Acts Thirteen

by Dr. Henry M. Morris

(taken from the Defender's Study Bible)

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.

Niger. Simeon was evidently called “Niger” (a Latin word) because of his dark skin. There is a possibility that he was the Simon who carried Jesus' cross.

Lucius. Certain ancient texts suggest that Lucius was actually Luke the physician, who wrote the gospel of Luke, and who first met Paul here at Antioch.

Herod the tetrarch. This Herod was Herod Antipas, who ruled Galilee during Jesus' ministry.

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.

the Holy Ghost. Thus the Holy Spirit is clearly a divine Person, not an influence of some kind. When occasion requires (as here), He speaks clearly.

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.

in the synagogues. After being commissioned by the church for this first official missionary journey, Paul and Barnabas, with John Mark as their attendant, sailed to the island of Cyprus and its east-coast city, Salamis. The Greek word for “minister” here is understood by some authorities to mean that Mark was able to provide needed information to Paul and Barnabas, notably first-hand information about the death and resurrection of Christ. As became their regular practice, they went first to the city's synagogues to preach the Word (note Romans 1:16).

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.

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.

Paphos. Paphos was the capital of the province of Cyprus. Perga was on the southern coast on the Asia Minor mainland. Paul's destination of Pisidian Antioch was in the Galatian highlands in the interim.

John departing from them. At this point, John Mark left the party for unknown reasons. Paul, in any case, thought his departure was unwarranted (note Acts 15:36-40).

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.

ye that fear God. By the term, “ye that fear God,” Paul meant the God-fearing Gentiles in the audience as distinct from the Jews. In many cases, he got more response from the former than the latter. These God-fearing Gentiles were not religious proselytes to Judaism (Acts 13:43), but did believe in the true God and respected the Old Testament Scriptures. Paul, as a visiting Pharisee, was invited to speak in the synagogue, and used this opening as a God-appointed means to preach the gospel.

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.

four hundred and fifty years. It has been difficult to reconcile this 450 years, which ostensibly seem to cover the period of the judges, with the 480 years given in 1 Kings 6:1 for the period from the exodus to the beginning of the construction of the temple. A number of suggested harmonizations have been proposed. Many—perhaps most—modern authorities argue that the Greek text should be translated: “And after about the space of four hundred and fifty years, he gave unto them judges until Samuel the prophet.” This would then correspond to the 400 years in Egypt (Acts 7:6) plus 40 years in the wilderness (Acts 13:18) plus about 10 years for the conquest and division of the land (Acts 14:19). On the other hand, if the text is accepted as it stands, one can obtain the 480 years of 1 Kings 6:1 by subtracting the periods recorded in Judges when the Israelites were out of fellowship with God from the 450 years. These total 111 years, as follows: 8 years in captivity to Mesopotamia (Judges 3:8); 18 years to Moab (Judges 3:14); 20 years to the Canaanites (Judges 4:3); 7 years to Midian (Judges 6:1); 18 years to the Philistines and Ammonites (Judges 10:8); and 40 years to the Philistines (Judges 13:1). This leaves 339 years actually living under the judges' leadership in fellowship with God. To this number must be added the 40 years in the wilderness, approximately 17 years under Joshua, 40 years under Saul (Acts 13:21), 40 years under David (1 Kings 2:11) plus 4 years under Solomon to the beginning of the temple (1 Kings 6:1). This totals 480 years, but both the 450 years of Acts 13:20 and the period of conquest under Joshua, assumed at 17 years, are not necessarily exact. This also assumes that Samuel is included in the 450 years of the judges.

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.

second psalm. The quote is from Psalm 2:7, and indicates that the prophecy applies specifically to Christ's resurrection, rather than His birth. He had been “declared to be the Son of God … by the resurrection from the dead” (Romans 1:4). It is also significant that Paul called it “the second psalm,” just as we do today, thus indicating that the chapter divisions in the book of Psalms are not the product of medieval scholars, but were there from the beginning.

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.

on this wise. See Isaiah 55:3.

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

another psalm. Psalm 16:10.

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;

in the prophets. Acts 13:41 is quoting from Habakkuk 1:5.

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.

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.

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.

light of the Gentiles. See Isaiah 42:6-7. It is significant that this prophecy in Isaiah is preceded by a strong affirmation of God's work of creating and sustaining His creation.

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.

ordained to eternal life. A marvelous and mysterious aspect of God's purposes in creation shines through here. Most of these Gentiles who believed were probably among those who had already come to “fear God” (Acts 13:16, 26), even though they had not been willing to become Jewish proselytes. When they heard that, because of Christ, “all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses” (Acts 13:39), “they were glad,” and responded in saving faith in Christ. God had already “ordained to eternal life” those who would believe, and He had led Paul and Barnabas to come and preach the gospel to these Gentiles so that they could learn how to be saved (just as He had sent Peter to Cornelius), and yet they “believed” on Christ by their own free will. There are numerous places in Scripture where these seemingly paradoxical truths are juxtaposed (i.e., divine predestination vs. human freedom; e.g., Acts 2:23; 4:27-28) without any suggestion that this creates a problem. Our finite minds may be incapable of comprehending and resolving such paradoxes, but that does not mean both cannot be resolved in the infinite mind of God. It may be something like the two sides of a coin. We can only see one side at a time, but both are real and true.

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

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.

filled. There is no indication that these new Gentile believers spoke in other languages when they were filled with the Holy Spirit. This phenomenon uniquely occurred at the first coming of the Holy Spirit to the Jews and at His first coming to Gentiles (Acts 2:4; 10:44-46), but none of the many other references to the filling of the Spirit mention it. The filling of the Spirit, the baptism of the Spirit, and the gifts of the Spirit (including the gift of tongues) are all different things. Under certain special conditions, they have occasionally occurred simultaneously, but this is not the norm.