Acts 13:13-41

Sunday Morning Bible Study

March 8, 1998

Introduction

Weíve begun a new section of the book of Acts, the beginnings of the missionary journeys of Paul the apostle.

Last week we saw how he and Barnabas were sent out by the church of Antioch in Syria, and their first stop was the island of Cyprus, the home of Barnabas.

While in Cyprus, they met a sorcerer who tried to stop their ministry. But as Paul pronounced Godís curse on him, the sorcerer went blind, and the governor of the island became a believer.

:13 Leaving Cyprus

:13 Paul and his company

Itís interesting that Barnabas isnít even mentioned. It seems that Paul is beginning to blossom in his ministry, and Barnabas is willing to take a back seat.

:13 they came to Perga in Pamphylia

A trip by sea of about 160 miles.

:13 and John departing from them returned to Jerusalem.

departing Ė apochoreo Ė to go away, depart

Why did John Mark leave for Jerusalem?

Perhaps he was getting homesick and missed his mom. Perhaps he was uncomfortable with the fact that this Paul guy was beginning to take the lead in the ministry over his Uncle Barnabas. Perhaps he was uneasy about Paul pronouncing the curse on Elymas. What if Paul gets uncomfortable with Mark? Maybe he didnít want to do all that mountain climbing that was ahead of them on the way to Antioch of Pisidia.

Apparently, John Mark didnít stay in Jerusalem, but a few years later found his way back to the church at Antioch, where he would meet up again with Paul and Barnabas before their next missionary journey Ė

(Acts 15:38-39 KJV) But Paul thought not good to take him with them, who departed from them from Pamphylia, and went not with them to the work. {39} And the contention was so sharp between them, that they departed asunder one from the other: and so Barnabas took Mark, and sailed unto Cyprus

departed - aphistemi Ė to desert, flee from. Apparently this isnít just that John Markís time was up, or that he left with a message for the apostles in Jerusalem from Uncle Barnabas. He was abandoning his ministry.

Lesson:

Quitting for the wrong reasons is related to immaturity.

Mark here is kind of new to the ministry. And as happens with young believers, he apparently bails when it starts getting rough, or when things donít quite go his way.

In contrast, one of the marks of a mature believer is the quality we call "patience". James writes,

(James 1:2-4 NKJV) My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, {3} knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. {4} But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.

The Greek word translated "patience" is hupomone, which means literally "to remain under". The concept is that when the pressure is on you, you remain under the pressure and donít bail out.

Corrie ten Boom said, "When a train goes through a tunnel and it gets dark, you don't throw away your ticket and jump off. You sit still and trust the engineer."

Abraham, called the "father of the faith", and lots of reasons to doubt whether he was doing the right thing or not, but the writer to Hebrews says, "after he had patiently endured, he obtained the promise." (Heb 6:15 KJV)

The good news about Mark is that he grows up. The day comes when Paul writes to Timothy, and asks him to bring Mark along with him, "for he is profitable to me for the ministry." (2Tim. 4:11)

:14-15 Arriving at Antioch of Pisidia

:14 they departed from Perga, they came to Antioch in Pisidia

The trip from Perga to Antioch in Pisidia, is a journey of 125 miles, and a climb from sea level to an altitude of about 4,000 feet. In AD 25, Pisidian Antioch was made capital of the Roman Province of Galatia.

Some have suggested that they went to Antioch of Pisidia due to an illness of Paulís, that this was the first time he preached to the Galatians (Gal.3:13-15).

:15 And after the reading of the law and the prophets ..

The law (the first five books of the Bible) was first read in the synagogues till BC 163 when Antiochus Epiphanes prohibited it. Then the reading of the prophets (Isaiah, Jeremiah, etc.) was substituted for it. The Maccabees restored both. There was a reading from the law and one from the prophets in Hebrew which was interpreted into the Aramaic or the Greek for the people. The reading was followed by the sermon as when Jesus was invited to read and to preach in Nazareth (Luke 4:16). It was the duty of the rulers of the synagogue to select the readers and the speakers for the service (Mark 5:22,35-38), Any rabbi or distinguished stranger could be called on to speak.

:16-41 Paulís sermon at Antioch

:16 and ye that fear God

This is a phrase that refers to Gentiles who had a respect for the Jewish religion.

:17 when they dwelt as strangers in the land of Egypt

Paulís message is going to begin with the history of Israel, starting in the "Law".

:17 with an high arm brought he them out of it.

One of the themes of Paulís message seems to be "What God has done for Israel"

This is the message of grace. The work is all, entirely of God. Itís not what we do for God, but what God does for us.

Salvation is not based on what we do for God, because we canít do anything worthy of salvation. Salvation is based on what God does for us. He alone has the answer to our problems.

Lesson:

Are you letting God work in your life?

Or are you trying to solve your own problems?

I think that sometimes we as Christians almost act like atheists, because we say weíre trusting God, but weíre really relying on our own actions to bail us out.

(Psa 25:1-3 NASB) (A Psalm of David.) To Thee, O LORD, I lift up my soul. {2} O my God, in Thee I trust, Do not let me be ashamed; Do not let my enemies exult over me. {3} Indeed, none of those who wait for Thee will be ashamed; Those who deal treacherously without cause will be ashamed.

Iíve seen this in my own life, even in my own ministry.

When people come to me for counseling, often Iíve found myself handling it probably no different from a secular counselor. I start thinking that the situation depends upon me to get things solved. I think Iíve reacted against people who say, "Just donít tell me that Ďpray, read your Bible, and trust Godí stuff, give me real answers".

Since when is prayer, the Bible, and trusting God not a real solution?

"It is not my ability, but my response to God's ability, that counts." (Corrie ten Boom)

:18 forty years suffered he their manners in the wilderness

This is the time covered in the book of Numbers, where weíre studying on Sunday night. This is where God spent 40 years putting up with the grumbling and complaining of the people.

:19 And when he had destroyed seven nations Ö

Notice again that God is doing the work. We see this history in the book of Joshua.

:21 And afterward they desired a king

Hereís the first thing we see the people doing, desiring a king. And we know that it brought disaster.

Lesson:

Your works for God end up in a mess.

When we try to take Godís work into our own hands, and we stop relying on Him for direction and strength, things go from bad to worse. Itís like some of these "dumb people" stories in the news:

A company trying to continue its five-year perfect safety record showed its workers a film aimed at encouraging the use of safety goggles on the job. According to Industrial Machinery News, the film's depiction of gory industrial accidents was so graphic that twenty-five workers suffered minor injuries in their rush to leave the screening room. Thirteen others fainted, and one man required seven stitches after he cut his head falling off a chair while watching the film.

Swedish business consultant Ulf af Trolle labored 13 years on a book about Swedish economic solutions. He took the 250-page manuscript to be copied, only to have it reduced to 50,000 strips of paper in seconds when a worker confused the copier with the shredder.

:21 a man of the tribe of Benjamin

Itís interesting that of all the tribes, Benjamin is the only one Paul mentions by name. But then again, Paul is from the tribe of Benjamin.

:22 And when he had removed him, he raised up Ö

Now Godís back at work, removing the bad king, raising up His own king.

:24 When John had first preached

The way Paul is speaking, you kind of get the idea that John the Baptist was a well known guy. It seems that people were familiar with his ministry. I get the feeling that John the Baptistís ministry was a little wider in effect than just the area of Judea. In Acts 19, we see where Paul comes across a group of disciples in Ephesus (230 miles southwest of Antioch Pisidia), and they too are quite familiar with John the Baptistís ministry.

:27 because they knew him not

They didnít recognize Jesus as their Messiah. John wrote,

(John 1:11 KJV) He came unto his own, and his own received him not.

:27 nor yet the voices of the prophets which are read every sabbath day

Here are these people who pay great attention to Godís Word, reading it every Saturday as they gathered in the synagogues.

But they didnít pay attention to what they were reading about, and when it came to the prophecies concerning the Messiah, they missed it completely.

:27 they have fulfilled them in condemning him.

There were prophecies concerning the Messiah that He would be rejected.

(Isa 53:3 KJV) He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

When these Jewish leaders rejected Jesus, they were fulfilling some of the very prophecies that proved even further that He was the Messiah.

:29 they took him down from the tree

tree Ė xulon Ė wood; a cross; a tree

:30 But God raised him from the dead:

Notice again the contrast between what the people did, and what God did.

The people desired for Pilate to kill Jesus. The people took Jesus down from the cross and buried Him.

But God raised Him from the dead.

:33 as it is also written in the second psalm Ö

Paul is now going to mention some specific Scripture references concerning what heís said so far. Here, Paul quotes from Psalm 2, which talks about Godís Son.

Lesson:

Share the Word.

His message isnít just based on the experiences of certain people, but itís based on Godís Word.

Sharing Godís Word with people is what adds power to the message.

(Heb 4:12 NKJV) For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

:34 And as concerning that he raised him up from the dead, now no more to return to corruption

Jesus being raised from the dead was a permanent resurrection, not a temporary one. We read in the Scriptures of other people being raised from the dead, but they would die again. When Jesus raised from the dead, He would not die again, but instead was taken up into heaven in a cloud (Acts 1).

:34 he said on this wise, I will give you the sure mercies of David.

sure Ė pistos Ė trusty, faithful

mercies Ė hosios Ė undefiled by sin, free from wickedness, holy. Itís neuter and plural here, and could be translated "the holy things".

This is a quote from Isaiah Ė

Isa 55:3 Incline your ear, and come unto me: hear, and your soul shall live; and I will make an everlasting covenant with you, [even] the sure mercies of David.

Why does Paul quote this?? I believe Paul has linked Isa. 55:3 with the next verse. Heís going to tell us what the "holy things" of David were!

:35 Thou shalt not suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.

Paul is quoting now from Ė

Ps 16:10 For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.

Holy One Ė hosios Ė the same word thatís translated "mercies" in the previous verse, but hereís itís masculine and singular.

In other words, the promise God makes of the "faithful holy things of David" includes the promise of the Messiah, the Holy One of God. And this Holy One would not experience the decay of death.

:36 For David Ö saw corruption

In other words, David didnít fulfill these prophecies. They must be talking about someone else.

:38 through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins

This is the central message of the gospel, the forgiveness of sins.

This is what God offers to you. This is what you need to be able to relate to God.

:39 And by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses.

One definition of "justified" is that it means "just as if Iíd never sinned".

Being made right with God is only something God could do for us, not something we could do for ourselves. The way we receive this gift into our lives is through believing, by opening our heart to it.

Itís not on the basis of obeying the Law.

:41 Behold, ye despisers, and wonder, and perish Ö

Paul now quotes from the prophet Habbakuk (Hab.1:5). Iím impressed. How many of us even know where Habbakuk is, let alone are able to quote from it?

despisers Ė kataphrontes Ė (against + to think) Ė despiser; scoffer. Someone who spends their time thinking against what theyíre thinking about. A negative thinker. I think of it as the person who "knows better" than you do.

Lesson:

Despise or believe?

It seems that most of us go through a phase at some time in our life where we start questioning authority.

I remember coming to the realization in school that not everything a teacher told you might be the truth. As a child, it never occurred to me that a teacher could be telling me something that would be false. In high school, I struggled when some of my teachers began to tell me garbage like the Bible being an unreliable book. I think itís not all that bad that we learn to question the truth of what someone tells us.

But if we get into the mode of always questioning everything, and not believing anything, then thereís also going to be times when we donít believe the truth. And that can cost us.

Illustration

Suppose Bill Gates calls you up on the phone and tells you that if you come to Fullerton Airport at 9:00 Monday morning, that youíd receive $1 billion dollars. If you choose to not believe that, and it were actually true, would you miss out on anything?

And yet the Bible gives us some incredible promises.

(Prov 3:5-6 KJV) Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. {6} In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.

Are you willing to trust Him with ALL your heart? What do you think your life could be like if God, the Creator of the heavens and the earth, was directing your life?