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."

At Antioch., in the Church that was there for in the Church that was at Antioch,

Authorized Version; prophets, etc., for certain prophets, etc., Authorized Version and

Textus Receptus; Barnabas, etc., for as Barnabas, etc., Authorized Version; Symeon for

Simeon, Authorized Version; the foster-brother of for which had been brought up with,

Authorized Version  At Antioch, in the Church, etc. Κατὰ τὴν οϋσαν ἐκκλησίαν  -

Kata taen ousan ekklaesianaccording to the being out-called -  rather means

"the existing Church," just as at αἱ οϋσαι ἐξουσίαι - hai ousai exousiai - the ones

being authorities - means "the existing  powers," "the powers that be," in

Romans 13:1, Authorized Version and Textus Receptus.  The then Church seems

more the meaning than the Church there. Luke writes from the standpoint of

many years later. Prophets were a regular part of the ministry of the then Church

(see ch. 11:27; 21:9-10; Romans 12:6-7; I Corinthians 12:10, 28; 13:2, 14:1, 3,

22, 24, 31-32:  Ephesians 4:11. See also note on Acts 4:26).  Teachers

(διδάσκαλοι – didaskaloi) are coupled with prophets, as here, in I Corinthians

12:28-29; Ephesians 4:11. The teachers would appear to differ from the prophets in

that they were not under the ecstatic influence of the Holy Spirit, and did not utter

exhortations or prophecies in a poetic strain, but were expounders of Christian truth,

under the teaching of the Spirit. What they spoke was called a διδαχή - didachi –

teaching; doctrine (I Corinthians 14:26), and their function was διδασκαλία

didaskalia - teaching, as Romans 12:7, where διδασκαλία is reckoned among the

χαρίσματα - charismata - gifts, the gifts of the Holy Ghost. It was forbidden to

women to teach (διδάσκειν - didaskein – to be teaching -  I Timothy 2:12), though t

hey might prophesy (Acts 21:9). It is thought by Meyer, Alford, and others that the

position of the particles τε - te – besides -  attaching the two following names to

Barnabas in the first place, and one name following to Manaen in the second,

indicates that Barnabas, Symeon, and Lucius were prophets, and Manaen and

Saul teachers. Lucius has by some been falsely identified with St. Luke. The foster-

brother; σύντροφος - suntrophos -  may equally mean a foster-brother, one nursed

at the same time at the same breast, which would indicate that Manaen's mother

was wet-nurse to Herod the tetrarch; or a playmate, which would indicate that he

had been sodalis to Herod. It is only found here in the New Testament, but is used

by Xenophon, Plutarch, etc., and in I Maccabees 1:7; II Maccabees 9:29. In this

chapter and onwards the scene of the great drama of Christianity is transferred

from Jerusalem to Antioch. The first part, which has hitherto been played by

Peter and John and James, is now taken up by Barnabas and Saul, soon, however,

to be classed as Paul and Barnabas.


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.   And as for as,

Authorized Version. They ministered; i.e. not, as Meyer explains it, the whole Church,

but the prophets and teachers, doubtless at an assembly of the Church. The word

λειτουργούντων - leitourgounton - , here rendered "they ministered" (from which

the word "Liturgy" is derived), signifies any solemn ministration or holy service.

In the Old Testament the Septuagint use it as the rendering of שֵׁרֵת, to minister

(often with the addition "to God," or "to the Lord "), which is a general word

applying to the ministrations of priests and Levites (Exodus 28:35; Numbers 8:26).

Hence its use in Hebrews 10:11 (see too Luke 1:23; Hebrews 9:21). Joshua too

is called Moses' minister (מְשָׁרֵת) in Joshua 1:1, etc., and the angels are called

λριτουργικὰ πνεύματα - lritourgika pneumata -  "ministering spirits" (Hebrews 1:14).

Just as the Church transferred from the Jewish congregation so many other words

and things, so also the use of the words, λειτουργία, λειτουργεῖν - leitourgia,

leitourgein - , to signify  "Divine service," without specifying the particular office,

whether prayer, or preaching, or Holy Communion, or ordination, or any ether part

of the worship of God. Its classical use was to designate any office performed by an

individual for the public good. Hence in the New Testament its application to Church

alms (II Corinthians 9:12), to gifts for the support of the ministry (Philippians 2:30),

to the office of magistrates (Romans 13:6), etc. The restricted application of the term

λειτουργία to the service used in the celebration of the Eucharist was of much later

growth, as is evident from Chrysostom explaining the word here of preaching.

"What means ministering? Preaching" (Homiletics  27.). It seems to have arisen

from the fact that the first forms of prayer were those come posed for the office of

the Holy Communion. This passage, therefore, does not give the slightest support to

fasting Communion. What was the exact occasion of the service and fast here spoken

of it is impossible to say. The Holy Ghost said, etc. This is the origin of the question

in the Ordination of Deacons, "Do you trust that you are inwardly moved by the

Holy Ghost to take upon you this office?" Separate me (ἀφορίσατε - aphorisate –

sever ye).  The act of separation, or ordination, would be by the laying on of the

hands of Symeon and Lucius and Manaen, as Chrysostom says (at least of the two

last named), in the presence of the whole Church, but the separation by the Holy Ghost,

at least as regards Saul (ὁ ἀφορίσας με - ho aphorisas me – the One severing me), had

been from his mother's womb (Galatians 1:15). Observe, too, the καλέσας - kalesas -  

calling - of Galatians 1:15, and the προσκέκλημαι - proskeklaemai – I have called to –

 here. This is another instance of the very close resemblance between parts of the

Acts and the Epistle to the Galatians, which looks as if Paul was writing it about

the same time as he was giving to Luke the details of his own history (see ch. 8:19,

note). The ordination was to the apostolate (Chrysostom). Barnabas and Saul are

never called apostles till after their ordination or consecration (ch. 14:14).


3 "And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they

sent them away."  Then for and, Authorized Version.  It does not follow that the

laying on of hands was on the same day. On the contrary, the mention of the

fasting again in this verse makes it impossible so to understand it. Doubtless, on

receiving this intimation of the Spirit, they fixed a day for the ordination, and

prepared for it by fasting and prayer. The ember days of the Church before

ordinations are in accordance with this precedent of Holy Scripture. With this

departure of Barnabas and Saul commences the second and main part of the

Acts of the apostles.



An Illustrious Church (vs. 1-3)


Antecedently it might have been expected that the Church of Jerusalem

would prove to be the most influential and illustrious of all Christian

communities, and that from all lands and ages men would look back to it as

the most potent factor in the early history of “our holy religion.” But in this

respect it must give place to “the Church that was at Antioch.” This

community was remarkable for four things.


  • ITS HUMAN COMPOSITION. (v. 1.) Great names have been

entered on the rolls of many Churches; but very few indeed, if any, could

compare with the list which included the names of Barnabas and Saul, as

well as that of a man (Manaen) who was the foster-brother of Herod

Antipas. A Church is influential, not only according to the number of souls

it can count in its communion, but according to the character of the men

who are included in its ranks. A Church which can win and can train and

send forth a most useful minister, or a most successful missionary, or a

most powerful writer, may do a work which, in the balances of Heaven,

weighs more than that of another which has five times its number on the

lists. Nowhere more than here does quality, character, spiritual worth, tell

in the estimate of truth and wisdom.


  • ITS DIVINE INDWELLING. The Church at Antioch had “prophets

and teachers” (v. 1). This statement implies that there were those

amongst the brethren who received occasionally such Divine impulse that

they spoke under the consciousness of His inspiration. And to them, or to

one of them, the Spirit of God made known the Divine will that they

should set apart two of their number for special work (v. 2). Evidently

this Church was one in which, as in a temple, the Holy Ghost dwelt. The

fact of the indwelling of the Spirit is not, indeed, anything which is itself

remarkable; for no Church of which this cannot be said is worthy of its

name. But of “the Church that was at Antioch this was strikingly and

eminently true, if we may take this short passage of its history as of a piece

with the rest.


  • ITS RELIGIOUS ACTIVITY. We know that Barnabas and Saul

“taught much people” (ch.11:26); the work of evangelization went

on actively at, Antioch. We may gather from our text — “they ministered

to the Lord, and fasted” — that the Church was diligent in its devotions;

not only worshipping when it was convenient and agreeable to the flesh,

but to the extent of self-denial: twice in two verses we read of the members

fasting (vs. 2-3). Fasting, for the sake of fasting or with a view of

pleasing Christ, is not enjoined, and both the words of our Lord and the

genius of His religion discourage rather than encourage it. But we shall

undoubtedly do well to pursue our work and to maintain our worship —

“ministering unto the Lord” — up to and within the line of self-control and

even self-denial; not only not giving the reins to our bodily cravings, but

checking these and restricting ourselves beyond that which is positively

demanded, if by so doing we can worship God more spiritually or work

more effectively for our fellows.



ENTERPRISE. (vs. 2-3.) The Church was commanded by its Lord to

send two of its members on the errand of converting the Gentiles, “and…

they sent them away.” It was not its part to “reason why,” but to obey.

Had it reckoned the likelihood of the case, dwelt on the difficulties in the

way of success, measured the might and number of its adversaries, weighed

the strength of two Jews against the learning, the prejudice, the military

forces, the material interests, the social customs, the evil habits, the

inwrought unrighteousness of a bitterly and even passionately hostile

world, it would have hesitated, it would have refrained. But it did not

measure these things. It heard the sovereign sound of its Divine Leader’s

voice, and it proceeded unquestioningly to obey. It “sent them away.” And

they went forth — those two men — unpracticed in the wiles of the world;

poor; unarmed; unequipped with any forces which, on mere human lines,

could avail anything; determined to preach a doctrine which would be

received with the haughtiest contempt, which would clash with men’s

strongest interests and smite their most cherished sins; — they went forth,

with the confidence of the Church behind them (v. 3), with the hand of

the Lord upon them, with the hope of His welcome and His reward before

them. It was a splendid action of an illustrious Church, and the nearer we

can approach it in our own times and in our own communities, the dearer

shall we be to our Master and the greater service shall we render to our




       Ordination of Barnabas and Saul (vs. 1-3)


·         THE TRUE WEALTH OF A CHURCH. There were prophets and

teachers at Antioch. Nothing is said about its wealth in money, only about

its wealth in men. A religious community may possess splendid buildings,

wealthy members; may command amply all the external appliances of

worship and work; but unless it has men, it has not strength. Intelligence

and enthusiasm, piety and genius, constitute the true forces of the Church.

Without these, it is feeble with all its worldly resources; with these, it is

mighty in poverty.




Ø      It was preceded by prayer and fasting. The moderation of the body

gives freedom and clearness to the judgment. There is nothing artificial

in the true proceedings of spiritual man. The bodily and the spiritual life

cannot be both affirmed at the same time. In denying the body we affirm

the Spirit. In casting off the weights of sense we rise into the purer air.


Ø      It was accompanied by laying on of hands. “Order is Heaven’s first

law,” and in the Church “let all things be done decently and in order.”

(I Corinthians 14:40)  The act marks peculiar selection out of the mass

of men, and for special and peculiar ends of work. From Antioch in its

strength and spiritual prosperity went forth the first missionaries. This

is an example. When we are full of thought we long to speak or

otherwise give it to the world. When the fire burns within the soul the

tongue cannot be mute. In like manner, a vigorous Church will be a

missionary Church; the falling off of missionary interest is a symptom

that we have less hold upon the truth or have lost the fullness of love

from the heart.




Human Separation to Divine Missions (vs. 2-3)


The point to which attention may be directed is that the living Lord,

presiding in His Church, selects the persons to do His work, but requires the

Church to make outward and formal recognition of His selection. Christ

calls to work. The Church separates to work. This subject may be

introduced by illustrations of the ways in which God was pleased to

communicate His will under the older dispensations, as e.g.:


Ø      by the vision and message of angels,

Ø      by the mission of prophets,

Ø      by inward impulses.


We may recognize a steady advance towards the more spiritual ways in which

God communicates His will to the New Testament Church; sometimes

directly inspiring the individual member; at other times revealing His will to

some that, through them, it might be communicated to all. The indwelling

Spirit is now the medium of Divine revelation to men. So indwelling, He

becomes the constant inspiration of thought, feeling, judgment, and action.

The Holy Ghost, conceived as the abiding Divine presence in the Church,

said, “Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have

called them.” It has been suggested that the will of the Holy Ghost was

known “through the lips of the prophets, speaking as by a sudden burst of

simultaneous inspiration.”




Ø      God has a work for each one of His creatures to do. This truth is

illustrated in the infinite variety of things which God has made on the earth.

Each minutest creature has his place, his work, and his fitness for doing it.

As we ascend in the scale of being, the work becomes more complex; and

it is difficult for us to realize that the same thing can be true of man, who is

endowed with self-will and is free to choose his own way. Yet we do hold

that, in the Divine omniscience and government, a work is appointed for

every man, and that, for the doing of that precise work, each man is

brought into being at a particular time and endowed with particular

abilities. (Remember that David served “his generation” – v. 36 – CY –

2017)  A perfect order on earth could be attained if each individual fitted

precisely into the place and work to which he has been divinely assigned.


Ø      But God not only has a variety of forms of work, He has a perfect

knowledge of the men who can best do it. Sometimes the Divine

sovereignty is spoken of in a way that cannot honor God. It is assumed that

He acts upon a bare exercise of will, and without the necessity for

consideration. But the case of our text rather shows that the Divine

selections are always made upon due estimate of the fitness of the

individuals. Barnabas and Saul were evidently just the men to undertake

this new mission to the Gentiles. It follows from this view of the Divine

calls to work that it can never be a true humility that refuses a Divine call;

Moses and Jeremiah were both in the wrong when they hesitated and

shrank back from a duty which God laid upon them. We may be quite sure

that we can do whatsoever God requires us to do.  (“Faithful is He that

calleth you who also will do it.”  - I Thessalonians 5:24)


Ø      And it may further be shown that God has the full right to call forth any

one of His servants to serve Him in any way that He may please. Moses must

come from the deserts, Gideon from the winepress, David from the

sheepfolds, Elisha from his ploughing, and John from his fishing, if the

“Lord hath need of him.”  (Luke 19:31)



may be said — Is not the Divine allotment of workers and their work

sufficient? and why should more than this be necessary? In reply, it may be

pointed out that God deals with us as communities, and recognizes our

mutual relations, and our influence one upon another. For the sake of the

blessing which one man’s call may be to many, He requires that it shall be

publicly and openly recognized. In this way His claims, His presence, and

His abiding relations to all work and workers may be freshly impressed

upon the Church. Ordination and dedication services are fruitful in blessing

to the Churches. It may be well to point out:


Ø      The value of forms, services, and devout ceremonials.

Ø      The most profitable and helpful forms such services may take, noting

and explaining that, in the ordination of Barnabas and Saul, there was

union in fasting and in prayer, with the solemn “laying on of hands.”

Ø      The purposes that may be served by such public dedications:


o       increased feeling of responsibility on the part of the persons


o       assured interest of the congregation in their work;

o       impulse to others to devote themselves to Christian work.


4 "So they, being sent forth by the Holy Ghost, departed unto Seleucia; and

from thence they sailed to Cyprus."  Went down to for departed unto, Authorized

Version - (κατῆλθον – kataelathon – came down). Seleucia was the seaport of

Antioch, about sixteen miles from it, and five miles north of the mouth of the Orontes.

It was a free city by a grant from Pompey. It is now in ruins, but "the masonry of the

once magnificent port of Seleucia is in so good a state that" it might be repaired and

cleared out "for about £31,000" (Colonel Chesney, quoted in Lewin, 1. p. 119).

They sailed to Cyprus. Barnabas, no doubt, took the lead, and was naturally drawn

to his native island of Cyprus - within a hundred miles of Seleucia, and, on a clear

day, visible from it. The number of Jews in the island, and the partial evangelization

of it which had already taken place (ch. 11:19-20), and which promised them

assistance and support, no doubt further influenced them. John Mark went with them,

as we learn from the fifth and thirteenth verses, and possibly other brethren as deacons

and ministers (see next note). They sailed straight to Salamis, "a convenient and

capacious harbor," in the center of the eastern end of the island, and the principal or

one of the principal towns. It had a large population of Jews. It was destroyed in the

reign of Trajan, in consequence of a terrible insurrection of the Jews, in which they

massacred 240,000 of the Gentile population. No Jew was ever after allowed to land

in Cyprus.


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."

Proclaimed for preached, Authorized Version ; as their attendant for to their

minister, Authorized Version  (ὑπηρέτην - hupaeretaen - ). It is a word taken

from the synagogue, where it denotes an inferior minister (see Luke 4:20). In

ch. 5:22 the ὑπηρέται - hupaeretai – subservients, deputies -  are the apparitors

of the high priest. Here it is synonymous with διάκονος - diakonos - a deacon.

John was to Barnabas and Saul what Joshua was to Moses, Elisha to Elijah, etc.

Peter, when he went to Caesarea, was accompanied by six brethren (ch. 11:12).



An Ordination Service (vs. 1-5)


This chapter is very interesting, as finding for us the real starting-point of

Saul’s grand missionary labors; as recording the change of his name to Paul

(v. 9); as altering the order hitherto observed in mentioning it, from

“Barnabas and Saul” to “Paul and Barnabas” (vs. 2, 8; compare with

vs. 13, 43); and lastly, as forming the commencement of a long sketch of

history almost exclusively occupied with his acts and career alone. For

reasons which doubtless came of the Holy Spirit, of His purpose, His

motions, and His sanctifying guidance, Paul now takes the foreground and

henceforth is kept in it. His early character and career had been marked, his

“call” had been marked (ch. 9), his waiting and trial since had been marked,

and now marked for ever on the page of Scripture and upon the genius of

Christ’s Church was the stamp of his work and devotion. The preamble

alike of the chapter and of this long sketch of history is filled in with the

very brief recital of the ordination of Barnabas and Saul to missionary

labor. Let us observe what is distinctly recorded as the condition of things

at this juncture, and what thereupon the course of things.



is worth observing, if only for the honor thereby done the Church. But yet

more for the suggestions that arise from it, as indicating that it is the point

of departure condescendingly recognized by Heaven itself, by Christ and

the Spirit — of duty, of work, of character, of privilege to men. Wherever

the Church, it is the living center, where dwells the Spirit, around which

warmest and most intelligent affection, devotion, and enthusiasm should

gather, even beyond those owned to by David and the most pious of the

Jews toward Jerusalem and Zion (Psalm 137:4-6). No metropolitan

center of officialism, it purports to be and is ordained to be a living

fountain head. This is the “rest of the Lord” (Psalm 132:8, 14). This is

where His people find rest. This the spot from which the heralds of

everlasting truth set out, and of which they say again and again, “All my

springs are in thee” (Psalm 87:7).



CHURCH. They are prophets and teachers.


Ø      Though every Christian man should be a spring of good to others and a

true minister in the Church, the New Testament, far from dishonoring the

idea of orders among those who compose it, here evidently enough

countenances it.


Ø      The personnel of these five excites interest.


o        Barnabas, who stands first, we know, and

o        Saul, who stands last.

o        Lucius is an African, and is mentioned again (Romans 16:21).

o        The epithet attached to Symeon marks something interesting,

though we cannot say certainly what, and

o        a volume of interest underlies what is added to the name of

Manaen! It is a signal case, indeed, of “one being taken and

the other left.”


Ø      The holy engagements of these five men is emphasized. They are

warming the fire; they are keeping warm the Church; they are prevailing

in prayer with God; they are subduing the body and keeping it under

subjection. How often might five men bless a Church, and call

down richest blessing on it!




Ø      The Spirit “speaketh expressly” to them, in the midst of their prayer and

fastings and devotion (ch. 10:3-4, 10, 19, 30). It is possible that this

occasion may have found the Church gathered together also, but it cannot

be affirmed that it was so. Any way, there were more than “two or three

gathered together in the Name” of Christ (Matthew 18:20).


Ø      The Spirit speaks another “call” to them. The forces of the Church are

growing. Two of the five are “called” to go far away to the Gentiles. The

other three are “called” to “separate” the two designated for “the work.”

“Doubting nothing” and “without gainsaying,” they do this. Still does the

Spirit keep the choosing and the designating, and should be honored and

glorified for doing so. And still does the Spirit delegate the outer and

visible carrying out of His will to the ministers of the Church. Note:


o        What a happy “separating” this compared with the many of which

the Church, and, alas! the world, has heard, through all the

succeeding centuries!


o        The method of “separating” Barnabas and Saul. It is:

§         after fasting;

§         by prayer; and

§         with the accompanying sign of laying on of hands.


o        The probable object and advantages of this service. If there seem any

ceremony about it, it is not vain ceremony. It is full of meaning, and

may be full of use and advantage.


§         An object, high, holy, not self-serving, is very distinctly

placed before those thus ordained.

§         They are reminded that the eyes of witnesses are upon them.

§         They are reminded that He who calls them to be “separated”

will hear their call to Him:

ü      when perils abound,

ü      when flesh is weary,

ü      when the heart is sore and weary,

ü      when enemies press in, and

ü      when all things seem against them.

§         They are taught that in this “one thing” they now do, their

Master and their Judge, the one Being to whom they are

responsible, is above, the great invisible but EVER

SYMPATHIZING ONE!   How blessed and how useful

have the memories of self-consecration often been in the

subsequent periods of life! The heart has dwelt with them

and been refreshed and enriched by them. And what added

impression, stimulus, and sustained energy have often come

to us in the memory of those, if only of earth, who once

heard our vows and witnessed our consecration! But

these have most possessed the heart and ruled it and

governed it entirely, when to the rest has been added the

unswerving conviction that the Spirit called, and that it

was His call and nothing less than His, that WE ONCE





The Presidency of the Holy Ghost (vs. 2,4)


“The Holy Ghost said;” “Being sent forth by the Holy Ghost.” Seriously

erroneous views of the presidency of the Holy Ghost in the Christian

Church or Churches make it necessary that the true and scriptural teaching

on the subject should be explained. It is assumed, by some sections, that

this presidency secures the absolute truth of whatever may be said at such a

meeting, and the infallibility of every decision to which such a meeting may

be led. But the Holy Spirit is not present to secure results, only to guide

deliberations. God is present with man in no such sense as involves the

mastery of man’s free thought and will, and changing him into a mere

created thing. The distinction is an essential one, though it may be difficult

to grasp. We may illustrate from the relations between the branch and the

vine. The life in the branch is the life of the vine; but the branch is free to

take its own shape under various external influences. At the same time,

it is still true that the vine-life controls and overrules the very shape of

the branch, in its own secret ways. Presidency, inspiration, guidance, and

control we may have in the abiding and indwelling Holy Ghost; but

infallibility for the individual, the community, or the Church, it is no part of

His work to ensure. Considering what may be learned concerning the

presidency of the Holy Spirit from the Scriptures, we notice:



communications were made, in the earlier days of the world, to individuals

upon due occasion, and oracular responses were made by the high priest,

through Urim and Thummim. But in the times of the prophets we meet

with a most important advance in the Divine relations. More or less

constantly God dwells with and abides in those prophets, and their relation

to the Divine was the foreshadowing and preparation for the abiding

relations of the Holy Ghost with the believer and the Church. The “Word

of the Lord” came to the prophets, but, besides this, there was an openness

and sensitiveness to Divine leadings which could be thus expressed: “The

Spirit of the Lord God is upon me.” Other points will come out upon a

study of the nature of prophetic inspiration, and especially this one, as

bearing on the point now before us, that the Holy Ghost used the

individuality of the prophet, and became only the life and force behind it,

and so prepared for the Christian times when, in this way, all the Lord’s

people are prophets. The progression of Divine truth is well illustrated in

the history of the relations of the Spirit of God with men.



essence of the idea of the theocracy was the invisible presence and rule of

God with men. God was with them — always with them. Yet they never

saw Him. Somehow He was in them. He knew all their concerns. He was

appropriately affected by all their doings. He could be:


Ø      “grieved,”

Ø      “quenched,”

Ø      “resisted,” and even

Ø      “driven away.”


Present with them, He inspired and guided all the national life; He toned and

sanctified all the family and social life. The sublimest sentiment of Mosaism

was that of the indwelling presence of Jehovah. Then, when the fullness of

times came, the Jehovah-figure could pass aside, with its kingliness and

mystery, giving place to the Father (holy Father, righteous Father); and the

sense of God’s near presence and close though invisible relations could be

realized in the conception of the abiding, indwelling Holy Ghost, who leads

us into all truth and righteousness.



OF OUR JUDGMENT, WILL, AND RESOLVE. In seeking to avoid the

merely sentimental, we must take heed that we miss or undervalue no

truth. And Christian experience abundantly confirms the position that there

is a most real sense in which open hearts feel the inward moving of the

Holy Ghost, and may rely on the Divine inward guidance of judgment and

will. The Church, too, may plead that her experience confirms the

testimony of the individual Christian. This subject should be so treated as

to deal with men’s practical difficulty — How can we know we have

Divine guidance in our business and family affairs now? If God’s Spirit

dwells in us, we now have the actual inspiration and direction of our

judgment, will, purpose, and decision.


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:"  The whole island

for the isle, Authorized Version and Textus Receptus.  Paphos; on the south coast at

the further extremity of the island, now Baffa. It had once a convenient harbor, which

is now choked up from neglect. The chief temple of the Cyprian Venus was here. A

certain sorcerer. The Greek word μάγος - magos, whence magic and magician, is the

same as in Matthew 2:1 is rendered "wise men." But here, as in ch. 8:9, it has a bad

sense. It is a Persian word, and in its original use designated a Persian religious caste,

famous for their knowledge, wisdom, and purity of religious faith. They were attached

to the court of the Babylonian monarchs, and were deemed to have great skill in

astrology, in interpretation of dreams, and the like (see Daniel 1:20; 4:7. In Jeremiah

39:3, 13, the name Rab-mag seems to mean "the chief of the magi." But in process of

time the word "magus" came to mean a sorcerer, a magician, a practicer of dark arts,

as e.g. Simon Magus (see the chapter on magic in Pliny, 'Nat. Hist.,'lib. 30. cap. 1.).


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." 

The proconsul for the deputy of the country, Authorized Version; a man of

understanding for a prudent man, Authorized Version; the same for who,

Authorized Version; unto him for for, Authorized Version; sought for desired,

Authorized Version. The proconsul (ἀνθύπατος - anthupatos - proconsul); here

and vs. 8,12. This is an instance of Luke's great accuracy. Cyprus had become

a proconsular province in the reign of Claudius, having previously been one of

the emperor's provinces governed by a propraetor, or legatus.  A man of

understanding (ἀνδρὶ συνετῷ - andri suneto – intelligent man). Συνετός

sunetos - is a rare word in the New Testament, and is always translated in the

Authorized Version. "prudent" (see Matthew 11:25; Luke 10:21; I Corinthians 1:19).

It is common in the Septuagint, where it represents the Hebrew words מַשְׂכִּיל נָבון מֵבִין,

and חָכָם, all signifying "intelligence," "skill," "knowledge," and the like. The substantive

σύνεσις - sunesis - has the same scope (see Luke 2:47; Ephesians 3:4; Colossians 1:9,

etc.); ἀνὴρ συνετός - anaer sunetos - , therefore, means something more than

"a prudent man." It means a man of knowledge and superior intelligence and

understanding. And such was Sergius Paulus, a noble Roman, who is twice

named by Pliny in the list of authors placed at the commencement of his work

as the authorities from whom he derived the matter contained in the several books.

It is not a little remarkable that the two books, lib. it. and lib. 18, for which Sergius

Paulus is quoted are just those which contain accounts of the heavenly bodies, and

prognostications from the sun and moon and stars, from thunder, from the clouds,

and such like things, which doubtless formed the staple of Elymas's science; so that

there can be little doubt that Sergius Paulus had Elymas with him, that he might learn

from him such matters as might be useful for the book which he was writing. There

is also a curious passage in lib. 30. cap. 1. of the 'Hist. Nat.'(quoted by Lewin, vol. 1.

p. 128), in which Pliny, after enumerating the most famous teachers of magic,

Zoroaster, Orthanes, Pythagoras, and others, adds, "There is also another school

of magic which springs from Moses and Jannes, who were Jews, but many thousand

years later than Zoroaster; so much more recent is the school of Cyprus;" showing

that he knew of a school of magic art at Cyprus taught by Jews, and leading us to

infer that he had acquired this knowledge either from the pen or the mouth of Sergius

Paulus. Anyhow, a remarkable confirmation of Luke's narrative. Another Sergius Paulus,

who might be a son or grandson of the proconsul, is highly commended by Galen for

his eminent philosophical attainments (Lewin, vol. 1. p. 127). One L. Sergius Paulus

was consul suffectus in A.D. 194, another in A.D. 168. Renan thinks they may have

been descendants of the Sergius Paulus in the text.



Seekers after God (v. 7)


This passage introduces to us a Roman official, speaks of him in generally

good terms as a prudent man,” but lets us know something of his secret

feelings and his unrest of heart, by adding that he “desired to hear the

Word of God.” The way in which heathen religions prepared the way for

the gospel is often pointed out, but we have not yet adequately

apprehended the fact that a Divine work of preparation was carried on in

many heathen souls; such instances as this of Sergius Paulus being properly

treated as prominent examples of a general fact. It is to the yearning of the

heathen heart for the true God and the eternal life that Paul makes his

appeals; and in later missionary work remarkable instances have been met

with of soul-seeking for God, before the missionaries brought the gospel

light. We ought, indeed, to expect to find men everywhere seeking after

God, seeing that He hath made of one blood all nations to dwell upon the

earth” (ch. 17:26), and has never left Himself without a witness;” (ch. 14:17),

but a conception of the exclusiveness of the revelation in Christ has so occupied

Christian thought that the noble conception of Christ’s revelation as the ultimate

issue and completion of all other revelations, is only now gaining

acceptance. Men have so strongly felt the antagonistic sides of the heathen

religions that they have failed to ask whether earnest souls within utterly

corrupt systems may not be


“Infants crying in the night;

Infants crying for the light;

And with no language but a cry.”


Dean Plumptre gives an interesting inscription — the date of which is,

however, uncertain, and may be of the second or third century after Christ

— found at Galgoi, in Cyprus, which shows a yearning after something

higher than the polytheism of Greece. It reads thus: “Thou, the one God,

the greatest, the most glorious Name, help us all, we beseech thee.” The

unrest and anxious inquiring of Sergius Paulus are farther indicated in the

fact that he had come into the power of Elymas the sorcerer, who evidently

persuaded him that he could settle all his doubts. The subject introduced by

this incident may be considered under the following divisions:



Remember St. Augustine’s words, “Man is made for God, and can find no

rest till he finds rest in Him.” Seeking God is necessary to the dependent

creature, who must lean, and must find some one on whom he may

perfectly lean. “A belief in some personal power, the arbiter of man’s

destiny, above and beyond himself, is a primary necessity of the human

mind. Mankind can never dispense with this belief, however superfluous in

certain cases and for a time it may seem to be to the individual” (Canon

Farrar). Much has been made of the fact that some tribes of men have been

found which had no name for God, and indeed no knowledge of Him or

concern to hear about Him; but it may fairly be urged, from the utterly

degraded condition of these tribes, that men have never lost their care for

God until they have virtually lost their manhood. Degraded to be like the

beasts, they cease to have uplooking eyes and yearning hearts. Humanity is

knit in brotherhood by its great united cry for its Father.



SEEKING. These take one of three forms; either:


Ø      The absorption of a man in purely material and selfish interests, which

may overlay and crush down the soul’s great needs; just as now the world

and its business and pleasure so often silence the soul’s cry in the Christian.


Ø      The teachings of a philosophy which attempts to put “thoughts” and

“ideas” in the place of A LIVING BEING.


Ø      So-called false religions, which give unworthy views of God, but, by

ceremonial, seek to satisfy the religious instinct. Such religions offer, what

man appears to need, a doctrine about God, and a cult or worship of Him.

It may be shown that, in subtle forms, men are enticed from their seeking,

even in these Christian days, by one or other of these evil influences.



can only find permanent rest in that which is true. The false has no staying

power.” It may seem to fit at one time, but life advances, new needs arise,

new thoughts stir within, and the false theory will no longer serve, — the

man finds himself looking out again, as anxiously as in the early days, and

with the feeling that life is passing and the time for the quest is brief, for

the truth and God wherein are final rest. Sooner or later a man wakes up

from his sleep of delusion, feels the darkness all about him, and puts out

his hand, feeling after God, if haply he may find Him. The unrest that

surely comes to men within the world’s care and pleasure, within skeptical

philosophies, and within merely ceremonial religions, is our constant plea

for the preaching of the gospel and the revelation to men of God, in Christ




WHOLE SOUL IS TURNED TO HIM. He waiteth to be gracious, stands

at the door ready for the opening, really wants every man to be saved, in

the mystery of His great Fatherhood has a real need of souls, desires their

love, finds his own joy in their trust, and so is sure to respond when men

turn and seek Him. (“Lo, this is our God; we have waited for Him, and

He will save us:  this is the Lord; we have waited for Him, we will be

glad and rejoice in His salvation.”  - Isaiah 25:9 – CY – 2017)  And finding

God, and coming into personal relations with Him, IS THE END OF

MAN’S QUEST!  (Until you find Him, you will NEVER BE FULFILLED!

- CY  - 2017)   If you are against God, everything in life is HARD and

DARK and WRONG!  Apart from God, all life and relations lie

bathed in the lurid glow of steamy and stormy passion and SELF-WILL!

With God, and earth, life, duty, and fellowship catch the soft, sweet sunlight,

and everything takes on its beauty and perfection. If we have God WE

HAVE ALL and we have all IN GOD,  in the God whom Paul preached,

of whose glory JESUS THE MAN is the express and blessed image.

(“.....being the brightness of His glory, and the express image of His

person...”  - Hebrews 1:3)


8 "But Elymas the sorcerer (for so is his name by interpretation) withstood

them, seeking to turn away the deputy from the faith."  Turn aside for turn

away, proconsul for deputy, Authorized Version.  Elymas, from the Arabic elite,

plural oulema, a wise man, a wizard, a magician. But Renan thinks this derivation

doubtful. Elymas withstood Barnabas and Saul just as Jannes and Jambres

withstood Moses (II Timothy 3:8, ἀντέστησαν - antestaesan - withstand).


9 "Then Saul, (who also is called Paul,) filled with the Holy Ghost, set his

eyes on him,"  But for then, Authorized Version; is also for also is, Authorized

Version; fastened for set, Authorized Version. (above, ch. 3:4, note). Who is also

called Paul.  The explanation is that Saul took the name of Paul on the occasion of

this remarkable and important conversion of Sergius Paulus. Saul's future intercourse

with Gentiles made it desirable that, after the common custom of the Jews of his day –

as seen in Peter, Stephen, Mark, Lucius, Jason, Crispus, Justus, Niger, Aquila, Priscilla,

Drusilla etc. - he should have a Gentile name, and so, in honor of his illustrious

convert, or in memory of his conversion, or at the special request of Sergius Paulus

(Baronius), he took the name of Paul, which in sound was not unlike his Hebrew

name. The fact of this change of name being recorded by Luke at this precise

moment makes this the most simple and natural explanation. Compare Gideon's

change of name to Jerubbaal (Judges 6:32; 7:1; 8:29, 35).


10 "And said, O full of all subtilty 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?"  All guile and all villainy for all subtlety and all mischief, Authorized

Version; son for child, Authorized Version.  The word ῤᾳδιουργία - radiourgia –

knavery, reckless conduct, villainy, wickedness, is only found here in the New

Testament. The kindred form (ῤᾳδιούργημα - radiourgaema – knavery; deft act

effect) occurs in ch. 18:14. Thou son of the devil (compare John 8:38, 44;

I John 3:10). Elymas showed himself a child of the devil in his endeavors to

resist the truth of the gospel, and substitute his own falsehoods and imposture.

Compare the severity of Peter's language in rebuking Simon Magas (ch. 8:20-23).

Probably, too, he accused (διέβαλεν - diebalen) Paul and Barnabas, and traduced

their motives before the proconsul, when he saw his own influence being

undermined, and his gains likely to be stopped.



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."

Is upon thee; or rather, against thee (Matthew 10:21; Matthew 26:55; Luke 11:17;

and v. 50 of this chapter). For a season. It has been well observed that this limitation

in time is an indication that there was place for repentance. It was a remedial

chastisement. A mist (ἀχλύς - achlus - fog); only here in the New Testament; but it is

a medical term, very common in Hippocrates, to express a darkening and dimming

of the eyes by cataract or other disease. As regards the reason why the particular

punishment of blindness was inflicted upon Elymas, it might be to put a forcible

interruption upon those observations of the stars and clouds by which the magician

pretended to foresee the future. It would exhibit, too, to Sergius, Paulus the utter

helplessness of the great necromancer. Some to lead him by the hand (χειραγωγούς

cheiragogous – hand leaders), as Saul had needed χειραγωγοῦντας - cheiragogountgas –

leading by the hand -  when he was struck blind by the vision of the Savior's glory

(Acts 9:8).



The Mission in Cyprus (vs. 4-12)


·         THE FALSE PROPHET. Bar-jesus may stand as the type of one class

of foes with whom Christianity has to contend. He is described as a “mage”

and a “false prophet.” It appears that he gave himself the title of Elymas (to

which word the modern Turkish ulema corresponds) — “wise man” par

excellence. The essence of the magic calling is the pretension to override

the laws of nature and providence in obedience to the wishes and fantasies

and caprices of the individual. It would make imagination and feeling the

test of truth and right, rather than the fixed truth and Word of God. The

spirit of this false prophet is seen in his attaching himself to the proconsul,

as the parasite attaches itself to the sound life, and in the endeavor to divert

him from Christianity. Here is a test of the false spirit in the teacher. If we

really love the truth and possess it, we have no desire to divert the course

of argument from other minds. The more light and discussion, the better

for the truth. Suspect the man who tries to silence another by clamor or

prejudice the ear of the audience against him.


·         THE TRUE APOSTLE. Paul had been “sent by the Holy Spirit,” and

now he is filled by the “Holy Spirit.” This gives him boldness and

directness in dealing with the impostor.


Ø      There are times when denunciation may be used by the servant of Christ;

for there are times when evil, stripped of its disguises, is manifest, and no

terms can be held with it. And the denunciation of the apostle points to the

secret root of evil in the false prophet’s life, and which poisons all his

teaching. There is craft, guile, the design to deceive others for private

ends. Then there is a certain lightness and recklessness of conduct

                            connected with this, denoted by a peculiar Greek word (ῤᾳδιουργία –

                       radiourgia – knavery, reckless conduct, villainy, wickedness,). The

false teacher will respect no truth and no sanctity which stands in the way

of his objects and ends. Such a man may well be called a “child of the

devil.” The idea of the devil is that of an accuser or slanderer; and the false

prophet will stick at no lies to serve his ends. He is the foe of all that is

good, and must be; for the good and right, resting on the principle of truth,

is deadly opposed to him, the living lie.  Jesus said “....there is no truth in

him.  When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own:  for he is a liar,

and the father of it.”  (John 8:44)  He is the perverter of the Lord’s

straight ways. While the servants of God proclaim, in the words of the

ancient prophet, the leveling of inequalities and the making of the crooked

straight, the object of the deceiver is to twist the straight into crookedness,

and bring back old chaos and disorder. Such are the arrows of denunciation

launched at his head; such, in brief words, are the traits of the deceiver,

drawn by the firm hand of the apostle.


Ø      The occasional revelation of Divine judgment against the ungodly. Such

acts as that of Paul, in virtue of a Divine authority, in their occasional

character, reveal a general principle of judgment. “The hand of the Lord is

upon thee,” not to strengthen and to illuminate, but to weaken and to

deprive of light. The unused or misused sense decays. “From him that hath

not shall be taken even that which he hath.” If we use not our intelligence

in the cause of truth, we cannot expect to retain it in its clearness. And if

our conscience is not guided by love, it will become darkened. And if the

light within becomes darkness, how great is that darkness! (Matthew 6:23)

At the same time, mercy mingles with judgment. It is for a season only, that the

opportunity for reformation and repentance may be given, and blessed the

suspensions of activities which we have misused, if, in the enforced silence

and privation, we are led to reflection and back to God.



TRUTH. The fall of error means the establishment of a conviction in the

mind. The overthrow of a lie delights the spirit, which is made for TRUTH!

Falsehood tempts and enthralls when it appeals to our passions; let the

falsehood be exposed, and spiritual emancipation follows. Fear and

astonishment are often the means God employs to break up the fatal

slumbers of the soul. They are like volcanic forces, which prepare for the

working of the genial forces of nature. Every conversion implies in the

subject of it the knowledge of the superiority of truth over falsehood, the

presence of the soul at a moral victory. Truth in conquering us, sets us free.

“And ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free.”  (John 8:32)


12 "Then the deputy, when he saw what was done, believed, being astonished

at the doctrine of the Lord."  The proconsul for the deputy, Authorized Version;

teaching for doctrine, Authorized Version.  Believed. We cannot, perhaps, conclude

positively from this that Sergius was baptized and became an avowed Christian,

though the usual language of the Acts rather leads us to infer it (see v. 48; ch. 2:44;

4:4; 8:12-13; 11:21; 19:18). The 'Speaker's Commentary' speaks of him as "the first

fruits of heathenism."  Being astonished at the teaching.  For the connection of the

judgment concerning the doctrine with the miracle seen, compare Mark 1:27.



The Gospel in Cyprus (vs. 4-12)


There is a break in the narrative, the second portion, referring to the missionary

labors of Paul, reminding us that the chief purpose of the book is to describe the

growth of the Church, not directly its constitution or doctrines or discipline.



·         THE TENTATIVE CHARACTER of this first missionary journey,

which embraced Cyprus, Pamphylia, Pisidia, Lycaonia, and so back

through Attalia to Antioch. The Church at Antioch is kept in view, and the

report of the work brought back to it. This showed that the double aspect

of the work was remembered — its bearing on the world and its bearing on

the Church itself. All aggressive efforts should be thus held closely to the

vital center of fellowship. Paul and his companions did not aim at

preaching themselves, BUT CHRIST! So diffusion is strength, not weakness.


·         The faithful observance of the Lord’s rule, TO THE JEW FIRST. Thus

 the mission of God’s ancient people are still recognized. The unity of truth.

 The continuity of grace. “Salvation is of the Jews.”  (John 4:22)



OF THE WORLD. Corrupt synagogues, side by side with heathen

ignorance and superstition. Bar-jesus, or Elymas, between the Gentiles and

Christ; false prophecy hiding the true. So in Europe during the Middle

Ages. The infidelity which broke out in the French Revolution was the

natural product of a monstrous travesty of Christianity. (The same can be

said of the Progressive Movement in the United States – CY – 2017) 

Yet there is hope in “the men of understanding” to whom the gospel can



·         MIRACULOUS MANIFESTATION brought in to break the spell of

falsehood. Paul’s first miracle. He wrought it when under the special

influence of the Holy Ghost. No vindictive feeling in the apostle, but a

simple obedience to the voice of the Spirit. The miracle was one of mercy,

both as regards Sergius Paulus and the heathen population generally.

Nothing would more open the way of the gospel. People that were

accustomed to magic could be easily impressed by such a sign, especially

as it fell on the sorcerer. May it not be that some such influences are to be

watched against in modern society? Those in high station often listen to

spiritualists, thinking to aid their own weakness by such means. Yet the

wonders of the gospel are far greater than all the deceits of false prophets.

We may safely employ the feeling of astonishment, if only we sanctify it

by the preaching of the Word.


13 "Now when Paul and his company loosed from Paphos, they came to Perga

in Pamphylia: and John departing from them returned to Jerusalem."

Now for now when, Authorized Version; set sail for loosed, Authorized Version;

and came for they came, Authorized Version; departed…. and returned for

departing... returned, Authorized Version.  A very marked change may here be

observed in the relations of Barnabas and Paul. Hitherto Barnabas has always

occupied the first rank. It has been "Barnabas and Saul" (ch. 11:30; 12:25; here

vs. 2, 7). But now the whole mission, including Barnabas, is described as

οἱ περὶ τὸν Παῦλον - hoi peri ton Paulon – the ones about Paul.   Paul and his

company, and ever after it is usually "Paul and Barnabas" (vs. 43, 46, 50;

ch.15:2, 22, 35); though in ch. 14:14 and ch.15:12, 25, the old order is retained.

Renan dwells much on the beauty of Barnabas's character as seen in his cheerful

acquiescence in this change of relative position, and his single-minded devotion

to the success of the work. Came to Perga, the capital of Pamphylia, in that part

of the coast of Asia Minor which looks due south. Perga was about seven and a

half miles inland, on the river Cestrus, which is navigable. There was a constant

intercourse between Paphos the capital of Cyprus, and Perga the capital of

Pamphylia, fostered probably by the two famous temples of Venus and Diana.

The word for set sail (ἀναχθέντες - anachthentes – setting out) is a nautical term,

meaning sailing from the shore or harbor into the open sea (see ch. 16:11; 21:1;

27:12; Luke 8:22). At Perga John Mark left them. Perhaps his position as Barnabas's

cousin was less pleasant now that Paul took the first place; perhaps his courage failed

him now that they were fairly launched out into the heathen world, where, unlike

Cyprus, his Jewish kinsmen were a small minority, and the dangers and fatigues

were great. Pamphylia was now governed by a propraetor, being an imperial

province.  Its name denotes that it was inhabited by a mixed race - men of all tribes,

aborigines, Cilicians, Greeks, etc.



Forwardness and Frailty (vs. 4-13)


The two leading points in this passage are the forwardness of Barjesus and

the frailty of Mark. But there are other incidental lessons which spring up

by the way. We may learn as we pass:


1. That good work for others comes home with a blessing before long.

Some of the scattered Christians were men of Cyprus, “who, when they

were come to Antioch, spake unto the Greeks” (ch. 11:20); and here

are men from the Church which the Cypriots helped to form coming to

evangelize Cyprus (v. 4). Give, and it shall be given unto you.”

(Luke 6:38)


2. That the success of any great work is not to be measured by the fruit of

the first endeavor. We read that “when they were at Salamis, they

preached the Word of God in the synagogues” (v. 5); but we do not read

of any conversion, to the faith. It is fair to infer that their earliest attempt

was, if not disappointing, far from a marked success; but they were not

daunted thereby.


3. That it is well worth while for youthful aspiration to attend on mature

and established piety. “They had also John to their minister” (v. 5). Mark

may have been little more than the courier of the apostles, but it was no mean

service he was rendering the Church and the world if he did his duty thus.


4. That when religion is cast out superstition is sure to enter. Where God

is unhonored the people will resort to the “sorcerer” (v. 6), the soothsayer,

the spiritualist, etc.




thou not cease to pervert the right ways of the Lord?” Here was a man

who, for the purpose of retaining a lucrative position, was determinately

opposing the truth. Many have been his predecessors and many his

successors, who have not scrupled to “fight against God,” to act in such a

way that they have made what they knew to be right seem to be wrong,

what they knew to be wholesome and helpful seem to be injurious; they

have twisted round and perverted the right line of heavenly wisdom; they

have not only “called good evil and evil good,” but striven, for some base

motive, to make it seem thus in the eyes of men, resolutely and wantonly

deceiving them.



STRONG INVECTIVE, “O full of all subtlety and all mischief, thou child

of the devil, thou enemy of all righteousness!” (v. 10). It is not often

allowable for men to speak thus to one another. As a rule, we must follow

the example of the archangel, and instead of “bringing a railing accusation,

say, The Lord rebuke thee.” But there are occasions when we do well to be

angry, when we should rather sin by not being righteously angry than by

even passionate indignation. When men are palpably ruining others in order

to fill their own treasury, undoubtedly keeping others out of the kingdom

in order to secure their own base objects, it is not only permissible but

laudable to let our holy indignation boil over in scathing condemnation and




ECONOMY. (v. 11.) It was, of course, only in virtue of the inspiration

under which he was acting (see v. 1) that Paul pronounced this judgment

on Elymas. It was a very unusual occurrence. Our Lord Himself never, so

far as we know, used His almighty power to punish a human being; with the

exception of the banning of the fig tree, all His works were those of

beneficence. Yet we need to remember that judgment is a part of His whole

system. He does condemn and smite. The storm uproots the tree; the

locusts lay bare the fruitful field; disease paralyzes the human form; death

does its closing work; spiritual blindness darkens the mind and spiritual

hardness encrusts the soul, at his holy and awful bidding. The pleasant

theories of the universe, which leave judgment out of the account, are fair

enough to look at, but they are not true; they arc false to the facts of the

case as these meet us in many forms and in every sphere of human life.




thought that the presence of such men as Barnabas and Saul would have

ensured the stability of John Mark; but it did not. Though under the

influence of one man whose unswerving devotedness to Christ has never

been surpassed, he yielded to his inclination to return home rather than

brave the hazards and endure the privations of missionary work in Asia

Minor. Nothing will secure our spiritual steadfastness but the indwelling of

DIVINE POWER. We must abide in Christ that He may abide in us by

His Spirit. It is only when we are “strengthened with all might by His Spirit

in the inner man,” when we are strong in the Lord and in the power of His

might,” that we are really safe and secure. “When I am weak, then am I




Obstruction of The truth Summarily Visited:

       The Blighter Blighted (vs. 12-13)


We can imagine something of the earnestness of Barnabas and Saul as they

set out on their new mission, feeling that they had “the fullness of the

blessing of the gospel of Christ” in their charge. Others felt this too, or, if

they did not feel it, feared it. And one, in his iniquitous attempt to

neutralize the force of it, courts his own discomfiture and strengthens the

cause he had designed to undermine. Notice:


·         THE GUILT HERE PUNISHED. It has been already in trenchant

language denounced (vs. 9, 13), but deed is to follow word. The guilt

had certain aggravations.


Ø      It is the guilt of a man averse himself to light and conviction.

Ø      It is the guilt of a man who was thus averse chiefly because he saw true

light, would stop his dark ways and probably put an end “to his gains.”

Ø      It is the guilt of a man who had loved it long, and long habituated

himself to a career of deception of others and taking Heaven’s Name in


Ø      It is the guilt of one who, misled himself and sets himself to mislead others.

Ø      It is the guilt of one who would mislead another in matter of deepest,

dearest, tenderest moment to him.

Ø      It is the guilt of one who will do this in those sensitive, critical moments

when decision trembles in the balance, and his fellow man is looking to

the light and inclining to it.

Ø      It is the guilt of a man who will lay himself out to crush with tenfold vigor

the events of the conversion of one whose good character, position, and

influence would count for much if he should turn to the light. So

correspondingly great would be the forfeiture and destruction of good,

the responsibility of which would lie at the door of the tempter.




Ø      Elymas has pretended, probably for a long, long time, to work signs and

wonders among a deluded people. He shall now in punishment, incurred by

the filling up of the full measure of his iniquities, learn what a real sign and

wonder and miracle are, in his own painful experience. How much had he

taken out of others in money and in credulity. He shall be reminded of the



Ø      He tried to keep another in the dark and amid the groping and the

wandering. He himself shall know the grievousness of darkness and the

humiliation of groping and the bitter dissatisfaction of the wanderer.


Ø      He tried to take away from another the help of a good strong hand

divinely proffered him. He shall know what it is to have to beg the leading

of even a human hand himself.


Ø      Yet hope and “room for repentance” are not pronounced for ever closed

for Elymas. And the punishment awarded him is less than the injury he had

sought to inflict — less by far.




Ø      It removes the transgressor off the ground.

Ø      It effectually confounds his endeavors, and turns him into an impressive

witness to that truth which he had resisted for himself and tried to take the

comfort of from another.

Ø      It produces strong faith and admiring astonishment and grateful

acceptance of “the truth as it is in Jesus,” on the part of the deputy

threatened in his highest interests.

Ø      It leaves a long warning, in the stricken blindness of Elymas, though it

was but temporary, of the verdict that Christ passes on the heinousness of

that sin which consists in attempting to blight the opening religious growth

and knowledge of any.

Ø      In the temporary character of the blindness of Elymas, provision was

secured for a certain resuscitation of the whole matter, in his own memory

and in that of many others, whensoever he might regain vision.

Ø      An evident proof is given how God both rules and overrules, can

convert and does convert, all the efforts of His opponents against Him

“to the furtherance of the gospel.” For this was literally the issue of the

conduct of one whom not the bitterness of a prejudiced tongue, but the

sober truth of an inspired apostle, describes as “full of all subtilty and

mischief, a child of the devil, an enemy of all righteousness, and an

unceasing perverter of the right ways of the Lord.”


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."  They, passing

through from Perga, came for when they departed from Perga they came,

Authorized Version; of for in, Authorized Version; they went for went, Authorized

Version. Traveling due north into the interior for over a hundred miles, they would

reach Antioch in Pisidia, now a Roman colony. It would be a difficult and dangerous

road, infested with robbers (II Corinthians 11:26), mountainous, rugged, and passing

through an untamed and half-savage population. Pisidia was part of the province of

Galatia. The direction of their route was probably determined by the locality of the

Jewish populations, which were always their first object, and their door of access to

the more pious heathen. Sat down; perhaps, as many think, on the seat of the rabbis –

those "chief seats in the synagogues," which our Lord rebukes the scribes for loving

(Mark 12:39), but which "Paul as a former Sanhe-drist, and Barnabas as a Levite,"

had a fair claim to occupy; but more probably on the seats of ordinary worshippers,

where, however, the presence of strangers would at once be noticed.


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."  Brethren for ye men and brethren, Authorized Version.

The order of the synagogue service was first the prayers, read by the Sheliach, or angel

of the synagogue, the people standing. Then came the reading of the Law in Hebrew by

the reader, and the interpretation by the interpreter, who, outside of Judaea, generally

used the version of the Septuagint. This reading, or lesson, was called the Parashah.

Next came the reading and interpreting of the prophets, called the Haphtorah, either

by the regular reader or by any one invited by the ruler of the synagogue (Luke 4:16-17).

Then came the Midrash, the exposition or sermon, which Paul undertook at the invitation

of the ruler of the synagogue. Our Lord at Nazareth seems to have delivered the Midrash

sitting (Luke 4:20); here Paul stands (v. 16).



The Invasion of Heathendom (vs. 1-15) 


It has been well remarked that Antioch was the true center of direct

missions to the heathen world. An Ethiopian eunuch, and a Roman

centurion, had indeed been gathered into the fold of Christ. But they were

both closely connected with the land of Judah, and their conversion had not

led to any further extension of the gospel of Christ. At Antioch the seed of

Christian truth first fell in abundance upon heathen soil; from Antioch first

went forth the preachers of the gospel with the express purpose of

disseminating it among the nations of mankind. It is a deeply interesting

study to mark the various steps by which the providence of God brought

about this great event. There was first the molding of the great soul of Saul

into a fitting instrument for this momentous ministry by the circumstances

of his conversion. The tenderness of heart caused by the memory of his

persecution of the Church of God; the gradual loosening of the ties which

bound him to the Jews’ religion, through the bigotry, the distrust, and the

repulses of his Jewish countrymen, which drove him from Jerusalem; the

friendship of the kind and sympathetic Barnabas; his enforced retreat to his

native Tarsus, within easy distance of Antioch; — these were the

preparatory steps by which God was bringing about His great purpose.

Then, as the work grew among the Gentiles, Barnabas was sent to Antioch

by the Church of Jerusalem; thence, needing more help, he went to Tarsus

and sought Saul and brought him to Antioch. Then followed a full year’s

ministry in that great heathen city. That year brought a rich experience of

things sad and of things joyful; experience of heathen darkness, experience

of God’s grace; widening knowledge of the thoughts, the wants, the misery

of heathenism; deepening knowledge of the power of a preached gospel; a

further loosening of the strait bands of Judaism as fettering Christian

liberty. And then, when the ground was thus prepared, came the direct call

of the Holy Ghost, “Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work

whereunto I have called them.” (v. 2)  And what a work it was! It requires

some knowledge of the degradation of human nature as manifested in all the

vileness of the voluptuousness and impostures of the East, in the incredible

and growing flagitiousness of the once noble Roman character under the

shameful profligacy’s of the empire, and of the general spread of vice,

oppression, and cruelty in the Roman world, to take a just measure of the

work to which Barnabas and Saul were called. It was a work of hopeless

difficulty if measured by the strength of man; it was a work of incalculable

importance if measured by its world-wide influences and results — a work

than which no greater has ever been undertaken either by man or for man.

To revolutionize the whole relations of man with God; to upset and root

out all the old thoughts of the whole world concerning God and the service

of God; to give a new direction to man’s thoughts about himself, about his

duty, and about eternity; to transform human life from sin to holiness; and

to do all this by the power of words, — was the task given to Barnabas

and Saul. And they did it. That we know and love God; that we believe in

Jesus Christ for the remission of our sins; that we live righteous lives; that

we have a good hope of the resurrection to eternal life — is the fruit of the

mission of Barnabas and Saul. They invaded heathendom with the sword of

faith, and heathendom fell before their onslaught. O God, raise up in our

days such soldiers of the cross that all the kingdoms of the world may

become the kingdoms of the Lord and of His Christ!  (Revelation 11:15)



A Rapid Journey by Sea and Land (vs. 13-15)


Paphos to Perga. Perga through Pisidia to Antiochia, the northern

extremity of the province.


·         JOHN MARK separated and returned to Jerusalem. Probably a failure of

spiritual courage. Yet notice the change which afterwards occurred. He is,

according to many, the evangelist; perhaps Jewish in feeling, and hence

attaching himself more to Peter. Sign of the Jewish prejudice still at work,

and the difficulties in store for the Church.


·         THE PROVIDENTIAL PREPARATION OF PAUL for his entire devotion

to the Gentiles.


Ø      There was no self-assertion in it. He simply followed the leading of

events. We should watch the guidance of God in our work.


Ø      The attitude of the Jews of Antioch showed that the Word was brought

to them in a respectful and reverent manner.


Ø      Glimpse into the synagogue life shows what an opportunity the Jews had

among the heathen. The Law and the prophets still are read. On that

foundation -the gospel was placed. The Law was the schoolmaster to

bring the nations to Christ (Galatians 3:24-25), but the schooling was



16 "Then Paul stood up, and beckoning with his hand said, Men of Israel, and ye

that fear God, give audience."  And for then, Authorized Version; the for his,

Authorized Version; hearken for give audience, Authorized Version.  Beckoning

with the hand (see ch. 12:17, note). Ye that fear God; addressed to the devout heathen

who attended the synagogue service (see ch.10:2, note, and 22; v. 43 of this chapter;

ch. 15:21; 16:14; 17:4, 17; 18:7).


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.” Israel for of Israel, Authorized Version, sojourned for dwelt as

strangers, Authorized Version; a for an, Authorized Version.; led He them forth for

brought He them out, Authorized Version. The word ὕψωσενhuposen -  exalted,

is thought by some to be borrowed from the Septuagint of Isaiah 1:2 (רוןממְתִי),

“I have brought up" (Authorized Version), but this is very doubtful, as ὑψόω

hupsoo is frequently used in the New Testament in the sense of exalting from a low

to a high estate (see Matthew 11:23; 23:12; Luke 1:52; 10:15; 14:11; here ch. 2:33;

see too Genesis 41:52 (Septuagint, Codex Vaticanus) and Gen 48:19). The resemblance

of this exordium to that of Stephen's speech in ch. 7 must strike every one. The natural

conclusion is that that speech made a deep impression upon Paul when he heard it at

Stephen's trial. The common purpose in the two speeches is to conciliate and gain

the attention of the Jewish hearers by dwelling upon the great events of the history

of their fathers, of which they were proud, and claiming for Christians an equal

heritage in that history. The speeches diverge in that Stephen sought to show in

that history instances of the same stubborn unbelief in their fathers which had led

the children to crucify THE LORD OF GLORY but Paul rather sought to show how

the promises made to their fathers had their fulfillment in that Jesus whom he preached

unto them, and how the crucifixion of Christ by the Jerusalem Jews was an exact

fulfillment of the Law and the prophets which had just been read to them in the

synagogue. In both speeches it is a great point to exhibit Christianity as the true

development of Judaism (compare Hebrews 1:1 and throughout).


18 “And about the time of forty years suffered H e their manners in the wilderness.”

For about for about, Authorized Version.  Suffered he their manners (ἐτροποφόρησεν

- etropophoraesen - ). This word τροποφορέω tropophoreo – He carries as a nurse;

to bear or put up with any one's (perverse) manners, is found nowhere else in the New

Testament. But in the Codex Alexandrinus of the Septuagint it is the rendering of

Deuteronomy 1:31, instead of ἐτροφόρησεν - He bare or carried, as a nursing father

carries his child, which is the read of the Codex Vaticanus and of the margin of the

Received Text here. The Hebrew נָשָׂא is capable of either sense. From this quotation

from Deuteronomy it is conjectured that the Parashah (a section of a biblical book

in the Masoretic Text of the Tanakh (Hebrew Bible). on this occasion was from

Deuteronomy 1, and if the ὕψωσεν of v. 17 is taken from Isaiah 1, that would seem

to have been the Haphtorah, and it is curious that Deuteronomy 1. and Isaiah 1. are

read in the synagogues now on the same sabbath (but see note on v. 17). Forty years

is invariably the time assigned to the dwelling in the wilderness (Exodus 16:35;

Numbers 14:33-34; 32:13; 33:38; Deuteronomy 1:3; Psalm 95:10).


19 “And when He had destroyed seven nations in the land of Chanaan, He divided

their land to them by lot.  Canaan for Chanaan, Authorized Version; 20 And after

that He gave unto them judges about the space of four hundred and fifty years,

until Samuel the prophet.” He gave them their land for an inheritance, for about

four hundred and fifty years: and after these things he gave them judges, etc., for

He divided their land unto them by lot: and after that he gave unto them judges

about the space of four hundred and fifty years, etc., Authorized Version and

Textus Receptus. It is difficult to say what is the meaning of the Received Text in

regard to the four hundred and fifty years, what is the terminus a quo or ad quem

intended by it. The usual explanations of the reading of the Received Text (adopted

by Lachman, Bishop Wordsworth, and others) is that the years are dated from the

birth of Isaac, and that the meaning is that the promise to give the land to the seed

of Abraham was actually performed within four hundred and fifty years (ὡς ἔτεσι –

hos etesi – about years) (after the analogy of Galatians 3:17), which gives a good

sense and is not at all improbable. The reading of the Textus Receptus has grave

objections on the score of chronology as well as grammar. Duration of time is

expressed by the accusative case, as vs. 18 and 21; the measure of time in which

a thing is done by the dative. So that the natural rendering of the Textus Receptus

would be that He gave them judges four hundred and fifty years after the entrance

into Canaan; which of course cannot be the meaning. The other objection is that,

if the times of the judges from the final conquest of the land to the judgeship of

Samuel was four hundred and fifty years, the whole time from the Exodus to the

building of the temple must have been about six hundred and forty years (37 from

death of Moses to Othuiel + 450, + 30 for judgeship of Samuel, + 40 of Saul's reign,

+ 40 for David's reign, +3 years of Solomon, + and the 40 years in the wilderness),

whereas I Kings 6:1 gives the time as four hundred and eighty years; while the

genealogies suppose a much shorter time - about two hundred and eighty years.

It is an immense gain, therefore, to get rid of this four hundred and fifty years for

the time of the judges, and by the well-supported reading of the Received Text to

get a calculation in agreement with Galatians 3:17 and with the chronology of the

times. Gave them... for an inheritance. The Textus Receptus has κατεκληροδότησεν

kateklaerodotaesen,  the Received Text has κατεκληρονόμησεν – kateklaronomaesen,

which words are not infrequently interchanged in different codices of the Septuagint

(see Joshua 19:51; Deuteronomy 1:38; Deuteronomy 21:16, etc.). They have nearly

identical meanings, "to give as an inheritance by lot." Neither word occurs elsewhere

in the New Testament.


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.”  Asked for

for desired, Authorized Version; Kish for Cis, Authorized Version; for for by,

Authorized Version. The forty years assigned to Saul may very probably include the

seven years and six months (II Samuel 5:5) which elapsed before David's kingdom

was established over all Israel, while the house of Saul was still in power. The first

twenty or thirty years of his reign after the rescue of Jabesh-gilead are passed over

in absolute silence. The narrative from I Samuel chapters 13 to 31 relates only to

about the last ten years of his life (for the correction of the Authorized Version

of I Samuel 13:1, see 'Speaker's Commentary').


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 fulfill all my will.” Raised up for

raised up unto them, Authorized Version and Textus Receptus; bare witness for

gave testimony, Authorized Version; my for mine own, Authorized Version;

do for fulfill, Authorized Version; who for which,   Authorized Version.

This is not an exact quotation, but the combined meaning of I Samuel 13:14 and

Psalm 89:21.



The Character of David (v. 22)


“......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 fulfill all my will.”   The Divine testimony to the character

of David as one of the most wonderful in scripture.


·         ALL GREW OUT OF CONSECRATED GROUND. No evolution explains

such a man. The grace of God from a child. Converse with nature in his

shepherd life (see Wordsworth’s ‘Excursion’). Forgetfulness of self.

Patience. Courage and fortitude. But all led up to Divine anointing.



school of affliction. His discipline in conflict with Saul.


·         A MINGLED CHARACTER. Great faults beside great virtues.

Tempted by luxury. Yet illustrating in his recovery that same grace which

had raised him to the height. Goodness and severity of God. Our David

(Jesus Christ) is perfect.


23 “Of this man's seed hath God according to His promise raised unto Israel

a Saviour, Jesus:”  Promise for His promise, Authorized Version; brought for raised,

Authorized Version and Textus Receptus (compare Isaiah 48:15; Hebrews 1:6). This

verse leads to the great announcement which Paul had to make of the next great step

in God's dealings with Israel, for which the proceding ones of the redemption from

Egyptian bondage, and the kingdom of David, were preparatory, viz. the actual

coming of the Son of David, the Messiah, to save His people Israel.


24 “When John had first preached before His coming the baptism of repentance

to all the people of Israel.”  His coming (τῆς εἰσόδου – taes eisodou - entrance);

His entrance upon His ministry,  with reference to the ὁδὸςodos - the way - 

of Isaiah 40:3 and Malachi 3:1 (for the use of εἰσόδος, see I Thessalonians 1:9;

II Thessalonians 2:1).


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.”  Was fulfilling for fulfilled, Authorized Version;

what suppose ye for whom think ye, Authorized Version and Textus Receptus;

the shoes of whose feet for whose shoes of His feet, Authorized Version;

unloose for loose, Authorized Version.  Paul, as reported by Luke, follows very

closely the narrative in Luke 3:3, etc. Compare the words Προκηρύξαντος

Ἰωάννου ...βάπτισμα μετανοίαςProkaeruxantos Ioannou.....baptisma metanoias –

When John had first preached; John proclaimed before with Luke 3:3,

Κηρύσσων βάπτισμα μετανοίας – Kaerusson Baptizma metanoias – hearlding the

baptism of repentance.  Compare Πρὸ προσώπου τῆς εἰσόδου – Pro prosopou taes

eisodou – before His coming - with τὴν ὁδὸν Κυρίου – Taen odou Kuriou – the way

of the Lord, Luke 3:4. Compare παντὶ τῷ λαῷ Ἰσραήλpanti to lao Israel

to all the people of Israel with the mention in Luke 3:9-10, of the multitudes of the

people, and the enumeration of the different classes of people. Compare the question,

"Whom [or, 'what'] think ye that I am?" with the statement in Luke 3:15, that all

men were musing in their hearts of John whether he were the Christ or not. Compare

the construction of the phrase, Ἔρχεται μετ ἐμὲ οϋ οὐκ εἰμὶ ἄξιος τὸ, ὑπόδημα τῶν

ποδῶν λῦσαι  - Erchetai met eme ou ouk eimi axios to, hupodaema ton podon lusai –

is coming after me of whom I am not worthy the sandal of the feet to loose with

Luke 3:16; and in v. 26 compare the Υἱοὶ γένους Ἀβραὰμhuioi genous Abraam –

 sons of the breed of Abraham with the Πατέρα ἔχομεν τὸν Ἀβραάμ – Patera

 echomen ton Abraam – we have Abraham to our father -, and the τέκνα τῷ Ἀβραάμ

tekna to Abraam – children unto Abraham of Luke 3:8. There is also a strong

resemblance to John 1:19-28. Paul fortifies his own witness to Jesus as the Christ

by that of John the Baptist, probably from knowing that many of his hearers

believed that John was a prophet (see Luke 20:6; Matthew 21:26; compare

Peter's address, ch. 10:37).



John Baptist’s Relations with Christ (vs. 24-25)


These verses are part of an address which should have peculiar interest for

us, seeing it is the first recorded speech of Paul the missionary, and

gives us intimation of the points which were prominently before his mind as

the themes of his ministry. It is singular to find Paul from this time more

prominent than the elder man, Barnabas. It may be an example of the

commonly observed fact that, sooner or later, the man of power and

adaptation comes to the front place. Paul’s power (This power is traced to

Christ’s words and the passage in ch. 26:14-18:  Saul, Saul, why persecutest

thou me? it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.  And I said, Who art thou,

Lord? And He said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest. But rise, and stand upon

thy feet: for I have appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make thee a minister

and a witness both of these things which thou hast seen, and of those things in

the which I will appear unto thee; Delivering thee from the people, and from the

Gentiles, unto whom now I send thee, To open their eyes, and to turn them from

darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive

forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith

that is in me.”) as a speaker is shown in this address. He was not a rhetorician,

and was only in the higher sense eloquent. He was too intense to be careful of

mere form, and his speech was always liable to sudden breaks and halts, through

the rapidity with which new thoughts were suggested and side issues forced into

consideration. His power lay in the intensity of his convictions, which gave

a dogmatic and convincing force to the expression of his views; and in his

strong sympathy with his audience, which made him quick to adapt himself

to them, and so to press home his thought. In this address we may notice:


1. His characteristic attitude, standing up and beckoning with the hand

ch. 17:22; 21:40; 23:1; 26:1).


2. His conciliatory introductions: he always strives first to be sure of a

common platform with his audience.


3. His skill in dealing with the early histories; which served his purposes in

two ways:

  1. by securing the attention of his Jewish audiences, which are to this day

always pleased with reviews of the national history; and

  1. by bringing out the preparatory character of the earlier dispensation,

and fitting his gospel message to it as a completion.


4. His firm handling of the facts connected with the mission of Jesus of

Nazareth: His innocence; His death as a victim of ecclesiastical enmity;

His resurrection.


5. His simple offer of pardon and life in the name of the glorified, living

Savior. It is not conceivable that the gospel, in its very essence, can be

more succinctly expressed than it has been by the Apostle Paul, in his

missionary speeches (see especially here vs. 26, 32, 38-39).


6. His force of passionate pleading and application of the truth to

individuals, as shown in vs. 40-41. It is to be noted that Paul always

makes his appeal to both the intelligence and the heart, and the verses now

before us for consideration show how he offered proofs of his statements

which were well within the comprehension of his audience. A sentiment

prevailed generally among the Jewish race concerning John the Baptist.

Paul takes advantage of it, and shows how John gave his indirect and direct

witness to the Messiahship of Jesus of Nazareth. It may be true that John’s

testimony to Jesus was of more value to a Jewish than to a Christian

audience, but we question whether sufficient has ever yet been made of it

as one of our best evidences to the truth of Christianity. Three things

require careful study and efficient illustration.


·         JOHN’S PROPHET-CHARACTER. In fixing attention on John the

Baptizer, men have lost sight of his more important relations as John the

Prophet. “All men counted John as a prophet,” the last of the line of men

whom God was pleased to raise up, for a time, as the expounders to men

of His will — the voices that spoke to men His message. It was the very

essence of the prophet that he had a message from God to deliver, and a

right to arrest men and compel them to listen to it. John’s message was his

mission, and his baptizing rite was but an accident or mode of expressing

and sealing his message. We should ask — What did John say to men in

the Name of God? not, What rite did John perform?


·         JOHN’S PREPARATORY WORK. This Paul dwells on. John

never assumed that he had a message complete in itself, or that what he

demanded was all, or even, the greatest thing, men needed. He was a

herald, but his heralding assumed the close approach of the King. He was a

mender of ways, but only to get ready for the royal progress. He demanded

repentance, but only that men might be ready to receive the forgiveness

and life which THE KING WAS COMING TO BESTOW!   To stop with

John is on the face of it absurd. There is no going on from John save

to Christ.


·         JOHN’S DIRECT TESTIMONY. There should have been no need

for this. And yet it forms a most valuable link, especially to Jews. John

witnessed plainly that he had prepared the way for Jesus of Nazareth, that

He was the Lamb of God to take away sins, and that God had given to him

visible and audible testimony that Jesus was the expected Messiah and

Savior. Accept John as prophet, but we must accept Jesus as MESSIAH!


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.”  Brethren for men and

brethren, Authorized Version, as v. 15; those among you that fear for whosoever

among you feareth, Authorized Version; to us for to you, Authorized Version

and Textus Receptus; sent forth for sent, Authorized Version and Textus Receptus.

The same address in substance as that in v. 16, comprising the Jews and the devout

heathen. To us; see v. 33; but on the other hand (v. 38), "to you," seems preferable.

This salvation proceeding from the Savior, mentioned in v. 23 (compare ch.10:36,

"The word which God sent").



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.   In for at, Authorized Version; nor for

nor yet, Authorized Version; sabbath for sabbath day, Authorized Version;

fulfilled... by for they have fulfilled... in, Authorized Version. For they, etc.

It is not clear what is the force of the γὰρgar – for - in this verse. Meyer

(following Chrysostom), Alford, and others, make it mark the contrast between

the Jews addressed by Paul and the Jews at Jerusalem. "This salvation is sent forth

to you [according to Bengel, 'from Jerusalem,' according to others, 'from God'],

for the Jerusalem Jews have rejected Christ. And in consequence of their rejection,

you, who had no share in crucifying the Lord of glory, are invited to take their place.

But it maybe taken as expressing the cause why this salvation is complete and capable

of being offered to them. This salvation is preached to you because, through the

instrumentality of those that dwell at Jerusalem, all that was written in the Scriptures

concerning Christ has been fulfilled. Christ has been crucified and raised from the

dead, and so now remission of sins is proclaimed to you through Him (vs. 38-39;

compare ch. 3:13-20). Which are read every sabbath. Note the value of the

constant reading of Holy Scripture in the congregation.


28 “And though they found no cause of death in Him, yet desired they Pilate

that He should be slain.”  Asked they of for desired they, Authorized Version.

The narrative of this verse is exactly that of Luke 23:4, 5, 14-23.


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.”  All things that were for all that was,

Authorized Version; tomb for sepulcher, Authorized Version. The reference is to His

being crucified between two thieves (Luke 23:32-33), to parting His raiment among

them (ibid. 34) to offering Him vinegar (ibid. 36), to the commendation of His spirit

to His Father (ibid. 46). The words καθελόντεςkathelontes – taking down Him and

ἔθηκαν εἰς μνημεῖον - ethaekan eis mnaemeion – they place Him in a tomb - are the

same as Luke 23:53, 55 (μνῆμαmnaematomb and μνημεῖον - mnaemeiontomb;

memorial vault - being interchanged).


31 “But God raised Him from the dead:  32 And He was seen many days of them

which came up with Him from Galilee to Jerusalem, who are His witnesses unto

the people.  For many days for many days, Authorized Version; that for which,

Authorized Version; who are now for who are, Authorized Version and Textus

Receptus. Paul thus confirms the statement in ch. 1:3 (see note to ibid. v.11). From

Galilee to Jerusalem. Who are meant? and what ascent from Galilee to Jerusalem

is here intended? The answer to the first question is, the eleven apostles, whose

special office it was to bear witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus (ch.1:22, note).

The answer to the second is, that the ascent from Galilee, where most of our Lord's

appearances took place, to Jerusalem, shortly before the Ascension, is here intended,

and that this passage is a distinct recognition by Luke of the Galilaean appearances.

There is, as is well known, great obscurity, and apparent discrepancies in the accounts

of our Lord's appearances after the Resurrection.


  • Matthew seems to place them exclusively in Galilee (Matthew 28:7, 10, 16).
  • Mark likewise (16: 7); but in the section 9-20 he mentions the appearance

to Mary Magdalene and to the two disciples on the way to Emmaus, but

gives no clue as to where the appearance to the eleven took place.

  • Luke seems to place them exclusively in Judaea, but very curiously puts

a mention of Galilee in the angel's mouth in the very place where,

according to Matthew, he announced the Lord's appearance in Galilee.

  • John, again places the three first appearances in Jerusalem (John 20.),

but describes at length a third as having taken place in Galilee (ibid. ch. 21:2, 14).

once, which in all probability took place in Galilee, as only a hundred and

twenty names were numbered at Jerusalem (ch. 1:15). It is, therefore,

satisfactory to have this confirmation of the residence of the apostles in

Galilee between the Resurrection and the Ascension in Luke's report of

Paul's speech. Observe that Paul distinctly separates himself from these

witnesses by the emphatic ἡμεῖς haemeis – we in v. 32.


32 “And we declare unto you glad tidings, how that the promise which was made

unto the fathers,”  Bring you good tidings of the promise made for declare unto you

glad tidings how that the promise which was made, Authorized Version.


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.”  How that God for God, Authorized Version

("how that" being in v. 32); our children for us their children, Authorized Version

and Textus Receptus; raised up for hath raised up... again, Authorized Version;

as also it is for as it is also, Authorized Version.  Our children. The reading of the

Received Text is not adopted by Meyer or Alford, and is scarcely an improvement

upon the Textus Receptus. There can be no reasonable doubt that ἀναστήσας

anastaesas -  raised up, means here, as in v. 44, raised from the dead. Observe with

what skill the apostle speaks of the resurrection of Jesus Christ as the fulfillment

of God's promise to their fathers, which it was to be presumed they were

ANXIOUSLY EXPECTING!   The second psalm. Many manuscripts and editions

have, "the first," because the first psalm was often reckoned not numerically but as

an introduction to the whole book, so that the second psalm was numbered as the

first. This is probably the reason why the eighteen psalms as reckoned by the

Jews include Psalm 19, though Joshua ben Levi explains it by the rejection of

the second psalm, on account, no doubt, of its testimony to Messiah as God's

begotten Son. But the rabbins generally acknowledge the application of this

psalm to Messiah (Lightfoot, 'Exercit. on the Acts'). Thou art my Son, etc.

This application of the second psalm to the Resurrection is best explained by

Romans 1:4. The reference in both passages to David is remarkable (vs. 22-23).

Christ, who was begotten of the Father BEFORE ALL WORLDS, was declared

before men and angels to be the Son of God, when He was raised from the dead

in the power of an endless life.


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.”  Hath spoken for said, Authorized Version; holy and sure blessings for

sure mercies, Authorized Version. No more to return to corruption. This is added

to show that Christ's resurrection was a final victory over death; not like that of

Lazarus, or the Shunammite's son, or Jairus's daughter, but, as Paul himself says

(Romans 6:9), "Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more, death hath

no more dominion over Him." Here he tells us that this eternal exemption of

Christ from death was promised or signified in Isaiah 55:3, which he quotes

from the Septuagint, only abbreviating the διαθήσομαι κ.τ.λ. (an abbreviation

for etcetera)diathaesomai – I will make, into δώσω – doso – I shall be giving.  

I will give.  What, then, is meant by the ὅσια Δαβὶδ τὰ πιστά -  hosia David ta pista –

the sure mercies of David; benignities of faithful David)? The Hebrew has

חֻסְדֵי דָוְד הַנֶּךאמָנִים, which can mean nothing else but "the sure mercies of David,"

the favor and mercy promised to David in God's everlasting covenant, well ordered

in all things and sure. (II Chronicles 23:5) And in like manner, in (ibid 6:42),

ὅσια Δαβὶδhosia David - means "the mercies of God to David." And if we turn

to the account of this covenanted mercy in II Samuel 7, we shall see’ that it comprises

the setting of David's seed upon his throne for ever (see specially vs.12-16). In v. 15

it is said, חַסְדִי לאִ יָסוּר מִמֶּגוּ, "My mercy shall not depart from him." And in the

next verse his house and his kingdom are described as being נֶאְמַן לְעֹלָם, “sure," or

"established for ever," which, when applied to the personal Christ, the Son of

David, manifestly implies His eternal exemption from death and corruption

(see also Psalm 132:4). The sense of the Hebrew, therefore, is clever and certain,

and it is equally certain that the Septuagint, meant to represent this sense in the

version here quoted by Paul. Ὅσιος -  hosios - though properly meaning "holy,

pious," and thence "mild" and "merciful" (εἰρηνικὸςeiraenikos - peaceable)

as applied to man, came to be applied in the same senses to God (Revelation 15:4;

16:5; and here and in the Septuagint,). Beyond doubt, therefore, the passage before

us is rightly rendered in the Authorized Version, "the sure mercies of David;"

the plural, ὅσια, represents the חֲסָדִים of the Hebrew. Clemens Alex. (quoted by

Schleusner) uses it in the same way for "mercies or "benefits:" Πόσα αὐτῷ

ὀφείλομεν ὅσια: - Posa auto opheilomen hosia - For how many mercies are we

indebted to Christ!" In a similar way, the Latin pietas is used for God's "justice"

or "kindness" ('AEneid,' 2:536; 5:688). "Trini pulses pietatem" (on a sepulchral

monument, A.D. 1427): "Beat at the door of God's mercy." Gronovius, in his note

on 'AEian. V. H.,' 8:1, where he ascribes to ὅσιος the primitive sense of what is

"just" and "due," from man either to God or to his fellowman, adds, "Tribuunt

quidem Septuagint? interpetiam Deo τὸ ὅσιον: sod etiam tum significat quoddam

quasi offcium benignitatia in heroines pios, Deo decorum."


35 “Wherefore he saith also in another psalm, Thou shalt not suffer thine

Holy One to see corruption.” Because for wherefore, Authorized Version and

Textus Receptus; thou wilt not give for thou shalt not suffer, Authorized Version.

(see ch. 2:27, note); thy for thine, Authorized Version. It is remarkable that 

Peter and Paul should both quote this sixteenth psalm, and use precisely the

same argument.


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:”  In his own

generation served the counsel of God for served his own generation by the will

of God, Authorized Version. Many good commentators construe the words as the

Received Text does, only some, instead of in his own generation, render "for," i.e.

for the good of, "his own generation." But the Authorized Version is the most natural

division of the sentence, and gives the best sense, only the punctuation should connect

the words "by the will of God" with "fell on sleep." There is an allusion to II Samuel

7:12 and and I Kings 2:l,10, and it is intimated that God was still caring for David in

his death. But there was this vast difference between David and Christ. David had a

work to do limited to his own generation, and when that work was done he died and

saw corruption. (Like you and me and all others – CY – 2017)  But Christ had a work

to carry on for eternal generations, and so He rose and saw no corruption.



Present Service, Promised Sleep (v. 36)


This allusion to the known devotion of David during his life, and to his

“rest from his labors” in the “sleep” that hid him awhile from life, has been

introduced in connection with Paul’s vindication of the resurrection of “the

Man” Jesus — that cardinal fact of Christianity and conspicuous top stone

of the multiform Christian edifice. This, foretold in the shape of a shadowy

typical promise made to David, to lie like seed long buried, had of late

sprung up and shown surprising blossom, and indeed had already borne

glorious fruit, even in Him who “rose from the dead” and “became the first

fruits of them that slept in him.” The allusion in itself meanwhile is grateful

and instructive. And when the sun goes down brightly and purely then does

this lesser light sparkle. It covers five practical suggestions.



“SERVE.” This is a great word, a greater thing — to serve. Long time it

was not so considered, till Jesus rose on the world, and, with ever-illustrious

career of self-sacrifice, was among us as “he that served,” and

said it as well, “Whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your

servant.” (Matthew 20:27)  He who bare our sins, who carried our sorrows,

who suffered our stripes, who murmured, not beneath our infirmities, who

staunched so many a bleeding wound of humanity, nor refused to stoop to

wash and to wipe its hot and dusty feet, — He grafted this heavenly shoot

on the wild, selfish, unpromising stock of human nature. And it is the

memory of Him, His obedience and His service and His devotion, that again

and again reproduces the like, the vital motive of the humblest service and

gladdest obedience of each true inmate of His Church. If any man would

know the real secret of real position in the Church of Christ, let him learn:


Ø      To serve.

Ø      To serve Christ.

Ø      To serve Him faithfully and closely and continuingly.


This man will find his way to serve his fellow men and “generation”

without fail — the poor, the humble, the untaught, the sinful, and those

who already with himself wait on one Lord.



ORDERED — “BY THE WILL OF GOD.” If we do really serve our

generation, there can be no doubt that we are in the path of duty, and

accordingly in harmony with “the will of God.” At the same time, it is too

possible to spend a large amount of time, of energy, of property, thinking

you do God service, when you are doing no such thing. The safer way is to

begin by seeing to it that the work is according to the will of God. This

should be the very first thing in work, greater or less (I Corinthians 10:31).

So sang the quaint George Herbert, whose earthly song merged so

well in the heavenly song, these four centuries ago:


“Teach me, my God and King,

In all things thee to see,

And what I do in anything,

To do it as for thee.


“All may of thee partake;

Nothing can be so mean

But with this tincture — for thy sake;

Will not grow bright and clean.


“A servant with this clause

Makes drudgery divine;

Who sweeps a room as for thy laws,

Makes that and the action fine.


“This is the famous stone

That turneth all to gold;

For that which God doth touch and own

Cannot for less be told.”


It is most important to remember that very much in our serving depends



Ø      Our purpose to serve God’s will. For God whose power to overrule is

so often and so strikingly seen all-coextensive with His power to rule, often

employs men to further His purposes, and to serve their generation, who

never consecrated a single intelligent purpose or energy consciously to

Him. Far from such unconscious, ungrateful, even unwilling doers of His

work should we be. The generation of such is indeed served, in one sense,

according to God’s will; but it is no thanks to them.


Ø      Our care to do the thing best approved as God’s will. Right purpose and

good intention have too often been the cover of a certain non-performance

of the things that would be most true to the will of God. The will of God is

to be consulted, not merely in the spring of our work, but carefully,

humbly, all the way down the accomplishment of the purpose His grace

may have originated in the heart.



serve “our own generation.” A faithful memory of this will save:


Ø      Waste aspirations. Pride is often at the root of great desires, personal

feeling the motive of great schemes, lack of humility the direct cause of idle



Ø      Seeking the unattainable distant, instead of that which we may most

certainly touch because it is close by us. The present time, the present

place, the present task are the time, the sphere, the toil for the servant of

Christ. Between dreams of the past and visions of the future, the priceless

opportunity of practical duty has too often irrevocably slipped past.


Ø      Sighing for more strength, or more knowledge, or more wealth, instead

of using at once our available strength, and improving soberly our given

talents, whether one, two, or ten. There are many who wait for a showy

opportunity of serving Christ and His Church, with ears shut to one of the

sweetest utterances that even He spoke, respecting the “cup of cold water;”

(Matthew 10:42) and with eyes closed to the widow woman of the mite by

the treasury, to whom the Lord did not close His eyes, and to whom He even

called the attention of others.  (Mark 12:41-44)


Ø      An actual lessening of moral strength and diminishment of that enlarged

opportunity which is the invariable sequel of faithfulness in few things.”

The time is neither very slow in its coming nor at all doubtful when the

shoulders of those who have been faithful in few things and in very little

things bend beneath the weight of most honorable burdens of

responsibilities. Not a few of those who once did on the humblest scale the

work of their generation, and neither bargained for nor dreamt of

posthumous fame, stand now in niches or aisles of the Church, and being

“dead, yet speak” with a voice to edify and to thrill generations to come.

Of one such instance we know to a certainty, that of the woman who most

spontaneously and at her own individual expense thought to serve her

generation by richly anointing the body of her Lord so loved to the

burying, and received the promise, now for two thousand years fulfilled,

Wheresoever this gospel shall be preached throughout the whole world,

there also shall this, that this woman hath done, be spoken of for a

memorial of her.”  (Matthew 26:13)



serve only one’s generation seemed little. But is it so? A generation. For

what does the word stand?


Ø      For what an important length of time!

Ø      For what a multitude and variety of people!

Ø      For what a weight of solemn, thrilling interests in human affairs!

Ø      For what a trial of individual consistency and education of individual

character! Only the infinite mind can read that volume through — the

volume of one generation. Yes; there is no great distance to lend

enchantment to the view, and no so picturesque vista, and no vague,

flattering, indefinite scope; yet how full, how ample is the definite scope!

“Blessed are those servants,” who through a generation length, or from

youth even to old age, are found in this sense, “expecting their Lord.”

          (Luke 12:37)



SUCH A LIFE-SERVICE. “David fell on sleep.” It is sweet language

indeed. But how often we lose the sweetness of it! The servant of Christ

need not call that death which bounds the days of earth and shuts the

bodily eye to the light of an earthly sun. It is but night. Night, grateful

night, bounds the day of life, speedily merging in that grandest morning,

the morning of the resurrection. It is but sleep. Sleep in Jesus, equally

deep, soft, restful, closes the eyes of his wearied servant, surely renews his

youth, and soon wakes into life everlasting and THE LIGHT THAT IS

IN GOD’S PRESENCE!   Let us learn the name Jesus Himself gave to death,

and learn it to love it. Now we work, we watch, we praysoon we shall

sleep on and take our rest. And our awakening from it will be INEFFABLE




Serving One’s Generation (v. 36)


Literally, ministered to his own generation.” The place of this text in

Paul’s address should be noticed. In it he reaches the height of his

argument. The passage is an endeavor to show that Old Testament

prophecy could not be exhausted in the persons whom its first reference

might seem to concern. It was not even true if its applications were thus

limited. Its references were to Messiah; they all met in Jesus of Nazareth,

and therefore He must be acknowledged as Messiah. He presented to his

audience one crucial test. David says in one psalm, “Thou shalt not suffer

thine Holy One to see corruption.” Now, could that possibly be limited in

its application to David himself? Our text is the overwhelming answer:

“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.” The words could

only be true of Messiah. They were true of Jesus of Nazareth. The seal of

His Messiahship was His resurrection. We fix attention now on the

description given of David as a man who “served his own generation.”

Dean Plumptre says, “There is, perhaps, a suggested contrast between the

limits within which the work of service to mankind done by any mere man,

however great and powerful, is necessarily confined, and the wide, far-reaching,

endless ministry to the whole human family which belongs to the

Son of man.” If God is pleased to spare a man so long as to reach the

fullness of old age, that man really lives through nearly three generations;

and yet it is only upon one of them that even he can exert an active

influence. The first generation molds him, with its various educational

forces. The second generation he may distinctly impress with his own

individuality; of it he may become one of the potent forces. On the third he

can only exert a passive influence; he is, for the most part, out of sympathy

with it, and he presently finds that he had better step aside, and let the

current of life and thought pass on. No matter how long we may live, no

one of us can influence more than just our one generation of thirty years or

more. Some men serve their generation by being before it, and giving

expression in it to the thoughts and truths and sentiments which properly

belong to the age that is yet to be. Such men do a great work by

anticipating the coming time and preventing the transitions and changes

from becoming too abrupt. Such men must accept the peril of being

misunderstood, and called hard names until they die, and the new

generation recognizes in them its heroes, forerunners, and apostles. Some

men belong precisely to their own generation: they are exactly adapted to

it; they never get beyond it; they are born into its thought and feeling; they

live in it, work for it, worthily express it, and pass away with it; usually

leaving no name only the good fruitage and the silent seeding of their good

works. These are the thousands of the unknown ones, but they are the “salt

of the earth.” And some men seem to be always in the past generation.

Their thoughts and feelings all belong to times past and gone. A queer, old-

fashioned life they live amongst us, and their very talk sounds strange. And

yet these links we need, lest, in the pride of our present attainments, we

should try to break the bonds of the holy and the good that have gone on

before us. No generation dares forget the past out of which it has come.

But no generation can afford to keep only a downward and a backward

look; it must lift up its head, peer away yonder, and hail the “good time

coming.” We may all serve our generation in three ways.


·         WE MAY WITNESS FOR GOD IN IT. Every generation wants men

and women who really believe in God, and make it plain to everybody that

they do believe in Him. In one form or in another, the belief in the living

God is put in peril in each succeeding generation. Sometimes the unbelief is

intellectual, and sometimes it is practical; but every generation produces its

“fools” and itswicked,who secretly or openly say, “There is no God.”

Then we may minister to our generation by a clear and constant witness to

the living God; not as by our word only, but by the impression we make on

men that we are actually living under the “great Taskmaster’s eye;” by the

signs we show that all our life is spent in His fear; and by the tone of all our

thought, relationship, and duty, which plainly indicates the abiding sense of

His presence. Thus David served his generation, bringing the sense of God

to men whenever he came into relations with them; and it is the honor of

Mohammed that he laid this down as the very foundation of Islamism,

“There is no God but God.”



BEST POSSIBLE IN IT. For every generation needs, in all its spheres,

such models and examples as may be to it a constant inspiration. (“In all

things shewing thyself a pattern of good works:  in doctrine showing

uncorruptness, gravity, sincerity.”  - Titus 2:7)  And exactly what we all

may do, wherever our lot is cast, is this — keep the moral standard up,

and raise the moral standard higher. And this can only be done by lives,

by examples, by personal character. What we are may be the leavening

force of our generation in our sphere. But it would seem that,

in this respect, David sadly failed. We cannot say that he served his

generation by being the best possible in it. And yet, maybe, if we rightly

knew his age, we might come to feel that he did.  Even taking into account

his grievous fall, the main current of his life was, to his people, a high and

inspiring example; a stream of influence that made for righteousness. And

certainly we may find the perfect example of the “best” in David’s greater





generation has its conflicts, and wants its holy warriors, its brave soldiers,

as well as its noble leaders. Evil is active in every age. The enemy of God

and righteousness “goeth about as a roaring lion, seeking whom he may

devour.” (I Peter 5:8)  It is true that we best oppose to evil the solid, steadfast,

quiet persistence of godly character; but we are not fully faithful to our God

or our generation if we let any phase of social, political, or moral evil grow up

in our midst unchallenged and unresisted. And in this our Lord has left us

His holy example. There is a sublime force in His fearless denunciations of

Pharisaic conceit and Sadducean laxity. He always called things by their

right names, and sought, with wholesome reproofs and warnings, to purify

a corrupt generation. (“in the midst of whom ye shine as lights in the

world.”  - Philippians 2:15)  And the man who faithfully serves his generation

may be sure of this — his influence will never fade out, will never die. And

God will show one day how he helped on His kingdom of righteousness and



37 “But He, whom God raised again, saw no corruption.”  Raised up for raised

again, Authorized Version.  ἤγειρενaegeiren rouses; raised from the death of

sleep, as ch. 5:30; I Corinthians 15:42-44; II Corinthians 4:14; Ephesians 5:14, etc.

The two words (ἀνίστημι - anistaemi – [νάστα - anasta] and ἐγείρω – egeiro –

[ἤγειρενegeiren) are  combined in ch.12:7. Ἐγείρω is "to arouse," or "awaken;"

ἀνίστημι, to "make to get up." Or in the passive ἐγείρομαι – egeiromai -  to be

"awakened," and in the neuter, ἀνέστηνanestaen -  to “get up.”


38 “Be it known unto you therefore, men and brethren, that through this man is

preached unto you the forgiveness of sins:”  Brethren for men and brethren,

Authorized Version, as before, vs. 26 and 15; proclaimed for preached, Authorized

Version; remission for the forgiveness, Authorized Version.



The Proclamation (v. 38)


“Be it known unto you, therefore, men and brethren, that through this man

is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins.” The change in the world since

Paul was at Antioch; yet the proclamation as necessary as ever. The nearer we

come to apostolic simplicity, the greater our success.  Nothing but the gospel

can accomplish the work, and that because it changes the heart through the

forgiveness of sins.


·         THE FREEDOM OF THE PROCLAMATION.  Forgiveness, not

purchased or wrought out, but simply announced.


·         THE INVITATION TO FAITH. Through this Man, whose Name can be

published, whose authority we testify. Religion is not a self-constructed

edifice of spiritual feelings to which the Name of Christ is attached to give

it a Christian sanction; it is the fruit of faith, and faith is surrender to the

authority of Christ.



 unto you;” therefore as made known, take heed that you incur not the

guilt of its rejection-. A very small amount of knowledge is enough to point

to the “Man Christ Jesus.” But if the light be darkness, by neglect, perversity,

prejudice, pride, how great that darkness!



Forgiveness of Sins (v. 38)


To illustrate how the gospel message has ever borne on this “forgiveness of sins,”

compare for the teaching of John the Baptist, Mark 1:4; Luke 3:3: of our Lord

Himself, Matthew 9:2, 6; Luke 7:47; 24:47: of Peter, ch. 2:38; 5:31; 10:43. See

another instance of Paul’s teaching on the subject (ch. 26:18). Taken with its

context, the passage is a striking one, as showing how deeply Paul was, from the

first, impressed by the fact that the Mosaic Law was inefficient as a guide

to true righteousness; and by the fact that forgiveness, as an act of grace,

and not bestowed on any form of human merit, was the very essence of the

gospel announcement to men. This subject is, however, so familiar, that

there seems little need for more than the suggestion of an order in which

thought may hopefully be guided.



the distinction so carefully made in Hebrews 9:9, 13-14, 23; and note:


Ø      Ceremonial offences are limited by human regulations; sins are

indicated by Divine Law.

Ø      Ceremonial offences concern only such persons as come under the

 ceremonial rules; sins attach to all mankind, because related to God’s

 moral law for all His creatures.

Ø      Treatment of ceremonial offences may illustrate, but can only illustrate,

 Divine methods of dealing with sin.

Ø      Sins, and not ceremonial offences, are dealt with by the Heaven-sent

 Savior. The heinousness, hatefulness, and evil influences of men’s sins

 may be shown, and the greatness of a redemptive scheme that can meet

 all the mischief caused by sin, should be explained.



only want, but the real root of all his wants, because other right relations

can only follow on his right relations with God. Sin is, in essence, self-will,

and finds expression in rebellious actions; therefore the way of the removal

of sin must be repentance, which is the humbling of the self-will, and

forgiveness, which removes the expressions and consequences of the self-

will.  It may be that man’s sin was at first pressed home upon men by the

apostles in its greatest manifestation — the rejection and crucifixion of the

Son of God; but this supreme act of iniquity did but reveal the utter

baseness, badness, and corruption of the human heart and life. On this

point see the teachings of Paul in Romans 3:9-19.



CHRIST. Prospectively, He had power on earth to forgive sins, but in that

He did but declare his right, and illustrate the power He now has to “give

repentance to Israel, and remission of sins.” Direct from the living Savior

to the sinner’s own soul must now come the message of Divine forgiveness.

On the basis of his finished and accepted sacrifice, to our Lord

Jesus Christ is now entrusted the power to grant absolution and remission

of sins to all who “truly repent, and unfeignedly believe His holy gospel.”

And the declaration to men of a full and free forgiveness, actually now

ministered to them by the living Savior, as the beginning of His proposed

work of delivering them from all sin’s power and thraldom, is the very

point of the message which we must bear to men. Not men’s frailties only,

nor men’s mistakes, nor men’s intellectual errors, nor men’s hereditary

tendencies, nor men’s faults in the eye of “class” or “society;” but distinctly

men’s sins, men’s willfulnesses, and wickednesses, and defiances of God,

and breakings of law, and crucifying of God’s Son, — THESE,  the infinite

love has found out how to reach; and it speaks from the lips of the “once


full FORGIVENESS OF ALL, even the blotting out for ever of scarlet

and crimson stains. 


39 “And by Him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye

could not be justified by the law of Moses.”  Every one that believeth is for all that

believe are, Authorized Version.  Here, then, is the great gospel message of grace,

"the gospel of the grace of God," as Paul speaks in ch. 20:24; the proclamation,

consequent upon the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus, of a free and full

forgiveness of sins to all that repent and believe the gospel (ibid. v. 21); see

ch. 2:38; 3:19; 4:12; 5:31; Colossians 1:14-20,  Matthew 1:21; Luke 1:77. Note,

too, how adroitly the apostle points out the superiority of the gospel which he

was preaching to them over the Law, and the pre-eminence of Christ over Moses.


40 “Beware therefore, lest that come upon you, which is spoken of in the prophets;”

Spoken for spoken of, Authorized Version.


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.

If one for though a man, Authorized Version.  "Though" best expresses the ἐὰν

ean - and the כּי of the Hebrew. The passage is quoted nearly verbatim from the

Septuagint of Habakkuk 1:5. The difference from the Hebrew arises from the

Septuagint having read in their copy בֹּגדְיִם, proud, arrogant men (καταφρονητάι –

kataphronaetai – despisers), for בַגּוים, among the heathen, as is clear from

their rendering the Hebrew בוגֵד, in Habakkuk 1:13 and Habakkuk 2:5, by the

same word (καταφρονοῦντας kataphronountas - and καταφρονητής –

kataphronaetaes - ). The rendering καὶ ἀφανίσθητε – kai aphanisthaete –

and be ye disappearing, and perish, for the Hebrew תְּמָהוּ (another form of the

preceding verb הִתַּמְהוּ, which in the Authorized Version is construed with it,

and the two together rendered "wonder marvelously"), is not so easily explained.

The two best explanations seem to be:

(1) that the Septuagint read תְּמָהוּ וְהתַּמְהוּ instead of the present order of the words,

and so rendered the first word θαυμάσατεthaumasate -  wonder, and, taking the

next word from another root, תָמַם, rendered it ἀφανίσθητε (perish);

(2) that, reading the words in the same order in which they now stand in the Hebrew

text, they rendered the first θαυμάσατε, or, with the intensive addition, θαυμασίᾳ, and

took the second in the sense it has in Arabic, "to be altered" or "changed for the worse,"

and expressed it by ἀφανίσθητε, meaning" change countenance from fear and

astonishment." And in favor of this explanation the use of ἀφανίζουσι τὰ πρόσωπα –

aphanizousi ta prosopa -  they disfigure their faces in Matthew 6:16 is quoted. Paul

took the Septuagint as he found it. Perhaps he saw signs in some of that unbelief and

perverse opposition which afterwards broke out (v. 45), and so was led to close his

sermon with words of awful warning.




Another Faithful Sermon to the Jew (vs. 14-41)


It is pleasant to observe the traces, in every possible place, of the grace still

held out to the Jew. It vindicates with emphasis “the long-suffering” of

God, and the continuing force of the dying prayer of Him whom those Jews

“slew and hanged on a tree.” And, though in a less degree, it is pleasant to

observe how messengers and apostles, when they reach a new town, pay

their first visit to the synagogue. This very thing the Apostle of the

Gentiles now does. It has been the order of the two companions since they

set out from the former Antioch (vs. 4-5), but now arrived at Antioch

in Pisidia,” and Paul distinctly taking the lead, the same course is observed.

“Paul and his company” (v. 13) “went into the synagogue on the sabbath

day, and sat down.” They are strangers, and “after the reading of the Law

and the prophets,” they are invited by the rulers of the synagogue to speak.

Sergius Paulus (v. 7) sent for them when they were at Paphos, and

“desired to hear the Word of God.” And now again they spoke from all the

better vantage-ground, in that they were invited to speak. The occasion

proved a memorable one. And its memorableness turned on Paul’s word

of exhortation” to a Jewish audience. Notice:



EXHORTATION.” (vs. 38-39.) It is to fix sole, undivided attention on

the “Man” (v. 38) Jesus, as the Obtainer of forgiveness of sins for men,

though not Himself necessarily the actual Forgiver, and as the Justifier of

all men who believe in Him, from the demands of responsibilities of which

they would fain be free. This is the key-note of Paul’s preaching, and we

hear it distinctly sounded on this the first great occasion of his authoritative

pronouncements. It marks the standpoint of his practical theology. And it is

the burden of his apostolic mission. Nothing lies nearer his own heart,

nothing is spoken more plainly on his lip, whether he converses with

himself, a sinner, or would appeal to others, sinners. It is the core of the

truth; it is the bone and marrow of the gospel itself. Therefore:


Ø      Paul preaches the “Man Christ Jesus.”

Ø      Paul preaches Him as the only One who obtains forgiveness (let Him

obtain it as he may) for the burdened sinner.

Ø      Paul preaches Him as the living, all-efficient Justifier of men before


Ø      Paul preaches Him as the “real” (John 15:1), after all the typical and

figurative (v. 39).




“the Socratic argument” here. Paul takes, it is true, a little while to reach

his grand point. But he goes by no covert approach towards it. He paves

the way, and may be said to smooth the way, but it is all in full daylight.

The brief yet effective historical survey which Paul takes of Israel may be

compared, for object and matter and manner, with those of Peter (ch. 2.)

and (though in less degree) of Stephen (ch. 7.). Without invidiousness it

may be said, however, that Paul’s brevity, pointedness, trenchancy in this

address, could not be surpassed. He introduces Christ, from the moment of

God’s election of Abraham to “the raising up Jesus again” from a death

and grave which had set not one stigma of corruption on Him. And in a

moment or two he has confronted his whole audience in that Antioch

synagogue with two portraits like life and life-size — the one the portrait

of their “own nation and people, the Jews,” and the other the portrait of

the crucified, “dead, and buried,” but risen One. This introductory survey

of Paul owns to the greatest fidelity to fact and fidelity to the conscience of

those who listened. The evidences of promise sacred to every memory, of

genealogy that in point of fact had been as undisputed as it was

indisputable, of prophet of old, of that greatest “prophet born of women”

(Luke 7:28) — John the Baptist, of modern time, and of “sacred

psalm,” are all marshaled. And at present the effect seemed likely to be

irresistible. The “men of Israel, and they that feared God” from happy

association with them, and “the Gentiles,” or some chance representatives

of them, seem to be, not indeed chained to the spot (v. 42), not

entranced, not bewitched, but deeply impressed and thoughtful without

being embittered.




EXHORTATION.” The word of trumpet-warning is Paul’s own. He

clenches it, albeit, with quotation from “the Scriptures,” which should add

the force that comes of sacred reverence’s claim. “Repent!” cried John the

Baptist. “Beware!” cries Paul, “lest you fail to repent;” as so many had

failed to do since John the Baptist’s cry. They heard the quotation, and

often as they had heard it before and knew it so well, or it would have lost

much of its significance and aptness on the lip of Paul, they had never

thought of it in this light, they had never dreamt it could have foretold of

them or be any description of them. Yet what a wonderful picture it had

been of a nation, for at all events some three years, and of their sons and

daughters some thirteen years more already! What a true picture of that

“highly favored” nation! They had beheld and despised; they had wondered

and had — perished, yes, already too many of them — perished. And that

from no convulsion of nature, or collapse of heaven, or irremediable

pestilence, or sword of conquering foe, but because, though they were

given to behold things that kings and prophets and righteous men of their

ancestors for centuries had desired in vain, they “despised” what they

beheld. So must perish all who will “in no wise believe a work which”

Heaven itself works in the very midst of them, and which is “declared” to

them with the voice of power, of love, of patient importunity, but is

“despised and rejected.”   (v. 41)



The New Testament in the Old (vs. 16-41)


The expositions of the Scriptures of the Old Testament by the writers and

speakers of the New Testament are worthy of our deepest attention. Not

only do they draw out from those Scriptures particular instruction which of

ourselves we should never, perhaps, have found there, but they supply us

with irrefragable proofs of the unity of purpose which ordained the long

sequence of events themselves, through many centuries, and also ordained

that a faithful record of them should be preserved in the sacred archives of

the Jewish people. There is probably no evidence of more overwhelming

power of conviction, when once it is grasped, that the Scriptures are from

God, and that they are a revelation of the very mind of God, than that

which is supplied by the continuity of events whose historical truth rests

upon a solid basis, and whose meaning and purpose receive their only and

full explanation in another set of events whose basis of historical evidence

is no less firm and solid than the former. This double testimony to the truth

of the gospel, supplied by the direct evidence of those who went in and out

with the Lord Jesus, on the one hand, and by the prophetic preparation for

those events, and the significant types of them, exhibited centuries before,

on the other hand, together form a moral demonstration which, when

apprehended, is simply irresistible. It is this which gives such force to those

apostolic and other sermons which are recorded in this Book of the Acts.

In this sermon of Paul’s we have the election of Israel to be the people

of God, their redemption from Egyptian bondage, their planting in the land

of Canaan according to God’s promise, first held up to view. Could any

one deny the truth of those events? Were not the Jewish people still in

actual possession of the land of Canaan? Living in the midst of heathens,

were they not, and were not they alone, worshippers of the true and living

God? Did they not possess the sacred oracles? And if they went back

century by century, did they not come to the time when the seven nations

of Canaan possessed the land, and when their fathers dispossessed them of

it? If they went further back still, was there not the Egyptian bondage

described in their ancient records, living in their traditions and sacred

songs, engraved in the monuments and annals of Egypt? Yes; God had

dealt with them as he had dealt with no other people. They were the

children of miracle, the heirs of Divine promises, the depositaries of A
DIVINE PLAN, He ordained instruments of a great and

PURPOSE!  Every page of their history proved it, as that history was

slowly unfolded in the course of successive ages. And the purpose itself

was partially revealed from time to time. Let them bethink themselves of

David and his throne; his humble origin, and his exalted power; the hand

which raised him, the promises which surrounded him, the expectations

which clung to his name. Did he not live in the hearts and hopes of the

people through ages of oppression and wrong? Did not his name still glow

on the page of prophecy, as the heir of mercy, as the future prince of Israel,

as the founder of Israel’s glory? What did all these things mean? What was

the hidden truth that swelled and was ready to burst under all these images?

What was the womb of time so big with in the days which had come upon them?

There was an answer, and one only answer, to these questions. The history

of their fathers was explained by one and only one fact, and that was the

birth of Jesus Christ, of the seed of Abraham and of the lineage of David,

to be the Savior of Israel, and not of Israel only, but also of the whole

world. And he Paul was there to tell them of Jesus Christ: how He was born

in the city of David; how John the Baptist bore witness of Him; how in Him

was fulfilled all that was written in the Law of Moses and in the prophets,

and in the Psalms, concerning the Christ that should come. Let them turn

to those prophets and to those Psalms, and see what was there written

concerning the sufferings of Christ and the glory that should follow. It

had all been fulfilled! The Man of sorrows had been despised and rejected; His

hands and His feet had been pierced on the tree; they had parted His raiment

among them and cast lots upon His vesture; He had gone to the grave and

to hell; He had risen again and seen no corruption; His old companions had

seen Him many days after His resurrection; they had eaten and drunk with

Him, and in their sight He had gone up to heaven. What further proof could

they have that He was very Christ, the promised Savior, the Son of David,

of whose kingdom there should be no cud? Let them believe in Him, and He

would justify them from all their sins. Let them not by their unbelief bring

upon themselves the curse denounced by the prophet upon the despisers of

God’s Word. Thus it was that the fulfillment in the New Testament of all

the types and promises of the Old was as the seal of God to THE TRUTH
The testimony of nearly two thousand years, in which words, deeds,

persons, things, events, pointed with steady consistency to one Person that

should come, was ALL CONSETRATED UPON JESUS who did come in the

fullness of time. And the 2000 years which have elapsed since Jesus rose

again have added their testimony, too, to all that went before. So that our

age will be altogether without excuse if, shutting its eyes to the light of

truth, it rejects the Son of God and misses the great salvation which He has

brought to our sinful and fallen world.



The Christian Faith (vs. 14-41)


The Apostle of the Gentiles goes first to the synagogue of the Jews (v. 14). This

partly, perhaps, because he would be most at home there and find

a readier audience (v. 15); partly in accordance with the words of the

Lord (Luke 24:47). At liberty to speak by the courtesy of his

countrymen, Paul preached the discourse which we have in the text

concerning the faith of Christ. He shows:


  • ITS BASIS IN HISTORICAL FACT. (vs. 17-22, 31.) It is a matter

of history. That history:


Ø      commences with the call of Abraham and the redemption of Israel

from the bondage of Egypt (v. 17);

Ø      includes the life in the wilderness (v. 18); and

Ø      the early years in the land of promise (vs. 19-20);

Ø      contains the choice of a monarchy (v. 21) and

Ø      the elevation of David (v. 22).


From beginning to end, the faith of Christ rests on the solid ground of

established facts; it does not depend on dreams and visions, nor on

logical deductions or intuitions of the human reason; it is built on

well-attested facts; “That which we have heard, that which we have

seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have

handled, that which we have seen and heard declare we unto you”

(I John 1:1-3). Not “cunningly devised fables,” but facts of which

truthful men were “eye-witnesses” (II Peter 1:16), are the material on

whichChristian doctrine rests.


  • ITS CULMINATION IN A LIVING ONE. (vs. 23-37.) “God raised

unto Israel a Savior, Jesus (v. 28):


Ø      One of supreme rank and majesty, whose shoes the great Baptist

was “not worthy to loose” (v. 25);

Ø      One slain by His own people, but raised from the dead by the

favor and the power of God (vs. 27-30);

One whose immortality is the fulfillment of the Divine word (vs. 32-37).


In Christianity everything gathers round, centers in, Jesus Christ Himself.

We are not compelled to subscribe to certain profound propositions, nor to

conform to a number of minute requirements either in domestic or social life

or devotional habit; we are desired to accept a once-crucified and now

risen One “a Savior, Jesus” — as the almighty Savior, living Lord,

Divine Friend, he offers to be to us ALL!


  • ITS CARDINAL DOCTRINE. (vs. 38-39.) “Through this man is

preached unto you the forgiveness of sins;” “By him all that believe are

justified,” etc. There can be no real religious life without the conscious

enjoyment of God’s favor; and this cannot be attained until sin has been

forgiven. The initial step into the kingdom of God is, therefore, the

remission of sins, the justification of the sinner before God. This is the

cardinal doctrine of the gospel of Christ; “This [He said] is my blood of the

new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins”

(Matthew 26:28). There may come times when this doctrine will be

neglected, but to it mankind will continually return; for it is the sense of sin

and the consciousness of condemnation which stand between the soul of

man and its heritage in God, and it is the forgiveness of sin and the

justification of the sinner which open the gates of the kingdom:


Ø      of peace,

Ø      of joy, and

Ø      of eternal life.



that fear God, give audience” (v. 16; “Children of the stock of Abraham,

and whosoever among you feareth God, to you is the word of this salvation

sent” (v. 26); “By Him all that believe are justified” (v. 39). Already the

old and narrowing traditions had been broken; already the strong

prejudices had melted away; already the hearts of men had been enlarged,

and Gentiles and Jews were invited to believe and to be saved. As

missionary work proceeded, and as more light from heaven broke in, the

world-embracing thought of God became clearer and fuller to the minds

of men.


  • THE URGENCY OF ITS CLAIM. (vs. 40-41.) A most sad

succession of steps:


Ø      despise,

Ø      wonder,

Ø      perish;


but one that has been taken by thousands of the children of men. We cannot

oppose ourselves to a “great salvation” without being bruised and broken

by our folly (Matthew 21:44). The height of blessedness and dignity to

which we rise if we accept a Divine Savior marks the depth of shame and

woe to which we fall if we reject Him.


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.”  And as they

went out for when the Jews were gone out of the synagogue, Authorized Version

and Textus Receptus; they for the Gentiles, Authorized Version and Textus Receptus;

spoken for preached, Authorized Version. They besought. There is a difference of

opinion as to who is meant by they. The simplest explanation is that they means

Paul and Barnabas, who went out of the synagogue before the formal dismissal

of the congregation; and, as they were going out, received an invitation to repeat

their instruction on the next sabbath.


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.”  The synagogue broke up for the congregation

was broken up, Authorized Version;  the devout for religious, Authorized Version;

urged for persuaded, Authorized Version. This verse manifestly describes something

subsequent to the event recorded in the preceding. The congregation had asked Paul

and Barnabas, perhaps through the ruler of the synagogue, to return next sabbath.

But when the congregation broke up, many Jews and devout proselytes followed

Paul and Barnabas to their own house and received further instructions and

exhortation to continue in the grace of God. No doubt Barnabas had his full

share in this more private ministry of exhortation (ch.4:36, note, and ch.11:23).

(For the meaning of "to continue in the grace of God," see Galatians 5:4.)



Paul’s Sermon in the Synagogue at Antioch (vs. 16-43)


·         THE MAIN PURPOSE OF ITto prove the Messiahship of Jesus, and

therefore TO PROCLAIM THE GATE OF LIFE OPEN.   The history of

Divine grace pointing to a day of salvation. The course of thought in Paul’s

own mind, which led him to faith.


·         THE MAIN STRENGTH OF THE ARGUMENTthe facts of the

Savior’s death and resurrection. Paul could speak with special emphasis,

though prudently avoided bringing in at this point his own conversion.




1. You need this salvation; for the Law of Moses will not justify you.

2. How can you escape if you neglect it? Resist not the Holy Ghost.




1. Inquiry. It is much to break through stolid indifference.

2. Devout attention led to faith. Many followed them; that is, declared

    themselves convinced. Fruit was gathered even among the Jews.


44 “And the next sabbath day came almost the whole city together to hear

the word of God.”  Sabbath for sabbath day, Authorized Version; almost the

whole city was gathered for came almost the whole city, Authorized Version.

We may suppose that as many as could crowded into the synagogue, and that a

multitude stood outside in the street.


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.”

Jealousy for envy, Authorized Version; contradicted the things for spake against those

things, Authorized Version; and blasphemed for contradicting and blaspheming,

Authorized Version and Textus Receptus. Jealousy. Neither word exactly expresses

the ζῆλου zaelou – of boiling; of jealousy.. The indignation of v. 17, Authorized

Version (where see note), is nearer the sense; though jealousy of the influence of

the two strangers may have entered into the fierce passion which was stirred up in

the Jewish mind, as well as jealousy for their own religion, which they saw was

being superseded by the doctrine of Paul.


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."

And for then, Authorized Version and Textus Receptus; spake out boldly for waxed

bold, Authorized Version; be for have been, Authorized Version; seeing for but

seeing, Authorized Version and Textus Receptus; thrust for put, Authorized Version

eternal for everlasting, Authorized Version. Spake out boldly. Observe that Barnabas

as well as Paul resented the unseemly opposition of the Jews. It was necessary. The

necessity arose from the command of Christ (ch.1:8; 3:26; Luke 24:47). It is in

accordance with this purpose of God that Paul says of the gospel that "it is the power

of God unto salvation... to the Jew first, and also to the Greek" (Romans 1:16).

Compare, too, our Lord's saying (Matthew 15:24) and the woman's reply (ibid. 27).

In point of fact, this had been the practice of Paul and Barnabas no less than of

Peter, and was the very motive that had brought them to Antioch. Lo, we turn to the

Gentiles. These were, indeed, bold words to speak in a Jewish synagogue (remember

Christ's communication to Paul - ch. 26:17-18; the speakers had doubtless sought

courage from the Holy Ghost (see ch. 4:29).


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."

For a light for to be a light, Authorized Version; the uttermost part for the ends,

Authorized Version. The quotation is from the Septuagint (Codex Alexandrinus)

of Isaiah 49:6. Compare the frequent quotations by Paul from Isaiah in Romans 15.

The additional words which appear in the Septuagint, εἰς διαθήκην γένους - eis

diathaekaen genous -  have no counterpart in the Hebrew, and are probably corrupt.

The application of the passage is, God declared His purpose by Isaiah, that His

Servant Messiah should be the Light and Salvation of the Gentiles, and we are

commissioned to give effect to that purpose by our preaching. ("Known unto

God are all His works from the beginning of the world." ch. 15:18)




Unexpected Interpretations (vs. 46-47)


“Ye judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life.” The gentle, pitying

character of the immense preponderance of the language of Jesus to men

speaks and has ever spoken His condescending acquaintance with human

nature, and His sympathetic acquaintance with those of the springs of

human action that lie deep in feeling. His spirit in these respects was not

altogether unworthily caught by His apostles, and notably by the one time

disciple, now apostle, John. There came times and occasions, however,

both in the converse of the Master Himself with sinful men, and of His

servants with their fellow-men, when words of kindness to the ear would

be the very signal of unkindness to the soul and untruthfulness to its

highest interests. And the plain and “bold” language of Paul and Barnabas

now, needing no extenuation at our hands, and little enough of explanation,

offers a forcible and most striking suggestion, how often, through all the

coverings of gracious and forbearing language, the polished shaft of naked

truth must be threatening to pierce, let the crash be what it may. The

statement to which Paul now committed himself may be regarded as saying

very significantly that:




JUDGMENT ON CHRIST. This is true in two leading cases.


Ø      If men are pronouncing judgment unfavorable to Christ — as, for

instance, in supposed answer to such a question as His own, “What

think ye of Christ?”  (Matthew 22:42) They are pronouncing nothing

less than decisive condemnation of themselves.


Ø      If they are humbly and in the genuine spirit of trying to feel their way,

giving out from time to time some testimony of their growing and

growingly grateful appreciation of Christ and of His truth, they then

are proving their own growth in likeness to Him. They are unconsciously

giving the measure of how far the “day dawns” with them, and how

high the “daystar arises in their hearts,” or even how far they have

got on that path which is like “the shining light, which shineth more

and more unto the perfect day.”  (II Peter 1:19)






Ø      The dogmatic tone of the apostle is to be noted. This is not the personal

prerogative of Paul or of any one else; it is the claimed, asserted,

demanded right of Christianity. Christianity gives its account of it, and

a good and competent account. If this be not so, Christianity must go.

But if it be so, he must go who will not have its reign over him.


Ø      Momentous and awful as is the issue to which Paul leaves now the

refusing Jews, he lays the whole responsibility of it upon them. They

were “filled with envy,” they “spake against the things which were

spoken by Paul,” they “contradicted and blasphemed,” they

“put from” them the “Word of God;” and Paul rules that theirs is the

undivided folly of forfeiting “everlasting life,” as though they

seriously “judged themselves unworthy of it.”





further from the pride and presumption of a Jew, of the type of those who

were now before Paul, than to think himself “unworthy of everlasting life,”

or indeed of any other thing whatsoever, either great or good, which could

be had. Yet nothing could be truer than that his conduct amounted to that,

ran a terrible risk of ending in it, and, unrepented, unaltered, could in fact

end in nothing else. For it may be stated thus — that”


(1) the message of Christ,

(2) the credentials of every kind of Christ, and

(3) the deep, incontestable, universal needs of the heart and life of man, are

such that, whether a man be Jew or Gentile, so only he be made fairly

acquainted with Jesus and “the Word of God” in him, he is “inexcusable”

if he “put these away from” him. The thing, it might be supposed, could

rationally (though then not rightly) explain the conduct except it were the

profoundest humility of a publican of the publicans. But this, we know,

would forget the prayer of the publican, though it might commemorate his

deepest humiliation of self-reproach and sense of “unworthiness.” Yet is

this too sadly often found the case with men in matters of religion. Without

humility, they pursue a line of conduct which only the extreme of self-

reproach could rationally and temporarily account for. Other reason,

indeed, in very truth there may be, must be — unutterable folly, blindest

infatuation, amazing recklessness, and uncalculating force of passion and

envy, and withal guilt’s own chosen particular type of hardness; these or

their like must at the last be found answerable. But when they are

summoned for their last answer, this will be the irony of their situation,

that, furthest removed of all from pure and modest and self-upbraiding

humility, they counterfeited it, and, in the name of that counterfeit, “would

not come to Jesus that they might have life” everlasting. (John 5:40)

An inspired apostle gave this unexpected interpretation of the state of things

in the instance before us; how many more such, ALAS,  will “the day



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."

As for when, Authorized Version; God for the Lord, Authorized Version and

Textus Receptus. As many as were ordained to eternal life believed. This can

only refer to the predestination or election of God, viewed as the moving cause

of their faith (compare Ephesians 1:4-5,11-12; Philippians 1:6; II Timothy 2:9;

I Peter 1:2. See the Seventeenth Article of Religion).


Article XVII: Of Predestination and Election


Predestination to Life is the everlasting purpose of God, whereby (before the

foundations of the world were laid) He hath constantly decreed by His counsel

secret to us, to deliver from curse and damnation those whom He hath chosen

in Christ out of mankind, and to bring them by Christ to everlasting salvation,

as vessels made to honor. Wherefore, they which be endued with so excellent

a benefit of God be called according to God's purpose by His Spirit working

in due season: they through Grace obey the calling: they be justified freely:

they be made sons of God by adoption: they be made like the image of His

only-begotten Son Jesus Christ: they walk religiously in good works, and

at length, by God's mercy, they attain to everlasting felicity.


As the godly consideration of Predestination, and our Election in Christ, is

full of sweet, pleasant, and unspeakable comfort to godly persons, and such

as feel in themselves the working of the Spirit of Christ, mortifying the works

of the flesh, and their earthly members, and drawing up their mind to high and

heavenly things, as well because it doth greatly establish and confirm their

faith of eternal Salvation to be enjoyed through Christ, as because it doth

fervently kindle their love towards God: So, for curious and carnal persons,

lacking the Spirit of Christ, to have continually before their eyes the sentence

of God's Predestination, is a most dangerous downfal, whereby the Devil doth

thrust them either into desperation, or into wretchlessness of most unclean

living, no less perilous than desperation.


Furthermore, we must receive God's promises in such wise, as they be generally

set forth to us in holy Scripture: and, in our doings, that Will of God is to be

followed, which we have expressly declared unto us in the Word of God.

                                                            (The Victorian Web)


49 "And the word of the Lord was published throughout all the region."

Spread abroad for published, Authorized Version. As the persecution after the death

of Stephen led to the preaching of the Word in Judaea and Samaria and beyond, so

here the contradiction and opposition of the Jews led to the free preaching of the

gospel for the first time among the heathen population of Pisidia.


50 "But the Jews stirred up the devout and honorable women, and the chief men

of the city, and raised persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and expelled them

out of their coasts." Urged on for stirred up, Authorized Version; the devout women

of honorable estate for the devout and honorable women, Authorized Version and

Textus Receptus; stirred up a for raised, Authorized Version; cast them out of their

borders for expelled them out of their coasts, Authorized Version. Urged on

(παρώτρυναν - parotrunan - spur on). The word only occurs here in the New

Testament, and is not common elsewhere. The devout women of honorable estate:

εὐσχήμων - euschaemon - respectable is, literally, well-formed; then decent,

becoming; and then honorable, well-to-do (compare Acts 17:4, γυναικῶν τῶν

πρώτων - gunaikon ton proton - of women besides the foremost). See Mark 15:43,

where Joseph of Arimathaea is described as εὐσχήμων βουλευτής - euschaemon

bouleutaes -  an honorable counselor. The devout women (τῶν τ σεβόμεναι)

were the Gentile proselytes who worshipped God, as in v. 43. So of Lydia

(ch.16:14), and of "the devout Greeks" (ch.17:4, 17; 18:7). The chief men

(τοὺς πρώτους - tous protous - the foremost men), as in ch.17:4 (γυναικῶν τῶν

πρώτων - see above) 


51 "But they shook off the dust of their feet against them, and came unto

Iconium."  They shook off the dust, etc.; according to the Lord's injunction

(Luke 9:5; compare ch. 18:6). And came into Iconium; a distance of about sixty

miles south-east, a five days' journey (Renan). Iconium lay on the high road from

Antioch in Syria to Ephesus. It is now called Cogni, and has a population of nearly

thirty thousand souls. (circa. 200 years ago - CY)  Iconium is assigned by Xenophon

to Phrygia; by others to Pisidia; and again by others (Cicero, Strabo, etc.) to Lyeaonia.

At this time it was the capital of a separate tetrarchy (Lewin, 'Saint Paul'), but Renan

calls it" the capital of Lycaonia." 


If Antioch shuts its gates, Iconium opens hers.


52 "And the disciples were filled with joy, and with the Holy Ghost."

Nothing can be more beautiful than this description. In spite of the persecution,

in spite of the danger, in spite of the banishment of their teachers, the disciples

were filled with joy and with the Holy Ghost (see I Thessalonians 1:6;

Hebrews 10:34). With regard to this important incident at Antioch, Renan observes

on its powerful influence in turning Paul's mind more decisively to the conversion

of the Gentiles as the great object of his apostleship. He adds, "The character of

that great soul was to have a boundless power of expansion. I know none to be

compared with it in respect of its inexhaustible freshness, its unlimited resources

of will, and readiness to make the most of every opportunity, except that of

Alexander the Great?




Paul’s Missionary Discourse at Antioch in Pisidia (vs. 13-52)


We are introduced to one of those synagogue scenes which are of so much

interest in connection with the early progress of Christianity. Here the

gospel fought its foes and triumphed by the logic of love; here the seeds

were sown which sprang up to cover the world with fruit. According to the

ordinary practice, the officers of the synagogue invite the strangers to

address the congregation. Paul rises. His address falls naturally into parts.

It resembles in general argument and tenor that of Stephen before the

Sanhedrim. (thus Stephen’s influence on Paul!?)  We may gather from it

what were the great reasons which convinced and led to the conversion of

the Jews.




Ø      There was the Divine selection of a people, not to be for themselves

favorites of God, but to be His light and salvation to the ends of the



Ø      There was the wondrous deliverance of this people out of the

oppressor’s hand — from the land of Egypt. On this memory of a

surpassing Divine power joined with Divine goodness, the historic

Consciousness of the nation was based.


Ø      There was the desert discipline: the giving of the Law, the enforcement

of holiness:


o       chastisement,

o       purification,

o       education in obedience.


Ø      The expulsion of the Canaanite tribes and the foundation of a settled

system of government. This, too, was a great epoch; and Israel could not

refer to it without the consciousness of her high mission as a nation —

called of God to supersede the weak, effete idolatrous nations (of which

the Progressive Movement in the United States is gravitating – CY –

2017) of the land, and to diffuse holier manners, purer laws.


Ø      The epoch of the kings. The brilliant but erring Saul; the hero David and

his glorious era. Every nation has some similar or analogous points in its

history on which its memory rests; landmarks of its way; prophetic

moments containing the future; sowing-times for future harvests;

endeavors towards an ideal. Think of our own Magna Charta, our Civil

War, our Revolution, our struggle for existence, our chastisements, and

our triumphs. Israel’s history is the mirror in which every nation may

view its own, and trace the hand of THE SAME WORLD-GUIDING




of Israel’s greatness was continued. He was of the seed of David according

to the flesh. There was an echo of glorious memories in Him.   He came to

revive the kingdom of David and the ascendency of Israel, although in a far

different way from that expected by His countrymen. The testimony of the

Baptist was mighty in favor of Jesus. No prophet in these latter days had

commanded greater reverence than John the Baptist, the great religious

reformer, a preacher of repentance. Now he had distinctly waived his

claims to be the Messiah, and had pointed to Jesus; had retired before Him

with the most lowly confession of inferiority. When we see a great man

sincerely willing to take a second place in the presence of a new-comer, it

is a witness of the greatest moment to the latter’s superiority. The highest

human elevation of character — such as John’s — can only bend before

the Divine. “To you, then,” may Paul well say to the Jews, “and that not on

the ground of my assertion, but the witness of the greatest man held in

honor by you, the second Elijah, is this salvation sent, this good news




Paul is aware that he has a great prejudice in the minds of his hearers to

overcome — the great “scandal of the cross.”


Ø      The ignorance of the rulers. They did not understand the voices of the

prophets, nor the meaning of the Scriptures constantly read in their

synagogues. But their ignorance was little excuse for them. They ought

to have known better. If we choose to look at facts in one light only —

that of our wishes or prejudices — we suppress a part of the truth; and

when this suppressed truth rises up from an unexpected quarter to

confront us, the sense of self-condemnation cannot be overcome. The

Sanhedrim saw in Jesus the embodiment of suppressed truth, and they

hated Him. It was like the uprising of a ghost long thought to have

been laid.


Ø      What they could not meet with reason they tried to quell by violence.

Jesus was tried, with the result of establishing His innocence. No crime,

no fault, no disobedience to the Law, no rebellion against order, could

be proved. Yet He was handed to the Roman governor, and His death

was a judicial murder.


Ø      Thus prophecy was unconsciously fulfilled. A suffering Messiah had

been foretold, and had now been revealed in a death of martyrdom.

Behind the innocence of the sufferer and the guilt of His murderers a

purpose of eternal wisdom and love had wrought and fulfilled itself.

It is this insight into Divine thoughts which can alone relieve the

dreadful tragedies of human passions and events. While in one point

of view the death of Jesus is a scene of horror and of darkness, and

the thought of it a scandal to the Jew and a folly to the Greek, in another

it is A REVELATION OF A DIVINE LOVE which conquers hate and

forgives even guilty ignorance, and converts a revelation of weakness

into a revelation of wisdom and of power.


·         THE RESURRECTION. Without this crowning fact the rest had been

incomplete. A suffering Messiah would have been a witness of the peoples’

sin; a Messiah rising triumphant over death could alone bespeak the victory

of Divine love over human hate and sin. Here, then, comes the core of the

message. The apostles can never forget that they are “witnesses of the

Resurrection.” And this was good news — the fulfillment of a promise

made to the fathers in olden time. The apostles found in psalms and

prophecies of the past which referred in the first instance to events then

passing and persons then living, an ideal or prophetic element. “Thou art

my Son, this day have I begotten thee;” these words, perhaps referable in

the first instance to Solomon, can only in the apostolic thought be properly

satisfied in Christ. And so with the other citation. The promise to continue

the Divine covenant in the line of the kings is fulfilled above all in Jesus.

We must recollect that the kingdom of Judah and the national life as a

whole was ideal; that is, it pointed to meanings not at any time within the

visible field of experience. If we grasp this thought, it may help us to

understand how the apostles viewed Scripture, and how they quoted it; not

so much for its literal and primary as for its spiritual and prophetic

meaning. The Holy One of God was not to see corruption. But David

passed away and mixed with dust. It is, then, in David’s “greater Son” that

this prophecy must be fulfilled, of an incorruptible and IMMORTAL LIFE!


·         THE REMISSION OF SINS. Through this risen One the blessed

boon is proclaimed. The life, the death, the resurrection, would be simply a

grand Divine drama, an object of contemplation, a piece of magnificent

poetry, were there no practical result like this flowing from it. But it means

victory and release from sin. Surrender to the Divine ideal, affiance in the

Anointed of God, means deliverance and peace, not to be obtained by

laborious obedience to the moral or ceremonial Law. Faith is wholehearted

surrender to the Divine Object. It is not a mere act of intelligence,

nor yielding of the affections, nor decision of the will; but the giving up

one’s self TO CHRIST! It is this which brings the full blessing of Divine

peace upon the heart, and nothing short of this CAN DO SO!


·         FINAL WARNING. How shall men escape if they reject so great salvation?

(Hebrews 2:3)  Refuse love, and wrath only can be expected. Similarly does

Stephen’s speech end with a sharp note of warning. Our heart is stirred by

contrasted motives. We move between two poles of emotion. To be drawn

by love is to be repelled by fear. The one motive or the other may have the

greater weight with different minds, or with the same mind in different

moods. Let us thankfully recognize that, whether the gospel touches the

chord of love or of fear, it aims at OUR SALVATION! “Save, Lord,

by love or fear!”



The Savor of Death and of Life (vs. 42-52)


We have here a memorable example of the same gospel being a savor of life to some

and of death to others, according to the reception given to it in the heart of the

hearers. (II Corinthians 2:14-1)  Here was a mixed congregation of Jews and

proselytes and Gentiles. They had all the same advantages; they all heard

the same gospel at the mouth of the same preacher. Some, when they

heard, believed; a hunger sprang up in their souls to hear and to know

more of the salvation of God. They followed the preachers out of the

synagogue; they hung upon their words; they listened to their exhortations.

The next sabbath found them in the synagogue again. We can imagine that

the pressing thought in their hearts was, What must I do to be saved?” We

can imagine how they struggled out of the darkness into the light of Christ;

how the new message of redeeming love and justifying grace kindled new

thoughts in their inmost souls; how they followed the words which led

them till they found peace and life in Jesus Christ. The gospel was to them

“a savor of life unto life.” But others heard and believed not. Their

conscience was not pricked with sin; their souls were not moved by the

love of God; they did not yearn after more light, more knowledge of the

glorious Lord; they were not humbled before the cross; but their self-love

was wounded, their pride was aroused, jealousy and hatred were kindled

within them at the success of the gospel. They spurned the truth which

would lower their importance; they scorned the light in which their own

glory would grow pale; they hated the goodness before which their own

goodness withered into sin. They knew Christ only to contradict Him; they

knew His Word only to blaspheme Him. The gospel of God’s grace had

come to them, but their last state was worse than the first. The gospel was

to them “a savor of death unto death.”



Ministerial Success (42-52)



RELIGIOUS INQUIRY. (vs. 42-44.) It was a considerable success to

have called forth the interest of the Gentile audience, so that they begged

to hear the same truths stated again (v. 42). It was the beginning of “the

grace of God” in their hearts (v. 43); it resulted in the excitement of still

more extensive inquiry, so that “the whole city” was agitated and solicitous

(v. 44). We may thank God for the commencement of religious life, for

the sprouting of the seed, for the first signs of spiritual awakening; we need

not hesitate to ascribe this to the hand of God on the heart of man.




“persuaded them to continue,” etc. (v. 43). We must not only plant, but

water (I Corinthians 3:6). We should watch for the first signs of

religious earnestness, and promptly follow up what has been wrought by

wise, earnest, devout encouragement.



OF EVERY PROVIDENTIAL OPENING. (vs. 45-47.) The rejection of

the gospel by the Jews might have led some half-hearted missionaries to

abandon their work. But to those who were here to work it simply acted as

an incentive to go forth into a wider field. They took the shutting of one

gate to mean entrance through another; the blocking of one way to prove

that the finger of God was pointing in another direction, where more

ground was to be cultivated and larger harvests were to be reaped. So must

we strive to gain good from apparent evil, and look on every adverse event

as showing us what other and what better thing our Master would have us




ENMITY, AND EVEN BY MEANS OF IT. The violent and determined

opposition of the Jews (v. 45) led the apostles to a conclusion in favor of

more extensive Christian labor earlier than they could otherwise have

reached it. The language of Paul (v. 46) indicates no little tension of

feeling. The enemies of the truth urged onward the chariot of the kingdom,

and it rolled forward at full speed. And the fervent words of the apostle

met with a prompt and earnest response (v. 48); the Gentiles “glorified

God,” and many of them yielded an intelligent, saving faith to the truths

presented. So much of centrifugal force was there in the enmity of the Jews

that the gospel was carried far and wide, and “the Word of the Lord was

published throughout all the region” (v. 49). A happy thing it is for us

that often “vaulting ambition o’er leaps itself and comes down on the other

side,” that the wrath of man does occasionally and incidentally work the

righteousness and grace of God, that the industry of evil builds up the walls

it is seeking to undermine.  (Psalm 76:10)



WITH SOME DISAPPOINTMENT, and that the Christian teacher must

mingle reproach with invitation (vs. 50-51).



CHRIST WITH HOLY JOY. (v. 52.) There is a gladness, an exultation,

which may find a home in the teacher’s heart which is not holy, and when it

cannot be said that he is “filled with joy and the holy Ghost;” that is, when

he is congratulating himself with a satisfaction that is selfish, earthly,

unspiritual. But when his joy is pure, disinterested, Christian; when he

rejoices because Christ is being honored and men are being raised and

blessed, then is his heart happy with a joy with which the Holy Spirit is

closely associated, and which “sanctifies and satisfies the soul.”



Jewish Jealousy (vs. 42-52)


The result of the preaching of Paul at Antioch was the conversion of many

Jews and Gentile proselytes to the Christian faith. To these the exhortation,

appropriate to all new converts, was given: Abide in the grace of God.”


·         THE GATHERING OF THE MULTITUDE. There is always some

reason for the gathering of the crowd. Its fancy is easily excited. It is

attracted by the wonderful and the novel. Here it was no mere

sensationalism; it was the desire to hear the Word of God which drew them

together. At its heart the multitude loves truth. Well it may; for it craves

salvation from misery, and knows that this is to be found in truth alone.

Often is the multitude deceived in thought, and mistakes sound for sense;

but not for long.


·         THE RISE OF JEWISH ENVY. The causes of which are not difficult

to explain. The new-comer has laid hold upon the people and gained their

ear. It is at last the multitude to whom the teacher and the ruler must

appeal, and from whom he must derive his influence. Popularity invites

jealousy and attracts hate from the unsuccessful. Rare indeed is the

magnanimity shown by John the Baptist: “He must increase, but I must

decrease.” (John 3:30) To be willing that monopoly of privileges should

pass away and that all should equally share the light and the love of God,

is the spirit of the gospel, which opposes Jewish exclusiveness and jealousy.




Ø      First to the Jews. Not for their own merits’ sake, but because of the

promises of God, who cannot deny Himself, and, despite our unfaithfulness,

remains faithful. But the blessings of the gospel are freely offered to free

men. They may, therefore, be rejected. In the freedom of choice lies

boundless possibility of good and boundless responsibility for evil.


Ø      Those who reject it are self-cast away. Ye cast away yourselves, and do

not think yourselves worthy of eternal life.” It is never that God thinks us

unworthy of the best, but that we do not rise to seek it. SELF-NEGLECTING

as the great poet teaches, is a viler sin than self- love. We prefer:


o        our prejudices to the truth,

o        our passions and pleasures to God’s will,

o         the material to the spiritual and ideal good;


and thus turn against ourselves in acts that are suicidal. Men shut themselves

out of heaven while they shut themselves in with narrowness and contempt

of truth.  (I find it intriguing that the secular hypocritically considers

fundamental Christianity to be narrow-minded!  CY – 2017)


Ø      Opportunity passes to those who are ready for it!  (ch. 28:28 – “Be it

known therefore unto you, that the salvation of God is sent unto the

Gentiles, and that THEY WILL HEAR IT.”   The Gentiles in their

sorrow and depression, needed comfort, and greeted the... good news of

the love of God. The kingdom of God and the mission of the Messiah

were for ALL WHO NEEDED ITS BLESSINGS!   (Do you have need


AND THE NEEDY!  – CY – 2017)  The gospel is a light and a saving

power in mankind. Those who are satisfied with their own

state, outward or inward, will turn away from it; they cannot relish

a message which implies the inward misery of those to whom it is

addressed. But the sad and the sick hail it with joy, and find in it


spreads over the whole land.


Ø      The influence of women in the diffusion of Christianity. Women can

powerfully help or hinder the course of any movement in the world,

especially any religious movement. Here certain feelings in their minds are

appealed to, antagonistic to the gospel. It would be easy to misrepresent it.

These proselyte women might say that they had learned to be religious

without the gospel, and what could it do more for them? Or it might be

represented that it subverted sound piety, whereas it really fulfils every

noble ideal learned elsewhere. Among the proselytes to Judaism we see

elsewhere that it received a warm welcome. The lesson from such incidents

is the practical one — that we should test any new teaching for ourselves,

not accept reports at second hand. The seeming new is often not true; the

new and the true are ever the fulfillment of the old. (Mr. Spurgeon said,

There is nothing new, but that is FALSE!”  - CY – 2017)




      Jewish Opposition Overruled to the World’s Good (vs. 42-52)


·         THE TEST OF SINCERITY applied to the professedly zealous. The

city stirred by those who “followed not with them.” The true zeal is that

which is actuated by the true charity, which “rejoices not in iniquity, but

rejoices in truth.”  (I Corinthians 13:6)


·         The best success is that which is obtained by simply FOLLOWING

DIVINE DIRECTION. It was necessary” to encounter the prejudice of

the Jews, but the work of the world’s evangelization was promoted by the

causes which seemed to thwart it.



opportunity away is to judge ourselves unworthy of eternal life. The facts

will be condemnation, without human accusation.


·         THE UNIVERSALITY OF THE GOSPEL is its original charter of

right to possession of all nations. The light was created before the sun,

and the grace of God preceded the call of the Jews. The patriarchal religion

testifies to the breadth of the message.


·         PERSECUTION is the last resort of defeated opponents OF TRUTH!

When arguments fail, try abuse.  (To often this is a ploy, even today!

CY – 2017)  The old priestly spirit at work, “urging on devout women.”


·         MOVEMENT IS THE LAW OF LIFE.   If Antioch shuts its gates, Iconium

opens a new sphere. The messengers must think first of the work — last of

themselves. Ohne Hast, ohne Rast (without haste, but without rest).




The Clash of Two Worlds in Christ (vs. 42-52)


It may certainly be said that the Jews had long been a world by themselves.

In one fashion this had been the ordaining of Heaven itself, though they

had wrested the true idea of things to a false. And in matter of fact, the

whole of the rest of the earth had been another world. It was but too true

now that places were to change, and, while the lofty fell, the lowly were

exalted. The climax was scarcely reached as yet chronologically, but the

passage of the history before us may most justly be looked at as setting

forth very strikingly the climax in its nature. Notice:


·         THE OPENING SIGNS. The place is the synagogue, the place of the

Jew. The service is on the sabbath, the service and the sabbath both of the

Jew. The congregation is in the first place almost exclusively the

congregation of the Jew and of those who had now some time been allied

to him as proselytes. These had heard read the Law and the prophets, and

had, in addition, heard thereupon exposition and exhortation, the freshest

in style, from two of their own race. The service is over, and they leave,



Ø      in some form or another, by deputation or by the importunate

acclamation of many together, the Gentiles beg that next sabbath

they may be given to hear the same Word preached. It seems

that their application was at all events not refused. But:

Ø      Paul and Barnabas turn not their back upon those who had been

listening to them, nor give them any sign of the cold shoulder, but

the contrary. They speak to them, and beg them to value and

“to continue in the grace of God.”


·         THE GREAT DISCLOSURE. The next sabbath day has come round.

There is still a standing synagogue; there are still “Law and prophets and

blest psalm;” there are still an ample number of Jews and of proselytes to

make a congregation, and a good one. But the synagogue has come to look

like an antiquated, useless, and quite disproportionate building. It is not

equal to the needs of the day, nor anything like it.


Ø      “Almost the whole city is come together to hear the Word of God.”


Ø      The second part of the great disclosure is that the Jews cannot take it

with any equanimity even, that they are to be thus swamped by the

outsiders. “Envy” rules them.


Ø      The third act in the disclosure is that they will try to resist the tide of a

greater force than the ocean. They “speak against” what last sabbath

they did not speak against. They commit themselves to speak against

the word spoken by Paul, and they add contradiction and blasphemy.


Ø      And the fourth act in the disclosure is that Paul and Barnabas both close

with them, no longer in argument — argument is waste when

contradiction and blasphemy” are begun — but in an authoritative

and bold declaration of their own mission. The very hour has come

to say that the privileges, long neglected and now refused, shall not

waste nor be “drawn up again into heaven,” but shall be fully, freely,

publicly offered to ALL THE WORLD!   “For the mouth of the Lord

 hath spoken it” (v. 47).


·         THE DAY’S ISSUE. It is threefold.


Ø      The strangers and outsiders are filled with gladness and gratitude. They

do not refuse to take the “leavings” of haughty and exclusive Jews. Nor

do they think them, call them, or find them “crumbs from the Master’s

 table.”  (Matthew 15:27)  No; they see their day, their opportunity,

their feast, and hungry, sit down to it as a banquet indeed:


o       they are “glad;”

o       they “glorify the Word of the Lord;”

o       they “believe;”

o       they are “filled with joy and with the Holy Ghost.”


For they felt that that “day salvation had come to their house.”


Ø      The disconcerted Jew, most disconcerted of all because he inwardly

knew he had forfeited, of his own surrender, his chiefest blessing and

distinction, will not let things lie. He will raise the “respectable,” the

“orthodox,” part of the city, and even women of the devout and

honorable,and chief men of the city, who “cared for none of these

things” probably in their heart. And all these join to persecute the

two men, Paul and Barnabas. And they expel them.


Ø      These two servants of Christ hear the echoes of a voice which perhaps

they had not heard itself (Luke 10:11). And they hear the call of duty

(Matthew 10:23) elsewhere, and do not forget that the time is precious,

that daylight will soon have gone, and that it is theirs to “work while

it is day, the night cometh when no man can work.” (John 9:4)



Spiritual Joy (v. 52)


“And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Ghost.” At the

conclusion of a narrative descriptive of varied experiences both of the

messengers and of the Church.




Ø      Joy of personal faith, which is promoted by discipline. If all went

smoothly with us we should lose strength by the ease and self-

indulgence which we should be apt to cherish.


Ø      Joy in the spread of the Gospel!   The world opposes, false religion




independent of human guidance, Paul and Barnabas were expelled, but the

disciples taught and were led by the Spirit. We must not glory in men. The

great resource of the Church is fellowship. Even the spread of truth is largely

independent of particular agencies. The Word speaks for itself. (Like the

little girl at the circus was impressed with the men who took care of the

lion, her father said, Let the lion out of the cage and he will take care of

himself!  - Our job is to let the Word out!  - CY – 2017)  The Spirit

works often without apparent use of human instrumentality.



Joy and the Holy Ghost. We should show the world that religious joy is

above all other. Victories, if given, should be recounted. We should often

meet together to tell of Divine wonders! The bold and joyful spirit is

especially needful, as the present day is full of growing UNBELIEF and




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