Thursday, November 29, 2007

Acts, Chapter 13

Has there ever been a time in your life when you have wondered what you're supposed to do next? Have you ever wanted God to simply tap you on the shoulder and say, "Go (here) and do (this)"? In times of confusion many people feel this way. Since I am currently in one of those times I find myself wishing I were Paul and Barnabas who are so clearly told where to go and what to do here at the beginning of chapter 13.

Unfortunately for us, God does not always work in such dramatic ways, but we can still learn from the example that Paul and Barnabas set forth here. Sometimes we are simply called to a place in our lives where we don't know the true reasons why we are doing what we are doing. Right now I am answering phones at a temp job that I hate, but I know this is where God wants me at the moment, perhaps to learn some humility. Paul and Barnabas didn't know for sure what they were getting into when God called them to Cyprus. Still, they preached the word of God, knowing that they must do at least that and they accomplished many great things.

23"From this man's descendants God has brought to Israel the Savior Jesus, as he promised. 24Before the coming of Jesus, John preached repentance and baptism to all the people of Israel. 25As John was completing his work, he said: 'Who do you think I am? I am not that one. No, but he is coming after me, whose sandals I am not worthy to untie.' – Acts 13:23-25

Once again we must take some historical context when looking at the above verses. Since Paul and Barnabas were preaching primarily to Jews here, they had to break down conventions in order to truly raise Jesus up. The Jews believed King David was the highest ruler the Jews had ever known, so they properly linked Jesus to him as a descendent. They then raised him higher by quoting John the Baptist, who was the epitome of being a servant.

27The people of Jerusalem and their rulers did not recognize Jesus, yet in condemning him they fulfilled the words of the prophets that are read every Sabbath. 28Though they found no proper ground for a death sentence, they asked Pilate to have him executed. 29When they had carried out all that was written about him, they took him down from the tree and laid him in a tomb. 30But God raised him from the dead, 31and for many days he was seen by those who had traveled with him from Galilee to Jerusalem. They are now his witnesses to our people. – Acts 13:27-31

Once again, God uses man's misguided attempts to fulfill His work. Even in the killing of Jesus, they fulfilled prophecy that proved He was exactly who He said He was. They even put Him higher than David by reminding them that David died, yet Christ continues to live. Naturally, the Jews were not happy about this because they were being called out and asked to admit they were wrong. Who wants to readily admit this? Instead of facing this though, they stuck to their stubborn humanity and continued to speak out against Paul and Barnabas. Once again, however, God uses these mistakes for the good of all.

46Then Paul and Barnabas answered them boldly: "We had to speak the word of God to you first. Since you reject it and do not consider yourselves worthy of eternal life, we now turn to the Gentiles. 47For this is what the Lord has commanded us: "'I have made you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth. 48When the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and honored the word of the Lord; and all who were appointed for eternal life believed. '" – Acts 13:46-48

Basically Paul and Barnabas finally said, "If you won't listen we'll find someone who will." This is further proof that the gospel cannot be stopped. It will always find a heart to change even when people reject the message. They were expelled from the region and the persecution of the early church continued, but Paul and Barnabas were not dissuaded from the message. There is even a lesson inside the lesson here, and a validation of the message because it could not be stopped even when man tried to stop it.


  1. How important was the life of David in validating the life of Jesus?
  2. Why did Christ have to be rejected by His own people in order to fulfill prophesy?
  3. Was it necessary for the jews to reject the message in order to take it to the Gentiles?

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