Acts 13Manaen, who had been brought up with Herod - His foster brother, now freed from the temptations of a court. Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them - This was not ordaining them. St. Paul was ordained long before, and that not of men, neither by man: it was only inducting him to the province for which our Lord had appointed him from the beginning, and which was now revealed to the prophets and teachers. In consequence of this they fasted, prayed, and laid their hands on them, a rite which was used not in ordination only, but in blessing, and on many other occasions. Then having fasted - Again. Thus they did also, Acts 14:23. In the synagogues - Using all opportunities that offered. Paphos was on the western, Salamis on the eastern part of the island. The proconsul - The Roman governor of Cyprus, a prudent man - And therefore not overswayed by Elymas, but desirous to inquire farther. Then Saul, who was also called Paul - It is not improbable, that coming now among the Romans, they would naturally adapt his name to their own language, and so called him Paul instead of Saul. Perhaps the family of the proconsul might be the first who addressed to or spoke of him by this name. And from this time, being the apostle of the Gentiles, he himself used the name which was more familiar to them. O full of all guile - As a false prophet, and all mischief - As a magician. Thou son of the devil - A title well suited to a magician; and one who not only was himself unrighteous, but laboured to keep others from all goodness. Wilt thou not cease to pervert the right ways of the Lord? - Even now thou hast heard the truth of the Gospel. And immediately a mist - Or dimness within, and darkness without, fell upon him. Being astonished at the doctrine of the Lord - Confirmed by such a miracle. John withdrawing from them returned - Tired with the fatigue, or shrinking from danger. Antioch in Pisidia - Different from the Antioch mentioned Acts 13:1. And after the reading of the law and the prophets, the chief of the synagogue sent to them - The law was read over once every year, a portion of it every Sabbath: to which was added a lesson taken out of the prophets. After this was over, any one might speak to the people, on any subject he thought convenient. Yet it was a circumstance of decency which Paul and Barnabas would hardly omit, to acquaint the rulers with their desire of doing it: probably by some message before the service began. Ye that fear God - Whether proselytes or heathens. The God - By such a commemoration of God's favours to their fathers, at once their minds were conciliated to the speaker, they were convinced of their duty to God, and invited to believe his promise, and the accomplishment of it. The six verses, Acts 13:17 - 22, contain the whole sum of the Old Testament. Of this people - Paul here chiefly addresses himself to those whom he styles, Ye that fear God: he speaks of Israel first; and Acts 13:26, speaks more directly to the Israelites themselves. Chose - And this exalted the people; not any merit or goodness of their own, Ezek 20:5. Our fathers - Abraham and his posterity. Isaiah 1:2. Deut 1:31. Seven nations - Enumerated Deut 7:1; about four hundred and fifty years - That is, from the choice of the fathers to the dividing of the land; it was about four hundred and fifty years. He gave them Saul forty years - Including the time wherein Samuel judged Israel. Having removed him - Hence they might understand that the dispensations of God admit of various changes. I have found David, a man after my own heart - This expression is to be taken in a limited sense. David was such at that time, but not at all times. And he was so, in that respect, as he performed all God's will, in the particulars there mentioned: But he was not a man after God's own heart, in other respects, wherein he performed his own will. In the matter of Uriah, for instance, he was as far from being a man after God's own heart as Saul himself was. It is therefore a very gross, as well as dangerous mistake, to suppose this is the character of David in every part of his behaviour. We must beware of this, unless we would recommend adultery and murder as things after God's own heart. 1Sam 16:12,13. John having first preached - He mentions this, as a thing already known to them. And so doubtless it was. For it gave so loud an alarm to the whole Jewish nation, as could not but be heard of in foreign countries, at least as remote as Pisidia. His course - His work was quickly finished, and might therefore well be termed a course or race. Luke 3:16. For they that dwell at Jerusalem, and their rulers - He here anticipates a strong objection, "Why did not they at Jerusalem, and especially their rulers, believe?" They know not him, because they understood not those very prophets whom they read or heard continually. Their very condemning him, innocent as he was, proves that they understood not the prophecies concerning him. They fulfilled all things that were written of him - So far could they go, but no farther. He was seen many days by them who came up with him from Galilee to Jerusalem - This last journey both presupposes all the rest, and was the most important of all. Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee - It is true, he was the Son of God from eternity. The meaning therefore is, I have this day declared thee to be my Son. As St. Paul elsewhere, declared to be the Son of God with power, by the resurrection from the dead, Rom 1:4. And it is with peculiar propriety and beauty that God is said to have begotten him, on the day when he raised him from the dead, as he seemed then to be born out of the earth anew. Psalm 2:7. No more to return to corruption - That is, to die no more. I will give you the sure mercies of David - The blessings promised to David in Christ. These are sure, certain, firm, solid, to every true believer in him. And hence the resurrection of Christ necessarily follows; for without this, those blessings could not be given. Isaiah 55:3. He saith - David in the name of the Messiah. Psalm 16:10. David, having served the will of God in his generation, fell asleep - So his service extended not itself beyond the bounds of the common age of man: but the service of the Messiah to all generations, as his kingdom to all ages. Served the will of God - Why art thou here thou who art yet in the world? Is it not that thou also mayest serve the will of God? Art thou serving it now? Doing all his will? And was added to his fathers - Not only in body. This expression refers to the soul also, and supposes the immortality of it. Every one that believeth is justified from all things - Has the actual forgiveness of all his sins, at the very time of his believing; from which ye could not be justified - Not only ye cannot now; but ye never could. For it afforded no expiation for presumptuous sins. By the law of Moses - The whole Mosaic institution! The division of the law into moral and ceremonial was not so common among the Jews, as it is among us. Nor does the apostle here consider it at all: but Moses and Christ are opposed to each other. Beware - A weighty and seasonable admonition. No reproof is as yet added to it. I work a work which ye will in nowise believe - This was originally spoken to those, who would not believe that God would ever deliver them from the power of the Chaldeans. But it is applicable to any who will not believe the promises, or the works of God. Hab 1:5. When the Jews were going out - Probably many of them, not bearing to hear him, went out before he had done. The Sabbath between - So the Jews call to this day the Sabbath between the first day of the month Tisri (on which the civil year begins) and the tenth of the same month, which is the solemn day of expiation. Who speaking to them - More familiarly, persuaded them to continue - For trials were at hand, in the grace of God - That is, to adhere to the Gospel or Christian faith. Then Paul and Barnabas speaking boldly, said - Those who hinder others must be publicly reproved. It was necessary - Though ye are not worthy: he shows that he had not preached to them, from any confidence of their believing, but seeing ye judge yourselves unworthy of eternal life - They indeed judged none but themselves worthy of it. Yet their rejecting of the Gospel was the same as saying, "We are unworthy of eternal life." Behold! - A thing now present! An astonishing revolution! We turn to the Gentiles - Not that they left off preaching to the Jews in other places. But they now determined to lose no more time at Antioch on their ungrateful countrymen, but to employ themselves wholly in doing what they could for the conversion of the Gentiles there. For so hath the Lord commanded us - By sending us forth, and giving us an opportunity of fulfilling what he had foretold. I have set thee - The Father speaks to Christ. Isaiah 49:6. As many as were ordained to eternal life - St. Luke does not say fore - ordained. He is not speaking of what was done from eternity, but of what was then done, through the preaching of the Gospel. He is describing that ordination, and that only, which was at the very time of hearing it. During this sermon those believed, says the apostle, to whom God then gave power to believe. It is as if he had said, "They believed, whose hearts the Lord opened;" as he expresses it in a clearly parallel place, speaking of the same kind of ordination, Acts 16:14, &c. It is observable, the original word is not once used in Scripture to express eternal predestination of any kind. The sum is, all those and those only, who were now ordained, now believed. Not that God rejected the rest: it was his will that they also should have been saved: but they thrust salvation from them. Nor were they who then believed constrained to believe. But grace was then first copiously offered them. And they did not thrust it away, so that a great multitude even of Gentiles were converted. In a word, the expression properly implies, a present operation of Divine grace working faith in the hearers.
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