Acts 13 Bible Commentary

The Geneva Study Bible

(Read all of Acts 13)
13:1 Now 1 there were in the church that was at Antioch certain prophets and teachers; as Barnabas, and Simeon that was called Niger, and Lucius of Cyrene, and Manaen, which had been brought up with a Herod the tetrarch, and Saul.

(1) Paul with Barnabas is again the second time appointed apostle of the Gentiles, not of man, neither by man, but by an extraordinary commandment of the Holy Spirit.
(a) This was the same Antipas who put John the Baptist to death.

13:2 As they b ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have c called them.

(b) While they were busy doing their office, that is, as Chrysostom expounds it, while they were preaching.
(c) The Lord is said to call, from which this word "called" comes from, which is common in the Church, when he causes that to be which was not, whether you refer it to the matter itself, or to any quality or thing about the matter: and the use of the word "call" has come about because when things begin to be, then they have some name: and furthermore this also declares God's mighty power, in that he spoke the word, and things were made.

13:3 2 And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid [their] hands on them, they sent [them] away.

(2) Fasting and solemn prayers were used before the laying on of hands.

13:4 3 So they, being sent forth by the Holy Ghost, departed unto d Seleucia; and from thence they sailed to Cyprus.

(3) Paul and his companions first bring Cyprus to the subjection and obedience of Christ.
(d) Seleucia was a city of Cilicia, so called after Seleucus, one of Alexander's successors.

13:8 4 But Elymas the sorcerer (for so is his name by interpretation) withstood them, seeking to turn away the deputy from the faith.

(4) The devil makes Christ's victory more glorious in that he sets himself against him.

13:10 5 And said, O full of all subtilty and all e mischief, [thou] child of the devil, [thou] enemy of all righteousness, wilt thou not cease to pervert the right ways of the Lord?

(5) The sorcerer, who was stricken by Paul with a physical punishment (although extraordinarily), shows an example to lawful magistrates how they ought to punish those who wickedly and obstinately hinder the course of the Gospel.
(e) He points out a fault of those who run eagerly and with great desire into all types of wickedness with the least bit of prompting from the world.

13:11 And now, behold, the f hand of the Lord [is] upon thee, and thou shalt be blind, not seeing the sun for a season. And immediately there fell on him a mist and a darkness; and he went about seeking some to lead him by the hand.

(f) His power which he shows in striking and beating down his enemies.

13:13 6 Now when Paul and his company loosed from Paphos, they came to Perga in Pamphylia: and John departing from them returned to Jerusalem.

(6) An example in one and the very same group of people both of singular steadfastness, and also of great weakness.

13:14 But when they departed from Perga, they came to Antioch in g Pisidia, and went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and sat down.

(g) This distinguishes between it, and Antioch which was in Syria.

13:15 7 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 h have any word of exhortation for the people, say on.

(7) In the Synagogue of the Jews (according to the pattern of which Christian congregations were instituted) the Scriptures were read first, then those who were learned were licensed by the rulers of the Synagogue to speak and expound.
(h) Literally, "If there is any word in you": this is a kind of speech taken from the Hebrews, by which is meant that the gifts of God's grace are in us, as it were in treasure houses, and that they are not ours, but God's. In the same way David says, "Thou hast put a new song in my mouth"; (Psalms 40:3).

13:16 8 Then Paul stood up, and beckoning with [his] hand said, Men of Israel, and ye that fear God, give audience.

(8) God bestowed many wonderful benefits upon his chosen Israel, but especially this, that he promised them the everlasting redeemer.

13:17 The God of this people of Israel chose our fathers, and i exalted the people when they dwelt as strangers in the land of Egypt, and with an k high arm brought he them out of it.

(i) Advanced and brought to honour.
(k) Openly and with strong power, breaking in pieces the enemies of his people.

13:20 And after that he gave [unto them] judges about the space of l four hundred and fifty years, until Samuel the prophet.

(l) There were from the birth of Isaac until the destruction of the Canaanites under the governance of Joshua four hundred and forty-seven years, and therefore he adds in this place the word "about", for three years are missing; the apostle, however, uses the whole greater number.

13:21 And afterward they desired a king: and God gave unto them Saul the son of Cis, a man of the tribe of Benjamin, by the space of m forty years.

(m) In this space of forty years the time of Samuel must be counted and included with the days of Saul, for the kingdom did as it were include his administration.

13:23 9 Of this man's seed hath God according to [his] promise raised unto Israel a Saviour, Jesus:

(9) He proves by the witness of John that Jesus is the Saviour who would come from David.

13:24 When John had first preached n before his coming the baptism of repentance to all the people of Israel.

(n) John as a herald did not show Christ coming from afar off, as the other prophets did, but right at hand and having already begun his journey.

13:26 10 Men [and] brethren, children of the stock of Abraham, and whosoever among you feareth God, to you is the word of this salvation sent.

(10) Christ was promised and sent appropriately to the Jews.

13:27 11 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].

(11) All things came to pass to Christ, which the Prophets foretold concerning the Messiah: so that by this also it appears that he is the true and only saviour: and yet nonetheless they are not to be excused who did not only not receive him, but also persecuted him most cruelly, even though he was innocent.

13:30 12 But God raised him from the dead:

(12) We must set the glory of the resurrection against the shame of the cross, and the grave. And the resurrection is equally proved by the witnesses who saw it, and by the testimonies of the Prophets.

13:33 God hath fulfilled the same unto us their children, in that he o hath raised up Jesus again; 13 as it is also written in the second psalm, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee.

(o) For then he appeared plainly and manifestly as the only Son of God, when he left behind his weakness and came out of the grave, having conquered death.
(13) If Christ had remained dead, he would not have been the true Son of God, neither would the covenant which was made with David have been certain.

13:34 And as concerning that he raised him up from the dead, [now] no more to return to corruption, he said on this wise, I will give you the p sure mercies of David.

(p) The Greeks call those things "holy things" which the Hebrews call "gracious bounties": and they are called David's bounties in the passive voice, because God bestowed them upon David. Moreover, they are termed "sure", after the manner of speech which the Hebrews use, who terms those things "sure" which are steady and certain, and such things which never alter or change.

13:35 14 Wherefore he saith also in another [psalm], Thou shalt not suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.

(14) The Lord was in the grace in such a way that he experienced no corruption.

13:38 15 Be it known unto you therefore, men [and] brethren, that through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins:

(15) Christ was sent to give them free remission of sins who were condemned by the Law.

13:39 And by him all that believe are justified from q all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses.

(q) Whereas the ceremonies of the Law could not absolve you from your sins, this man absolves you, if you lay hold of him by faith.

13:40 16 Beware therefore, lest that come upon you, which is spoken of in the prophets;

(16) The benefits of God turn to the utter undoing of those that condemn them.

13:42 17 And when the Jews were gone out of the synagogue, the Gentiles besought that these words might be preached to them the next sabbath.

(17) The Gentiles go before the Jews into the kingdom of heaven.

13:43 Now when the congregation was broken up, many of the Jews and r religious proselytes followed Paul and Barnabas: who, speaking to them, persuaded them to continue in the grace of God.

(r) Who had forsaken their heathen religion, and embraced the religion set forth by Moses.

13:45 18 But when the Jews saw the multitudes, they were filled with envy, and spake against those things which were spoken by Paul, contradicting and blaspheming.

(18) The favour on the very same Gospel is to the reprobate and unbelievers death, and to the elect and those who believe it is life.

13:46 19 Then Paul and Barnabas waxed bold, and said, It was necessary that the word of God should first have been spoken to you: but seeing ye put it from you, and s judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles.

(19) The Gospel is proclaimed to the Gentiles by the express commandment of God.
(s) By this your doing you pronounce as it were sentence upon yourselves, and judge yourselves.

13:48 And when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad, and glorified the word of the Lord: and as many as were t ordained to eternal life believed.

(t) Therefore either all were not appointed to everlasting life, or either all believed, but because all did not believe, it follows that certain ones were ordained: and therefore God did not only foreknow, but also foreordained, that neither faith nor the effects of faith should be the cause of his ordaining, or appointment, but his ordaining the cause of faith.

13:50 20 But the Jews stirred up the u devout and honourable women, and the chief men of the city, and raised persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and expelled them out of their coasts.

(20) Such is the craft and subtlety of the enemies of the Gospel, that they abuse the simplicity of some who are not altogether evil men, in order to execute their cruelty.
(u) Those who embraced the Law of Moses.

13:51 21 But they shook off the dust of their feet against them, and came unto Iconium.

(21) The wickedness of the world cannot prevent God from gathering his Church together, and to foster and cherish it, when it is gathered together.