In this portion of Scripture, Paul is presenting the Gospel to a congregation of Jews in the synagogue in Antioch. He starts with the history of the nation of Israel, something every Jew was proud of and never tired of hearing repeated. Paul mentioned key events and people like David and John the Baptist and used that as a springboard to tell them about Jesus. You also will notice a similarity to Stephen’s sermon from chapter 7 of Acts. Paul was present and consenting to the stoning of Stephen and even held the coats of those who stoned him. This was before Paul was converted. However, Stephen’s sermon must have made a deep impression on him.
The apostle Paul never wasted an opportunity to preach the gospel. His method was to lay a foundation of Jewish history (verses 16-22) then connect the events with the life and ministry of Christ, (verses 23-39). He used Old Testament Scripture to prove that Jesus was the Messiah and would be crucified and resurrected and that remission of their sins could only come through Him as their Savior. He warned them that the penalty for rejecting Jesus was eternal damnation. He would preach first to the Jews in each city, and after they rejected his message, he would turn to the Gentiles.
Paul wanted his fellow countrymen to get saved so much that he gave up every worldly ambition so he could preach the gospel, even though he knew it would bring a life of persecution and rejection by the Jews, but he considered it so important that he willingly accepted that role.
ACTS 13:16-42: 16: "Then Paul stood up, and beckoning with his hand said, Men of Israel, and ye that fear God, give audience. 17: The God of this people of Israel chose our fathers, and exalted the people when they dwelt as strangers in the land of Egypt, and with an high arm brought them out of it. 18: And about the time of forty years suffered he their manners in the wilderness."
For forty years God put up with the ways of the stubborn people of Israel in the wilderness and He took care of their every need in spite of all their complaining and rebellion.
That’s quite an expression-"Suffered He their manners in the wilderness." In spite of all their failures and murmuring against Him, God graciously put up with His people and provided bread from heaven and water out of a rock, and shoes that lasted forty years and then brought them into the land of promise and even dwelt among them in the Tabernacle.
God has done the same for the believer over the years! The history of the Church sure isn’t anything to brag about! Israel failed badly but we, the Church in this dispensation, have failed even more since our privileges are greater than theirs. God has dealt with us in loving kindness not only collectively but individually. There isn’t one believer here who can look back over the years and say he never failed the Lord, but the Lord has never failed us. He shows us His loving kindness every minute of every day!
Verses 19-22: "And when he had destroyed seven nations in the land of Caanan, he divided their land to them by lot. 20: And after that he gave unto them judges about the space of four hundred and fifty years, until Samuel the prophet." 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 forty years. 22: And when he had removed him, he raised up unto them David to be their king; to whom also he gave testimony, and said, I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after mine own heart, which shall fulfill all my will."
God continued to put up with them like a bunch of naughty kids for 450 years, through the settlement of the land of Caanan, through all their rebellion during the time of the judges until Samuel the prophet came on the scene. Then the people wanted to be like the world around them and demanded a king.
When they asked for a king like the other nations, God allowed them to choose Saul from the tribe of Benjamin. Do you know what his qualifications for leadership of God’s chosen people were? Do you know why the people chose him? They chose Saul because he was head and shoulders taller than anybody else.
Saul ruled over them for forty years then God raised up David, from the tribe of Judah. God had ordained the tribe of Judah as the kingly tribe centuries before. God paid high tribute to David and called him a man after His own heart who would do all His will.
Verse 23: "Of this man's seed hath God according to his promise raised unto Israel a Savior, Jesus: 24: When John had first preached before his coming the baptism of repentance to all the people of Israel."
God promised David that One of his descendants would sit on the eternal throne of Israel and Paul used this to bring up the subject of Jesus. The ancestry of Jesus could be traced to David through both Mary and Joseph and Paul was telling the people of Israel that Jesus was the Savior God had promised them. This wasn’t exactly the light in which the Jews saw Jesus. Paul knew the antagonism he himself had against Christ and the believers in Christ in his unsaved days.
These Jews also knew that prior to Christ's public ministry, John the Baptist had preached the baptism of repentance to all the people. He had announced the coming of the Messiah and told the people to show their repentance by being baptized in the Jordan River. Many of the common people did this, but the religious leaders weren’t ready to give up their political positions in their religion and refused to recognize Christ as their Messiah and King.
Many people today aren’t willing to give up things of the world to accept Jesus. They think that being a Christian requires a simple life with no pleasure in it. Boy, are they wrong! Being a Christian is the most wonderful life one can experience. I’ve tried it both ways and I never want to even think about going back. I know that whatever happens to me here is the worst I will ever experience, but, if you are unsaved, the best you have here is all there is. You’ll spend eternity in torment in the Lake of Fire with Satan and his angels, all because you considered the things of this world worth more than admitting your sinfulness and accepting God’s forgiveness through the finished work of Jesus Christ..
Verse 25: "And as John fulfilled his course, he said, Whom think ye that I am? I am not he. But, behold, there cometh one after me, whose shoes of his feet I am not worthy to loose. 26: Men and brethren, children of the stock of Abraham, and whosoever among you feareth God, to you is the word of this salvation sent."
John the Baptist came to announce the coming of the Messiah, and that it was Jesus.
In verse 26, Paul has a neat way of addressing his listeners and fellow Jews as brethren and sons of the family of Abraham, then he reminded them that the word of this salvation was sent first to the nation of Israel. It was to the lost sheep of the house of Israel that Jesus came. Jesus told His disciples specifically to preach the message of salvation to the Jews first.
When John baptized Jesus, he stated plainly for all to hear, "Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world." As believers, God has called on us to tell this to all men everywhere today. God has provided salvation through the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ; but this salvation won’t actually be ours until we confess our sin and repent. Then we can tell others of the daily joy and security we have as believers in Jesus as it says in Romans 3:22. “Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe:”
There isn’t one gospel for the Jews and another gospel for the Gentiles. Romans 10:12: “For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him.”
In verses 27-30 Paul continues with the history lesson and points out that Jesus was the Messiah and the rulers of the Jews who should have recognized Him, rejected Him.
Verses 27-30: "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. 28: And though they found no cause of death in him, yet desired they Pilate that he should be slain. 29: And when they had fulfilled all that was written of him, they took him down from the tree, and laid him in a sepulchre. 30: But God raised him from the dead:"
The very people who were given the Old Testament Scriptures that foretold the coming of Israel’s Messiah fulfilled the prophecy of condemning the Lord of Glory to death. The rulers of the Jews in Jerusalem didn’t recognize Jesus as their long awaited Messiah or that He was the One the Prophets had written about.
They had heard predictions concerning the Messiah from the Scriptures every Sabbath. They even knew from Micah 5:2, exactly where He would be born, and yet they rejected Him. They refused to link those Scriptures with Jesus of Nazareth. They unwittingly were fulfilling Scripture by rejecting Him and condemning Him.
Although they couldn’t find any reason to kill Him, they turned Him over to Pilate to be put to death. (verse 28)
The eyes of the people of Israel were blind to the fact that God was manifest in Christ when Jesus was here on earth, and it is sin that keeps people from receiving Him today. If we obey God's command to judge our sin and repent of it and ask Him to forgive us, He will.
The first part of the verse 29 refers to the Jewish people who fulfilled the Scriptures by rejecting the Messiah. The latter part of the verse refers to Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus, who buried the body of the Lord Jesus.
Look at verse 30 again. Have you ever noticed how often the two words "But God" appear in Scripture? Men nailed Him to a tree, friends laid Him in Joseph's new tomb; "but God," raised Him from the dead!
In Ephesians 2, after Paul wrote about man's lost and sinful condition, he said, “But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, 5: Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) 6: And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: 7: That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.”
Verse 31: "And he was seen many days of them which came up with him from Galilee to Jerusalem, who are his witnesses unto the people." The fact that Jesus rose from the dead was well attested. Those who came from Galilee to Jerusalem with Jesus were still alive, and their witness couldn’t be denied. Some of those witnesses may have been present in the synagogue here.
Verses 32-33: "And we declare unto you glad tidings, how that the promise which was made unto the fathers, 33: God hath fulfilled the same unto us their children, in that he hath raised up Jesus again; as it is also written in the second psalm, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee.”
This is such a wonderful piece of good news that Paul doesn’t want anyone in his audience to miss out on it. The promise of the Messiah that had been made to the fathers in the Old Testament had been fulfilled in Jesus.
Verses 34-37: "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 sure mercies of David. 35: Wherefore he saith also in another psalm, Thou shalt not suffer thine Holy One to see corruption. 36: For David, after he had served his own generation by the will of God, fell on sleep, and was laid unto his fathers, and saw corruption: 37: But he, whom God raised again, saw no corruption."
God raised Jesus from the dead and He is seated at the right hand of God on high.
Paul quoted Isaiah 55:3: "I will give you the sure mercies of David." David himself wrote, in Psalm 23, “I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”
This very thing had been predicted in the 16th Psalm, that the Savior was to die and then be raised from the dead; "For Thou wilt not leave My soul in hell; neither wilt Thou suffer Thine Holy One to see corruption." The body of the Lord Jesus lay in the grave three days but it didn’t decay. He came forth in resurrection as a testimony to the power of God over death and hell and Satan and as a sign to all mankind that God had accepted the sacrifice of His Son as payment for our sins.
The sure blessings promised to David were fulfilled in Christ Who descended from David and Who will yet sit on the eternal throne of David.
Christ arose from the dead and lives eternally, so God’s covenant with David is assured for eternity.
David lived his life to serve God and fulfilled his service to God’s chosen people, and after David died and was buried, his body returned to dust. But the Lord Jesus was raised from the dead the third day, and His body didn’t experience corruption.
Paul goes on to give one of the grandest gospel statements that we have in all the Bible.
Verses 38-39: "Be it known unto you therefore, men and brethren, that through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins: 39: And by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses."
All who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ will receive forgiveness of sins and justification from all things. They will be free from the Law at last. The law couldn’t do what God will do through Christ Jesus.
We can have forgiveness and justification and eternal life through Christ who died and rose again. We stand before God on altogether different and new ground, and can say “God justified me and from now on He looks on me as though I had never committed any sin at all. Christ paid for everything. I stand before God cleared of every charge, in Him.” This is justification. Romans 8:1. “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus,”
The next verses give a warning to those who reject the salvation offered in Jesus Christ.
Verses 40-41: "Beware therefore, lest that come upon you, which is spoken of in the prophets; 41: Behold, ye despisers, and wonder, and perish: for I work a work in your days, a work which ye shall in no wise believe, though a man declare it unto you."
This is a warning not only for these people in Antioch, it’s to anyone who has ever heard the gospel message and has failed to accept Christ. You can take these words to heart and receive Christ, and be justified, or reject these words and face the judgment that will fall on everyone who has heard the Gospel message and refused it.
Verse 42: "And when the Jews were gone out of the synagogue, the Gentiles besought that these words might be preached to them the next sabbath."
Later Scripture tells us that Paul and Barnabas opened up the Word of God to these Gentiles and lead many of them to accept Christ as their Savior.
HAVE YOU ACCEPTED CHRIST AS YOUR SAVIOR?
IF NOT, PLEASE DO SO RIGHT NOW.