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Bible Commentaries

Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible
Acts 13

 

 

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Verses 1-3

Acts 13:1-3. The Church at Antioch: the Sending out of Barnabas and Saul.—Prophets and teachers are mentioned by Paul (1 Corinthians 12:28) after apostles; at Antioch there are no apostles, the prophets and teachers act as the instrument of the Spirit. Barnabas has remained at Antioch (Galatians 2:13), interested in the Gentile mission (Acts 11:19-26). For Lucius of Cyrene, cf. Acts 11:20*.—Manaen, foster-brother, or playmate, of Herod Antipas, must have been brought up at Rome (Josephus, Ant. XVII. i. 3). Saul comes last; he is not a young man at this time, but would be about forty-four years old. The ministry of prophets and teachers is spoken of in Didaché xv. Fasting is a preparation for communication of the Spirit. The separation of Barnabas and Saul takes place after a regular form, with fasting, prayer, and laying on of hands by the body of which they are themselves members and to which they may themselves have suggested it. There is no inconsistency between this passage and Paul's assertion (Galatians 1:1) that he is an apostle not from men nor through men.


Verses 4-12

Acts 13:4-12. Successes in Cyprus.

Acts 13:4. went down: the usual phrase in connexion with a seaport.—Seleucia is the port of Antioch, about sixteen miles from it.

Acts 13:5. Salamis is the eastern port of Cyprus.—in the synagogues: this was the natural procedure for a Jew with a message bearing on the faith and on the salvation of his race. Ac. develops later a theory as to Paul's practice in addressing Jew and Gentile; the fact as told here may be accepted. What was Mark's function as their attendant? The synagogue was fully supplied with officials, and no services elsewhere are spoken of.

Acts 13:6. Paphos is at the W. end of the island, and there Paul, like Peter on his first mission among Gentiles (Acts 8:18-24), has an encounter with a sorcerer. He has attached himself to the proconsul Sergius Paulus (whose name has been found on an inscription in Cyprus), and tries to prejudice him against Paul's preaching. A proconsul might be interested in the various cults and prophets of the population.

Acts 13:9. The apostle receives the name Paul, by which he is afterwards known, but the statement implies that he had that name already, and it is not necessary to connect it with that of the proconsul. He was born a Roman citizen, and in his mission among the Gentiles it was suitable that he should use his Roman name.

Acts 13:10 f. The denunciation and the threats may be traced in OT (e.g., Hosea 14:9, Exodus 9, 1 Samuel 5:5-7); Paul himself had been struck with blindness when opposing the Lord, and had to be led. The threat is at once fulfilled; the achlys or mist which spread over his eyes is a term used by medical writers of cataract or of the invasion of the eye by matter from a neighbouring swelling (Hobart, p. 44). It is better not to define the term too closely here. The faith of the proconsul is attributed to what he has seen, not what he has heard (cf. Acts 4:16, Acts 8:13). The teaching of the Lord appears to him a teaching with power (Mark 1:27), being accompanied by such wonders.


Verse 13

Acts 13:13 f. From Cyprus to Pamphylia and Pisidia.—The seaport Attalia at the mouth of the Cestrus is not mentioned. Perga is on the river about eight miles from the sea; it is mentioned because there John-Mark left the party to return to Jerusalem, an act which Paul resented, though Mark's uncle, Barnabas, bore him no grudge for it (Acts 15:37-39), and Paul himself afterwards reinstated him (Colossians 4:10, 2 Timothy 4:11). For speculations as to Mark's reasons, cf. Ramsay's St. Paul the Traveller, pp. 89ff. Barnabas and Paul go northward from Perga, and cross the great chain of the Taurus, arriving after a journey of 110 miles at Antioch in Pisidia. They are said to have passed through on their journey, not to have preached; Pisidia was infested by robbers, and there was many a ravine and torrent to be crossed. Throughout his travels Paul makes the towns his mark, and towns in which there was a population of Jews. Paul's reason for visiting these towns in the centre of Asia Minor may have been that he knew some members of the Jewish populations, and that he counted on their sympathy. If, as will be suggested later this journey and that of Acts 15:36 to Acts 16:5 are the same, here told at length, afterwards more briefly, motives of a more far-reaching kind may also have determined him. These towns had been distinguished by Augustus and put on the way to prosperity especially by a new system of roads. Pisidian Antioch was the military centre of the district, and had a large population of Jews from the time of its foundation, about 300 B.C.


Verses 15-41

Acts 13:15-41. The Sermon at Pisidian Antioch.—This is a specimen of Paul's missionary practice. In external matters it is true to the facts, yet the sermon is on the one hand so like the sermon of Peter (ch. 2) and of Stephen (ch. 7), and on the other so different from the evidence of Paul's epistles as to what he did say when he broke new ground on such occasions (1 Thessalonians 1:9, Galatians 3:1, 1 Corinthians 2:2), that we can scarcely accept it. The texts quoted are not such as Paul relied on, nor the motives appealed to such as he kept in view. His preaching may not have been the same all through his career; but it must have had a style of its own. [It should be observed, however, that there is considerable difference between this speech and that of Stephen. The motif is quite different, the scope almost wholly different; there is, it is true, a historical section in both, but it is brief in Paul's speech while almost co-extensive with that of Stephen. The points mentioned differ for the most part, and the last nineteen verses of Paul's speech (much the greater part of it) are without any parallel in that of Stephen. None of Paul's letters let us see what he said to Jewish congregations; 1 Th., Gal., 1 Cor., are all addressed to Gentile churches; indeed, we have lamentably little information about his mission preaching in the epistles. And there is a striking degree of variation in the range of texts employed in the epistles.—A. S. P.] To Paul the synagogue on the Sabbath was a familiar scene; the service was the same all the world over, and he had attended it at Tarsus. It began with the recital of the Shema or creed (Deuteronomy 6:4-9; Deuteronomy 11:13-21, Numbers 15:37-41), then prayer was said, then the lesson from the Law was read, then that from the Prophets, each with translation into the vernacular, then an address, and lastly the blessing. Barnabas and Paul are asked to give the address after the reading.

Acts 13:16-18. Paul's address is directed to two sets of people, the Israelites, or born Jews, sitting there, and the God-fearers, the Gentiles who attended the service. The distinction made at the outset does not afterwards appear except in Acts 13:26. Jew and Gentile worshippers are taken as one body and spoken of as "we," "our." The historical introduction (cf. ch. 7) begins with the Exodus and passes rapidly over the time in the wilderness, where God is said to have "borne the manners" (Acts 13:18) of the people for forty years. Mg., "he bore them as a nursing father," differs from the text by one letter (etrophophoresen for etropophoresen).

Acts 13:20 f. The Period of the Judges (according to a current Jewish tradition, 450 years) to Samuel and Saul. The forty years allotted to Saul are not found in OT.

Acts 13:22 f. David is brought in as the ancestor of Jesus and because his words in the Psalms refer to Jesus.

Acts 13:24. In the account of John the Baptist we have the tradition present in the Fourth Gospel, mingled with that of the Synoptists; with his figure the ministry of Jesus begins (Acts 1:22, Acts 10:37).

Acts 13:26. The two classes in the audience are again named, and pointed to the salvation which is in Jesus. It is sent "to us," i.e. to the mixed communities of the Dispersion with which Paul identifies himself, because the Jews of Jerusalem and their rulers have cut themselves off from it by their treatment of the Messiah. This appears to be the logic of Acts 13:27, and there are echoes of the thought in Paul's epistles (1 Corinthians 2:7 f., 1 Thessalonians 2:14-16). As in former speeches there is here no doctrine of the virtue of Messiah's sufferings; they are according to God's will, and God speedily replaced them by the Resurrection. Paul does not here count himself among the witnesses of the risen Christ; he is not one of those who accompanied Jesus from Galilee to Jerusalem, nor does he refer to his own vision; it is difficult to understand how he could speak in this way. The passage quoted in Acts 13:33 from Psalms 2 is spoken in Luke 3:22 (D) to Jesus by the heavenly voice at His baptism; here it is applied to the Resurrection, as if He then became fully God's Son (see Romans 1:4).

Acts 13:34 is perhaps better translated, "but that he raised him from the dead . . . he said thus, I will give you the sure mercies of David" (Isaiah 55:3). The prophecy in Acts 13:35 (Psalms 16:10) is fulfilled in the Resurrection; the sure mercies of David guarantee it.

Acts 13:36 f. accordingly unfolds the argument of Peter (Acts 22:7-30) that the prediction of resurrection, not fulfilled to David, must have been spoken of one who actually was raised up, as was Jesus. David served his own generation and is dead; Jesus served and will serve many.

Acts 13:38. The practical conclusion follows in a couple of sentences, that forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to the hearers through Jesus, and that the believer in Him is justified from guilt for which the Law provided no justification. This implies that the Law did justify to a certain extent, a conclusion from which the Paul of the epistles dissents strongly (Galatians 2:16-18, Romans 3:20, Philippians 3:9), and that faith in Christ might be regarded as a means for completing one's justification, which the Law left incomplete. The passage from Habakkuk 1:5 is taken from the LXX. Its threatenings were little calculated to win the hearers; but all the preachers in this book deal in threats of doom.


Verses 42-52

Acts 13:42-52. The Result: the Missionaries leave Antioch.

Acts 13:42 reads as if the congregation as a whole invited the preachers to speak to them again on the following Sabbath, but a meeting or meetings at once took place at the instance of many Jews and proselytes in some place not mentioned. The first statement is followed up in Acts 13:44; to account for the crowded synagogue, D and a few other authorities add to Acts 13:43, "and it came to pass that the word of God passed through the whole city." There is something awkward in the statement; in the synagogue the Jews need not have allowed the missionaries to speak at all; the scene was possibly elsewhere. The speech which follows is an apology for the Gentile mission which occurs repeatedly in the following narrative, and appears to suggest that the apostles would not have spoken to the Gentiles at all if the Jews had listened to them better. Paul does appear to have spoken to Jews (1 Corinthians 9:20, Galatians 5:11), but in his epistles he never speaks of his preaching to the Gentiles as an ungrateful necessity.

Acts 13:46. unworthy of eternal life: i.e. the life of the coming age; by rejecting the Gospel they declare themselves, before God, unworthy to live in that age. Isaiah 49:6 is represented by the preachers as directly addressed by God to them (cf. Matthew 5:14).

Acts 13:48. ordained to eternal life: cf. Acts 24:7.

Acts 13:50. The women are spoken of before the men; the author tends to bring women forward (cf. Acts 17:4; Acts 17:12; Acts 17:34), and not only in the case of believers. The apostles are compelled to leave Antioch, but they have planted a church there (Acts 14:21 f.).

 


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Bibliography Information
Peake, Arthur. "Commentary on Acts 13:4". "Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible ". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pfc/acts-13.html. 1919.

Lectionary Calendar
Tuesday, November 19th, 2019
the Week of Proper 28 / Ordinary 33
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