Lesson 30: Paul's 1st Missionary Journey (Continued)
Back again! Acts Lesson #30 is under way. Paul and Barnabas were in Perga, the capital city in Pamphylia, that's city #17. Asia Minor was divided into Roman provinces. Pamphylia was the Roman province, Perga was the Capital. John Mark had departed for Jerusalem. Paul and Barnabas also departed shortly, alone, it would appear. Let's read v. 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. 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." O.K. they came to Antioch of Pisidia. That's chy #18. Pisidia was the district in the province of southern Galatia. The trip from Perga to Antioch (almost due north more than 100 mi les) was through very rough mountainous terrain. Some have suggested that is why John Mark didn't go. But, that is mere conjecture. Antioch WAS connected by good rads, east and west. Undoubtedly, you have observed this is the second city named Antioch. Both cities were named in honor of the great military general Antiochus, who lived at the time of Alexander the Great. Antioch of Pisidia had a synagogue according to v. 14. Thus, we learn; part of the population was Jewish. Do you recall on that Pentecost when the church was established (Acts 2) there were Jews visiting Jerusalem from every nation under heaven. Some of those Jews were from Asia, including Phrygia and Pamphylia. This is mentioned in Acts 2:9-10. Possibly some of the very Jews in this synagogue attended that feast in Jerusalem, ten or fifteen years before. Some may have attended every Pentecost since. Notice, Paul and Barnabas "went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day and sat down." The Sabbath was Saturday. Paul and Barnabas were both Jews by race. Paul was a Benjamite according to Tom. 11:1. Barnabas was from the tribe of Levi, Acts 4:36. In v. 15 we get a brief glimpse of a synagogue worship service. They had a reading from the law and the prophets, i.e. we would say, they read from the O.T. The first 5 books of the O.T. are books of law, written by Moses. The latter part of the O.T. is made up of the prophets, Isaiah, Jeremiah, etc. And, of course, the N.T. was not written until after that time. Someone got up, unrolled a scroll AND did a reading while everyone else listened. After the usual portion of their worship service was over, then the rulers (more than one) invited Paul and/or Barnabas to speak to the assembly. This was most likely a custom; to invite their traveling brethren to speak or EXHORT the people as it says in v. 15. It was a natural sort of way for these preachers to get an audience. Now, keep in mind, this was NOT a church assembly, like they had left in Antioch of Syria. Paul and Barnabas were undoubtedly the only Christians present. These Jews may or may NOT have heard the name of Jesus before. They were worshiping according to the O.T. law. V.16 starts off "Then Paul stood up, and beckoning with his hand said:" Then Paul began his speech. Paul had preached Jesus in other synagogues. You will remember Damascus, Jerusalem, Tarsus, Cyprus. That would you expect Paul to preach? You are ready to hear the first sermon of the Apostle Paul recorded in the N.T. This man pad persecuted THIS WAY when he was a Pharisee. He held the garments of those who stoned Stephen to death. He sought letters to foreign cities, THAT he might persecute THIS WAY. But now, he preached Jesus with great conviction. Let's listen, 26 verses! That's the same number of verses in Peter's sermon on Pentecost. O. K. And now I present to you Bro. Paul: "Men of Israel, and y that fear God, give audience. 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 a high arm brought he them out of it. And about the time of forty years suffered he their manners in the wilderness. And when he had destroyed seven nations in the land of Canaan, he divided their land to them by lot And after that he gave unto them judges about the space of four hundred and fifty years, until Samuel the prophet. And afterward they desired a king: and God gave unto them Saul the son of Kish, a man of the tribe of Benjamin, by the space of forty years. And when he had removed him, he raised up unto them David to be their king; to whom also he gave testimony, and said, I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after mine own heart, which shall fulfil all my will. Of this man's seed hath God, according to his promise, raised unto Israel a Saviour, Jesus: when John had first preached before his coming the baptism of repentance to all the people of Israel. And as John fulfilled his course, he said, Whom think ye that I am" I am not He. But, behold, there cometh one after me, whose shoes of his feet I am not worthy to loose. Men and Brethren, children of the stock of Abraham, and whosoever among you feareth God, to you is the word of this salvation sent. For they that dwell at Jerusalem, and their rulers, because they knew him not, nor yet the voices of the prophets which are read every Sabbath day, they have fulfilled them in condemning him. And thought they found no cause of death in him, yet desired they Pilate that he should be slain. And when they had fulfilled all that was written of him, they took him down from the tree, and laid him in a sepulcher. But God raised him from the dead: And he was seen many days of them which came up with him from Galilee to Jerusalem, who are his witnesses unto the people. And we declare unto you glad tidings, how that the promise which was made unto the fathers, 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. 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. Wherefore he saith also in another psalm, Thou shall not suffer thine Holy One to see corruption. 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: but he, whom God raised again, saw no corruption. Be it known unto you therefore, men and brethren, that through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins: and by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses. Beware therefore, lest that come upon you, which is spoken of in the prophets; Behold, ye despisers, and wonder, and perish: for I work a work in your days, a work which ye shall in no wise believe, though a man declare it unto you." O.K. the crowd must have been dismissed at the end of Paul's speech. As the crowd broke there must have been much discussion from individual to individual. We'll take a look at that later, BUT right now: Why don't we go back and do a little analysis of Paul's sermon. V. 16-23 is the introduction. It was to get their attention, identify with them, and set the stage. He introduces Jesus in v.23 as the Saviour of Israel, i.e. the Messiah. His introduction used a little of the technique of Stephen's defense in Acts. 7. He started with their common Jewish ancestry, beginning when they were slaves in Egypt (he says strangers, v.l 7). This corresponds to the early chapters of the book of Exodus. He could have associated this with their earlier reading (v.l5) we don't know. He then summarizes their history in great sweeps over about 500 years. He mentioned Samuel, the last judge of Israel. Saul the first king of Israel. Saul the king was a Benjaminite just like Paul was. Then he mentions David, Saul's successor. David lived of course near the time of Israel's greatest glory. These Jews knew that story by heart. They longed for hoped for the time when their nation would again rise to much heights. After rehearsing this and stirring their emotions of patriotism to the Jewish hope; Paul picks up on a promise of God with reference to David's seed in v.23. I would assume he has reference to about 20 verses in the 89* Psalm beginning in about v. 19. They knew very well that the Messiah was to come through the descendants of David. Paul states flatly, that this was Jesus. And in v.24 he tells WHEN it occurred. The crowd must have gotten so quiet one could hear a pin drop. Every face must have had an analytical expression., Paul filled every breath with provocative thought. We learn ALSO, they apparently knew of John the Baptist. And, if they knew John they probably knew of Jesus. How could they have taken all those trips to Jerusalem on the feast days without learning something about Jesus? Much mystery probably surrounded the event in their minds. They were NOT convinced Jesus was the Messiah, but the informed ones must have heard the claim, perhaps many times. Now, here is one of their fellow Jews, of the tribe of Benjamin, THAT not only suggests and flatly states this, he proceeds to prove his claim in the remainder of his sermon. These Jews were looking for a Messiah; that had the attributes of David. But they were thinking in terms of an earthly throne, political power, a king that would restore great materialistic glory to Israel. Jesus didn't fit their thinking. Jesus doesn't fit the thinking of most religious people today. Most want to think of him as a little baby in a manger, deprived of a room at the hotel in Bethlehem. They like to think in terms of a weak and innocent baby. Beautifully decorated manger scenes. Esthetic lighting and glitter. But they REFUSE to think in terms of I John 2:4, where the apostle John said: "He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him." They refuse to think in terms of a king that will judge the world. But Paul was trying with all the logic and persuasion he knew.
In v.26 he renewed his identity with them by saying, "Men and brethren, children of the stock of Abraham, and whosoever among you feareth God." Persuasive as he knew how! Then he said: "to you is the word of this salvation sent." Then he proceeded to inform that their brethren at Jerusalem had erred because they had NOT recognized this fact: "because they know him not." (v.27)Now the rest of Paul's sermon was devoted to proving that claim and terminates in a brief warning in v.41 -42. I would outline his argument something like this: First, he says in essence, this seems to be par for the course, his Jewish brethren did not know the scriptures, even though they heard it read every Sabbath day; just like it was read in that synagogue that day. Second, those brethren at Jerusalem had fulfilled the scriptures (v.27), by condemning Jesus and having him put to death (v.28). Third, Paul used the same argument that Peter used on Pentecost (Acts 2:25-35), i.e. he quoted from Psalms 2:7 (in v.33) and gives the reference: "Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee." Then in v.35 he quotes another Psalm, although he doesn't give the reference this time, it is Psalm 16:10, "Thou shall not suffer thine Holy One to see corruption." Peter quoted that same verse in Acts 2:27 and made that same argument: David died, i.e. Paul says, "fell on sleep" (v.36) and "was laid unto his fathers", i.e. David was buried. The indisputable thrust of his argument is at the end of v.36, "and saw corruption." i.e. David's body decayed and as Peter put it (2:29): "his sepulcher is with us unto this day." In other words they knew where David's bones were at that very minute. Thus the Holy One that did not se corruption, mentioned by David in Psalm 16:10 WAS Jesus, NOT David. Therefore the tact that Jesus rose from the dead on the third day (as Paul had affirmed in v.30) PROVES beyond the shadow of doubt that Jesus was the Messiah, prophesied in the O.T. Paul then said: "through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins:" (v.38). Jesus COULD and WOULD forgive their sins. Paul was getting down to the invitation. V.39 makes it clear they could be "justified from all things" if they believed in Jesus. Now, that implies: if they took action consistent with their understanding. They could no longer be justified by the law of Moses (end v.39) You will remember, no doubt, that was the same point Stephen had made in the synagogue in Jerusalem: which was misunderstood and perverted into the charge given in Acts 6:11. It upset those Grecian Jews to the point of stoning Stephen to death. In closing, Paul quoted another O.T. prophet Habakkuk 1:15 as a warning that they must not neglect to obey God and attend to these things. It would seem Paul brought his sermon to a smooth close and the crowed was dismissed without any verbal repercussions. Let's read v.42,43,34, "And when the Jews were gone out of the synagogue, the Gentiles besought that these words might be preached to them the next Sabbath. Now when the congregation was broken up, many of the Jews and religious proselytes followed Paul and Barnabas; who speaking to the, persuaded them to continue in the grace of God. And the next Sabbath day came almost the whole city together to hear the word of God." No converts are mentioned but several sought more of the same kind of preaching the next Saturday. The word Gentile in v.42 most likely has reference to proselytes or proselyte prospects. Paul addressed his sermon in v.16 to "Men of Israel, AND ye that fear God." Thus, indicating that some (other than Jews) were present. This thought is repeated in v.26. It was largely that element who asked for similar preaching to be done the next Saturday. It is interesting to note, Paul made no illusion to the household of Cornelius, or the fact that the Gentiles were now considered equal with the Jews. In v.39, Paul had said, "all that believe are justified from all things." This included, of course, the Gentiles; but whether the Jews made this distinction (or not) is NOT clear. However, it is most likely that Paul said more words than are recorded her by Luke. But, at any rate, it would seem Paul's preaching appealed more to the Gentiles than to the Jews. Thus, I am persuaded, the thought of equality was expressed in some way. It was NOW part of the gospel, the good news of Christ. And, Paul told others, "I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God." (Acts 20:27). Therefore it is only reasonable to conclude he preached the whole counsel here also. I'm SURE he tried to be diplomatic and not just infuriate the Jews. But, this equality factor accounts partly at least for the great response in v.44, "the next Sabbath day came almost the whole city together to hear the word of God." Now, let's read v.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." The Jews, particularly the leaders and rulers of the synagogue were surprised the next Saturday at such great attendance and after Paul and Barnabas had preached they were perturbed because these preachers rendered the law of Moses invalid and insisted that ALL of them become followers of Jesus, the Christ. "They were filled with envy." This accounts for contradicting and blaspheming. They were not able to resist the wisdom and spirit by which he spake. They were trying! The, you know what comes next. Right? Paul must have remembered how infuriated he and the Grecian Jews in Jerusalem became when they encountered Stephen. Maybe that experience caused them to decide quickly they must get out of the synagogues and work mostly with Gentiles. Let's read v.46 "Then Paul and Barnabas waxed bold, and said, it was necessary that the word of God should first have been spoken to you: but seeing ye put it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles." WHY was it necessary that they preach to the Jews first? So far as I know, there was no absolute requirement. Yet, it was a rule they accepted and perhaps with good reason. Jesus had said in Luke 24:47 "that repentance and remission of sins would be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem." This implies the order, Jews, then Gentiles. And again it was the most practical way where a Jewish population existed. They knew the O.T., they expected a Messiah. They were a ready made audience. These expectations made honest, knowledgeable, unbiased Jews the best prospects for Christianity. They were prospects just waiting for the word. Secondly, if the Jewish element was converted to Christianity; it would lend momentum to teaching the Gentiles. In the third place, is the fact that the more biased Jews would naturally feel part of the process and more charitable to the Gentiles for the word to be passed through them. It was only good public relations to do it in that order. Thus, the apostles and disciples adopted and practiced that rule. Paul told the Roman brethren at a later time in Rom. 1:16 that "the gospel...is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth: to the Jew first, and also to the Greek." Now, back to v.46. When Paul said: "It was NECESSARY that the word of God should first have been spoken to you." he was saying this was the natural and reasonable order. Then following that logic, it was NECESSARY they speak the word to the Jews first. However, when the Jews resisted through bias, ignorance and prejudice, the only reasonable thing for these preachers was to MOVE ON> Teach the Gentiles! WHY just infuriate the Jews and accomplish nothing? Notice this quote, from Paul and Barnabas: "but seeing ye put it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life..." You understand of course the Jews didn't say THAT; as a matter of fact THEY would have uttered the very opposite. But, their actions said that. Let's read v.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." The quote here attributed to the Lord is from Isa. 49:6. They were saying in effect: The law and prophets (you accept) authorize and even command us to do this. Let's read v.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. And the word of the Lord was published throughout all the region." What made the Jews sad and envious, made the Gentiles glad. Isn't the word of God amazing? In Isa. 55:11 God said: "My word...shall not return to me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please." In closing let's look at the last of v.48 "as many as were ordained to eternal life believed." No doubt, you are aware: some of the followers of John Calvin cease upon this verse to teach foreordination, i.e. One is elected to be saved or lost before the foundation of the world. If that was the thought here Paul and Barnabas would have been wasting their time. For nothing these Gentiles could have done would have increase (or decreased) their chances of eternal life. Furthermore, why would they have been glad? The bible teaches we must DO SOMETHING. Acts 2:40 says: "And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, SAVE YOURSELVES from this untoward generation." The difficulty in v.48 is with the words "were ordained." I'm not a Greek scholar and don't claim to be able to explain the language difficulty. But, Boles says it is permissible to translate it "as many as were DISPOSED to eternal life believed." Undoubtedly that is more of the thought.