Today we continue go into Acts 13 with a brief introduction, discussing how Elymas and Sergius Paulus could be types, the doctrine of the Lord, and the coming conflict between Paul and Barnabas over John Mark, the churches in Asia Minor, the participants in the Jewish synagogues, the baptism of repentance, and the ignorance on behalf of the nation that led to the crucifixion our Jesus.
Chapter 13 gets pretty interesting for me because for most, not all, it is the beginning of the Gospel of Grace as preached by the Apostle Paul, and that will become obvious when we get down to Acts 13:38-39. Now, if you were to ask me, "When did the Church, the Body of Christ begin? I would respond by saying, with the conversion of Paul. 1 Timothy 1:15-16 makes this abundantly clear to me.
However, there is disagreement in regards to when and/or how many times Paul was converted. Some will say that there was only one conversion in Paul's life and that was on the road to Damascus in Acts 9 and that is when the dispensation of grace began. Others will say, no, that was a Kingdom conversion and that later, when he received the revelation of them mystery, there was another, and that is the one that he is referring to in 1 Timothy 1:15-16.
Personally, and I have the right to change my mind after further study, I believe that Paul experienced two conversions: the first on the road to Damascus and the second after the revelation of the mystery sometime during or right after his three years in Arabia. Again, people disagree, and there are great and convincing arguments for both.
VERSE 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. Bear in mind that this was a predominately Gentile church that had grown under the teaching of Paul, and of which he was the first member (1 Timothy 1:15-16). This, in my opinion, is the Body of Christ that you and I are apart of that is made up of both Jew and Gentile, which began at the revelation of the mystery to Paul.
Notice that Paul is not the only teacher there either as we can see from the text.
VERSES 2-4: 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. (3) And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them away. (4) So they, being sent forth by the Holy Ghost, departed unto Seleucia; and from thence they sailed to Cyprus. Now God providentially decides that Paul and Barnabas need to be sent out to take the Gospel of Grace to the rest of the world in what would be known as the first of his missionary journeys. He would take at least three, possibly four, depending on how many times he was imprisoned. 2 Timothy 4:16-17 seems to indicate twice, but that is another study for another day.
VERSE 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. Now, my question is, what did her preach to the Jews in the synagogues? Kingdom or Grace? Regardless, by the time we get to the end of the chapter, it will be obvious is is teaching the Gospel of Grace.
Notice John again, this is John Mark who penned the Gospel of Mark. The next verses get interesting and are the primary reason I believe Paul is now going to start preaching the Gospel of Grace starting with Sergius Paulus.
VERSES 6-8: And when they had gone through the isle unto Paphos, they found a certain sorcerer, a false prophet, a Jew, whose name was Barjesus: (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. (8) But Elymas the sorcerer (for so is his name by interpretation) withstood them, seeking to turn away the deputy from the faith. They run upon a Jewish false prophet who name was Barjesus, but Elymas by interpretation according to v.8. He apparently withstood Saul and Barnabas and sought to turn away the deputy from the faith.
VERSE 9: Then Saul, (who also is called Paul,) filled with the Holy Ghost, set his eyes on him, From this point forward, Paul is never called Saul again. To me, this is the proof that Paul had already received the revelation of the mystery. Again, his name Saul is used 26 times prior and the name Paul is used 126 times after this verse. This to me is a strong indicator that it had already happened and the name change was the announcement.
VERSE 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? When we use the word subtle today, it means that we are not being very obvious in our actions. However, in this verse, the word could be translated to mean craft, deceit, or guile. He is accusing him of using deception and dishonesty in perverting th ways of the Lord.
VERSES 11-12: 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. Then the deputy, when he saw what was done, believed, being astonished at the doctrine of the Lord. Some, including myself, see this verse as a type of the transition that was taking place from the Kingdom to the Gospel; from the prophetic to the mystery. In that case, Elymas would be a type of unbelieving Israel that is in temporary blindness and Sergius Paulus would be a type of the Gentiles that can now clearly see (Romans 11:7-15; Romans 11:25). This would also be the story for the rest of Paul's mystery in that in would be withstood by the Jews practically every where he went. No doubt, some listened, but most withstood and rejected Paul's apostleship.
I am also drawn to that final phrase of the verse the doctrine of the Lord. This is the only place in the Bible where this phrase is used. The only verse that even comes close is 1 Timothy 6:3. I believe this is a reference to the Gospel of Grace, i.e., death, burial, and resurrection. Remember, the Kingdom Gospel is Christ, but the Grace Gospel is the Cross.
VERSE 13: Now when Paul and his company loosed from Paphos, they came to Perga in Pamphylia: and John departing from them returned to Jerusalem. This seemingly insignificant verse would set up a dispute between Paul and Barnabas later (Act_15:36-40) and led to Paul taking Silas instead. Now some will point to the fact that Barnabas disappeared from the scene right after that as proof that he was in the wrong, but that is speculation as far as I can tell. We are not sure why John Mark left and returned to Jerusalem. Most believe that he was just afraid.
Paphos was the capital of Syria. Perga was on the coast of modern day Turkey. The entire area is what we call Asia Minor today which is where, from what I can tell, all of the churches which Paul started and ministered were located, e.g., the seven churches of Revelation, Colosse and Galatia.
VERSES 14-16: But when they departed from Perga, they came to Antioch in Pisidia, and went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and sat down. (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. (16) Then Paul stood up, and beckoning with his hand said, Men of Israel, and ye that fear God, give audience. Antioch of Pisidia is not the same Antioch as where they had come from. We will find moving forward that Paul always went to the synagogue first when he entered any city because he had such a heart for his people (Romans 9:3). He is now going to rehearse the history of the Jewish nation beginning with Abraham, through Jesus' earthly ministry and crucifixion.
When Paul says, Men of Israel, and ye that fear God, give audience, it is apparent that there were both Jew and Gentile in this synagogue. I have previously stated that Gentiles were not allowed into the synagogue; however, upon further study, it is apparent that they were (Acts 13:42; Acts 14:1; Acts 17:1-4; Acts 17:10-12; and Acts 18:4). So, obviously, while not allowed into the Temple, only to the Court of the Gentiles, they were allowed into the synagogues.
VERSES 17-19: 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. (18) And about the time of forty years suffered he their manners in the wilderness. (19) And when he had destroyed seven nations in the land of Chanaan, he divided their land to them by lot. The seven nations included: The Hittites, the Girgashites, the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites (Deuteronomy 7:1).
VERSES 20-22: And after that he gave unto them judges about the space of four hundred and fifty years, until Samuel the prophet. (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. (22) And when he had removed him, he raised up unto them David to be their king; to whom also he gave testimony, and said, I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after mine own heart, which shall fulfil all my will. (23) Of this man's seed hath God according to his promise raised unto Israel a Saviour, Jesus: Paul emphasizes David, because through him would come the Messiah who would deliver the nation.
VERSE 24: When John had first preached before his coming the baptism of repentance to all the people of Israel. It must be understood that the Savior that John preached was exclusively the savior of Israel through which he would use the nation to reach the world which was plan A. The baptism of repentance was for the nation of Israel only. We today, do not partake in this baptism. Anyone who teaches that baptism is necessary for baptism today is conflating the Kingdom Gospel with the Grace Gospel and teaching a works salvation (1 Corinthians 1:17-18; Ephesians 2:8-9).
VERSE 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. John always pointed to Jesus (John 1:19-23).
VERSE 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. It seems obvious from the text that Paul is speaking to both Jew and Gentile.
VERSES 27-31: 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. (28) And though they found no cause of death in him, yet desired they Pilate that he should be slain. (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. (30) But God raised him from the dead: (31) And he was seen many days of them which came up with him from Galilee to Jerusalem, who are his witnesses unto the people. What Paul is talking about had occurred only twelve years earlier. Notice that he says that the people did it because they knew him not all the while reading the voices of the prophets every week in the temple and synagogues. Yet, in their ignorance, they fulfilled prophecy.
Peter addressed this in Acts 3:16-18. He was acknowledging that they had indeed put Jesus to death, but they did it through ignorance. Jesus said the same in Luke 23:34. As did Stephen in Acts 7:60. This is important to understand, because had they did it knowingly, justice would have been swift with no grace extended.
Also, we mentioned earlier, even the apostles themselves had been walking in ignorance in spite of the fact that Jesus told them emphatically what was going to happen to him. Even after the resurrection, they were still utterly clueless as to the resurrection that would follow, cf. the women and the disciples in Luke 24:13-27. The point is, the apostles, just like those who demanded the crucifixion, where walking in ignorance.
The law makes it clear that if someone knowingly, premeditatively killed someone, it was life for life. However, if it was an accident, grace was extended for the person to flee to the City of Refuge (1 Corinthians 2:6-8).