0; Acts 2:11; Acts 6:5; Acts 13:43).

"urging them to continue in the grace of God" From the context it is difficult to define this phrase.

1. some of these hearers may have already responded to the gospel in their hearts

2. those who were faithful to what they understood of the grace of God in the OT are urged to continue to seek God and listen to Paul again (cf. Acts 13:44)

Verses 44-47

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Acts 13:44-47 44The next Sabbath nearly the whole city assembled to hear the word of the Lord. 45But when the Jews saw the crowds, they were filled with jealousy and began contradicting the things spoken by Paul, and were blaspheming. 46Paul 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. 47For so the Lord has commanded us, 'I have placed You as a light for the Gentiles, That You may bring salvation to the end of the earth.'"

Acts 13:44 Paul's message had an obvious impact. This is also hyperbole. Not everyone in the city attended.

NASB, NRSV, TEV"the word of the Lord" NKJV, NJB, REB"the word of God"

There is a Greek manuscript variant at this point.

1. Lord is in MSS P74, א, A, B2

2. God is in MSS B, C, E

The UBS4 puts "Lord" in the text, but rates it "C" (difficulty deciding). As with so many variants, this does not change the sense of the text. The gospel is a divine revelation about Jesus, the Messiah/Christ.

Acts 13:45 "when the Jews saw the crowd. . .jealousy" Whether it was the large turnout or the large number of Gentiles in the crowd that caused the jealousy is uncertain in this context. Jealousy is attributed to Jewish leadership both in Jerusalem and the Diaspora. (cf. Matthew 27:18; Mark 15:10; Acts 17:5).

Later in Romans Paul develops the theological problem of Jewish unbelief (cf. Romans 9-11). He asserts that God has temporarily blinded Israel so that the Gentiles might be saved. However, God will use the salvation of the Gentiles as a means (i.e., jealousy) to cause Israel to respond to Christ, so that all believers will be united through the gospel (cf. Ephesians 2:11-13).

The problem is when does this occur? The same question could be asked of Zechariah 12:10. Is this prophecy related to the early church, which was made up of believing Jews, or to a future period? Jealousy is meant for a redemptive purpose (cf. Romans 10:19; Romans 11:11, Romans 11:14), but the jealousy in this text causes unbelief!

"they were fill with jealousy" See note at Acts 3:10.

"were blaspheming" As these Jews defended their traditions and attacked Paul's preaching, they themselves were guilty of blasphemy. There is no middle ground here. Either Judaism or Christianity is a true reflection of God's will. They are exclusive!

Acts 13:46 "spoke out boldly" This is one of the signs in Acts of being Spirit-filled.

"'It was necessary that the word of God be spoken to you first'" This was the pattern of early missionary preaching. The Jews had priority (cf. Romans 9-11), but God had included Gentiles. Those in the synagogue knew their OT and could check the prophecies. Acts has a series of texts on this concept and pattern (cf. Acts 3:26; Acts 9:20; Acts 13:5, Acts 13:14; Acts 16:13; Acts 17:2, Acts 17:10, Acts 17:17).

"'you repudiate it'" This is a strong verb (present middle indicative) used several times in the Septuagint. Its basic meaning is "to thrust away." It was used of the Israelites in Stephen's sermon (cf. Acts 7:39). It is also used by Paul in Romans 11:1-2 to assert that God has not rejected His people, but they have rejected His Son, His only means of salvation, His full revelation.

"'judge yourselves unworthy of eternal life'" It is difficult to hold the concept of predestination, which is emphasized so often in Acts, with the concept of mandated individual personal response. No one can come to faith without the drawing of the Spirit (cf. John 6:44, John 6:65), but we are judged by whether we respond or not. By their rejection of Paul's preaching of the gospel, they revealed their true selves (cf. John 3:17-21). The blame for lack of response cannot be placed on God. He has provided a way, His Son, but He is the only way! It is the myster of "unbelief"!

"we are turning to the Gentiles" This becomes a regular pattern of gospel proclamation (cf. Acts 18:6; Acts 22:21; Acts 26:20; Acts 28:28; Romans 1:16).

Acts 13:47 This is a quote from Isaiah 49:6 (cf. Acts 42:6) from the Septuagint. Simeon used this quote at the blessing of Jesus in Luke 2:32 to affirm His Messianic task of universal redemption (see Special Topic at Acts 1:8). It is even possible that the "light" in the context refers to Paul and Barnabas' preaching of the gospel to these Gentiles (cf. "Use of the Old Testament in the New," by Darrell Boch, p. 97 in Foundations for Biblical Interpretation, Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1994). Now Paul uses it to show the universal proclamation of the universal gospel!

The ending phrase, "to the end of the earth," may be an allusion to Acts 1:8. It highlights the universality of the gospel.

Verses 48-52

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Acts 13:48-52 48When 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. 49And the word of the Lord was being spread through the whole region. 50But the Jews incited the devout women of prominence and the leading men of the city, and instigated a persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and drove them out of their district. 51But they shook off the dust of their feet in protest against them and went to Iconium. 52And the disciples were continually filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.

Acts 13:48 "When the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord" Many of these had been in the synagogue for years and had never heard the inclusive, universal message of God's love and acceptance of all humanity by faith in Messiah. When they heard it they enthusiastically received it (cf. Acts 28:28) and passed it on to others (cf. Acts 13:49).

"as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed" This is a clear statement of predestination (so common in the rabbis' and Intertestamental Jewish literature), but it is in the same ambiguous relationship as all NT passages that relate to the paradox of God's choice and human's free will (cf. Philippians 2:12, Philippians 2:13). It is a pluperfect passive periphrastic that comes from a military term (tassô) which means to "enroll" or "appoint."

This concept of enrolling refers to the two metaphorical books that God keeps (cf. Daniel 7:10; Revelation 20:12). First is the Book of the Deeds of men (cf. Psalms 56:8; Psalms 139:16; Isaiah 65:6; and Malachi 3:16). The other is the Book of Life (cf. Exodus 32:32; Psalms 69:28; Isaiah 4:3; Daniel 12:1; Luke 10:20; Philippians 4:3; Hebrews 12:23; Revelation 3:5; Revelation 13:8; Revelation 17:8; Revelation 20:12-15; Revelation 21:27). See Special Topic: Election/Predestination and the Need for a Theological Balance at Acts 2:47.

Acts 13:50 "But the Jews incited the devout women of prominence" This text gives historical and cultural setting of the exalted place of women in Asia Minor in the first century (cf. Acts 16:14; Acts 17:4).

In this context it refers to proselytes to Judaism who were also leaders in the community or were married to the civic leaders. A. T. Robertson, Word Pictures in the New Testament, vol. 3, p. 201, makes the point that Gentile women were greatly attracted to Judaism (cf. Strabo Acts 7:2 and Juvenal 6:542) because of its morality.

"instigated a persecution against Paul" Paul refers to this in 2 Timothy 3:11.

Acts 13:51 "they shook off the dust of their feet" This is a Jewish sign of rejection (cf. Matthew 10:14; Mark 6:11; Luke 9:5; Luke 10:11). It is uncertain whether this refers to (1) dust on their feet and sandals from walking or (2) dust on their robes which was kicked up when they were working.

"Iconium" This was a major city of Lycaonia, located in the Roman province of Galatia. It was about eighty miles east, south-east of Pisidian Antioch and directly north of Lystra.

Acts 13:52 "continually filled with joy" This is an imperfect passive indicative which can mean the beginning of an action or the repeat of an action in past time. The NASB, 1995 update, takes it in the second sense. Only the Holy Spirit can give joy amidst persecution (cf. Romans 5:3; James 1:2ff; 1 Peter 4:12ff).

The phrase "the disciples" is ambiguous. Does it refer to the new believers, the missionary team, or both?

Bibliographical Information
Utley. Dr. Robert. "Commentary on Acts 13". "Utley's You Can Understand the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ubc/acts-13.html. 2021.
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