Acts 13:1 – 14:28
A. Missionary Authority
1. Called and sent by the Holy Spirit Act_13:2 Act_13:4
the call came to the leaders of the church
2. Confirmed and commissioned by the church Act_13:3
church and apostles are united in missions work
The point to which attention may be directed is that the living Lord, presiding in his Church, selects the persons to do his work, but requires the Church to make outward and formal recognition of his selection. Christ calls to work. The Church separates to work. Pulpit Commentary, R. Tuck
3. Seeking God’s direction Act_13:2
“worshiping the Lord and fasting” NIV
· expecting something to happen?
· business as usual until it did
“…it is not improbable that they had been led to expect some such prophetic announcement at this time.” JFB
· 5 elders: Barnabas, Simeon, Lucius, Manaen, Saul
There were prophets and teachers at Antioch. Nothing is said about its wealth in money, only about its wealth in men. A religious community may possess splendid buildings, wealthy members; may command amply all the external appliances of worship and work; but unless it has men, it has not strength. Pulpit Commentary, E. Johnson
“It is possible they were observing a season of prayer with reference to this very question, What were their duties in relation to the heathen.” Horatio Hackett, Commentary on Acts, 1858
“The whole Church, it is likely, was at this time taken up with special religious devotions, importuning heaven, it may be, for some fresh revelation of duty. The communication from the Spirit must be regarded as an answer to their supplications.” David Thomas, Acts of the Apostles
“The divine communication mentioned may have been previously made, and they may have come to Antioch for the very purpose of obtaining a dismission from the Church there; and it may have been in reference to this request that the prophets and teachers were engaged in special prayer and fasting for divine direction.” Thomas, ibid.
further prayer and fasting
· to confirm they heard the Spirit correctly
· perhaps to confirm the details of their call – to spread the Gospel through Asia Minor; we know that was the work which God had in mind for them – Act_14:26 refers to “the work which they had completed”.
B. Missionary Plan
1. Establish Act_13:4 – 14:20
·Strategy #1: Leverage Existing Assets – start in the synagogues (13:5; 13:14; 14:1)
·Start with the Jews and the God-fearers, then the Gentiles – 13:26, 13:46, 26:20; cf. Rom 1:16; 9.1-5
“…the gospel of salvation is essentially the same in both dispensations. However, in the divine economy it was revealed first of all to the Jews. During the old dispensation they were the highly privileged nation. See Ps. 147:19, 20; Amos 3:2. Naturally that “advantage” did not immediately cease when the new dispensation was ushered in (Rom. 3:1, 2; 9:4, 5). When Jesus for the first time charged his twelve disciples, he sent them only “to the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (Matt. 10:5, 6). And when Paul carried out his mission mandate, he and his companions, wherever possible, first of all brought the gospel to the Jews.” Hendriksen, New Testament Commentary, Rom. 1:16
Paul followed Jesus example, had a passion for his own people, recognized the theological value of beginning with Jews well-versed in the Scriptures.
His sermon focused on three main points:
1. The Jewish Scriptures contain a promise of a Messiah who would be:
a. descended from David Act_13:23
b. preceded by John the Baptist Act_13:24-25
2. The predicted Messiah had actually appeared – he had been:
a. crucified and buried according to the Scriptures Act_13:27-29
b. actually raised from the dead by God himself Act_13:30-37
3. The Messiah is their only hope for forgiveness Act_13:38-41
·Strategy #2: Focus on Population Centers – especially later ones not impacted by the Gospel (Rom_15:20-24)
The great Roman road from Ephesus to the Euphrates, which had been extended into the heart of the south Galatian plateau by Augustus’s engineers in 6 B.C. and named Via Sebaste in his honor (Sebastos is the Gr. equivalent of Augustus), became two roads at Pisidian Antioch. One went north through mountainous terrain to the Roman colony of Comana about 122 miles away. The other moved southeast across rolling country, past the snow-capped peaks of Sultan Dag, to terminate at the important Greek city of Iconium, some 80 miles distant from Antioch. A few years later this road was extended another 24 miles southwest to reach the Roman colony of Lystra. As Paul and Barnabas left Pisidian Antioch, therefore, they were faced with a choice as to the future direction of their mission. Choosing the southeastern route, they headed off to what would become a ministry to people of three very different types of cities in the southern portion of the Roman province of Galatia. Expositor’s Commentary on the NT
· Salamis ( Act_13:5 ) – large enough to have more than one synagogue, also temple of Zeus (Jupiter)
· Paphos ( Act_13:6 ) – administrative capital of the island, home to several temples, supposed birthplace of Aphrodite (Venus) and center of worship
· Pisidian Antioch ( Act_13:14 Act_14:21 ) – capital of Southern Galatia, strategic location, significant military center, Royal Road (Via Sebaste) to Lystra
· Iconium ( Act_14:1 Act_14:21 ) – major city in southern Galatia, like Antioch also a Roman colony (city-state, founded as a military outpost to secure a new conquest)
· Lystra ( Act_14:6 Act_14:21 ) – also a Roman colony, center of education and enlightenment (also Timothy’s home); temple to Zeus (Jupiter), statue of Hermes (Mercury) dedicated to Zeus
· Derbe ( Act_14:20 ) – smaller town approx. 60 miles from Lystra
· Perga ( Act_14:25 ) – capital of Pamphylia, important commercial city, known for its worship of Artemis, amphitheatre with 13,000 capacity
Don’t outrun the supply line!
Use local talent.
Establish 3-self churches: governing, financing, reproducing (extending)
Henry Venn (1796-1873), secretary of Church Missionary Society founded by father John Venn; grandfather Henry, leader of 18th century evangelical revival in England, founded the Clapham Sect with which Wilberforce was associated. Young Henry articulated indigenous missions principles, popularized by Lausanne Congress of 1974.
2. Exhort Act_14:21-22
strengthening the souls, exhorting them
to cause someone to become stronger in the sense of more firm and unchanging in attitude or belief Louw-Nida
to ask for (earnestly), to request, to plead for, to appeal to, earnest request, appeal. Louw-Nida
strengthening them in their beliefs and pleading for them to stay faithful to the apostles’ teaching, i.e., to persevere
warning them of difficulty ahead – answering the question “why must we suffer for our faith”. Paul of all people could answer that question from both sides!
3. Appoint Act_14:23
As a kingdom the church required organization: especially these Gentile communities which were now to be left independent of the synagogue and without the apostles. What would they do when the apostles were gone? This is the question that had presented itself at Jerusalem also; and Paul answers it in the same way. Luke once for all shows us Paul’s custom: it was to give his church a body of presbyters.
The word for appointment originally denoted election by show of hands; but the special meaning had long been lost. …ultimately in ecclesiastical Greek the word was appropriated to ‘ordination’ in the technical sense. Thus for the method here we have only analogy to go upon, but Luke has already given us three typical pictures of election and ordination in the cases of Matthias, the Seven, and Paul and Barnabas. Richard Rackham, Acts of the Apostles: An Exposition
Because of their strategy, elders were ready in a short space of time to fulfill leadership roles.
Three important facts should be observed regarding principles of church planting. First, Paul relatively quickly prepares these churches for independence. Second, he does not remain around long enough for them to become dependent on him, but pushes on. Third, Paul returns to his churches on all of his subsequent journeys to teach them further, but for the purpose of fostering their spiritual maturity, not to build or increase his personal following. Evangelical Commentary on the NT
4. Report Act_14:27
Since the church had sent out the missionaries, they needed to “close the circle”.
By implication, he is saying that the members of the church in Syrian Antioch were aware of the difficulties and perils Paul and Barnabas would have to encounter on their journey. The church had committed the missionaries to the grace of God, supported them in prayer, and trusted the Lord to extend his church through their work. In fact, the Lord had answered their prayers and the task given to the apostles had been fulfilled. Hendriksen
“they reported” – imperfect tense of the verb; it was probably not a 45-minute Power Point presentation covering the previous two years. NASB says, “they began to report”
“they had been commended to the grace of God”, “they reported all that God had done with them” – God in the company of the apostles
1. It’s the Lord who sends out the workers – see Mat_9:36-37
2. We must be “sendable”