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Acts Chapter 13 

emory verses for this week:   2 Th 3:3  But the Lord is faithful, who shall stablish you, and keep you from evil. 

Introduction:     In Chapter 12, we saw further persecution set out against the church.  Herod put James, the brother of John, to death, and when it pleased the people, he set out to put Peter to death.  God sent an angel to deliver Peter from prison as the church was busy praying that he would be delivered.  We know not what we may face as Christians, as the Bible warns us that we have enemies in  high places.  Eph 6:12  For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Eph 6:13  Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.


I.                    Paul and Barnabas Called by the Holy Spirit

 Acts 13:1  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.

Acts 13:2  As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them.

 We see two things revealed in the first two verses.  The Holy Spirit called Barnabas and Saul to a special work, and secondly, the Holy Spirit commanded the church to send them forth.   This was, and still is God’s plan for sending forth missionaries today.  Many today want to complicate this plan and add boards or some other man-created agency to stand between the missionary and the church, but from the beginning, it was not so.  God moves on the hearts of men, and then God moves on certain churches to support that missionary.  God’s plan can not be topped, nor improved.   In verse one, it speaks about there being prophets and teachers there in Antioch.  It is important to know there is a distinction between the two.  A prophet is one who had, by inspiration and authority, revelations given from God to be deliver to the people.  A prophet might also be a teacher.  A teacher is one who instructs other people in the things that were revealed by inspiration.   Today, we have few true prophets.  A prophet today will not bring new revelation (as in new books of the bible) from God since His Word is complete, but from the Word may show forth prophecy.


Heb 1:1  God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets,

Heb 1:2  Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds;

Heb 1:3  Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high;

Heb 1:4  Being made so much better than the angels, as he hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they.



II.                  Paul’s First Missionary Journey

 Acts 13:3  And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them away.

Acts 13:4  So they, being sent forth by the Holy Ghost, departed unto Seleucia; and from thence they sailed to Cyprus.

Acts 13:5  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. 

Who was  “they” mentioned in verse 3?  It speaks of the church there in Antioch, the place where followers of Christ were first called Christians.   It was not a man made organization such as a mission board that decided to send them, but it was the local church.  We see they had an ordination service of sorts as they gathered together, fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them.   After the service, they got aboard a boat and sailed to Cyprus.   The two chief cities were Salamis, at the east end of the island, and Paphos, which was at the west end.  And when they reached their destination, they wasted no time in beginning to proclaim the Word of God.  It says they preached the word of God in the synagogues of the Jews.   They went right where the Jews gathered, and set out to reach lost souls for the Lord.   Oh that all missionaries would be quick to the field and then to stand fast and not waver in the work the Lord has called them to do.  I thank the Lord that we have so many fine men that we support through our local church, and pray that God will give us more that we might reach greater numbers for the Lord all around the world.   Some foreign nations are truly ripe for the Gospel, and you read where the Gospel penetrates many hearts and souls are saved.  Don’t forget that last part of verse 5 when it speaks of John Mark being with them to help minister.  When he turned back later, this caused a serious problem to develop between Paul and Barnabas.  At a later time, Barnabas wanted to take John Mark along again, and Paul refused.  They wound up splitting up over it, and Barnabas went with John Mark, and Paul went with Silas. (Acts 15)  I know later Paul was glad that John Mark was in the ministry and said so.  I believe we can learn from all three men in this instance.  Paul saw the seriousness of the call to the field, and had little tolerance for those who might turn back.  The bible backs that up in that we are not to turn back once we have our hands on the plough.  But Barnabas, by showing love for the young man, encouraged him to not give up in God’s work.  Every young man needs a Barnabas to encourage him.  And from John Mark, we see a young man who might have made a mistake, but learned from it and kept on serving the Lord.   May we all be so determined that the Lord will be pleased with our efforts one day.

 Acts 13:6  And when they had gone through the isle unto Paphos, they found a certain sorcerer, a false prophet, a Jew, whose name was Barjesus:

Acts 13:7  Which was with the deputy of the country, Sergius Paulus, a prudent man; who called for Barnabas and Saul, and desired to hear the word of God.

Acts 13:8  But Elymas the sorcerer (for so is his name by interpretation) withstood them, seeking to turn away the deputy from the faith.

Acts 13:9  Then Saul, (who also is called Paul,) filled with the Holy Ghost, set his eyes on him,

Acts 13:10  And said, O full of all subtlety and all mischief, thou child of the devil, thou enemy of all righteousness, wilt thou not cease to pervert the right ways of the Lord?

Acts 13:11  And now, behold, the hand of the Lord is upon thee, and thou shalt be blind, not seeing the sun for a season. And immediately there fell on him a mist and a darkness; and he went about seeking some to lead him by the hand. 

Even in Paul’s day, as there has always been, there were certain false prophets that prophesied lies.   We see Paul and Barnabas confront this Elymas, the sorcerer, at the west end of the island.  Here in Pathos, the man is struck blind for his evil speakings.   Elymas opposed Barnabas and Paul, and he exerted influence over the Roman Governor.  (verse 8).  The deputy of that country, Serius Paulus had desired to hear Paul and Barnabas, but Elymas withstood them.  Anytime we try to put forth the gospel, be sure Satan will have some hindrances set up for us to face.  They may be minor distractions like the phone ringing or the baby waking up from a nap, or it may be a giant wall that we may not even expect.   But Satan wants the lost man and woman to not hear the Gospel, and if he can just keep them deceived for a few days more, he may have their souls for an eternity.   We see Paul was not afraid of the man, but rather looks him straight on and exercised his apostolic power over the man.  Unfortunately, we don’t have those types of powers today, but we still have the Word of God and the presence of God with us when we go forth and witness.


Acts 13:12  Then the deputy, when he saw what was done, believed, being astonished at the doctrine of the Lord.

Acts 13:13  Now when Paul and his company loosed from Paphos, they came to Perga in Pamphylia: and John departing from them returned to Jerusalem.

 We see that Paul is persuasive in his presentation, and the deputy believed.  Oh that every one that we preached the Gospel to would be saved.   It says they then loosed from Paphos and came to Pergia, but John did not continue with them, but returned to Jerusalem.


III.                Paul and Barnabas’ Journey to Antioch in Pisidia

 Acts 13:14  But when they departed from Perga, they came to Antioch in Pisidia, and went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and sat down.

Acts 13:15  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.

Acts 13:16  Then Paul stood up, and beckoning with his hand said, Men of Israel, and ye that fear God, give audience.

 We see the men coming to the synagogue in Antioch of Pisidia, and on the sabbath day, they went forth and preached.  We know that Jews were scattered throughout the Roman Empire, and they had set up synagogues in almost every city.  On the Sabbath, the Jews came out and the “Law” and the “Prophets” were read in the synagogue.

 In his Commentary on Acts, J. Vernon McGee said “This sermon which Paul preached in Antioch of Pisidia is one of the great sermons, in my opinion; yet it is generally passed by today.  It is the first recorded sermon of Paul, preached in the synagogue on the Sabbath Day.  When they asked Paul whether he would like to say something, you can be sure that he wanted to say something.  That was his whole reason for being there.”   And I might add, if our minds and hearts are open to God, I believe that is why we live and breathe today.  God’s Will is for all of us to be telling others about the gift of Salvation that God will give to all who will come to Christ for forgiveness of sins.

 I want us to read his entire message for the effect.  In verse 16, it says he beckoned with his hand and told all that feared God to give audience to him.

 Acts 13:17  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 arm brought he them out of it.

Acts 13:18  And about the time of forty years suffered he their manners in the wilderness.

Acts 13:19  And when he had destroyed seven nations in the land of Chanaan, he divided their land to them by lot.

Acts 13:20  And after that he gave unto them judges about the space of four hundred and fifty years, until Samuel the prophet.

Acts 13:21  And afterward they desired a king: and God gave unto them Saul the son of Cis, a man of the tribe of Benjamin, by the space of forty years.

Acts 13:22  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.

Acts 13:23  Of this man's seed hath God according to his promise raised unto Israel a Saviour, Jesus:

Acts 13:24  When John had first preached before his coming the baptism of repentance to all the people of Israel.

Acts 13:25  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.

Acts 13:26  Men and brethren, children of the stock of Abraham, and whosoever among you feareth God, to you is the word of this salvation sent.

Acts 13:27  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.

Acts 13:28  And though they found no cause of death in him, yet desired they Pilate that he should be slain.

Acts 13:29  And when they had fulfilled all that was written of him, they took him down from the tree, and laid him in a sepulchre.

Acts 13:30  But God raised him from the dead:

Acts 13:31  And he was seen many days of them which came up with him from Galilee to Jerusalem, who are his witnesses unto the people.

Acts 13:32  And we declare unto you glad tidings, how that the promise which was made unto the fathers,

Acts 13:33  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.

Acts 13:34  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.

Acts 13:35  Wherefore he saith also in another psalm, Thou shalt not suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.

Acts 13:36  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:

Acts 13:37  But he, whom God raised again, saw no corruption.

Acts 13:38  Be it known unto you therefore, men and brethren, that through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins:

Acts 13:39  And by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses.

Acts 13:40  Beware therefore, lest that come upon you, which is spoken of in the prophets;

Acts 13:41  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.

Acts 13:42  And when the Jews were gone out of the synagogue, the Gentiles besought that these words might be preached to them the next sabbath.

Acts 13:43  Now when the congregation was broken up, many of the Jews and religious proselytes followed Paul and Barnabas: who, speaking to them, persuaded them to continue in the grace of God.


What a powerful message.  Paul goes to the very place that the Jews understood, the law and the prophets, and from them preached Jesus Christ.  Truly the whole bible is about Jesus Christ, with the old testament showing the utter futility of man who tried to come to God by the law.  And while many animals died as sacrifices for sin, they could not take away one sin. But praise the Lord, those offerings pointed to the one who would come on Calvary, whose blood can wash away all the sin of all mankind.  But only those who come to God for salvation will be saved.  As it was in the days of Noah, the people ignored the warning and finally the door to the ark was shut.  And when the rain came, all those outside the ark perished.  Today, we all have an opportunity to hear about God’s Son who came and died that we might be set free from the penalty of sin.  But only those who come to Jesus in this life will be saved.  He is coming back soon, and all those who have failed to acknowledge God’s Ark of salvation will be left to eternal destruction.     We see Paul began by speaking of the nation of Israel’s deliverance.  (Exo 12:29)  He then talked of their time of wandering in the wilderness.  (Note Psalm 78).  Paul speaks of their entrance into Canaan and the division of the land as we studied in the book of Joshua.  Then the time of the Judges which lasted about 450 years.  In verse 21, he tells of how they desired to have a king like the other nations and God raised up Saul to be their king.  (1 Sam 8 and 9).  Then Paul speaks of how he removed Saul and set David, and man after His own heart, in power.  Then beginning in verse 23, the real message comes forth… how that David’s seed (Jesus) was preached by John the Baptist.  And he covers how Jesus was rejected by His own, and put to death, and how he rose triumphantly after three days and three nights from the grave.  By this one man, all are justified from all things if they believe on the name of Jesus.  What the law could not do, Jesus, by His sinless life and death on the cross, paid the penalty for our sins.   And he closes with a warning to not reject the one that God sent to save their souls.  And it says that the Gentiles greatly desired to hear the words again, and even the Jews encouraged them to stay on and preach again.   What a joy this must have been to Paul and Barnabas to get a good reception for a change.   But new things are hard for people to grasp, and the happy times soon ended.


IV.  Opposition from the Jews

 Acts 13:44  And the next sabbath day came almost the whole city together to hear the word of God.

Acts 13:45  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.

 Nothing causes greater furor than for a lost religious leader to be bested by a Christian preaching the truth.  The Jews are outraged that so many want to come and hear this message of great joy.  After talking about it for a week, virtually the whole city came out to hear the Gospel.  The Jews were filled with envy, and spoke out against the gospel.

 IV.               Paul and Barnabas Turn to the Gentiles.

 Acts 13:46  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.

Acts 13:47  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.

Acts 13:48  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.

Acts 13:49  And the word of the Lord was published throughout all the region.

 We see that Paul and Barnabas, filled with the Spirit of God, were very bold, and they continue to preach the truth even with opposition.  The Jews may have rejected the message, but the Gentiles heard it and were very glad.   They glorified the Lord, and it says all that were ordained to eternal life believed.

 Eph 1:4  According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:

Eph 1:5  Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,

Eph 1:6  To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.


V.                 Opposition from the Devout and Honourable

 Acts 13:50  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.

Acts 13:51  But they shook off the dust of their feet against them, and came unto Iconium.

Acts 13:52  And the disciples were filled with joy, and with the Holy Ghost. 

 The Jews were very upset that so many were coming to know Jesus as Lord and Savior, and went so far as to get people who were highly esteemed to rise up and speak against Paul and Barnabas and to bring persecution on them.  As I mentioned when we began the lesson, that we are in a battle not just against flesh and blood, but against Satan himself.  They may have been expelled from the coasts of that city, but it says they just shook off the dust of their feet and headed to Iconium, going their way filled with joy and the Holy Ghost.  How else could a person under persecution be so joyful, if God were not with them?  When we look to Jesus for strength each day, we can face the fiery darts of Satan and still win.

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Prov 4:18  But the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day.

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