Acts 13–14. God Pushes the Church Out. Paul’s First Missionary Journey.
Key Notes: The history of Israel sermon. Strategy of pioneer missions. Concentrating on Asia Minor. A "god" killed and revived. Divine healing.
;Acts 13:1–3 There were five leaders in the Antioch church. Barnabas was from Cyprus, Lucius was from Libya, Simon "Black" from Africa; Saul was from Tarsus and Manaem (Menachem) from Herod's Jerusalem. Two were commissioned during prayer and fasting to go out.
Acts 13:4–12 Saul renamed himself Paul ("Little"). He and Barnabas went to Cyprus and walked the 100 miles of the island, preaching in the cities of Salamis and Paphos. The governor of the island was an interested and intelligent man, and alternately listened to Paul and to an influential sorcerer, a Jewish false prophet named Elymas. Paul denounced the prophet's opposition to the Gospel and put him in physical darkness (to match his spiritual blindness). The governor was persuaded by Paul's message and by his power.
13:13–43 Next they sailed to Perga in Pamphylia (Anatolia, Asia Minor, now Turkey) and went on to Antioch of Pisidia. (Antioch of Syria was their sending church.). They found the synagogue, and as visitors, were invited to speak. Paul preached the "history of Israel" sermon. He emphasized David as the ancestor of Messiah (13:23), and as a prophet of Jesus' resurrection. (13:33–37). But he also said that the Jews had not understood the prophecies and delivered Jesus up to death. (13:27–29). In many ways, his sermon was like Peter's Pentecost sermon. In conclusion, Paul said that Jesus forgives sins and justifies us from all that the Law of Moses does not justify. This is a step beyond Peter's Pentecost sermon since it extends the listener beyond the Law. It brings up the idea of justification for the first time. Paul will make justification a major theme especially in Romans and Galatians.
13:44–52 Paul did not give an invitation at the end of his sermon, but a warning, quoting Hab. 1;5. Warning is a part of invitation: blessing if you come; a curse if you do not. But his message was so enthusiastically received that the following week the synagogue was packed out. Then the Jews began to attack Paul's message and he and Barnabas announced that they were turning to the Gentiles as Isaiah had prophesied. (Isa.49:6). They had to leave, but the disciples were filled with the Holy Spirit and rejoiced in their new faith.
14:1–6 Paul and Barnabas next went to Iconium to the synagogue. There was a great harvest of souls, but controversy again drove them out.
14:7–21 In Lystra, Paul healed a man who was crippled from birth, and the Greeks leaped to the conclusion that the gods had come to visit, Barnabas as Zeus and Paul as Hermes. Since they were using their mother tongue (Lycaonian), Paul and Barnabas did not understand the excitement until they were ushered to the city gate where the priest of Zeus was preparing to offer sacrifice. Then they tore their clothes as a sign of distress and ran into the crowd.
Paul preached a short sermon on the run.
We are men like you.
We bring you good news.
Turn from vain things (false gods).
Turn to the one God who is the creator of all.
In the past God allowed the nations to go their own way.
He left evidence of His benevolence, giving you food and gladness.
This sermon is very different from the sermon he preached to the Jewish community, and the Peter had preached in Jerusalem. It is more apologetic, like Paul's speech at Mars Hill. (Acts17).
Rather soon Jewish provocateurs from Antioch and Iconium turned the crowd around, and they stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, lfeless. We suspect that the disciples gathered around him in prayer. He recovered so completely that he was ready to travel the next day. (A "god" one moment; then “dead” the next; revived and ready to go again a day later.) Paul has amazing stamina and vitality. God had chosen a man with an almost indestructible body as well as a superb mind. They went on to Derbe where many came to Christ.
14:21–25 Retracing their steps through Lystra, Iconium and Antioch, they preached last at Perga--a town they apparently had passed over on their way in. Everywhere they encouraged the disciples, and appointed elders with prayer and fasting. They did not create a disturbance because they were meeting the believers in private. We suppose that they did not appoint elders on their first visit because it takes time before leadership emerges and can be recognized.
14:26–28 On return to Antioch, they reported to the church how God through them had opened a door to the Gentiles. It was a profitable year's work.
•Acts of power were described in special situations:
against Elymas 13:11;
signs and wonders in Iconium 14:3;
healing the lame from birth at Lystra 14:8.
We tend to think that the healing gift, once given, is permanent, like administration, teaching or pastoring. The evidence from Acts is that healing is intermittent,"granted by the Lord" (14:3). Prophecy is also apparently episodic.
* God's strategy is to send the message West, touching each of the large peninsulas in the Mediterranean: 1) Asia Minor, 2) Greece, 3) Italy, 4) Spain, moving north from these bases. Paul will reach all or nearly all these primary regions. The method is to go to the Jews first. They can grasp the message most easily. The method is to preach in the synagogue in the city, then to the god-fearing Jewish proselytes and sympathetic Gentiles. Direct follow-up and establishment of church governance was accompanied by pastoral letters to churches and individuals.
•The Jews opposed the message. "In condemning Christ, they fulfilled the words of the prophets that are read every Sabbath." (13:27). It sounds like Greek tragedy, inexorable fate. The difference between predestination and Greek tragedy is that in God there is hope of salvation.
•"David served God's purposes in his generation." Although David was unique, others serve God's purposes in other generations, including our own, as one pastor was heard to say.
•"All who were ordained to eternal life believed."(13:48). That is "predestination"--Calvinism to some , but note that missionaries were required. William Carey's church leader said "When God wants to save the heathen He can do it by Himself. He does not need you, young man." That is not Calvinism but fatalism. God uses human instruments most of the time.
In the OT sacrifice was required and led to forgiveness and atonement (Lev.4) but the doctrine of justification by faith was largely hidden until Christ came. There were sins not justified by the law of Moses--sinning with a high hand--deliberate intent). Num.15:30
"I will not justify the wicked." Ex.23:7
"In Thy sight shall no man living be justified." Psa.143:2
"Through Him everyone who believes is justified from everything you could not be justified from by the law of Moses." Acts 13:39
•Paul was repeatedly rejected, roughed up, even stoned, but he got up and went on and on and on.
He said, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." Phil.4:13