Saturday, September 10, 2022

2022.09.10 Hopewell @Home ▫ Acts 13:13–41

Read Acts 13:13–41

Questions from the Scripture text: Who set sail from where (Acts 13:13)? To where do they come? Who departs from them? To go where? From where do Paul and Barnabas depart in Acts 13:14? To where do they come? Into where do they go? On what day? What was read (Acts 13:15)? Who send to them? What do they invite Paul and Barnabas to do? What does Paul do in Acts 13:16? What two groups does he address? What three things does he begin by saying God did for Israel (Acts 13:17)? And what three further things in Acts 13:18-19? And then what sequence of leadership did He give them in Acts 13:20-22? What had God said about David? What did God raise up from David’s seed (Acts 13:23)? According to what? Whom did God send before Him (Acts 13:24)? Preaching what? To whom? But what does Paul refer to John doing in Acts 13:25? What did he say about himself? Whom did he say was coming? To whom does Paul readdress himself in Acts 13:26? What does he say has been sent to them? About what two groups does he speak in Acts 13:27? What didn’t these two know? Despite what? What did they fulfill? By doing what? What didn’t they find (Acts 13:28)? But for what did they ask whom? What had they fulfilled (Acts 13:29)? Then what did they do? But what did God do? What then happened for how long (Acts 13:31)? By whom? To whom do these witness? And now who is declaring it (Acts 13:32)? What do they call the declaration? To whom had these glad tidings been promised? For whom had God fulfilled the promise (Acts 13:33)? By doing what? As written where? What did this show about Jesus (cf. Romans 1:4)? How can we be sure that this blessedness is forever (Acts 13:34, cf. Isaiah 55:3)? But what had David himself undergone (Acts 13:36, cf. Psalm 16:10)? But what hadn’t happened to Jesus (Acts 13:37)? What did Paul proclaim to them through Jesus (Acts 13:38)? Who receives this forgiveness (Acts 13:39)? Into what standing with God does this bring them? What couldn’t do this? But how does Paul end the sermon (Acts 13:40)? What does he call them if they do not respond by believing (Acts 13:41)? What will happen to them if they do not believe (cf. Habakkuk 1:5)?

What was apostolic preaching like? Acts 13:13–41 looks forward to the morning sermon on the coming Lord’s Day. In these twenty-nine verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that apostolic preaching of the gospel announces that the Old Testament promises of salvation have been fulfilled in the resurrection of Jesus, Who was shown to be the God-Man by the resurrection, and through Whom we can have forgiveness of sin and the righteousness of God. 

To whom the preaching comes: all hearers from all nations. John Mark departs for Jerusalem, but Paul and Barnabas press on. They arrive at Antioch in Psidia and attend Synagogue. We remember from the Cornelius material that there are two groups who attend: Jews and God-fearers (a name for Gentiles who kept all the law but were still considered outsiders by the Jews, and denied fellowship.

Paul and Barnabas, of course, sit with the Jews. After the Scripture reading time, the synagogue rulers invite anyone to give a sermon (“word of exhortation”). Paul rises and volunteers. Twice—once before the exposition, and again before the application—he specifically addresses himself not just to the Jews but also to the God-fearers (Acts 13:16Acts 13:26). And he emphasizes that the word of this salvation has been sent to them (verse 26)—the implication being that God is the sender.

What the preaching announces: God and His salvation. God is the hero of this story. He was the Chooser (Israel did not earn) and the Lifter-up (Israel did not ascend), Acts 13:17a. They were the foreigners; God was the Deliverer (verse 17b). Their travel through the wilderness is presented as 40 years of God patiently putting up with them (v18). It was not they who took the land, but God Who destroyed the Canaanites (Acts 13:19a) and handed out their land to them (verse 19b). 

The subtlety of Acts 13:20 is that the judges were necessary to deliver Israel from their repeated turning away from God. God’s answer to this was a prophet (verse 20b), but Israel wanted a king instead (Acts 13:21). God give them the prototypical Israelite hero, and the mention of his forty years ties them in theme to the wilderness. God removed the king like what their hearts wanted (Acts 13:22a) and gave them instead the sort of king that God’s hear wants (verse 22b), because He intended to raise up Salvation from David’s seed (Acts 13:23). In all of Acts 13:17-23, the point is very clear: Israel is an anti-hero, but God is the Hero, the Savior. In this, this sermon is very much like Peter’s defense in Acts 4:8–12 and Stephen’s sermon at his trial (cf. chapter 7). 

How this salvation was accomplished: Christ’s death and resurrection. There was a salvation promised (Acts 13:23), and now Paul is announcing that has arrived (Acts 13:26). How? By Israel continuing to be like they had been. They didn’t recognize Jesus, nor did they recognize the promise of the Prophets who were read every Sabbath, exactly as had just been done a few minutes prior in that synagogue in Antioch of Pisidia (Acts 13:27). But those Prophets had promised that the Savior would die a judicial death, and those who dwell in Jerusalem and their rulers became the agents of that occurring. They couldn’t bring one legitimate or provable charge against Jesus, but still demanded His execution (Acts 13:28). Christ had been promised to die, and He did.

But Christ had also been promised not to see corruption (Acts 13:35, cf. Psalm 16:10, Acts 2:34–43). The sure mercies of David that Isaiah 55:3 promised to the suffering servant (Acts 13:34) were eternal mercies. And this resurrection proved that Jesus wasn’t just the Son of David, but the eternally begotten Son of God (Acts 13:33). So, when He was raised from the dead (Acts 13:30) and seen for many days (Acts 13:31a), it became the great message of the gospel to proclaim this Savior, this crucified and risen God-Man. This was what the apostles in Jerusalem were witnessing there (verse 31b) and what Paul and Barnabas were now preaching in that synagogue (Acts 13:32). In this, this sermon is very much like Peter’s sermons at Pentecost (cf. Acts 2:14–36) and in Cornelius’s house (cf. Acts 10:36–43).

How this salvation is applied: hearing that produces faith. The apostle weaves the story of what God had done in history with what God was doing on that day of history in that synagogue. He begins by urging them to listen in Acts 13:16. He re-addresses them in Acts 13:26, emphasizing that the word of this salvation had been sent to them. He emphasizes that the glad tidings are being declared to them in Acts 13:32. After warning them that those in Jerusalem who had killed Christ did so because they did not know Him (Acts 13:27), he urges them to “let it be known to you” in Acts 13:38. It is hearing, and responding to the Word in faith, through which this salvation is applied. This too is part of the gospel message, and in this, this sermon is very much like Peter’s sermon in Solomon’s porch (cf Acts 3:12–26). 

What is offered and what is warned: forgiveness unto faith and perishing unto unbelief. What John preached was a baptism of repentance (Acts 13:24), but repentance couldn’t atone or justify (Acts 13:39b). However, in the One Whom John said was coming (Acts 13:25), forgiveness of sins was now being preached (Acts 13:38). But this forgiveness is not for all who hear. They must believe (Acts 13:39a). For the same Scriptures have prophesied about those who would hear and not believe (Acts 13:41d–e).

One way or the other, if you are hearing the gospel of Christ crucified and risen for sinners, you have been prophesied about. Either you are one who will receive salvation through faith as promised in the prophets; or, you will fail to believe, as other hearers are prophesied to do, and you will perish for having despised (treated as inconsequential) Christ and His salvation. 

Who is the hero of your story? What do you believe about Jesus? What is happening when you hear the gospel? How have you responded to Him? For who else’s response are you praying?

Sample prayer:  Lord, we thank You for promising salvation, and coming in the person of Your Son to secure that salvation. Grant Your Spirit’s work in us, that as we hear Christ preached, we would not treat Him or His gospel as inconsequential but cling by faith to the resurrected One, in Whose Name we ask it, AMEN!

Suggested songs: ARP98 “O Sing a New Song to the LORD” or TPH98A “O Sing a New Song to the LORD”

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