Acts 13

* The mission of Paul and Barnabas. (1-3) Elymas the sorcerer.

(4-13) Paul's discourse at Antioch. (14-41) He preaches to the

Gentiles, and is persecuted by the Jews. (42-52)

1-3 What an assemblage was here! In these names we see that the

Lord raises up instruments for his work, from various places and

stations in life; and zeal for his glory induces men to give up

flattering connexions and prospects to promote his cause. It is

by the Spirit of Christ that his ministers are made both able

and willing for his service, and taken from other cares that

would hinder in it. Christ's ministers are to be employed in

Christ's work, and, under the Spirit's guidance, to act for the

glory of God the Father. They are separated to take pains, and

not to take state. A blessing upon Barnabas and Saul in their

present undertaking was sought for, and that they might be

filled with the Holy Ghost in their work. Whatever means are

used, or rules observed, the Holy Ghost alone can fit ministers

for their important work, and call them to it.
4-13 Satan is in a special manner busy with great men and men

in power, to keep them from being religious, for their example

will influence many. Saul is here for the first time called

Paul, and never after Saul. Saul was his name as he was a

Hebrew; Paul was his name as he was a citizen of Rome. Under the

direct influence of the Holy Ghost, he gave Elymas his true

character, but not in passion. A fulness of deceit and mischief

together, make a man indeed a child of the devil. And those who

are enemies to the doctrine of Jesus, are enemies to all

righteousness; for in it all righteousness is fulfilled. The

ways of the Lord Jesus are the only right ways to heaven and

happiness. There are many who not only wander from these ways

themselves, but set others against these ways. They commonly are

so hardened, that they will not cease to do evil. The proconsul

was astonished at the force of the doctrine upon his own heart

and conscience, and at the power of God by which it was

confirmed. The doctrine of Christ astonishes; and the more we

know of it, the more reason we shall see to wonder at it. Those

who put their hand to the plough and look back, are not fit for

the kingdom of God. Those who are not prepared to face

opposition, and to endure hardship, are not fitted for the work

of the ministry.
14-31 When we come together to worship God, we must do it, not

only by prayer and praise, but by the reading and hearing of the

word of God. The bare reading of the Scriptures in public

assemblies is not enough; they should be expounded, and the

people exhorted out of them. This is helping people in doing

that which is necessary to make the word profitable, to apply it

to themselves. Every thing is touched upon in this sermon, which

might best prevail with Jews to receive and embrace Christ as

the promised Messiah. And every view, however short or faint, of

the Lord's dealings with his church, reminds us of his mercy and

long-suffering, and of man's ingratitude and perverseness. Paul

passes from David to the Son of David, and shows that this Jesus

is his promised Seed; a Saviour to do that for them, which the

judges of old could not do, to save them from their sins, their

worst enemies. When the apostles preached Christ as the Saviour,

they were so far from concealing his death, that they always

preached Christ crucified. Our complete separation from sin, is

represented by our being buried with Christ. But he rose again

from the dead, and saw no corruption: this was the great truth

to be preached.
32-37 The resurrection of Christ was the great proof of his

being the Son of God. It was not possible he should be held by

death, because he was the Son of God, and therefore had life in

himself, which he could not lay down but with a design to take

it again. The sure mercies of David are that everlasting life,

of which the resurrection was a sure pledge; and the blessings

of redemption in Christ are a certain earnest, even in this

world. David was a great blessing to the age wherein he lived.

We were not born for ourselves, but there are those living

around us, to whom we must study to be serviceable. Yet here is

the difference; Christ was to serve all generations. May we look

to Him who is declared to be the Son of God by his resurrection

from the dead, that by faith in him we may walk with God, and

serve our generation according to his will; and when death

comes, may we fall asleep in him, with a joyful hope of a

blessed resurrection.
38-41 Let all that hear the gospel of Christ, know these two

things: 1. That through this Man, who died and rose again, is

preached unto you the forgiveness of sins. Your sins, though

many and great, may be forgiven, and they may be so without any

injury to God's honour. 2. It is by Christ only that those who

believe in him, and none else, are justified from all things;

from all the guilt and stain of sin, from which they could not

be justified by the law of Moses. The great concern of convinced

sinners is, to be justified, to be acquitted from all their

guilt, and accepted as righteous in God's sight, for if any is

left charged upon the sinner, he is undone. By Jesus Christ we

obtain a complete justification; for by him a complete atonement

was made for sin. We are justified, not only by him as our Judge

but by him as the Lord our Righteousness. What the law could not

do for us, in that it was weak, the gospel of Christ does. This

is the most needful blessing, bringing in every other. The

threatenings are warnings; what we are told will come upon

impenitent sinners, is designed to awaken us to beware lest it

come upon us. It ruins many, that they despise religion. Those

that will not wonder and be saved, shall wonder and perish.
42-52 The Jews opposed the doctrine the apostles preached; and

when they could find no objection, they blasphemed Christ and

his gospel. Commonly those who begin with contradicting, end

with blaspheming. But when adversaries of Christ's cause are

daring, its advocates should be the bolder. And while many judge

themselves unworthy of eternal life, others, who appear less

likely, desire to hear more of the glad tidings of salvation.

This is according to what was foretold in the Old Testament.

What light, what power, what a treasure does this gospel bring

with it! How excellent are its truths, its precepts, its

promises! Those came to Christ whom the Father drew, and to whom

the Spirit made the gospel call effectual, #Ro 8:30|. As many as

were disposed to eternal life, as many as had concern about

their eternal state, and aimed to make sure of eternal life,

believed in Christ, in whom God has treasured up that life, and

who is the only Way to it; and it was the grace of God that

wrought it in them. It is good to see honourable women devout;

the less they have to do in the world, the more they should do

for their own souls, and the souls of others: but it is sad,

when, under colour of devotion to God, they try to show hatred

to Christ. And the more we relish the comforts and

encouragements we meet with in the power of godliness, and the

fuller our hearts are of them, the better prepared we are to

face difficulties in the profession of godliness.
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