Through the Bible in One Year

Day 213

Acts 13:44-52

When we last left Paul and Barnabas they had just preached a great message that had seen a great deal of converts, both Jews and Gentiles alike, in the city of Pisidian Antioch.  And today we are going to continue on with Paul and Barnabas’s stay in Pisidian Antioch, because their original message so moved the people of that city that they asked them to stay for another week, which they did.  And that is where we will be picking up today with the events that took place on that second Sabbath that Paul and Barnabas were in Pisidian Antioch.

On the next Sabbath almost the whole city gathered to hear the word of the Lord. When the Jews saw the crowds, they were filled with jealousy. They began to contradict what Paul was saying and heaped abuse on him.

Then Paul and Barnabas answered them boldly: “We had to speak the word of God to you first. Since you reject it and do not consider yourselves worthy of eternal life, we now turn to the Gentiles. For this is what the Lord has commanded us:

“‘I have made you a light for the Gentiles,

that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.’”—13:44-47

Only when Paul and Barnabas had gathered nearly the whole town to hear the gospel did the Jews object.  Luke identifies the cause of their objection as being jealousy.  Paul accused the Jews of deeming themselves unworthy of eternal life.  Paul’s final word is a citation of Isaiah 49:6.  Believers were to be light to the Gentiles.  This is the very thing the missionary team would accomplish.

When the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and honored the word of the Lord; and all who were appointed for eternal life believed.

The word of the Lord spread through the whole region. But the Jewish leaders incited the God-fearing women of high standing and the leading men of the city. They stirred up persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and expelled them from their region. So they shook the dust off their feet as a warning to them and went to Iconium. And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.—13:48-52

A great number of the Gentiles who heard Paul’s message received Christ.  The phrase “eternal life” is used in verses 46 and 48, the only instances in the entire book of Acts.  The use in verse 48 must be understood as a confirmation of God’s sovereignty in salvation.  Luke sees no contradiction between human responsibility and divine sovereignty (more about that later).  The spreading of the “word” throughout the region was probably done through new converts.  This added to the Jewish angst.  The Jews stirred up women of high standing and the leading men of the region.  Shaking the dust of their feet was commanded Jesus and it was a symbolic act of divine rejection and judgement.

Now let’s go back to the phrase in verse 48, “appointed for eternal life” and deal with this idea of predestination once and for all.  Some of you will view verse 48 as teaching random predestination—the belief that God has already determined in advance who will go to heaven and who will go to hell and that nothing can be done to change your predetermined destination.  However, neither the context of this passage, nor the word translated “appointed” gives any hint of such an interpretation.  And here is why:

  • Verse 46 clearly points to human responsibility in accepting or rejecting eternal life with God.  For this reason, a better translation of the Greek word “tetagmenoi” (translated here in English as “appointed”) would be “were inclined, willing or prepared to accept.”  In this case, the phrase could read: “and all who were willing and ready to accept eternal life believed.”  This translation agrees completely with the statements of 1 Timothy 2:4, Titus 2:11 and 2 Peter 3:9.
  • In addition, according to Paul, no person is unconditionally chosen for eternal life (Romans 11:20-22).

And that is where we will pick up tomorrow as we see Paul and Barnabas move on to Iconium.

Tomorrow’s Bible Readings:

2 Chronicles 32:1-33:13, Romans 15:23-16:9, Psalm 25:16-22 and Proverbs 20:16-18

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