SESSION 22 — “Being the Church,” a Bible study of the Book of Acts

I am excited to offer you a video Bible study of the Book of Acts, and I invite you to watch the video of “Being the Church” on Youtube OR Vimeo . . . for Vimeo, see the link in the Blogroll in the right column on my blog screen. Just as with my sermons, I’ll post notes to accompany each Bible study video.

A review of our sessions thus far can be found in my previous posts on my blog,

Now, Session 22 — Acts 13:1-52

Like Acts 7, this is a long chapter that is hard to split up into two sessions! So, I will give you scripture references for much of what Paul says in Verses 17-41, and you will look the scriptures up on your own.

Verse 1 — Paul and Barnabas have returned from Jerusalem to Antioch. In that church, Luke names some of the prophets and teachers — Barnabas, Simeon/Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen who had been brought up in the pagan household of Herod the tetrarch, and Saul/Paul.

The gifts of Spirit (1Corinthians 12:4-11) and the offices of ministry (Ephesians 4:11), were evident in the church, among all the brethren!

Are they evident in your church? In you? That is part of “being the church,” beloved!

Verse 2 — Fasting is an integral part of church life, especially when ministering to the Lord. That is part of “being the church.”

What did they do, in their ministry to Him? They ministered to others, surely, but to minister to the Lord is to sit before Him, praising and adoring Him, in holy intimacy and the very love of God. And their ministry to Him included prayer, fasting, and seeking His direction continually.

Do you do that? Does your church?

While all of that was happening, the Holy Spirit indeed gave them a very specific direction — “Set apart for Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” Beloved, that is how everyone should be chosen to go out on behalf of the gospel!

Verses 3-4 — When they had fasted and prayed and laid their hands on Barnabas and Saul, they sent them on their first missionary journey, led by the Holy Spirit.

Luke emphasizes that they were not sent out by men, but by the Holy Spirit. So, the Spirit led them first to the port city of Selucia, just west of Antioch, and then they sailed to the island of Cyprus, across part of the Mediterranean Sea, a trip of about 130 miles.

Verse 5 — After arriving, at Salamis, a port city on the northeastern coast of Cyprus, Barnabas and Paul began to proclaim the word of God, the Gospel of Jesus Christ, in the synagogues there, and John Mark was their helper at that time. We will see that not only were there Jews in these synagogues, but God-fearing Gentiles.

Why go to the synagogues? To offer the same gospel to the Jews as to the Gentiles!

Romans 1:16   For I am not  ashamed of the gospel, for  it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the  Jew first and also to  the Greek.

Verses 6-7 — When they had traveled the whole island of Cyprus, they came to Paphos, a port city of Cyprus on its western tip.

There they found a Jewish false prophet, a magician, named Bar Jesus. He was with Sergius Paulus, a proconsul for the Roman empire. Sergius called for Paul and Barnabas, because he SOUGHT to hear the word of God, the gospel!

Verse 8 — Satan always opposes the gospel, and this was no exception. Bar Jesus was also known as Elymas, which means wizard.

He opposed Barnabas and Paul, trying to turn the proconsul away from the faith. But Elymas was about to encounter a power far greater than his!

Verse 9 — From this point onward, Luke calls Saul by his Roman name, Paul. So, “Saul who was also Paul,” filled with the Holy Spirit, fixed his gaze on Elymas.

So, are there many fillings with the Holy Spirit, as is often taught in the church are these days? No!

Again, this “filled with the Holy Spirit” meant a moment of divine inspiration. Paul was already filled with the Holy Spirit when Ananias laid hands on him in Acts 9:17! And you know what? He doesn’t leak out, for He is like a fountain, and He doesn’t leave!

Verses 10-11 — And what did Paul say to Elymas?

— You are full of ALL deceit and fraud

— You are a son of the devil

— You are an enemy of all righteousness

— You seek to make crooked the straight ways of the Lord

— Now, behold, the hand (power and authority) of the Lord is on you, and      you will be blind and not see for a time.

There was no delay in the Lord’s action. Immediately a mist and a darkness fell on Elymas, and he went about, seeking someone to lead him by the hand!

Verse 12 — From all that happened, Sergius Paulus was prompted to believe, not only from God’s power exhibited against Elymas, but from the teaching of the Lord through Paul and Barnabas! He was amazed, which means “struck with astonishment!”

Verse 13— Afterwards, Paul and his companions sailed northward from Paphos and came to Perga in Pamphylia (modern-day Turkey). It was very strategically located, bordered by several seas, for easy passage from one country to the next — perfect for the spread of the gospel!

But John Mark left them! His decision to leave will come up as a concern for Paul, in Acts 15:37-39.

Verses 14-15— They then traveled on to Pisidian Antioch, and on the sabbath, they entered a synagogue and sat down. After the reading of the Law and the Prophets, the synagogue officials sent to them, asking them to speak, if they had any word of exhortation for the people.

Verse 16 — So Paul stood up, and motioning with his hand for them to listen, he began a sermon of epic proportions, entirely fueled by the Holy Spirit’s power!

Have you ever heard someone preaching by the power of the Holy Spirit? You may not identify the Spirit at first, but you will know there’s something different about the speaker, just as Jeff and I did with Pastor David “Doc” Uber, who ultimately led me to be healed of MS and filled with the Holy Spirit!

Why did Paul speak as he did, in this synagogue? Because the whole history of Israel points to the coming Messiah, who is Jesus Christ. All that happened to Israel was a foreshadowing of Jesus.

He addressed them in this way, “Men of Israel, and those who fear God (that is, Gentiles who had converted to Judaism)” —

So, God is the God of Israel, whom He chose for Himself.

Verses 17-18 — God also chose the patriarchs (Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob), made the Jews great in Egypt, and with uplifted arm (His power), led them out from it.

For a period of about 40 years in the wilderness, God put up with them — He endured them and was subjected to their continual unbelief and rebellion against Him.

Verse 19 — He destroyed seven nations in the land of Canaan, and distributed those nations’ land as an inheritance for His people. The period of time from Israel’s time in Egypt to God’s people entering the Promised Land covered a span of about 450 years.

Verse 20-22 — Then God gave them judges (leaders). Samuel was the last judge, because the people then asked for a king.  So, King Saul was chosen by the people, not God. Saul ruled for 40 years, rebelling against God on several occasions.

Therefore, God removed Saul and raised up for Himself David as King of Israel (1Samuel 13:14, 15:28, 16:1). God said David was a man after His own heart and would do all His will —

1Samuel 13:14 “But  now your kingdom shall not endure.  The Lord has sought out for Himself a man after His own heart, and the Lord has appointed him as ruler over His people, because you have not kept what the Lord commanded you.”

David would not rebel against the Lord, for men did not choose Him — God did!

Verses 23-24 — From David’s descendants, according to God’s promise sung by Zechariah in Luke 1:67-79, Jesus, their Savior and Messiah, came!

Verse 25 — Zechariah’s son, John the Baptist, proclaimed a baptism of repentance to all the people of Israel, before Jesus began His ministry (Malachi 3:1). He spoke of One who was coming, whose sandals John was not worthy to untie so as to remove them!

Verses 26-29 — Now Paul says, to us the message of this salvation by Jesus Christ had been sent.

But the Jews and their rulers in Jerusalem refused to recognize Him, and that He was the fulfillment of the prophets that are read every sabbath!

And though He was innocent of the charges they drummed up, they asked Pilate to execute Him!

So they did so, just as was written by the prophets (see Isaiah 53), and took Him down from the cross and laid Him in a tomb.

Verses 30-31 — BUT GOD RAISED HIM FROM THE DEAD! After He was resurrected, He appeared to many, over the course of many days (see 1Corinthians 15:6-8).

Verses 32-37  — And this is the gospel Paul and those with him preach — it is the Good News of the promise made to the fathers, now fulfilled in Jesus Christ! This promise is fulfilled to the children of the fathers, that He raised up Jesus. Then Paul quotes Psalm 2:7, 1Chronicles 17:11, and Psalm 16:10.

King David surely underwent decay, so the promise of Psalm 16:10 was not for him, but the Messiah — Jesus Christ whom God raised from the dead, His Holy One — did not undergo decay!

Verses 38-39 – Therefore, through Jesus, forgiveness (and reconciliation with God) is proclaimed by Paul and his companions to the Jews and Gentiles at the synagogue.

Paul said that through Jesus, everyone who believes in Him is freed (justified) from the sins they had committed, which the Law of Moses could never do —

Hebrews 10:4 For it is impossible for the  blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.

Verses 40-41 — So take heed, so you are not found by God to be a scoffer, and therefore perish!

Verses 42-44 — The effect of Paul’s words was immediate! The people begged to hear more on the next sabbath, and many of the Jews and God-fearing proselytes (Gentile converts) followed Paul and Barnabas. So they urged them to continue in the grace (Greek charis, the divine influence on the heart and its reflection in the life) of God, for their hunger for the gospel was obvious!

And on the next Sabbath, THE WHOLE CITY assembled to hear the word of the Lord!

Verses 45-57 — Of course, the Jews who hated Jesus heard about it, became jealous, tried to contradict what Paul had said, and were blaspheming God!

How? By saying Jesus Christ was NOT the Messiah promised by God, despite His fulfillment of the prophecies God gave the Old Testament prophets, thus calling God as a liar!

So Paul and Barnabas boldly told them that they had come to the Jews first, but since they repudiated and judged the truth, now they would go to the Gentiles! Then they quoted Isaiah 49:6, in which God says of Jesus Christ —

Isaiah 49:6 “It is too small a thing that You should be My Servant

To raise up the tribes of Jacob and to restore the preserved ones of Israel;

I will also make You a light of the nations

So that My salvation may reach to the end of the earth.”

Verses 48-40 — Upon hearing it, the Gentiles rejoiced and glorified the word of the Lord. Those appointed to eternal life believed!  And the word of the Lord spread through the whole region!

NOTE: Verse 48 is not an argument for predestination — that is, that God chooses, some to believe and others to perish, before they are born. May it never be! If predestination was true, there would have been no need for God the Son to come at all!

In the original Greek, the word “appointed” means, among other things, “disposed toward, willing.” The ones who believed were disposed toward and willing to heed the word of the Lord. Why would Jesus have spoken John 3:16, if salvation was only for a few chosen ones?

Verses 50-52 — The unbelieving Jews incited some who were influential in the city to oppose Paul and Barnabas, so they began to persecute them.

But Paul and Barnabas shook off the dust of their feet against them — a Jewish gesture of scorn and disassociation — and went to Iconium, which was 60 miles to the east/southeast.

And Jesus told His disciples to do the same —

Matthew 10:14 “Whoever does not receive you, nor heed your words, as you go out of that house or that city,  shake the dust off your feet.”

And in the midst of it all, the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit! He was continually encouraging them, giving them special inspiration as they spread the Good News of the Gospel of Jesus Christ!