“Lessons from Acts 13”
As the chapter opens we see Paul setting out on his first missionary journey with Barnabas, sent by the Holy Spirit and the Antioch church. We see that the Holy Spirit dwells in God’s church.
As was the custom of Paul, once he arrived at his initial destination, he headed to the synagogue to proclaim the word of God. He wanted to reach the largest audience possible. Paul was bold and did not back down, a good lesson for us today as we labor to teach the word of God to others.
Almost immediately Paul encountered opposition to the gospel. That is a theme throughout the ministry and life of Paul, unfortunately. Some in the audience were working directly against Paul, trying to turn others away from the gospel (vs. 8). Paul gave a stern warning in vs.10, calling the obstacle the “son of the devil” saying they were “full of deceit and fraud.” Let this warning from Paul (who was filled with the Holy Spirit – vs.9) be something we never forget. Opposing the faith, the word of God, is a serious offense, equated basically to doing the work of Satan. So serious in fact that Elymas was blinded due to his actions.
As Paul continued on his journey, he arrived at the synagogue in Pisidian Antioch where the officials invited him to speak. Paul loved that! His sermon is full of historical background that the Jews knew. He talked about the children of Israel, their wanderings, and reminded them that Jesus came through David. He talked about Jesus being the promised deliverer and gave a warning against rejecting Jesus Christ and His invitation. Among the many sermon “punchlines” is vs. 38 letting us know that forgiveness of sins comes through Jesus. The audience was riveted and gathered again the following Sabbath to hear more. Some of the Jews in the audience rose up, and once again, tried to contradict the things Paul said. That caused Paul to proclaim his intentions to turn to the Gentiles, which gave the Gentiles reason to rejoice and glorify God. Undeterred, the Jews persecuted Paul and Barnabas and drove them from the city. But, we see the disciples were also undeterred, they shook the dust off, moved on to the next city, and continued proclaiming the word of God, filled with joy and the Holy Spirit (vs. 52).
Chapter 13 illustrates the boldness of Paul and the disciples in their proclamation of the Word of God and their pursuit of lost souls. We also see that there has always been direct opposition to the gospel and probably always will be. These obstacles, no matter what form they take, need to be met head on, so the spread of the Word of God and the work does not fail.