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Acts 13:14-52 – Paul Preaches at the Synagogue in Pisidian Antioch

Summary

Paul is invited to speak when he and his companions attend a synagogue in Pisidian Antioch. His speech, which cites Scripture to support Christian conviction that Jesus is God's Messiah, creates much excitement and interest but also division in the community.

Analysis

In Acts 13:9 Saul becomes known as Paul and assumes his role as a leader and evangelist for Jesus Christ. In Antioch of Pisidia he and his companions go to a synagogue and are invited to address the local worshipers. Paul delivers a speech that is a brief general review of the history of God with God's people. His speech is brilliantly designed for the context of its delivery. He identifies the people in the synagogue as God's people, designated to receive God's promises. He identifies Jesus as the descendent of David and the one who would receive "the holy promises made to David" (v. 34).

Paul's speech is a great success, emphasizing the continuity of God's promises and the reliability of Scripture. In fact, the success of the speech is the undoing of continued mission activity. So many respond, Jews and devout Gentiles, that some other Jews become jealous and collude with local leaders to drive Paul and Barnabas away. In v. 47, Paul and Barnabas quote from Isaiah 49:6, words also said by Simeon in Luke 2:32. Paul and Barnabas speak these words, concerning the call of the Jews to be a "light for the Gentiles," and apply them directly to themselves. They insist that they will go henceforth to the Gentiles, although this is not the way Acts works out. This passage, however, sets the stage dramatically for the success of the mission to Gentiles.

Acts 13:14-52

14but they went on from Perga and came to Antioch in Pisidia. And on the sabbath day they went into the synagogue and sat down. 15After the reading of the law and the prophets, the officials of the synagogue sent them a message, saying, ‘Brothers, if you have any word of exhortation for the people, give it.’ 16So Paul stood up and with a gesture began to speak:

‘You Israelites,* and others who fear God, listen. 17The God of this people Israel chose our ancestors and made the people great during their stay in the land of Egypt, and with uplifted arm he led them out of it. 18For about forty years he put up with* them in the wilderness. 19After he had destroyed seven nations in the land of Canaan, he gave them their land as an inheritance 20for about four hundred and fifty years. After that he gave them judges until the time of the prophet Samuel. 21Then they asked for a king; and God gave them Saul son of Kish, a man of the tribe of Benjamin, who reigned for forty years. 22When he had removed him, he made David their king. In his testimony about him he said, “I have found David, son of Jesse, to be a man after my heart, who will carry out all my wishes.” 23Of this man’s posterity God has brought to Israel a Saviour, Jesus, as he promised; 24before his coming John had already proclaimed a baptism of repentance to all the people of Israel. 25And as John was finishing his work, he said, “What do you suppose that I am? I am not he. No, but one is coming after me; I am not worthy to untie the thong of the sandals* on his feet.”

26 ‘My brothers, you descendants of Abraham’s family, and others who fear God, to us* the message of this salvation has been sent. 27Because the residents of Jerusalem and their leaders did not recognize him or understand the words of the prophets that are read every sabbath, they fulfilled those words by condemning him. 28Even though they found no cause for a sentence of death, they asked Pilate to have him killed. 29When they had carried out everything that was written about him, they took him down from the tree and laid him in a tomb. 30But God raised him from the dead; 31and for many days he appeared to those who came up with him from Galilee to Jerusalem, and they are now his witnesses to the people. 32And we bring you the good news that what God promised to our ancestors 33he has fulfilled for us, their children, by raising Jesus; as also it is written in the second psalm,
“You are my Son;
   today I have begotten you.”
34As to his raising him from the dead, no more to return to corruption, he has spoken in this way,
“I will give you the holy promises made to David.”
35Therefore he has also said in another psalm,
“You will not let your Holy One experience corruption.”
36For David, after he had served the purpose of God in his own generation, died,* was laid beside his ancestors, and experienced corruption; 37but he whom God raised up experienced no corruption. 38Let it be known to you therefore, my brothers, that through this man forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you; 39by this Jesus* everyone who believes is set free from all those sins* from which you could not be freed by the law of Moses. 40Beware, therefore, that what the prophets said does not happen to you:
41 “Look, you scoffers!
   Be amazed and perish,
for in your days I am doing a work,
   a work that you will never believe, even if someone tells you.”

42 As Paul and Barnabas* were going out, the people urged them to speak about these things again the next sabbath. 43When the meeting of the synagogue broke up, many Jews and devout converts to Judaism followed Paul and Barnabas, who spoke to them and urged them to continue in the grace of God.

44 The next sabbath almost the whole city gathered to hear the word of the Lord.* 45But when the Jews saw the crowds, they were filled with jealousy; and blaspheming, they contradicted what was spoken by Paul. 46Then both Paul and Barnabas spoke out boldly, saying, ‘It was necessary that the word of God should be spoken first to you. Since you reject it and judge yourselves to be unworthy of eternal life, we are now turning to the Gentiles. 47For so the Lord has commanded us, saying,
“I have set you to be a light for the Gentiles,
   so that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.”

48 When the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and praised the word of the Lord; and as many as had been destined for eternal life became believers. 49Thus the word of the Lord spread throughout the region. 50But the Jews incited the devout women of high standing and the leading men of the city, and stirred up persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and drove them out of their region. 51So they shook the dust off their feet in protest against them, and went to Iconium. 52And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.

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10 February 2011

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