- Sermon Notes
As we turn again to Acts chapter 13 this morning, we find ourselves in the middle of what is known as the Apostle Paul’s first missionary journey. He and a man named Barnabas had been set apart and sent out from the church at Antioch. Upon leaving Antioch, they first traveled to the island of Cyprus where they were given an invitation to share the Word of God with the governor of Cyprus. They faced some opposition to their message, however, the governor heard their words, saw their ministry, and ultimately, he believed the word they had spoken, while being amazed at their teaching (12). The Lord had sent them out to share the Word with the world, and they no-doubt were sent with “share-worthy content.”
This morning we will study verses 13 to 43 where we see the specifics of were Paul and Barnabas head next. They end up at a synagogue service and will be asked if they have any words of encouragement to share. Paul, very aware of the word of encouragement he had been sent to share, preaches the Gospel message of Jesus Christ, the most share-worthy content ever given, right then and there!
These verses give us insights and understanding into sharing the share-worthy content that has been provided to us by Jesus. To a world in need, we have something to say, someone for them to meet.
- Be Aware of What You Have To Share
Acts 13:13-14, Now Paul and his companions put out to sea from Paphos and came to Perga in Pamphylia; but John left them and returned to Jerusalem. But going on from Perga, they arrived at Pisidian Antioch, and on the Sabbath day they went into the synagogue and sat down.
- Paul and his companions end up at a synagogue service on a Sabbath day.
- The town they arrive to after sailing from the island of Cyprus was Perga. From there, they travel about 135 miles inland to a town called Pisidian Antioch. This Antioch is not the same Antioch mention earlier.
- The Antioch they were sent out from is most commonly referred to as “Syrian Antioch,” and here we see this Antioch is called “Pisidian Antioch.”
- Upon their arrival to Pisidian Antioch, on the Sabbath day, they head into the synagogue there and sit down.
- This is a pattern we will see with Paul. When he goes to a new city, he will go first to the synagogue. He would first go to the Jew, then to the Gentiles.
- In Romans 1:16 he will write, “I am not ashamed of the Gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile.”
- Paul would begin with the common ground that was found in the Old Testament, and from there, he would give the Gospel message.
- The opportunity was customarily given to visiting rabbis, like Paul, to share as a part of the synagogue service. And we will see that opportunity come about here.
Acts 13:15, After the reading of the Law and the Prophets, the synagogue officials sent word to them, saying, “Brothers, if you have any word of exhortation for the people, say it.”
- The synagogue services adhered to a particular structure: First, “Shema” would be recited: Hear, oh, Israel. The Lord, our God. The Lord is one. That was always the declaration it began with. Prayer was then offered by the head of the synagogue service. Followed by a reading from the Law (Genesis to Deuteronomy), then a reading from the Prophets, and then came that week’s sermon.
- The sermon would typically be a rabbinical commentary of the text that was read, either by the one conducting the service, or if a visiting rabbi was in town.
- And at this service, Saul of Tarsus, now Paul, was in town. No doubt the word got out that Paul was not only Jewish, but a rabbi.
- The synagogue leaders approach he and Barnabas, “if you have any word of exhortation for the people, say it.” (15)
- NIV, “If you have a word of exhortation for the people, please speak.” NLT, “If you have any word of encouragement for the people, come and give it.”
- Paul was aware that he had some very “share-worthy content” that tops the list in terms of encouragement. The Savior had come to earth, made the way to eternal life in heaven, providing atonement for sin, and new life for those who would put their faith and trust in Him.
- The type of word they ask him to bring, is translated “exhortation,” “encouragement,” or “admonition.” It literally means “to call alongside.”
- This means that encouragement, or exhortation is a process of entering into the lives of others, coming alongside them and giving them what they most need.
- I am struck by the fact that when the opportunity came, Paul did not hesitate. “A word of encouragement? Why didn’t you say something sooner?”
- For those of us who have chosen Christ personally, this is important to see because when it comes to encouragement, we live in a world of great need.
Illus. Something good to say?
Psalm 27:13, I would have lost heart, unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.
- Make Sure You Get to the Good News of Jesus Christ
- In eight verses, from verse 16 to 24, that’s what Paul will do with his encouragement opportunity, he will make sure he gets to the Good News.
- His sermon has three major parts: 1. Israel’s history and the promise of the Savior, 2. The coming of the Savior, and 3. An appeal to those listening to believe in the Savior who was sent, Jesus Christ.
- Remember, the sermon given was typically a commentary and encouragement based upon what was read in the synagogue service. And while we do not know specifically what was read that week, we know that Paul, in eight verses, provides a survey of Jewish history, the importance of history, who history pointed to, and the Gospel message, the Good News.
- In eight verses, he gets to Jesus. Noting God’s choosing of Israel, God’s hand in their exodus from Egypt, then to the judges that were given to lead the people, then the first prophet in Samuel, then the first king God gave in response to their asking for a king, then God’s removing of Saul, and raising up of David and from David, he points to the promised Savior, Jesus.
- In verse 23, Paul reminds the people that a promise was made by God regarding the Savior that was to come, specifically, that the Savior was going to be a descendant of David, and then reveals to them that the Savior spoken of, is Jesus.
Jeremiah 23:5, “Behold, the days are coming,” declares the Lord, “When I will raise up for David a righteous Branch; And He will reign as king and act wisely and do justice and righteousness in the land.
- It is to David the Lord said in 2 Samuel 7:12-13, “When your days are finished and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your descendant after you, who will come from you, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for My name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever.”
- Another promise that was made that Paul wanted to make sure they did not miss another promise that applied to Jesus. That is, the forerunner who was to come before the Messiah.
- Isaiah 40:3 tells us that there would be a “voice of one calling out, clear the way for the Lord in the wilderness.” From Malachi 3:1, we know a messenger would be sent to clear the way.
Acts 13:23(b)-25, God has brought to Israel a Savior, Jesus, after John had proclaimed, before His coming, a baptism of repentance to all the people of Israel. And while John was completing his course, he kept saying, ‘What do you suppose that I am? I am not He. But behold, one is coming after me, the sandals of whose feet I am not worthy to untie.’
- John prepared the way for Jesus, He pointed others to Him.
Acts 13:26-29, Brothers, sons of Abraham’s family, and those among you who fear God, to us the message of this salvation has been sent. For those who live in Jerusalem, and their rulers, recognizing neither Him nor the declarations of the prophets which are read every Sabbath, fulfilled these by condemning Him. And though they found no grounds for putting Him to death, they asked Pilate that He be executed. When they had carried out everything that was written concerning Him, they took Him down from the cross and laid Him in a tomb.
- Paul tells the people in verse 23, that God had brought them a Savior, and in verse 26, the message of Salvation had been sent.
- Paul makes it clear, God had provided declarations regarding the Messiah, and had provided the Messiah Himself, but the rulers did not recognize Him. They were reading what was prophesied about Him every Sabbath day, yet they did not recognize Him.
- Rather, they fulfilled what was prophesied about Him by condemning Him. With no ground for putting Him to death, they asked Pilate to execute Him.
Acts 13:30-32, But God raised Him from the dead; and for many days He appeared to those who came up with Him from Galilee to Jerusalem, the very ones who are now His witnesses to the people. And we preach to you the good news of the promise made to the fathers.
- Jesus had come, He was the fulfillment of prophecy, the One the Scriptures pointed to, but rather than choose Him, the people chose to condemn Him, but God raised Him!
- Paul says, Jesus is alive! Those he appeared to are the very people witnessing to you!
- Paul points the people to Jesus as the fulfillment of the promise to the fathers. Paul says, what we are preaching to you is the Good News. The Good News is the Gospel, it means “glad tidings.”
Illus. Get there.
1 Corinthians 15:3-4, Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures.
Romans 4:25, He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.
Romans 6:9-11, Because Christ was raised from the dead, He will never die again. Death no longer has any power over him. When He died, He died once to break the power of sin. But now that He lives, He lives for the glory of God. So, you also should consider yourselves to be dead to the power of sin and alive to God through Christ Jesus.
- Paul gets to the good news of Jesus, He is the only way to “get the good news,” He is the embodiment of the most share-worthy content, and as Paul winds down his sermon, He appeals to the people to believe in Him.
Acts 13:38-39, Therefore let it be known to you, brothers, that through Him forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you, and through Him everyone who believes is freed from all things, from which you could not be freed through the Law of Moses.
- Choose What Can Only Be True Through Him
- Paul tells the people that Jesus Christ is the one proclaimed and promised in the Scriptures, He died and was risen from the dead and by believing in Him, they would be freed from all the things that the Law of Moses could not free them from.
- The Law of Moses refers to the Torah or the first five books of the Bible. The Law had been given to the Israelites during the time of Moses. Beginning with the Ten Commandments, and as the people turned against God, there were additional commandments given. There are 613 in total.
- The Bible’s standard of human righteousness is God’s own perfection in every attribute, every attitude, every behavior, and every word.
- Sin is anything that falls short of that standard, and nobody could follow it perfectly.
James 2:10, For whoever keeps the whole Law, yet stumbles in one point, has become guilty of all.
- The Jewish people were aware of sin and the consequences for sin.
- The issue was not whether they knew about sin, but what to do about sin.
- In Job 9:2 we read the question, “how can a person be right in the sight of God?”
- The answer that the religious leaders adhered to and applied to the people, was external conformity to the law of Moses.
- Jesus spoke about the external law keeping and the burden of it all that no one could bear.
- What Paul is pointing them to, is that they cannot justify themselves through the law before God. He is giving them in one verse here what he will continue to make abundantly clear in the book of Romans and elsewhere in the New Testament, it is the gospel of grace.
Ephesians 2:8-9, For by grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not a result of works, so that no one may boast.
- Paul goes through it elsewhere in depth, but here he gives a single verse… Through Jesus Christ is the forgiveness of sins, in Him you are freed from all things, a freedom the Law of Moses could never bring.
- There is a purpose to the law, but its purpose is not to make the way to salvation, only Jesus can do that.
Galatians 3:24-25, The law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor.
- The law then, reveals the reality of sin. It helps us to understand sin, but it cannot save us from it.
- It reveals but is not the remedy.
Romans 6:23, For the wages of sin is death, but the gracious gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
John 10:9, I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he will be saved.
Acts 4:12, And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among mankind by which we must be saved.
- But Paul points out that in Christ, one can be freed from all things, the things that one cannot be freed from through the law of Moses.
- That word “freed” in verse 39 is elsewhere translated “set free,” “made right in God’s sight,” and “justified.”
- It means to be rendered, declared, or pronounced righteous.
- Receiving a message like this would have been unheard of, and earth shaking for them.
Romans 5:19, For as through the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the One the many will be made righteous.
- “He who believes is justified from all the things which you could not be justified by the law of Moses.” You are justified, just as if you had never sinned.
- The point Paul is making clear, is that the freedom, the justification, the righteousness of Christ is given to the one who believes, the one who receives Christ personally.
- Notice Paul does not say in verse 39 that you are justified from some things, or certain things, or the not so bad things…Rather, He says that in Christ, your free from all things.
- There is an interesting translation for “all things” in the Greek. “All things,” means “all things.”
- It is a word that is defined: all, every, any, all, always, the whole, or whatsoever.
Acts 13:42-43, As Paul and Barnabas were going out, the people repeatedly begged to have these things spoken to them the next Sabbath. Now when the meeting of the synagogue had broken up, many of the Jews and the God-fearing proselytes followed Paul and Barnabas, who were speaking to them and urging them to continue in the grace of God.
- In order to continue in a direction, one would have to begin in that direction. How does a person begin in that direction? They make the decision to put their faith and trust in Jesus.