Many Bible teachers believe that this chapter marks a distinct break in the Book of Acts.
Paul has now come into a place prominence.
Antioch in Syria becomes the centre from which the Gospel radiates to the Gentiles. See John 4:21 “Not in Jerusalem.”
In Chapter 11 we learn that an assembly had been formed in Antioch. This assembly was fortunate in that it had several prophets and teachers. Verse 1.
A prophet was the mouthpiece of God.
A teacher was a man to whom the Holy Spirit had given the ability to expound the word of God.
Two of these men we have met before: Barnabas and Saul.
Symeon—(Niger = black) possibly came from an African Jewish community.
Lucius of Cyrene was probably one of the men of Cyrene who came to Antioch preaching the Gospel. Chapter 11:20
Manaen is reckoned to be the foster brother of Herod Antipas. He was very wicked. It is interesting to think of one who lived so close to evil and wickedness being one of the earliest converts to Christianity.
These men show that the early church was racially integrated.
Verse 2 “The assembly were gathered together to pray and fast.”
They spent time in prayer and intercession.
They fasted, that is, they denied legitimate claims of the body so as to give themselves more to prayer, etc.
It is not unreasonable to believe that they convened this meeting because of a deep burden for the evangelization of the world.
As they prayed, the Holy Spirit instructed them to separate Barnabas and Saul for a specific work. Their call
These instructions probably came through one of the prophets.
It is interesting to note that at this time Barnabas is mentioned first. During the missionary journey the order is changed and on returning to Antioch Paul is always first.
Verse 2 shows us two things:
1. The tremendous role of the Holy Spirit in the guidance of the early church.
2. The sensitiveness of the disciples to His leading.
Verse 3 After the Holy Spirit had revealed His will, the men continued to fast and pray.
Then the three (Symeon—Lucius—Manaen) laid their hands on Barnabas and Saul.
This signified their approval—blessing—fellowship with these two, in the work to which the Holy Spirit had called them.
It is worthy of note that these two men had already been in the work of the Lord for about eight years.
They were not novices in the service of Christ.
The elders were simply expressing this identification with them in a situation which was already evident.
The words “they sent them away” (verse 3) is an unfortunate translation.
It was not they who sent them away but the Holy Spirit.
The thought is “they let them go” or “set them free for the work.”
Verse 4 is the beginning of the first missionary journey of Paul.
The record of this journey extends to Chapter 15:35.
It is concerned chiefly with the evangelization of Asia Minor.
The second missionary journey carried the Gospel to Greece.
The third missionary journey included return visits to the churches of Asia Minor and Greece, but is chiefly concerned with the Province of Asia—Ephesus.
Paul’s missionary labors covered a period of about 15 years.
The missionaries first went to Seleucia, a seaport approximately 16 miles from Antioch.
They then sailed to the island of Cyprus.
Verse 5 They landed in Salamis and preached the Word in several synagogues.
From Salamis they worked their way across the island to Paphos, the capital. Verse 6
There they met Bar-jesus, a sorcerer, who was associated with the proconsul Sergius Paulus, he is described as a prudent man. He called for the missionaries to come and instruct him in the Word of God. Verse 7
Verse 8 They were immediately opposed by Bar-jesus.
Verses 9-12 Then Saul who is called Paul (note the change of name) was “filled with the Holy Spirit.”
Verse 10 Paul revealed the character of the sorcerer.
Full of guile and mischief.
He labeled him as a son of the devil.
As an enemy of all that is good.
As one who worked ceaselessly to distort the truth of God.
Verse 11 Paul used his apostolic power and smote Bar-jesus with blindness (temporary). Chapters 4 and 5. Signs—wonders. Aeneas—Dorcas. Chapter 9.
In this condition he is a picture of the nation of Israel.
God has blinded their eyes—but eventually a repentant remnant of the nation will have the blindness removed and they will turn to Jesus and acknowledge Him as Messiah. Romans 11:25
Verse 12 The proconsul was impressed by this miracle, he also had been impressed by the teaching of the Word. The result of the two things was that he became a true believer. (Apply here)
Verse 13 Paul has now taken the place of prominence “Paul and his company.”
They left Paphos and sailed to Perga.
At this point John Mark left them. Maybe he did not relish taking the Gospel to the Gentiles. See Verse 5.
His defection was grievous to Paul, so much so, that he refused to allow him to accompany him on the second journey.
This caused a sharp cleavage between Paul and Barnabas, resulting in them taking separate paths of service. Mark was restored—wrote Mark’s Gospel.
Verse 14 They eventually reached Antioch in Pisidia (100 miles north).
On the Sabbath day they went to the synagogue.
Verse 15 They were asked if they had a message for the people.
Verse 16 “Then Paul stood up.”
His message is contained in Verses 16-41.
The response to the message in Verses 42-43.
Verse 14 Paul and Barnabas came to Antioch, the first thing they did was to visit the synagogue.
Verse 15 After the lesson the rulers of the synagogue, possibly recognizing them as Jesus, asked them if they had a message for the people.
Verse 16 Paul who seized every opportunity to speak for Christ, stood up and said, “Men of Israel, and you that fear God, listen.”
Thus is introduced to Paul’s message.
1. His general plan was to lay a foundation of Jewish history.
2. Then to bring his heaven up to the events connected with the life and ministry of Christ.
3. Then to proclaim the resurrection.
4. Announce the remission of sins through the Savior.
5. Warn of the peril of rejecting Him.
Let us look into a few of the highlights.
1. The exodus from Egypt—the wilderness journey—the occupation of the land. Verses 17-19
2. The days of the judges—prophets Samuel.
The first and second kings Saul—David. Verses 20-22
3. John the Baptist’s ministry. Verses 24-25
4. The death—burial—resurrection of Christ.
His body saw no corruption.
The days of manifestation. Verses 28-37
5. On the basis of Chris’s work with special emphasis on the resurrection, Paul preaches the remission of sins—the doctrine of justification. Verses 38-39
6. Note the solemn warning for Christ rejections. Verses 40-41
7. The response to the message.
They asked for more teaching.
Many believed—many followed. Verses 42-43
Verse 44 One week later.
The whole city came to hear the evangelists expand the Word of God.
Verse 45 The Jews were very upset—they spoke against the message and in the process blasphemed God.
Verse 46 Since the rejection of the message and Christ was so complete and final—they turned to the Gentiles.
This was a tragedy for the Jews.
A great blessing for the Gentiles.
Verse 48 The Gentiles glorified the Word of God and many believed.
Verse 49 The Word spread throughout the area.
Verse 50 The Jews did all in their power to stop the message; they expelled them from the area.
Verses 51-52 The disciples did what the Lord commanded them to do with Christ rejections.
They were filled with the Holy Spirit and with joy.
This morning I want to divide my message into two parts
1. The blessing of receiving Christ as Savior
2. The tragedy of refusing Him.
Verses 38-39 are the heart of the Gospel message.
The world is full of failure and sin.
Amidst this failure and sin, the Grace of God shines forth.
Let me describe to you the world as God sees it.
“There is none righteous no not one.”
“They are all gone out of the way.”
“There is none that doeth good, no not one.”
“For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.”
The statement “Grace of God” stands like a lighthouse on a dangerous shore, flashing continually.
“The forgiveness of sins.”
“Justified from all things.”
Forgiveness of sins was not really a new message for the Israelites.
Describe the sinner coming with his lamb.
Hebrews 9:22 Without the shedding of blood—no remission—forgiveness.
This principle of forgiveness by blood was introduced at the very beginning.
1. God clothed our first parents in the garden with skins
2. God approved of Abel’s sacrifice rather than Cain’s.
The Jews were still practicing this O.T. form, although God had forsaken His house years before.
“Your house is left unto you desolate.”
The message, which Peter and Paul in particular brought to them, was entirely new.
The principle was the same—the shedding of blood.
But the sacrifice was human instead of animal.
Paul says, “through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins.”
Salvation for them was in the blood of Jesus of Nazareth.
They had crucified Him as an imposter but Paul shows from the history of the nation that this was God’s will and way of salvation.
In the preceding verses Paul lays great weight on the resurrection.
He says that this was God’s approval on the sacrifice of Christ, but he says more. Through the death and the resurrection of Christ, we are not only forgiven of our sins but we are also justified.
While a Jew could understand forgiveness under the law, he could not be justified. Verse 39
Romans 4:25 “Who was delivered for our offenses, and raised again for our justification.”
A Jews sins were covered over or hidden from sight.
A believer’s sins are obliterated—forever taken away through the blood of the Lord Jesus.
Do you know anything of this forgiveness of sins through the death and this justification through the resurrection? Quote Verse 38
Psalm 82:1-2 The Blessing of accepting Christ
“Blessed is the man whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered (taken away). Blessed is the man unto whom the Lord imputeth not iniquity.” Romans 8:30 “Predestinate—called—justified—glorified.”
Joy of receiving Christ or Savior.
The tragedy of refusing Him. See Verse 46
The rich fool. Luke 12:16-21
He prepared for the fruits of his harvest—body—time.
He neglected his soul and eternity.
Examples of Reception and Rejection.
The themes on the Cross.
The Gospel is a savor of life unto life or death unto death.
Last Sunday we spoke to you of the blessing of accepting Christ as Savior.
This morning I would like to talk to you of the tragedy of refusing Him as Savior.
Quote Verse 46
This rejection was a cold, calculated action.
The nation decided to reject their Messiah, to absolutely refuse the good news concerning Him, and to reject everlasting life, as offered in Him.
Paul and Barnabas said, “lo we turn to the Gentiles.”
This was a tragic day in Israel’s history.
They turned their back on God, and God turned His back on them.
Actually this rejection had taken place prior to the Cross.
The nation’s final answer to the claims of Jesus Christ was in the crucifixion.
God still was gracious, and after the resurrection presented Him again to the nation, through the apostle’s but they absolutely refused. Verse 46
The nation’s refusal of Him as Messiah almost broke His heart. Matthew 23:37-39
“O, Jerusalem, Jerusalem” etc.
Behold your house is left unto you desolate.
For I say unto you, you shall not see me again, till you shall say, “Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord.”
Describe briefly God’s disapproval of the nations action. The destruction of Jerusalem.
“God has given them the spirit of slumber, eyes that should not see and ears that do not hear.” Isaiah 29:10
Psalm 69 “Let their eyes be darkened that they may not see, and I will make their backs to bend under their burdens always.”
God has not cast off His people forever.
“Blindness in part has happened to Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles be come in” Romans 11:25.
There is a glorious future for the believing Jews.
After suffering terribly at the hands of the Antichrist, Christ will appear to help them. They will receive Him as Messiah and Lord.
In the Millennial Kingdom they will experience the blessings of heaven upon them.
Let us go into the O.T. for another example of the tragedy of rejecting God.
Before going into the details of the chapters let me give you the background.
Belshazzar, king of the Chaldeans, was the grandson of Nebuchadnezzar.
In Chapter 4 of Daniel, Nebuchadnezzar turned his back upon God and God punished him.
He was banished from his throne and lived in the fields like a wild beast for seven years, until he repented and acknowledged God as God.
Belshazzar, his grandson, knew of this but disregarded the lesson. Chapter 5 describes his sin of rejection.
1. Describe the feast.
2. The desecration of the holy vessels.
3. The handwriting on the wall.
Mene means to number. It was repeated for emphasis. God has numbered the day of the Babylonian kingdom.
Tekel (to weigh) means that the kingdom has been morally evaluated by God, and found lacking.
Peres means to divide and is a prediction that the kingdom is to be divided and given to the Persians.
Verse 30 “That night was Belshazzar king of the Chaldean’s slain.”
“It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.”
Describe as time permits “The rich famous attitude” Luke 12.
To think the Master was here and I refused him the key.
The rich young ruler refused Christ.
Daniel 5 Belshazzar rejected God.
He was weighed in God’s scales and found wanting.
Verse 30 “During that night was Belshazzar slain.”
Each of these men took tomorrow into their own hands.
Boast not thyself of tomorrow, etc. Proverbs 27:1.
Life at best is very brief,
Like the falling of a leaf,
Like the binding of a sheaf
Be in time
Fleeting days are telling fast
That the die will soon be cast
And the fatal line be passed
Be in time.
Fairest flowers soon decay
Youth and beauty pass away
Oh you have not long to stay
Be in time
While God’s Spirit bids you come
Sinner, do not longer roam
Lest you seal your hopeless doom
Be in time.
The harvest is passed, the summer is ended and I’m not saved. Jeremiah 8:20.