The Last Chapter  |  The Next Chapter  |  NCB Acts Menu

Acts Chapter 13
An Understandable Version of ACTS
Translation by William E. Paul
Concise PRESENTATION NOTES
by Charles Dailey

(Black underlined words match words in the Bible text.)
  Here is the launch point for formally taking the Gospel of Christ to the rest of the world. Saul is in Antioch of Syria, the church there is composed partly of Gentiles and is supportive to worldwide evangelism. Now begins Part Three of Acts (Acts 1:8).
1) Now in the church at Antioch there were [these] prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Symeon, called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen, the foster-brother of Herod the Tetrarch [i.e., governor of Galilee], and Saul. Prophets spoke from inspiration, teachers spoke from study. Antioch of Syria had its own prophets now. When prophets were mentioned earlier, they had come from Jerusalem.
- Barnabas heads the list, indicating he was the leader.
- Lucius may have been among the men of Acts 11:20.
- Manaen was well-connected with a former official.
- Saul was the newest man on the staff.
2) As these men were ministering to the Lord [i.e., this probably means worshiping] and fasting, the Holy Spirit said [to one of them by way of inspiration]: "Set Barnabas and Saul apart for Me, [commissioning them] to do the work for which I have called them." Their focus and main purpose was serving the Lord, either through prayer or service to God's people.
- Fasting is to enhance prayer. It was not continuous.
- Saul had been selected to evangelize Gentiles some years before in Acts 9:15. His preparation period is now over and the Spirit has designated the starting time.
- The impetus for this great project came directly from the Spirit.
3) Then, as these prophets and teachers fasted and prayed [for the two men], they placed their hands on them [signifying their appointment for this ministry] and sent them away. Those who stayed laid hands on those who left. No power was imparted, so it was symbolic.
- They could have spent the rest of their lives working just in Antioch, but the world would not have been evangelized. God had a church to evangelize Antioch.
 
4) So, as they were sent out by [the direction of] the Holy Spirit, they went down to Seleucia [a seaport], and from there they sailed on to [the island of] Cyprus. The controlling force was the Spirit of God. At other times, men went out after seeing the need as in the case of Philip.
- Seleucia was the deep water port for Antioch.
- Their first target was Cyprus, an island familiar to Barnabas.
5) After arriving at Salamis [a town on the island], they proclaimed the message of God in the Jewish synagogues [there], with John [Mark] attending [to various details of their ministry]. Since synagogues is plural, we assume there was quite a sizeable Jewish population. The team used the same priorities at each stop: "To the Jew first . . . " They began with the Jewish community if there was one.
- John Mark, who later wrote the Gospel of Mark. He must have returned with them from Jerusalem. He may have handled baggage, food, clothing and housing.
 
6) When they had traveled across the whole island they came to Paphos [a town on the island of Cyprus]; [there] they met a certain magician named Bar-Jesus, who was a Jewish false prophet. The team must have taken some weeks on Cyprus because there were several synagogues. Eventually they reached the Roman capital of Paphos.
- His name meant Son of Jesus but in verse 10, Paul calls him son of the Devil.
- He probably espoused monotheism, but with his own twist.
7) He was with a very intelligent magistrate, [a Roman official named] Sergius Paulus. This man called for Barnabas and Saul because he wanted to hear the message of God. Luke has a good word for Sergius Paulus. Remember he is writing to a Roman official, as well.
- News of the message of Christ was sweeping Cyprus.
- Magistrates or proconsuls ruled in peaceful areas of the Roman Empire. Troublesome areas had governors.
- Wanting to hear the message of God may indicate that Sergius Paulus was monotheistic, either because of Bar-Jesus or his own native intelligence.
8) But [another] magician, named Elymas (which means "the magician") opposed them, trying to discourage the magistrate from hearing about the faith. Elymas could see his control of Sergius Paulus slipping if he heard about faith in Jesus.
9) But Saul, [now] also called Paul, being filled with [the power of] the Holy Spirit, looked at him intently This is the permanent transition from "Saul" to "Paul." He was now empowered by the Holy Spirit. The event had probably happened before this time, but that was Paul's source of power.
10) and said, "You child of the devil; you enemy of all that is right; you are full of deceit and every kind of evil [thing]. When will you stop perverting the right ways of the Lord? Here is confrontation's finest moment. This man was a false prophet and Paul was not conciliatory. While this man taught something about the Lord, he was a child of the devil.
- Deceit and more are the charges against Elymas.
11) Now look, the power of the Lord is coming on you to cause [such] blindness that you will not [even] be able to see the sun for awhile." And immediately a misty darkness fell on him and he kept trying to find people to lead him [around] by the hand. This may be the only destructive use of the Holy Spirit's power by an apostle. (Ananias was struck directly from God.)
- Paul had experienced temporary blindness himself.
- Apparently he did not have friends in the group, for there was no one to lead him.
12) When the magistrate saw this miracle performed, he became a believer [in Christ] and was [continually] amazed at the teaching about the Lord. The miracle was evidence to Sergius Paulus.
- This Roman official became a believer. Theophilus could not help but be impressed (1:1).
 
13) Now Paul and his companions sailed from Paphos and arrived at Perga [a town in the province] of Pamphylia. [It was here that] John Mark left the party [of evangelists and attendants] and returned to [his home in] Jerusalem. [See 12:12]. Paul is now the team leader and the focus of Luke's narrative. Paul and Luke were working companions by the time these lines were actually penned.
- The companions included Barnabas and John Mark. Some have conjectured that others may have accompanied the team for short distances.
- The defection of John Mark was not acceptable to Paul at this time or later. Acts 15:37-38.
14) Then they traveled on past Perga and arrived at Antioch in Pisidia where they entered the [Jewish] synagogue on the Sabbath day and sat down. Perga was the provincial capital.
- Antioch was about 100 miles further.
- This verse is sometimes cited to prove that Paul and his companions were Sabbath keepers. Rather, they went to the synagogue on the day the synagogue assembled.
15) And after the reading of the law of Moses and [the writings of] the prophets, the rulers of the synagogue sent [word] to Paul and Barnabas, saying, "Brothers, if you [men] have any message that will exhort [or encourage] the people, you may speak." Standard practice was to read portions of the Law and the Prophets in the synagogue assembly. The Scriptures should be read in the Christian assembly, too. Colossians 4:16;1 Thess. 5:7; 1 Timothy 4:13.
- The evangelistic team may have been dressed in Jewish regalia, indicating they were from Jerusalem.
 
16) So, Paul stood up, and motioning with his hand [to get their attention], he said, "You Israelites and those who have great respect for God, listen [to me]. Luke records Paul's first sermon in detail. We will show the outline.
 
- The non-Jews -- Gentiles -- sat in back.
17) The God of Israel chose our forefathers [to be His people] and made them a great people when they lived in Egypt, and with His mighty power He led them out of it. GOD HAD:
1. Chosen our fathers. Gen. 12:1-3.
2. Prospered them. Ex. 1:7-9
3. Led them from Egypt. Deut. 4:20
18) For about forty years He tenderly cared for them in the wilderness. 4. Cared for them. Ex.16:35; Deut. 1:31.
19) And then He destroyed seven nations in the country of Canaan and gave the Israelites the land as an inheritance for about four hundred and fifty years. 5. Overthrown their enemies. Deut. 7:1; Jos. 24:11.
6. Given them Canaan. Jos. 14:1
 
20) "After that He gave the people judges [i.e., local military rulers] until the time of Samuel the [first] prophet. [See 3:24]. 7. Given them judges. Judges 2:16
8. Given them prophets. 1 Sam. 3:20.
21) And after that the people asked for a king [to rule their nation] so God gave them Saul, the son of Kish, from the [Israelite] tribe of Benjamin, who ruled as king for forty years.
  9. Given them Saul as king. 1 Sam. 15:1; Josephus Antiquities 6.14.9.
22) And when God removed him [from the throne of Israel] He raised up David to be their king. God said about him, 'I have found David, the son of Jesse, to be a man close to my heart [i.e., whom I loved very much] and he will do all that I want him to.' 10. Replaced Saul with David. 1 Sam. 15.23; 1 Sam. 16:1.
 
11. Endorsed David. - This is a composite from several Scriptures rather than a direct quote from any one of them. Psalm 89:20; 1 Sam. 13:14;
 
23) [Now] it was this David's descendant Jesus who was sent to Israel as their Savior, just as God had promised. David's descendant: 2 Samuel 7:12; Ps. 89:35-37.
24) His coming occurred after John [the Immerser] had preached to Israel that those who repented should be immersed [as evidence that they had done so]. 12. Brought a Savior to Israel from David's line.
 
- John's preaching: Matthew 3:1-11.
25) As John was completing his ministry he said [to the great crowds], 'Who do you people think I am? [No], I am not the Messiah. But look, Someone is coming [to Israel] after [I complete] my mission whose sandal straps I am not even worthy to unfasten.' 13. He sent John recently.
- Mark 6:16-26 discusses the end of John's ministry.
- This was not a direct quotation from a written gospel because none had yet been written. Similar wording is found at Matt. 3:11; Mark 1:7; Luke 3:15 and John 1:20-27.

14. John endorsed Jesus.
 
26) "You brothers, descendants of Abraham's family and those of you who respect God very much, this message of salvation was intended for us. See 13:17 for the background.
 
- God has sent this message of salvation for all of us.
27) For the people living in Jerusalem, together with their ruling officials, did not understand [that Jesus was the Messiah] or what the message of the prophets, which is read every Sabbath day, really meant. So, [because of this] they [actually] made these Scripture predictions come true by condemning Jesus. The rulers in Jerusalem did not understand the message from the Scriptures.
 
 
- The rulers fulfilled the prophecies and made Jesus suffer as predicted in such passages as Isaiah 53.
28) They asked Pilate to have Him put to death, even though they could not find any [legitimate] reason to execute Him. There is a proper place for a death sentence.
- This may have been new information because the gospel was spreading only by word of mouth at this point in time.
29) And when they had done everything that was predicted about Him, they took Jesus down from the tree [i.e., the cross] and placed Him in a tomb. Predicted in the Scriptures (The Old Testament.)
30) But God raised Him up from the dead Paul has reached the central issue of his sermon - the resurrection.
31) so that He was seen for many days by those [apostles] who came with Him from Galilee to Jerusalem. These men are now His witnesses before the people. The evidence: Jesus was seen by his disciples following the resurrection and they are telling of it now.
- witnesses: Acts 1:8 and related Scripture.
32) And we bring you good news concerning the promise [God] made to our forefathers Promises like Genesis 12:3.
33) and has now fulfilled to [us], their children, in raising up Jesus [to be the Messiah], just as it was written in the second Psalm [2:7]: "You [i.e., Jesus] are my Son; this day I have become Your Father." Psalm two is one of just two places in the Old Testament that uses the word Messiah.
- raising up Jesus. It could be used in the sense of Acts 3:22 where a prophet is to be "raised up" like Moses. It could also be that Jesus was a Son of God in two senses. He was born of Mary, making him the Son of God and later adopted by the Father as well. Kings sometimes adopted their own son so there could be no question about who was heir to the throne. The Father-son relationship is spoken of this way in 2 Samuel 7:14.
34) [Now] in regard to God raising Him up from the dead, never to decay, He said this about it [Isa. 55:3], "I will give you the sacred and certain blessings promised to David." Promises were made to David that were not fulfilled in King David. These actually found fulfillment in Jesus.
- Paul quotes from Isaiah, but condensed the verse.
35) God said in another Psalm [16:10], "You will not allow your Holy One to decay." Another Psalm foretold his Resurrection.
- Peter had also used this verse in his sermon in Acts 2, but Paul had not been there to hear it.
36) For David died and was buried with his forefathers and [his body] decayed after he had served his generation according to the purpose of God. The Psalm did not fit King David. It was predictive of the coming Jesus.
37) But Jesus, whom God raised up [from the dead], never did decay.
 
38) "Brothers, you should know, therefore, that forgiveness of sins is being proclaimed [to people] through this man [Jesus], Conclusion: Forgiveness of sins is available to all believers, giving us right standing with God.
39) and [it is] by Him that every believer is made right with God in every way that he could not have been made right by [observing the requirements of] the law of Moses. The key is believing, not keeping the Law of Moses.
40) Beware that what was spoken by the prophets does not happen to you: There is a very certain punishment in ignoring the prophets.
41) [Hab. 1:5 says], "Look, you people who despise [God], and be amazed [at what He can do] and be destroyed [for rejecting Him]; for I [i.e., God] will accomplish such a work during your days that you will not believe [it could happen, even] if someone told you about it." Habakkuk 1:5 in the LXX.
 
- This was the language of a near-term prophecy in the time of Habakkuk, but the language fits Paul's time (and our time) just as forcefully.
 
42) As Paul and Barnabas left [the synagogue], the people urged them to speak [more] about this message the next Sabbath day. The preachers left before the service was over.
 
- "Come back and speak next week."
43) Now when the synagogue service was over, many of the Jews and devoted proselytes [i.e., converts to the Jewish religion] followed Paul and Barnabas, who urged them to continue accepting the unearned favor of God. These people wanted to know more and we can safely assume that Paul and Barnabas were busy answering questions and urging action all week long.
 
44) On the following Sabbath day almost everyone in the town [of Antioch in Pisidia] gathered to listen to the message of God. The talk was in the market place and on the roadways and housetops. This message was new and basic to living.
45) But when the Jews saw the large crowds [gathered to hear the Gospel] they became very jealous and took sharp issue with the things Paul said, and [even] spoke against them. All of the visitors were Gentiles, and not even the regular Gentiles that worshiped in the synagogue. There must have been people standing outside.
 
- Since Paul spoke by inspiration, the Jews were speaking directly against the Holy Spirit.
46) But Paul and Barnabas [continued to] speak out boldly, saying, "It was necessary that the message of God be delivered to you [Jews] first. But since you have rejected it and [thereby] consider yourselves to be unworthy of [receiving] never ending life, we [i.e., Paul and Barnabas] will now begin proclaiming it to the [unconverted] Gentiles. No apologies here. Both men spoke boldly. Remember that Paul had been noted for bold speaking following his conversion in Acts 9:27.
 
- The rule is: "To the Jew first, and also to the Greek"
 
- They had made a decision by default: they were unworthy of eternal life.
- "We will go to the pagan Gentiles and Scripture backs us."
47) For the Lord commanded us to do this by saying, 'I have appointed you to be a light to the [unconverted] Gentiles, so that you should be [the occasion] for [bringing] salvation to the farthest corner of the earth.'" The Lord here is Jehovah.
 
- The passage is from Isaiah 49:6. It is closer to the Hebrew than the Greek LXX text.
- Paul sees in the Servant passage from Isaiah a command to be a herald of the Servant and take the message to the farthest corner of the earth.
48) And when the Gentiles heard this they were glad and gave honor to the message of God [i.e., they accepted it as true]. And all those who were appointed [by God] to receive never ending life [through faith and obedience] became believers. Some of the Gentiles left their paganism and became believers. Through their own choice, they received eternal life, but they did it in the way that God had appointed. By contrast, some of the Jews had rejected eternal life in vs. 46.
 
49) And the Lord's message was spread far and wide over the entire region. God's strategy was to have the message preached in the main cities of a region and then let it filter out to the smaller villages. By contrast, Oregon was evangelized in the rural areas first and it took 33 years before a church of "Christians only" was established in Portland, the largest city.
50) But the Jews incited the devoted [non-Jewish] women who held respected positions, and the principal men of the city, by stirring up a persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and [succeeded] in running them out of the region. The devoted women attended the synagogue and may have influenced the principal men. These women were God-fearing, but were misled by the jealous Jewish men.
- Whatever happened to Paul at this time impressed him deeply because he spoke of it years later. 2 Timothy 3:11.
51) But they shook the dust off of their feet against them [i.e., as an expression of contempt for the people's attitude] and went on to Iconium. The custom of shaking dust from one's feet or sandals is not explained in the Old Testament, but it would have been clearly understood by a Jewish observer. Jesus spoke of this in Luke 9:5, but the gospels were not written yet. These preachers were through with preaching to unreceptive people at Antioch.
52) But the [newly won] disciples [of the Lord] were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit. Joy naturally follows forgiveness. Acts 8:8, 39; 13:48; 16:34. They had a measure of the Spirit to accompany the measure of joy.

The Next Chapter