Archive for November 2009

Acts 13

November 15, 2009

After commissioning at [Syrian] Antioch [1], Saul and Barnabas are sent with John [2], by the Holy Spirit via Seleucia [3] to Cyprus [4]. This left Simeon/Niger [5] and Menaen [6] in Antioch. They traveled from Salamis[7] to Paphos [8], where they met Bar-Jesus/Elymas [9], a servant of the proconsul, Sergius Paulus [10]. The proconsul wanted to hear the word of God, but Elymas opposed Saul and Barnabas. The Holy Spirit moves Saul (who we are reminded is Paul) to rebuke Elymas and announce that he will be blind. This persuades the proconsul of the truth of Paul’s teaching, though we are told alternately that this belief was stimulated by what he saw and by the teaching of the Lord. Saul, now called Paul, sails with Barnabas and John to Perga in Pamphylia [11]. John then went to Jerusalem.

Traveling from Perga to Pisidian Antioch [12], Paul and Barnabus go to the synagogue. They are invited to speak encouragement to the people, both Jews and God-fearing Gentiles. So Paul gives a disquisition beginning from the choosing of the Jewish fathers, proceeding through the sojourn in Egypt, the Exodus, the conquest of Canaan, the rise of the prophets, and the choosing of Samuel and Saul. He then connects King David to Jesus. He presents the following evidence that Jesus is the one for which Israel has been waiting:
* John the Baptist said that he was not the one
* By condemning Jesus, the rulers and people of Israel fulfilled “the words of the prophets that are read every Sabbath” [13]
* Jesus’s death, including the lack of reason for a death sentence and the execution by Pilate, helped fulfill what was written of Him [14]
* God prevented Jesus’s body from decaying, raising Him from the dead
Therefore, Paul says, through Jesus the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed and everyone who believes is justified [made just] [15] as Mosaic Law was unable to do. Paul warns the people not to scoff.

The people of the congregation liked Paul’s talk well enough to ask them back and many Jews and devout converts followed Paul and Barnabas to chat. The next Sabbath, the whole city gathered to hear Paul’s preaching, which made the Jews jealous. They spoke against Paul in abusive terms. So, Paul dismissed the Jews as considering themselves unworthy of eternal life. The Gentiles, however, are glad and honored the word of the Lord. The word of the Lord spread throughout the region. But the Jews appealed to the God-fearing women and the leading men of the nobility, stirred up persecution, and had Paul and Barnabas expelled. Paul and Barnabas “shook the dust from their feet in protest against them and went to Iconium” [16].

Notes
1. The name Antioch means “driven against,” according to Strong’s. In the gospels, the laying on of hands (cheir, the same root as in “chiropractor”) is associated with healing. Although the first instance of the laying on of hands could be said to be Isaac touching Jacob to be sure that he is who he claims to be, the first clear usage of the laying on of hands in commissioning is in Jacob’s blessing of Ephraim and Manasseh (Gen. 48). For this, two separate words are used (yaminh and semowl, for right and left). The first clearly comparable example of commissioning by the laying on of hands is in Acts 6, in which the deacons are commissioned. For that commissioning, there is prayer but no fasting.
2. “John” means “God has been gracious,” “Barnabas” means “son of encouragement,” and “Saul” means “asked of God.”
3. Seleucia means “white light.”
4. Cyprus means “love: a blossom” according to Strong’s in the Blue Letter Bible. However, it could also mean “cypress” or “copper.”
5. Simeon/Niger. Simeon means “harkening” and Niger means “black.”
6. Menaen means “comforter.”
7. Salamis means “salt”
8. Paphos means “boiling” or “hot”
9. Bar-Jesus/Elymas means “son of God is salvation”/”wise man”
10. Sergius Paulus means “earth born: born a wonder” “small”
11. Perga in Pamphylia: “perga” means “earthy” and Pamphylia means “of every tribe”
12. Pisidian Antioch: “pisidian” means “pitchy” It is roughly 200 mile north and west of Syrian Antioch.
13. It’s unclear what words of the prophets were read every Sabbath and were fulfilled in Jesus’s death.
14. It’s unclear how the lack of a death sentence and Pilate’s role were a fulfillment of what was written.
15. Justified comes from “dikaio” and means is is made righteous or declared just. Without justice there is no righteousness.
16. Iconium means “little image.”