Acts 13:42-52

42 So when the Jews went out of the synagogue, the Gentiles begged that these words might be preached to them the next Sabbath.

43 Now when the congregation had broken up, many of the Jews and devout proselytes followed Paul and Barnabas, who, speaking to them, persuaded them to continue in the grace of God.

44 On the next Sabbath almost the whole city came together to hear the word of God.

45 But when the Jews saw the multitudes, they were filled with envy; and contradicting and blaspheming, they opposed the things spoken by Paul.

46 Then Paul and Barnabas grew bold and said, “It was necessary that the word of God should be spoken to you first; but since you reject it, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, behold, we turn to the Gentiles.

47 For so the Lord has commanded us: ‘I have set you as a light to the Gentiles, that you should be for salvation to the ends of the earth.'”

48 Now when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and glorified the word of the Lord. And as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed.

49 And the word of the Lord was being spread throughout all the region.

50 But the Jews stirred up the devout and prominent women and the chief men of the city, raised up persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and expelled them from their region.

51 But they shook off the dust from their feet against them, and came to Iconium.

52 And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.

when the Jews went out (v.42) = should be “when they [the apostles] went out

begged (v.42) = continued to beg

persuaded (v.43) = continued to persuade

continue in (v.43) = cleave unto

the grace of God (v.43) — With Acts 11:23, this verse forms a sort of transition to a series of passages in the Acts (14:3; 15:11, 40; 18:27; 20:24, 32) which place God’s grace in definite connection with the extension of the Gospel to the Gentiles. It helps to give us a new conception of that “grace” as the surprising mercy of God by which those who had been wholly outside the privileged circle were now the recipients of the divine favor. In Paul’s Epistles, this sense of the word is still more strongly emphasized. — Walker, pages 298-299.

envy (v.45) — that those considered “common and unclean” were now receiving the gift. The Jews had lost their privileged position.

contradicted (v.45) — tense indicates continuing action — loud and long opposition

blasphemed (v.45) — reviled the name of Jesus Christ (Acts 18:6; 26:11)

Their contradiction and blasphemy was a particularly serious matter in the light of our Lord’s warning that whosoever should blaspheme or speak against Him might be forgiven, but whosoever blasphemed or spoke against the Holy Spirit would never be forgiven, neither in that age, nor in the age to come (Matthew 12:31-32). This was not, of course, because the Holy Spirit was a more important member of the Trinity than the Father or the Son, but simply because the Holy Spirit was the third member of the Trinity to deal with them.  They had rejected the Father in the Old Testament. Then the Father had sent the Son and they had rejected, contradicted and blasphemed Him. Now the Son was to send the Spirit and, “Beware,” says our Lord, for “if you contradict or blaspheme Him, it will never be forgiven you.”

The Holy Spirit had come at Pentecost, mightily confirming the witness of the apostles to Christ, but the unbelieving Jews, especially the rulers, had bitterly opposed them, contradicting and blaspheming. Now, here at Antioch in Pisidia, we find them doing the same thing. Later, at Corinth again the Jews “opposed themselves, and blasphemed” (18:6) and while that precise phraseology is not always used, this is what we find them doing from Jerusalem to Rome. Thus it was that that rebellious generation in Israel committed the unpardonable sin, never to be forgiven them. As a nation, however, Israel is typified by Bar-Jesus who was blinded “for a season” (Acts 13:11 cf. Romans 11:25-26). — Stam, pages 210-211.

grew bold (v.46) — Their courage grew with opposition.

to you (v.46) — to the Jews

reject (v.46) = push away, thrust away. This wasn’t simply a passive noncommittal.

judge yourselves (v.46) — pronounce sentence on yourselves by your actions

we turn to the Gentiles (v.46) — for the first time, they turned their backs on the Jews and spoke directly to the Gentiles

It was necessary to preach the Word of God to the Jews first, then, because according to covenant and prophecy they were to be the channel through which God should bless the Gentiles. But let us continue with Paul’s declaration to the Jews at Antioch: “It was necessary that the Word of God should first have been spoken to you, BUT … “

Does not this “but” indicate a change in the program, a departure (even if a temporary departure) from the procedure outlined in prophecy?

But does this indicate that God was forced to change His plans because of Israel’s rejection of Christ? By no means, for the apostle informs us — and proves it — that this departure from His prophesied program had been planned, but kept secret, since “before the world began” (Ephesians 1:4; 3:1-11; Colossians 1:24-27).

Does it mean, then, that God could not, or would not, keep His word? No indeed. First, this same Paul, by the Spirit, insists that all Israel will yet be saved and the covenant promises fulfilled (Romans 11:25-29). Thus the departure from the prophetic program proves to be but a temporary one, an interruption of it. Second, this generation of Abraham’s seed failed to become a blessing to the Gentiles, not because of God’s unfaithfulness to them, but because they refused to accept the blessing themselves. Paul is most emphatic as to this, saying: “but seeing ye put it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles. — Stam, pages 212-213.

The quote in verse 47 is from Isaiah 49:6, where it refers to the Servant, the Messiah.

appointed (v.48) = disposed toward. Those who were inclined toward eternal life in Christ believed. This isn’t election.

spread throughout (v.49) — tense indicates a continual action

devout and prominent women (v.50). In Asia Minor, women had a more important status than in Greece and were sometimes appointed as magistrates. These women were probably proselytes, the wives of leading, influential men.

persecution (v.50) — 2 Timothy 3:11 indicates that Paul suffered personal violence at Antioch, and it has been suggested that one of the “beatings with rods” (of Roman lictors) referred to in 2 Corinthians 11:25 may have occurred at Pisidian Antioch, the Roman magistrates there, as in all such colonies, being attended by lictors (see 16:22). It was probably, too, the scene of one of the five beatings by the Jews mentioned in 2 Corinthians 11:24. — Walker, page 302.

shook off the dust (v.51) — left them to the consequences of their choice

Iconium (v.51) — An ancient city belonging to Phyrgia, but near the border of Lycaonia. It was situated in a fertile spot, and was also an important commercial town, since one of the main roads between Cilicia and the west passed through it. Jews were numerous there. It was distant from Antioch about 85 miles by road, and was, so to speak, and outlying town in the region of Zillah of Antioch, though much less important than the latter, from a political point of view. — Walker, page 303.

filled with joy (v.52) — in spite of persecution and the departure of Paul and Barnabas

filled … with the Holy Spirit (v.52) — In Acts 2:38, the Jews were filled with the Holy Spirit after they were baptized.  In Acts 10:44, 48, the Gentiles in Cornelius’ house were filled with the Holy Spirit before they were baptized. Now here in Acts 13:52, the Gentiles in Antioch were filled with the Holy Spirit with no reference to baptism whatsoever.

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