ACTS - CHAPTER 13: 1-5 - PAUL, AN APOSTLE
ACTS – CHAPTER 13: 1-5 - PAUL, AN APOSTLE
Tuesday Morning Bible Study
April 19, 2022, the Year of Our Lord
Pastor Carolyn Sissom
At the time of the introduction to the Book of Acts, I introduced each of the eleven (11) apostles and promised to preach on the Apostle Paul in chapter 13 when his apostolic ministry was activated. I don’t apologize that in my volumes of notes, I have written a book on this beloved Apostle. Like all my other books, this is yet to be published; perhaps there is no need to publish another book, because all is written in the Greatest Book of all. The wonderful journey I have traveled of revelation and discovery should be for all who will later follow-after and travel through the Words of Life.
We will begin in chapter 13 where our story has led us to date.
Acts. 13: 1-3: In the church that was at Antioch, there were certain prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon who was called, “the Black,” Lucius of Cyrene, Manean who had been brought up with Herod the Tetrarch, and Saul. They ministered to the Lord and fasted, the Holy Spirit said, “Now separate to Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” Then, having fasted, prayed, and laid hands on them, they sent them away.
The Lord’s appeal to Israel as a nation has ended. Consequently, Paul and Barnabas now become prominent in the story of the New Testament Church. It is the great Gentile church in Antioch which sends out the disciples “to all the world.”
The Holy Spirit lists five men as examples of the leadership in the Antioch Church. Simeon, and Manean, are named as prophets and teachers. Some have speculated that Lucius is Dr. Luke, but there is no evidence of any connection. It is also possible that Simeon may have been the one who helped bear Jesus’ cross. Manean was raised in Rome as a foster brother with Herod Antipas (who tried Jesus and slew John the Baptist).
By utterance of the Holy Spirit, Barnabas and Saul are commissioned by the Holy Spirit to their apostolic ministry. Twelve years have passed since Paul was commissioned by the Lord Jesus Christ. “Many are called, but few are chosen.” There can be many years from the time of the “calling” to the time of being “chosen.” Then there may be more years between the time of “commission.”
The laying-on-of-hands is the principle of the presbytery affirming and setting into office those who have been chosen. It is the church’s way of recognizing and acknowledging a call which the Lord Jesus has made.
In 13:9, The Apostle Saul is now called by his Roman name, Paul. Saul was his Hebrew name. From now on, he will be known only as Paul. Also, another important change has taken place, Paul has assumed leadership of the gospel team. His Gentile name will be used in spreading the gospel to the Gentile world. Paul was the most educated of all the Apostles. He studied at the feet of the best teachers of the law, and he was a trained theologian and Rabbi. Paul had great skill in speaking and in writing several languages.
13:4-5: So, being sent out by the Holy Spirit, they went down to Seleucia (Syria) (15-miles), and from there they sailed to Cyprus. When they arrived at Salamis (Cyprus), they preached the word of God in the synagogues of the Jews. They also had John as their assistant.
Announcing the good news of Jesus to the Jews first became the standard procedure in Paul’s missionary pattern. As a Rabbi, they would receive him to hear his message.
In chapter 9, we studied Paul’s visitation from the Lord Jesus Christ and his calling. The Lord spoke to Ananias of Paul’s call to ministry.
Through Ananias, the Lord gave the scope of Saul’s future work. It is threefold. He is to declare the glory of Jesus to (1) the heathen; (20) their rulers, (3) and the children of Israel. The Apostle Paul’s subsequent history fulfilled all that Jesus said here, for he made the heathen world ring with the truth of the Cross.
Jesus will work through this man to reveal His revelation of the Kingdom of God into the heart of the world with such force that paganism will be shattered and a new thing called “churches” will be established to multiply everywhere. The “churches” would become the vehicle of the Kingdom of God on earth as it is in heaven. Paul wrote nearly half of the New Testament. He wrote 13 books out of the 27.
His Revelations: He was the first to fully explain the death and resurrection of Christ as the focus of God’s plan of salvation. It was he who first understood the new nature of God’s people now made up of Jews and Gentiles bound together in one body. He was the first to see how God’s new action in Christ fits together with his special relationship with the people, Israel. It was he who first spread the gospel effectively around the Gentile world, telling people simply of Jesus the Savior, and not requiring them to become Jews. He was the first to announce in the message to the Romans that God is ready to receive all men who will come to Him on the basis of Faith alone. If a person will accept God’s righteousness by putting his complete trust in Jesus, then God, by His power, makes that sinner as righteous as Himself. This is the message of salvation through faith---period.
If we master the Book of Romans, we will find ourselves resting our soul in the security of the Holy Spirit. It is through the death of the carnal soul that man can walk and live in the Spirit (Romans 8).
However, these great revelations came at a high cost. Remember Saul was arrogant and haughty until he had the Damascus Road experience. 2 Cor. 12:7-10: Less I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, less I should be exalted above measure. For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And he said to me, my grace is sufficient for you, for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore, I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak then am I strong.
The sufferings of Paul for Jesus:
2 Co. 11:13-30: For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ… (V.22) Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they the seed of Abraham? So am I. Are they ministers of Christ (I speak as a fool) I am more; in labors more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths often. Of the Jews five times received I four stripes save one. Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; In journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils of my own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness. Beside those things that our outside that which comes upon me daily, the care of all the churches. Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is offended, and I burn not? If I must glory, I will glory of the thongs which concern my infirmities.
As we continue our journey through the Book of Acts, we will walk along-side Paul and his companions as they cover much of the known world with the gospel of Jesus Christ.
When Paul wrote His great epistle of Romans, he announced his purpose of going to Rome in 1: 15-16: I am debtor both to the Greeks and to the barbarians, both to the wise, and to the unwise. So, as much as in me is, I am ready to preach the gospel to you that are in Rome also. I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ; for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believes; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.
The gospel power of the all-powerful name of Jesus of Nazareth was the watch-word and the life-motto of this great soldier of the cross, from the hour he first lifted his sword, until the hours in this city of his closing years, he laid that armor down and the good fight was finished.
He nobly redeemed his pledge, upheld his testimony, and fulfilled his commission:
Acts 23:11: Be of good cheer, Paul; for as you have testified of Me in Jerusalem, so must you bear witness also at Rome.
Paul’s travels to Rome are chronicled in Acts. 28:13: From there we brought a compass, and came to Rhegium; and after one day the south wind blew and we came the next day to Puteoli. There we found brethren, and were desired to tarry with them seven days; and so, we went toward Rome.
Rhegium (now Reggio), Italy, is at the toe of the Italian boot. From there it was only 6 or 7 miles to Sicily and 150 miles to Puteoli, Italy.
It is of interest that Christians were found in Puteoli---another evidence of the wide spread of the Gospel by A.D. 60. As Paul was invited to stay with them, his ministry in Italy began there. We have no idea what faithful Christian started the church there---possibly one of the disciples who fled Jerusalem at the time of the persecutions.
Paul was a prisoner of Julius, a centurion of the Augustus band. He had favor with Julius, who had previously allowed Paul liberty in Malta and now again in Puteoli. Julius gave Paul permission to spend the seven days with the believers there.
28:16: When we came to Rome,
The Lord gave Paul favor and a dwelling from which to minister the Gospel of Christ. This great favor was arranged by the Lord, but could have been due to the letter which king Agrippa drafted for procurator Festus. It is believed he was not allowed to leave his quarters to visit the synagogues or work at his trade, but he was able to write letters to friends in other cities and counsel those who came to him. It was during this time that he wrote his prison epistles.
Note the “We” has been dropped from this point on. While Luke was nearby for much of the imprisonment, he was unable to serve as an intimate companion.
Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians and Philemon are believed to have been written during this two-year period of imprisonment from A.D. 60 – A.D. 62. Hebrews, Titus, I Timothy, are believed to have been written from 64 A.D. – 65 A.D. ---after his first imprisonment. The final epistle is II Timothy from 64 A.D. to 67 A.D.
When we get to Acts 28, we will study in detail his ministry during his first imprisonment in Rome.
28: 23: When they had appointed a day, there came many to him into his lodging; to whom he expounded and testified the kingdom of God, persuading them concerning Jesus, both out of the law of Moses, and out of the prophets, from morning to evening.
The Jewish leaders flocked to Paul’s house. The place was packed. Obviously, it must have been a large structure. He preached Jesus from Exodus to Malachi. According to his written epistles and this verse, we know he spoke of the Kingdom of God. This was the great hope of the Jews. However, they had to accept entrance into the Kingdom contingent upon the atonement and the arrival of the promised Messiah, Jesus Christ.
When he began to link the rejected and crucified Jesus of Nazareth with the atonement, the atmosphere changed.
Paul preached from dawn to dusk. Paul’s presentation of the gospel to the Jews has been considered in Acts and his method is unchanged. This constituted a solemn testimony to the Kingdom of God which depended on the recognition of the rightful king. When the Lord gives us a message, we have but one message to preach. Both Jesus and the Apostles preached the gospel of the Kingdom of God.
Jesus was with Paul first, last, foremost, midmost, upmost, and without end. Wherever he went, the theme was the same; to the astute philosophers of the Areopagus; the uncultured peasants in the wilds of upper Asia; the Ephesian elders on the sea beach; sailors in the midst of the Adriatic storm; or to the warriors of this ancient capital.
A hundred times over in the course of his Epistles, is that name mentioned, which is above every name. We never hear of him but once in tears and that was weeping over the enemies of the Cross.
This moral hero knew his weapons. He had ranged against him the powers of man; but he was conscious of “a power” mightier than all, and which out of weakness made him strong. Christian when the Lord sends us into battle, know your weapons and how to handle them.
The propagators of the Gospel were scorned and vilified as revolutionary fanatics. In the words of the chief of his own nation, who visited him in his Roman lodging, “as concerning this sect, we know that everywhere it is spoken against.”
What was the sum of Paul’s theme? That the world, the proud world, in the haughty zenith of its glory, should come and lay that glory at the foot of a Cross of shame; and confess that, for salvation, its millions were indebted from first to last to a dying Redeemer!
Their poets, philosophers and soothsayers had dimly foreshadowed the advent of some great Prince, who was to descend on the earth and inaugurate an era of peace and blessing. Could these dreams possibly have so poor a fulfillment as in the incarnation of the Christ of Nazareth, the son of a lowly woman of Galilee?
What! The proud Roman! He who never imagined any of his heroes could die---who dreamt of them as translated into palaces of glory or changed into constellations in the firmament. One mightier than all his gods or demi-gods, the Savior of sinners, was a crucified Man, who perished on a felon’s cross!
What was perhaps more insulting to a Roman and by this apostolic expounder and interpreter is the “POWER”. Who dared mention such a rival word in a Roman ear? Their empire was the embodiment and apotheosis of Power.
Again – The Jew! Is it possible he can bid farewell to all his revered and time-honored rites? Is the temple and all its lofty pageants, the pomp of his solemn feasts, the pride of his ritual, all to pale before the reputed Son of a carpenter? Can he receive as King of the royal nation, a crucified Nazarene? And that too, when his own law utters the words---“Cursed is every one that hangs on a tree?”
The Greek! Is he to part with all his divine philosophy to accept the teaching and doctrines of one who perished by a cruel death among a nation he esteems as barbarian? Amid the beautiful dreams of his mythology, that peopled every wood, grove and stream with a deity, must he say, with St. Paul, “I determined not to know anything among you, save Jesus Christ and Him crucified?”
One sermon cannot cover the life and ministry of this great apostle, but perhaps we have gotten to know him a little better before we start on this journey of journeys with him.
Paul’s last recorded prayer is for mercy for his friend, Onesiphorus. If we might listen to their joint-song, the dungeon-prayer for mercy has been caught up in Heaven: It is the song of Eternity---“O give thanks unto the Lord, for He is good, for His mercy endures forever.” (1 Ch. 16:34- repeated nine times in the Holy Scripture)
Ps. 103:17: The mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear Him, and His righteousness to children’s children.
When Paul prayed for Onesiphorus, it was for mercy. “The Lord grant unto him that he may find mercy in that day…” Mercy is a sinner’s word. It is the pity which God shows to the undeserving. Goodness is the term we use when we speak of His kindness as displayed in the fruit of the sweetness of the Holy Spirit. Mercy is His kindness in its manifestations to the miserable and lost.
Mercy is the highest type and expression of the Divine Goodness.
God, who is rich in mercy, for His great love wherewith He loved us, even when we were dead in sins (Eph. 2: 4-5). God’s mercy stooping over us, and His love loving us, when we were morally and spiritually dead.
It is this “mercy of the Lord” which Apostle Paul here invokes for his sympathizing visitor.
The Apostle knew the great grace of this wondrous mercy: Less than the least of all saints (Eph. 3:8) ---“to save sinners of whom I am the chief (1 T. 1:15); before a blasphemer and persecutor and injurious, but I obtained MERCY (1 Ti. 1:13; 1:16).
Who is this saint, Onesiphorus?
2 Tim. 1: 16-18: The Lord give mercy unto the house of Onesiphorus; for He oft refreshed me, and was not ashamed of my chains: But when he was in Rome, he sought me out very diligently, and found me. The Lord grant unto him that he may find mercy of the Lord in that day; and in how many things he ministered unto me at Ephesus, you know very well.
Like a transient meteor, Onesiphorus shoots across the Apostle’s evening sky and then vanishes from sight in sacred story. But this one entry has embalmed his name amid the heroes of the apostolic age, and given him an abiding place in the Holy Bible’s constellation of the great and good. So that wherever this Gospel shall be preached throughout the whole world, here is a memorial to this man.
(Orthodox tradition identifies him as one of the seventy disciples chosen and sent by Jesus to preach. They were chosen sometime after the twelve apostles (Lk. 10: 1-24). Onesiphorus was a bishop at Colophon, Asia Minor, and later at Corinth. Orthodox and Roman Catholic tradition hold that he died a martyr in the city of Parium (not far from Ephesus.)
The traditional story of Paul’s death is as unique as the story of his life. The incident is reported to have happened about three miles outside the city of Rome---just beyond the Ostian Gate. At this spot, Paul, the Apostle to the Gentiles, was beheaded. The story relates that when his head fell to the ground it bounced three times, and each place where it touched the ground, a fountain of water sprang up. True to the story, the place is called Tre Fontante, and the three fountains are there today.
Next week, we continue with chapter 13 with Paul, Barnabas, and John Mark on their first Apostolic journey.
Carolyn Sissom, Pastor
Eastgate Ministries Church
Scripture from K.J.V. – I entered into the labors of C.S. Lovett’s Lights on the Book of Acts; John Ross MacDuff, St. Paul in Rome and F. F. Bruce Bible Commentary by: E. H. Trenchard; Kenneth Wyatt, The Apostles. – Comments and conclusions are my own.
The book of Acts closes in chapter 28 with the reality of those who will hearing you shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing you shall see and not perceive; for the heart of this people is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes have they closed, less they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears and understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.
28:23: There many came to him into his lodging; to whom he expounded and testified the kingdom of God, persuading them concerning Jesus, both out of the law of Moses, and out of the prophets, from morning till evening. And some believed the things which were spoken, and some believed not.
In Verse 30, Luke’s mention of Paul’s two years at Rome is very strategic. It is probably the strongest clue as to whether or not he was released. We are rather certain that he died a martyr, but it was very unlikely that his death occurred at the end of these two years which Luke says were so favorable. While Luke doesn’t say so, his words imply that no one came from Jerusalem to press the charges against Paul. The Sanhedrin probably considered it unwise.
There are some who believe he was led some three miles outside the city where he was beheaded on orders by Nero in A.D. 64. However, it would seem from Philippians1:25 and Philemon 22 that Paul himself expected to be set at liberty.
Watch Man Nee once wrote 15-years before his imprisonment and his death in prison, “God dares to put his greatest apostles in prison.”
Many are presumptuous in the church world these days to presume to give themselves a title, and promotion. One of the marks of an Apostle is a visitation of the Lord Jesus Christ and you will see him. 2 Cor 10:18: For not he that commends himself is approved, but whom the Lord commends.
In each of his salutations, Paul identified himself, “Paul a servant of Jesus Christ called to be an apostle, separated to the gospel of God (Ro. 1:1).
1 Cor. 1:1: Paul called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ through the will of God.
11 Cor. 1:1: Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God.
Galatians 1:1: Paul, an apostle, (not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised Him from the dead.
Ephesians 1:1: Paul an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, to the saints which are at Ephesus and to the faithful in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 1:1: Paul and Timothy, the servants of Jesus Christ.
Colossians 1:1: Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God.
Timothy 1:1: Paul an apostle of Jesus Christ by the commandment of God our Savior and Lord Jesus Christ, which is our hope.
11 Timothy 1:1: Paul an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, according to the promise of life which is in Christ Jesus.
Titus, 1:1: Paul, a servant of God, and an apostle of Jesus Christ, according to the faith of God’s elect, and the acknowledging of the truth which is after godliness.
Philemon: Paul, a prisoner of Jesus Christ.
Go in peace, Preacher of good tidings, and Guide of the salvation of the just”.
It is alleged these were the parting words of Peter to Paul. Legend and history record that Peter and Paul were both executed in A.D. 67 by Nero in Rome when Nero turned against the Christians.