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Antioch of Pisidia

INTRODUCTION: Paul and Barnabas had started their missionary journey together by going to Cypress after they were commissioned from the church at Antioch in Syria. After preaching at synagogues in Cypress, and witnessing to the governor of the island at Paphos, they sailed to Pamphylia and subsequently visited another Antioch, but this one in Pisidia. The message Paul gave at the synagogue there was a concise review of the history of Israel that lead to the promise given to King David. Then Paul outlined how that promise was fulfilled by Christ Jesus, and clearly stated the crucial necessity of believing in Jesus as Lord and Savior.

NOTE: Bible passages are from the World English Bible.


Acts 13 "13 Now Paul and his company set sail from Paphos, and came to Perga in Pamphylia. John departed from them and returned to Jerusalem. 14 But they, passing on from Perga, came to Antioch of Pisidia. They went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and sat down. 15 After the reading of the law and the prophets, the rulers of the synagogue sent to them, saying, "Brothers, if you have any word of exhortation for the people, speak."

COMMENTS: Paphos was the last stop on the island of Cypress after which Paul and his companions landed at Perga in Pamphylia, and with no detail, John left them and returned to Jerusalem (Acts 15:37-39 records a second journey). As this first journey continued, there is no description of ministry at Perga before the group traveled on to Antioch of Pisidia. They went into the synagogue there on the Sabbath day and quietly joined the service being held. After the reading of the law and the prophets, the rulers of the synagogue addressed the visitors as brothers, and opened an invitation for them to speak to the people if they had any words of encouragement. This reminded me of a passage in the gospel of Mark showing that Jesus also spoke in synagogues as he traveled, and he had a distinctive manner of teaching that was superior to religious ritual and tradition.

Mark 1 "21 They went into Capernaum, and immediately on the Sabbath day he entered into the synagogue and taught. 22 They were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as having authority, and not as the scribes."


Acts 13 "16 Paul stood up, and beckoning with his hand said, "Men of Israel, and you who fear God, listen. 17 The God of this people chose our fathers, and exalted the people when they stayed as aliens in the land of Egypt, and with an uplifted arm, he led them out of it. 18 For a period of about forty years he put up with them in the wilderness. 19 When he had destroyed seven nations in the land of Canaan, he gave them their land for an inheritance, for about four hundred fifty years. 20 After these things he gave them judges until Samuel the prophet. 21 Afterward they asked for a king, and God gave to them Saul the son of Kish, a man of the tribe of Benjamin, for forty years. 22 When he had removed him, he raised up David to be their king, to whom he also testified, 'I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after my heart, who will do all my will.'"

COMMENTS: Paul began his oratory by addressing those who were Jews, and any in the company who were Gentiles that had entered in among the Jews to learn from their teaching. Paul's very brief comments were apparently presented with the anticipation that his audience has knowledge of the things he was summarizing to show a progression of God's provision toward the point of promises fulfilled. Paul emphasized that the LORD had exalted Israel in Egypt by leading them out of captivity. The LORD was gracious to them to bring them into the land despite their rebellion in the wilderness, and he drove out seven nations to give them the land through the time of the judges up to Samuel. the people wanted a king and the LORD gave them Saul, but he was replaced by King David who had a heart for the LORD.


Acts 13 "23 From this man's seed, God has brought salvation to Israel according to his promise, 24 before his coming, when John had first preached the baptism of repentance to Israel. 25 As John was fulfilling his course, he said, 'What do you suppose that I am? I am not he. But behold, one comes after me the sandals of whose feet I am not worthy to untie.'"

COMMENTS: Paul did not discourse about all the long series of kings in Judah after David, or the period of captivity and the subsequent rebuilding of Jerusalem and the temple followed by several centuries of foreign domination down to their present time. Paul focused on the descendent of David who was promised to come for the salvation of Israel. He declared that John announced Jesus as the Christ when he was preaching the baptism of repentance. Paul asserted that John made it clear as he was "fulfilling his course" that he was not the one to expect, but there was another coming who is so much superior to John, that John felt unworthy to even unlatch that one's sandals. Paul does not use a direct quote from any of the four gospel accounts for John's words, but it should be noted that each of the four gospels also describe that event with somewhat different wording.


Acts 13 "26 Brothers, children of the stock of Abraham, and those among you who fear God, the word of this salvation is sent out to you. 27 For those who dwell in Jerusalem, and their rulers, because they didn't know him, nor the voices of the prophets which are read every Sabbath, fulfilled them by condemning him. 28 Though they found no cause for death, they still asked Pilate to have him killed. 29 When they had fulfilled all things that were written about him, they took him down from the tree, and laid him in a tomb. 30 But God raised him from the dead, 31 and he was seen for many days by those who came up with him from Galilee to Jerusalem, who are his witnesses to the people."

COMMENTS: Paul turned his address in a personal manner to the Jews present who valued that they were descended from Abraham, and to the others present who had come to a belief in God without that direct ancestry. he declared that the word of salvation was being sent out to all of them. Since the rulers in Jerusalem and the people who followed them did not recognize Jesus, nor understand that the prophecies read every Sabbath spoke of him, they actually fulfilled prophecy by condemning him. Though there was no reason for death in Jesus, they still asked Pilate to have him killed. When all the things that were written about him were fulfilled they took him down from the cross, and laid Jesus in a tomb. But God raised him from the dead! He was seen for many days by his disciples who had come up with him from Galilee to Jerusalem, who could therefore give eye witness accounts of his resurrection.


Acts 13 "32 We bring you good news of the promise made to the fathers, 33 that God has fulfilled the same to us, their children, in that he raised up Jesus. As it is also written in the second psalm, 'You are my Son. Today I have become your father.' 34 "Concerning that he raised him up from the dead, now no more to return to corruption, he has spoken thus: 'I will give you the holy and sure blessings of David.' 35 Therefore he says also in another psalm, 'You will not allow your Holy one to see decay.' 36 For David, after he had in his own generation served the counsel of God, fell asleep, and was laid with his fathers, and saw decay. 37 But he whom God raised up saw no decay."

COMMENTS: Paul brought his message to the point to confirm that the resurrection was perfectly in line with scripture, and that it verified Jesus as the son of David and the Son of God. After he quoted from the second Psalm, he made a reference from the prophet.

Isaiah 55 "3 Turn your ear, and come to me; hear, and your soul shall live: and I will make an everlasting covenant with you, even the sure mercies of David. 4 Behold, I have given him for a witness to the peoples, a leader and commander to the peoples."

Paul's next partial reference was from the Psalms.

Psalm 16 "8 I have set Yahweh always before me. Because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved. 9 Therefore my heart is glad, and my tongue rejoices. My body shall also dwell in safety. 10 For you will not leave my soul in Sheol, neither will you allow your holy one to see corruption. 11 You will show me the path of life. In your presence is fulness of joy. In your right hand there are pleasures forevermore."

The proof that these prophecies were about David's descendent is in the reality that after David died his body saw decay in the grave. However Jesus came forth from the grave and his body did not suffer corruption.


Acts 13 "38 Be it known to you therefore, brothers, that through this man is proclaimed to you remission of sins, 39 and by him everyone who believes is justified from all things, from which you could not be justified by the law of Moses. 40 Beware therefore, lest that come on you which is spoken in the prophets: 41 'Behold, you scoffers, and wonder, and perish; for I work a work in your days, a work which you will in no way believe, if one declares it to you.'" 42 So when the Jews went out of the synagogue, the Gentiles begged that these words might be preached to them the next Sabbath. 43 Now when the synagogue broke up, many of the Jews and of the devout proselytes followed Paul and Barnabas; who, speaking to them, urged them to continue in the grace of God."

COMMENTS: As Paul brought his address to a close he stated the importance for all who listened to accept that Jesus has brought remission of sin. Everyone who believes in Jesus is justified from all things, from which they could not be justified by the law of Moses. Paul followed with a caution to them that they not reject this message, and the reference he makes to the prophets seems to combine parts from at least two passages.

Habakkuk 1 "5 Look among the nations, watch, and wonder marvellously; for I am working a work in your days, which you will not believe though it is told you."

Isaiah 29 "13 The Lord said, "Because this people draws near with their mouth and with their lips to honour me, but they have removed their heart far from me, and their fear of me is a commandment of men which has been taught; 14 therefore, behold, I will proceed to do a marvellous work among this people, even a marvellous work and a wonder; and the wisdom of their wise men will perish, and the understanding of their prudent men will be hidden.""

The people who had listened in the synagogue begged to hear more about this on the next Sabbath. When the assembly dismissed, many of the Jews and of the devout proselytes followed Paul and Barnabas. As they spoke to those who followed, they urged them to continue in the grace of God.


Acts 13 "44 The next Sabbath almost the whole city was gathered together to hear the word of God. 45 But when the Jews saw the multitudes, they were filled with jealousy, and contradicted the things which were spoken by Paul, and blasphemed. 46 Paul and Barnabas spoke out boldly, and said, "It was necessary that God's word should be spoken to you first. Since indeed you thrust it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of eternal life, behold, we turn to the Gentiles. 47 For so has the Lord commanded us, saying, 'I have set you as a light for the Gentiles, that you should bring salvation to the uttermost parts of the earth.'" 48 As the Gentiles heard this, they were glad, and glorified the word of God. As many as were appointed to eternal life believed. 49 The Lord's word was spread abroad throughout all the region. 50 But the Jews stirred up the devout and prominent women and the chief men of the city, and stirred up a persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and threw them out of their borders. 51 But they shook off the dust of their feet against them, and came to Iconium. 52 The disciples were filled with joy with the Holy Spirit."

COMMENTS: Paul and Barnabas did not remain in Antioch of Pisidia very long. The very next Sabbath there was a large crowd assembled to hear the word of God. This made the Jews jealous to the point of contradicting everything that Paul said, which actually made the words of those Jews blasphemous. Paul and Barnabas boldly responded by declaring that the Jews reaction amounted to them judging themselves unworthy of eternal life. The message would then be turned to the Gentiles as had been spoken by the prophet.

Isaiah 49 "6 yes, he says, "It is too light a thing that you should be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved of Israel: I will also give you for a light to the nations, that you may be my salvation to the end of the earth.""

When the Gentiles heard Paul's remark, they were very glad and they glorified the word of God, and as many as were appointed to eternal life believed. Though the Lord's word was spread throughout all the region, the Jews stirred up the devout and prominent women and the chief men of the city so they expelled Paul and Barnabas out of their borders. They shook off the dust of their feet as a symbolic gesture against them, and traveled to Iconium. The disciples were not discouraged by these closing events, as they were filled with joy with the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit was within these believers without any dramatic outward evidence being recorded.


Thank you Lord for the history recorded in your word that shows your grace to your chosen people over many centuries despite their repeated rebellion. You Lord provided new leaders in the land throughout the period of the judges and the first king until it was the right time determined by you to set David as king over Israel. Paul did not need to give an extensive list of prophecies to be able to demonstrate that Jesus has fulfilled the promise that the son of David would come to establish an everlasting kingdom, because Jesus is also the Son of God. The resurrection of Jesus was the final proof that he is the Christ, as you Lord did not allow your Holy One to see decay. The rejection of Jesus by the religious leaders and many of the Jews was accurately prophesied as well. But this was part of your plan to open the way to eternal life for the Gentiles throughout the whole earth. The Jews and the Gentiles at Antioch who were appointed to eternal life felt great joy as they realized what Christ had done in them. You Lord continue to give this abiding joy over the centuries for all who accept the gift of eternal life from Christ into their heart. This cannot be obtained by achieving a certain level of knowledge, or by meeting all of the requirements of the law of scripture. I praise you my Lord and Savior that you provided a way for me to be a child of Abraham by faith, though I am not descended through his natural blood line. I pray for those who have not yet believed the message of salvation in Christ, that they would repent, to avoid judging themselves unworthy of eternal life. Hallelujah to the one who called me to eternal life through his blood of the New Covenant! Amen.

Published 13 April 2013 [revisions July 2021]