Monday, 23 January 2023
Now when the congregation had broken up, many of the Jews and devout proselytes followed Paul and Barnabas, who, speaking to them, persuaded them to continue in the grace of God. Acts 13:43
The previous verse showed that Paul had finished his discourse with those in the synagogue and that when the synagogue was ending, he was surrounded by those who wanted to hear more. That continues, beginning with the words, “Now when the congregation had broken up.”
The words should read as the Greek, “Now when the synagogue had broken up.” What was probably the case here is the same as happens in churches around the world. There is a time when people talk on the way out the doors. They may ask whoever spoke to give them a little more insight into what they had heard. They may want to set up a meeting during the week to get to know someone else better, or whatever. That is what happened in the previous verse. Now, even after the synagogue was entirely dismissed, it says that “many of the Jews and devout proselytes followed Paul and Barnabas.”
The word “devout” is incorrect. It is not an adjective, but a present participle verb – “many of the Jews and worshipping proselytes.” Paul and Barnabas were no longer at the synagogue but were probably on their way to get something to eat or maybe turn in at their place of lodging, and yet, they were being thronged by those who attended the synagogue. What had been heard made such an impact on them, positively or otherwise, that they could not let the matter rest without discussing it further. In their response to the crowd, it next says, “who, speaking to them.”
In other words, this is referring to Paul and Barnabas. They have preached the message of God’s grace to the people. They have noted the insufficiency of the Law of Moses to justify anyone (Acts 13:39), and they have given the warning of what will happen if this message of grace is ignored. Hence, their main admonition to this curious group is to continue in that grace. Luke confirms this, saying that Paul and Barnabas “persuaded them to continue in the grace of God.”
In essence, “Grace has been proclaimed to you. It is the saving grace of God in Christ reconciling the world to Himself apart from deeds of the law. Now, you are expected to believe that simple message and to continue in it henceforth.”
As this is what they implored the people, we too should remember what that message was –
Jesus died for the sins of the people (Acts 13:28, 29 & 38)
Jesus was buried (Acts 13:29, etc.)
Jesus rose again (Acts 13:30, 34, & 37)
This is the gospel. This is the only gospel. It is a gospel that is directed to Jews and to Gentiles alike. No other gospel can restore man to God. Continue in the grace of that glorious message.
Life application: One point about Paul’s speech to those in Antioch helps settle a matter concerning the gospel he gives in 1 Corinthians 15. There, Paul uses the term “according to Scripture” to define certain things –
“For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures.”
It is obvious that the words “died for our sins” is qualified by “according to Scripture.” Paul is saying that Scripture itself testifies to the fact that Jesus would be crucified for the sins of His people. However, what do the words qualify in the second clause? Is it that He was buried and rose again or is it that He was buried and rose again the third day? In other words, is Paul simply supplementing the main thought “buried and rose again” with the words “the third day” or are the words “the third day” a part of what is necessary to be heard and believed?
The answer is surely the former. Paul is never recorded as having mentioned the third day in Acts 13 when he presented the gospel to those in Antioch of Pisidia. It is true that there are types and shadows of a third-day resurrection given in the Old Testament, such as in Genesis 22, but the words “the third day,” despite having significance to the narrative, are not a necessary inclusion of a gospel presentation. This is evident from what is said in Acts 13 and elsewhere.
Remember this simple gospel message and beware of anyone who would try to corrupt it in any way. Paul and Barnabas asked their hearers to continue in the grace of God. Please! Forever and always do likewise. Trust in Christ, rest in Christ, and be filled with the knowledge that you are saved by the precious blood of Jesus Christ. Nothing else will do. Continue in this always.
O God, how wonderful it is to hear the words of release! We have an infection in us, sin. It is debilitating, it is deadly, and it is terminal. And yet, You have provided the cure. It can no longer harm, it can no longer kill, and in our healing, we have been granted eternal life. And it is all by the work of Another! Jesus has done it all. Thank You, O God, for Jesus Christ our Lord through whom Your grace is bestowed upon Your people. Hallelujah and amen!