Im really disappointed that I can’t share all that I want to share from Acts 13. Really if I had my way I would only cover the first three verses, however, the Holy Spirit has a different plan.
When I was in college I had the opportunity to sit under some great teaching. It would be easy to say great teachers, but sometimes, the teaching is more powerful than the teacher.
Focus on the Family Institute
My wife Caley had the opportunity her Sophomore year of college to study for a semester at the Focus on the Family Institute in Colorado Springs, Colorado. During that time she was blessed to sit under some amazing teaching that would shape her life even to this day. I can remember the time she called and I had to slow her down because she was so excited to share the teaching of their chapel speaker for that day. Spending time with them not only in chapel but also in class, Ray Vanderlaan opened my wife’s eyes to a whole new world of teaching from God’s word. He gave her and her class a key to unlocking the contents, and connection, between the New and Old Testament. As I was reading Acts 13, this is exactly what God revealed to me was happening in the town of Antioch of Pisidia.
Antioch of Pisidia
Being recently commissioned by the Antioch church in Syria Paul and Barnabas head out on their first missionary journey.
Acts 13:14-15 (NLT) On the Sabbath they went to the synagogue for the services. 15 After the usual readings from the books of Moses and the prophets, those in charge of the service sent them this message: “Brothers, if you have any word of encouragement for the people, come and give it.”
16 So Paul stood, lifted his hand to quiet them, and started speaking. “Men of Israel,” he said, “and you God-fearing Gentiles, listen to me.
Not one to miss out on an opportunity to teach, Paul stood up and gave the people in the synagogue an incredible key to unlocking the mystery between prophecy and Jesus. Look at how he crafted his message:
- Acts 13:17-20 (Exodus to Promise Land)
- Acts 13:21-22 (Judges to King David)
- Acts 13:23 (Connection between David and Jesus)
- Acts 13:24-25 (John the Baptist, the forerunner)
- Acts 13:26-28 (Jesus is the hope of salvation)
- Acts 13:29-31 (The hope of the Resurrection)
Then Paul begins to unpack the scripture for the listeners and connects it to Jesus. Basically tell them, “you know this scripture; but let me tell you who it’s about. Oh, and by the way, Jesus is the fulfillment of all the things He said he do.”
- Acts 13:34 (Isaiah 55:3, based on the resurrection)
- Acts 13:35 (Psalm 16:10, based on the resurrection)
- Acts 13:38 (Good News!)
- Acts 13:41 (Habakuk 5:1, they missed it, you don’t have to)
Now this is where it gets interesting for me…
Acts 13:42-43 (NLT) 42 As Paul and Barnabas left the synagogue that day, the people begged them to speak about these things again the next week. 43 Many Jews and devout converts to Judaism followed Paul and Barnabas, and the two men urged them to continue to rely on the grace of God.
Same Sermon, Two Different Audiences
The people knew that what they just heard was a radical and inspired teaching. Paul was a devout Pharisee and had an incredible command of scripture. I can only imagine what it would have been like to hear/see first hand the connection between scripture and Jesus. It’s no wonder the people begged them to continue to teach; they were sitting under good teaching!
If you remember, like Paul, Stephen gave a similar account and sermon. The difference was not in the content but the audience. Stephen preached to a group of religious leaders with closed hearts. They ended up missing the message and killing the preacher. Paul preached to an eager group with open hearts and minds who showed a desire to want to learn more.
When your pastor is preaching on Sunday, who is preaching to? Do you go in with an open heart and mind, desiring to learn more. Or, is your heart closed and you’d rather just kill the preacher? Don’t forget what happened for Paul a week later.
Acts 13:44-45 (NLT) 44 The following week almost the entire city turned out to hear them preach the word of the Lord. 45 But when some of the Jews saw the crowds, they were jealous; so they slandered Paul and argued against whatever he said.