Home  Library

Acts 13

Thursday Evening Bible Study

December 19, 2013


Do people see Jesus? Is the gospel preached? Does it speak to the broken hearted? Does it build up the church? Milk – Meat – Manna Preach for a decision Is the church loved? Target 4400 words

The next two Thursdays we will be having movie nights (the movie is so long we will split it into two nights).  Play The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe clip

On the day of Pentecost, the church was born. It began with the Holy Spirit filling the believers. As the apostles preached about Jesus, the church began to grow.

By chapter seven, the church was beginning to experience persecution. Stephen was the first one to die for his faith. With the persecution, the church began to scatter, and the message of the gospel actually increased as more people heard about Jesus.

One of the main men behind the persecution was a man named Saul. But when Saul headed for the city of Damascus to pursue the Christians there, he was knocked off his horse by a bright light and he met Jesus.

Starting in chapter 10, the gospel began to reach even the Gentiles.

The city of Antioch in Syria, far to the north began to experience a great work of the Spirit among the Gentiles.  Barnabas and Saul spent a year teaching these new believers, then they took a trip to Jerusalem to bring financial aid.  They are now back in Antioch.

13:1-3  Barnabas and Saul sent

:1 Now in the church that was at Antioch there were certain prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul.

:1  in the church that was at Antioch

This list is apparently the leaders in Antioch.  Note the variety of backgrounds in the leadership.

:1 Barnabas

He was a Jew from the island of Cyprus.

:1 Simeon who was called Niger

NigerNiger – “black”

Simeon’s name is also Jewish.  “Niger” is a Latin name, showing he moved in Roman circles.  He may have been dark skinned (“Niger” means “black”).

:1 Lucius of Cyrene

LuciusLoukios – “light: bright: white”

This too is a Latin name.

We saw that the church in Antioch was started when believers from Cyprus and Cyrene came and shared the gospel (Acts 11:20)

(Ac 11:20 NKJV) But some of them were men from Cyprus and Cyrene, who, when they had come to Antioch, spoke to the Hellenists, preaching the Lord Jesus.

Perhaps Lucius was one of these early church planters.

It is possible that Lucius was a Gentile convert.  Some of the men from Cyrene may have been Gentiles who converted to Judaism, and then converted to Christianity (Acts 2:10)
(Ac 2:10 NKJV) —10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya adjoining Cyrene, visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes,

:1 Manaen who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch

ManaenManaen – “comforter”

Herod the tetrarch is also known as “Herod Antipas”.  He was the one who had beheaded John the Baptist and who had sat in judgment of Jesus before His crucifixion.

had been brought up withsuntrophos – nourished with one; brought up with one; companion of one’s childhood and youth

Apparently Manaen had grown up with Herod.  This was a guy who had been acquainted with privileged people.
The Herod family members were not Jews by birth, but Edomites (Idumean).

:1 Saul

A Jew trained in Rabbinical schools.  We know him as “Paul”.

:2 As they ministered to the Lord and fasted, the Holy Spirit said, “Now separate to Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.”

:2 ministeredleitourgeo – to do a service, perform a work; of priests and Levites who were busied with the sacred rites in the tabernacle or the temple

This is a word that can be properly translated “worship” (NAS, Rom. 12:1), but in the sense of offering praise to God as a priest might in his regular duties.

When we “worship”, God “speaks”.

:2 the Holy Spirit said

How did the Holy Spirit speak?  Through the “prophets” (vs. 1)

:2 separate to Meaphoridzo (“horizon”) – to mark off from others by boundaries, to limit, to appoint, set apart for some purpose

To me, the word paints a picture of drawing up a map and sketching out property lines.  Barnabas and Saul had been placed in a specific category or “place” by the Lord, a ministry of preaching the gospel to foreign lands.

It’s not the specific foreign lands that are marked off on a map, but the ministry of going and preaching that it marked off.
It’s like creating an “org chart” of the church, and creating a new ministry, that of going out, preaching, and planting churches.

:2 to the work … I have called them


To your work

Does God have a “work” for you too?  God says “yes”.
(Eph 2:10 NKJV) For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.
I think that one of the jobs of the church is to help people find that “good work” that God has designed them for.
Some stay and do ministry in the local church.
Others go out to the mission field.
In a way we are all called to “go” and preach the gospel.  But some may “go” further than others.

:3 Then, having fasted and prayed, and laid hands on them, they sent them away.

:3 having fasted and prayed

Note the role of prayer and fasting in these kinds of events.

:3 they sent them away

sentapoluo – to set free; to let go, dismiss, (to detain no longer); to let go free, release

13:4-12 First Mission Trip:  Cyprus

:4 So, being sent out by the Holy Spirit, they went down to Seleucia, and from there they sailed to Cyprus.

:5 And when they arrived in Salamis, they preached the word of God in the synagogues of the Jews. They also had John as their assistant.

Play Antioch to Paphos map clip

Barnabas and Saul are going to start out in Antioch in Syria, then move to the coastal town of Seleucia where they catch a ship to the island of Cyprus, 135 miles away.  They will land on the eastern side of Cyprus and make their way across the island until they eventually get to the western city of Paphos, 90 miles west of Salamis.

:5 They also had John as their assistant

This is John Mark, the author of the gospel of Mark.  He is Barnabas’ cousin, and they picked up Mark when they made their trip to Jerusalem.

Keep in mind, Barnabas is from Cyprus.  John Mark may be too.

:6 Now when they had gone through the island to Paphos, they found a certain sorcerer, a false prophet, a Jew whose name was Bar-Jesus,

:6 sorcerermagos – a magus; the name given by the Babylonians and others, to the wise men, teachers, priests, physicians, astrologers, sorcerers etc.

This is the word used to describe the “wise men” who visited Joseph and Mary after the birth of Jesus.

:6 false prophet

Unlike the “magi” of Christmas, this fellow is not a good guy.

:6 a Jew whose name was Bar-Jesus

This fellow is Jewish.

His name means “son of Jesus”.  It’s possible he’s trying to claim to be either a son or a follower of our Jesus.

:7 who was with the proconsul, Sergius Paulus, an intelligent man. This man called for Barnabas and Saul and sought to hear the word of God.

:7 with the proconsul, Sergius Paulus

The proconsul was the Roman governor over the island.

This sorcerer was apparently some sort of counselor to this political figure.

SergiusSergios – “earth-born: born a wonder”

PaulusPaulos – “small or little”

This is a Latin name

:8 But Elymas the sorcerer (for so his name is translated) withstood them, seeking to turn the proconsul away from the faith.

:8 ElymasElumas – “wise man”

:8 withstood them


It’s not about you

It would seem that this Bar-Jesus didn’t like Barnabas and Saul getting too close to his “man”, Sergius Paulus.
Sometimes I’m a little like Elymas.  I get insecure when I see someone doing something I like to do, and it seems they do it better.
When you are serving the Lord, it doesn’t matter whether or not someone is “better” than you.  All that counts is that you are being faithful to what you are supposed to be doing.
When Paul was imprisoned later in life, he will be told about others who are preaching the gospel while he is stuck in prison.  Perhaps people were concerned that Paul’s feelings might be hurt.
(Php 1:15–18 NKJV) —15 Some indeed preach Christ even from envy and strife, and some also from goodwill: 16 The former preach Christ from selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my chains; 17 but the latter out of love, knowing that I am appointed for the defense of the gospel. 18 What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is preached; and in this I rejoice, yes, and will rejoice.

If my goal is to truly preach the gospel (Elymas wasn’t on board with that), then I will be happy with anyone who is sharing Christ, even if they are better at it than I am.

:9 Then Saul, who also is called Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked intently at him

:9 Saul, who also is called Paul

From here on out, Saul is going to be known as Paul.

The only times we will see his name “Saul” used, is when he is sharing the story of his conversion (Acts 22:7,13; 26:14)
(Ac 22:7 NKJV) —7 And I fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to me, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?’

PaulPaulos – “small or little”

This is a Latin/Roman name
Could it be that Saul now takes the name of “Sergius Paulus” (vs. 7) for some reason?  It is the exact same name.
Jerome held that Saul adopted the name “Paul” because of the conversion of Sergius Paulus, though to some this seems a bit prideful.
Augustine held that Saul adopts the name because of its meaning, “little”, perhaps out of humility.
Some suggest that “Paulus” was always his “surname”, but it’s just that from here out he chooses to use that name.  Paul was from the city of Tarsus, a Roman city, and this name would give him a more distinct Roman connection, a connection he will find helpful several times in his missionary journeys (ie Philippi and Jerusalem)
In Philippi it will help with his release. (Acts 16:37)

(Ac 16:37 NKJV) —37 But Paul said to them, “They have beaten us openly, uncondemned Romans, and have thrown us into prison. And now do they put us out secretly? No indeed! Let them come themselves and get us out.”

In Jerusalem it will get him the rights of a Roman citizen to a decent trial. (Acts 22:25)

(Ac 22:25 NKJV) —25 And as they bound him with thongs, Paul said to the centurion who stood by, “Is it lawful for you to scourge a man who is a Roman, and uncondemned?”

:10 and said, “O full of all deceit and all fraud, you son of the devil, you enemy of all righteousness, will you not cease perverting the straight ways of the Lord?

:11 And now, indeed, the hand of the Lord is upon you, and you shall be blind, not seeing the sun for a time.” And immediately a dark mist fell on him, and he went around seeking someone to lead him by the hand.

:11 immediately a dark mist fell on him

This proud man goes blind while the proconsul is standing by and watching.

Elymas may have tried to claim a relationship with Jesus, but he is simply a deceiver.  Paul has harsh words for him.

:12 Then the proconsul believed, when he saw what had been done, being astonished at the teaching of the Lord.

:12 the proconsul believed


It’s the message

We might have been impressed by seeing God’s power blinding Elymas, but Luke records that it was the “teaching” that astonished Sergius Paulus.
(Ro 1:16 NKJV) For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.
Do you know what the message is?  I like to think of it in three parts:
There’s a problem - sin (our sin has separated us from God)
There’s a solution – Jesus paid for our sins on the cross (God has paid for your sins through Jesus’ death on the cross)
There’s an action – you must believe (we need to believe and receive God’s payment for our sins, we need to ask Him to be Lord of our lives)

13:13-41 Antioch in Pisidia

:13 Now when Paul and his party set sail from Paphos, they came to Perga in Pamphylia; and John, departing from them, returned to Jerusalem.

:14 But when they departed from Perga, they came to Antioch in Pisidia, and went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day and sat down.

:14 Antioch in Pisidia

There is another city named “Antioch”.  This is not the one they came from.

These cities were named after the great Greek general Antiochus, who divided up the Greek empire after the death of Alexander the Great.

Play Paphos to Antioch Pisidia map clip.

It’s about 160 miles from Paphos on Cyprus to the port city of Perga.  This is where Mark departs from the group.  From there they go about 90 miles north to the city of Antioch in Pisidia.

:12 John, departing from them

John Mark decides he doesn’t like mission trips. He decides he wants to go home.  This becomes the incident that Paul and Barnabas eventually split over.  Paul felt that this showed that John Mark was qualified, not dependable.


Quitting too soon

I wonder if Mark didn’t make a mistake in his life here.  Later on, Paul certainly seemed to think he did.
The Bible talks about how important it is to be dependable, faithful.
(Pr 25:13 NKJV) Like the cold of snow in time of harvest Is a faithful messenger to those who send him, For he refreshes the soul of his masters.

It is refreshing to have people you can count on.

(Pr 25:19 NKJV) Confidence in an unfaithful man in time of trouble Is like a bad tooth and a foot out of joint.
Certainly there are going to be times when it is simply time to leave.
But sometimes we would do ourselves a greater service to learning to persevere.
Over the years I’ve heard quite a few stories about some of our favorite Calvary Chapel pastors and how they were tempted to quit.  I’ve heard Skip Heitzig in Albuquerque tell the story.  I’ve heard Bob Coy in Ft. Lauderdale tell the story.  It is the same story.  It goes something like this.  The pastor has taken his family to a place to start a church.  It is difficult.  He doesn’t see very much fruit.  He wants to quit.  He would call Pastor Chuck.  Chuck would say, “Just stick it out six more months”.  He does.  Things change.  The rest is history.
The Bible tells us that difficult times act as a sort of “refining process” in our lives.
(1 Pe 1:6–7 NKJV) —6 In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, 7 that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ,

The “testing” by fire is the refining process.  Gold is refined, purified, through fire.  The goldsmith will take the raw ore and heat it until it becomes liquid.  As the fire continues, the impurities begin to rise to the surface.  The goldsmith skims this “dross” off the top and continues to heat the gold.  The goldsmith knows his gold is pure enough when he can see his own reflection in the gold.

If you and I are the “gold” being refined by the fire, then why do we want to short circuit the process by jumping out of the fire.

Stay in the fire just a little longer.  Let God do His work.

:14 went into the synagogue

This would be the general rule Barnabas and Paul would follow when coming into a new city.  If there was a Jewish synagogue, you start your outreach there.  The gospel goes out to the Jew first, then the Gentiles. (Rom. 1:16)

:15 And after the reading of the Law and the Prophets, the rulers of the synagogue sent to them, saying, “Men and brethren, if you have any word of exhortation for the people, say on.”

It was not uncommon if a visiting Rabbi was in your synagogue that you would give him a chance to speak.  Paul will be the one to respond.

:16 Then Paul stood up, and motioning with his hand said, “Men of Israel, and you who fear God, listen:

:16 Paul stood up …

It’s pretty cool that we have this message written out, an example of Paul’s preaching.  If you want to title his message, it would be:  “Jesus the Messiah”.

:16 and you who fear God

There are not just Jews present, but believing Gentiles (“God fearers”, like Cornelius) as well.

:17 The God of this people Israel chose our fathers, and exalted the people when they dwelt as strangers in the land of Egypt, and with an uplifted arm He brought them out of it.

Paul starts his message with Moses bringing Israel out of Egypt.

:18 Now for a time of about forty years He put up with their ways in the wilderness.

:19 And when He had destroyed seven nations in the land of Canaan, He distributed their land to them by allotment.

It was under Joshua that the Israelites conquered the land of Canaan.

:20 “After that He gave them judges for about four hundred and fifty years, until Samuel the prophet.

:21 And afterward they asked for a king; so God gave them Saul the son of Kish, a man of the tribe of Benjamin, for forty years.

It is interesting to note that Paul is also from the tribe of Benjamin, and his name was also Saul.

:22 And when He had removed him, He raised up for them David as king, to whom also He gave testimony and said, ‘I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after My own heart, who will do all My will.

:22 David the son of Jesse

Paul takes the people to David, the recognized King.

Paul is also making Old Testament references, quoting passages from Psalm 89, 1Sam. 13.

(Ps 89:20 NKJV) —20 I have found My servant David; With My holy oil I have anointed him,
(1 Sa 13:14 NKJV) —14 But now your kingdom shall not continue. The Lord has sought for Himself a man after His own heart, and the Lord has commanded him to be commander over His people, because you have not kept what the Lord commanded you.”

:23 From this man’s seed, according to the promise, God raised up for Israel a Savior—Jesus—

:23 From this man’s seed

There were many prophecies stating that the Messiah would be a descendant of David. (2Sam. 7:11; Is. 11:1; Ps. 132:11; Ps. 89:3, 4, 33; 110:4)

(Is 11:1 NKJV) There shall come forth a Rod from the stem of Jesse, And a Branch shall grow out of his roots.

:24 after John had first preached, before His coming, the baptism of repentance to all the people of Israel.

:24 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 Baptist’s 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 Baptist’s ministry.

:25 And as John was finishing his course, he said, ‘Who do you think I am? I am not He. But behold, there comes One after me, the sandals of whose feet I am not worthy to loose.’

:26 “Men and brethren, sons of the family of Abraham, and those among you who fear God, to you the word of this salvation has been sent.

:27 For those who dwell in Jerusalem, and their rulers, because they did not know Him, nor even the voices of the Prophets which are read every Sabbath, have fulfilled them in condemning Him.

:27 they did not know Him

The Jews in Palestine didn’t recognize Jesus as their Messiah.  John wrote,

(Jn 1:11 NKJV) He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him.

:27 have fulfilled them

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

(Is 53:3 NKJV) He is despised and rejected by men, A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him; He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.

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

:28 And though they found no cause for death in Him, they asked Pilate that He should be put to death.

:29 Now when they had fulfilled all that was written concerning Him, they took Him down from the tree and laid Him in a tomb.

:30 But God raised Him from the dead.

:30 But God raised Him

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

The people had Pilate kill Jesus. 
The people took Jesus down from the cross and buried Him.
But God raised Him from the dead.

Imagine what these people must be thinking to hear that God raised someone from the dead!

:31 He was seen for many days by those who came up with Him from Galilee to Jerusalem, who are His witnesses to the people.

:32 And we declare to you glad tidings—that promise which was made to the fathers.

:33 God has fulfilled this for us their children, in that He has raised up Jesus. As it is also written in the second Psalm: ‘You are My Son, Today I have begotten You.’

:33 in the second Psalm

Paul is now going to mention some specific Scripture references concerning what he’s said so far.  Here, Paul quotes from Psalm 2:7, which talks about God’s Son.

(Ps 2:7 NKJV) “I will declare the decree: The Lord has said to Me, ‘You are My Son, Today I have begotten You.


Share the Word.

His message isn’t just based on the experiences of certain people, but it’s based on God’s Word.
There is even a sense in which the unbeliever isn’t going to understand because they are an unbeliever.  Describing spiritual things to a person who is spiritually “dead” is like describing colors to a person who was born blind…
Play Describing Color to Blind People clip
The one powerful tool we have to use is God’s Word.
Sharing God’s 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.

It can break through, even to blind people.

:34 And that He raised Him from the dead, no more to return to corruption, He has spoken thus: ‘I will give you the sure mercies of David.’

:34 the sure mercies of David

Now Paul is quoting Is. 55:3.

(Is 55:3 NKJV) —3 Incline your ear, and come to Me. Hear, and your soul shall live; And I will make an everlasting covenant with you— The sure mercies of David.

:35 Therefore He also says in another Psalm: ‘You will not allow Your Holy One to see corruption.’

:35 He also says in another Psalm

Here Paul quotes Psalm 16:

(Ps 16:10 NKJV) For You will not leave my soul in Sheol, Nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption.
The resurrection was prophesied in scripture.

:36 “For David, after he had served his own generation by the will of God, fell asleep, was buried with his fathers, and saw corruption;

:36 David … saw corruption

David didn’t fulfill Psalm 16, he is still dead and buried.

:37 but He whom God raised up saw no corruption.

:38 Therefore let it be known to you, brethren, that through this Man is preached to you the forgiveness of sins;

:39 and by Him everyone who believes is justified from all things from which you could not be justified by the law of Moses.

:38 the forgiveness of sins

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

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

:40 Beware therefore, lest what has been spoken in the prophets come upon you:

:41Behold, you despisers, Marvel and perish! For I work a work in your days, A work which you will by no means believe, Though one were to declare it to you.’ ”

:41 I work a work in your days …

Now Paul quotes from Habbakuk 1:5! (Do you even know where it is?)

(Hab 1:5 NKJV) “Look among the nations and watch— Be utterly astounded! For I will work a work in your days Which you would not believe, though it were told you.


Despise or believe?

This is Paul’s challenge to his hearers.
Will they despise this good news of forgiveness that he brings?
Or will they believe?
When you share the gospel, it’s good to encourage the person you’re sharing with to make a choice.
In God’s kingdom there is no place for the “undecided”.
It’s like taking an elevator.  You are either going “up” or “down”.  There is no undecided.

13:42-52 Blessing and Conflict

:42 So when the Jews went out of the synagogue, the Gentiles begged that these words might be preached to them the next Sabbath.

:43 Now when the congregation had broken up, many of the Jews and devout proselytes followed Paul and Barnabas, who, speaking to them, persuaded them to continue in the grace of God.

:43 many … followed

There was a good response to the message. 

:43 persuaded them to continue

Both Jews and Gentiles are responding and Paul and Barnabas encourage them to “continue” in the grace of God.

We are saved by grace.

We continue by grace.

:44 On the next Sabbath almost the whole city came together to hear the word of God.

:45 But when the Jews saw the multitudes, they were filled with envy; and contradicting and blaspheming, they opposed the things spoken by Paul.

:45 they were filled with envy

Note the reason for the persecution that’s going to come.  It was nothing more than simple envy.

We can sometimes think that people argue with each other because of issues of doctrine, but here it’s simply envy.

:46 Then Paul and Barnabas grew bold and said, “It was necessary that the word of God should be spoken to you first; but since you reject it, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, behold, we turn to the Gentiles.

:46 judge yourselves unworthy

It wasn’t Paul that was judging them unworthy of eternal life, he’s telling them that they are judging themselves, by the way they are responding.


It’s their choice.

I think that sometimes I put a little too much emphasis in my mind on how well I’m doing at presenting the gospel.
If someone doesn’t accept Christ, I tend to put the blame on myself, that perhaps I didn't make the message clear enough.  Don’t misunderstand me, I do believe that it’s important that we understand the gospel message, and that we strive to make it clear to others.
And yet God holds people responsible to what they do with the gospel message.
There is enough in the message to make a person accountable.
The one who hears the message that bears the responsibility of whether or not they receive or reject the message.

:47 For so the Lord has commanded us: ‘I have set you as a light to the Gentiles, That you should be for salvation to the ends of the earth.’ ”

:47 I have set you as a light

Now he’s quoting Is. 42:6; 49:6

:48 Now when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and glorified the word of the Lord. And as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed.

:49 And the word of the Lord was being spread throughout all the region.

:50 But the Jews stirred up the devout and prominent women and the chief men of the city, raised up persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and expelled them from their region.

:51 But they shook off the dust from their feet against them, and came to Iconium.

:52 And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.

:51 came to Iconium

Play Antioch to Iconium map clip

Iconium is about 75 miles southeast of Antioch. It would be a walk through mountains and valleys.
Paul is now in the area known as Galatia.  The churches here would be the ones Paul is writing to when he writes his letter to the Galatians, which we believe may have been one of Paul’s earliest letters.

:51 shook off the dust from their feet

This was a symbol of contempt, as if the person was so unclean that even their dust was unclean.

This was in obedience to what Jesus had taught.

(Mt 10:14 NKJV) And whoever will not receive you nor hear your words, when you depart from that house or city, shake off the dust from your feet.

It’s a way of putting the past behind and moving on.

:52 filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit

They are strange characters.  They are being persecuted and yet they seem happy.