THEN PAUL STOOD UP
Acts 13:14 But when they departed from Perga, they came to Antioch in Pisidia, and went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and sat down. 15 And after the reading of the law and the prophets the rulers of the synagogue sent unto them, saying, Ye men and brethren, if ye have any word of exhortation for the people, say on. 16 Then Paul stood up, and beckoning with his hand said, Men of Israel, and ye that fear God, give audience.
In the following verses we have the first recorded message that the Apostle Paul delivered. His words to Elymas, the sorcerer, were listed out by Luke in this chapter, but no preached message of his, until now has been recorded.
And we come to understand that the words in our title have a more spiritual meaning than just that he assumed a different physical position than when he had come into this synagogue and sat down. (v. 14). For we have noticed that it is in this chapter that Paul comes to greater development of his spiritual strength as an apostle of Christ.
For in the past the order of the names was, Barnabas and Saul (verse two). Then we read the last time that the name Saul is applied to him recorded in verse nine. For there he, as an apostle, must face an apostate! For like Abram, Sarai, and Simon Peter, his name is changed as he goes into the more mature, blessed, and spiritually responsible character that the Lord has for him. And hereafter the name of Paul is listed 156 times throughout the scriptures.
And now we read of Paul and his company in verse thirteen. Hereafter we shall read of Paul and Barnabas (vs. 43, 46) as the greater gift of the apostle takes the lead over the prophet/teacher. 1 Corinthians 12:28 And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues.
Here he begins his manner in the pulpit! He stands up and beckons with his hand to gain the attention of his audience. We shall see that continue throughout his ministry. Acts 21:40 And when he had given him licence, Paul stood on the stairs, and beckoned with the hand unto the people. And when there was made a great silence, he spake unto them in the Hebrew tongue, saying, 26:1 Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Thou art permitted to speak for thyself. Then Paul stretched forth the hand, and answered for himself:
And he also begins his most profound method of expounding the scriptures, which is most obvious in his letters to the churches. For he labors at this preaching at Antioch in Pisidia to clearly show that Jews, as well as Gentiles are all sinners! – that there is no difference! And therefore they all need repentance and salvation granted to them through the work of Christ and the Spirit. And is not that exactly what we read from his pen in the third chapter of his Roman Epistle?
Being in a Jewish synagogue, he first addresses, Men of Israel. But being now the apostle to the Gentiles, he also states, and ye that fear God! This includes all the Gentiles gathered together there. And although there is still a strong reluctance in the Jewish community to freely award Gentiles with all their privileges, without them becoming circumcised, and adhering to all the dietary laws, Paul shows not the slightest bit of hesitation to freely preach the gospel to them. In fact, he is very bold in his exposing the Jews for their ignorance of their Messiah!
H e actually put both Jew and Gentile on the same level as sinners needing salvation! Acts 13:26 Men and brethren, children of the stock of Abraham, and whosoever among you feareth God, to you is the word of this salvation sent. And he also puts them both together in their being chosen to believe the gospel! Acts 13:48 … and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed. For every single one who believed the gospel, whether Jew or Gentile, were ordained unto eternal life!
Notice in verse fifteen, (listed above) that there is the reading of the law and prophets by the rulers of the synagogue in that service which Paul and Barnabas are presently attending! And just listen to part of the content of Paul’s message right there in their presence! Acts 13:27 For they that dwell at Jerusalem, and their rulers, because they knew him not, nor yet the voices of the prophets which are read every sabbath day, they have fulfilled them in condemning him. 28 And though they found no cause of death in him, yet desired they Pilate that he should be slain. 29 And when they had fulfilled all that was written of him, they took him down from the tree, and laid him in a sepulchre. He actually preaches against rulers who have read every sabbath day in their synagogues because they didn’t know Christ, nor understand the prophets who revealed him!
And then he quotes a particular piercing verse from the Prophet Habakkuk pertaining to this very situation! For in verse forty one of this chapter he quotes Habakkuk 1:5. Here it is in Habakkuk’s writings: Behold ye among the heathen, and regard, and wonder marvellously: for I will work a work in your days, which ye will not believe, though it be told you. And here is how the Apostle preached it: Acts 13:41 Behold, ye despisers, and wonder, and perish: for I work a work in your days, a work which ye shall in no wise believe, though a man declare it unto you.
And should you take the time to read the four preceding verses in that first chapter of Habakkuk, you would easily discover that verse five, (which Paul quotes), is God giving his remedy for the complaint of Habakkuk for the law being slacked, and for judgment not going forth in Israel. Therefore Paul again presses on the Jews that the reason God raises up these Gentiles among them, (other than that they too are God’s chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world – Ephes. 1:4), is to make Israel jealous of a people which in times past were no people, in order to bring individual Israelites back to a spiritual relationship with Himself! Romans 10:19 But I say, Did not Israel know? First Moses saith, I will provoke you to jealousy by them that are no people, and by a foolish nation I will anger you.
But there are two little phrases that the Holy Spirit imparts through His apostle that must not be overlooked. And those phrases are, ye despisers … and perish! For since Habakkuk’s day, the very Light of the world has come, and now Israel has no cloke for their sin! John 15:22 If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin: but now they have no cloke for their sin. But they now are under condemnation for rejecting that light! John 3:19 And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.
Therefore the Apostle Paul is mighty in his boldness, not regarding any man’s importance, but strongly preaching both the goodness and the severity of God! God, at one and the same time, is both good to save Gentiles, but severe in bring judgment against gospel rejecting, unbelieving Jews! Romans 11:13 For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office: 14 If by any means I may provoke to emulation them which are my flesh, and might save some of them. 20 Well; because of unbelief they were broken off, and thou standest by faith. Be not highminded, but fear: 21 For if God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest he also spare not thee. 22 Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in his goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off.
The Holy Spirit through the Apostle is “leveling the playing field!” He is showing all to be sinners! None are without sin! Jewish sin is no different than Gentile sin! And all shall be dealt with accordingly, without respect to any religious practice! Romans 2:6 Who will render to every man according to his deeds: 7 To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life: 8 But unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath, 9 Tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile; 10 But glory, honour, and peace, to every man that worketh good, to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile: 11 For there is no respect of persons with God.
And this same blindness is among our christian communities today! For the expression of “us” and “we,” versus “they” and “them,” reveals a strong attitude, elevating “us” to the dangerous place as being no longer realized sinners, saved by grace alone, but as some sort of mutant creature that is absolutely certainly that “we” are “going to heaven,” without the present consciousness of only being saved sinners! 2 Peter 1:9 But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins. Therefore there is no humility among “us!” There is no worship among “us!” And “we” shall have no crowns to cast at Christ’s pierced feet! For “we,” now being without repentance of present sin, have no need of an abiding Savior! – We need to reread Acts 13:41! Giving special notice to those two phrases that do not appear in Habakkuk’s writing. Let me remind us all of them: ye despisers … and perish! May God have mercy on self confident church members among us today, relying only on the practice of tradition!
The word, fulfilled appears four times in the Apostle’s first recorded message. They reveal that the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ provided the total completion of the first covenant, and the absolute establishment of the second! – And there will never be a third! Hebrews 10:9 Then said he, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God. He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second.
In verse 25 Paul preaches that John fulfilled his course, acclaiming that he was not the Christ. But he announced that the presence of the Messiah was already among them. And we know that John had a transitional ministry, bridging over from the ending of the prophets to the beginning of Christ’s spiritual and eternal kingdom. Luke 16:16 The law and the prophets were until John: since that time the kingdom of God is preached, and every man presseth into it.
Then we find our word, fulfilled in both verses 27 and 29. And this is that portion of the message to which we have already alluded, wherein Paul declares that the rulers of the synagogues, even while reading the scriptures which reveal their Messiah, still fulfilled them in condemning him! For theirs were the wicked hands who slew the Savior! Acts 2:23 Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain: God sovereignly used their blindness to accomplish his eternal purpose in Christ Jesus! 1 Corinthians 2:8 Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.
Then the fourth time we locate our word, fulfilled, it appears in verse 33. And there the apostle declares that through all this God hath fulfilled his promise of salvation, sending both his Son to accomplish it, and the Holy Ghost to make application of it to the hearts of the elect. And this is the glad tidings of the gospel which the angels first declared, (Luke 1:19), Christ next preached, (Luke 8:1), and the apostle now preaches unto them!
And in verses 34 and 35 we find Paul quoting both Isaiah 55:3, and Psalm 16:10. He uses these to proclaim the Father’s exaltation of his Son! For the words, the sure mercies, are glorious in their content! The Father’s blessings to the Son, and therefore through him to the entire church, are most sure! For that is the exact same Greek word, Faithful as found in Revelation 19:11. Therein is found the conquering Christ’s character, symbolized by the name, Faithful and True!
And then that word, mercies, is the exact same Greek word translated in the very next verse as, Holy One! Therefore we see that the Father gave the Son to be the Faithful Holy One! – And this has all been fulfilled! For Jesus Christ is presently reigning Lord of all! Philippians 2:8 And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. 9 Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: 10 That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; 11 And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
For the scriptures reveal that from the time of his purging our sins, he was enthroned at the Father’s right hand of power! Hebrews 1:3 Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high;
Would you like to hear that again? Hebrews 8:1 Now of the things which we have spoken this is the sum: We have such an high priest, who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens;
Dear Reader, it is imperative that Christ reign, governing and controlling the course of human and angelic activity, for the completion of his purposed council! 1 Corinthians 15:25 For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet. Ephesians 1:11 In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will:
Pastor Gene Breed 02/22/13