Paul Preaches in Pisidian Antioch

09 Nov

It was probably during the Passover of 44CE that Paul and Barnabas were invited to speak to the people in the synagogue at Pisidian Antioch. Paul rose up to speak, as he appears to have been spearheading the team’s evangelistic effort there. This city was the chosen home of Sergius Paulus and his family. The Roman governor of Cyprus was astonished with the power of the word of God, expressed through Paul (Acts 13:12) and no doubt had given him letters of introduction, to be presented to the Jewish elders of the synagogue in Pisidian Antioch. This was the very synagogue where he worshiped before he was appointed governor of Cyprus, and it was where his family presently worshiped.

Paul’s sermon, following the Jewish lectionary (see HERE) for the Passover that year, pointed to the fulfilled promises of God. Just as Stephen in Acts 7 used the history of Israel to point to Jesus, so too, did Paul; but while Stephen emphasized the deeds of the people, Paul emphasized the deeds of God. God led his people out of Egypt; God displayed his patience with his disobedient people; God drove out the nations before them and divided up the land and gave them their inheritance. God is faithful. This was Paul’s theme. When the people desired a king, God gave them Saul, but when Saul refused to obey God, God removed him and found David, a man after God’s own heart and anointed him king over the land. God promised his people a Messiah would arise from David’s seed, and he fulfilled that promise in Jesus, who had done all the will of God. (Isaiah 44:28).

Then Paul told his hearers that through ignorance of the prophecies the leaders at Jerusalem had Jesus crucified, even though they knew he was innocent of all the things they claimed about him. Hosea 4:1 says that there was no truth, or mercy, or knowledge of God in the land. Why? It was because they went after the teachings of men rather than the word of God (Mark 7:7). John the Baptist was sent by God to make the paths of God straight, because false teachers had made them crooked (Acts 13:24-25; cp. Isaiah 42:16; Luke 3:4), and when people thought he was the Messiah, John said he was not, but pointed to the one whose feet he wasn’t worthy to wash (cp. Matthew 3:11 and John 1:20). Nevertheless, the elders rose up against him (cp. Psalm 2:1-3 and Acts 4:25-27) and had Jesus crucified.

When Jesus rose from the dead (Acts 13:34), Paul claimed it was a declaration made by God that Jesus was the very Son of God (Acts 13:33). God overruled the verdict of men and fulfilled his promise to David (Psalm 16:10; cp. Acts 13:35) that the Elect One—the Messiah—would never see corruption. While no one actually witnessed the Resurrection, itself, Jesus did show himself to many witnesses during the 40 days he spent with them after his resurrection and before he finally ascended into Heaven (cp. Daniel 7:13-14 and Acts 1:6-7, 9).

This Good News is for all (Acts 13:26), and all need to receive it though faith, i.e. trust in Jesus (Acts 13:38-39). Nevertheless, the chief priests at Jerusalem contend that there is no resurrection (cp. Matthew 22:23) and have rejected correct doctrine. Therefore, God rejects them, according to Hosea 4:6, saying they are no priests who forget the Law of God. God’s people are destroyed for lack of knowledge and in ignorance they crucified their Messiah (Acts 3:17; 13:27), yet if right doctrine continues to be rejected by men, God will also reject them, according to how he has promised (Hosea 4:6). So, Paul’s warning to the elders in Pisidian Antioch was not to imitate what was done in Jerusalem (Acts 13:40; cp. Habakkuk 1:5), and save themselves from that folly by trusting in Jesus (Acts 2:39-40; cp. Acts 13:38-39).


Related Posts:

Paul and the Jewish Lectionary System

Sergius Paulus, Proconsul of Cyprus

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Posted by on November 9, 2012 in Gospel, Paul First Missionary Journey


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