Monday, October 08, 2007

Acts 13:13-52

After staying in Paphos for a little while, the three men set sail for Perga (southern Turkey). When they arrived, John Mark decided to return to Jerusalem. We're not sure why, though my best guess is that he was homesick. Whatever the reason was, it would cause dissension down the road between Paul and Barnabas.

From there they traveled to Antioch in Pisidia. On their first Sabbath there, Paul and Barnabas went to the synagogue. In the synagogue, after the readings out of the Law and the Prophets, Jewish men were given a time to share a word of exhortation. Paul accepted the invitation, stood before the men, and began recounting Israel's history, beginning with the slavery in Egypt and ending with the murder of Jesus. He told them that the forgiveness of sins comes not through obeying the law of Moses, but only through Jesus.

Luke says that at the end, the people begged them to come back the next week and share the same thing.

The next Sabbath, "almost the whole city gathered to hear the word of the Lord" (13:44). The amazing thing was that the Jewish people were a minority throughout the cities of Galatia. These were primarily Gentiles who had showed up to hear Paul. How did the whole city hear about Paul? The only explanation is that the Jews, as well as the Gentile converts to Judaism, must have shared the news.

The Jewish leaders had never had a crowd like this, and they became jealous. They contradicted him and reviled him. His response was to move to his secondary audience, which in many ways was his primary audience: the Gentiles. Quoting Isaiah 49:6, Paul said, "I have made you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.

Luke tells us that the Gentiles began rejoicing when they heard this, and "as many as were appointed to eternal life believed" (13:49). The Jewish leaders, though, went to the leaders of the town and spread lies about Paul. The leaders "drove them out of their district" (13:50). It's not clear whether this was a violent driving out, or more of a kind request for them to leave. Either way, Paul and Barnabas "shook of the dust from their feet" and headed toward Iconium.

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