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Jesus Fish 3

Acts: Chapter 13

Written By: Steve Shirley

     Let’s begin by reading (Acts 13:1-12).

     (Verse 1) “Now there were in the church that was at Antioch certain prophets and teachers; as Barnabas, and Simeon that was called Niger, and Lucius of Cyrene, and Manaen, which had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul.”

     “Barnabas” – First mentioned in (Acts 4:36), Barnabas is mentioned by name 24 times in Acts, and 5 more times in 3 other books. We learned in (Acts 4:36) that he was from Cyprus, a Levite (descended from the priestly tribe of Levi), and that his actual name was not “Barnabas,” but rather Joseph (“Joses”). However, he was given the name Barnabas by the apostles, because it means “son of encouragement” (“consolation”). Nearly every time he is mentioned in the New Testament, it is in connection with Paul.

     “Simeon that was called Niger” – We know nothing about Simeon. “Niger” means “black,” therefore, he may have been of African descent. Some believe he was the “Simeon” mentioned in (Mk 15:21), who was forced to carry the cross of Jesus, however, there is no “clear” evidence for this. (Simeon was a common name in Bible times.)

     “Lucius of Cyrene” – (name means “luminous”) We know nothing about Lucius. He very well could have been one of the men mentioned in (Acts 11:20)(NKJV): “But some of them were men from Cyprus and Cyrene, who when they had come to Antioch, spoke to the Hellenists, preaching the Lord Jesus.” (He is likely not the same “Lucius” mentioned in Rom 16:21.)

     “Manaen, which had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch” – Most scholars believe that “brought up with” means that Manaen was the “foster-brother” of Herod. The “Herod” spoken of here is “Herod Antipas,” who as we said in the last chapter was the king who ordered that John the Baptist be “beheaded” (Mt 14:3-13)(Mk 6:14-29), and later tried Jesus (Lk 23:7-12). Therefore, Manaen would have grown up in the home of Herod the Great (the king who ordered all Israelite children 2 and under to be killed in seeking to destroy the child Jesus [Mt Ch. 2].)

***Note: The name “Manaen” is the same as the Old Testament (Hebrew) name of “Menahem.” “Menahem” was the 16th king of Israel, who ruled for 10 years (mentioned in 2 Kin 15:13-22).

     “Saul” – It is interesting to note here that Saul (Paul) is last in this list.


     (Verses 2-3)(NKJV) “As they ministered to the Lord and fasted, the Holy Spirit said, “Now separate to Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” (3) Then, having fasted and prayed, and laid hands on them, they sent them away.”

     “ministered” – The Greek word “leitourgeo” is used for “ministered” here. “Basically, this word means to serve at one’s own expense; free service, nothing expected in return. The service is the focus and then the office” (Strong’s Concordance).

     “the Holy Spirit said” – This is one of a number of places in the New Testament where the Holy Spirit is “speaking” (also see: Lk 2:25-27, Acts 8:29, Acts 10:19, Acts 11:28, Acts 16:6-7 Acts 20:22-23, Rev 14:13). (Some believe the Holy Spirit “spoke” through the “prophets” of verse 1.)

     “fasted” –  Fasting is the voluntary decision to set aside food (and sometimes drink) for a period of time to draw closer to God. It is a time for fervent prayer, and sincere and heartfelt repentance and contrition for sin. Fasting shows our weakness and total dependence on God, and it teaches us self-discipline. The Bible is filled with places where God responded mightily to people humbling themselves and fasting. If you are seeking God for answers, power, or forgiveness, you should truly consider fasting. You can find more on fasting, and examples of it in the Bible here:

     “laid hands on them” – “Laying hands” upon a person was done for several reasons in the Bible. Often though, and in this case, it was done to set apart or commission a person for special service for God (see: Num 27:15-23, Deut 34:9, Acts 6:6, 1 Tim 4:14, 1 Tim 5:22). (Other reasons for “laying hands on people” can be found here:

     “sent them away” – “More literally, “they let them go” or “set them free” for the work” (Believer’s Bible Commentary).


***NOTE: Beginning here, and going until (Acts 14:28) is Paul’s first missionary journey (from 46-48 A.D.). (Most Bibles have maps of Paul’s 3 missionary journeys, often found in the back.)

     From the “Life Application Bible:” “Why did Paul and Barnabas go where they did?

(1) The Holy Spirit led them.

(2) They followed the communication routes of the Roman Empire – this made travel easier.

(3) They visited key population and cultural centers to reach as many people as possible.

(4) They went to cities with synagogues, speaking first to the Jews in hopes that they would see Jesus as the Messiah and help spread the Good News to everyone.


     (Verse 4) “So they, being sent forth by the Holy Ghost, departed unto Seleucia; and from thence they sailed to Cyprus.”

     “Seleucia” – Built by Seleucus I around 305 B.C., it was about 16 miles to the west of Antioch, and it served as its key seaport. Because of its location near the mouth of the Orontes River, it was a key trade route. Today, it is called Magaracik, and is located in Turkey.

     “Cyprus” – Cyprus is mentioned by name in the New Testament only in the book of Acts (8 times). It was a large island (about 140 miles long, and 60 miles wide [at its greatest width]), located in the northeast Mediterranean Sea. It was the home of Barnabas (Acts 4:36), and had a large Jewish population.


     (Verse 5) “And when they were at Salamis, they preached the word of God in the synagogues of the Jews: and they had also John to their minister (NASB – “as their helper, ” NKJV – “as their assistant”).”

     “Salamis” – Located on the east coast of Cyprus, it was the islands largest city, and chief port. It was a large commerce center, and as we see in this verse, it had a number of synagogues, due to its large Jewish population.

     “in the synagogues” – As we see over and over in Acts, when Paul enters a new city, he usually heads first to the Jewish synagogues (verses 5,14)(Acts 14:1)(Acts 17:1-3,10,17)(Acts 18:4,19)(Acts 19:8). As a Jew, Paul had a great love for the Jews, and a strong desire to see them to be saved (Rom 9:1-5)(Rom 10:1). As we see in (verse 46), Paul is continuing a previous tradition of taking the Gospel “to the Jews first.”

     “John to their minister” – This was “John Mark.” As we mentioned in the previous chapter, his mother was named Mary (Acts 12:12), he was the “cousin” of Barnabas, Peter called him “my son” (1 Pet 5:15), and he was the author of the Gospel of Mark.

     The Greek word for “minister” is “hupertes,” defined by Strong’s as: “any subordinate acting under another’s direction.” It is unclear what Mark did in his “ministry” role. Some believe he may have helped disciple those who Barnabas and Paul led to the Lord.


     (Verses 6-8)(NKJV) “Now 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, an intelligent man. This man called for Barnabas and Saul and sought to hear the word of God. (8) But Elymas the sorcerer (for so his name is translated) withstood them, seeking to turn the proconsul away from the faith.”

      “Paphos” – Located on the west side of Cyprus, it was the capital of the island (just over 100 miles from Salamis). “Unger’s Bible Dictionary” says “it was famous for the worship of Venus (Aphrodite), whose great temple was at “Old Paphos.”

     “a certain sorcerer, a false prophet, Bar-Jesus” – “Sorcery” is “the use of power gained from the assistance or control of evil spirits esp. for divining: necromancy.” It is condemned over and over in the Bible (Deut 18:10)(Mic 5:12)(Mal 3:5)(Gal 5:20)(Rev 9:21)(Rev 21:8). Not only was Bar-Jesus a sorcerer, but a “false prophet.” Jesus gave warnings about “false prophets” in (Mt 7:15-16,21-23)(Mt 24:11,24), and a “false prophet” was to be killed (Deut 13:1-5)(Deut 18:20-22). (More on “false prophets here:

     “Bar-Jesus” means “son of Jesus or Joshua.” The meaning of “Elymas” is unclear. MacArthur says it is “the Gr. name of Bar-Jesus, a transliteration of the Arab. word for magician.” Several others say it means “wise-man.”

     “the proconsul, Sergius Paulus” – “Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown Commentary” says this about the name “proconsul:” “This name was reserved for the governors of settled provinces, which were placed under the Roman Senate, and is never given in the New Testament to Pilate, Felix, or Festus, who were but procurators, or subordinate administrators of unsettled, imperial, military provinces.”

     In other words, “Sergius Paulus” was a Roman official who was the governor (“proconsul”) of Cyprus (Acts 18:12 says Gallio was the “proconsul” of Achaia). Several sources (i.e. Wikipedia, Zondervan NIV Study Bible) mention that an inscription bearing his name can still be seen today in Cyprus.

***Note: As a Jew, “Bar-Jesus / Elymas” would have stood against anyone who talked about Jesus. However, as an advisor to Sergius Paulus, he also certainly knew that if the proconsul became a Christian, he would lose his position / job.


     (Verses 9-11)(NKJV) “Then Saul, who also is called Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked intently at him (10) and said, “O full of all deceit and all fraud, you son of the devil, you enemy of all righteousness, will you not cease perverting the straight ways of the Lord? (11) And now, indeed, the hand of the Lord is upon you, and you shall be blind, not seeing the sun for a time.” And immediately a dark mist fell on him, and he went around seeking someone to lead him by the hand.”

     “Saul, who is also called Paul” – Here, for the first time in the New Testament, we see Saul being called by his Roman name “Paul” (meaning “little”), instead of his Hebrew name “Saul” (meaning “asked for”). Luke likely did this to signal the start of his ministry to the Romans (Gentiles). This is the last time the name “Saul” will be used for Paul. In addition, Paul begins to be listed in front of Barnabas in some verses (verses 43,46,50)(Acts 15:2,22,35).

***Note: An apocryphal book called “The Acts of Paul and Thecla” says that Paul was: “a man little of stature, thin haired upon the head, crooked in the legs, of good state of body, with eyebrows joining, and nose somewhat hooked, full of grace, sometimes he appeared like a man, and sometimes he had the face of an angel.”

***Note: Keep in mind that the words in (verses 10-11) come after Paul is “filled with the Holy Spirit.”

     “you son of the devil” – Clearly, Bar-Jesus / Elymas was being controlled by Satan, and likely was demon-possessed.

     “the hand of the Lord” – As we mentioned in (Acts 11:21), this term is used in a number of places in the Bible. It is used in reference to “judgment” (Ex 9:3)(Deut 2:15)(Josh 4:24)(Judg 2:15)(1 Sam 5:6,9)(1 Sam 7:13), and in reference to “blessing” (1 Kin 18:46)(2 Kin 3:15)(Ezra 7:6,9,28)(Ezra 8:18)(Neh 2:8,18)(Lk 1:66). Here, it is obviously used to speak of “judgment.”

     The “Believer’s Bible Commentary” adds this parallel: “Elymas might be taken as a picture of the nation of Israel, not only unwilling to accept the Lord Jesus, but seeking to prevent others from doing so as well. As a result, Israel has been judicially blinded by God, but only for a time. Eventually a repentant remnant of the nation will turn to Jesus as Messiah and be converted.”

     “went around seeking someone to lead him” – It sounds to me like this man immediately went from respected advisor of the proconsul, to someone who had no friends.


     (Verse 12)(NKJV) “Then the proconsul believed, when he saw what had been done, being astonished at the teaching of the Lord.”

     After “hearing the Word of God” from Barnabas and Saul (verses 7-8), Sergius Paulus combined that with the miracle of the sudden blindness of Elymas, and became a “believer.”

     This is the first convert during Paul’s first missionary journey, and the first mention in the New Testament of a “ruler” becoming a Christian.


     Next, let’s read (Acts 13:13-25). 

     (Verse 13)(NASB) “Now Paul and his companions put out to sea from Paphos and came to Perga in Pamphylia; but John left them and returned to Jerusalem.”

     “Perga in Pamphylia” – Located in southern Asia Minor, Perga was the capital of Pamphylia. It was just under 200 miles north of the island of Cyprus by way of the Mediterranean Sea.

     “John left them and returned to Jerusalem” – Why “John Mark” left Paul and Barnabas is unclear. Any guesses as to why he left?


     We do know that this upset Paul, and later caused a rift between Paul and Barnabas over whether or not to take him on Paul’s second missionary trip (Acts 15:37-41). Paul refused to do so, therefore, Barnabas took Mark, and went one direction, and Paul took Silas, and went another direction. Years later though, Paul speaks of Mark in favorable terms (Col 4:10)(Phile 1:24)(2 Tim 4:11).


     (Verses 14-15) “But when they departed from Perga, they came to Antioch in Pisidia, and went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and sat down. (15) And after the reading of the law and the prophets, the rulers of the synagogue sent unto them, saying, Ye men and brethren, if ye have any word of exhortation for the people, say on.

***Note: It appears that Paul and Barnabas spent no time in Perga. There are several guesses as to why. One theory states that Paul contracted malaria when he arrived at Perga (which had a warm climate), so he climbed to the higher levels of Antioch in Pisidia (3600 ft above sea level, which had a cooler climate) to recover. Some believe this was Paul’s “thorn in the flesh.” (I don’t:

     “Antioch in Pisidia” – A city in Asia Minor, north of Perga (about 100 miles away), located in the mountains (3600 ft above sea level). It had a large Jewish population, and was a thriving commerce center.

     “after the reading of the law and the prophets” – (From the “Life Application Bible”): “What happened in a synagogue service? First the Shema was recited (see Numbers 15:37-41; Deuteronomy 6:4-9, 11:13-21). Certain prayers were given; then there was a reading from the Law (the books of Genesis through Deuteronomy), a reading from the Prophets intending to illustrate the Law, and a sermon. The synagogue leader decided who was to lead the service and give the sermon. A different person was chosen to lead each week.”

     “Gill’s Exposition of the Bible” also adds this interesting note: “The five books of Moses, which are meant by the law, were divided into sections: Genesis was divided into twelve, Exodus into eleven, Leviticus into ten, Numbers into ten, and Deuteronomy into ten, which in all make fifty three sections: and so by reading one on each sabbath, and two on one day, they read through the whole law in the course of a year, and which they finished at the close of the feast of tabernacles; and that day was called “the rejoicing of the law”; it was a day of rejoicing, that the law was read through.”

     “if ye have any word of exhortation for the people, say on” – Occasionally, the “rulers of the synagogue” would invite some men in the gathering to share a “word of exhortation.” The leaders certainly would have known that Paul and Barnabas were visitors to the gathering, however, since it seems unlikely that they would invite just anyone to “share a word,” they likely had some previous knowledge that they were “teachers.”


     (Verse 16) “Then Paul stood up, and beckoning with his hand said, Men of Israel, and ye that fear God, give audience.”

     Paul took advantage of the offer given to him by the “rulers of the synagogue” to speak. In the following verses (just as Stephen did in Acts Ch. 7), he shares the Gospel by laying out Jewish history and prophecy which points to Jesus. “Men of Isreal” were Jews, “ye that fear God” were Jewish proselytes: “Gentiles who worshipped the God of the Jews and accepted the demands of the law” (Liberty Bible Commentary).


*** NOTE: For the sake of time and space, we will not “fully” exposit each of the verses from 17-41 where Paul speaks.

     (Verse 17) “The God of this people of Israel chose our fathers, and exalted the people when they dwelt as strangers in the land of Egypt, and with an high (uplifted or outstretched) arm brought he them out of it.”

     Out of all of the nations on earth, God made Israel His chosen people (Deut 7:6)(Deut 4:20)(Ex 6:7)(Ex 19:5-6)(Isa 43:21)(Amos 3:3). A “high / uplifted / outstretched arm” (Gr: “natah“) is used over and over in the Old Testament to speak of God’s unlimited power to do something (i.e. Ex 6:6, Deut 5:15, Deut 7:19, Deut 11:2, Jer 27:5, Ezek 20:33-34).


     (Verse 18)(NASB) “For a period of about forty years He put up with them in the wilderness.”

     From the “Believer’s Bible Commentary:” “The verb translated put up with, while it means just that by its usage, is derived from a word that may suggest a more positive note, namely, taking care of somebody’s needs. This the Lord did for Israel in spite of all of their complaining.”


     (Verse 19)(NKJV) “And when He had destroyed seven nations in the land of Canaan, He distributed their land to them by allotment.”

     These “seven nations” are listed in (Deut 7:1): “When the LORD thy God shall bring thee into the land whither thou goest to possess it, and hath cast out many nations before thee, the Hittites, and the Girgashites, and the Amorites, and the Canaanites, and the Perizzites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites, seven nations greater and mightier than thou” (Also see: Josh 3:10)

     “by allotment” Most scholars state that the better MSS (manuscripts) say this is better translated as: “he gave as an inheritance.” This land was the “Promised Land.”


     (Verse 20) “And after that he gave unto them judges about the space of four hundred and fifty years, until Samuel the prophet.”

     A list of these 15 judges can be found here:

***Note: There is MUCH debate about how Paul arrives at the number of “450 years” (i.e. see 1 Kin 6:1). We are not going to get into the different theories here, however, I urge you to study this sometime. It is interesting!


     (Verses 21-22)(NKJV) “And afterward they asked for a king; so God gave them Saul the son of Kish, a man of the tribe of Benjamin, for forty years. (22) And when He had removed him, He raised up for them David as king, to whom also He gave testimony and said, ‘I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after My own heart, who will do all My will.’ “

     After the “judges,” the Israelites decided that they wanted a king to rule over them like all of the other nations (see: 1 Sam Ch. 8). (In doing this, they were rejecting God as their “king:” 1 Sam 8:7, 1 Sam 10:19, 1 Sam 12:17-19.) God appointed Saul to be this king (see: 1 Sam Ch. 9 & 10). We are not told in the Old Testament how long Saul reigned, but we learn here that it was “40 years.” (Josephus confirms this in Antiquities 6.14.9.)

     Saul had a pattern of “unrepentant” sin against the Lord while he was king i.e. (1 Sam 13:8-15)(1 Sam 14:24-46)(1 Sam 15:1-35)(1 Sam 22:9-19)(1 Sam 28:3-25). As a result of this, God “removed” Saul as king, and “raised up” David to replace him. David receives what I consider to be one of the greatest compliments that God can say about a person: “a man after my own heart” (taken from 1 Sam 13:14). May we ALL strive to have God say this about us!

     Considering that David committed several very serious sins against God i.e. (adultery – 2 Sam 11:1-5), (murder – 2 Sam 11:14-17, 2 Sam 12:9), (pride [resulting in the death of 70,000 men] – 2 Sam Ch. 24), why did God still say that David was “a man after His own heart?”


     (Verses 23-24) “Of this man’s seed hath God according to his promise raised unto Israel a Saviour, Jesus: (24) When John had first preached before his coming the baptism of repentance to all the people of Israel.”

     Old Testament prophecy said that the Messiah would come from the “seed” of David (2 Sam 7:12-16)(Ps 132:11)(Isa 9:6-7)(Isa 11:1,10)(Jer 23:5-6). We are told in the New Testament that these prophecies were fulfilled in Jesus (the “Messiah”), who was from the “seed of David” (Mt 1:1)(Lk 1:32-33)(Acts 15:15-16)(Rom 1:3)(2 Tim 2:8).

     Jesus did not appear until John the Baptist had first preached a “baptism of repentance.” The “Believer’s Bible Commentary” gives this explanation for John’s “baptism of repentance:” “This means he had announced the coming of the Messiah, and told the people to repent in preparation for that coming. They were to signify their repentance by being baptized in the Jordan River.” You can see John doing this in (Mt 3:1-12)(Mk 1:1-5)(Lk 3:1-20).

     This is one of 7 places in Acts that talks about “John’s baptism.” – Also see: (Acts 1:5)(Acts 1:22)(Acts 10:37)(Acts 11:16)(Acts 18:25)(Acts 19:3-4).


     (Verse 25)(NKJV) “And as John was finishing his course, he said, ‘Who do you think I am? I am not He. But behold, there comes One after me, the sandals of whose feet I am not worthy to loose.’ “

     “As John was finishing his course” – Likely referring to the fact that John’s ministry was almost completed when he said the words which follow. John’s ministry was to “prepare the way for the Messiah” (Mt 3:3)(Mk 1:2-3)(Lk 3:4-6)(Jn 1:23)(Isa 40:3), and right after he said these words, the Messiah appeared (Mt 3:13-17)(Mk 1:9-11)(Lk 3:21-22). It may also refer to the fact that John was about to be martyred by Herod Antipas (Mt 14:3-13)(Mk 6:14-29).

     Many people thought John Himself might be the Messiah (Lk 3:15), and he told them he was not (Jn 1:20), saying in an act of humility that he wasn’t even worthy to “loosen the strap of the sandals” of the coming Messiah (Jesus) (Mt 3:11)(Mk 1:7)(Lk 3:16)(Jn 1:27).


     Next, let’s read (Acts 13:26-41).

     (Verses 26-27)(NASB) “Brothers, sons of Abraham’s family, and those among you who fear God, to us the message of this salvation has been sent. (27) For those who live in Jerusalem, and their rulers, recognizing neither Him nor the declarations of the prophets which are read every Sabbath, fulfilled these by condemning Him.”

     In verse 26, Paul is essentially repeating what he said in verses 16 and 17, addressing his audience in somewhat more affectionate terms.

     The Jamieson, Fausset, Brown Commentary says this of verse 27: “The apostle here speaks as if the more immediate guilt of Christ’s death lay with the rulers (the Sadducees, Pharisees, and scribes) and people of the metropolis (Jesusalem), to which he fondly hoped that those residing at such a distance as Antioch (in Pisidia) would not set their seal.”


     (Verse 28)(NASB) “And though they found no grounds for putting Him to death, they asked Pilate that He be executed.”

     Neither the Jewish leaders, nor the Sanhedrin (Mt 26:59-61)(Mk 14:55-59), nor Pilate (Mt 27:18-19,23)(Mk 15:10,14)(Lk 23:4,13-15,22)(Jn 18:38)(Jn 19:4,6) could find “grounds” to put Jesus to death. Jesus was sinless (2 Cor 5:21)(Heb 4:15)(1 Jn 3:5)(1 Pet 2:22). However, they convicted and executed Him based upon false charges.


     (Verse 29) “And when they had fulfilled all that was written of him, they took him down from the tree, and laid him in a sepulchre (tomb).” 

     Both the crucifixion (Ps 22:16)(Deut 21:23: see Gal 3:13), and Jesus being laid in a “tomb” (Isa 53:9) were prophesied in the Old Testament. The “tomb” belonged to a wealthy man named Joseph of Arimathea (Mt 27:57-60)(Mk 15:43-46)(Lk 23:52-53). He was also the one who “took Jesus down from the cross” (Jn 19:38)(Lk 23:53) (perhaps aided by a few others).

***Note: We are told in (Lk 23:50-51) that Joseph of Arimathea was “good and just man,” who was a member of the Sanhedrin, and “had not consented to their decision and deed.”


     (Verse 30) “But God raised him from the dead:”

     The fact that “God raised Jesus from the dead” (repeated in verses 33,34,37), is also found in a number of other places in Acts (see: Acts 2:24,32, 3:15, 4:10, 5:30, 10:40, 17:31). The Bible also says that: “Jesus” raised Himself from the dead (Jn 2:19), the “Father” raised Jesus from the dead (Gal 1:1), and the “Holy Spirit” raised Jesus from the dead (Rom 8:11). How is this possible? All are God, and all are one! Proof of a triune God!


     (Verses 31-32) “And he was seen many days of them which came up with him from Galilee to Jerusalem, who are his witnesses unto the people. (32) And we declare unto you glad tidings, how that the promise which was made unto the fathers,”

     “Them which came up with Him from Galilee to Jerusalem” is speaking of the disciples. During the Resurrection of Jesus (which lasted 40 days: Acts 1:3), Jesus was seen by the disciples a number of times (Mt 28:16-20)(Mk 16:14-19)(Lk 24:34-51)(Jn 20:19-23)(Jn 20:26-29)(Jn 21:1-23)(Acts 1:3-11)(1 Cor 15:5). Having personally seen the resurrected Jesus, the disciples were now “witnesses unto the people” of it.

     From the Barnes Commentary: “The promise here refers to all that had been spoken in the Old Testament respecting the advent, sufferings, death, and resurrection of Christ.” Poole’s Commentary adds: “this promise was frequently made and renewed to their ancestors, and typified by many deliverances, especially from Egypt and Babylon.”


     (Verses 33-35) “God hath fulfilled the same unto us their children, in that he hath raised up Jesus again; as it is also written in the second psalm, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee. (34) And as concerning that he raised him up from the dead, now no more to return to corruption, he said on this wise, I will give you the sure mercies of David. (35) Wherefore he saith also in another psalm, Thou shalt not suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.”

     Each of these verses directly quotes from the Old Testament. (Verse 33) quotes from (Ps 2:7), (Verse 34) quotes from (Isa 55:3), (Verse 35) quotes from (Ps 16:10).

     From the “Believer’s Bible Commentary.” “How is the resurrection of the Savior linked with God’s covenant with David?” – 

     “God promised David an everlasting throne and kingdom, and a seed to sit upon that throne forever. In the meantime David had died, and his body had returned to dust. The kingdom had continued for some years after David, but then for over four hundred years Israel had been without a king. The line of David continued down through the years to Jesus of Nazareth. He inherited legal right to the throne of David through Joseph. Joseph was His legal father, though not His real father. The Lord Jesus was a lineal descendant of David through Mary.”

     “Paul is emphasizing that the sure blessings promised to David find their fulfillment in Christ. He is the seed of David who will yet sit on the throne of David. Since He has risen from the dead, and lives in the power of an endless life, the eternal aspects of God’s covenant with David are made certain in Christ.”


     (Verses 36-37) “For David, after he had served his own generation by the will of God, fell on sleep, and was laid unto his fathers, and saw corruption: (37) But he, whom God raised again, saw no corruption.”

     When David wrote in (Ps 16:10) (quoted in verse 35): “Thou shalt not suffer thine Holy One to see corruption,” he was not speaking of Himself, but the coming Messiah. Paul emphasizes this in (verse 36), saying that after David died, his buried body “saw corruption,” or it returned to dust. However, after Jesus (the Messiah) died, His body was “raised from the dead,” and “saw no corruption.” It did not return to dust, or decay. The resurrected Jesus was proof that Jesus was the Messiah!


     (Verses 38-39) “Be it known unto you therefore, men and brethren, that through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins: (39) And by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses.”

     From the “MacArthur Study Bible,” – “Justified from. This is better translated “freed from.” Keeping the law of Moses did not free anyone from their sins (cf. Rom. 3:28; 1 Cor. 1:30; Gal. 2:16; 3:11; Phil. 3:9). But the atoning death of Jesus completely satisfied the demands of God’s law, making forgiveness of all sins available to all who believe (Gal. 3:16; Col. 2:13,14). Only the forgiveness Christ offers can free people from their sins (Rom. 3:20,22).”


     (Verses 40-41)(NKJV) “Beware therefore, lest what has been spoken in the prophets come upon you: (41) ‘Behold, you despisers, Marvel and perish! For I work a work in your days, A work which you will by no means believe, Though one were to declare it to you.’ “

     “Beware” – (Gr. “blepo“) Used 135 times in the New Testament. Translated as: take heed, behold, beware, look on, look, beware of, and 9 other miscellaneous ways.

     From the “Believer’s Bible Commentary:” “He (Paul) quotes from Habakkuk 1:5 (and perhaps segments of Isa. 29:14 and Prov. 1:24-31), where God warned those despisers of His word that He would bring wrath upon them of such magnitude that they wouldn’t even believe it if He told them in advance. In Paul’s day this might have applied to the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70, but it would also include God’s eternal judgment of those who reject His Son.”


     Finally, let’s read (Acts 13:42-52).

     (Verses 42-43)(NKJV) “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 congregation had broken up, many of the Jews and devout proselytes followed Paul and Barnabas, who, speaking to them, persuaded them to continue in the grace of God.”

     It seems apparent from these two verses that many of those in the synagogue became believers as a result of Paul’s message. First, they wanted to hear more, and second Paul “persuaded them to continue in the grace of God,” which seems to imply that “God’s grace” had already begun a work in them.


     (Verses 44-45) “And the next sabbath day came almost the whole city together to hear the word of God. (45) But when the Jews saw the multitudes, they were filled with envy, and spake against those things which were spoken by Paul, contradicting and blaspheming.”

     One week later, Paul and Barnabas returned to the synagogue, and “almost the whole city” came to hear them. “The Jews” who were “filled with envy” were not all Jews, but unbelieving Jews, as well as the Jewish leaders. This “envy” occurred because attention was diverted away from them, to someone else. A similar attack happened to Jesus (Mt 27:18)(Mk 15:10), and is also mentioned in (Acts 17:5)(Phil 1:15). In addition, neither group could tolerate that “Gentiles” were being made equal to them.

     The Jewish leaders would never “blaspheme” their God, therefore, they had to be “blaspheming” Jesus, who they never accepted as God.


     (Verse 46)(NKJV) “Then Paul and Barnabas grew bold and said, “It was necessary that the word of God should be spoken to you first; but since you reject it, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, behold, we turn to the Gentiles.”

     As we mentioned in (verse 5), Paul’s presentation of the Gospel in this chapter followed a tradition of taking the “word of God” to the Jews first (i.e. see Mt 10:5-6, Mt 15:24, Lk 24:47, Rom 1:16). However, since the unbelieving Jews refused the Gospel, Paul decided to take it to the Gentiles. The Gentiles were actually the primary people that God chose Paul to minister to (Acts 9:15)(Gal 1:15-16)(Gal 2:7). Again though, as we will see later in Acts, this is not the last time that Paul takes the Gospel to the Jews (verses above).


     (Verse 47) “For so hath the Lord commanded us, saying, I have set thee to be a light of the Gentiles, that thou shouldest be for salvation unto the ends of the earth.”

      This is actually a Messianic prophecy, taken from (Isa 49:6). However, Paul and Barnabas also apply it to themselves, since they were continuing the Lord’s mission to bring salvation to the Gentiles.


     (Verses 48-49) “And when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad, and glorified the word of the Lord: and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed. (49) And the word of the Lord was published throughout all the region.”

     “As many as were ordained to eternal life believed” – This is one of a number of controversial and debated verses in the New Testament regarding the “election” of God. There is no question that from the beginning of creation, God has “ordained (some) to eternal life.” The debate is over how God makes people His “elect.” Is it based only upon God’s sovereign random decision to “choose” us, or is it based upon His “foreknowledge” of a future choice we will make to choose Jesus? As much as I would like to get into this debate here, for the sake of time and space, we will not do so. (I discuss this issue more fully here:


     (Verses 50-52) “But the Jews stirred up the devout and honourable women, and the chief men of the city, and raised persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and expelled them out of their coasts. (51) But they shook off the dust of their feet against them, and came unto Iconium. (52) And the disciples were filled with joy, and with the Holy Ghost.”

     “shook the dust off their feet” – This act signified disdain for the city (or house) that they were leaving. It symbolically showed that they did not want to take anything from that city with them when they left. This act was previously initiated by Jesus (Mt 10:14)(Mk 6:11)(Lk 9:5)(Lk 10:11), and is later done again by Paul in Corinth (Acts 18:6)

     “Iconium” – The capital of the province of Lycaonia, it was about 95 miles SE of Antioch of Pisidia, and about 120 miles from the Mediterranean Sea. Today, it is called Konya, located in modern day Turkey, with over a million people living there.

     “the disciples were filled with joy” – In spite of these persecutions, the disciples did not lose their “joy.” One of Satan’s main objectives is to steal our joy. (Neh 8:10) says that “the joy of the Lord is your strength.” Therefore, if Satan can steal our joy, he can steal our strength. However, when we obey God’s commandments (Jn 15:11), pray in Jesus’ name (Jn 16:24), and are in fellowship with the Father and Jesus Christ (1 Jn 1:4), our joy will be full. Joy is a fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5:22)(1 Th 1:6)(Rom 14:17, and it is everlasting (Isa 51:11)(Isa 35:10). Man can “steal” many things from us as Christians, but he can “never” steal our “inexpressible” joy that is found in Christ (1 Pet 1:8).

     “the disciples were filled… with the Holy Ghost” – As we discussed at the beginning of our study on Acts (see:, when Christians are saved, they receive (are “baptized” with) the Holy Spirit. However, they should also pray to “be filled with the Holy Spirit” over and over after this initial infilling, to receive Holy Spirit power as they seek to live for and serve the Lord (see: Eph 5:18). We have seen this happening a number of times in Acts to this point: (Acts 4:8-9)(Acts 4:31)(Acts 7:55-56)(Acts 9:17)(Verse 9 above), and it is happening again here.

***Note: Remember that Stephen (Acts 6:5), and Barnabas (Acts 11:24) were described as men who were “full of the Holy Spirit.”

Copyright: © Steve Shirley