By Tyson Thorne

August 13, 2014

PisidianAntioch large

Following their time on Cyprus Paul, Barnabas and John Mark sailed to Perga, where John Mark decided to return to Jerusalem for reasons that go unexplained. Paul and Barnabas continue to journey on stopping in a city called Antioch in the region of Pisidia (Acts 13.14). This is not the Antioch they left in Syria, but a city much further west, as indicated on the map below.


The narrative fast forwards to their first Sabbath in the city where they attended a Jewish synagogue. At the end of the service they were given an opportunity by the Rabbi to speak, and Paul took the opportunity to show that Jesus is the promised Messiah.

The audience Paul addresses was a mix of Jews and interested Gentiles called God-Fearers (psoboumenoi in Greek). In a synagogue the rules for entry were much more relaxed than in the temple. In Jerusalem God-Fearers were only allowed to enter the outer courts of the temple while Jews could enter the inner-court. Only priests were permitted into the temple itself, and only the High Priest the Holy of Holies.

Beginning with Moses he recounts God’s leadership of Israel all the way up to King David, a history everyone present was familiar with. He spends a lot of time talking about David and even shows that much of what God promised to the great king was in fact a promise about the coming Messiah. He then skips to John the Baptist, which is an interesting inclusion and was probably made for two reasons. The first of which is that John was known far and wide and largely regarded as the most recent active prophet of their time. Some considered him to be Elijah sent back to Israel to finish his work. The second reason is more intriguing, that Paul considered John to be a critical part of the history of Israel and God’s relationship with them. Therefore, John’s testimony about Jesus would be meaningful to this audience.

Paul then recounts the story about Jesus, who was crucified and rose from the dead proving that he is God’s chosen servant and Messiah. This interested many and the Jews and God-Fearers alike urged Paul and Barnabas to tell them more. Some even became followers of the apostles, not wanting to wait until the following Sabbath to hear the news more fully.

As in Jerusalem, however, things went from good to bad and the following Sabbath saw a backlash from the unbelieving Jewish community, primarily the Jewish leadership. Using their influence with political figures, the Jewish leaders stirred up the people and had Paul and Barnabas run out of town. Verse 51 describes the apostles shaking the dust off their feet in protest. This action is undertaken by a Jew when leaving a Gentile nation and before entering Israel and is a symbolic gesture that they want no part of the unbelieving world. The illustration was clear, those that reject Jesus have no fellowship with the God of Israel. Despite the revolt against them, the word they shared penetrated the region and the pair left the city in great joy and the approval of the Holy Spirit.


Learn Biblical Hebrew Online


English French German Italian Portuguese Russian Spanish



How to setup an RSS of Windows Reader Service