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THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES
PAUL’S FIRST MISSIONARY TOUR
[“We Turn to the Non-Jews”]
Key word: Jews
Acts 13:1-3 – Antioch Congregation [47/48 AD]
AC13:1 Now in Antioch there were prophets and teachers in the congregation.487
Their names were Barnabas,488
Simeon of Niger,489
Lucius of Cyrene,490
Manaen who was raised with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul.491
There were prophets and teachers in the congregation: Or, speakers and teachers. This may indicate that not all congregations had
such offices of prophet and teacher. For details see notes on 1 Corinthians 12:28. These prophets and teachers are named below. See notes on Ephesians 4:12, 13 and James 3:1-3.
Barnabas: See notes on Acts 4:36.
Niger: Niger means dark or black and likely refers to modern Nigeria.
Lucius of Cyrene: Luke of North
Africa. Possibly one of those earlier preaching to non-Jews.
And Saul: Thus these, including Saul, held the
office of elder as speaker and teacher.
AC13:2 And as they were publicly worshipping to the Supreme Being,492
the holy Pneuma said:493
to Me Barnabas and Saul for the work I have called them.”
Supreme Being: Or, the Lord; LORD. Most likely The God is being worshipped.
The holy Pneuma said: Likely through one of those other than Barnabas and Saul, thus either Simeon, Lucius or Manaen.
Set apart: Or, separate, dedicate, consecrate, appoint.
AC13:3 Then they fasted and prayed,495
and after laying hands upon them496
they sent them away.
Then they fasted and prayed: It would seem this required a day or more. Appointments are serious and demand a
period of time for thought and prayer during which there is an abstinence from food and drink. Such “fasting” also requires a quick decision and not extended over considerable time.
Laying hands upon them: Compare notes on Hebrews 6:1 and elsewhere.
Acts 13:4-5 – To Seleucia, Cyprus, Salamis
AC13:4 Then being sent out by the holy Pneuma,497
they went down to Seleucia,498
and from there they sailed away to Cyprus.499
Sent out by the holy Pneuma: That is by the inspired words and appointment of Simeon, Lucius and Manaen. Note this was not by the
Jerusalem body with James as the presiding officer. This indicates that not one central body was authorized to make appointments.
Seleucia: About 12 miles SW of Antioch. A port/fortress on the mouth of a river accessing other places by boat.
Cyprus: WSW 100 nautical miles. Paul will travel thousands of miles by boat in his lifetime.
AC13:5 Now in Salamis500
they proclaimed the Word of The God in the synagogues of the Jews. They also had with them John [Mark] as a subordinate501.
Salamis: A large town on the NE coast with a large Jewish population with at least two synagogues. Paul is going to following the route of Jewish synagogues as his base.
Subordinate: Or, minister, attendant, assistant, helper. The Greek is HYPERETEN [Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance #5257, servant, assistant]. Likely running menial errands, assisting the two with material needs, and possible a secretary or copyist. Paul writes about 15 years later that “Mark is a good assistant.”
Acts 13:6-12 – In Paphos a Sorcerer and a Proconsul
AC13:6 They then crossed over the entire island as far as Paphos.502
There they discovered a certain man named Bar-Jesus,503
a magician and Jewish pseudo-prophet.
They then crossed over the entire island as far as Paphos: Following a road about 100 miles to the western port city. Ruins of this
city can still be seen.
Bar-Jesus: Or, Son of Joshua. His other name Elymos means “sorcerer”.
Likely some official in the island government close to Sergius Paulus.
AC13:7 He was with the proconsul Sergius Paulus,504
an intelligent man. [The proconsul] summoned Barnabas and Saul, seeking them to hear the Word of The God.
Proconsul Sergius Paulus: A proconsul was an official representative of the Roman Senate. An inscription has been found with the words, “in the proconsulship of Paulus.” [TheAnnualoftheBritishSchoolatAthens, London, 1947, pp. 201-206]
AC13:8 But, Elymas (this is [the] name [of Bar-Jesus] when translated) the magician was opposing them, trying to turn the proconsul away from the Faith.
AC13:9 Now Saul, also called Paul,505
filled with holy Pneuma, stared at him506
Paul: Here begins the name change from the Hebrew Saul to the Roman Paul. Some believe the name means “little.” [Strong’s
Exhaustive Concordance #3972] His name will appear about 120 times in Acts.
Stared at him: Or, fixed his eyes, looked steadily, straight in the eye, looking hard, looked intently.
AC13:10 said: “O man full of all deceit and every kind of fraud,507
a son of the Devil,508
enemy of everything righteous, will you not stop twisting the
Full of all deceit and every kind of fraud: Or, mischief, craftiness, false tricks, imposter, charlatan, sleight of hand. Likely referring to his magic.
A son of the Devil: Or, child of lies.
Will you not stop twisting the ways: Or, pervert, diverting, crooked.
AC13:11 Now, look,
is on you and you will be temporarily blind and not be able to see the sun.” Instantly a cloudy darkness fell on him and he stumbled about seeking someone to lead him.
YHWH’s hand: Or, Lord. Perhaps a Hebraism.
when the proconsul witnessed this happen he believed and was awe-struck at the teaching of the Master.511
Awe-struck at the teaching of the Master: Or, astonished, amazed, thunderstruck, impressed, shaken to the core; doctrine.
Acts 13:13-16a – Paul’s Synagogue Speech
AC13:13 Then Paul512
and his circle513
put out to sea from Paphos to Perga of Pamphylia.514
But, John [Mark] left them and returned to Jerusalem.515
Then Paul: Note after the sign of blindness upon Bar-Jesus and likely his teaching of the proconsul, Paul is now mentioned first.
Circle: Or, company, associates, those around him, his friends. The Greek is the preposition PERI [Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance
#4012, about, around]. Meaning Barnabas and Mark, though perhaps others have joined the missionary group.
of Pamphylia: A Roman province Pamphylia is a coastal region in Turkey. The sailing trip would be over 200 miles. Perga is inland by river. The Greek geographer Strabo writes that this river was navigable as far N as Perga. [Geography, 14, IV, 2]
John [Mark] left them and returned to Jerusalem: The reason is not given, though one might assume a rich “momma’s boy”
could not take the rigors of this tour and went home. Or, an immature personality clash. Or, news of his mother. This is to cause Paul considerable irritation. [Acts 15:38]
AC13:14 [Paul and Barnabas] left from Perga and arrived in Antioch of Pisidia.516
They entered into the synagogue on the Sabbath517
and sat down.
Antioch of Pisidia: Inland over 100 miles N.
They entered into the synagogue on the Sabbath: Paul has taken advantage of the groundwork laid down by the Jews over centuries. Judging from his writings elsewhere he is not a strict Sabbath observer, nor any longer a Jew in the strict religious sense. He is present in the synagogue of the Sabbath [Friday/Saturday] to testify to the Jews.
AC13:15 Now after the reading of the Law and the Prophets,518
the synagogue leaders519
went to them, asking: “Men, brothers, if you have any word of encouragement520
to the [Jewish] people, speak.”
The reading of the Law and the Prophets: A standard part of the service continued to this day and copied in Christian Churches where
a reading of the Bible is a normal part of most services. [Acts 15:21]
Synagogue leaders: Or, rulers, wardens,
authorities, officials, presidents. The Church is to adopt something similar in the individual congregations with elders and a presiding overseer. [Mark 5:22]
Word of encouragement: Or, exhortation, word of counsel. Paul was a rabbi and it was common to have visiting Jews address the assembly. This indicates a degree of freedom and flexibility on the part of the synagogue.
AC13:16a Now Paul rose and motioning with his hand,521
Motioning with his hand: Or, KNX: made a gesture… to calm audience; BER: suggesting silence by a wave. It is interesting
this small matter is recorded, particularly as Luke has not yet joined the traveling group. Someone has remembered this. Perhaps the audience was astir with excitement with visitors.
Acts 13:16b-25 – From Judges to Jesus
AC13:16b “Men, Israelites, and those fearing The God,522
Men, Israelites, and those fearing The God: The latter phrase likely refers to women as such are mentioned later in the account. See notes elsewhere on ANDRES APHELPHOI. Those who “fear God” are likely the “proselytes” mentioned later.
AC13:17 The God523
of this people Israel chose our forefathers, and
He made the people great during their sojourn in the land of Egypt. With an uplifted arm He led them out of [that land].
[Exodus 6:6; Deuteronomy 7:6]
The God: Paul does not use YHWH in this address to a Jewish synagogue. He uses his preferred designation HO THEOS. Compare this sermon
to another on the same subject for a Greek audience in Acts chapter 17. Paul’s synopses of Hebrew history may be compared to a longer variety by Stephen in Acts 7. He starts on common ground with information his audience already knows.
AC13:18For forty years He tolerated them in the wilderness.
AC13:19After [Israel] destroyed seven nations in the land of Canaan, He gave the land as their inheritance
[Deuteronomy 7:1; Joshua 14:2]
AC13:20 for about four hundred and fifty years. After this
He gave judges until Samuel the prophet. [Judges 2:16; 1 Samuel 3:20]
AC13:21 But, then
[Israel] asked for a king and The God gave them one, Saul, son of Kish, a man from Benjamin’s tribe, who reigned forty years.
[1 Samuel 8:5; 10:21; 11:15]
AC13:22After removing Saul, [The God] raised up David as a their king[Hosea 13:11; 1 Samuel 16:12]
about whom He also said:‘I have found David, Jesse’s son, a man agreeable to My heart… one who will do all My will.’”524
[1 Samuel 13:14; Isaiah 44:28]
One who will do all My will: This phrase is borrowed from another context at Isaiah 44:28. One authority on Biblical quotations states:
“Same words, but different subject. Said of Cyrus as a type of liberator of God’s People, but not said of David; however, as Cyrus is a type of Christ as liberator of the captivity of Israel, and because Christ is both descendant and antitype of
David, there is a sense in which this refers back to David because of ‘David’s Greater Son’.” [Old Testament Quotations in the New Testament, page 51]
this man’s seed The God brought a savior525
to Israel according to [His] promise – Jesus.
A savior: The article “a” indicates there are other saviors. [KJV, TCN, NOR, WMS] The God is the Savior of Christ himself.
[Hebrews 5:7] Similar titles do not mean the same nature.
AC13:24John proclaimed526to all the people of Israel in advance of the appearance of [Jesus], a baptism of repentance.
[Luke 3:3, 4]
John proclaimed: Paul shows his familiarity with the Gospel record and it is possible his paraphrase here is from Luke.
AC13:25 Now as John came to the end of his course, he said:
‘Who do you think me to be? I am not the One. But, look, the One whose sandals I am not worthy to untie, will come after me.’
[Luke 3:3, 4, 16]
Acts 13:26-31 – Witnesses to Christ’s Resurrection
AC13:26 “Men, brothers, sons of Abraham’s family, and all those among you fearing The God, it was to we [Jews] the message of this salvation was sent forth.
AC13:27 But those dwelling in Jerusalem and their rulers did not recognize this One – even though the voices of the prophets were read every Sabbath – and so they condemned him and fulfilled their words.
without finding any reason for his death
they asked Pilate to do away with him. [Matthew 27:22]
AC13:29 And when they had fulfilled everything that had been written about him,
they took him down from the Tree527
[John 19:40] and
put him in a memorial tomb.528
Tree: Though some versions use “cross” here the Greek is XYLOU [Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance #3586, wood, tree].
Peter has done the same. [Acts 5:30; 10:39; 1 Peter 2:24] Compare Galatians 3:13.
Put him in a memorial tomb:
Paul seems very familiar with the Gospel of Matthew.
AC13:30 However, The God raised him up from the dead!
AC13:31 He is the One who was seen throughout many days by
those who came up with him from Galilee to Jerusalem. [Matthew 28:16; Acts 1:3] These are now witnesses regarding him to all the [Jewish] people.”
Acts 13:32-37 – David and Jesus Compared
AC13:32 “And now we are proclaiming to you [Jews] the coming of the promise to the forefathers,
AC13:33 that all these things The God completely fulfilled529
to their children – to us – by raising Jesus, just as it has been written in the Second Psalm:530‘You are My son! Today I have begotten you!’
God completely fulfilled: The Greek is EK- [out] PE- [has] PLERO- [fulfilled] KEN. Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance #1603, fill
up completely. Or, WUE: has completely fulfilled.
Second Psalm: Paul quotes Psalm 2:7 and applies it to the
resurrection of Christ. Thus, verse 6 is also fulfilled this same year. Compare Peter’s quote of Psalm 2:1, 2 in Acts 4:24f.
AC13:34 That [Christ] would be raised from the dead never
to return to corruption, He has said:
‘I give to you [people of Israel] the reliable covenant-loyalty of David.’531
[Isaiah 55:3 LXX]
I give to you [people of Israel] the reliable covenant-loyalty of David: Isaiah chapter 53 suggests the resurrection of Messiah at
AC13:35 Also in another psalm, He says:
‘You will not permit your Saint to experience decay.’532
[Psalm 16:10 LXX]
You will not permit your Saint to experience decay: Or, corruption. Peter quotes the same Psalm at Acts 2:31.
AC13:36 For surely David, having served on behalf of God’s counsel in his own generation, fell asleep and
was added to those of his forefathers and did experience decay.533
[1 Kings 2:10]
Did experience decay: David, like all the Hebrew forefathers decayed in Hades. Peter makes a similar argument. [Acts 2:29]
AC13:37 However, that One The God raised did not experience decay.”
Acts 13:38-41 – Believers Declared Guiltless
AC13:38 “So, men, brothers, let it be known, then, that by means of this One forgiveness of sins is proclaimed. Also, that from all these [sins] you [Jews] cannot by the Law of Moses ever be declared innocent.534
You [Jews] cannot by the Law of Moses ever be declared Not Guilty: Or, justified, declared righteous, cleared, absolved, acquitted.
Paul’s first use of a word that will become his theme. [Romans 8:3; Hebrews 7:19; 10:1]
AC13:39 Anyone who is declared innocent believes in this One.
AC13:40 And so, be aware, then, that what is spoken by the prophets does not happen to you [Jews]:
AC13:41‘Look, all of you scoffers,535 marvel and disappear, because I perform a work in your days – a work that you [Jews] will never believe even if someone were to relate it to you.’”536
[Habakkuk 1:5 LXX]
Look, all of you scoffers: Paul quotes Habakkuk 1:5 as a warning to these Jews.
Never believe even if someone were to relate it to you: Perhaps Paul anticipates their response to his message.
Acts 13:42-43 – Jews Call for More
AC13:42 Now as they were leaving [the synagogue], the [Jews] kept begging them to speak to them537
on the following Sabbath.
Kept begging them to speak to them: This interest will cause the Jewish leadership to jealousy and opposition.
AC13:43 After the meeting was dissolved, many of the Jews, as well as those worshipping proselytes,538
kept following Paul and Barnabas, who had spoken to them, persuading them to remain in the unmerited favor of The God.
Or, converts, become Jews. The Ethiopian eunuch and Cornelius would be examples. [Acts 8, 10] Esther 8:17 reads: “And many of the Non-Jews were circumcised, and became Jews.” [LXX Bagster]
Acts 13:44-47 – “We Turn to the Non-Jews”
AC13:44 Now on the following Sabbath virtually the entire city assembled to hear the Word of The God.
AC13:45 But, when the [leaders of the] Jews observed the crowd they were filled with jealousy539
and began to speak abusively540
about Paul contradicting the things he spoke.
Jews observed the crowd they were filled with jealousy: Such jealousy is common even among Christians where one teacher attracts more interest than another. Jealousy almost always leads to what is mentioned next. Compare also Acts 5:17; 7:9; 17:5.
Speak abusively: Or, blaspheme, abusive language, reviled. When one hears such speech about another it is almost always caused by jealousy.
AC13:46 Then both Paul and Barnabas spoke boldly, saying: “It was a necessity that the Word of The God first be spoken to you [Jews]!541
Since you [Jews] reject it, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting Life, look, we will turn to the non-Jews.542
Word of The God first be spoken to you [Jews]: The 49th week of Daniel 9:25-27 is fulfilled in the seven years of special
grace to the Jews. Paul writes of the “Jew first” at Romans 1:16. Compare notes on Matthew 10:6.
will turn to the non-Jews: This marks a major change in Paul’s work which will now focus on the non-Jews though he will use the synagogue system where he can.
AC13:47 For so the
Supreme Being commanded us:
‘I have appointed you as a light to the non-Jews543 so you will
become a salvation unto earth’s extremities.’”
I have appointed you as a light to the non-Jews: Paul quotes Isaiah 49:6, a chapter he also quotes at 2 Corinthians 6:2. The “you” here would be Jewish Christians who represent the first members of the “Israel of God” as light to the Non-Jews. [Galatians 6:16; Romans 2:28, 29; 9:6] Isaiah chapter 49 is also alluded to at Revelation 7:15-17.
Acts 13:48-52 – Jews Stir Up Trouble, Non-Jews Rejoice
AC13:48 When the non-Jews heard this they rejoiced544
and kept glorifying the Word of The God, and all those who believed were disposed545
to everlasting Life.
When the non-Jews heard this they rejoiced: Immediately God blesses this decision and the result is new believers on Cyprus.
Disposed: Or, ordained, predestined, marked out, appointed, destined. The Greek is TETAGMENOI [Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance #5021,
arrange in an orderly manner, assign, dispose to a certain position]. It is not the individuals who are so disposed but the type of Life the Church will receive.
AC13:49 So, the Word of the
Master spread throughout the whole region.
AC13:50 But, the Jews urged on the prominent Jewish women546
who worshipped [God], as well as the important men of the city. So these instigated a persecution against Paul and Barnabas and then drove them out of their [city], beyond their borders.
Jews urged on the prominent Jewish women: Or, MOF: devout women of rank; TCN: ladies of position; BER: women of wealth; RIE: influential
women attached to the synagogue; NWT: reputable women.
AC13:51 Now [Paul and Barnabas]
shook the dust off their feet against them,547
[Matthew 10:14] and then they arrived at Iconium.548
Shook the dust off their feet against them: An allusion to the Nazarene at Matthew 10:14. Has Paul read Matthew’s Gospel?
Iconium: About 100 miles ESE into Galatia on the Turkish plateau. It was a large city situated on a major trade route and had a large Jewish
population. In Greek “icon” means “idol” or “image.”
AC13:52 And the disciples continued to be filled with joy and holy Pneuma.