About Jesus Steve Sweetman
13 begins a new era in church history.
From chapter 13 to the end of the book covers the time period from
around 45 A D to around 62 A D. The emphasis of these chapters is the
missionary trips that Paul took throughout the
We should remember that Barnabas was originally from Cyprus. I'm sure he agreed with the
Holy Spirit to head off to Cyprus
chapter 13 to 21:16 we see Paul the free man, and from there on out we see
Paul as the prisoner for the gospel, yet whether free or in chains,
Paulís primary motivation is to preach the good news of Jesus to anyone
who will listen, whether they be kings or poppers.
1 opens with mentioning
verse 1 Luke says there were prophets and teachers in the church at
word "church" is translated from the Greek word
"ecclesia", which simply means a group of people who have been
called out of the general public for a specific purpose.
This word was not a religious word.
It would have been used for any kind of civic or social group.
Here, it is in reference to Christians.
the text says that there was a church at
1 clearly suggests that Saul was either a prophet or a teacher. He
was not yet an apostle because he had not yet been sent out as an apostle.
We need to note that Paul first came to Jesus on the road to
Manaen in verse 1.
The text says that he was brought up with Herod.
This Herod was Herod Agrippa who had John the Baptist killed.
verse 2 we see the apostolic calling of Barnabas and Saul.
The five teachers and prophets were fasting and worshipping the
Lord when the Holy Spirit spoke to them.
How the Spirit spoke to them is not clearly stated.
In my thinking, since there were prophets among them, one or more
of these prophets spoke a word of prophecy that witnessed to each manís
Holy Spirit said, "Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for
was calling these two men to a new mission.
Of course, Barnabas and Saul were already doing the work of the
Lord, but now the direction of that work would change.
Greek word translated here as "worshiping" is "leitourgeo"
from which we get our English word "liturgy". This
Greek word literally means "to do service".
verse 3 we note that after hearing this word from the Lord the other
three, or possibly even more men, fasted some more and prayed.
They then laid hands on Barnabas and Saul and sent them off.
We see that the laying on of hands is something that the early
It was Jesus who called these two men to their new jobs.
It was men in the local church who laid their hands on them and
actually sent them off.
said earlier that Paul was most likely a teacher here in
In Ephesians 4:11 we see the four gifts of Christ, as they are usually named. They are prophets, apostles, evangelists, and pastor/teachers. We often separate these ministries into separate and distinct callings of God, but I think this passage clearly suggests that the lines are blurred somewhat between these ministries. There seems to be much overlapping in these ministries. Paul is seen here as a teacher and an apostle. Part of being an apostle is teaching and speaking the Word of God prophetically. This might suggest that we should be careful in how we promote certain ministries. They're all somewhat similar with slight variations
Verse 4 tells us that the Holy Spirit sent Barnabas
and Saul on their way. The
word "sent" in the Greek is an aorist verb.
This suggests the process of sending was somewhat continuous
because an aorist verb is a uncompleted, or, continuous action.
It is uncertain that the Holy Spirit simply sent Barnabas and Saul
on their way or sent them specifically to
Note that even though it was the brothers who laid
hands on Barnabas and Saul, it was the Holy Spirit who called them and
sent them. It is important
that Christian leaders be clear that it is the will of the Holy Spirit in
all of the appointments they make.
Notice the order in names here.
It's Barnabas and Saul. This
order remains until Saul becomes the more predominant of the two men.
Right now, it is Barnabas who is the predominant of the two.
Verse 5 tells us that when Barnabas and Saul reach
On the other hand, it would be normal for Saul and
Barnabas to preach in the synagogue, since the Jews had somewhat of a
foundation to start with, meaning, and the knowledge of the Old Testament.
These Jews also, since they lived outside of
Luke notes that John Mark came with them to help out.
Mark would later become a source of difficulty between Barnabas and
Saul. This is the Mark who
wrote the gospel of Mark. He
later became a co-worker with Peter. It
is often thought that Mark got most of his knowledge from Peter in order
to write his gospel account.
In verses 6 and 7 we see that while crossing the
We see in verse 8 that it appears Sergius was near to
believing because Elymas opposed Barnabas and Saul, and then tried to turn
Sergius from the faith. Obviously,
this was the work of the devil. It
is said that Elymas was a Jew because of his name.
He obviously was an apostate Jew which would have made Paul quite
In verse 9 we read, "then Saul who was also
called PaulÖ" Saul had
two names. Saul was his Jewish
name, probably named after King Saul of Old Testament fame.
Paul was his Roman name. Paul
was a Jew by birth and a Roman by virtue of the fact he was born in
To date we have known Saul as Saul, but now we know
him as Paul. This change is
most likely due to the fact that he is now ministering in Roman territory
and therefore his Roman name might be more acceptable.
We do know that Paul tried to be all things to all people so that
he could win as many people to the Lord as possible. (1 Corinthians 9:22)
When I say this, I do need to say that in the becoming of all
things to all people, he did not compromise the gospel.
He did draw the line in the sand, so to speak.
In verse 9 Luke tells us that Paul was filled with
the Spirit when he confronted Elymas.
Here again we see the term "filled with the Holy Spirit".
Every time we see this phrase in the book of Acts it means the Holy
Spirit comes on someone in special power to do something special in the
service of the Lord. In this
instance, Paul rebukes this demonic magic man.
Paul tells this man that he is "a child of the devil".
Paul told him that the hand of the Lord is against him and that he
would be blind for a period of time. Paul
clearly ministers in the power of God, which he claims is a sign or mark
of a true apostle in 2 Corinthians 12:12.
In our modern church, I really don't think we'd consider doing such
a thing even if we had the power that Paul had.
Why Paul made this man blind and not deaf or dumb we
don't know. Maybe he did so
because this is how Jesus got his attention on the road to
Verse 11 says that "immediately mist and
darkness came over him, and he groped about, seeking for someone to lead
him by the hand". When
the proconsul saw this demonstration of power by Paul, he believed.
Luke, in verse 2 says that "he was amazed by the teaching of
the Lord". Of course the
teaching was not in word alone, but could be seen in this miraculous sign.
In the last verse of the
gospel of Mark Jesus said that His followers would go out and preach the
gospel and He would confirm their preaching with miraculous signs.
This was sure working in Paul's life.
13 says, "From Paphos, Paul and his company sailedÖ"
We note a change in relationship here between Barnabas and Saul.
They are no longer called Barnabas and Saul, but Paul and Barnabas,
or as it is in this case, Paul and his company.
Paul now becomes the predominant one.
also note in verse 13 that at this point John Mark left Paul and Barnabas
and returned to
left these men at Perga.
In verse 14 we note that from their Paul and his company went to
Antioch of Pisidian.
This is not
verse 15 we see that it was on the Sabbath, most likely the first Sabbath
they were there, they went to the local synagogue.
After the reading from the Law and Prophets Paul was invited up to
speak words of encouragement.
The synagogue rulers invited Paul to speak and called him their
brother, that is their brother in Judaism, not their brother in the Lord
16 begins Paulís first message that is recorded for us, and it is
directed towards the Jews.
He speaks to Jews, but also to Gentile converts to Judaism.
Paul is a good speaker.
He always preaches the gospel in a way that will be understood by
Since his listeners are Jewish he relates to them some of their
Stephen back in Acts 7, Paul begins his message with Jewish history.
In verse 17 he starts with the children of
four hundred and fifty years consisted roughly of four hundred years in
thing we should note, and I will not go into detail here, is that even
turning point in Paul's message is found in verse 23 when Paul begins to
link Jewish history with Jesus.
Paul says, "From this manís descendents God has brought to
verse 24 Paul backs up a bit.
Before Jesus came on the scene John the Baptist came preaching
repentance to Israelis and baptized many.
In verse 25 Paul states how John felt about Jesus.
John knew that he himself was not the Messiah but was pointing the
way to the Messiah Jesus.
verse 26 Paul says, "Brothers, children of Abraham, and you
Paul is re-addressing his message to these people for the sake of
point that he wants to make very clear is that "it is to us that this
message of salvation has been sent".
By using the word "us", Paul is referring to himself and
the Jews. He
is associating himself with his audience, and that he should.
He was a Jew.
He was one of them.
The gospel message and its reality was for the Jews. It
had been prophesied about throughout the Old Testament.
That being said, after the message was preached to the Jews, the
gospel would be opened up to the rest of the world.
next few verses, beginning with verse 27, seem to be words taken almost
from the mouth of Peter on the day of Pentecost.
Paul says, "The people of
specified exactly what Jews killed Jesus.
It was the Jews in
verse 29 Paul says that "when they carried out all that was written
about Him, they took Him down from the tree and laid Him in a tomb".
Paul, a scholar of the Old Testament, was doing his best to link
Jesus with the prophecies of old.
This was his technique when speaking to a Jewish audience.
That only makes sense.
continues in verse 31 by saying, "but God raised Him from the
We have seen these very words used by Peter as well in his
Jewish people, with the help of certain Gentiles, killed Jesus, but
God raised Him from the dead.
The resurrection is a very important part of the gospel.
You cannot preach the gospel without speaking of the resurrection
of Jesus. If
Jesus had not been raised from the dead, then the Christian message ends
with the death of Jesus.
That would affectively make our Christian lives useless.
goes on to say that many people saw the risen Jesus and they are now His
witnesses to the fact that He did indeed rise from the dead.
Once again, there is no difference in the gospel message that we
see Paul preaching and the gospel message that we have seen Peter preach.
verses 32 and 33 Paul calls this the good news.
He said that what God has promised He has fulfilled for his present
generation by raising Jesus from the dead.
Paul provides three Old Testament quotes to prove the fact that
Jesus was in fact Godís son and that He did rise from the dead.
quotes Psalm 2:7 to prove his point that Jesus was in fact the long
awaited for Messiah.
The Psalm reads as follows.
"You are my son; today I have become your Father".
This is the question that must be asked in light of this verse.
"Was not Jesus God's Son prior to His resurrection"?
"Why does God say that 'today' Jesus became His Son"?
We need to understand that prior to incarnation Jesus was so united
with God that I don't believe He was distinguishable as any kind of
separate identity, like a son.
The fact of the matter is that God Himself became human when by the
Holy Spirit Mary conceived her son in her womb.
Prior to the incarnation, I'm not sure you could call Jesus the Son
He was God.
At His birth in humanity, Jesus became a somewhat human Son of God.
I say somewhat because Jesus had no earthly father.
Once Jesus rose from the dead and ascended into heaven, He took on
a new kind of spiritual type body.
As Paul points out in Romans, Jesus was the first born of many
In this sense of the word, Jesus became that new kind of Son that
this Psalm speaks of.
Those of us who will experience life with Jesus in our resurrected
bodies will be like Jesus.
He is the first of this new bread of eternal sons.
in verse 35, Paul quotes Psalm 16:10 where the Psalmist predicts that the
Messiah would not see corruption.
In Paul's mind Jesus was the Messiah.
If his body did not see total corruption, then Jesus must have rose
from the dead.
Scriptures are similar to the Scriptures that Peter used on the day of
Pentecost to prove the resurrection.
Paul goes on to say in verses 36 and 37 that when David spoke of
his body not seeing decay, he was not talking about himself.
The words were prophetic.
They were meant to be interpreted in a Messianic way.
Paul says that the one God raised from the dead did not fall asleep
as did David.
The simple fact is that David died.
His body saw corruption and therefore David could not have been
talking about himself.
38 and 39 say, "therefore my brother, through Jesus the forgiveness
of sins is proclaimed to you.
Through Him everyone who believes is justified from everything you
could not be justified from by the Law of Moses".
This is the first time we see the word justification used in the
book of Acts.
Paul goes into great detail regarding this word in his letter to
is the process by which we are forgiven, even to the degree that God no
longer sees our sin when it comes to our salvation.
I believe God is not blind.
I believe He still sees our sin, even as Christians, but He does
not count those sins against us, because we have accepted His provision
that is the blood of Jesus. God
declares those who trust Jesus as being righteous.
Even though God sees our sins, He has wiped them out of his record
book, never to be counted against us in future judgment. The
believer now stands in a legal place of right standing before the God of
the universe, even though in an earthly reality he is far from living as
one in right standing before God.
way to describe justification is to say that God the Judge has acquitted
us, or taken away the punishment due to us for our sin.
As Supreme Judge He sees us as guilt free, not needing any
is the first mention, and it is from Paulís lips, that the Law cannot
justify anyone, even the Jews.
What Paul is saying is that when you stand before God the Judge, if
you are planning on using the Law of Moses for your defense, as the Jews
would have, you will lose your case.
The good news is that we have no defense.
Jesus has and will defend us according to what He has done for us.
verse 40 Paul warns his listeners not to be scoffers, but to believe his
words as being the Word of God.
He quotes from Habakkuk 1:5 to point out his concern.
The prophet warns his audience that some day the Lord would do
something very special that would be hard to believe.
This special thing is salvation that comes only through trusting in
day Habakkuk prophesied about had now come according to Paul and many of
those hearing this message were scoffing at Paul.
Paul had finished speaking, he and Barnabas left the synagogue and were
invited to come back the next Sabbath, as seen in verse 42.
Note that Paul never gave an alter call. He didnít appear to
invite people to come and get saved.
He simply preached the gospel to them. Paul
never led these people in a sinner's prayer.
I believe he left all of that up to the Holy Spirit.
verse 43 Luke says that many of the Jews and Gentile converts to Judaism
followed Paul and Barnabas and talked further of these things. Paul
tells these people to "stay in the grace of God".
This is interesting.
By using the words "stay in the grace of God", that means
that these people were in the grace of God, or at least I think. This
implies that at some point in Paulís message it seems these people had
come to believe, thus Paul could say "stay in the grace of God".
We have no word of Paul praying for these people to receive the
How Paul knew these people were now in the grace of God I just
don't know. The
text does not say, but because of the last verse of this chapter where
Luke records these people being filled with the Holy Spirit, I believe
this filling was evident to all.
verses 44 and 45 we note that Paul came back the next Sabbath.
Luke says that almost the whole city came out to hear Paul this
had surely made an impression on these people. This came to be a problem
with the Jewish leadership.
As with Jesus, and as with Peter, and now with Paul, the Jewish
leaders were jealous of the crowds.
Paul was getting bigger crowds than them.
As a result they opposed everything Paul said.
the Jewish opposition, in verse 45 both Paul and Barnabas tell the Jewish
leadership that they must preach the gospel to the Jews first.
This is because of the Scriptural principle that Paul states in
Romans 1:16 that says, "to the Jew first and then to the
being said, since the Jews were now rejecting the gospel, Paul and
Barnabas said that they'd now preach to the Gentiles.
How did Paul know the gospel should be preached to the Gentiles? Paul quotes from Isaiah 49:6 to back his statement. "I have made you a light for the Gentiles that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth". In the mind of God, salvation has always been to all people.
Isaiah quote is very interesting.
First of all, when Isaiah prophesied that "I made you a light
to the Gentiles ...", the pronoun "you" is singular, not
its Old Testament context, the singular you refers to
Paul was using this passage that referred to
can see from all the Scriptures Paul uses in defense of the gospel that he
feels the Scriptures are of utmost importance.
He clearly points out here that one way in which he hears from the
Lord is through the Bible, which was the Old Testament in his case. Paul
based all he preached on the Old Testament.
He especially preached from the Old Testament when preaching to
needed to know what Paul was preaching finds its meaning in the Old
turned to the Gentiles out of frustration.
The Lord told Paul years ago, at his conversion, that he would
witness to the Gentiles, but it might not have been until this point that
he really understood this call to ministry.
This understanding, and change of direction in Paulís ministry,
came out of frustration.
This tells me that the Lord can use frustration in our lives as a
way to speak to us and bring change in direction to our lives.
verse 48 we note that the Gentiles heard that Paul was giving himself to
them and they were glad and honoured the Word of the Lord.
I believe the specific Gentiles spoken of here were the Gentile
converts to Judaism.
I say this because they were part of the audience Paul was talking
pagans would not have accepted Paul so readily.
What angered the Jews delighted the Gentiles.
Paulís letter to the Romans, chapter 9 through 11, we see Paul's ideas
on the relationship between the Jew and the Gentile.
He pictures the people of God as a tree.
It once was a Jewish tree, and now some Jewish branches have been
cut off, while some new Gentile branches have been grafted in.
Paul now begins his ministry to help graft in these new Gentile
branches, since some Jews have disqualified themselves from being part of
this tree. That
being said, we have to realize that this is still a Jewish tree.
verse 48 Luke writes an interesting statement.
He says, "All who were appointed to eternal life
Calvinists would use this verse to prove their point concerning
predestination, that is to say, God predetermines those who will be saved
before they actually get saved.
I do not believe in this form of predestination.
I believe for many reasons that God has predetermined that all
mankind be saved, but all of mankind is not saved because they do not want
to receive salvation.
Even so, God can direct the steps of men, and lead them to a place
of salvation where they make their choices with His help.
Certain Gentiles, who found themselves in the synagogue during
Paulís preaching, were appointed to salvation because they believed the
didn't believe the gospel because they were predetermined to believe it.
verse 49 we note that the Word of the Lord spread throughout the whole
Word of the Lord was spread by those to whom Paul spoke.
verse 50 we see that the Jewish leadership incited God-fearing women.
Note the words "God-fearing women".
Because of the use of the word "God-fearing" that was
commonly applied to God-fearing Gentiles, I believe these women were
They were prominent wives in the community who would have
encouraged their husbands to drive Paul and Barnabas out of town.
The Gentiles would have had control of this Gentile city.
The Jews could have used their help in this matter.
verse 51, as a result of the expulsion of Paul and Barnabas, they shook
the dust off their feet in protest, something that was an outward action
of disgust back then.
and Barnabas therefore went to Iconium.
Though Paul and Barnabas left many Christians behind, Luke ends
this chapter in verse 52 by telling us that these new converts
"were filled with joy and the Holy Spirit".
I am sure Paul was not happy leaving these people, but He
understood the power of the Holy Spirit to look after these people.
I think Paul leaned heavily on the Holy Spirit to keep his converts
in the faith.
He could not be with them all of the time.
He seldom ever saw them again.
Unlike in todayís world, when we have so many means to
communicate over long distances to help out new converts, Paul had no such
I think today that we too often depend on our own human reasoning
and modern technology to maintain the faith of people.
The Holy Spirit must be allowed to work in the lives of Godís
people to have any success in maintaining their faith.
should note the mentioning of the Holy Spirit in verse 52.
Luke does not describe what the conversion of these people looked
it similar to Acts 2 or Acts 10?
Was there a great outpouring of the Holy Spirit?
Did these people speak in tongues?
Luke didn't tell us what their conversion looked like, but, because
they were filled with the Holy Spirit, I can only conclude that they had
an Acts2 or Acts 10 experience with the Holy Spirit.
I wish Luke would have told us more about what their conversion