Acts 13

1 Now in the assembly that was at Antioch there were some prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen the foster brother of Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. 2 As they served the Lord and fasted, the Holy Spirit said, “Separate Barnabas and Saul for me, for the work to which I have called them.” 3 Then, when they had fasted and prayed and laid their hands on them, they sent them away. 4 So, being sent out by the Holy Spirit, they went down to Seleucia. From there they sailed to Cyprus. 5 When they were at Salamis, they proclaimed the word of God in the Jewish synagogues. They had also John as their attendant. 6 When they had gone through the island to Paphos, they found a certain sorcerer, a false prophet, a Jew, whose name was Bar Jesus, 7 who was with the proconsul, Sergius Paulus, a man of understanding. This man summoned Barnabas and Saul, and sought to hear the word of God. 8 But Elymas the sorcerer (for so is his name by interpretation) withstood them, seeking to turn aside the proconsul from the faith. 9 But Saul, who is also called Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, fastened his eyes on him, 10 and said, “Full of all deceit and all cunning, you son of the devil, you enemy of all righteousness, will you not cease to pervert the right ways of the Lord? 11 Now, behold, the hand of the Lord is on you, and you will be blind, not seeing the sun for a season!” Immediately a mist and darkness fell on him. He went around seeking someone to lead him by the hand. 12 Then the proconsul, when he saw what was done, believed, being astonished at the teaching of the Lord. 13 Now Paul and his company set sail from Paphos, and came to Perga in Pamphylia. John departed from them and returned to Jerusalem. 14 But they, passing on from Perga, came to Antioch of Pisidia. They went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and sat down. 15 After the reading of the law and the prophets, the rulers of the synagogue sent to them, saying, “Brothers, if you have any word of exhortation for the people, speak.” 16 Paul stood up, and beckoning with his hand said, “Men of Israel, and you who fear God, listen. 17 The God of this people chose our fathers, and exalted the people when they stayed as aliens in the land of Egypt, and with an uplifted arm, he led them out of it. 18 For a period of about forty years he put up with them in the wilderness. 19 When he had destroyed seven nations in the land of Canaan, he gave them their land for an inheritance, for about four hundred and fifty years. 20 After these things he gave them judges until Samuel the prophet. 21 Afterward they asked for a king, and God gave to them Saul the son of Kish, a man of the tribe of Benjamin, for forty years. 22 When he had removed him, he raised up David to be their king, to whom he also testified, ‘I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after my heart, who will do all my will.’ 23 From this man’s offspring, God has brought salvation to Israel according to his promise, 24 before his coming, when John had first preached the baptism of repentance to Israel. 25 As John was fulfilling his course, he said, ‘What do you suppose that I am? I am not he. But behold, one comes after me the sandals of whose feet I am not worthy to untie.’ 26 Brothers, children of the stock of Abraham, and those amongst you who fear God, the word of this salvation is sent out to you. 27 For those who dwell in Jerusalem, and their rulers, because they didn’t know him, nor the voices of the prophets which are read every Sabbath, fulfilled them by condemning him. 28 Though they found no cause for death, they still asked Pilate to have him killed. 29 When they had fulfilled all things that were written about him, they took him down from the tree, and laid him in a tomb. 30 But God raised him from the dead, 31 and 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 We bring you good news of the promise made to the fathers, 33 that God has fulfilled the same to us, their children, in that he raised up Jesus. As it is also written in the second psalm, ‘You are my Son. Today I have become your father.’ 34 “Concerning that he raised him up from the dead, now no more to return to corruption, he has spoken thus: ‘I will give you the holy and sure blessings of David.’ 35 Therefore he says also in another psalm, ‘You will not allow your Holy One to see decay.’ 36 For David, after he had in his own generation served the counsel of God, fell asleep, and was laid with his fathers, and saw decay. 37 But he whom God raised up saw no decay. 38 Be it known to you therefore, brothers, that through this man is proclaimed to you remission 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. 40 Beware therefore, lest that come on you which is spoken in the prophets: 41 ‘Behold, you scoffers, and wonder, and perish; for I work a work in your days, a work which you will in no way believe, if one declares it to you.’” 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 synagogue broke up, many of the Jews and of the devout proselytes followed Paul and Barnabas; who, speaking to them, urged them to continue in the grace of God. 44 The next Sabbath almost the whole city was gathered together to hear the word of God. 45 But when the Jews saw the multitudes, they were filled with jealousy, and contradicted the things which were spoken by Paul, and blasphemed. 46 Paul and Barnabas spoke out boldly, and said, “It was necessary that God’s word should be spoken to you first. Since indeed you thrust it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of eternal life, behold, we turn to the Gentiles. 47 For so has the Lord commanded us, saying, ‘I have set you as a light for the Gentiles, that you should bring salvation to the uttermost parts of the earth.’” 48 As the Gentiles heard this, they were glad, and glorified the word of God. As many as were appointed to eternal life believed. 49 The Lord’s word was spread abroad throughout all the region. 50 But the Jews stirred up the devout and prominent women and the chief men of the city, and stirred up a persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and threw them out of their borders. 51 But they shook off the dust of their feet against them, and came to Iconium. 52 The disciples were filled with joy with the Holy Spirit.

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Questions about today’s reading? See if Matthew Henry can help.
Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary, 1706

Verses 1–3

What an assemblage was here! In these names we see that the Lord raises up instruments for his work, from various places and stations in life; and zeal for his glory induces men to give up flattering connexions and prospects to promote his cause. It is by the Spirit of Christ that his ministers are made both able and willing for his service, and taken from other cares that would hinder in it. Christ’s ministers are to be employed in Christ’s work, and, under the Spirit’s guidance, to act for the glory of God the Father. They are separated to take pains, and not to take state. A blessing upon Barnabas and Saul in their present undertaking was sought for, and that they might be filled with the Holy Ghost in their work. Whatever means are used, or rules observed, the Holy Ghost alone can fit ministers for their important work, and call them to it.

Verses 4–13

Satan is in a special manner busy with great men and men in power, to keep them from being religious, for their example will influence many. Saul is here for the first time called Paul, and never after Saul. Saul was his name as he was a Hebrew; Paul was his name as he was a citizen of Rome. Under the direct influence of the Holy Ghost, he gave Elymas his true character, but not in passion. A fulness of deceit and mischief together, make a man indeed a child of the devil. And those who are enemies to the doctrine of Jesus, are enemies to all righteousness; for in it all righteousness is fulfilled. The ways of the Lord Jesus are the only right ways to heaven and happiness. There are many who not only wander from these ways themselves, but set others against these ways. They commonly are so hardened, that they will not cease to do evil. The proconsul was astonished at the force of the doctrine upon his own heart and conscience, and at the power of God by which it was confirmed. The doctrine of Christ astonishes; and the more we know of it, the more reason we shall see to wonder at it. Those who put their hand to the plough and look back, are not fit for the kingdom of God. Those who are not prepared to face opposition, and to endure hardship, are not fitted for the work of the ministry.

Verses 14–31

When we come together to worship God, we must do it, not only by prayer and praise, but by the reading and hearing of the word of God. The bare reading of the Scriptures in public assemblies is not enough; they should be expounded, and the people exhorted out of them. This is helping people in doing that which is necessary to make the word profitable, to apply it to themselves. Every thing is touched upon in this sermon, which might best prevail with Jews to receive and embrace Christ as the promised Messiah. And every view, however short or faint, of the Lord’s dealings with his church, reminds us of his mercy and long-suffering, and of man’s ingratitude and perverseness. Paul passes from David to the Son of David, and shows that this Jesus is his promised Seed; a Saviour to do that for them, which the judges of old could not do, to save them from their sins, their worst enemies. When the apostles preached Christ as the Saviour, they were so far from concealing his death, that they always preached Christ crucified. Our complete separation from sin, is represented by our being buried with Christ. But he rose again from the dead, and saw no corruption: this was the great truth to be preached.

Verses 32–37

The resurrection of Christ was the great proof of his being the Son of God. It was not possible he should be held by death, because he was the Son of God, and therefore had life in himself, which he could not lay down but with a design to take it again. The sure mercies of David are that everlasting life, of which the resurrection was a sure pledge; and the blessings of redemption in Christ are a certain earnest, even in this world. David was a great blessing to the age wherein he lived. We were not born for ourselves, but there are those living around us, to whom we must study to be serviceable. Yet here is the difference; Christ was to serve all generations. May we look to Him who is declared to be the Son of God by his resurrection from the dead, that by faith in him we may walk with God, and serve our generation according to his will; and when death comes, may we fall asleep in him, with a joyful hope of a blessed resurrection.

Verses 38–41

Let all that hear the gospel of Christ, know these two things: 1. That through this Man, who died and rose again, is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins. Your sins, though many and great, may be forgiven, and they may be so without any injury to God’s honour. 2. It is by Christ only that those who believe in him, and none else, are justified from all things; from all the guilt and stain of sin, from which they could not be justified by the law of Moses. The great concern of convinced sinners is, to be justified, to be acquitted from all their guilt, and accepted as righteous in God’s sight, for if any is left charged upon the sinner, he is undone. By Jesus Christ we obtain a complete justification; for by him a complete atonement was made for sin. We are justified, not only by him as our Judge but by him as the Lord our Righteousness. What the law could not do for us, in that it was weak, the gospel of Christ does. This is the most needful blessing, bringing in every other. The threatenings are warnings; what we are told will come upon impenitent sinners, is designed to awaken us to beware lest it come upon us. It ruins many, that they despise religion. Those that will not wonder and be saved, shall wonder and perish.

Verses 42–52

The Jews opposed the doctrine the apostles preached; and when they could find no objection, they blasphemed Christ and his gospel. Commonly those who begin with contradicting, end with blaspheming. But when adversaries of Christ’s cause are daring, its advocates should be the bolder. And while many judge themselves unworthy of eternal life, others, who appear less likely, desire to hear more of the glad tidings of salvation. This is according to what was foretold in the Old Testament. What light, what power, what a treasure does this gospel bring with it! How excellent are its truths, its precepts, its promises! Those came to Christ whom the Father drew, and to whom the Spirit made the gospel call effectual, Ro 8:30. As many as were disposed to eternal life, as many as had concern about their eternal state, and aimed to make sure of eternal life, believed in Christ, in whom God has treasured up that life, and who is the only Way to it; and it was the grace of God that wrought it in them. It is good to see honourable women devout; the less they have to do in the world, the more they should do for their own souls, and the souls of others: but it is sad, when, under colour of devotion to God, they try to show hatred to Christ. And the more we relish the comforts and encouragements we meet with in the power of godliness, and the fuller our hearts are of them, the better prepared we are to face difficulties in the profession of godliness.

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