Script for the July 4th episode of the “Enjoying the Bible” podcast.

Introduction

Welcome to the July 4th episode of the “Enjoying the Bible” podcast. I’m Matt Ellis, and I’m the pastor of the First Baptist Church in Polk City, Florida.

Today’s reading is Job 28-29 and Acts 13, but we will focus only on the New Testament in this podcast.

If you have questions about anything in the Old Testament or New Testament reading assignment, please email me at mattellis1997@gmail.com. I may answer it on the next podcast.

Acts 13

As we get to Acts 13, we realize that Paul, not Peter, is now the central figure. Further, we realize that the Antioch church, not the Jerusalem church, is stepping up to play a key role in this story.

We’re told in verse 1 that there were prophets and teachers in the Antioch church. Barnabas and Saul were mentioned. They could speak on behalf of God (prophecy) and were delighted to unpack the truths of God’s Word for God’s people (teach).

In verse 2, we are told that they “were worshipping the Lord and fasting.” Fasting is sometimes associated with seeking God’s will, which is probably what was going on in this verse.

In some way that was clear to those in the church, the Holy Spirit said to set Barnabas and Saul apart for the work he had called them to. I suspect that Saul and Barnabas had a heart to get the message of the Gospel out, so this was God saying, “Get started.”

Verse 3 tells us that they fasted some more, prayed some more, and then laid their hands on Barnabas and Saul. This was merely a way of conferring the church’s affirmation upon those men to do the task God had called them to do. After this was done, Saul and Barnabas packed their bags and headed out on their trip.

Verses 4-5 tell us that they traveled about 16 miles to Seleucia. They hopped on a boat at that port city and headed for Cyprus, about 130 miles by boat. When they landed in Cyprus, they went to the synagogues and proclaimed the word of God. So, their initial strategy was to speak to the Jews first, then the Gentiles second.

We’re also told that John Mark, a cousin of Barnabas, went with them on this trip. This wouldn’t last long.

In verse 6, we’re told they blanketed the island. They traveled through the cities sharing the good news of the Gospel, and ended up in Paphos, the capital city of the island nation.

In verses 7-8, we learn that while in that city, they were invited to meet with the proconsul, Sergius Paulus. A proconsul was a Roman official who was over the civil and military affairs of a region. So, this was an opportunity to share the Gospel with a prominent influencer in that city. But a sorcerer opposed them and tried to keep the proconsul from becoming a follower of Jesus.

In verses 9-11, we observe that Saul is now going by his Greek name, Paul. He also started to take the lead as the one who spoke for the group. His anger at the sorcerer was obvious. Led by the Spirit, he pronounced that the sorcerer would not be able to see for a while. Clearly, this was a power encounter, and Paul was on the more powerful side.

Acts 13:12 (CSB): “Then, when he saw what happened, the proconsul believed, because he was astonished at the teaching of the Lord.”

In verse 13, we read that Paul and his companions left the island of Cyprus and went to the mainland of Pamphylia (present-day Turkey). But John Mark left them. Whatever the reason that John Mark left, Paul would refuse to take him on any missionary journey after that, and he was adamant about this. It may be that John Mark saw the conflict and how Paul’s assertive nature could make things dangerous quickly. John Mark may have gone back home where it was safer.

In verse 14, it says that they continued deeper into present-day Turkey and came to another Antioch. They went into the synagogue, the presence of which testified to the fact that there were Jews in that city. During the meeting, they were asked if they wanted to say anything after the Scripture had been read. This was not unusual for how worship services played out in a synagogue.

Beginning in verse 16, Paul stood up and got started with his message to his fellow Jews. Much like Stephen’s message in Acts 7, Paul took those Jewish men in the synagogue on a journey through Jewish history. Paul started his narrative with the Jews in Egyptian bondage. Then, he talked about the 40 years of wandering in the desert and then the conquering of Canaan. Then, he spoke about the judges, King Saul, and King David.

But Paul was never about just giving a history lesson. His life was all about Jesus. So each sermon he preached took a bee-line to the second person of the Godhead.

Acts 13:23 (CSB): “From this man’s descendants, as he promised, God brought to Israel the Savior, Jesus.”

Paul jumped from David to Jesus. He did so by pointing to his listener’s knowledge of the Davidic Covenant. Jesus was clearly the fulfillment of the promise that God made with King David.

Listen to an Old Testament passage where the prophet Nathan spoke to King David on God’s behalf.

1 Chronicles 17:11-14 (CSB): “When your time comes to be with your ancestors, I will raise up after you your descendant, who is one of your own sons, and I will establish his kingdom. He is the one who will build a house for me, and I will establish his throne forever. I will be his father, and he will be my son. I will not remove my faithful love from him as I removed it from the one who was before you. I will appoint him over my house and my kingdom forever, and his throne will be established forever.”

In verses 24-25, Paul spoke of John the Baptizer. The Jews in Paul’s audience knew of John the Baptizer’s ministry. He was greatly respected. Yet John had made it abundantly clear that he was only the front runner of the One who would come after him. Jesus was that One.

So, Paul continued to build his case for why Jesus was the Messiah, as foretold in the Old Testament.

In verses 26-29, Paul did not place the blame on the Jews in Pamphylia for Jesus’ death. He placed the blame on “the residents of Jerusalem and their rulers.” I suppose that one reason Paul did this was to keep from allowing a scenario where his audience would throw up a “wall” and refuse to listen to him any longer.

Yet, even as Paul said that the Jews in Jerusalem had been responsible for Jesus’ death, their actions had only worked to fulfill what God had prophesied would happen to Him. Jesus was killed and buried as the Old Testament had foretold.

Acts 13:30-31 (CSB): “But God raised him from the dead, and he appeared for many days to those who came up with him from Galilee to Jerusalem, who are now his witnesses to the people.”

Paul was clear that Jesus did not remain dead. He rose from the dead. And Paul knew that the resurrection of Jesus would have been hard for his listeners to swallow so he honed in on what the Old Testament said about it as he continued to speak in that synagogue.

In verses 32-33, Paul quoted Psalm 2:7. He saw in that verse a prophecy that ultimately pointed to Jesus. Jesus filled the subservient role as God’s Son, but the Lord took the role of Father as Jesus was fully prepared to take David’s throne. 

In verses 34-37, Paul quoted from Isaiah 55:3 and Psalm 16:10 to point out that those prophecies couldn’t have been fulfilled in David. King David died, was buried, and stayed dead. So those prophecies had to be fulfilled by someone whose body wouldn’t die, or someone who died but didn’t stay dead long enough to decay. That was clearly Jesus.

Then Paul got to the crux of the matter. The Gospel highlights that all who trust in Jesus can be forgiven and saved. And Paul could not have presented it any more clearly than he did.

Acts 13:38-39 (CSB): “Therefore, let it be known to you, brothers and sisters, that through this man forgiveness of sins is being proclaimed to you. Everyone who believes is justified through him from everything that you could not be justified from through the law of Moses.”

It is through Jesus that sinners can be forgiven. Everyone who trusts in Jesus is forgiven and declared righteous. But Paul also noted that the Mosaic law couldn’t forgive or declare someone righteous. It could only condemn the guilty. So that’s why the Old Testament naturally anticipated that Jesus would satisfy the demands of the law and then forgive and declare righteous anyone who would trust in Him for salvation.

Then, in verses 40-41, Paul gave a resolute warning. He quoted Habakkuk 1:5. He spoke of the scoffers who refused to believe what was so clearly understandable to them and encouraged his listeners not to make the same mistake. They understood that Jesus was the Messiah and that all who trusted in Him would be forgiven and declared righteous. Would they respond positively?

We read in verses 42-43 that those in attendance didn’t respond by believing in Jesus. They just asked that Paul would come back in a week to their next Sabbath service to speak some more. Whether or not they were sincere in their request, they remained unsaved until they actually responded to the Gospel that they had heard.

Acts 13:44-45 (CSB): “The following Sabbath almost the whole town assembled to hear the word of the Lord. But when the Jews saw the crowds, they were filled with jealousy and began to contradict what Paul was saying, insulting him.”

Paul and Barnabas came back the next Saturday. But things wouldn’t go as smoothly this time. On this second Sabbath, some Jews became jealous that Paul was getting such a large audience. Judaism could be undermined, and so this Christian movement needed to be stopped. So the Jews publicly contradicted Paul and insulted him. Those whose hearts might have been moved the previous Saturday were probably not moved this Saturday.

Paul and Barnabas expressed their frustration. In fact, they said they had determined to speak with the Jews first about the Gospel of Jesus but were now determined to focus more on the Gentiles. They weren’t going to keep casting their “pearls before the swine” who wouldn’t appreciate it and, instead, trample it underfoot. So Paul was going to the Gentiles. In fact, they believed that they were fulfilling Isaiah 49:6 when they determined to take the Gospel to the nations.

Acts 13:48-49 (CSB): “When the Gentiles heard this, they rejoiced and honored the word of the Lord, and all who had been appointed to eternal life believed. The word of the Lord spread through the whole region.”

The Gentiles were happy. But what about the Jews?

Acts 13:50 (CSB): “But the Jews incited the prominent God-fearing women and the leading men of the city. They stirred up persecution against Paul and Barnabas and expelled them from their district.”

The Jews incited powerful influencers in the city. Persecution started, which was directed at Paul and Barnabas, and it would end with them being expelled from the area.

In the final two verses of this chapter, we’re told that Paul and Barnabas “shook the dust off their feet against them.” This meant that they would not take so much as a grain of sand from the city. They were wiping any semblance of the city from their shoes as they moved on to greener pastures.

How did the disciples feel when they were so soundly rejected? Were they hurt? Upset? Angry? Vindictive?

Acts 13:52 (CSB): “And the disciples were filled with joy and the Holy Spirit.”

They were filled with the power of the Holy Spirit. They also knew that the people were rejecting Jesus, not them. So, they were excited about planting the Gospel seed in greener pastures. There was a whole world that needed to hear about Jesus so they weren’t going to let one or two communities throw water on their fire.

Prayer

Lord Jesus, as we read through the book of Acts, it is becoming clear that they lived in a very different world than we do. Particularly, they experienced persecution whereas we hardly suffer at all for living out our faith.

Help us, Lord, to be grateful for the religious freedoms that we enjoy. But also help us not to grow weak as we live in this freedom. Allow us the grace to continue growing strong in our resolve to serve You, to love You, to obey You, to submit to You, and so much more. There is plenty of religious apathy all around us but please enable us not to go to sleep in the light.

We pray this in Your name, Jesus, Amen.

Closing

I hope today’s episode has helped you to understand and enjoy God’s Word so that you can apply it in the power of the Holy Spirit.

If looking over the script for this podcast would be beneficial to you, hop on over to my website at mattsmusings.net. I will provide a link in this episode’s show notes.

The “Enjoying the Bible” podcast is a ministry of the First Baptist Church in Polk City, Florida. Check us out at fbcpolkcity.com. See you next time!