Acts 13
Matthew Poole's Commentary
Now 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 Herod the tetrarch, and Saul.
Acts 13:1-5 Barnabas and Saul, being set apart with fasting and

prayer, are sent forth by the Holy Ghost to the work

of their calling.

Acts 13:6-12 At Paphos, Elymas the sorcerer, opposing the Gospel,

is smitten with blindness, and the deputy Sergius

Paulus converted to the faith.

Acts 13:13-41 Paul and his company come to Antioch in Pisidia: Paul

preacheth Christ, and the necessity of faith in him

unto justification.

Acts 13:42,43 The Gentiles desire to hear the word again: many are


Acts 13:44-49 The envious Jews gainsay and blaspheme: the apostles

profess to turn to the Gentiles, of whom many believe.

Acts 13:50-52 The Jews raise a persecution, and expel Paul and

Barnabas, who go to Iconium.

The church that was at Antioch; the true church, which hath a being, and whose Builder and Maker is God. Other churches (as that of the circumcision) are no churches or congregations of the faithful.

Prophets and teachers; these two offices might be in the same person, as he that had the gift of prophecy, and could foretell things to come, might be a teacher to instruct the people; but yet they were frequently appertaining to several persons, one excelling in one gift, another in another.

Simeon that was called Niger; this Simeon is thus distinguished from Simon Peter, and from Simon the Canaanite, this name of Niger being given him by the Romans.

Lucius; this hath been thought the name of Luke, it being more after the Latin termination; and that it might be he that wrote the Gospel called by his name, and this book of the Acts. However, we meet with this name, Romans 16:21; and St. Paul sends salutation unto him that was so called.

Of Cyrene; born at a place so called, or brought up in the synagogue of the Cyrenians; of which, Acts 6:9.

Either this Manaen was Herod’s foster brother, or had the same tutors and instructors with him, their education being together.

This Herod was Herod Antipas, who set at nought our Saviour, and killed the Baptist.

And yet Manaen, as another Moses, kept his integrity in that Pharaoh’s court; and, as Moses, he choose rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season, Hebrews 11:25. Thus there was an Obadiah in Ahab’s house, 1 Kings 18:3, and divers believe in Nero’s family, Philippians 4:22.

As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them.
Ministered; the word importeth the exercise of any public office, sacred or civil. But in the former verse mentions being made of prophets and teachers, these words are in sense too conjoined with them; and inform us, that they were preaching to and instructing of the people, (for there is no ministry or service which God likes better than to convert and save souls), and, that all might be more effectual, as being done with greater earnestness and intention of mind, whilst they fasted.

The Holy Ghost said; by some inward instinct in those prophets before spoken of, who had warrant to declare it as from him.

Separate me Barnabas and Saul; these two were to be separated: as the first born under the law, Exodus 13:12, and after them, or in their stead, the Levites, Numbers 3:12; so were Paul and Barnabas in especial manner separated for the calling in of the Gentiles, that great ministry or service which God had for them to do.

And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them away.
When they had fasted and prayed; a good preparation to enter into any business with, whereby they acknowledged that all success must come from God. Our blessed Saviour himself would not enter upon his ministry till he had fasted forty days, Matthew 4:2, compared with Matthew 4:17.

Laid their hands on them; Barnabas and Saul being called to be apostles already, this laying on of their hands upon them signifies,

1. Their being set apart to this particular employment they were now to be sent about.

2. The approbation of the church to that heavenly call they had.

3. Their praying for God’s blessing upon them, and success upon the work they went for.

So they, being sent forth by the Holy Ghost, departed unto Seleucia; and from thence they sailed to Cyprus.
Seleucia; a sea town of Cilicia, nigh unto Antioch, and over against Cyprus, built by Seleucus, and was a town of some note, but mentioned here only as in their passage to Cyprus.

And when they were at Salamis, they preached the word of God in the synagogues of the Jews: and they had also John to their minister.
Salamis; the chief city of Cyprus, now called Famagusta, situate on the east side of the island, over against Syria.

They preached, here and elsewhere, in the synagogues, either because they found no other such convenient places to preach in; (these being large structures, and many resorting to them); or rather, because though they were sent unto the Gentiles, yet it was not till afar the Jews should have refused the gospel, as may be seen throughout all this book, and in the conclusion of it, Acts 28:28.

They had also John to their minister: as Acts 12:25.

And when they had gone through the isle unto Paphos, they found a certain sorcerer, a false prophet, a Jew, whose name was Barjesus:
Unto Paphos; this city was on the west end of Cyprus, so that going from Salamis they went through the island: this place was famous for the worshipping of Venus.

A certain sorcerer; there were many magicians about this time amongst the Jews, who by their false miracles endeavoured to bring the real miracles of our Saviour into contempt. As the magicians and sorcerers of Egypt, by their enchantments, for a while did seem to do such wonders as Moses had wrought by the finger of God, Exodus 7:11.

Which was with the deputy of the country, Sergius Paulus, a prudent man; who called for Barnabas and Saul, and desired to hear the word of God.
The deputy of the country; whether he was pro-consul or proprietor, it is in effect the same; for he it was that governed the island.

Desired to hear the word of God; this desire was extraordinary, and wrought by God, in order to the fitting him for the further mercy of his conversion and salvation. Where such a desire is, it shall be granted: Ask, and it shall be given you, Luke 11:9.

But Elymas the sorcerer (for so is his name by interpretation) withstood them, seeking to turn away the deputy from the faith.
Elymas; this is another name of him that was called Bar-jesus, which was not unusual, as Simon Bar-jona, Matthew 16:17. This Elymas may be taken appellatively, and signifies the magician or sorcerer; but being it was a proper name unto others we read of, it may be so here.

Then Saul, (who also is called Paul,) filled with the Holy Ghost, set his eyes on him,
It is observable, that St. Luke never before called this great apostle by the name of Paul, and henceforth never calls him by the name of Saul. Though there be no great difference in these names,

Saul might be more acceptable to the Jews, amongst whom hitherto he had conversed; and

Paul a more pleasing name unto the Gentiles, unto whom he was now sent, and with whom for the future he should most converse. He was called Saul as he was a Jew born, a Hebrew of the Hebrews; and Paul, as he was a denizen of Rome; the Romans having that name in good account in several of their chief families.

Filled with the Holy Ghost; zeal for God’s glory, and faith and power to work the ensuing miracle.

And said, O full of all subtilty and all mischief, thou child of the devil, thou enemy of all righteousness, wilt thou not cease to pervert the right ways of the Lord?
Mischief; radiourgia signifies a facility or readiness in doing mischief, and that such who are given to sorcery are easily drawn to commit any kind of sin whatsoever.

Thou child of the devil; because he did his work who is the destroyer, in hindering what he could the salvation of Sergius Paulus and his family.

To pervert the right ways of the Lord; to make the way of God crooked, which is straight; and rugged, when indeed it is smooth: that is, to lay what rubs he could to keep any from coming unto, or continuing in, the ways of God.

And now, behold, the 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.
The hand of the Lord is put for any powerful action of God, whether in mercy or judgment: here it is put for the Divine power wherewith God strikes his enemies. God did in judgment remember mercy, inflicting this blindness only for a season, that it might be rather a medicine than a punishment.

Then the deputy, when he saw what was done, believed, being astonished at the doctrine of the Lord.
The gospel which Paul preached; finding in it (though a wise man) depths beyond his fathoming; and all accompanied with such a power in doing of miracles, and changing of hearts and lives, as might well amaze so prudent and considering a man.

Now when Paul and his company loosed from Paphos, they came to Perga in Pamphylia: and John departing from them returned to Jerusalem.
Perga, a city in Pamphylia: not that there were any other cities of that name; but because this region was more commonly known, it being a country in the Lesser Asia, bordering on Cilicia. The departure of John (of whom before, Acts 13:5, and Acts 12:25) was blameworthy, as Acts 15:38. Some think he shunned that labour and suffering which he saw attended the gospel; others suppose that he returned to Jerusalem out of too fond an affection for his mother, who lived there; and it may be that he, retaining a great aversion from the Gentiles, might abhor to go amongst them: however, let him that standeth take heed lest he fall.

But when they departed from Perga, they came to Antioch in Pisidia, and went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and sat down.
Antioch in Pisidia; so called to distinguish it from the other Antioch, mentioned in Acts 13:1, which was a city in Syria, as this in Pisidia, next to, or part of, Pamphylia.

Went into the synagogue on the sabbath day; either to join with the Jews in their worship, which was not then unlawful; or to get an opportunity more publicly to preach the gospel unto them: they were no sooner come thither, but they mind that great business they went about.

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 have any word of exhortation for the people, say on.
The reading of the law was commanded by Moses; and they say that Ezra commanded the reading of the prophets also in their synagogues, which was used, as we may see in Acts 13:27; and so divided into several sections, that once a year they might be all read over.

The rulers of the synagogue; they were such as had the oversight of this service of God in their synagogues, that it might be performed according to the prescription.

Men and brethren; a usual compellation which the Jews gave one another, owning them to serve the same God, and professing a suitable respect for them.

If ye have any word of exhortation for the people, say on; after the reading before spoken of, there followed a sermon, or exhortation; which the apostles are desired to make, the rulers of the synagogue, as it is supposed, having had some previous knowledge of them.

Then Paul stood up, and beckoning with his hand said, Men of Israel, and ye that fear God, give audience.
Beckoning with his hand, to procure silence and attention, as Acts 12:17.

And ye that fear God; besides the native Jews, the proselytes, and such out of all nations who left the idolatry of the Gentiles, and served the only true God, met together in the worship of God; these were the sebomenoi, spoken of Acts 17:4. It shows also what they are to do that would hear the word of the Lord with profit; viz. to attend unto it in the fear of his name.

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 he them out of it.
The God of this people of Israel; God was the God of Israel after a peculiar manner.

Chose our fathers; having chosen them before all nations, to make him known unto them, to be served and worshipped by them.

And exalted the people; and God exalted them in the time of Joseph, and whilst the memory of that great preservation wrought by his means did continue, till another king arose that knew not Joseph.

An high arm; the many miracles done by the power of God towards the Israelites’ deliverance out of Egypt. By which the apostle would have them remember, that they owed all which they challenged from their progenitors to the grace and blessing of God only, and that God may do with his own as he please.

And about the time of forty years suffered he their manners in the wilderness.
This is recorded, Psalm 95:10, and remembered by the apostle, Hebrews 3:8,9, and to be admired through all ages, that God should be so patient, or a people could be so perverse. Some instead of etropoforhsen, read etrofoforhsen, there being but one letter difference, (and such as are usually changed into one another), and then it speaks God’s providing for this people all that while, and carrying them as in his bosom, as a nurse bears the sucking child, Numbers 11:12 Deu 1:31; or as an eagle beareth her young ones on her wings, Deu 32:11,12. But it seems God did not bear with their fathers, but destroyed them in the wilderness, 1 Corinthians 10:5. First, God bare long with those that perished. Secondly, The succeeding generation took not that warning which did become them, but followed their fathers’ steps; and whilst one generation was wearing away, and another coming, this space of forty years was spent, through the abundant compassion of God towards them, who did not consume them, as they tempted him to do, in a moment.

And when he had destroyed seven nations in the land of Chanaan, he divided their land to them by lot.
These seven nations are mentioned, Joshua 3:10.

He divided their land to them by lot; the lot being disposed only as God would, Proverbs 16:33. And it was but reasonable that God, having miraculously got this land, (for the Israelites did rather go to take possession of it than to fight for it), and assumed a special right unto it, that he should divide it to whom he pleased, and in what proportions he thought good.

And after that he gave unto them judges about the space of four hundred and fifty years, until Samuel the prophet.
These judges were persons deputed by God to govern and deliver that people; their commission was attested usually by some extraordinary thing done by them, and their power (as being mediately from God) was absolute. The computation of years here mentioned hath been very much controverted. That which hath the greatest probability with it, is, either, first, to have recourse to Acts 13:17, and begin this era there, with God’s choosing of their fathers; and ending it at the time of the decision of the land by lot, as Acts 13:19; for from the birth of Isaac, to this distribution of the land, are reckoned four hundred and forty-seven years; which may well be said here,

about four hundred and fifty years: but then the sense is,

after that such things mentioned in Acts 13:17-19 were done; which were in the compass of four hundred and fifty years, God then gave them judges. Or, as others do refer these words to what follows, and begin the era or computation from the going of the children of Israel out of Egypt, and ending it at the expulsion of the Jebusites out of Jerusalem, which may make up this account. But then this passage of St. Paul is not intended to show how long the judges ruled, but when it was, or about what time that they ruled; as also to show what a long time it took up to gain that people a quiet possession of that promised inheritance, their sins still keeping good things from them.

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.
Their great sin in desiring a king was, because by that desire they rejected God, who had at that very time a prophet (Samuel) by whom he governed them, 1 Samuel 8:7 10:19. They had been under a theocracy ever since they came out of Egypt, their laws and their governors being appointed by God; had their condition been as that of other nations, their desire had not been a provocation. These words,

by the space of forty years, are to be joined with the foregoing verse, and the other foregoing words in the verse read with a parenthesis: and thus they show how long Samuel the prophet (as he is here called) exercised his prophetical office, which was the space here mentioned, partly before Saul was anointed king, and in part afterward; in which, as another Moses, he cared for, and went in and out before, the people of God, the like space of forty years. This computation of St. Paul might also agree more with the Septuagint, and be according to the then current account, which (not being of more consequence) St. Paul would not controvert at this time, having greater matters to speak of unto them.

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 fulfil all my will.
He had removed him; God had taken Saul away by death; for he would not suffer David to hasten it.

After mine own heart; favoured or beloved by me, and obedient to me; my servant, as God speaks of him, Psalm 89:20.

Which shall fulfil all my will; and here, that he should fulfil all God’s will, to wit, in governing his people; for he hath a testimonial upon record in God’s word, Psalm 78:72. He that is according to God’s heart, fulfils all the will of God, and does nothing by partiality; but if it be God’s will either for him to do or to suffer any thing, he is ready to set his fiat to it; as he daily prays (understandingly) that the will of the Lord may be done.

Of this man's seed hath God according to his promise raised unto Israel a Saviour, Jesus:
Christ was the Son of David, and so frequently called, Matthew 1:1 Luke 18:38,39, with reference unto the promise made, Isaiah 11:1, spoken of, Acts 2:30 Romans 1:3.

Raised unto Israel a Saviour; because he lived amongst the Jews, and salvation was first offered unto them by him, as Acts 13:46.

Jesus; our Saviour’s name is added to show that he truly was according to his name, and what he was said to be, as Matthew 1:21.

When John had first preached before his coming the baptism of repentance to all the people of Israel.
John the Baptist did not speak of Christ’s coming, as the other apostles had done, as of a thing a great way off, or at a distance of time; but he spake of it as of a present matter, before his and their faces, and in their view;

Behold the Lamb of God! John 1:29,36.

The baptism of repentance; so it is called, Matthew 3:2,8 Mr 1:4 Luke 3:3; repentance being a due qualification for such as hope to receive the mercies of God in Christ unto life eternal.

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.
Fulfilled his course; the course of his ministry, or of his life: in respect of either, he ran as one in a race.

I am not he; that is, the Messias, which they were in such expectation of, and so inquisitive about.

There cometh one after me; Christ began his life (as to the flesh) after John and he began his ministry after him, and in that respect may be said to come after him.

Whose shoes of his feet I am not worthy to loose; a proverbial expression, whereby the meanest office is implied, which the disciples or servants could do for their masters, Matthew 3:11. The sense of these words we have, John 1:20,27.

Men and brethren, children of the stock of Abraham, and whosoever among you feareth God, to you is the word of this salvation sent.
Men and brethren; he speaks to the Jews according as the manner was amongst them; to the Jews he became as a Jew.

Whosoever among you feareth God; some think the devout Pisidians, or men of that country, are here meant; but rather it may insinuate the apostle’s hope concerning these Jews, that they were such as feared God, which hope they ought the rather to have carefully answered.

The word of this salvation:

1. Christ, who is the incarnate Word, or the Word made flesh, John 1:14; or the Gospel, which is glad tidings of salvation; as if the apostle had minded them, that it was not any business which belonged unto others alone, which he was speaking about: but of such things as pertained unto their salvation; and such a salvation (this salvation) as never greater was or ever will be published, this is certain, that we are concerned in it for ourselves, if we accept or neglect this salvation, it is for ourselves. Oh that in this respect self-interest were more prevalent with us!

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.
They; the common people, and their rulers; great council, both had a hand in our Saviour’s death. But if so great a fault was capable of any alleviation, the apostle gladly mentions it. that it was done out of ignorance; they knew neither Christ the Word, nor the word (of the Gospel) concerning Christ, though, that they may be made sensible that this their ignorance was not invincible, he minds them that it was their sin, having had means whereby they might have come unto the knowledge of Christ.

Fulfilled them: see Acts 4:28 Luke 24:25,26.

And though they found no cause of death in him, yet desired they Pilate that he should be slain.
Though they found no cause of death in him; he was a Lamb without blemish; neither had he offended the rabble that was so slanderous against him, unless by such vast goodness and kindness towards them he branded them for ingratitude.

Yet desired they Pilate that he should be slain, Matthew 27:22. The Jews did condemn him, but they could not put him to death, the Romans, under whom they were subject, having reserved the power of life and death wholly unto themselves; and therefore they desired Pilate to confirm their sentence, and to cause it to be executed.

And when they had fulfilled all that was written of him, they took him down from the tree, and laid him in a sepulchre.
All that was written of him; as the giving him vinegar to drink, piercing his side, &c, Psalm 69:21 John 19:28-30.

From the tree: see Acts 5:30.

They laid him in a sepulchre; Joseph of Arimathea, and Nicodemus, Matthew 27:60 John 19:39.

But God raised him from the dead:
Lest they should be offended at our Saviour’s dying so shameful and cursed a death, and to take away the scandal of the cross, he shows, that his resurrection was as glorious as his death could be ignominious, being by it declared to be the Son of God with power, Romans 1:4.

And he was seen many days of them which came up with him from Galilee to Jerusalem, who are his witnesses unto the people.
Seen many days; forty days between his resurrection and ascension, Acts 1:3. Christ was seen, not only by the apostles, but of the Galilean women which came up with him unto Jerusalem, Matthew 28:1, and by above five hundred at once, 1 Corinthians 15:6; so plentifully would God have this great article of our faith and object of our hope to be confirmed unto us.

And we declare unto you glad tidings, how that the promise which was made unto the fathers,
Glad tidings; or the gospel, which is nothing else but the glad tidings of our salvation from sin and hell.

The promise which was made unto the fathers; this promise was frequently made and renewed to their ancestors, and typified by many deliverances, especially from Egypt and Babylon.

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.
Raised up Jesus again; some refer these words to the incarnation, others to the resurrection, of our Saviour: our translators lay the stress upon the preposition, with which the verb is compounded, and by adding again, intend it to be understood of the resurrection; and there is ground for it in the context; for the resurrection of Christ is that which in Acts 13:30 is propounded by St. Paul as his theme or argument to preach upon.

Thou art my Son; these words quoted, though they do not seem to be a proof of Christ’s resurrection at the first view, yet if we weigh them well, they answer St. Paul’s purpose:

Thou art my Son, Psalm 2:7, is ushered in with, I have made thee king, Acts 13:6, and followed with, I will give thee the heathen for thine inheritance; which was in an especial manner to be fulfilled after the resurrection, as our Saviour manifests, Matthew 28:18,19.

This day have I begotten thee; not as if Christ at his resurrection began to be the Son of God; but then he was manifested to be so, Romans 1:4; which before, whilst he was in a suffering condition was not so apparent. Some of the ancients have understood these words, of the eternal generation of the Son of God; eternity being an everlasting point, and one and the same day for ever.

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.
The former verse was not intended so much by St. Paul for a proof of the resurrection, as it was to show how faithful God was in fulfilling that promise there spoken of; here the apostle’s design is, to evince Christ’s resurrection, and that it was agreeable to the prophesies which were concerning him.

I will give you the sure mercies of David; these words are found, Isaiah 60:3, and

the sure mercies of David there and here spaken of, are such mercies as were promised to David (David being to be taken positively). Now the mercies which were promised to David are all included or surmounted in this, that by this Son of David (our Lord and Saviour, frequently and truly so called) God would erect and establish an everlasting kingdom; which could not be done, unless Christ rose again, and obtained the victory over death and the grave. All the promises God hath made unto his church in any age concerning Christ, are sure and faithful, holy and just; the words have been variously rendered and changed; but no words can sufficiently express their stability and excellency.

Wherefore he saith also in another psalm, Thou shalt not suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.
These words are quoted out of Psalm 16:10,11: see Acts 2:27.

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:
Some point these words otherwise, reading them thus;

David, after he had served his generation, by the will of God fell asleep: which contains indeed a truth, viz. that God hath appointed every one’s time in the world, and that the issue of life and death are his; but thus they would prove little to David’s praise, for who dies otherwise but according to the determinate counsel of God? But this is remembered to David’s glory, that, according to the will of God, he was a public good, and he lived and governed by the rule and square of God’s word; notwithstanding which he fell asleep, and saw death, but such as did not deserve so terrible a name.

Laid unto his fathers; buried amongst his ancestors;

and saw corruption; and his body corrupted as theirs. Now this verse explains the former, and draws the argument home, in that it proves, that the words before mentioned could not be meant of David, but of one that he typified and represented.

But he, whom God raised again, saw no corruption.
God raised again; that is, on the third day, according to the gospel.

Saw no corruption; was not under the power of death so long as to be preyed upon so far by it.

Be it known unto you therefore, men and brethren, that through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins:
Men and brethren; the usual compellation given in these cases.

This man; having spoken concerning Christ’s resurrection, which only can be meant of him in his human nature, here, according unto that nature, the apostle calls him man.

The forgiveness of sins; as in Acts 10:43. This forgiveness of sins is that which the apostle so much would recommend to all to seek after, and magnify Christ for, it heing only through him; and he could not be overcome by death, who could deliver us from sin.

And by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses.
Are justified; it is a forensic word, opposed to condemned; all that believe in Christ with the heart, by his merit and mediation shall be absolved, and shall not come into condemnation: and thus this agrees with the former words, and shows us whence remission of sins is to be had. If any will take this word as signifying also to be purged from sin; yet it is evident, that the law can bring neither of these benefits unto us. The law declares what is sin, and what the curse is that is due unto sin, but not how to be delivered from them; it shows the spot, but not how to wash it off; and the sore, but not how to heal it; but, on the other side, we are bidden to glory in the Lord, ( Jesus), who of God is made unto us wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption, 1 Corinthians 1:30,31.

From all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses; to which may be added, that there were some sins which by the ceremonial law there was no sacrifice appointed for; and for such sins which a sacrifice was appointed for, it was not possible that the blood of bulls and goats should take them away, Hebrews 10:4; which may make us more to admire the grace of the gospel, by which we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all, Hebrews 10:10.

Beware therefore, lest that come upon you, which is spoken of in the prophets;
Habakkuk 1:5. He cautions these Jews, lest the same thing threatened by the prophet to their fathers come also upon them; for sin is as odious unto God as ever, and God is as jealous of his honour, which sin robs him of, as ever he was.

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.
These words are cited from that place in Habakkuk, according to the reading of the Septuagint, St. Paul not being willing to alter the words, the Jews that were dispersed being so, used to that translation, especially the sense being the same with the original Hebrew. This quotation of the apostle might also be taken from Isaiah 28:14,16.

Ye despisers; for which cause, in that place of Habakkuk they are commanded to consider the heathen, and are sent to school unto them they contemned so much, who had had God for their teacher, had they not despised his word.

And wonder; grow pale for shame and fear.

And perish; ye shall be destroyed by the Romans your enemies, as your ancestors were by their enemies.

A work in your days; this work was a work of God’s just revenge on them then, by the Chaldeans; but threatened to come on these (without repentance) by the Romans.

Which ye shall in no wise believe, though a man declare it unto you; which destruction should be so great, that it was incredible to them now, though it should have been told them.

And when the Jews were gone out of the synagogue, the Gentiles besought that these words might be preached to them the next sabbath.
When the Jews were gone out of the synagogue; or, as some read, the apostles, Paul and Barnabas, were gone out of the synagogue of the Jews.

The Gentiles; proselytes, or such devout persons formerly spoken of, who had relinquished paganism, and came to be instructed in the knowledge of the true God by the Jews.

The next sabbath; or in some day betwixt the sabbaths: the apostles took all advantages, if there were a festival, which was also called a sabbath, Leviticus 16:31, and in Leviticus 23:1-44, frequently; they would preach in season and out of season: howsoever, because we find the apostles did meet again with them on that day seven-night after, it is most probable that their desire was so to be understood. See Acts 13:44.

Now when the congregation was broken up, many of the Jews and religious proselytes followed Paul and Barnabas: who, speaking to them, persuaded them to continue in the grace of God.
The congregation was broken up; the congregation was dissolved, by the offence the Jews generally had taken at the doctrine of the apostles.

Religious proselytes; these proselytes were so called, from their coming over from paganism to own the true God: see Acts 2:10.

In the grace of God; this grace of God the apostles so earnestly exhorted them to continue in, was,

1. Their present state of being firmly resolved to serve God, whatsoever opposition or temptation they should meet with to the contrary, which was wrought in them by the grace of God.

2. The doctrine of justification by the grace of God, which St. Paul had preached unto them, Acts 13:39. Or:

3. The whole gospel, and doctrine therein contained, which is called the grace of God, Hebrews 12:15, and the true grace wherein we stand, 1 Peter 5:12.

And the next sabbath day came almost the whole city together to hear the word of God.
The citizens generally resorted thither.

To hear the word of God; some out of curiosity, some to cavil at it, though some also out of love to it; here was doubtless a mixed congregation.

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.
The Jews could not endure that the Gentiles should be equalled to them, being as much concerned against the Gentiles being exalted, as against their own being depressed.

Envy, as a vicious humour, made them disrelish the wholesomest and most saving truths.

Contradicting and blaspheming; contradicting the doctrine of the gospel, and blaspheming the preaching of it; or going from one degree of opposition unto another, until they came to the highest enmity against both.

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 judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles.
Waxed bold; being nothing aftrighted with the reproaches and blasphemies they met with, which but increased their zeal, as a little water does the fire in the smith’s forge.

It was necessary; there was a necessity that the Word of God should be first preached to the Jews:

1. Because Christ was promised to the children and heirs of their ancestors.

2. Because Christ did command it to be thus preached, Matthew 10:5,6 Lu 24:47 Acts 1:8.

3. Christ himself thus preached it, declaring that he was not sent (comparatively)

but to the lost sheep of the house of lsrael, Matthew 15:24.

And judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life; by this their contradicting and blaspheming, they show as evidently that they are thus unworthy of everlasting life, as if a judge had determined so, or passed such a sentence upon his tribunal, or judgment seat.

For so hath the Lord commanded us, saying, I have set thee to be a light of the Gentiles, that thou shouldest be for salvation unto the ends of the earth.
Because that prophecy must be fulfilled which we find, Isaiah 49:6, the apostle infers aright, that they were commanded to publish Christ unto the Gentiles; for how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? Romans 10:14.

I have set thee to be a light; all knowledge is ignorance, and all light is darkness, without Christ.

And when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad, and glorified the word of the Lord: and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed.
When the Gentiles heard this they were glad; there can be no true rest or peace in any to whom Christ is not manifested; the apostle telling us, that we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, Romans 5:1; and the kingdom of God is peace and joy in the Holy Ghost.

Glorified the word of the Lord; they magnified the goodness of God, which appeared in the gospel unto them.

As many as were ordained to eternal life, believed; God, who ordered the end, ordereth the means, and gives them opportunities to hear the word, and by it graciously worketh faith in them whom he hath appointed to eternal life; without which faith, purging the heart, there is no hope of life eternal.

And the word of the Lord was published throughout all the region.
The word of the Lord, concerning salvation to be found only by Christ, and the Gentiles to be admitted to partake of that salvation.

Was published throughout all the region; like leaven, which a woman took, and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened, Matthew 13:33.

But the Jews stirred up the 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.
The devout; sebomenoi, as was said of the men, such as had relinquished the idolatry of their country and ancestors, and acknowledged the true God, the Maker of heaven and earth.

Honourable women; of great repute and esteem; women being accounted more earnest in what way soever they take; and to be sure Eve was first seduced, and in the transgression.

The chief men of the city; in some cities there were but five, in some ten, in others twenty, in whose hands the government of the city was ordinarily put; and these the persecutors (knowing what an influence their authority must needs have) by all means labour to seduce.

But they shook off the dust of their feet against them, and came unto Iconium.
This was according to our Saviour’s command, Matthew 10:14 Mark 6:11 Luke 9:5, so often is it mentioned, and so considerable a matter it is for us to know, and dread the punishment appointed for such as refuse the gospel, and contemn the salvation offered by it. What this was symbolical of is not expressed. The Hebrew proverb says, The dust of an ethnic city or country doth pollute a man; and they might by this represent, that the inhabitants of such a city or place, who did not entertain the gospel, and the ministers thereof, they would repute as the vilest sinners, and they should by God be dealt with accordingly.

Iconium: see Acts 14:1.

And the disciples were filled with joy, and with the Holy Ghost.
The disciples; either Paul and Barnabas in a more especial manner, or, also such as at Perga had believed the gospel, and came with them to Antioch,

were filled with joy, so as no place was left for meaner contentments:

1. By reason of the pardon of their sins.

2. The promise made to them of everlasting life.

3. The gifts of the Holy Ghost which they had, at that time, as an earnest and pledge to assure the other unto them.

Matthew Poole's Commentary

Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.

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