This page is a verse by verse study of Acts 13:13-42. These verses describe Paul’s Synagogue Speech in Antioch Pisidia. .
Paul’s Speech at Antioch Pisidia
¶ "Now Paul and his company set sail from Paphos, and came to Perga in Pamphylia. John departed from them and returned to Jerusalem. From Perga, they moved on to Antioch of Pisidia where they went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day and sat down. After the reading of the law and the prophets, the rulers of the synagogue sent to them, saying, “Brothers, if you have any word of exhortation for the people, you may speak.”"(Acts 13:13-15).
John departed from them. This was John Mark whom Barnabas and Saul had brought with them from Jerusalem to Antioch Syria (Acts 12:25). After they sailed from Cyprus to the mainland, John quit travelling with Paul and Barnabas. By this desertion, John lost Paul’s trust (Acts 15:36-41).
Antioch of Pisidia.There are two cities called Antioch: the Antioch in Pisidia, and the greater Antioch in Syria (where the current journey began). Refer to the map above.
Went into the synagogue. Jews were now living all over the world. They had meeting places called synagogues where their local congregations met and were administered. The temple in Jerusalem was a place for festivals and pilgrimages, but the synagogue was the center of grass-roots religion and worship each Sabbath. It became Paul’s practice, when he came to preach in a city, to first go to the synagogues. There he would hope to preach the gospel to the Jews and the God-fearing Gentiles who worshipped God with the Jews. Usually he was invited to speak, as in this case.
¶ "Paul stood up, and motioning with his hand said, “Men of Israel, and you who fear God, listen. The God of this people Israel, chose our fathers and increased the people when they dwelt as aliens in the land of Egypt. With uplifted arm, he led them out of Egypt. For a period of about forty years he put up with them in the wilderness. When he had destroyed seven nations in the land of Canaan, he apportioned their land for an inheritance. This took about four hundred fifty years. After that, he gave them judges until Samuel the prophet."(Acts 13:16-20).
Paul stood up. With his training and career as a Pharisee, Paul was able to address the synagogue according to its ways. He begins, after the customary niceties, by telling the old story that the Jews loved to hear. In a few crisp sentences he spans their history from Abraham to until the possession of the promised land in the time of the judges.
¶ "Then they asked for a king, and God gave them Saul the son of Kish, a man of the tribe of Benjamin, for forty years. When God removed Saul, he raised up David to be their king, to whom he also testified, ‘I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after my heart, who will do all my will.’ From this man’s offspring, just as promised, God has brought to Israel a Saviour, Jesus."(Acts 13:21-23).
A Saviour Jesus. Paul continues his connected history, but the connection is between king David and Jesus Christ. Paul doesn't tell the intervening history of Israel. He joins the time of David to the present day. As the congregation would all know, God made a promise to David about the Messiah, and confirmed it with an oath.
Peter preached on the day of Pentecost, ¶ "David, speaking as a prophet, knew that God had sworn with an oath to him that, of the fruit of David’s fleshly body, God would raise up the Christ to sit on David’s throne. Foreseeing this, David spoke about the resurrection of the Christ...' "(Acts 2:29-31).
The “throne promise” that God made to David is recorded in (2Samuel 7:12), and is made an oath in (Psalms 89:3-4) and (Psalms 132:11).
God has now fulfilled this oath. Jesus is now King of Kings and Lord of Lords (1Timothy 6:14-15). He said himself, "I have sat down with my Father in his throne"(Revelation 3:21). We have been ushered into his kingdom (Colossians 1:13).
¶ "Before the advent of Jesus, John preached the baptism of repentance to all Israel. As John was fulfilling that course, he used to say, ‘What do you suppose that I am? I am not he. But behold, one comes after me, the sandals of whose feet I am not worthy to untie.’ Brothers, children of the stock of Abraham, and those among you who fear God, the word of this salvation is sent out to you."(Acts 13:24-26).
John the Baptizer as witness. Paul must, of course, support his assertion that Jesus is the promised Saviour and Christ. So Paul calls John the Baptizer as his witness. It was common knowledge that in this saying John was referring to Jesus of Nazareth (John 1:26-37).
¶ "For those who dwell in Jerusalem, and their rulers, did not recognise him. Nor did they understand the voices of the prophets which are read every Sabbath. But they fulfilled these by condemning him. Though they found no cause for death, they still asked Pilate to have him killed. When they had fulfilled all things that were written about Jesus, they took him down from the tree, and laid him in a tomb. But God raised him from the dead, and for many days he was seen by those who came up with him from Galilee to Jerusalem. They are his witnesses to the people. We preach to you the good news that the promise God made to the fathers, has been fulfilled for their children, in that God raised up Jesus. As it is also written in the second psalm, “You are my Son. Today I have begotten you.” "(Acts 13:27-33).
Other witnesses. Of course most of the Jewish religious leaders in Jerusalem had taken no notice of John the Baptizer. These leaders did not recognize Jesus as the prophesied Messiah. Rather, they opposed Jesus and had him unjustly crucified. But God raised him from the dead and many saw him and could testify that Jesus was indeed alive again. Paul now adds their witness to support his claim.
Today I have begotten you. This quote from Psalm 2:7 is about the resurrection of Christ, not his incarnation in Bethlehem. Jesus is called "the first begotten from the dead"(Revelation 1:5). Jesus was God’s only begotten Son in both his birth and his death. He was born from both the womb and the tomb.
For a list of the appearances of the risen Lord, touch or click the button below...
¶ "Now about this fact that God raised Jesus up from the dead, no more to return to decay, he has spoken thus: ‘I will give you the holy and sure blessings of David.’ Therefore he says also in another psalm, ‘You will not allow your Holy One to see decay.’ For David, after he had in his own generation served the purpose of God, fell asleep, and was laid with his fathers, and saw decay. But he whom God raised up saw no decay. Be it known to you therefore, brothers, that forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you through this man Jesus. By him everyone who believes is justified from all things, from which you could not be justified by the law of Moses."(Acts 13:34-39).
Return to decay. God said to Adam, "You shall return to the ground, because from it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return."(Genesis 3:19). The expression "return to decay"(Acts 13:34) is equivalent to "return to the ground"(Genesis 3:19). It does not mean that Jesus did see decay. He died and was buried, and would have decayed to dust. However he was raised from the dead and will never again return. Jesus was not the first to be raised from the dead and not see decay. After all, didn't Jesus himself raise up his friend Lazarus who had died and been buried (John 11:43-44)? But Lazarus later on returned to decay and became dust. Jesus is unique in that he never more will return to decay like Lazarus.
David didn't prophesy about himself. Paul makes the same point that Peter made on the day of Pentecost. David’s prophecy, "You will not let your holy one see decay" could not be about David himself, because he died and was buried and he saw decay (Acts 2:25-32,Acts 13:35-37,Psalms 16:10). So the natural conclusion is that David was prophesying about the Messiah and that the resurrection and ascension of Jesus fulfilled that prophecy. "He whom God raised up saw no decay."(Acts 13:37).
Complete forgiveness and justification. The point of all this is not simply to proclaim the resurrection of Christ, but more so to proclaim its consequence. A death from which one has risen, never to return, must have a marvellous purpose, and this is what Paul now drives home. Complete forgiveness and justification (being made perfectly and permanently right with God) is now possible for everyone. The law of Moses could not make this possible (Hebrews 9:8-15 etc).
¶ "Beware therefore, lest what is spoken in the prophets come upon you: ‘Behold, you scoffers, and marvel, and perish; for I work a work in your days, a work which you will never believe though one declares it to you.’ ” So when the Jews went out of the synagogue, the Gentiles begged that these words might be preached to them the next Sabbath"(Acts 13:40-42).
A warning to heed. Paul concludes with a warning that clearly presents a choice. When the gospel is declared to you, you must make a decision. Will you refuse to believe and perish, or will you believe and be justified? It would be ridiculous for Paul to speak this warning if his listeners had no choice. If God had already decreed before the foundation of the world who would believe, leaving the rest incapable of believing, then this warning would be meaningless. If you can beware lest destruction come upon you, then you must be both in danger of destruction and able to avoid it. The prophet foresaw that some of Israel would scoff and never believe, whilst some of the Gentiles would embrace the gospel (Habakkuk 1:5). This, however, was not because people did what they were predestined to do, but rather because they chose that course for themselves.