In this chapter we read how the gospel spread as it was intentionally spread outside the land of Israel. Through prophets (vv. 1-2) the Holy Spirit selected and sent Saul and Barnabas out to do his work. First, they preached God’s message throughout the island of Cyprus (vv. 4-12). They then sailed northward (modern day Turkey), traveled inland, and preached the gospel in a synagogue in Antioch in Pisidia (vv. 13-41). Many responded with repentance and faith, and many rejected the message about Jesus (vv. 42-52).
Paul’s message in the synagogue is an example of how he taught and told Jews that Jesus was their promised Messiah. Though Jesus was Israel’s promised Son of David and Savior (23-25), Israel rejected and crucified him (27-29) but God raised him from the dead (30-37). These Jews’ only hope of having their sins forgiven and being accepted by God as righteous (“justified”) was if they believed this message about Jesus (vv. 38-41).
Sadly many Jews disbelieved, but many Gentiles believed. Those who didn’t believe faced eternal judgment (v. 46), but those whom God “appointed to eternal life believed” (v. 48).
Truths to Nail Down and Meditate On
- God called those to serve him who were already serving him (vv. 1-2). They had different backgrounds and gifts but they labored together for Christ. They didn’t sit and wait for opportunities, they served the Lord where they were at. Are you serving the Lord by spreading the gospel where you’re at with what the Lord has entrusted to you?
- Believers know their sins are forgiven (vv. 12, 39, 48). Contrary to many false gospels (such as that taught by Roman Catholicism), true believers know they have eternal life and that their sins are forgiven, because they are resting and relying entirely on Jesus, not their own good works. Do you know that your sins have been forgiven? How?
- Salvation is credited to God, damnation to sinners (vv. 46, 48). Election is to salvation, not damnation. Sinners are damned because of their sin and unbelief; that is the basis—and the only reason for—their damnation. When election is rightly understood it never discourages evangelism; in fact, it gives real hope in evangelism because God will save his elect through the preaching of the gospel. Preach it to everyone!