“Beware therefore, lest what has been spoken in the prophets come upon you: ‘Behold, you despisers, Marvel and perish! For I work a work in your days, A work which you will by no means believe, Though one were to declare it to you.’” Acts 13:40-41 NKJV
We join Paul, with a few friends, on the beginning of their missionary trip. And funny enough it is from Antioch to Antioch – to different cities with the same name. We find a few life lesson for ourselves as well along the way. The most important lesson is to beware – God is doing a work in our days and be open to believe, because I have declared it to you.
Do you already have a relationship with a powerful God who cares about your every need because He loves you? Did you know my God can communicate with you and protect you – He has a plan for you to prosper if you just submit to His will and let His plan play out in your life!!! God wants a relationship with you and has already made a plan for your life. He loves you so much He sent His son to this world, to die as a sacrifice for your sins and rise from death with victory over sin and the ability to have a personal relationship with you.
“If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.” Romans 10:9-10 NIV
Here is a prayer for you to pray:
Jesus, I believe you are the way, the truth, the life, and the only way to the Father. I believe you are the son of God, you came to Earth and lived. That you died on the cross as a sacrifice for my sins, and rose again so that I may be saved from my sins and be able to get to know you. I declare: Jesus, you are Lord!
Therefore, I confess that I am a sinner and I ask that you forgive me of my sins and come into my life. Help me to turn away from my sins and transform me into what you have lovingly created me to be. Help me through a real personal relationship grow and accept your will for my life – that I may live in your blessings. Please walk with me, and talk with me – I accept a relationship with you and with our Father God, through you. In the name of Jesus I pray ~ Amen
Dear Heavenly Father – Please give us the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of who you are, who Jesus is, and who the Holy Spirit is. Open the eyes of our understanding, please, so we may know the hope of our calling and the vast sovereignty and power of the grace of the cross. Please do not let us miss out on what you want and need from us today. Lord, I pray that your word prepares us and not scares us! We forbid the works and influences of fear over your word and our sound mind. And please keep us and bless us and shine your face upon us and pour out grace over us and give us peace! Thank you! – In Jesus name we pray, Amen
Today’s reading is the Book of Acts chapter 13 (embedded below for your convenience in the NKJV).
Paul and Barnabas Are Sent to the Gentiles
13 Now in the church that was at Antioch there were certain prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. 2 As they ministered to the Lord and fasted, the Holy Spirit said, “Now separate to Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” 3 Then, having fasted and prayed, and laid hands on them, they sent them away.
Preaching in Cyprus
4 So, being sent out by the Holy Spirit, they went down to Seleucia, and from there they sailed to Cyprus. 5 And when they arrived in Salamis, they preached the word of God in the synagogues of the Jews. They also had John as their assistant.
6 Now when they had gone through [a]the island to Paphos, they found a certain sorcerer, a false prophet, a Jew whose name was Bar-Jesus, 7 who was with the proconsul, Sergius Paulus, an intelligent man. This man called for Barnabas and Saul and sought to hear the word of God. 8 But Elymas the sorcerer (for so his name is translated) [b]withstood them, seeking to turn the proconsul away from the faith. 9 Then Saul, who also is called Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked intently at him 10 and said, “O full of all deceit and all fraud, you son of the devil, you enemy of all righteousness, will you not cease perverting the straight ways of the Lord? 11 And now, indeed, the hand of the Lord is upon you, and you shall be blind, not seeing the sun for a time.”
And immediately a dark mist fell on him, and he went around seeking someone to lead him by the hand. 12 Then the proconsul believed, when he saw what had been done, being astonished at the teaching of the Lord.
At Antioch in Pisidia
13 Now when Paul and his party set sail from Paphos, they came to Perga in Pamphylia; and John, departing from them, returned to Jerusalem. 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 to them, saying, “Men and brethren, if you have any word of [c]exhortation for the people, say on.”
16 Then Paul stood up, and motioning with his hand said, “Men of Israel, and you who fear God, listen: 17 The God of this people [d]Israel chose our fathers, and exalted the people when they dwelt as strangers in the land of Egypt, and with [e]an uplifted arm He brought them out of it. 18 Now for a time of about forty years He put up with their ways in the wilderness. 19 And when He had destroyed seven nations in the land of Canaan, He distributed their land to them by allotment.
20 “After that He gave them judges for about four hundred and fifty years, until Samuel the prophet. 21 And afterward they asked for a king; so God gave them Saul the son of Kish, a man of the tribe of Benjamin, for forty years. 22 And when He had removed him, He raised up for them David as king, to whom also He gave testimony and said, ‘I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after My own heart, who will do all My will.’ 23 From this man’s seed, according to the promise, God raised up for Israel a[f] Savior—Jesus— 24 after John had first preached, before His coming, the baptism of repentance to all the people of Israel. 25 And as John was finishing his course, he said, ‘Who do you think I am? I am not He. But behold, there comes One after me, the sandals of whose feet I am not worthy to loose.’
26 “Men and brethren, sons of the [g]family of Abraham, and those among you who fear God, to you the [h]word of this salvation has been sent. 27 For those who dwell in Jerusalem, and their rulers, because they did not know Him, nor even the voices of the Prophets which are read every Sabbath, have fulfilled them in condemning Him. 28 And though they found no cause for death in Him, they asked Pilate that He should be put to death. 29 Now when they had fulfilled all that was written concerning Him, they took Him down from the tree and laid Him in a tomb. 30 But God raised Him from the dead. 31 He was seen for many days by those who came up with Him from Galilee to Jerusalem, who are His witnesses to the people. 32 And we declare to you glad tidings—that promise which was made to the fathers. 33 God has fulfilled this for us their children, in that He has raised up Jesus. As it is also written in the second Psalm:
‘You are My Son,
Today I have begotten You.’
34 And that He raised Him from the dead, no more to return to [i]corruption, He has spoken thus:
‘I will give you the sure [j]mercies of David.’
35 Therefore He also says in another Psalm:
‘You will not allow Your Holy One to see corruption.’
36 “For David, after he had served [k]his own generation by the will of God, fell asleep, was buried with his fathers, and [l]saw corruption; 37 but He whom God raised up [m]saw no corruption. 38 Therefore let it be known to you, brethren, that through this Man is preached to you the forgiveness of sins; 39 and by Him everyone who believes is justified from all things from which you could not be justified by the law of Moses. 40 Beware therefore, lest what has been spoken in the prophets come upon you:
41 ‘Behold, you despisers,
Marvel and perish!
For I work a work in your days,
A work which you will by no means believe,
Though one were to declare it to you.’ ”
Blessing and Conflict at Antioch
42 [n]So when the Jews went out of the synagogue, the Gentiles begged that these words might be preached to them the next Sabbath. 43 Now when the congregation had broken up, many of the Jews and devout proselytes followed Paul and Barnabas, who, speaking to them, persuaded them to continue in the grace of God.
44 On the next Sabbath almost the whole city came together to hear the word of God. 45 But when the Jews saw the multitudes, they were filled with envy; and contradicting and blaspheming, they opposed the things spoken by Paul. 46 Then Paul and Barnabas grew bold and said, “It was necessary that the word of God should be spoken to you first; but since you reject it, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, behold, we turn to the Gentiles. 47 For so the Lord has commanded us:
‘I have set you as a light to the Gentiles,
That you should be for salvation to the ends of the earth.’ ”
48 Now when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and glorified the word of the Lord. And as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed.
49 And the word of the Lord was being spread throughout all the region. 50 But the Jews stirred up the devout and prominent women and the chief men of the city, raised up persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and expelled them from their region. 51 But they shook off the dust from their feet against them, and came to Iconium. 52 And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.
- Acts 13:6 NU the whole island
- Acts 13:8 opposed
- Acts 13:15 encouragement
- Acts 13:17 M omits Israel
- Acts 13:17 Mighty power
- Acts 13:23 M salvation, after
- Acts 13:26 stock
- Acts 13:26 message
- Acts 13:34 the state of decay
- Acts 13:34 blessings
- Acts 13:36 in his
- Acts 13:36 underwent decay
- Acts 13:37 underwent no decay
- Acts 13:42 Or And when they went out of the synagogue of the Jews; NU And when they went out, they begged
MEMORY VERSE CHALLENGE:
Today is the last day; how did you do with memorizing this month?
Matthew 5:16– “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.”
On Friday we ended with some confusion about if Paul and Barnabas were in Jerusalem or in Antioch. And I was always taught and stated why I believed they were in Jerusalem. Then as we begin today, it most definitely seems logical that they were in Antioch and not Jerusalem, especial as they describe the journey Paul, Barnabas and John took. So this weekend I did some digging and read various scholarly reviews of the topic and I think both sides have strong scriptural proof that they started here in two different places.
I man tried to tie it in a neat and clean bow by saying that Paul and Barnabas came from Antioch to deliver an update, then they returned with John and that is where we pick up today’s reading in Antioch after they returned. This argument also states that was why the translation changed the word to “from” when translating in chapter 12, verse 25 (from Friday’s discussion).
Another said the opening passage today happened in Antioch and Paul and Barnabas’s first stop was Jerusalem. (and then they backtracked and headed out?)
And another said they came to Jerusalem to give and update and took with them all the leaders of their church as named in today’s opening verses. So that they were fasting and praying in Jerusalem (but from Antioch) and they prayed and send out Paul and Barnabas. Then they all walked together back to Antioch and Paul, Barnabas and John continued on.
But it is speculation. Does it matter? I suppose it doesn’t. But you all know me, I want to know the truth and present it to you flawlessly. Unfortunately, I only know in part (like 1 Corinthians 13 says) until I get to heaven. I am flawed and will make errors. So you too must study the word, so make sure. No matter who it preaching, teaching, or talking about the word of God – study to show yourself approved. Read different scholarly studies as well, to get different perspectives.
I did try to find a royalty free map of where they went to share with you all, to no avail – This is officially called Paul’s First Missionary Journey if you want to look it up yourself. (Also note: in all versions of this map, we see Paul leaving from Antioch.)
Let’s stop and talk about the false prophet / sorcerer. You see the proconsul, Sergius Paulus, was hungry to learn more about Jesus. Just like you and I are, we know some and we search to learn more. Just like a plant ready for harvest, as are many we speak to and witness to daily. And I have seen a pattern, that many times, when we have someone hungry for more there is someone closely nearby being influenced by the spirit of this sorcerer. They try to keep the hungry one from learning more. They try to twist what the hungry one heard, so they become deceived and the Word loses its power. Sergius Paulus is described as an intelligent man – so do not think you are too intelligent to fall for it. I have also seen people who were praying and reading daily, who fell for a charming false teacher who gave inspirational self-help messages every Sunday. I have heard some of these messages – they are great self-help messages… BUT WE CANNOT SAVE OURSELVES! We need a God to step in and intervene. We need god. So there is a church where they know they are needed and every Sunday they are encouraged and then fail all week and come back more desperate for something else to try. But they will always fail.
The point is, no matter how much knowledge of the word, no matter much you read and pray, no matter how intelligent – it is possible for you to be deceived by this spirit (this is why humility before God is critical to our daily lives).
Paul was able to see it, call it out. And the Holy Spirit led Paul to curse it with blindness. (This answer the question – yes, Christians can put curses on people. This is why we are to be SO CAREFUL with our words. Paul was doing as the Lord directed in the Spirit. DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME – unless under the direct supervision and direction of God the Father. Because we will be held accountable for every word, even every one of our idle words.)
Next – Paul and the crew traveled more and when they got to Perga in Pamphylia, John turned around and went back to Jerusalem. Now, this is not John the disciple – no. This is John Mark, aka the author of the book of Mark (the first Gospel written). It is generally believed that Mark would hang around the disciples and Jesus because he had somehow become friendly with Peter. Some say he was the boy who’s lunch Jesus used to feed the 5 thousand. He was with them in the garden when Jesus was arrested – he was the child who was caught by his clothes and wiggled out of them and ran off naked. He convinced his cousin Barnabas to come join the believers in Jerusalem (the same Barnabas who is on this missions trip). And when he left them – he ended up down south in Egypt holding huge revival meeting and with great numbers being saved. And as the gospel spread from person to person, things began to not be so clear – and that was when he wrote down the Gospel, with His and Peter’s account of it.
Paul later wrote that Mark was unreliable and refused to take him on the second missionary trip, therefore it is thought that Paul and Mark had some sort of disagreement. But we shouldn’t speculate.
Paul and Barnabas continued to Antioch in Pisidia, yes, same name as where they started but instead of at the original Antioch (in modern day Syria) they are now in the middle of modern day Turkey at Pisidian Antioch.
The first thing Paul did in every city, where he stayed a while, was to go to synagogue on the Sabbath. This particular day the Rabbi was looking for a little audience participation – Paul stands up, and he just jumps in full force. No small talk or light antidote.
He starts with the Old Testament stories of Moses. We have seen this sermon pattern before, it got Peter beat, and Stephen stoned. But Paul reminds them of the words of the prophets and proves Jesus is the Messiah. And gloriously, Paul and Barnabas do not get beat or stoned and instead (verse 43) ‘many of the Jews and devout proselytes followed Paul and Barnabas, who, speaking to them, persuaded them to continue in the grace of God’.
So a week later these same ‘many’ Jews and a crowd of Gentiles, along with the Jews who rejected the message, (pretty much the whole town) came out to hear Paul speak. The Jews who rejected it got mad and started heckling – and their heckles were “contradicting and blaspheming” (verse 54).
Which leads to a pet peeve of mine. It really bothers me when someone in the audience heckles the pastor. This includes speaking over the preacher, correcting the preacher, arguing with the preacher, teasing or taunting the preacher, being out of order, and the sort. I bow my head and start praying – because if I didn’t, I would be confronting them and therefore also out of order. I quote verses about not speaking out of turn or touching the Lords anointed (in this case touching with words).
If you ever listen to people who step out of line like this, they are a distraction and used by the enemy. People who have questions end up twisting the truth so the congregation then has heard two things and the enemy is trying to push out the good seed of the Lord with the evil seed. Save your questions and send them to the pastor in an email to ask. Those who correct the preacher have pride and condemnation – no one accuses the brethren except the accuser, himself. DO NOT BE THIS PERSON! If you think a pastor has erred, make an appointment to speak with him. God put him there and God will remove him if God wants to.
One of the verses I love in this chapter is Paul and/or Barnabas’s explanation of why they told the Jews first, why they always go to synagogue first, and how they obey the Lord Jesus’s words (that he came first for the Jews, and when rejected then to the Gentiles). They are acting in order, even in the midst of the chaos.
For the Jews, their God (who chose them), accepting in Gentiles (who seek Him) is insulting and a punishment. Watching Gentile prosper with the power of God and under the love of God, should make the Jews jealous – but the kind of jealousy that would make them want it all the more. That Gentiles can be adopted?! This is an amazing, mind blowing concept! (We will dig into it when we get to that verse! Not today.)
The Gentiles respond to hearing that salvation is also for them is pretty much how my soul feels when I read this, even already knowing that this Hebrew God created and loves me and wants a relationship with me if I just reciprocate. It’s beautiful!
“Now when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and glorified the word of the Lord. And as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed.” Acts 13:48
Starting at Damascus, Paul is running out of city after city, fleeing for his life. He had a break when he went home to Tarsus and Antioch in Syria wasn’t bad – he had to be careful. That was the time Paul later refers to himself being taught by Jesus alone with Him. This missionary trip was the first time out preaching again and again he has to leave because of the persecution.
This is juxtaposed in the same paragraph as verse 52: “And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.”
So they are persecuted and FULL OF JOY (the joy of the Lord is our strength) and Holy Spirit.
I do not know if it is like this in your countries – but here in the USA there is a heaviness among most believers (as well as unbelievers). Our leaders who are supposed to represent us, have betrayed us and people are beginning to see that, especially with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. And we are already run down by masks, and vaccines, and job losses, and increasing fuel costs, and supply chain issues – all of which are self-inflicted. And the bottom line is the government is oppressing us to wear us out and control us – it is persecution. And more and more we are getting censored and in trouble for speaking of God and Jesus, as the ONLY way, truth and life. A crossed my country people aren’t full of JOY – like the Joy unspeakable and full of glory or the Joy that came with the Holy Spirit and made the disciples appear drunk! Where is our JOY?
In the book of Acts there is definitely a connection between joy and the Holy Spirit. So it is time for us to pray to be filled or for more, and refreshing, and abundant filling of the Holy Spirit. Time to pray in the spirit and time to let the spirit groan and pray through you. The more you pray in the spirit the more joy – and the joy of the Lord is our strength.
Thank you for reading in 2022 – a Year of Wisdom and Salvation
May the God of peace keep you and bless you. May you stay focused on Christ and covered in grace.
Maranatha ~ Come Lord Jesus!