Confraternity Bible: New Testament and Supplemental Commentary

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ACTS - Chapter 13

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Acts 13

Supplemental Commentary:


1.  First Missionary Journey  13, 1 -- 15, 35

13, 1-12:  Antioch:  Cyprus.  St. Luke centers his attention almost exclusively on St. Paul for the rest of the Acts.  Like the other prophets and teachers mentioned here, he probably had already been consecrated bishop.  On reaching Cyprus he followed the established rule of preaching first to the Jews.  The work among the Gentiles is illustrated in St. Luke's usual method by the selection of one significant event: the conversion of the proconsul was undoubtedly followed by that of many other Gentiles.

13, 13-52:  Antioch in Pisidia:  Paul's Discourse.  St. Mark was probably dismayed at the decision to attempt the evangelization of the interior of the mainland.  Antioch was about one hundred miles from the coast, and the journey meant stiff and dangerous mountain climbing.  It was part of the Roman Province of Galatia, but St. Luke prefers the older local names.    15.  It was customary to invited visiting scribes to address the meeting.

16-41.  This is the only example given in the Acts of a discourse by St. Paul in a synagogue, though his usual approach to the Jews was through speaking in their synagogues.  He follows the same general lines as St. Peter in the earlier discourses.

16-22.  The introduction won the good will of the audience by recalling the special blessings and protection of God in the course of their national history.    20.  Using round numbers, St. Paul allows four hundred years for the sojourn in Egypt, forty for the wandering in the desert, and ten for the conquest of Canaan.

23-25.  Coming to more recent manifestations of providence in their behalf, he brought in the name of Jesus, calling Him Savior, and connecting Him with the most glorious period of their history by pointing to His descent from David.  God had prepared the way for the coming of Jesus by sending John the Baptist.  After preaching repentance, the recognized means for winning the divine favor, John had clearly testified that he was only the precursor of the Messias and immeasurably inferior to Him.  Since the Jews everywhere regarded John as a prophet, this appeal to his testimony had strong argumentative force.

26-37.  But there was the objection that Jesus had been rejected by their rulers and condemned to death on the cross.  St. Paul replied that this death had been foretold by the prophets and so was an essential part of the designs of almighty God who used the Passion and Death of Jesus to bring about the glory and triumph of His Resurrection.  That Jesus truly rose from the dead was proved by the testimony of the disciples who had seen Him, and they were then still living and boldly standing forth among the people as witnesses of this tremendous event.  Scripture had prophesied the Resurrection no less clearly than the Passion of Christ.  The words in 33 are used elsewhere by St. Paul to proclaim the eternal generation of the Son and His priesthood (Heb. 1, 5; 5, 5).  All three ideas are included in the words of the Psalm; the foundation of Christ's glory is His divine Sonship.  Becoming man, He redeemed the human race by the sacrifice of the cross; in His resurrection He is manifested in the glory due Him as the Son of God and the King of all men.  The words from Isaias in v.34 are used to confirm the quotation to follow in the next verse from Psalm 15.  In Isaias God assured the people that He would faithfully fulfill the promises made to David.  Psalm 15 contains the promise of the resurrection of the Messias, since the promise could not have referred to David personally who suffered the decay of the grave just as other men do.  The promise however found its fulfillment in Jesus, for He is the Holy One whom God did not permit to undergo decay.  Did undergo decay: return to the state of death in which decay naturally follows.

38-41.  Justification can come only through faith in Christ.  The efficacy of grace compared with the powerlessness of the Old Law, is a favorite topic in the Pauline Epistles.  The final exhortation takes the form of a threat in the prophetic language of Habucuc.  The Prophets are spoken of as a group because the Old Testament had three divisions, the Law, the Prophets, and the Writings.  Men may find it hard to believe in the wondrous works of God, but rejection of Christ will bring down upon them the full force of the divine wrath.

42-52.    43.  This is the only place in the Acts where worshipping and converts are joined.  Proselytes in the full sense took on all the obligations of the Mosaic Law.  The persons meant here did  not go so far; they remained uncircumcised, but professed belief in the one true God and frequented the synagogues and observed some of the Jewish ceremonial law.    51.  Shaking off the dust had the symbolic meaning that there was defilement in everything that had come into contact with the unbelievers.  Cf. Matt. 10, 14.  And went to Iconium: they did so after spending some time preaching in this region.

Confraternity Bible:

Antioch  1 Now in the Church at Antioch there were prophets and teachers, among whom were Barnabas and Simon, called Niger, and Lucius of Cyrene, and Manahen the foster-brother of Herod the tetrarch, and Saul.  2 And as they were ministering to the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, "Set apart for me Saul and Barnabas unto the work to which I have called them."  3* Then, having fasted and prayed and laid their hands upon them, they let them go.

Cyprus  4 So they, sent forth by the Holy Spirit, went to Seleucia and from there sailed to Cyprus.  5* On their arrival at Salamis they began to preach the word of God in the synagogues of the Jews; and they had also John as assistant.  6 They went, passing through the whole island as far as Paphos, and there they came across a Jewish magician and false prophet named Bar-Jesus, 7 who was attached to the proconsul Sergius Paulus, a man of discernment.  He sent for Barnabas and Saul, and sought to hear the word of God; 8 but Elymas, the sorcerer (for so his name is translated), opposed them, trying to turn away the proconsul from the faith.  9 But Saul (also called Paul), filled with the Holy Spirit, gazed at him 10 and said, "O full of all guile and of all deceit, son of the devil, enemy of all justice, wilt thou not cease to make crooked the straight ways of the Lord?  11 And now, behold, the hand of the Lord is upon thee, and thou shalt be blind, not seeing the sun for a time."  And instantly there fell upon him a mist of darkness, and he groped about for someone to lead him by the hand.  12 Then the proconsul, seeing what had happened, believed and was astonished at the Lord's teaching.

Antioch in Pisidia  13 Putting to sea from Paphos, Paul and his companions came to Perge in Pamphylia; but John left them and returned to Jerusalem.  14 But they passed through Perge and reached the Pisidian Antioch; and entering the synagogue on the Sabbath, they sat down.  15 After the reading of the Law and the Prophets, the rulers of the synagogue sent to them, saying, "Brethren, if you have any word of exhortation for the people, speak."

Paul's Discourse  16 Then Paul arose, and motioning with his hand for silence, said, "Israelites and you who fear God, hearken. 17 The God of the people of Israel chose our fathers and exalted the people when they were sojourners in the land of Egypt, and with uplifted arm led them forth out of it.  18 And for a period of forty years he bore with their ways in the desert, 19 and after destroying seven nations in the land of Canaan, he divided their land among them by lot 20 after about four hundred and fifty years.  After that he gave them judges, until the time of Samuel the prophet.  21 Then they demanded a king, and God gave them Saul, the son of Cis, a man of the tribe of Benjamin, for forty years.  22 And removing him, he raised up David to be their king, and to him he bore witness and said, 'I have found David, the son of Jesse, a man after my heart, who will do all that I desire.'

23 "From his offspring, God according to promise brought to Israel a Savior, Jesus; 24 John having first preached before his coming a baptism of repentance to all the people of Israel.  25 And when John was coming to the end of his career, he would say, 'I am not he whom you suppose me to be; but behold, there comes one after me, the sandals of whose feet I am not worthy to loose.'  26 Brethren, children of the race of Abraham, and all among you who fear God, to you the word of this salvation has been sent.  27 For the inhabitants of Jerusalem and its rulers, not knowing him and the utterances of the prophets which are read every Sabbath, fulfilled them by sentencing him; 28 and though they found no ground for putting him to death, they asked of Pilate permission to kill him.  29 And when they had carried out all that had been written concerning him, they took him down from the tree and laid him in a tomb.  30 But God raised  him from the dead on the third day; 31 and he was seen during many days by those who had come up with him from Galilee to Jerusalem; and they are now witnesses for him to the people.

32 "So we now bring you the good news that the promise made to our fathers, 33 God has fulfilled to our children, in raising up Jesus, as also it is written in the second Psalm,
'Thou art my son, this day have I begotten thee.' 
34* And to show that he has raised him up from the dead, never again to return to decay, he has said thus,
'I will give you the holy and sure promises of David.' 
35* Because he says also in another Psalm,
'Thou wilt not let thy Holy One undergo decay.'
36 "For David, after he had in his own generation served God's purposes, fell asleep and was laid among his fathers and did undergo decay; 37 but he whom God raised to life did not undergo it.  38 Be it  known therefore to you, brethren, that through him forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you, 39 and in him everyone who believes is acquitted of all the things of which you could not be acquitted by the Law of Moses.  40 Beware, therefore, that what is said in the Prophets may not prove true of you,
41* 'Behold, you despisers, then wonder and perish, because I work a work in your days,

A work which you will not believe, if anyone relates it to you.'"
42 Now as they were going out, the people asked to have all this said to them on the following Sabbath.  43 And after the synagogue had broken up, many of the Jews and the worshipping converts went away with Paul and Barnabas, and they talked with them and urged them to hold fast to the grace of God.  44 And the next Sabbath almost the whole city gathered to hear the word of the Lord.  45 But on seeing the crowds, the Jews were filled with jealousy and contradicted what was said by Paul, and blasphemed.  46 Then Paul and Barnabas spoke out plainly: "It was necessary that the word of God should be spoken to you first, but since you reject it and judge yourselves unworthy of eternal life, behold, we now turn to the Gentiles.  47* For so the Lord has commanded us,
 'I have set thee for a light to the Gentiles, to be a means of salvation to the very ends of the earth.'"
48 On hearing this the Gentiles were delighted, and glorified the word of the Lord, and all who were destined for eternal life believed.  49 And the word of the Lord spread throughout the whole country.  50 But the Jews incited the worshipping women of rank and the chief men of the city, and stirred up a persecution against Paul and Barnabas and drove them from their district.  51 But they shook off the dust of their feet in protest against them and went to Iconium.  52 And the disciples continued to be filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.


3: Laid their hands upon them: consecrating them as bishops.

5: John: St. Mark.

34: Isa. 55, 3

35: Ps. 15, 10.

41: Hab. 1, 5.

47: Isa. 49, 6.