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Bible Commentaries

Spurgeon's Verse Expositions of the Bible

Acts 13

 

 

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Verses 13-49

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

“John” — that is, John Mark, as we see by chapter 15. verse 37.

Acts 13:14-15. But when they departed from Perga, they came to Antioch in Pisidia, and went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and sat down. And after the reading of the law and the prophets the rulers of the synagogue went unto them, saying, Ye men and brethren, if ye have any word of exhortation for the people, say on.

The rulers of the synagogue had noticed them as strangers coming in, and perceived that they were Jews, probably by their wearing the same kind of garments as other Jews did.

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

Or, rather, “and ye Gentile proselytes, give audience.”

Acts 13:17. The God of this people of Israel choose our fathers, and exalted the people when they dwelt as strangers in the land of Egypt, and with an high arm brought he there out of it.

It is always well to begin with our hearers upon some common ground. So, wishing to persuade these people to receive the Lord Jesus as the promised Messiah, Paul begins with that which was always attractive to their ears, —the history of their nation, with a special mention of the peculiar favor which God had shown to his chosen people Israel in bringing them up out of the land of Egypt, and out of the house of bondage.

Acts 13:18-21. And about the time of forty years suffered he their manners in the wilderness. And when he had destroyed seven nations in the land of Chanaan, he divided their land to them by lot. And after that he gave unto them judges about the space of four hundred and fifty years, until Samuel the prophet. 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.

Do you not sometimes hear people speak disparagingly about certain parts of scripture, and say, “Oh, that is the historical part”? Dear friends, never fall into the error of thinking less of one part of Scripture than of another, but remember that “all Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the men of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.” This sermon, by Paul, is a rehearsal of Old Testament history; and he would not have spoken unprofitably; you may depend upon that. I would urge you to bear a protest against the method, which seems to be springing up nowadays, of saying, “That part of the Bible is for the Jews; “or “That particular Epistle” — for they speak thus even of the New Testament — “is not for us.” It is all for us, and we are to seek to profit by every word of it, praying the Holy Spirit to apply it to our hearts.

Acts 13:22-25. 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. Of this man’s seed hath God according to his promise raised unto Israel a Saviour, Jesus: when John had first preached before his coming the baptism of repentance to all the people of Israel. 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.

Paul went on with his narrative as far as the history of Saul and David, and so he came to greet David’s greater son, the Lord Jesus Christ. He had come by way of Old Testament history to Christ, and by way of John the Baptist to Christ; and that is how the preacher of the gospel should travel. On whatever road he journeys, his terminus must be Christ. The motto of all true servants of God must be, “We preach Christ; and him crucified.” A sermon without Christ in it is like a loaf of bread without any flour in it. No Christ in your sermon, sir? Then go home, and never preach again until you have something worth preaching.

Acts 13:26. Men and brethren, children of the stock of Abraham, and whosoever among you feareth God,

Or, “is a proselyte to God.”

Acts 13:26-27. To you is the word of this salvation sent. For they that dwell at Jerusalem, and their rulers, because they knew him not, nor yet the voices of the prophet which are read every sabbath day, they have fulfilled them in condemning him.

See how easy it is for people to hear the Bible read, and yet to know very little about what it contains. They may have the lessons read every Sabbath day in their hearing, and yet they may not understand anything that is in them. They may even become themselves great readers of the Scriptures, yet not come to Christ, as it was with those to whom the Lord Jesus said “Ye search the Scriptures, for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me. But ye will not come to me, that ye might have life.” If you are content with merely reading or hearing the Scriptures, and do not come to Christ himself, you stop short of salvation; yea, you stay in a position where you may be capable of the grossest sin, as were these people at Antioch in Pisidia.

Acts 13:28-37. And though they found no cause of death in him, yet desired they Pilate that he should be slain. And when they had fulfilled all that was written of him, they took him down from the tree, and laid him in a sepulcher. But God raised him from the dead: and he was seen many days of them which came up with him from Galilee to Jerusalem, who are his witnesses unto the people. And we declare unto you glad tidings, how that the promise which was made unto the fathers, 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. 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. Wherefore he saith also in another psalm, Thou shalt not suffer thine Holy One to see corruption. For David, after he had served his own generation by the will of God, fell on sleep, and was laid unto his father, and saw corruption: but he, whom God raised again, saw no corruption.

Note how Paul keeps to scripture. An inspired apostle himself, yet he appealed to the Old Testament to support his case. That was the best argument he could possibly use with Jews; and, often, it will be the best that we can use with Gentiles.

Acts 13:38-42. Be it known unto you therefore, men and brethren, that through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins: and by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses. Beware therefore, lest that come upon you, which is spoken of in the prophets; 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. And when the Jews were gone out of the synagogue, the Gentiles besought that these words might be preached to them the next sabbath.

They did not mind hearing sermons twice in those days. We are not often asked to preach the same sermon over again. But these people wanted to know the truth; and, therefore, they asked to have it repeated. If our people will not receive the gospel the first time we preach it, we must tell it to them over and over again. With the hammer of the Word, we must smite the same nail on the head again and, again. Even if we do not utter the same words there must ever be the same subject Sabbath by Sabbath, and week by week.

Acts 13:43-46. 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. And the next sabbath day came almost the whole city together to hear the word of God. But when the Jews saw the multitudes, they were filled with envy, and spake against these things which were spoken by Paul, contradicting and blaspheming. Then Paul and Barnabas waxed bold,

Though Jews themselves, they could not bear to see the bigotry of their nation.

Acts 13:46. 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 a blessed turning it has been for you, dear friends and for me.

Acts 13:47-49. 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. 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. And the word of the Lord was published throughout all the region.


Verses 14-42

Acts 13:14-15. But when they departed from Perga, they came to Antioch in Pisidia, and went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and sat down. And after reading of the law and the prophets,

From which there were always two appointed lessons, one from the writings of Moses, and another from one of the prophets; and on this day it was probably the first chapter of the book of Deuteronomy, or the first chapter of the book of the prophet Isaiah — “the rulers of the synagogue sent unto them.”

Acts 13:15. 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.

They were seen to be Jews who were traveling, and they were invited by the minister who conducted the service to stand up and say anything they had to say. “Then Paul stood up, and, beckoning, with his hand, said “: —

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

You, who, Enough Gentiles, have come to worship Jehovah, God of Israel — “men of Israel.”

Acts 13:17-18. 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. And about the time of forty years suffered he their manners in the wilderness.

You that are familiar with your Bibles will be struck with the great likeness of this sermon by Paul to that of Stephen. It seems to run on the same lines. Stephen gave the history of Israel to the Israelites. Paul does the same. Ah! we can never tell how great was the influence of that dying Stephen upon this living Paul. Paul is the continuation of Stephen. His blood was not lost in that day when they stoned him to death. From his ashes sprang this mighty preacher of the Word.

Acts 13:19-22. And when he had destroyed seven nations in the land of Chanaan, he divided their land to them by lot. And after that he gave unto them judges about the space of four hundred and fifty years, until Samuel the prophet, 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. 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.

All this would be very pleasing to the Jews. They were never weary of hearing the ancient history of themselves as a chosen people. Paul ingratiates himself with them. The gospel that he had to preach was bitter to them, but he gilds the pill, and we must do what we can lawfully and properly to win the attention of men and their kindly feeling to us, although we must faithfully preach the gospel. Now he got as far as David into history. Now we will step to Christ.

Acts 13:23-25. Of this man’s seed hath God according to his promise raised unto Israel a Saviour, Jesus: When John had first preached before his coming the baptism of repentance to all the people of Israel. 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.

He brings in the testimony of John, who was universally respected among them. They regarded him as the last of the prophets, and so Paul tries to win their kind feelings.

Acts 13:26-27. Men and brethren, children of the stock of Abraham, and whosoever among you feareth God, to you is the word of this salvation sent. 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.

Not knowing it, they have fulfilled the prophecies of old in condemning Jesus, the Son of David

Acts 13:28-29. And though they found no cause of death in him, yet desired they Pilate that he should be slain. And when they had fulfilled all that was written of him, they took him down from the tree, and laid him in a sepulcher.

You see he has given the story of Christ, his life, his death, his burial, his resurrection.

Acts 13:30-31. But God raised him from the dead: And he was seen many days of them which came up with him from Galilee to Jerusalem, who are his witnesses unto the people.

He does not expect them to believe without proofs, but he adduces the proof of the resurrection in the many witnesses who saw him after he had

Acts 13:32-37. And we declare unto you glad tidings, how that the promise which was made unto the fathers. 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. 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. Wherefore he saith also in another psalm, Thou shalt not suffer thine Holy one to see corruption. 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; But he, whom God raised again, saw no corruption.

So that David was not speaking of himself, but he was speaking of another and higher David, his greater Son, the Son of God, begotten of the Father.

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

Now they have it. Now he brings it out very clearly indeed. Glad tidings are now ringing in their ears.

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

The sins which the law of Moses did not propose to touch, yea, all sins which the law of Moses could only typically remove, all these sins are now really taken away by this glorious Son.

Acts 13:40-41. Beware, therefore, lest that come upon you, which is spoken of in the prophets: 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.

You cannot imagine anything more appropriate to the occasion, more properly set forth, more bold, more clear; but these men were not prepared to receive it.

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

They are earnest hearers who want to hear the same sermon again. But perhaps they did not expect to hear the same words, but to fret the same sense and have it explained more fully that they might the better grasp it. Oh! what a mercy it is, when the congregation is going away, if there are some that stop behind, anxious to learn somewhat more!

 


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Bibliography Information
Spurgeon, Charle Haddon. "Commentary on Acts 13:4". "Spurgeon's Verse Expositions of the Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/spe/acts-13.html. 2011.

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