Blaine Robison, M.A.
Published 20 April 2019; Revised 13 December 2022
Scripture Text: The Scripture text used in this commentary is prepared by Blaine Robison and based on the Nestle-Aland Greek New Testament. The essentially literal translation seeks to reflect the Jewish character of the author and writing. See my web article The Jewish New Testament. Scripture quotations may be taken from different versions. Click here for abbreviations of Bible versions. Quotations marked with the initials "BR" indicate the translation of the commentary author.
Sources: Bibliographic data for works cited may be found at the end of the chapter commentary. Works without page numbers are cited ad loc. Important Jewish sources include the following:
● DSS: Citations marked as "DSS" are from the Dead Sea Scrolls, a collection of Jewish manuscripts of Scripture and sectarian documents found in the Qumran caves. Most of the Qumran MSS belong to the last three centuries BC and the first century AD. Online DSS Bible.
● LXX: The abbreviation "LXX" ("70") stands for the Septuagint, the Jewish translation of the Hebrew Bible into Greek, which was in use among Jews by the mid-2nd century B.C. Online.
● Josephus: Citations for Josephus, the first century Jewish historian (Yosef ben Matityahu), are from The Works of Flavius Josephus (c. 75–99 A.D.) trans. William Whiston (1737). Online.
● MT: The Masoretic Text is the authoritative Hebrew text of the Tanakh for Rabbinic Judaism. Work on developing a uniform Hebrew Bible began in the 2nd century under Rabbi Akiva, but completed by Jewish scholars known as the Masoretes between the 7th and 10th centuries A.D. The oldest extant manuscripts date from around the 9th century. Online.
● Talmud: Unless otherwise indicated references to the Talmud are from the Soncino Babylonian Talmud (1948); available online at Halakhah.com. The Jerusalem Talmud, identified with "TJ," may be found here. Click here for Talmud abbreviations.
Syntax: Unless otherwise noted the meaning of Greek words is from F.W. Danker, The Concise Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament (2009), and the meaning of Hebrew words is from The New Brown, Driver, Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon (1981), abbreviated as "BDB." See the Greek Guide for the meaning of grammar abbreviations and pronunciation of Greek words. Parsing data for Greek words is from Anthony J. Fisher, Greek New Testament. The numbering system of the Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible is identified with "SH" (Strong's Hebrew number) and "SG" (Strong's Greek number). Strong's Online.
Terminology: In order to emphasize the Jewish nature of the apostolic canon and its central figure I use the terms ADONAI (for 'LORD' when quoting a Tanakh source), Yeshua (Jesus), Messiah (Christ), Tanakh (Old Testament), and Besekh (New Testament).
See the article Introduction to Acts for background information on Luke and the book of Acts. For a suggested timeline of Acts see the dating chart of George Edmundson. All dates given for the narrative of Acts are estimates.
In Chapter Thirteen Luke recounts the sending of Barnabas and Saul (also known as Paul) from Syrian Antioch further into the Diaspora to proclaim the good news in the Roman provinces of Cyprus and Galatia. See the map of the journey here. For the distances traveled see the chart here. The trip is estimated to be about two years in length (Polhill 79), but scholars are divided over the date for beginning the trip, anywhere from 44 to 48. Luke's chronology indicates that the trip began after Barnabas and Saul delivered the offering for famine relief to Jerusalem. The famine did not begin until 45, well after the death of Herod Agrippa in 44.
The chapter contains some striking features. First, the proconsul of Cyprus who received the good news from Paul was of the family that freed Paul's family from slavery. Second, Paul imposed God's judgment of blindness on a Jewish false prophet who opposed the message of the Jewish Messiah. Third, Paul's sermon in the Jewish synagogue in Pisidian Antioch parallels the Pentecost sermon of Peter and the defense sermon of Stephen as the epitome of the "Jewish gospel."
Sending from Antioch, 13:1-3
Ministry in Cyprus, 13:4-12
Travel to Pisidian Antioch, 13:13-15
Synagogue Message: Promise of the Messiah, 13:16-25
Synagogue Message: Fulfillment of the Promise, 13:26-37
Synagogue Message: Appeal of the Messiah, 13:38-41
Continued Apostolic Instruction, 13:42-43
Impact and Controversy in the City, 13:44-52
c. A.D. 45/46
Rome: Caesar Claudius (AD 41-54)
Procurator of Judaea: Cuspius Fadus (AD 44-46)
Procurator of Judaea: Tiberius Julius Alexander (AD 46-48)
Jewish High Priest: Joseph, son of Kami (AD 44-46)
Sending from Antioch, 13:1-3
1 Now there were in Antioch, belonging to the existing congregation, prophets and teachers: both Barnabas, and Simeon, the one called Niger, and Lucius the Cyrenian, and Manaen, close associate of Herod the tetrarch, and Saul.
Now: Grk. de, conj. used to indicate (1) a contrast to a preceding statement or thought, "but;" (2) a transition in presentation of subject matter, "now, then;" or (3) a connecting particle to continue a thought, "and, also," sometimes with emphasis, "indeed," "moreover" (Thayer). The second meaning applies here. there were: Grk. eimi, impf., to be, a function word used primarily to declare a state of existence, whether in the past ('was, were'), present ('are, is') or future ('will be'), often to unite a subject and predicate (BAG). in: Grk. en, prep., generally used to mark position, lit. "in" or "within," and may be translated "in, on, at, by, or with."
Antioch: Grk. Antiocheia, the name of two cities: (a) the capital of the Roman province of Syria; (b) a city in the Roman province of Galatia. Syrian Antioch is intended. See the map here. Antioch was founded around 300 B.C. by Seleucus I Nicator, one of the three successors to Alexander the Great. He named it for his father Antiochus the Great (OCB 32). Antioch became the capital of the Seleucid Empire (Josephus, Against Apion, 2:4). From the beginning it was a bustling maritime city with its own seaport. The city proper lay about 20 miles inland from the Mediterranean and 300 miles north of Jerusalem. Josephus calls Antioch the metropolis of Syria (Wars III, 2:4). Indeed, at this time Antioch was the third largest city in the Roman Empire after Rome and Alexandria having a population of more than 500,000 (Longenecker).
Taking control in 64 BC the Romans left their stamp on the city, with the construction of a great temple devoted to Roman Jupiter, a forum, a theatre, paved highways, a circus, other colonnades, a great numbers of baths, and new aqueducts. Antioch was a cosmopolitan city, a melting pot of Western and Eastern cultures, where Greek and Roman traditions mingled with Semitic, Arab, and Persian influences. The city had a large number of Jewish inhabitants. By the first century their numbers have been estimated at between forty-five thousand and sixty thousand (Polhill 71). The Jewish population, being generally loyal to the Gentile governors, engaged in commerce and enjoyed the rights of citizenship in a free city (Ant. XII, 3:1; Wars VII, 3:3). Nicolaus, one of the seven deacons, was from Syrian Antioch (Acts 6:5).
belonging to: Grk. kata, prep. that generally expresses measure and the idea of something associated with or lining up with something else in terms of manner, direction, reference, position, or the like; down, against, according to. The preposition is used here with the sense of that which belongs to some person or thing (Thayer). the existing: Grk. eimi, pres. part. Luke means "as it was at that time." congregation: Grk. ekklēsia assembly, gathering, meeting, or congregation. This is the fifth use of the term in Acts for the corporate organization of Yeshua's disciples. In Greek culture ekklēsia referred to a political body or a public meeting of citizens (Acts 19:32, 39, 41), but it primarily occurs in the Besekh for a religious body.
In the LXX ekklēsia translates the Heb. qahal (DNTT 1:292-295), which means assembly, convocation, or congregation (BDB 874). In the Tanakh qahal denotes the people of God in a corporate sense, often in the context of being gathered for worship or instruction (Deut 4:10; 31:30; Ps 35:18). Christian Bibles almost unanimously translate ekklēsia in this verse as "church." (See my background note on this subject here.) Messianic Jewish versions avoid use of the word "church." Four versions have "congregation" (CJB, JUB, MSG, NMB), which is preferable since this word incorporates both organic and organizational characteristics and is more neutral in tone than "church."
prophets: pl. of Grk. prophētēs, one who is gifted with the ability for interpretation or revelation transcending normal insight or awareness, i.e., a prophet. In ancient Greek culture the word-group always had a religious meaning and referred to one who predicts or tells beforehand (DNTT 3:76). In the LXX prophētēs translates Heb. nabi (SH-5030), spokesman, speaker, or prophet; first in Genesis 20:7 where it is used of Abraham. In Scripture a prophet is one who spoke on God's behalf, whether in foretelling or forth-telling.
and: Grk. kai, conj. that marks a connection or addition. Kai has three basic uses: (1) continuative – and, also, even; (2) adversative – and yet, but, however; or (3) intensive – certainly, indeed, in fact, really, verily, yea (DM 250f). The first use applies here. Kai is used in the LXX to translate the vav (ו) character added to words for conjunctive effect. There are over 50 conjunctions in biblical Greek, but kai is by far the most common in the Besekh, occurring over 9,000 times (BibleHub). The excessive use of conjunctions is evidence of either an original Hebrew text or Jewish Greek. See my note on the significance of conjunctions in the Besekh.
teachers: pl. of Grk. didaskalos, teacher or instructor who regularly engaged in the imparting of knowledge or skills, a vocation of special status among the Israelites. The Greek term occurs 59 times in the Besekh, all but 9 in the apostolic narratives. In the LXX didaskalos only occurs twice, first in Esther 6:1 where the meaning is "reader" (participle form of Heb. qara, to call, proclaim, read, BDB 894). The second occurrence of the noun is in 2Maccabees 1:10 to denote Aristobulus, the head of the Egyptian Jewish community, who, having dedicated an exposition of the Pentateuch to King Ptolemy Philometor, is called a teacher clearly for this reason. Scholars speculate that the reason didaskalos does not occur in the LXX more often is that in Greek education teaching was concerned with imparting knowledge or technical skills, whereas Hebrew education is more concerned with ethical instruction and obedience.
The Heb. equivalent is moreh, which is translated by the participle didaskōn in Proverbs 5:13 and Isaiah 9:15. The word moreh comes from the same root as Torah and means one who throws out, or points out, directs, or instructs (BDB 435). In the Qumran texts Heb. moreh, "teacher," occurs frequently, often with a qualifying phrase like "the righteous one," such as in the Damascus Document (CD 1:11; 20:32) and in the Commentary on Habakkuk (1QpHab 1:13; 2:2; 5:10; 7:4; 8:3; 9:9; 11:5), probably in reference to the founder of the sect (DNTT 3:767). Moreh is derived from the verb yarah, to throw or shoot and thus "one who throws out," "points out," or "instructs," (Prov 5:13; Isa 9:15).
In the Besekh the term didaskalos is applied to two groups of men. First, didaskalos is used interchangeably with Grk. rhabbi (Matt 23:8; John 1:38; 3:2; 20:16). A Jewish Rabbi in the first century had the task of expounding the Torah and giving rulings in matters of the law. He had pupils (Heb. talmidim) who studied his teachings and were duty bound to obey his edicts. In the first century "Rabbi" was not the title of a synagogue leader, but denoted a notable Sage of the era, such as Hillel and Shammai.
Second, didaskalos is used of the teachers in the Temple with whom the youthful Yeshua engaged in discussion (Luke 2:46). These teachers were most likely scribes. In Israelite culture a scribe (Grk. grammateus; Heb. sopher) was a legal scholar and a teacher of the Torah (cf. Luke 5:17, 21; Acts 5:34; 1Tim 1:7). In the Messianic movement the Holy Spirit gifted certain men to carry out the mandate of Yeshua to make disciples who would obey everything Yeshua commanded (Matt 28:19-20). Thus, in the apostolic letters teachers are an integral office in the congregation (1Cor 12:28-29; Eph 4:11; Heb 5:12; Jas 3:1). The title of didaskalos is applied to nine specific men: Yeshua (Matt 8:19 + 43 times), Yochanan the Immerser (Luke 3:12) and Nicodemus (John 3:10), as well as the names listed below.
both: Grk. te, conj. used to denote both connection and addition, as well as connect an idea closely to another in a manner that is tighter than with kai; and, also, both. The conjunction implies that the ministry of "prophet" and "teacher" could be applied to the following five men. Barnabas: Grk. Barnabas, a transliteration of Heb. Bar (רבּ)-Naba (נָבָא) (Thayer), which means "Son of Exhortation," a name having been given to him by the apostles (Acts 4:36). Scholars assume the name is Aramaic, because of the Aramaic prefix "bar," but Jews often used this prefix in Hebrew names. The Hebrew prefix "ben" also occurs in Aramaic names (Hamp 19). Naba is derived from the Heb. word for prophet, nabi.
Barnabas was a relative of John Mark, probably a cousin (Col 4:10). He was a Levite and native of Cyprus, named Joseph, before the disciples called him Barnabas. He is first noted for having sold his property and giving the proceeds to the apostles (Acts 4:37), perhaps as an act of Torah obedience since Levites were forbidden to own property. Luke characterized Barnabas as "a good man, and full of the Holy Spirit and of faithfulness" (11:24). Little considered by commentators is that Hippolytus (170-235) and Dorotheus (c. 255-362) include Barnabas in the list of the seventy along with Luke whom Yeshua sent out in Luke 10:1.
According to these records Barnabas eventually became the overseer of Milan. This information is not likely to be legend, as some suppose, because the lists are too detailed and the names would have been known. Barnabas was in Antioch because of having been sent a few years earlier to investigate the evangelism taking place among Hellenistic Jews there (Acts 11:20-21). He became the leader in the work and oversaw the development of the congregation there (11:22). It's very likely that Barnabas was sent because Peter was away on his travels in the Diaspora.
and: Grk. kai. Simeon: Grk. Sumeōn, a transliteration of the Heb. Shim'on ("he has heard"). In the Tanakh the Heb. name Shim'on appears for the first time as the second son of Jacob and Leah (Gen 29:33). His name is translated in the LXX as Sumeōn and in English "Simeon." Then the tribe descended from him bore his name, which eventually had its territory within the area assigned to the tribe of Judah. This spelling is used of only two other contemporary persons, Simeon who greeted Joseph and Miriam (Luke 2:25) and Simon Peter (Acts 15:14; 2Pet 1:1). Nothing more is known of this Simeon than what Luke provides here.
the one: Grk. ho, definite article but used here as a demonstrative pronoun. called: Grk. kaleō, pres. pass. part., to identify by name or give a term to; call. Niger: Grk. Niger (pronounced "Nih-gehr"), although the name is commonly pronounced "Nee-jer" or "Nī-jer" in public to avoid misunderstanding and social backlash. BAG identifies the noun as a Latin loanword and gives the meaning as "dark-complexioned." Thayer gives the meaning of the Latin word as "black." Stern translates the phrase as "known as the Black" (CJB). The name is only a physical description and no indication of place of origin. He is presumptively Jewish as the rest of the persons mentioned here. Perhaps he was originally from Ethiopia, a product of the evangelistic ministry of the Ethiopian eunuch (Acts 8:39).
and: Grk. kai. Lucius: Grk. Loukios, a Roman praenomen, or given name, which was derived from Latin lux, "light, illuminative" (SECB). Lucius, one of eighteen Latin praenomina, was a common name in the Roman world (Bruce). the Cyrenian: Grk. Kurēnaios, an inhabitant of Cyrene. He was no doubt a member of the synagogue of Cyrene in Jerusalem (Acts 6:9) and among the scattered disciples who brought the good news to Antioch (Acts 11:20). Gill notes that some scholars believe this Loukios is the same as the author of this narrative (Grk. Loukas), perhaps owing to the fact that the Codex Ephraemi Rescriptus (5th c.), adds "and Luke the Cyrenaean" after the mention of Mark in Acts 12:25. Bruce comments that this claim is not only unprovable but improbable.
According to the Anti-Marcionite Prologue to the narrative of Luke (c. 160-180 AD), Luke was an "Antiochene Syrian." Eusebius (c. 260-341 AD) also said that Luke was from Syrian Antioch (Church History, Book III, §4:7), as does Jerome (347–420 AD) in Lives of Illustrious Men (Chap. 7). These early mentions do not say that Luke was a Gentile. Indeed, Hippolytus and Dorotheus name Luke the evangelist as one of the seventy Yeshua chose (Luke 10:1), and he would not have chosen a Gentile to take the good news to Jews. According to Hippolytus and Dorotheus this Lucius was also one of Yeshua's seventy and eventually became overseer of the congregation in Syrian Laodicea.
and: Grk. kai. Manaen: Grk. Manaēn, a Greek form of Hebrew Menahem ("comforter") (Bruce). The name appears only here in the Besekh. close associate: Grk. suntrophos, adj., one who is brought up with someone; close associate. Mounce defines the word as nursed with another; one brought up or educated with another, intimate friend, friend of the court. Bible versions differ widely on translation. BAG indicates its broad meaning with "nourished or brought up together with; familiar, on friendly terms with; foster-brother, companion (from one's youth), intimate friend of someone. of Herod: Grk. Hērōdēs. The Herod mentioned here is Antipas, son of Herod the Great and his wife Malthace, a Samaritan.
the tetrarch: Grk. tetrarchēs, "ruler of a fourth," the term for a ruler of lower rank than a king. The term reflects the fact that after the death of Herod the Great the land was divided among his sons and Antipas was given Galilee and Perea to rule (Luke 1:1). Upon his succession Caesar Augustus denied Antipas the royal title of "king," and his pursuit of the title would eventually lead to his dismissal and exile to Gaul in AD 39. Josephus mentions an earlier Manahem, an Essene who was honored by Herod the Great for having foretold his rise to royal office (Ant. XV, 10:5). Bruce suggests that it would be natural for Luke to gain information about Herod's family from Manaen. It is a testimony of sovereign grace that of two boys that grew up together, Antipas should become notorious for killing Yochanan the Immerser, but Manaen should become a notable Messianic prophet and teacher.
and: Grk. kai. Saul: Grk. Saulos, a Grecized version of the Heb. Sha'ul (lit. "asked for" or "prayed for"). The name Saulos first appears in Acts 7:58 and occurs 15 times in Acts. Since Saulos as a name does not appear in Greek literature or earlier Jewish literature, Luke, being a Hellenized Jew, recognized in the spelling the potential as a Jewish name with "Sa'ul" transliterating "Sha'ul" and the suffix "os" making it a masculine name. When Josephus wrote his Antiquities 35 years after the book of Acts he chose to use Saulos predominately for the biblical characters with the Heb. name of Sha'ul. Saul was born in Tarsus of Cilicia (Acts 9:11) to a traditional Jewish family of the tribe of Benjamin (Php 3:5).
Saul received advanced education under the tutelage of Gamaliel the Elder (Acts 5:34; 22:3), a leader in the Sanhedrin and a preeminent scholar. According to the Talmud Gamaliel provided his many students with instruction in Greek wisdom and philosophy as well as Torah (Baba Kamma 83a; Sotah 49b). Saul was a devout Pharisee (Acts 23:6; 26:5; Php 3:5). Saul was introduced as complicit in the stoning of Stephen (Acts 7:58), and then he instigated a terrible persecution against disciples of Yeshua (Acts 8:1-3). Saul's early actions indicate that he had a formal position among the Judean and temple leaders and had authority to put followers of Yeshua in prison (cf. Acts 26:10).
Afterward he acted as an official agent of the high priest to arrest disciples in Damascus (Acts 9:1-2). It was while en route on the King's Highway to Damascus that Saul was confronted by Yeshua who addressed him with his Hebrew name (Acts 9:4; 22:7; 26:14), as did Ananias (Acts 22:13). Saul was transformed by that personal revelation and the healing of the Holy Spirit (Acts 9:3-19). The Lord commissioned Saul to take the good news of salvation to the nations and the sons of Israel (Acts 9:15), which he immediately began to fulfill (Acts 9:20). After two years of ministry he returned to Jerusalem (Acts 9:26).
Barnabas befriended him and introduced him to the apostles and commended his ministry in Damascus (Acts 9:27). Unlike other disciples Barnabas showed the spirit of Yeshua by choosing to believe the best about Saul and not holding his past against him. Saul then returned to his home in Tarsus (Acts 9:30). Ten years later, Barnabas went to Tarsus and recruited Saul to assist him with the ministry in Antioch (Acts 11:24-26). Together they spent a year growing the congregation and instructing the new believers to make them true disciples of Yeshua. Sometime afterwards they took famine relief to the believers in Jerusalem (Acts 11:19-30). "Saul" likely occurs last in the list of names to set up the scene in the next verse.
2 And as they were ministering to the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, "Set apart now to me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them."
And: Grk. de, conj. as they: 3p-pl. of Grk. autos, personal pronoun, which may be used to (1) distinguish a person from or contrast it with another, or to give him emphatic prominence; himself, herself (2) express the force of a simple personal pronoun of the third person; he, him, she, her, them, it, or (3) with the article function as an adjective of identity; the same. The second meaning applies here. were ministering: Grk. leitourgeō, pres. part., to minister in an official capacity, especially on behalf of the community. In the secular world the verb denoted providing the service at one's own expense, so by nature it was sacrificial.
The verb occurs only three times in the Besekh and used of providing material support for famine relief to fellow Jewish believers in Judea (Rom 15:27), and priestly offering of sacrifices at the temple (Heb 10:11). In the LXX leitourgeō is used about 100 times for Heb. sharath (SH-8334), minister or serve, almost exclusively for the service of priests and Levites in the temple, particularly in Exodus and Numbers. In late Judaism, especially as it was developed in the synagogue, and in the Diaspora, there is a gradual spiritualizing of this concept of service, especially in the interpretation of prayer as "sacrifice" (cf. Wisdom 18:21; Heb 13:15) (DNTT 3:551f).
to the Lord: Grk. kurios may mean either (1) 'one in control through possession,' and therefore owner or master; or (2) 'one esteemed for authority or high status,' thus lord or master. In the LXX kurios occurs over 9,000 times, the great majority of times to replace Heb. YHVH (DNTT 2:511). Luke probably intends the title as a reference to Yeshua. Kurios is the principal title by which disciples and members of the public addressed Yeshua during his earthly ministry. The frequent use of kurios to address Yeshua in the flesh would not have considered deity. The apostles meant kurios in the sense of Heb. adôn, because Yeshua is the owner-master of his disciples.
Given the sacrificial nature of "ministering," and that it was "to the Lord," and combined with the following verbal description, then the action probably denotes setting aside time from ordinary work for intercessory prayer (see verse 3 below). This was no ordinary Sabbath worship service in a synagogue.
and: Grk. kai, conj. fasting: Grk. nēsteuō, pres. part., to abstain from food for a religious purpose. In the LXX nēsteuō translates Heb. tsum (SH-6684), abstain from food, first in Judges 20:26. The root idea behind fasting is to humble oneself before God (cf. Lev 23:26). Generally fasting was a response to some personal or national crisis or tragedy, but fasting might also be done for a spiritual purpose of drawing close to God. The usage of the word indicates that something took the place of eating. Merely skipping a meal is not fasting. Since fasting was often done in former times to prevent calamity or to deliver from calamity (cf. 2Chr 20:3; Ezra 8:21-23; Esth 4:3, 16; 1Macc 3:47; 2Macc 13:12), then the prayer and fasting in Antioch may have been in behalf of Judea suffering from famine. For more discussion on this topic see my article Fasting.
the Holy: Grk. Ho Hagios has two distinctive uses in Scripture: (1) as an adj., meaning set apart for dedication to the interests or expectations of deity; and (2) as a pure substantive to refer to that which has been set apart (BAG). The term is used of sacred things, places, people, angels and God. In the LXX hagios translates Heb. qadosh (SH-6918), which means separate, sacred, holy. Qadosh is first used of God in Leviticus 11:44. Spirit: Grk. Ho Pneuma (for Heb. ruach, Resh-Vav-Chet), wind, breath or spirit; here referring to the Holy Spirit. Pneuma is used for the human spirit and transcendent beings (Matt 8:16; Heb 1:14), particularly the Spirit as God's self-expression (Gen 1:2; Mark 1:10).
In Scripture "holy" is only used as an adjective of "spirit" to refer to the Holy Spirit, a name or face of God. "Holy Spirit" is not the title of a separate being, because God is Spirit (John 4:24), just as God is the Word (John 1:1). The Greek word order here demonstrates the Hebraic nature of the text, because it corresponds to the Hebrew word order of Ruach Qodesh, which occurs only three times in the Tanakh (Ps 51:11; Isa 63:10, 11). The Holy Spirit is identified by three other forms in the Tanakh (Ruach Elohim, Gen 1:2; Ruach YHVH, Judg 3:10; and Ruach Adonai YHVH, Isa 61:1). All of the passages indicate that the Holy Spirit is divine, not less or other than God.
said: Grk. legō, aor., to make a statement or utterance, whether oral or in written form; say, tell, declare. In the LXX legō translates Heb. amar (SH-559), to utter, say, shew, command or think. The Greek verb "say" functions as quotation marks for the text following since ancient writings did not contain punctuation. The voice of the Spirit is primarily reported in Scripture as the source of inspiration for the Hebrew prophets (2Sam 23:2; Isa 59:12; Acts 1:16; 4:25; 25:28; 2Pet 1:21). The book of Acts also records several times the Spirit inspiring the communication of certain individuals (2:4; 4:8; 6:10; 11:15, 17; 13:9-10). As here Scripture records occasions when the Holy Spirit spoke directly to individuals: Ezekiel (Ezek 3:24; 11:5), Philip (Acts 8:29), Peter (Acts 10:19; 11:12), Agabus (Acts 11:28; 21:11) and Paul (Acts 16:6-7; 20:23).
In Revelation the Spirit has a message for each of the seven congregations (Rev 2:7, 11, 17, 29; 3:6, 13, 22). The biblical narrative raises the question of how these individuals knew that it was the Holy Spirit speaking. How does the Spirit communicate? The certainty of knowledge would have been derived in both the manner and content of the communication. The Spirit may not employ an audible voice, such as Philip would have heard from the angel in verse 26 above. For the Holy Spirit, having taken up residence in a person (John 14:17), the basic method is communicating to the person's spirit (Rom 8:16; 9:1). In other words, the person may hear an inner voice in his mind that he knows is not his own thoughts.
There are three tests that may be applied to any perceived message from the Spirit. First, a message from the Spirit will be consistent with God's will revealed in Scripture (John 16:13). Second, a message from the Spirit can be confirmed by its acceptance by other believers (Acts 13:1-3; 15:28; 20:23). Ask yourself: "if I were to announce my message from the Spirit in the congregation how would people react?" Third, a message from the Holy Spirit has the purpose of fulfilling a spiritual goal or advancing the work of God's kingdom.
Set apart: Grk. aphorizō, aor. imp., 2p-pl., to select or separate with these applications: (1) to sever social intercourse or excommunicate (Luke 6:22; Acts 19:9; 2Cor 6:17); (2) to separate in the judgment associated with the Second Coming (Matt 13:49; 25:32); and (3) to select or set apart for a special purpose (Rom 1:1). The third meaning applies here. The second person plural form of the verb implies that the Spirit spoke to the elders of the congregation. now: Grk. dē, particle, indeed, now, used to give emphasis or urgency to a statement. Most versions do not translate the particle. to me: Grk. egō, pronoun of the first person. Barnabas: See verse 1 above. and: Grk. kai. Saul: See verse 1 above. Out of the group of prophets and teachers in Antioch the Spirit selected Barnabas and Saul.
for: Grk. eis, prep., lit. "into," focuses on entrance, frequently in relation to direction and limit, and in composition may be translated as "into, in, to, towards, or for" (DM 103). the work: Grk. ergon generally means a deed, action or accomplishment with these applications: (a) in contrast to rest; (b) as a practical proof of something; (c) of the deeds of God and Yeshua, specifically miracles; or (d) the deeds of men, exhibiting a consistent moral character (BAG). to which: Grk. hos, relative pronoun used to give significance to the mention of a person, thing, or piece of information that precedes; who, which, what, that.
I have called: Grk. proskaleō, perf. mid., call to one's presence; call for, invite, summon. The verb is used here of a divine appointment and assignment. The perfect tense points to a time in the past when the appointment occurred, most likely before they had commenced any ministry. them: 3p-pl. of Grk. autos. As in other parts of Luke's narrative no explanation is offered as to how the people knew the Holy Spirit had spoken. These two servants of Yeshua could assume they would continue the same kind of ministry in which they previously engaged (cf. Acts 11:26).
3 Then, having fasted and having prayed and having laid their hands on them, they sent them.
Then: Grk. tote, temporal adv. that focuses on a time or circumstance that is closely associated with what precedes in the narrative; at that time, then, thereupon. having fasted: Grk. nēsteuō, aor. part. See the previous verse. and: Grk. kai, conj. having prayed: Grk. proseuchomai, aor. part., to petition deity for some personal desire. In the LXX proseuchomai translates Heb. palal (SH-6419), to intervene, mediate, intercede or pray. The verb refers to earnestly petitioning God for His help with respect to an urgent need. and: Grk. kai. having laid: Grk. epitithēmi, aor. part., to put, place or lay upon. their: Grk. ho, definite article, lit. "the." hands: pl. of Grk. cheir, the anatomical limb of the hand. The verbal phrase is used first in the apostolic narratives of Yeshua employing physical touch to heal (Matt 9:18) and to convey blessing (Matt 19:18).
on them: 3p-pl. of Grk. autos, personal pronoun. The idiomatic expression of "laying on of hands" (from Heb. s'mikhah, "leaning" or "laying"), meaning to consecrate, dedicate or ordain to an office, has a strong history in Scripture and Jewish culture. The practice began at Sinai. Just as animals were dedicated for sacrifice by hand-laying (Ex 29:10; Lev 4:15), so the appointment to an office in the same manner effectively made the candidate a "living sacrifice." Israelites dedicated Levites for service (Num 8:10) and Moses transferred his authority to Joshua by this method (Num 27:18-23; Deut 34:9). This ritual may have been followed for ordaining the seventy elders to their office by Moses (Num 11:16–17, 24–25).
In Jewish culture the ordination ceremony for a judge, elder or scribe was accomplished by laying on of hands. This symbolic act confers or transfers an office, along with its duties and privileges, by dramatizing God's bestowal of the blessings and spiritual gifts needed for the work. Ordination was typically performed by a board of three elders, at least one of whom had also received s'mikhah (Stern 64).
In the Besekh the first mention of appointment to an office by laying on of hands is found in Acts 6:6 in which seven men were appointed as deacons to administer the charitable ministry for widows. We may assume that the appointment of Mattathias to apostolic office (Acts 1:26) was accomplished in the same manner, just as the Twelve and the Seventy had previously been appointed by Yeshua (Mark 3:14; Luke 10:1). Peter and John also ordained men among the disciples in Samaria to provide leadership (Acts 8:14-17), and similarly Ananias laid hands on Saul for healing and equipping by the Spirit for ministry (Acts 9:17).
they sent them: Grk. apoluō, aor., 3p-pl., may mean (1) to set free from a condition or obligation, to release or to free; or (2) to cause to depart from a place, to send off or dismiss. The second meaning applies here. The subject of the verb is left unstated but presumptively the elders of the Messianic congregation were principally involved. It is noteworthy that Barnabas and Saul were only sent after the elders received a direct message from the Spirit. The congregation would have been reluctant for Barnabas and Saul to leave. While the local disciples would naturally want the two servants of Yeshua to continue their ministry in Antioch, they recognized the call of the Spirit. The sending would have been accomplished with both blessing and material support.
First Diaspora Journey
c. A.D. 46
Rome: Caesar Claudius (AD 41-54)
Procurator of Judaea: Tiberius Julius Alexander (AD 46-48)
Jewish High Priest: Joseph, son of Kami (AD 45/46-47)
4 They indeed therefore, having been sent by the Holy Spirit, went down to Seleucia. And from there they sailed to Cyprus.
They: 3p-pl. of Grk. autos, personal pronoun. indeed: Grk. mén, a particle of affirmation; indeed, verily, truly. Many versions do not translate the particle. therefore: Grk. oun, an inferential conj., which is used here to indicate a conclusion connected with data immediately preceding, 'so, therefore, consequently, then.' The opening phrase emphasizes the willing obedience of the servants of Yeshua. having been sent: Grk. ekpempō, aor. part, dispatch, to send forth, to send out. The verb occurs only twice in the Besekh (also Acts 17:10). by: Grk. hupo, prep., may be used as (1) a marker of agent or cause; by; or (2) as a marker of a position that is relatively lower; below, under. The first meaning applies here. the Holy Spirit: See verse 2 above.
The verbal phrase "having been sent by the Holy Spirit" alludes to the message of the Spirit in verse 2 above, and affirms that the reason for leaving Antioch was not because the elders sent Barnabas and Saul. Luke does not imply that the apostles received specific direction from the Spirit as to their itinerary. It may be that the decision for the first destination was very personal since Barnabas was initially the leader and he had family connections where they arrived. While the Spirit sometimes gave specific guidance (Acts 8:29; 10:19; 11:12), the apostles often made their own decisions related to ministry (cf. Acts 6:2-4; 2Cor 2:12-13; 5:7; 1Th 3:1-2; Php 2:25-26), subject to the correction by the Spirit (Acts 16:7). Their basic decision-making principle was to submit all things to the sovereign will of God (cf. Prov 16:3; Acts 18:21; Rom 1:10; 15:32; 1Cor 4:19; Jas 4:15).
went down: Grk. katerchomai, aor., to go down or to come down, generally of moving in a geographical context from a higher to lower elevation. to: Grk. eis, prep. See verse 2 above. Seleucia: Grk. Seleukeia, a city of Syria, the seaport of Antioch from which it is 16 miles distant. It is situated 5 miles North of the mouth of the Orontes River in the northwestern corner of a fruitful plain at the base of Mt. Rhosus. See the map here. And: Grk. te, conj. used to denote both connection and addition, as well as connect an idea closely to another in a manner that is tighter than with kai; and, also, both. from there: Grk. ekeithen, adv., denotes movement from a place or time, here the former; lit. "from that place." they sailed: Grk. apopleō, aor., depart by ship, sail away, set sail (Thayer).
Departure would have taken place at a time with favorable winds for sailing such as the summer. Ancient merchant ships could be propelled by both oars and sails. There were no passenger vessels, only freighters. So the apostles had to scout out a willing captain, strike a deal for passage, and bring enough food for the trip, as well as bedding for resting on the deck. See the article Roman Empire Sailing for more information. Merchant ships traveled in open sea at a speed of about 4–6 knots (Casson). Sailing about 100 nautical miles, the trip across open water would have taken 16-25 hours.
to: Grk. eis. Cyprus: Grk. Kupros, a large island at the east end of the Mediterranean Sea mentioned most prominently in Acts. See the map here. In the Tanakh the island is known as Kittim (Heb. Chittim, Isa 23:1; Jer 2:10) (HBD). The island with 390 miles of coastline is 160 miles long east to west and 60 miles wide from north to south, and eclipsed in size only by Sicily and Sardinia. Much of Cyprus is mountainous with some peaks as high as 5900 feet. Cyprus was colonized successively by Egyptians, Phoenicians, Greeks, Assyrians, Persians, the Egyptian Ptolemies and the Romans. Its fertile central plain provided agricultural products for export. Salt and copper were also exported from mines on the island (Polhill 85).
Cyprus was annexed by Rome in 59 BC and made a senatorial province by Augustus in 22 BC. For a history of Cyprus see the article here. There was a significant Jewish population on Cyprus due to the widespread dispersion of Jews from Babylon (Tarn & Griffith 219). There were at least three synagogues established on the island during the Roman period (JVL). Cyprus was the birthplace of Barnabas (Acts 4:36-37). Cyprus is about 200 km (124.27 miles) from Seleucia.
5 And having come to Salamis, they began proclaiming the word of God in the synagogues of the traditional Jews. Now they had also John as helper.
And: Grk. kai, conj. having come: Grk. ginomai, aor. mid. part., to transition from one state or condition to another; which may be expressed in one of three ways: (1) come into being by birth or natural process; be born or produced; (2) exist through application of will or effort by a person; be made, be performed; or (3) undergo a state of existence, change or development; come to be, become, take place, happen, occur, arise, be, appear, come, arrive. The third meaning applies here. to: Grk. eis, prep. Salamis: Grk. Salamis, the most important city and seaport of Cyprus, located on its eastern coast at the mouth of the Pediaios River. During the Roman period, Salamis was situated along the shore for about a mile (2 km) and reached about half a mile inland (1 km).
they began proclaiming: Grk. katangellō, impf., to proclaim, with connotation of broad dissemination; announce, declare, proclaim. Some Christian versions render the verb as "preached," an expression associated with the delivery of sermons, but others have "proclaimed." The verb alludes to teaching in a public place. the word: Grk. logos, a vocalized expression, word, discourse, statement, message or speech. In the LXX logos stands principally for Heb. dabar, which has a range of meaning, including "speech, word, report, command, advice, counsel, thing, matter" (Gen 29:13; BDB 182) (DNTT 3:1087).
of God: Grk. ho theos, properly, God, the Creator and owner of all things (John 1:1-3). The definite article probably signifies "the one called." In the LXX the singular theos translates the plural Heb. Elohim (SH-430), when used of the true God, the God of creation (Gen 1:1). In Hebrew thought the plural form represents fullness (DNTT 2:67), which excludes the possible existence of any other deity (Isa 44:6; 45:5-6; 46:9). Also, theos is not a philosophical construct for monotheism. God is a Person, and in the apostolic narratives He is particularly the God of the patriarchs and Israel (Matt 22:32; Luke 1:68).
The expression "word of God" is first used in the Besekh of a divinely inspired verbal message, first of Yochanan the Immerser (Luke 3:2), later of Yeshua (Luke 5:1; 8:21; 11:28) and then the apostles (Acts 4:31; 6:2). The expression is also used of the Tanakh (Matt 15:6; Eph 6:17; Heb 4:12), much of which was given by verbal inspiration (Ex 20:1; 24:3-4; Deut 10:4; John 10:35; 2Tim 3:15; 2Pet 1:20-21). And, of course, Yeshua himself is called the "Word of God" (Rev 19:13; cf. John 1:1).
The expression occurs ten times in Acts and represents the message of the Messianic movement, i.e., the good news of Yeshua. The content of the "word of God" (also called kerygma, "proclamation"), was essentially (1) the announcement that the age of fulfillment has arrived; (2) a repetition of the ministry, death and resurrection of Yeshua; (3) citation of relevant Messianic prophecies in the Tanakh; and (4) a call to repentance and immersion. These elements may be seen in the previous sermons of Peter (Acts 2:14-36; 3:12-26; 4:8-12; 10:34-43).
in: Grk. en, prep. the synagogues: pl. of Grk. sunagōgē, a gathering-place or place of assembly. In the Besekh the term refers to the place at which Jews gathered for worship and learning. The term does not necessarily mean a manufactured structure as the word "church" can mean (cf. Acts 16:13). In the LXX sunagōgē occurs 225 times and is generally used to translate the Heb. words edah (SH-5712), congregation (Ex 12:3) and qahal (SH-6951), assembly, convocation, or congregation (Ex 16:3) (DNTT 1:292ff). The origin of the Jewish synagogue is not known for certain, but scholars generally date its beginning during the Babylonian exile (NIBD 1019). Pious Jews, far from their native land no doubt felt the necessity to gather on the Sabbath in order to listen to the Torah and engage in prayer (cf. Ps 137; Jer 29:7; Ezek 14:1; 20:1).
Eventually meetings came also to be held on other days, and at the same hours as the morning and evening services in the temple. According to Philo, the Jewish philosopher (20 B.C.−A.D. 50), synagogues were houses of prayer and schools of wisdom (On the Life of Moses II, 39). As Jews emigrated west synagogues followed. In any community where at least ten Jewish men lived, the Jews would meet together for study and prayer and eventually build a sanctuary (Heb. shul) for their meetings. The building would be positioned so that when the congregation stood for prayer they would be facing Jerusalem. By the first century, synagogues, especially in the Diaspora, emerged as the central institution of Jewish life as a place where study, worship, exhortation, celebration, and various other kinds of meetings take place. Ceremonies were conducted in full view of the participants, with the masses of people no longer being relegated to outer courtyards, as was the case in the Jerusalem Temple (OCB 722).
of the traditional Jews: pl. of Grk Ioudaios, Jew, Jewish, Jewess or Judean (BAG). Danker notes that the term may be used as an adjective (Judean, Jewish) or a noun (Jew, Judean). Ioudaios designates a person by belief and practice (cf. John 4:9). In the first century the term had a particular sectarian meaning to distinguish "devout" (= Hebrew-speaking Torah/tradition-observant) Jews from non-observant Jews (Acts 2:5). Indeed the noun Ioudaismos, "Judaism," first appears in the Maccabean writings for a way of life devoted to observance of Torah laws (2Macc 2:21; 8:1; 14:38; 4Macc 4:26), and then used by Saul to describe his religion before his life-changing encounter with Yeshua (Gal 1:13-14) (DNTT 2:310).
Moreover, the tenets of their religion were governed by the Great Sanhedrin and the Pharisees, whose traditions they followed (cf. Matt 23:2-3; Mark 7:3; Acts 10:28). Traditional Jews revered Moses (John 9:28-29; Acts 6:11) and recognized the authority of the written Torah (John 7:23; Acts 21:20) and the traditions of the Sages (Matt 15:2; Gal 1:14; Col 2:8). For more information on the Ioudaioi see my note on the term in 9:22. The mention of traditional Jews in connection with the Cypriot synagogue does not mean they were the only group in attendance. While they might have built the synagogue and supervised it, services were open to all who might wish to attend, including Gentiles and Hellenistic Jews.
Now: Grk. de, conj. they had: Grk. echō, aor., to have, with a wide range of application: e.g., (1) having something under one's control or at one's disposal; (2) bear an article on one's person; (3) be in a position to do something; (4) to view something in a particular way; consider, hold to, hold fast, keep or (5) to experience a condition or situation. The first meaning applies here. also: Grk. kai. John: Grk. Iōannēs, attempts to transliterate the Heb. Yōchanan and means "the Lord is gracious." In the Besekh there are five men with the name Iōannēs. This John is the one called Mark in Acts 12:12, son of Miriam and a relative of Barnabas (Col 4:10).
as helper: Grk. hupēretēs, which refers to one who translates service and may be translated as helper or attendant. Just what that term implies is not clear. In all the passages where the term occurs the individuals had significant authority and responsibilities, some working for judges and others for the chief priests (Matt 5:25; 26:58, Mark 14:65, John 7:32 and Acts 5:22, 26). In Luke 4:20 hupēretēs is used of a synagogue "attendant," Heb. chazzan. A chazzan had many congregational duties, including prayer, preaching and care of scrolls. However, in several passages hupēretēs refers to one who was involved in teaching the story of Yeshua or advocating the cause of the Messiah (Luke 1:2; Acts 13:5; 26:16; 1Cor 4:1). Surely, this is the sort of service John Mark rendered in Antioch. Mark accompanied Barnabas and Saul to Antioch to disciple the Jews who had accepted Yeshua as Messiah.
Additional Note: English Spelling of Names
The reader should note that the English spelling in Christian versions of names beginning with the letter "J" is incorrect. The Hebrew and Greek alphabets have no letter with the "J" sound. The English alphabet is derived from the Latin alphabet and originally the "J" was a vowel, simply a fancy "I." After the Renaissance (14th-17th centuries) "J" became a consonant with a hard sound. In the early English versions from 1525 to 1611 "J" names were spelled with an "I." The Mace New Testament (1729) introduced the consonant "J," which was followed by the KJV (1769), and Christians everywhere began mispronouncing Bible names.
6 And having passed through all the island as far as Paphos, they came upon a certain man, a magian, a Jewish false prophet who went by the name of Baryeshua,
And: Grk. de, conj. having passed through: Grk. dierchomai, aor. part. (from dia, "through," and erchomai, "to come or go"), to go through, go about. all: Grk. holos, adj., signifier of a person or thing understood as a complete unit and not necessarily every individual part; all, whole, entire. the island: Grk. ho nēsos (from neō, to swim, properly, 'floating land'), a tract of land surrounded by water, but not large enough to be considered a continent; island. as far as: Grk. achri, adv., a function word signifying an interval between two points with focus on continuity, here of an extension in space; as far as.
Paphos: Grk. Paphos, a maritime city on the eastern end of Cyprus, with a harbor. The noun occurs only in this chapter. The city was known as "New Paphos." An older Paphos was located some six miles to the southeast of New Paphos. It was famous for its ancient temple dedicated to Aphrodite (Venus), the goddess of love. New Paphos was also the location for the headquarters of the provincial Roman government. Polhill suggests the three Jewish messengers probably took the southern Roman road from Salamis to Paphos, which was the most direct route at a distance of around 115 miles (85).
they came upon: Grk. heuriskō, aor., 3p-pl., may mean (1) to come upon a person or thing, whether by seeking or happenstance; (2) to discover by inquiry, thought, examination, scrutiny, observation, or hearing; or (3) to find for oneself, to acquire, get, obtain, or procure. The first meaning applies here and initially it would appear to be happenstance. However, this meeting was part of God's providential plan. Bible versions are divided between translating the verb as "found" and "met." Using "found" implies a search, but the context does not indicate that the apostles were seeking anyone in particular. Some versions have "came upon" (AMPC, ESV, MSG, NEB, RSV). Luke proceeds to describe six things about one the apostles met.
 a certain: Grk. tis, indefinite pronoun; a certain one, someone, anyone, anything. This pronoun is often used to distinguish someone in a class or in contrast to others. man: Grk. anēr, an adult man without regard to marital status. In the LXX anēr translates several Heb. words, primarily Heb. ish (SH-376), man (Gen 2:23) (DNTT 2:562). Some versions do not translate the pronoun-noun construction (CJB, CSB, NASB, NIV, NLT). The construction tis anēr is previously used of Ananias (Acts 5:1), a man who lied to the Holy Spirit, and Simon, the sorcerer of Samaria (8:9). This man had something in common with those two previous scoundrels.
 a magian: Grk. magos, one of a class of Oriental men of letters and experts in astrology (Danker). BAG gives two definitions: (1) a Magus that occurs in both Persian and Babylonian languages, a wise man and priest, who was expert in astrology, interpretation of dreams and various other secret arts; and (2) a magician. LSJ identifies three different meanings in classical works: (1) Magian, one of a Median tribe (Herodotus, History I, 101; Strabo, Geography, XV, 1:1); (2) one of the priests and wise men in Persia who interpreted dreams (Herodotus, VII, 37); and (3) enchanter, wizard, esp. in bad sense, impostor, charlatan (Euripides, Orestes 1498; Plato, Republic 572e).
The noun occurs six times in the Besekh, four of which refer to the Magoi who came to Jerusalem seeking the King of the Jews (Matt 2:1, 7, 16), and the other two in this chapter. In the LXX magos occurs only in the book of Daniel, first to render Heb. chartom (SH-2748; pl. chartummim), which BDB defines as an engraver or writer and refers to one possessed of occult knowledge (355) (Dan 1:20; 2:2 ABP LXX). Magos also translates Aram. chartom (SH-2749), which corresponds to the Hebrew word (BDB 1093), in Daniel 2:10, 27; 4:7; 5:7, 11, 15. The Hebrew chartom first occurs in Genesis 41:8, 24 where it refers to men called upon by Pharaoh to interpret his prophetic dreams, and then in Exodus 8:7, 18, 19 of magicians who duplicated the miracles performed by Aaron.
Longenecker comments that while sorcery and magic were officially banned in Judaism, there were still Jews who practiced it, both under the guise of Jewish orthodoxy and as renegades (cf. Luke 11:19; Acts 19:13-16). However, we should note that Luke does not use the verb meaning "to practice sorcery" (Grk. mageuō) as he does for Simon of Samaria (Acts 8:9). Bible versions are generally divided between translating the noun as "magician" and "sorcerer." Two versions have "astrologer" (GW, NOG).
From the use of the term in the Tanakh and in Matthew we should not assume that this man practiced the black arts of witchcraft as is implied by the terms "magician," "sorcery," "witchcraft" (CEV, NLV, WE) or "wizard" (AMPC, MSG). Given the usage of magos in Matthew, the JUB version translated the noun as "wise man," which is not unreasonable. It's not impossible that he could have been of the same order as the Magoi of Persia.
 a Jewish: Grk. Ioudaios. See the previous verse. Bible versions are divided between translating the term as a noun "Jew" or an adjective, "Jewish." I chose the latter. This description means that the magian was not a Gentile and he was not only a descendant of Jacob but lived as a traditional Jew. Being Jewish does not preclude this man from being of the order of the Persian Magoi. See my note on the Magoi in Matthew 2:1.
 false prophet: Grk. pseudoprophētēs, one who falsely claims to have divine credentials for service as a prophet, with or without the implication of offering incorrect information. In the Torah a false prophet is one who may perform a miracle and counsels God's people to rebel against God's commandments (Deut 13:1-5). A false prophet is also someone who speaking in the name of the Lord makes a prediction that does not come to pass (Deut 18:20-22). Yeshua had warned his disciples to beware of false prophets (Matt 7:15; 24:24). That warning is still relevant today.
 who: Grk. hos, relative pronoun. See verse 2 above. went by a name: Grk. onoma is used in its central sense of identifying someone with a proper name. In Hebrew literature "name" also carries the extended sense of qualities, powers, attributes or reputation. of Baryeshua: Grk. Bariēsou, a personal name mentioned only here in the Besekh. Since the prefix "Bar" means "son" or "son of" and Iēsou ("salvation") is used in the LXX for Joshua (Ex 17:8), the NASBEC and SECB give the meaning of the name as "son of Joshua." Most versions render the name as "Bar-Jesus," even though there is no linguistic reason to hyphenate the name. A few versions have "Barjesus" (ERV, GW, JUB, KJV, NOG, NLV). See the following textual note on the name.
The spelling Bariēsou is the genitive case rather than the nominative case (Bariēsous). The genitive qualifies the meaning of a preceding noun or pronoun (i.e., onoma) and is typically translated with "of." In this short clause the Greek text contains no verb, so one must be assumed. The clause could mean that (1) Baryeshu was a birth name, (2) that he was the son of a man named Yeshua or (3) that Baryeshua was a name by which the magian sought to be known. Considering Luke's declaration in verse 8 below I believe the third option is more likely, and he took the name Baryeshua to make himself more impressive.
7 who was with the proconsul, Sergius Paulus, an intelligent man. This one having summoned Barnabas and Saul and sought to hear the word of God.
who: Grk. hos, relative pronoun. was: Grk. eimi, impf. See verse 1 above. with: Grk. sun ("soon"), prep. used to denote association or close identification. the proconsul: Grk. ho anthupatos (for the Latin pro consulé) one who acts in the place of a consul; proconsul. The title appears in Roman records as early as the 3rd century BC. The Roman provinces were divided into senatorial and imperial. The former were presided over by proconsuls; the latter were administered by legates of the emperor. A proconsul supervised the administration of civil and military matters in the province, and answered to the senate in Rome. The clause implies that the false prophet acted in an advisory capacity to the proconsul. Roman emperors often had astrologers among their attendants (Polhill 86).
Sergius: Grk. Sergios, the Greek form of the Roman name. Paulus: Grk. Paulos, the Greek form of the Roman proper name. The name of Sergius Paulus is found on several inscriptions on the north coast of Cyprus (BAG). Nothing is known with certainty of his background. an intelligent: Grk. sunatos, adj., acute in discernment; intelligent, learned, sagacious. man: Grk. anēr. See the previous verse. This one: Grk. houtos, demonstrative pronoun signifying a person or thing set forth in narrative that precedes or follows it; this. having summoned: Grk. proskaleō, aor. mid. part. See verse 2 above. Barnabas: See verse 1 above. and: Grk. kai, conj. Saul: See verse 1 above. The invitation, which could not have been refused, was probably to appear at the Roman headquarters, although the personal residence of the proconsul might also have been the location.
and: Grk. kai. sought: Grk. epizēteō, aor., may mean (1) try to find something; look for; search for; or (2) show strong interest in; seek, want. The second meaning applies here. to hear: Grk. akouō, aor. inf., to hear, with the focus on willingness to listen or to heed the substance of what is said. In the LXX akouō consistently stands for Heb. shama, which not only means to apprehend, but also to accept and to act upon what has been apprehended (DNTT 2:173). the word of God: See verse 5 above. Longenecker suggests that the summons was probably meant to be an official inquiry into the nature of what the missioners were proclaiming in the synagogues so that the proconsul might know how to deal with charges already laid against these wandering Jewish evangelists and head off any further disruptions within the Jewish communities.
However, the narrative here does not mention any legal charges such as occurred in Philippi (16:22-24), Thessalonica (17:6-12), and Corinth (18:12-16). Luke clearly says that Sergius wanted to listen to the "word of God," not conduct a judicial hearing. The governor apparently learned what had been happening in the synagogues, and had an interest in Jewish teaching. He was ready to abandon the idolatry and paganism of the Romans and embrace the reality of one God and the superiority of Jewish ethics. While Sergius might also have wanted to assure himself that the Jewish teachers were not advocating rebellion against Rome, he did not invite the evangelists for a confrontational meeting. Paul would have welcomed such a meeting since his commission included proclaiming the good news to rulers (9:15).
8 Now Elymas the astrologer (for thus his name is translated) was opposing them, seeking to divert the proconsul from the faith.
Now: Grk. de, conj. Elymas: Grk. Elumas, a proper name, etymology uncertain. Scholars offer many suggestions as to its origin. Thayer, citing Delitzsch, says the name is derived most probably from the Aramaic אְלִימָא (elymah), "powerful." Gill cites a commentator who says the name means "healing." Luke introduces the first of two alternative names given to the opponents in this drama. Elymas was clearly a Hellenistic name. the astrologer: Grk. ho magos. See verse 6 above. for: Grk. gar, conj., a contraction of ge ("yet") and ara ("then"), and in a broad sense means "certainly it follows that; for." The conjunction has four uses: (1) explanatory, (2) expressive of astonishment, (3) causal and, (4) inferential. The first use is intended here.
thus: Grk. houtōs, adv., used to introduce the manner or way in which something has been done or to be done; thus, in this manner, way or fashion, so. his: Grk. autos, personal pronoun. name: Grk. onoma. See verse 6 above. is translated: Grk. methermēneuō, pres. pass., to translate, or render a term from one language into another. The verb occurs not at all in the LXX, but does occur in the prologue (30) to Sirach and in Josephus (Ant. VIII, 5:3) (DNTT 1:580). Bruce comments that Elymas is probably a Semitic word with a similar meaning to magos. It cannot be an interpretation of Bariēsou (249). Lightfoot asserts that Elymas takes its original from the Arabic word 'alima, 'wise.' Marshall finds this suggestion reasonable (232).
was opposing: Grk. anthistēmi, impf. mid., take a position in opposition to, resist, hold one's own, take a stand against, oppose, withstand. them: pl. of Grk. autos. seeking: Grk. zēteō, pres. part., may mean (1) be on the search for in order to find someone or something one has difficulty in locating; (2) search for ways to satisfy an interest; (3) have an interest in; or (4) press for. The third meaning applies here. to divert: Grk. diastrephō, aor. inf., divert from proper behavior; mislead, pervert, twist, turn away. the proconsul: See the previous verse. from: Grk. apo, prep., used generally as a marker of separation; from, away from.
the faith: Grk ho pistis (from peithō, "to persuade, be persuaded"), incorporates two primary facets of meaning, first that which causes trust and faith, i.e., faithfulness or reliability, and second, trust or confidence in an active sense (BAG). In the LXX pistis is used two times to render Heb. emun, 'faithfulness' (SH-529; BDB 53; Deut 32:20; Prov 13:17). Over 20 times pistis translates Heb. emunah, firmness, steadfastness, or fidelity (SH-530; BDB 53), mainly of men's faithfulness (1Sam 26:23; 2Kgs 12:15; 22:7; Jer 5:1, 3; 7:28; 9:3; Hos 2:20), but also of God's faithfulness (Ps 33:4; Lam 3:23; Hab 2:4).
Pistis also translates Heb. aman (SH-539), to confirm, to support (Jer 15:18); amanah (SH-548), fixed support (Neh 9:38; 11:23; SS 4:8); and emet (SH-571), firmness, faithfulness, or truth (Prov 14:22; Jer 28:9; 33:6). The LXX usage emphasizes that the intended meaning of pistis is faithfulness. So in this context "the faith" is shorthand for trusting in Yeshua as Savior and committing to faithful obedience to Yeshua.
Gill comments that Elymas withstood Saul and Barnabas, just as Jannes and Jambres, the magicians of Egypt, withstood Moses (2Tim 2:8-9). Elymas did all he could to prevent their coming into the governor's presence, and his hearing them proclaiming the good news. Moreover, when Sergius Paulus received the message, Elymas did his best to convince the proconsul to deny and reject the apostolic message. The false prophet set himself against the purposes of the God of Israel and therefore put himself in the place of judgment.
But: Grk. de, conj. Saul: Grk. Saulos. See verse 1 above. This is the last time Luke refers to the apostle with his Hebrew name. the one: Grk. ho, definite article but used here as a demonstrative pronoun. The word order of the Greek text justifies this translation. also: Grk. kai, conj. called: The verb does not appear in the Greek text, but inserting "called" or "known as" seems justified by the context. Paul: Grk. Paulos, from the Latin cognomen or surname Paulus. The Latin name means small or humble, and Paul no doubt engages in a word play on this meaning of his name when he said, "I am the least of the apostles" (1Cor 15:9).
The name Paulus was probably taken from the patron who made Roman citizenship possible for Paul's father or grandfather (see Acts 22:28). It was also customary for Jews to have one name among themselves, and another among the Gentiles. Gill quotes the Jerusalem Talmud, "the Israelites out of the land, their names are as the names of the Gentiles (TJ Gittin 43.2). He notes an anecdote that a woman went by one name in Judea, and another in Galilee (Ibid., 45.3). The Babylonian Talmud also says that Jews in foreign parts bear Gentile names (TB Gittin 11b; Stern 267). For a biography of Paul see my web article The Apostle from Tarsus. See the Additional Note below concerning Luke's change of the apostle's name.
having been filled: Grk. pimplēmi, aor. pass. part., to cause to be in a condition that allows for no further addition, to be filled. The verb in this context does not mean being filled as a vessel is filled with water, but being fully possessed by or being completely under the control of. of the Holy Spirit: See verse 2 above. The past tense of "filled" might allude to when he was originally filled with the Spirit in Damascus (Acts 9:17) or to a more recent spiritual empowerment.
having looked intently: Grk. atenizō, aor. pass. part., direct one's gaze, look intently, observe with great interest. upon: Grk. eis, prep., lit. "into." The preposition could be taken literally in the sense of seeing inside the soul with the aid of the Holy Spirit, perhaps manifesting the gifts of a "word of knowledge" and "discernment of spirits." him: Grk. autos, personal pronoun.
10 said, "O full of all deceit and all trickery, son of the devil, enemy of all righteousness, will you not cease perverting the straight ways of the Lord?
Paul then engaged in a pointed confrontation of Elymas and issued a strong rebuke and condemnation, inspired by the Holy Spirit. In doing so he addressed Elymas with three names of his own construction.
said: Grk. legō, aor. See verse 2 above. O: Grk. Ō, the last letter of the Greek alphabet, but used here as an interjection. When the address is intended to carry special force the inflectional particle omega ("ō") is used (DM 71). The special usage of the omega letter with vocative case nouns is found in both classical Greek writings and Jewish literature (BAG). full: Grk. plērēs, adj., voc., in a state or condition of being supplied abundantly with something, filled up, full of. of all: pl. of Grk. pas, adj., comprehensive in scope, but without statistical emphasis; all, every. deceit: Grk. dolos, cunning that relies on deception for effectiveness; craftiness, deceit. and: Grk. kai, conj. all: pl. of Grk. pas. trickery: Grk. rhadiourgia, the practice of securing one's objectives by trickery and deception; chicanery, cunning, unscrupulousness, villainy. The noun occurs only here in the Besekh.
son: Grk. huios, voc., a male offspring or descendant. In the LXX huios translates Heb. ben (SH-1121), "son," "son of" (Gen 3:17). The noun is used in three distinctive ways in Scripture: (1) to identify direct paternity; (2) to mean not the actual father but a more distant ancestor; or (3) to mean in a broader sense of having the characteristics of. The third meaning applies here. of the devil: Grk. diabolos, adj., slanderer, false accuser. Diabolos occurs 21 times in the LXX to translate the Heb. word satan, "adversary," mostly of the celestial cherub (13 times in Job alone), but also a wicked human opponent (e.g. 1Kgs 11:14, 23, 25). Diabolos occurs 38 times in the Besekh, primarily in reference to Satan (DNTT 3:468f). Scripture presents the devil as real, and not a literary fiction.
Scripture gives no information about the creation of celestial beings, although they must have been created very early in the first week. See my article The Host of Heaven. Precisely when and how Satan became evil remains a mystery. Hints as to his origin are found in two passages directed initially to the kings of Tyre (Ezek 28:11-17) and Babylon (Isa 14:12-15). These passages indicate that Satan was not created to be an adversary or a deceiver. His sin was pride and in his arrogance he believed he could overthrow God and reign over creation. The devil first appeared in Gan-Eden as the serpent (cf. 2Cor 11:3; Rev 12:9) to tempt Chavvah ("Eve," Gen 3:1), and presented himself as the adversary of God.
Yeshua emphasized that the devil was a liar and a murderer from the beginning (John 8:44). The devil is wholly committed to the destruction of all that is good and holy (1Pet 5:8), but someday he will suffer eternal punishment for all his crimes (Rev 20:2, 10). Calling Elymas a "son of the devil" has precedent, since Yeshua applied this description to Judas (John 6:70), and certain Judean authorities (John 8:44). Calling Elymas "son of the devil," then, emphasizes that he is both a slanderer and adversary of God.
enemy: Grk. echthros, adj., voc., someone openly hostile inimical toward another, properly an enemy. The term implies irreconcilable hostility, proceeding out of a "personal" hatred bent on inflicting harm (HELPS). In normal usage the term may refer to opponents in military conflict or to personal enemies. of all: pl. of Grk. pas. righteousness: Grk. dikaiosunē, a state that is in accord with standards for acceptable or anticipated behavior, uprightness, righteousness, justice. In the LXX dikaiosunē is used for a dozen different terms, normally Heb. tzedaqah (SH-6666), with the same meaning (DNTT 3:354). The term is first used of Abraham's faithfulness being considered as righteousness (Gen 15:6). The noun is often used to describe the character of God (Ps 5:8; 35:24; Isa 5:16; 42:21; Jer 9:24) (DNTT 3:354).
In the Tanakh the concept of righteousness refers to right or ethical character and behavior that is in keeping with the covenantal relationship with God. Righteousness is more relational than legal. The term also carries the sense of salvation (deliverance) and judgment (justice). Righteousness primarily has human relationships as its focus and therefore righteousness strengthens the community. So righteousness is not just abstaining from harmful behavior, but doing good for others.
Calling Elymas an "enemy of righteousness" does not mean that he led a particularly wicked life. Yeshua also criticized certain Pharisees as being legalistically righteous, but falling short of the core values of Torah (cf. Matt 5:20; 6:1; 21:32; 23:28). In addition, Elymas was the "enemy of justice" because he attempted to deprive Paul of his due process rights and prevent his sharing the good news with the proconsul.
will you not: Grk. ou, adv., a particle used in an unqualified denial or negation; not. cease: Grk. pauō, fut. mid., engage in cessation of an activity or state; stop, cease. perverting: Grk. diastrephō, pres. part. See verse 8 above. the straight: Grk. euthus, adj., straight of direction, as opposed to crooked or having unnecessary zig-zags, and thus has a fig. meaning of being upright in character. ways: pl. of Grk. hodos, with the focus on the concept of going the word typically has the sense of a route for traveling, hence a way, a road or a highway. It can also refer to the act of traveling; journey, way, trip. Then, hodos is used fig. of conduct or a manner of life (cf. 1Cor 12:31; Jas 1:8). In the LXX hodos occurs frequently and is used to render 18 Hebrew equivalents, but mostly Heb. derek (SH-1070), a way, road, or journey (Ps 1:6) (DNTT 3:937).
of the Lord: Grk. kurios. See verse 2 above. The plural idiomatic expression "ways of the Lord" occurs several times in the Tanakh (2Sam 22:22; 2Chr 17:6; Ps 18:21; 138:5; Hos 14:9). The plural form does not imply that there are multiple paths to God and salvation, but that God operates in multiple ways to bring life and instructs His people in the multiple ways that righteousness is lived (cf. Ps 25:4; 119:15; Prov 2:19-20; Isa 2:3; 26:8).
11 "And now, behold, the hand of ADONAI is upon you, and you will be blind, not seeing the sun until a time." Then immediately a mistiness and a darkness fell upon him, and going about he was seeking guides.
And: Grk. kai, conj. now: Grk. nun, adv., marker of time in the present; now or just now. behold: Grk. idou, aor. imp., demonstrative interjection (derived from eidon, "to see"), that arouses the attention of hearers or readers. The Greek verb, like its corresponding Heb. word hinneh (SH-2009, e.g., Gen 1:29), serves to enliven divine monologues and narratives, particularly as a call to closer consideration and contemplation of something, to introduce something new or to emphasize the size or importance of something; (you) see, look, behold (BAG).
the hand: Grk. cheir. See verse 3 above. The noun is used here in a fig. sense. of ADONAI: Grk. kurios. See verse 2 above. The Greek title lacks the definite article and Kurios is used to indicate the sacred name YHVH. Paul may have been speaking to the Elymas in Hebrew. The phrase "hand of ADONAI" is an idiomatic expression occurring many times in the Tanakh, generally to denote the favor and power of ADONAI (Josh 4:24; Ps 118:15-16; 1Kgs 18:46; Ezra 7:6), whether positively in helping His people Israel (Ezra 7:6; Isa 41:20) or negatively in punishing the enemies of Israel (Ex 9:3; 1Sam 5:6; 7:13) and judging wicked Israelites (Deut 2:15; Jdg 2:15).
is upon: Grk. epi, prep., expressing the idea of hovering, used here to denote location or position; upon. you: Grk. su, pronoun of the second person. and: Grk. kai. you will be: Grk. eimi, fut. mid., 2p-sing. See verse 1 above. blind: Grk. tuphlos, adj., inability to see; blind. Two other incidents occurred in biblical history in which men were divinely struck with blindness as punishment: men of Sodom (Gen 19:11), and an Aramean army (2Kgs 6:18). not: Grk. mē, adv., a particle of qualified negation, not. It differs from the other standard negative particle, oú, in that oú is objective, while mē is subjective (DM 265). The adverb is often used in declarations of a tentative nature. seeing: Grk. blepō, pres. part., may mean (1) possess the physical ability to see; (2) use one's eyes to take note of an object; (3) be looking in a certain direction; or (4) to have inward or mental sight. The first meaning applies here.
the sun: Grk. hēlios, (for Heb. shemesh), the sun, the star that is the central body of the solar system, created on the fourth day to "govern the day" (Gen 1:16-19). Its mean distance from the earth is about 93 million miles, its diameter about 864,000 miles, and its mass about 330,000 times that of the earth. The surface temperature of the sun is in excess of 10,000 degrees Fahrenheit and its distance from the earth assures the right balance of heat, light and photosynthesis to sustain all of earth's physical and biological processes. In both the solar system and on the earth "there is nothing hidden from its heat" (Ps 19:6). The sun moves in an orbit through the Milky Way Galaxy (Ps 19:5-6), at a speed that scientists estimate to be 600,000 mph (BBMS 165).
The phrase "not seeing the sun" does not mean that Elymas typically stared at the sun, which itself can cause blindness. Rather, the phrase is a graphic expression for blindness. Paul himself had been struck with blindness on the road to Damascus as emblematic of his previous ignorance and spiritual darkness (Acts 9:9; cf. 2Cor 4:4; Eph 5:8; Col 1:13). Perhaps blindness would force Elymas to consider his own spiritual condition.
until: Grk. achri, adv. See verse 6 above. Here the adverb has a temporal meaning. a time: Grk. kairos may refer to (1) an appropriate or set temporal segment of time; or (2) a period, definite or approximate, in which an event takes place; time, period. The first meaning applies here. Paul does not claim knowledge of how long the blindness would last. The sovereign punishment might have been permanent or would last until Elymas repented (cf. Dan 4:25). Paul's declaration was no doubt divinely inspired and not the result of petulance. Then: Grk. de, conj. immediately: Grk. parachrēma, adv., instantly, immediately, straightway.
a mistiness: Grk. achlus, a mist, dimness, darkening, referring here to dimness of sight. In Greek literature the term was used of cataracts (Thayer). and: Grk. kai. a darkness: Grk. skotos, absence of light or darkness. The term refers to diminished visible light. fell: Grk. piptō, aor., to descend or drop from a higher place or position to a lower place or position, here hinting at punishment from heaven. upon: Grk. epi. him: Grk. autos, personal pronoun. and: Grk. kai. going about: Grk. periagō, pres. part., to travel in an area; go around, go about. he was seeking: Grk. zēteō, impf. See verse 8 above. guides: pl. of Grk. cheiragōgos, one who leads a helpless person by the hand, a personal conductor; leader, guide (LSJ). The noun occurs only here in the Besekh. Many versions render the plural noun as singular pronoun and infinitive, e.g., "someone to lead him by the hand." Elymas apparently hoped for assistance among his fellow Jews.
12 Then the proconsul having seen what had happened believed, being amazed at the teaching of the Lord.
Then: Grk. tote, adv. See verse 3 above. the proconsul: See verse 7 above. having seen: Grk. horaō, aor. part., to perceive physically with the eye, or in a fig. sense to experience something or to have extraordinary mental or inward perception. The clause affirms that this entire incident took place in the presence of Sergius Paulus, probably in the government headquarters. what: Grk. ho, definite article, but used here as a relative pronoun. had happened: Grk. ginomai, perf. part. See verse 5 above. believed: Grk. pisteuō, aor. (derived from pistis, trust, faithfulness), to have confidence in the reliability or trustworthiness of some thing or someone. In the Besekh the verb often has the sense of a personal trust in God's power and His nearness to help.
In the LXX pisteuō translates Heb. aman (SH-539), to be reliable, to stand firm, trust, believe, be faithful, first used in Genesis 15:6 of Abraham. The verb conveys much more than cognitive assent. The CJB translates the verb with "trusted." The nature of the proconsul's believing is a matter of debate among commentators. Noteworthy is that there is no mention of Barnabas or Paul insisting on water immersion as Peter did for Cornelius. So, some commentators think the verb only indicates the first step in conversion. However, the verb occurs in later passages where there is no mention of immersion but it would be expected (14:1; 17:34; 19:18). I believe the verb should be taken in its usual sense of a personal trust for salvation and a commitment to follow Yeshua. The two apostles may have called Sergius to the discipleship of immersion or decided to leave the matter of its instruction to the local Messianic community.
being amazed: Grk. ekplēssō, pres. mid. part., to drive from one's senses through shock; be amazed, astonished. The proconsul was probably not the only one astonished in the building. at: Grk. epi, prep. the teaching: Grk. didachē, derived from the verb didaskō ("teach"), means the act of teaching with content implied. In the Besekh the term is often associated with a particular source, such as Yeshua (Matt 7:28; John 7:16f), the Pharisees and Sadducees (Matt 16:12), the apostles (here; Acts 2:42; 5:28; Rom 16:17) or heretical sects (Heb 13:9; Rev 2:14-15, 24). of the Lord: Grk. kurios. See verse 2 above. Danker suggests the didachē of the Lord refers to the "lesson" taught to the obstructive adversary. However, the phrase "teaching of the Lord" ordinarily means "teaching about the Lord Yeshua," such as Philip proclaimed to the Ethiopian (8:35) or Peter proclaimed to Cornelius (10:36-43).
The fact that Sergius Paulus was astonished implies a lack of previous knowledge about Yeshua, so the apostolic message may have been similar to what Paul proclaimed in Athens (17:24-31). The story of Yeshua contains many astonishing things: the fulfillment of prophecies given to Israel, the birth of Yeshua of a virgin, the creation-type miracles Yeshua performed, the rejection of Yeshua by Jewish leaders, his crucifixion and death followed by resurrection and then ascension to heaven. Then the miraculous punishment meted out to Elymas marked the didachē as truth and served as a lesson to the proconsul that there is a judge of the universe to whom he would be accountable (cf. Acts 17:30-31).
Travel to Pisidian Antioch, 13:13-15
13― Then having sailed from Paphos with the ones around him, Paul came to Perga of Pamphylia. But John having departed from them returned to Jerusalem;
Then: Grk. de, conj. having sailed: Grk. anagō, aor. pass. part., may mean (1) to conduct from a lower place to a higher, to lead or bring up; (2) bring up fro a judicial process; or (3) as a nautical technical term, put to see, set sail. The third meaning applies here. from: Grk. apo, prep. Paphos: See verse 6 above. with the ones: pl. of Grk. ho, definite article but used here as a relative pronoun. The plural form alludes to the presence of Barnabas and Mark with Paul. around him: Grk. peri, prep. with an orientational aspect relating to being near or having to do with something; in behalf of, about, around, concerning. Paul: See verse 9 above. With no fanfare Luke marks the point at which Paul began to serve as leader of the ministry team. Barclay says this change reflects the humility of Barnabas who was willing to take second place as long as God's work was done.
The CJB, in deference to its intended audience, substitutes the Hebrew name Sha'ul for "Paul" to emphasize the fact that the apostle never surrendered his Jewish identity (Stern 267). We should note that "Paul" is used almost exclusively by Luke from this point on in Acts and is also the only name by which the apostle refers to himself in his letters, which were sent to Jewish congregational leaders and to congregations with largely Jewish membership. In addition, the OJB, which also has Sha'ul, adds the title "Rav" in direct violation of Yeshua's instruction (Matt 23:8). Paul never used the honorific of himself and no one ever addressed Paul as "Rabbi."
came: Grk. erchomai, aor., 'to come or arrive' with focus on a position from which action or movement takes place. to: Grk. eis, prep., lit. "into." Perga: Grk. Pergē, a principal and capital city of Pamphylia situated on the river Cestrus about 12 miles from the coast. Small boats from the sea were able to reach Perga by the river. On a hill near the town was the temple of Diana (i.e., Artemis). See the map here. of Pamphylia: Grk. Pamphulia, a Roman province on the south coast of Asia Minor, bounded on the east by Cilicia, on west by Lycia and Phrygia Minor, on the north by Galatia, and on the south by the Mediterranean Sea. See the map here. The coast of Pamphylia lay 175 miles from Paphos. Longenecker comments that Pamphylia was a geographically small and economically poor province with a mixed population. The three men probably landed at Attalia, the port city of Perga (Polhill 87).
But: Grk. de. John: See verse 5 above; aka Mark. having departed: Grk. apochōreō, aor. part., to take leave, depart, go away or withdraw. The verb occurs only three times in the Besekh (Matt 7:23; Luke 9:39), and with a negative connotation. from: Grk. apo. them: pl. of Grk. autos, personal pronoun. Mark left the team from Perga, which seems an odd choice. Why would he get on the ship and travel the long distance, only to leave the team after landing? returned: Grk. hupostrephō, aor., to go back to a position, to return or turn back.
to: Grk. eis. Jerusalem: Grk. Hierosoluma, a rough transliteration of the Heb. Yerushalayim (SH-3389), which means "possession" or "foundation of peace" (BDB 436). Hierosoluma is one of two forms of Jerusalem in Greek, the other Ierousalēm, used in verse 27 below. See the note on "Jerusalem" and the two spellings in 1:4. The city was home to the mother of John Mark. The solo return to Jerusalem indicates that Mark was an experienced traveler. Luke offers no explanation of Mark's reason for leaving the team. Various speculations have been offered, such as homesickness, growing weary of the travels and labors necessitated by the ministry, and diminishing courage to handle new challenges, such as a trek into high mountains.
Given the patristic record that Mark accompanied Peter on his trip through Asia Minor all the way to Rome in 42/43, it's not likely that it was some ordinary complaint that led to Mark's departure. There is certainly no evidence that Mark's leaving represented abandoning Yeshua. In Acts 15:38 the verb aphistēmi ("to stand away from") is used to describe Mark's departure and the narrative there asserts that Mark's exit became the basis for a sharp contention between Paul and Barnabas. Indeed the text indicates that Paul regarded Mark's disassociation as desertion. Only a challenge to the authority exercised by Paul who had gained preeminence over Barnabas or the nature of the mission could adequately explain Mark's decision to return home.
On both issues the root of the divide may be found in what happened at Paphos when the Roman Sergius Paulus became a believer. At that time Paul assumed the leader role, and thereafter Luke speaks of Paul and Barnabas (Acts 13:42, 43, 46, 50; 15:2, 22, 35), not Barnabas and Saul. Perhaps, too, Mark was less able than Barnabas himself to see the latter take second place. Mark may have also objected to the offer of salvation without the necessity of circumcision, over which Peter was criticized (Acts 11:2-3). There are hints that Mark's family, like Paul's, were Hebrews of the Hebrews, and it is not without significance that in this chapter Mark is known only by his Hebrew name.
In addition, Paul includes Mark in the list of those who were part of "the circumcision" in Colossians 4:10-11. The label does not simply describe the surgery, which would be a superfluous comment, but a Judaizing group (Rom 4:12; 15:8; Gal 2:12; Titus 1:10). Barnabas also for a time had fallen prey to this error (Gal 2:13) and in this Mark may have been influenced by his cousin. Paul, like Peter, instinctively understood that circumcision was not a condition of salvation. In any event Luke offers no information to settle the matter of Mark's departure.
Now: Grk. de, conj. they: pl. of Grk. autos, personal pronoun; Paul and Barnabas. having passed through: Grk. dierchomai, aor. part. See verse 6 above. from: Grk. apo, prep. Perga: See the previous verse. arrived: Grk. paraginomai, aor. mid., to make one's way so as to be present; come, arrive, be present. at: Grk. eis, prep. Antioch: See verse 1 above. of Pisidia: Grk. ho Pisidia, a region of Asia Minor in the southwestern part of the Roman province of Galatia. See the map here. Pisidian Antioch was one of sixteen Antiochs founded by Seleucus I Nicator and named for his father, some time around 300 BC. This Antioch was located on the border of Phrygia and Pisidia in a territory known as Galatian Phrygia (NIBD 68; Atlas 91).
The city lay about 100 miles north of Perga in a mountainous region on a high plateau some 3600 to 3800 feet above sea level. Barclay notes that to get to Antioch Paul and Barnabas had to cross the Taurus range of mountains by one of the hardest roads in Asia Minor, a road notorious for robbers and brigands. The dominant religion of this region was the worship of Cybele, the Mother Goddess, an ancient fertility deity associate with the cycle of the seasons. The patron god of Pisidian Antioch was a male figure known as Men (Polhill 88).
Luke does not explain why the apostles did not remain in Perga to proclaim the good news there, although they do so on their return trip (Acts 14:25). Barclay offers the hypothesis that Paul had contracted malaria, which was prevalent in the coastal strip of Pamphylia. Thus, he made for the high plateau country of Antioch to shake off the disease. Later, in his letter to the congregations in the province of Galatia Paul says that he proclaimed the good news first in Galatia due to a bodily illness (Gal 4:13).
Polhill notes a connection of Pisidian Antioch with Sergius Paulus (87). Inscriptions have been discovered at Antioch to various members of the Paulus family. It is possible that just as the destination of Cyprus had a personal connection for Barnabas, the destination of Pisidian Antioch had a personal connection for Paul. Perhaps Sergius Paulus had requested Paul, if possible, to take the good news to his relatives there. In addition, Pisidian Antioch lay 200 miles west-northwest of Tarsus and perhaps Paul had visited the city in his youth or during his silent years.
and: Grk. kai, conj. having gone: Grk. eiserchomai, aor. part., to go or enter into a geographical area, manufactured structure or other place defined in the context. into: Grk. eis. the synagogue: Grk. ho sunagōgē. See verse 5 above. Judging from Luke's narrative there must have been a sizable Jewish presence in the city. Josephus mentioned the transfer of several thousand Jews from Mesopotamia to Phrygia by the Seleucid King Antiochus III in the later third century BC (Ant. XII, 3:4). The singular noun might imply that the assembly site was the only synagogue in Antioch or the principal synagogue if there was more than one.
on the day: Grk. hēmera may refer to (1) the daylight hours from sunrise to sunset, (2) the civil or legal day that included the night, (3) an appointed day for a special purpose or (4) a longer or imprecise period, such as a timeframe for accomplishing something or a time of life or activity (BAG). The third meaning applies here, but the first meaning also has application. The morning service at the synagogue would have begun about 9:00 AM as at the Temple in Jerusalem.
of the Sabbath: pl. of Grk. sabbaton, a transliteration of Heb. shabbath (DNTT 3:405), which is derived from the verb shabath ("cease, desist, rest" BDB 991). In the commandments given at Sinai (Ex 20:8) and Moab (Deut 5:12) the instruction to rest is set in contrast to the work that provides one's livelihood. Sabbaton occurs 68 times in the Besekh, generally of the seventh day of the week (e.g. Matt 12:5; Mark 2:27; Luke 4:16; John 19:31). As faithful traditional Jews Paul and Barnabas observed the Sabbath (Saturday), not to be confused with the Lord's day (Sunday). For the biblical background and Torah instructions regarding Sabbath observance see my web article Remember the Sabbath.
The plural form of the noun used here often denotes seven days or a week (cf. Matt 28:1; Mark 16:2; Luke 24:1; John 20:1; Acts 20:7). Thus, the phrase "the day of the Sabbaths" may allude to the Jewish practice of numbering the days of the week from the Sabbath as (1) echad Shabbat, first day of the week; (2) teren Shabbat, second day of the week; (3) shelishi Shabbat, third day of the week; (4) b'rebii Shabbat, fourth day of the week; (5) chamishi shabbat, fifth day of the week; (6) erev Shabbat, the eve of the Sabbath (Lightfoot 2:375-376). So, "the day of the Sabbaths" would mean the last, or seventh day of the week.
they sat down: Grk. kathizō, aor., to sit, to take one's seat. The verb alludes to finding a place to sit before the service began. In terms of posture Jews stood for the prescribed prayers and sat for the Scripture reading and any exposition of the Scripture.
15― And after the reading of the Torah and of the Neviim, the synagogue rulers sent to them, saying, 'Men, brothers, if there is any word of exhortation among you toward the people, speak.'
And: Grk. de, conj. after: Grk. meta, prep., may be used (1) as a marker of association or accompaniment; with, among; or (2) as a sequential or positional marker; after, behind. The second usage is intended here. the reading: Grk. ho anagnōsis, a public reading in a religious setting. Luke then refers to two of the three divisions of the Hebrew Bible. of the Torah: Grk. ho nomos may mean either (1) a principle or standard relating to behavior or (2) codified legislation, i.e. law. The first division of the Hebrew Bible is the Torah, the five books of Moses (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy).
In Christianity the first five books of the Bible are referred to as the "Pentateuch" (from Grk. penta, "five", and teukhos, "tool" or "vessel"), which in late Greek referred to a scroll. The term meant "five-volumned" and the ancient division of the work of Moses into five sections is supported by the LXX that was in use among Jews by the 2nd century B.C. and the Samaritan Pentateuch, which is even earlier (NIBD 815). "Pentateuch" is a Greek adaptation of the Hebrew expression "chamishshah humshe ha-Torah" (five-fifths of the Law) or the shorthand chumash ("five"), referring to the actual scroll containing the books of Moses (Hirsch).
and: Grk. kai, conj. of the Neviim: pl. of Grk. ho prophētēs, one who is gifted with the ability for interpretation or revelation transcending normal insight or awareness (DNTT 3:76). The plural noun used in this verse denotes the second division of the Hebrew Bible, the literary works of the Hebrew prophets in the Tanakh called Nevi'im. The Nevi'im included the Early Prophets (Joshua through 2Kings) and the Latter Prophets (Isaiah through Malachi), except Daniel which was included in the K'tuvim (Writings).
The mention of the literary Prophets occurs 29 times in the Besekh, 15 of which are combined with a mention of Moses or the Torah (Matt 5:17; 7:12; 11:13; 22:40; Luke 16:16, 29, 31; 24:27, 44; John 1:45 Acts 13:15; 24:14; 26:22; 28:23; Rom 3:21). The Sabbath reading from a book of the Neviim, generally from the Latter Prophets, is called Haftarah ("conclusion").
A typical first-century synagogue service would have included the Shema, liturgical prayers while facing Jerusalem, such as the Amidah ("standing") or Shemoneh Esreh ("The Eighteen Blessings"), a Torah reading, a Haftarah reading from the Neviim, a message ("drash") on the Scripture passage, and a closing blessing. For synagogue Sabbath services the Torah is divided into 54 Parashôt ("portions") for sequential reading. Parashôt appear in manuscripts as early as the Dead Sea Scrolls, but Jewish tradition assigns their creation to Ezra. The annual reading through the Torah concludes on Simchat Torah ("rejoicing in the Torah") on 22 Tishri (Sept-Oct). For more information see The Parashah Cycle.
the synagogue rulers: pl. of Grk. ho archisunagōgos, ruler, head, leader or president of a synagogue. Synagogue organization included a wide variety of leadership and ministry positions and there were seven rulers: the nasi (President) with two assistants, chazan (pulpit minister), and three parnasin (receivers of alms) (Moseley 9). Some representative of the rulers, perhaps the chazan, addressed the strangers. sent: Grk. apostellō, aor., to cause to move from one position to another, but often to send as an authoritative personal representative. In the LXX apostellō translates Heb. shalach ("stretch out" or "send"), often in contexts of commissioning and empowering a messenger (DNTT 1:128).
to: Grk. pros, prep., lit. "near or facing" and conveys motion toward (DM 110); to, toward, with. them: pl. of Grk. autos, personal pronoun. The invitation and manner of address that follows suggests a certain familiarity. The apostolic team likely arrived during the week and sought lodging in the Jewish quarter. In this way Paul and Barnabas made themselves known in the Jewish community. saying: Grk. legō, pres. part., to make a statement or utterance, whether oral or in written form; say, tell, declare. In the LXX legō translates Heb. amar (SH-559), to utter, say, shew, command or think. The Greek verb "say" functions as quotation marks for the text following since ancient writings did not contain punctuation.
Men: pl. of Grk. anēr, voc. See verse 6 above. The direct address of anēr in speaking to groups appears 29 times in Acts, but most versions do not translate the noun here. The address of "men," a greeting of courtesy, might presume there were no women present in the assembly, but more likely focused on men since women held a lesser social position. The category would also include Gentile proselytes. The address of "men" might imply the speaker did not know the names of the distinguished visitors.
brothers: pl. of Grk. adelphos, voc., lit. "of the same womb," a male sibling; brother. In the Jewish context the term primarily refers to blood siblings or fellow Israelites. In the LXX adelphos translates Heb. ach (SH-251), a male sibling (Gen 4:2; 20:5), a near blood relative (Gen 13:8), a member of the same tribe (Num 16:10) or a fellow descendent of Jacob (Ex 2:11; 4:18). The use of "brothers" may acknowledge their common heritage as Jews or emphasize their shared form of Judaism.
if: Grk. ei, conj., a contingency marker, generally used to introduce a circumstance assumed to be valid for the sake of argument. there is: Grk. eimi, pres. See verse 1 above. any: Grk. tis, indefinite pronoun. See verse 6 above. word: Grk. logos. See verse 5 above. of exhortation: Grk. paraklēsis may mean (1) emboldening for facing or carrying out a responsibility or task, exhortation or encouragement; or (2) heartening in a time of trouble through word or demeanor; consolation or comfort. The first meaning applies here. The word of exhortation might imply sharing news of events in Israel, personal anecdotes and even some midrashic exposition of the Scripture that had just been read.
among: Grk. en, prep. you: Grk. humeis, pl. pronoun of the second person. toward: Grk. pros. the people: Grk. laos, a group of humans, understood geographically or ethnically, and often in the apostolic narratives of people groups associated with the God of Israel. Often in Scripture laos is viewed in contrast with the ruling class. The term corresponds to the Heb. am-ha'aretz, "people of the land," i.e., the people of Israel. speak: Grk. legō, pres. imp. Stern notes that hospitality often dictated offering the honor to a visitor to address the congregation, if he was competent. So, one of the synagogue rulers gives Paul and Barnabas the opportunity to speak. On the other hand, the invitation to speak could have been prearranged before the Sabbath.
Overview: Paul's message recorded here by Luke is quite similar to that of Peter's sermon to the Pentecost crowd (2:14-40) and Stephen's defense before the Sanhedrin (7:2-53) (Liberman 180). These three sermons are prime examples of what can be called the "Messianic Jewish gospel." The three sermons contain three parts: (1) the promise and preparation for the coming of the Messiah; (2) the fulfillment of that promise in Yeshua; and (3) and application to the audience and an appeal to repent. The review of story or more precisely "His-Story" as revealed in the Tanakh is at the heart of the "Messianic Jewish gospel."
In contrast the "Gentile Christian gospel" is essentially propositional (e.g., Apostles' Creed), relying on the appeal of logic supported by biblical proof-texts (e.g., Four Spiritual Laws; Roman Road), or even confrontational, calling for self-assessment of one's readiness for death (e.g., Evangelism Explosion). The fundamental difference in the Gentile Christian gospel no doubt owes to the influence of replacement theology with its denial of the relevance of God's covenantal promises to Israel.
The three apostolic sermons demonstrate the importance of history to understanding how salvation was and is accomplished. The emotional impact of Paul's sermon is heightened by the use of over a dozen action verbs describing what God did.
16― And Paul having stood, and having beckoned with the hand, said, 'Men, Israelites, and those fearing God, listen.
And: Grk. de, conj. Paul: See verse 9 above. having stood: Grk. anistēmi, aor. part., to rise, stand up or get up and in its ordinary use refers to the physical motion of transition from a sitting or prone position or simply standing. In the LXX anistēmi translates Heb. qum (SH-6965), to arise, stand up, or stand, first in Genesis 4:8. Paul took the initiative and went to the bima or pulpit to give his message. Scholars note the difference between the fact that Paul stood on this occasion and Yeshua sat down after the reading of Scripture (Luke 4:16-18). Bruce suggests the difference is that Yeshua's address was an exposition of Scripture whereas Paul's was rather an exhortation (271). However, Yeshua stood on many occasions to teach, so the difference more likely owes to local custom.
and: Grk. kai, conj. having beckoned: Grk. kataseiō, aor. part., a gesturing motion, probably with a staccato waving motion for attention; beckon, gesture, motion. Danker suggests the verb focuses on the shaking motion as a rhetorical reinforcement. with the hand: Grk. cheir. See verse 3 above. The crowd may have been surprised by the invitation to a stranger to speak and began to whisper or chatter among themselves. Thus, Paul signals for silence. said: Grk. legō, aor. See the previous verse. In his introduction he addresses three different groups, each in the vocative case. Most Bible versions only give two groups.
Men: Grk. anēr, voc. See verse 6 above. The address could have been directed to all the men in the meeting, but Paul probably intended it as a nod of respect to the synagogue rulers. There is no implication that women were not in attendance. Israelites: pl. of Grk. Israēlitēs, voc., a descendant of Israel the patriarch and member of the people of Israel. Paul does not distinguish between the different kinds or parties of Jews, but rather focuses on their kinship by blood. He might also mean those born in the Land of Israel. He does the same in verse 26 with "sons of Abraham's family."
those: pl. of Grk. ho, definite article, but used here as a relative pronoun. fearing: Grk. phobeomai, pres. mid. part., to fear. The verb has two basic meanings that are opposite: (1) to be in a state of apprehension, fearful and (2) to have special respect or reverence for, i.e., deep respect. The second meaning applies here. God: See verse 5 above. In the first century many Gentiles expressed a deep interest in learning about Judaism, which is remarkable considering that Jews were regarded everywhere with disfavor and Judaism was sneered at as a barbaric superstition (Schurer 2:291f, 312). Wherever there was a Jewish synagogue there was also a devoted body of Gentiles attached to it (Ibid. 308, 312).
The "God-fearer" was a Gentile who attached himself to a synagogue and the Jewish religion, but chose not to become a proselyte by circumcision and public immersion. Luke's first mention of a God-fearer was Cornelius, the Roman centurion (Acts 10:2) to whom Peter proclaimed the Good News. A God-fearer believed in and prayed to the God of Israel as the only God, loved the Jewish people, attended synagogue services, followed the moral and ethical standards of the Ten Commandments, and gave generously to the Jewish poor. God-fearing Gentiles were not pagans like those in Lystra (Acts 14:8-18) and Athens (Acts 17:17-23). (We need more God-fearers among Christians today!)
listen: Grk. akouō, aor. imp. See verse 7 above. The imperative mood of the verb denotes an entreaty. Paul makes the appeal to everyone in attendance, both Jews and Gentiles, no doubt making eye contact as he surveyed the room. Paul's entreaty to "hear" is a reminder of the command contained in the first clause of the Shema, "Hear O Israel" (Deut 6:4). Yeshua had said that this command to "hear" was foremost of the commandments (Mark 12:29). Since in Hebrew thought "to hear is to obey" the entreaty anticipates the appeal at the end of the sermon.
17― The God of this people of Israel chose our fathers, and exalted the people in the sojourn in Egypt, and with an uplifted arm he led them out of it,
Source: Genesis 12—Exodus 15
Considering the content of Paul's sermon he likely used the Parashah text read for the service as his starting point. The Torah passage that best fits his message in found in Parashah 45: Va'etchanan ("I pleaded," Deut 3:23—7:11), particularly Deuteronomy 4:32-39, which contains these words, "And because He loved your fathers, and chose their Seed [Heb. zera] after them, and brought you out with his own presence, with his great power, out of Egypt" (Deut 4:37 BR). So from this Torah passage, interpreting the mention of "Seed" as the Messianic promise, Paul proclaimed the Good News. If the 45th Parashah was read, then this day would have occurred in the month of Tammuz (July).
The God: Grk. ho theos, the God of Israel, the only God in existence. See verse 5 above. of this: Grk. houtos, demonstrative pronoun. See verse 7 above. people: Grk. laos. See verse 15 above. of Israel: Grk. Israēl, a transliteration of the Heb. Yisrael, which means "God prevails" (BDB 975). The noun is in the genitive case, which normally is translated with "of." The name refers to Jacob whose name was changed by divine decree to Israel (Gen 32:28; 35:9). So, "people of Israel" has the dual meaning of the offspring of Jacob and the nation descended from his twelve sons. chose: Grk. eklegomai, aor. mid., to pick out for oneself; choose or select as the recipients of special favor and privilege. The verb indicates a highly deliberative choice between alternatives or a selection out of a larger group. In the LXX eklegomai nearly always translates forms of the Heb. verb bachar (SH-977), 'choose,' 'select,' or 'prefer' (DNTT 1:537).
our: Grk. hēmeis, pl. pronoun of the first person. fathers: pl. of Grk. patēr, normally used of a male biological parent or ancestor, as well as frequently in reference to God. In the LXX patēr translates ab ("av"), which generally occurs in the human sense, but also of God as father in relation to Israel (Ex 4:22) (DNTT 1:616f). The word "fathers" no doubt refers to the patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (Deut 30:20). The mention of "our fathers" emphasizes the direct line of descent from these men. As a people Jews could rightly take pride in their descent from the patriarchs. The Torah may have been given to Moses, but all the covenantal promises began with Abraham. Several passages in the Tanakh declare God's love and covenant loyalty to the descendants of the fathers (Deut 9:5; Ps 105:6-9; Isa 41:8-9; 51:1-2; Jer 33:25-26; Mic 7:20).
Paul hints at a new insight when he says "God chose our fathers," the patriarchs. They were recipients of special favor and privilege. They did not choose God, nor did God choose any others. This is Paul's first mention of the covenantal choosing. Paul understood that God's election was first individual before it was national. For example, God chose Isaac in preference to Ishmael (Gen 17:19-21; Rom 9:7, 10; Gal 4:28). God chose Jacob in preference to Esau (Gen 25:23; Rom 9:12-13). Thus, salvation is individual. Then God chose the nation of Israel out of all the nations on earth for a special covenantal relationship (Deut 7:7-8), through whom He intended to bring salvation to the nations.
and: Grk. kai, conj. exalted: Grk. hupsoō, aor., may mean (1) cause to move from a position to one that is higher, lift upward; or (2) cause to be higher in status, elevate, exalt. The second meaning applies here. In the LXX hupsoō occurs 150 times and stands for four different Hebrew words. In the great majority of instances hupsoō translates Heb. rum (SH-7311), to be high, exalted, to rise (DNTT 2:201). The Hebrew verb is used of something being physically raised, but primarily of someone being given a higher status or of someone exalting God through praise and worship. the people: Grk. ho laos. in: Grk. en, prep. the sojourn: Grk. paroikia, a stay in a place with alien status; sojourn, alien residence. in: Grk. en. Egypt: Grk. Aiguptos, a land in northeastern Africa, home to one of the earliest civilizations, and an important cultural and political influence on ancient Israel.
In contrast to the modern nation, ancient Egypt was confined to the Nile River valley, a long, narrow ribbon of fertile land (the "black land") surrounded by uninhabitable desert (the "red land"). Egypt proper, from the first cataract of the Nile to the Mediterranean, is some 750 miles long. The Hebrew name in the Tanakh is Mitzrayim (Mizraim in Christian Bibles). The English word Egypt is derived from the Greek word via Middle French "Egypte" and Latin "Aegyptus." The Greek historian Herodotus (440 BC) provides perhaps the earliest secular account of ancient Egyptian culture (Histories, Book II). An Egyptian priest, Manetho of Sebennytus (285-246 BC), wrote a book Aegyptiaca in Greek to acquaint the Mediterranean world with the history and civilization of his country. See the complete work here: Manetho.
The mention of the Israelites being exalted in Egypt probably alludes to the Torah narrative:
"Now Israel lived in the land of Egypt, in Goshen, and they acquired property in it and were fruitful and became very numerous." (Gen 47:27 NASB)
"But the sons of Israel were fruitful and increased greatly, and multiplied, and became exceedingly mighty, so that the land was filled with them." (Ex 1:7 NASB).
So God exalted the position of the Israelites in the land by prosperity and birthrate during the tenure of Joseph. It was only after his death and the death of Pharaoh that a new leader arose that afflicted the Israelites (Ex 1:8).
and: Grk. kai. with: Grk. meta, prep. See verse 15 above. an uplifted: Grk. hupsēlos, adj., may mean (1) positioned at a point that is higher; high, lofty; or (2) considered to be of special importance; high, lofty. In the LXX hupsēlos translates a variety of Hebrew words (DNTT 2:199), but in this context the adjective translates Heb. chazaq (SH-2389), strong, mighty (Ex 6:1) and the Heb. verb natah (SH-5186), to stretch out or extend (Ex 6:6). arm: Grk. brachiōn, the anatomical limb of the arm, but used here to attribute a human characteristic to God (called 'anthropomorphism').
In the LXX of Isaiah 53:1 brachiōn translates Heb. zeroa (SH-2220), arm, shoulder, strength. Thus, the "uplifted arm" is both mighty and out-stretched. The uplifted or out-stretched arm alludes to the arm of Moses holding the staff by which God imposed the plagues to prepare for deliverance (Ex 8:6; 10:22). Of the ten plagues God used the physical hand of Aaron to accomplish the first three (blood, frogs, and lice) and the hand of Moses to accomplish four (boils, hail, locusts, and darkness). Then Moses lifted up the staff to part the Red Sea (Ex 14:16, 21, 27). Stern notes that the phrase is used repeatedly in the Tanakh to describe God’s judgment on those who rebel against him and against his people Israel (Deut 4:34, 5:15, 7:19, 9:29, 11:2; 1Kgs 8:42; 2Kgs 17:36; Jer 32:21; Ezek 20:33–34; Ps 136:11–12; 2Chr 6:32).
he led: Grk. exagō, aor., to bring, lead or take out. them: pl. of Grk. autos, personal pronoun. out of: Grk. ek, prep., used to denote exit or separation from something with which there has been a close association, lit. "out of, from within." it: Grk. autos. God led the Israelites out of Egypt with the aid of the pillar of fire (Ex 13:21-22; 14:24; Neh 9:12, 19), which Jews call the Sh'khinah or "the glorious presence of God" (Stern 387). The Israelites would not have known where they were going or the best route to take. This pillar of fire was apparently as tall as a skyscraper building (cf. Num 14:14), making it easy for those in the rear of the column of people to see the direction to go.
The exodus has been dated about 1450 BC based on the statement that the building of Solomon's temple began 484 years after the Israelites left Egypt (1Kgs 6:1), about 967 BC (Purkiser 117). The Egyptian priest Manetho (3rd c. BC) revised the true history by saying that Pharaoh expelled the Israelites from Egypt (Book II, Fr. 51).
18― and for about a forty-year period He cared for them in the wilderness,
Source: Exodus 15—Deuteronomy 33
and: Grk. kai, conj. for about: Grk. hōs, adv. with the primary function of connecting narrative components, used here to express a numerical estimate; about, close to, nearly. a forty-year: Grk. tessarakontaetēs, adj., forty years. The adjective occurs only two times in the Besekh, the other in Acts 7:23 of the age of Moses. period: Grk. chronos may mean (1) a span or period of time, or (2) a point or definite moment in time. The first meaning applies here. In the LXX chronos occurs about 100 times and translates seven different Hebrew words, mostly yom, "day, days" (DNTT 3:841). The Hebrews did not conceive of time in the abstract, but used yom overwhelmingly in the sense of ordinary measurable time.
The mention of the forty-year period alludes to the period of punishment God decreed because the Israelites listened to the ten spies with a negative report of their visit to Canaan:
"33 Your children will be herdsmen in the wilderness for 40 years. They will suffer because of your unfaithfulness until your corpses are consumed in the wilderness. 34 For 40 years, corresponding to the number of the 40 days you explored the land—one year for each day—you will suffer for your iniquities and know My hostility." (Num 14:33-34 TLV)
He cared for: Grk. trophophoreō, aor. (from trophos, care-giver, wet-nurse; LXX Gen 35:8), 3p-sing., to provide nourishment, sustain The verb occurs only here in the Besekh. In the LXX the Greek verb occurs only two times and translates Heb. nasa (SH-5375), to lift or carry (Deut 1:31). Some versions recognize this meaning with "cared for," "nursed" or words to that effect (ASV, AMPC, CJB, CEV, DARBY, MSG, NJB, NLV, TLB, TPT, WE). The majority of versions translate the verb with a negative meaning, "bore with," "put up with" or words to that effect. See the textual note below. Stern suggests that Paul alludes to the statement of Moses:
"and in the wilderness, where you saw how Adonai your God carried [Heb. nasa] you as a man carries [Heb. nasa] his son, everywhere you went until you came to this place." (Deut 1:31 TLV)
While the verb nasa has a variety of uses, one of which is "to bear with" (Job 21:3), a use relevant to this context is that of providing care, such as God's act of lifting the ark to provide protection (cf. Gen 7:17), Hagar lifting up her weakened son (cf. Gen 21:18), or God likening the exodus from Egypt as carrying Israel on eagle's wings (Ex 19:4). Moses portrays God caring for His son Israel (Ex 4:22) as a man carries a weak son in his arms. God’s sustaining care was manifested in the fact that He continually supplied manna for the Israelites to eat (Ex 16:35; Deut 8:16; Josh 5:12) and their clothes and sandals did not wear out (Deut 29:5). Relevant to this discussion Paul uses the noun trophos (a nursing mother) to describe his own care for the disciples in Thessalonica (1Th 2:7).
Gill as other commentators note that while God cared for and sustained Israel in the wilderness, God also acted with forbearance in spite of their "testing Him ten times" (Num 14:22). God was grieved by the Israelites during the forty years in the wilderness; and sometimes acted with vengeance against them, such as the execution of the golden calf idolatry offenders (Ex 32:27), the destruction of the clan of Korah for rebellion (Num 16:32), and the slaying the idolatrous Israelites at Peor (Num 25:4). Moreover, God condemned all the adults who came out of Egypt (except Joshua and Caleb) for their acceptance of the bad report of the ten spies (Num 14:32-38). However, choosing the verb that focuses on God's forbearance rather than His protective care seems contrary to the positive tone of Paul's message of what God had done for Israel by bringing their Messiah.
them: pl. of Grk. autos, personal pronoun. in: Grk. en, prep. the wilderness: Grk. ho erēmos, adj., may mean (1) unpopulated, lonely; (2) deserted; or (3) desolate as a state of loneliness. The first meaning applies here. In the LXX erēmos often translates Heb. midbar (SH-4057), which refers to tracts of land used for pasturage or uninhabited land (BDB 484), first in Genesis 14:6. The translation of "desert" in a number of versions is misleading, if not inaccurate, because the term refers to a land so arid that it can support little vegetation. The Hebrew and Greek words describes tracts of land used for the pasturage of flocks and herds. The territory to which Paul refers covered much of the Sinai peninsula. In the time of Moses the wilderness had sufficient vegetation to sustain the multitude of herds kept by the Israelites during the forty years.
19― and having destroyed seven nations in the land of Canaan He distributed their land.
Source: Deuteronomy 7; Joshua 1:1−21:45
and: Grk. kai, conj. having destroyed: Grk. kathaireō, aor. part., to take down or pull down from a position. HELPS explains its meaning as "forcibly yank down; destroy, leaving nothing standing or even in good working order." The verb alludes to God’s command for Israel to tear down and completely destroy pagan altars, the Asherim pillars, and graven images (Ex 23:24; 34:13; Deut 7:5). The subject of the verb is God and Paul emphasizes that God made Israel's victory possible.
seven: Grk. hepta, adj., the number seven. nations: Grk. ethnē, pl. of ethnos, humans belonging to a people group as defined by language and culture; nation, people. In the LXX ethnos generally translates Heb. goy (SH-1471; pl. goyim), "community, nation, people," first in Genesis 10:5 (BDB 156; DNTT 2:790). While ethnos is used in Scripture to include Israelite or Jewish people (Luke 23:2; Acts 24:2, 10; 28:19; 1Cor 10:18; Php 3:5), the plural form ethnē, like goyim in the Tanakh, is generally used to mean non-Israelite peoples or Gentiles (e.g., Matt 6:32; Luke 12:30; Acts 4:25; 13:48; Rom 2:14; 1Cor 1:23; Gal 2:9; Rev 11:18; 14:8).
in: Grk. en, prep. the land: Grk gē can mean (1) the earth as the planet in contrast to heaven; (2) a portion or region of the earth; land, country, region; (3) land as contrasted with the sea, as well as the ground or soil as the place of agriculture. The second meaning is intended here. The LXX uses gē more than 2,000 times and translates the Heb. word erets (SH-776; BDB 75), with the same range of meaning, first in Genesis 1:1 (DNTT 1:517). of Canaan: Grk. Chanaan, the territory bounded by the Jordan River on the east, the Mediterranean on the west, the Sinai peninsula on the south and Phoenicia on the north. Some Christian resources and Bible maps incorrectly identify the land as "Palestine." See my article The Land is Not Palestine. The seven nations in the land of Canaan were the Hittites, Girgashites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites (Deut 7:1).
He distributed: Grk. kataklēronomeō, aor., allot as a possession. The verb alludes to the division of the land of Canaan among the twelve tribes of Israel by casting lots. The verb occurs only here in the Besekh. Many versions translate the verb as "gave as an inheritance." their: Grk. autos, personal pronoun. land: Grk gē. The narrative of the land distribution is found in Joshua 13−21. Paul affirms that God gave the land of Canaan to Israel as their everlasting possession and inheritance as promised to the fathers: Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and the nation of Israel (Gen 13:14-16; 17:8; 26:2-3; 28:13; 35:12; 48:4; Ex 23:31; Deut 1:8; 3:20; 6:10; 7:1; 29:15; cf. Rom 9:3-4; Gal 3:15-17).
Paul does not imply that Joshua completely expunged the seven nations in the Land. Rather, Joshua's forces destroyed the war-making power of the Canaanite peoples through impressive military victories and then he divided the land among the tribes according to God's decree. The dispossession of these nations was spread over a very long period. It was actually not until the seventh year of David's reign that the Jebusites, the last nation mentioned were defeated.
Additional Note: The Promised Land
Israel's rightful ownership of the Land is currently denied by many groups. All of the land from the Negev to the Golan Heights, from the Mediterranean to the Jordan belongs to Israel. God's covenantal promise cannot be revoked by politicians and anti-Semitic groups. (See my web article I Am a Biblical Zionist.)
20― about four hundred and fifty years. And after these things He gave judges until Samuel the prophet.
Source: Judges 1—1Samuel 7
about: Grk. hōs, adv. See verse 18 above. The adverb is used here to express a numerical estimate; about, as long as, close to, nearly. The adverb introduces a time reference in which the six actions of God ("chose," "exalted," "led," "cared for," "destroyed," and "distributed") reported in verses 17 through 19 occurred. four hundred: Grk. tetrakosioi, the number four hundred. The mention of 400 years probably alludes to the prophecy of Genesis 15:13, "Know for certain that your seed will be strangers in a land that is not theirs, and they will be enslaved and oppressed 400 years" (TLV).
Some scholars assume that the prophecy to Abraham meant 400 years in Egypt, but Paul declares that this time period began with the covenant God made with Abraham. Paul made this same argument in his letter to the Galatian congregation (Gal 3:17). The starting point is also affirmed in the defense sermon of Stephen (Acts 7:6). See my comment there. and: Grk. kai, conj. fifty: Grk. pentēkonta, the number fifty. years: pl. of Grk. etos, a period of twelve months. The period of fifty years includes forty years in the wilderness and ten years until Joshua divided up the Land (so Bruce, Marshall, Metzger and Stern). See the Textual Note below regarding the time of 450 years.
And: Grk. kai. after: Grk. meta, prep. See verse 15 above. The accusative case of the pronoun following determines the meaning of meta as "after" (DM 108). these things: pl. of Grk. houtos, demonstrative pronoun. See verse 7 above. The phrase "after these things" likely refers to the events described in the previous three verses. We should note that Paul's timeline in verse 17 begins with the choosing of the fathers, not the entry into Egypt. He gave: Grk. didōmi, aor., to give something to someone, often with the focus on generosity. The subject of the verb is God (verse 17 above). In the LXX didōmi translates Heb. natan (SH-5414, first in Gen 1:29), to give, put or set, with the same range of meaning (DNTT 2:41).
judges: pl. of Grk. kritēs, judge or magistrate, generally in reference to an official office of one presiding over a court. In the LXX kritēs translates Heb. soter (SH-7860), official, first in Deut 1:15 for officers Moses appointed with judicial authority, but primarily the participle of Heb. shaphat (SH-8199; pl. shophetim), to judge or govern, first in Deut 1:16. The phrase "after these things he gave judges" likely alludes to Judges 2:16, "But then ADONAI raised up judges, who rescued them from the power of those who were plundering them" (CJB).
The mention of judges refers to the judge-deliverers that arose after the death of Joshua and narrated in the book of Judges. According to Jewish tradition Samuel authored the historical record. Some of the personalities in the book of Judges are mentioned in the Besekh as examples of faithfulness (Heb 11:32). The book of Judges recounts a repetitive cycle of desertion of worshipping ADONAI in favor of idolatry, domination by various pagan nations, then divine-enabled deliverance by a judge which produced a period of peace, and after the death of the judge the cycle starting again (Jdg 2:10-23; 1Sam 12:9-11). Noteworthy is that none of the judges ruled all of the tribes.
The era of the judges is described with these words: "there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes (21:25 NASB). There is no development of the Messianic idea in this era, but these important persons served as types of the Messiah because of their role as deliverers. The overall theme seems to be that a theocratic people needs a righteous king who will judge according to the will of God and the people need to live according to God's will expressed in the Torah. The Righteous King is Yeshua, who declared, "Just as I hear, I judge, and my judgment is righteous; because I seek not my will, but the will of the One having sent me" (John 5:30 BR). The righteous people are those who hear the word of God and obey it (Luke 8:21; 11:28).
until: Grk. heōs, prep., a particle marking a limit, here with a temporal use marking the terminus of a period; till, until. Samuel: Grk. Samouēl, a transliteration of Heb. Sh'mu'el ("name of God"). Luke probably intends the phrase "until Samuel" to mean that the era of the judges came to an end with Samuel. Samuel was the son of Elkanah by his second wife Hannah, the last judge, the first king-maker, priest, and prophet who linked the period of the judges with the Israelite monarchy. Samuel's parents were residents of Ephraim but Elkanah descended from the Levitical clan Kohath (cf. 1Sam 1:1; 1Chr 6:33-38).
Born in answer to barren Hannah's fervent prayer, Samuel was dedicated to the Lord before his birth (1Sam 1:10-11) and then raised by Eli at the Shiloh sanctuary (1Sam 1:28; 2:11, 20). Samuel eventually married, and two sons, Joel and Abijah, are named (1Sam 8:1). Jewish tradition assigned authorship of the book of Judges to Samuel. The fact of Samuel's death is reported but not his age (1Sam 25:1). He died in Ramah and was buried there.
the prophet: Grk. prophētēs. See verse 1 above. Luke calls Samuel a prophet because he heard audibly from God and spoke the words of God. He received his first prophetic mission as a young lad (1Sam 3:1, 11-14) and continued to hear directly from God, so that the people of Israel recognized Samuel as a prophet,
"19 So Samuel grew up and ADONAI was with him, and let none of his words fall to the ground. 20 Then all Israel from Dan to Beersheba knew that Samuel was entrusted as a prophet of ADONAI. 21 ADONAI started to appear once more in Shiloh, for ADONAI revealed Himself to Samuel in Shiloh by the word of ADONAI." (1Sam 3:19-21 TLV)
Samuel continued to speak forthrightly for God (1Sam 7:3; 9:6-9; 12:20-25; 15:1-3, 10-29) and he served as the prototype for future prophets who advised and confronted the kings of Israel and Judah. Besides his prophetic role Samuel also served as a priest, even though he was from the tribe of Ephraim and not in the line of Aaron (1Sam 7:5-9; 9:11-14). Psalms 99:6-7 relates that God spoke with Samuel from out of the pillar of cloud as God had previously with Moses and Aaron. Jeremiah regarded Samuel and Moses as the two great intercessors of Israel (Jer 15:1). Samuel also served as a judge-deliverer as the former judges (1Sam 12:11) and administered justice at Bethel, Gilgal, Mizpah, and Ramah (1Sam 7:15-17).
Additional Note: The Period of the Judges
The period of the Judges could cover the time period from the death of Joshua (Jdg 2:8-10) to the accession of King Saul (1Sam 11:15), since Samuel is regarded as a judge-deliverer of Israel (1Sam 7:15). The book of Judges narrates the oppression of Israel by six nations and their duration: Mesopotamians (8 yrs., 3:8); Moabites (18 yrs., 3:14), Canaanites (20 yrs., 4:3), Midianites (7 yrs., 6:1), Ammonites (18 yrs., 10:8), and the Philistines (40 yrs., 13:1) for a total of 111 years.
Then the book recounts the stories of twelve judge-deliverers and their duration: Othniel (40 yrs., 3:9-11); Ehud (80 yrs., 3:15-30); Shamgar (no period specified, 3:31); Deborah (40 yrs., 4:1-10); Gideon (40 yrs., 6:11-8:32); Abimelech (3 yrs., 9:1-22); Tola (23 yrs., 10:1-2); Jair (22 yrs., 10:3-5); Jephthah (6 yrs., 11:1-12:7); Ibzan (7 yrs., 12:8-10); Elon (10 yrs., 12:11-12); Abdon (8 yrs., 12:13-15); and Samson (20 yrs., 13:1-16:31). These dating references total 299 years. It is possible that Shamgar is only remembered for a single act of deliverance and he did not serve a term of leadership.
The chronological data in the book of Judges totals 410 years. The judgeship of Eli lasted 40 years (1Sam 4:18), which would give a total of 450 years for the period of the judges. Paul treats Samuel as a transitional figure, calling him "the prophet," even though he judged Israel at least 20 years (cf. 1Sam 4:18; 7:2, 15-17).
21― And then they asked for a king, and God gave them Saul, son of Kish, a man from the tribe of Benjamin, forty years.
Source: 1Samuel 8−31
In this verse Paul tells of the transition from confederation to monarchy, because not only is the Messiah a judge but more importantly a king. Paul summarizes the book of First Samuel, which features the selection and reign of the first Israelite King.
And then: Grk. kakeithen, adv. (derived from kai, "and," and ekeithen "from there, from that place"), a marker of movement from a position of place or time, here of the latter. The adverb alludes to the time of Samuel. they asked for: Grk. aiteō, aor. mid., 3p-pl., to ask in expectation of a response; ask, ask for, petition, request. a king: Grk. basileus, king or chief ruler. In the LXX basileus appears frequently to translate Heb. melek (SH-4428). In the biblical times the title "king" was not associated with the size of territory governed (often a city), but the authority wielded. The executive, judicial and legislative functions of government were vested in one person.
Following the death of the high priest Eli and his sons Samuel emerged as judge and prophet of Israel. For twenty years Israel suffered Philistine oppression due to idolatry (1Sam 7:2). At the end of that time when Samuel had grown "old" (1Sam 8:1; about 60, cf. 1Sam 4:18; 7:2), Israel asked for a king because of Samuel's age and the fact that the sons of Samuel were wicked (1Sam 8:3-4). The Israelite elders were convinced that a king would give them victory over their enemies and peace. Samuel was clearly unhappy with the request but God agreed and gave a warning about what a king would require (1Sam 8:10-20).
and: Grk. kai, conj. God: See verse 5 above. gave: Grk. didōmi, aor. See the previous verse. them: pl. of Grk. autos, personal pronoun. Saul: Grk. Saoul, which transliterates Heb. Sha'ul (SH-7586). The Greek has no letter with a "sh" sound. This Greek spelling of the Hebrew name appears throughout the LXX, including the Apocrypha (1Macc 4:30), for four different men who bear the name Saul, most notably the king who preceded David. The Greek spelling also appears for King Saul in Philo (On the Migration of Abraham, 36:196) and Josephus (Ant. VI, 5:2). Saul is introduced as a tall and handsome man (1Sam 9:2).
son: Grk. huios. See verse 10 above. of Kish: Grk. Kis, which transliterates Heb. Qish ("keesh," 1Sam 9:1). The name occurs only here in the Besekh. Kish is said to have been the son of Abiel (1Sam 9:1) and the son of Ner (1Chr 8:33). Some think he was the grandson of Abiel and son of Ner (HBD). He was a man of wealth, owning both donkeys and servants (1Sam 9:3). The family of Kish is described as being the humblest of their tribe, probably an example of Jewish modesty (1Sam 9:21).
a man: Grk. anēr. See verse 6 above. from: Grk. ek, prep. the tribe: Grk. phulē, a people sub-group, and may refer to (1) a tribe of Israel; or (2) a nation or people. Phulē derives from phuō, to bring forth, produce, grow, be born. In the LXX phulē occurs over 400 times and translates three different Hebrew words, meaning tribe, clan or nation (DNTT 3:870). of Benjamin: Grk. Beniamin, a transliteration of Heb. Binyamin, which means "son of the right hand" (BDB 122). Benjamin was the last son born to Jacob and the hard labor brought about the death of Rachel (Gen 35:16-20). While Benjamin was the second most beloved son of Jacob (Gen 42:4, 36), Jacob prophesied of him: "Benjamin is a ravenous wolf; in the morning he devours the prey, and in the evening he divides the spoil" (Gen 49:27).
The word picture Jacob painted of Benjamin portended a history of warfare, as well as descendants who would be ferocious, courageous, zealous and daring. In the division of the land the tribe of Benjamin was allocated the smallest territory in the hill country west of the Jordan and between Judah and Ephraim (Josh 18:11-20). The "who's who" of the tribe of Benjamin began with the left-handed Ehud, who delivered Israel from Moabite oppression by personally and boldly killing the King of Moab in his private quarters, giving Israel 80 years of peace (Jdg 3:15-31). Late in the period of the judges, Benjamin almost disappeared from history when they mistreated a Levite and his concubine (Jdg 19−21).
The selection of Saul to be king was clearly a divine decision (1Sam 9:15-17), and Samuel secretly anointed him (1Sam 10:1). Afterward he was publicly chosen by divinely controlled lot (1Sam 10:17-24) and acclaimed king by the people at Gilgal (1Sam 11:1-15). Saul was thirty years old when anointed as king (1Sam 13:1). He made his capital at his hometown of Gibeah (1Sam 11:4), three miles north of Jerusalem. From there Saul drove the Philistines from the hill country (1Sam 13:19−14:23) and fought other enemies of Israel (1Sam 14:47-48).
forty: Grk. tessarakonta, adj., the number forty. years: pl. of Grk. etos. See the previous verse. Stern notes that the Tanakh does not state specifically how long King Saul reigned (cf. 1Sam 13:1). Josephus says he reigned eighteen years in the lifetime of Samuel, and twenty two years after his death, in all forty (Ant. VI, 14:9), which agrees with Paul's statement here. In another place Josephus says Saul reigned 20 years (Ant. X, 8:4), but this was just a rounding off of the 22 years. While the first couple of years for Saul were positive and characterized by prophesying (1Sam 10:9-13) and achieving military victories, his life soon turned tragic and he made many stupid decisions.
Saul made a presumptuous offering (1Sam 13:8-14), for which Samuel rebuked him, imposing a fast in the midst of war (1Sam 14:24), and then threatening the life of his son Jonathan who broke the fast to secure a victory against the Philistines (1Sam 14:43-45). Then Saul committed an egregious violation of a holy war ban in a campaign against the Amalekites. Samuel rebuked Saul for rebellion against ADONAI and informed him of God's rejection of him as king (1Sam 15:7-23). Then God sent an evil spirit which tormented him (1Sam 16:14). After initially accepting David, Saul turned against him and repeatedly attempted to kill him (1Sam 18:11; 19:1, 10; 20:33; 22:17; 23:15).
At the end of his life Saul consulted with a witch at Endor to bring up Samuel from the dead for a consultation, because God would not answer him (1Sam 28:7-19). Samuel told Saul that he and his son would die the next day.
22― And having removed him, He raised up David to them for a king of whom also He said, having testified, 'I found David, the son of Jesse, a man according to my heart, who will do all my will.'"
And: Grk. kai, conj. having removed: Grk. methistēmi, aor. part., to cause to move from a place, position or situation, to transfer. him: Grk. autos, personal pronoun; used of Saul. The verbal phrase likely has a dual meaning, first God's rejection of Saul as king (1Sam 15:23), which meant loss of God's favor in his life. God allowed Saul to remain in office for at least 35 years, so Saul had plenty of opportunity to repent. He never did. Finally, Saul was removed when the appointed day of his death arrived and he committed suicide in battle against the Philistines (1Sam 31:3-6).
He raised up: Grk. egeirō, aor., to rise or raise, is used with a variety of meanings: (1) to arouse from sleep, to awake; (2) to arouse from the sleep of death, to recall the dead to life; (3) to cause to rise or raise, from a seat or bed; or (4) to raise up, produce, cause to appear, such as appear before the public or a judge, erect a building, or incite opposition. The fourth meaning is intended here in the sense of causing to appear or bringing before the public to attract the attention of men (Thayer). David: Grk. David, which transliterates the Heb. David ("dah-veed") perfectly. to them: pl. of Grk. autos. for: Grk. eis, prep. See verse 2 above. a king: Grk. basileus. See the previous verse. David became the King of Israel at the age of 30 and reigned 40 years (2Sam 5:4; 1Chr 3:4).
David is one of the most important figures in Israelite history. His name first appears in 1Samuel 16:13 when God sent Samuel to anoint him as the next king after rejecting Saul. At that time David was only a shepherd. After the failure of Saul to please the Lord (1Sam 13:13-14; 15:1, 23, 26, 28), Samuel was called to anoint David as the next king (1Sam 16:13). of whom: Grk. hos, relative pronoun. See verse 2 above. also: Grk. kai. He said: Grk. legō, aor. See verse 2 above. having testified: Grk. martureō, aor. part., to attest or testify to a fact or truth; here with the focus on rendering approval. Paul then conflates Psalm 89:20 and 1Samuel 13:14. I found: Grk. heuriskō, aor. See verse 6 above. The verb implies that God considered a great many men before making His selection. David: The phrase "I have found David" is from Psalm 89:20.
the son: Grk. huios. See the previous verse. of Jesse: Grk. Iessai, which transliterates Heb. Yishay, a personal name meaning "man" or "manly" (HBD). Jesse was a respected citizen of Bethlehem (1Sam 16:1, 18) and owner of flocks of sheep. He was the father of eight sons―Eliab, Abinadab, Shimea, Nethanel, Raddai, Ozem, Elihu, and David―and two daughters, Zeruiah and Abigail (1Chr 2:13-16). David is often called "son of Jesse," which emphasized the stature of Jesse (1Sam 16:18; 20:27; 22:7-9, 13; 25:10; 2Sam 20:1; 23:1; 1Kgs 12:16; 1Chr 10:14; 12:18; 29:26; 2Chr 10:16; 11:18; Ps 72:20). The name of Jesse appears in Messianic prophecies. Isaiah spoke of a "Rod from the stem of Jesse (11:1) and of "a Root of Jesse" (11:10). For Paul, the "root of Jesse" (Rom 15:12) was a prophecy fulfilled in Yeshua.
a man: Grk. anēr. See verse 6 above. according to: Grk. kata, prep. See verse 1 above. The preposition is used here in reference to agreement or conformity to a standard (Thayer). my: Grk. egō, pronoun of the first person. heart: Grk. kardia, the pumplike organ of blood circulation, used fig. of selfhood or the combination of character, emotion, intelligence and the will. In the LXX kardia translates Heb. lebab (SH-3824), inner man, mind, heart, will (DNTT 2:181). The phrase "a man according to my heart" is from Samuel's declaration to Saul (1Sam 13:14). Paul then adds an interpretation of what the description means.
who: Grk. hos. will do: Grk. poieō, fut., a verb of physical action that may refer to (1) producing something material; make, construct, produce, create; or (2) to be active in bringing about a state of condition; do, act, perform, work. The second meaning applies here. In the LXX poieō translates chiefly Heb. asah (SH-6213), accomplish, do, make, work (first in Gen 1:7), and used of a wide range of human and divine activity. all: pl. of Grk. pas, adj. See verse 10 above. my: Grk. egō. will: Grk. thelēma may mean (1) that which is to be carried out according to wish or purpose, will; or (2) the act of willing, will or desire. The first meaning applies here.
The expression "my will" in this context could refer to God's lifestyle will, His moral and ethical standards as set forth in the Torah (cf. Ps 40:8). The expression might also allude to God's specific instructions to David, of which he always obeyed (cf. 1Sam 23:2; 2Sam 5:19; 1Kgs 5:5; 2Kgs 21:7). See my web article The Will of God. Paul's interpretation of what God meant perhaps alludes to the commentary of Jeremiah:
"David did what was right in the eyes of ADONAI and did not turn aside from anything that He commanded him all the days of his life, except in the matter of Uriah the Hittite." (1Kgs 15:5 BR)
Paul passes over the life of David and his significant contributions. In the military sphere he broke the power of all the pagan peoples in the land of Canaan and in the civil sphere he made Jerusalem his capital and solidified central authority. His accomplishments in the religious sphere are especially noteworthy. He erected the Tabernacle on Mt. Zion, centralized religion in Jerusalem and established Levitical choirs. He wrote many psalms and 73 psalms are specifically ascribed to him. He was known as the "sweet psalmist of Israel" (2Sam 23:1). Especially important is that he compiled and organized psalms into what we now know as the Book of Psalms (2Chr 29:30). David was a true worshipper, a man imbued with the Holy Spirit (1Sam 13:14; 16:13; 2Sam 23:2). The last comment on David's life in the Tanakh is from Ezra who twice refers to David as a "man of God" (2Chr 8:14; Neh 12:24).
23― From the seed of this one, according to promise, God brought to Israel a Savior, Yeshua,
Paul passes over 28 generations of history (Matt 1:17) to arrive at the fulfillment of prophecy.
From: Grk. apo, prep. the seed: Grk. sperma may refer either to the source (e.g. seed, semen) or the product of propagation (e.g., posterity, descendant). In the LXX sperma translates Heb. zera, sowing, seed or offspring (SH-2233; BDB 282). The singular sperma/zera can have a collective meaning and so many versions have "descendants." I have translated sperma as "seed" to preserve the dual meaning of the term as referring both to the genetic origin and the line of descent from him to one particular descendant, the Messiah. of this one: Grk. houtos, masc. demonstrative pronoun. See verse 7 above. The pronoun alludes to David. Many versions have "this man."
Paul continues his historical perspective, passing over the history of twenty-eight generations from David to the Messiah (Matt 1:17), and comments on the life and times of Yeshua. The information he provides in verses 23-29 implies both second-hand and personal knowledge of these events. The genealogy of Yeshua is recorded in two of the four apostolic narratives. It's reasonable to consider to what degree Paul knew of the Yeshua histories. Paul did have personal knowledge of Yeshua (2Cor 5:16), so combined with other available information he provides an accurate summary of the events leading up the Yeshua's birth, life and death.
according to: Grk. kata, prep. promise: Grk. epangelia, promise, especially associated with God's covenantal promises to Israel. A promise from God is a guaranteed assurance. God made a personal and everlasting covenant by which He promised that He would establish the throne of David forever, build a house for Himself and send forth a king from the loins of David to rule over his people Israel (2Sam 7:12-14; 23:5; cf. Ps 89:3; Isa 55:3; Jer 23:5-6; 33:21). The reference to the promise no doubt alludes to the message of Nathan the prophet:
"When your days are done and you sleep with your fathers, I will raise up your Seed, who will come forth from you after you, and I will establish his kingdom. He will build a house for My Name, and I will establish his royal throne forever." (2Sam 7:12-13 TLV)
God: Grk. theos. See verse 5 above. brought: Grk. agō, aor., to cause movement by taking the lead; lead, bring, carry, take. The verb in this context emphasizes the exercise of sovereign control over history. to Israel: Grk. Israēl. See verse 16 above. a Savior: Grk. sōtēr, one who liberates from real or threatening harm or loss, savior, deliverer, or benefactor. In the LXX sōtēr translates the Heb. yeshu'ah (SH-3444, "one who brings deliverance") and the participle moshia a derivative of the verb yasha ("to save") (DNTT 3:217), which is another form of the word hoshia and is related to Yeshua’s own name (Matt 1:21). Sōtēr appears to be a technical term for the judge-deliverers in the time of the tribal confederacy (Jdg 3:9, 15; Neh 9:27), but the overwhelming usage of sōtēr in the Tanakh is applied to the God of Israel (2Sam 22:3, 47; Ps 25:5; 106:21), who provides deliverance from enemies.
In addition, YHVH, the sacred name revealed to Abraham and Moses, is depicted as the Savior of Israel (Isa 43:3, 11; 45:21; 49:26; 60:16; Hos 13:4). This fact has special relevance in understanding the message of the Messiah in the book of John. In the Besekh sōtēr occurs 24 times and always refers to a divine deliverer. The title is used 8 times of the God of Israel (Luke 1:47; 1Tim 1:1; 2:3; 4:10; Titus 1:3; 2:10; 3:4; Jude 1:25), and the rest of Yeshua (Luke 2:11; John 4:42; Acts 5:31; Eph 5:23; Php 3:20; 2Tim 1:10; Titus 1:4; 2:13; 3:6; 2Pet 1:1, 11; 2:20; 3:2, 18; 1Jn 4:14). Thus the apostles built on the foundation already established in the Tanakh. In particular, people need a "Savior" who has the power to deliver from death, the curse of sin.
The promise of one sent by God to bring deliverance or salvation has its roots in the declaration made to the serpent on behalf of Chavvah in the garden,
"And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; he shall bruise you on the head, and you shall bruise him on the heel" (Gen 3:15 NASB).
The promise to Chavvah implied a plan already formed with far reaching consequences. Indeed the plan for atonement was made before sin occurred (Rev 13:8 NKJV; cf. Isa 40:21; 46:8-13; John 17:4-5). The promise of the coming Savior is further affirmed by the prophets:
"Behold, ADONAI has proclaimed to the end of the earth: Say to the daughter of Zion, 'Behold, your salvation is coming! Behold, His reward is with Him, and His payment before Him.'" (Isa 62:11 BR)
"Rejoice greatly, daughter of Zion! Shout, daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; righteous and having salvation, he is humble and mounted on a donkey, together with a colt, the foal of a donkey." (Zech 9:9 BR)
Yeshua: Grk. Iēsous, a transliteration of the Hebrew name Yeshua, "Jesus" in Christian Bibles. The English spelling of "Jesus" was introduced by the Mace New Testament in 1729. Yeshua is a contraction of the Hebrew name Y’hoshua ("Joshua"), which means "YHVH [the LORD] is salvation" (BDB 221). The meaning of his name is explained to Joseph by an angel, "you shall call His name Yeshua, for He will save His people from their sins" (Matt 1:21 TLV). For more information on the meaning of his name and his titles, see my article Who is Yeshua?
Paul introduces Yeshua, the son of David, by calling him "Savior," although he was not the first to do so. In the nativity account the angels informed the shepherds of a savior who had been born for them (Luke 2:11). Next a group of Samaritans described Yeshua as "savior" (John 4:42). Then Peter called Yeshua "savior" to the Sanhedrin (Acts 5:31). Paul no doubt spoke to the synagogue in Hebrew so the hearers would recognize the play on words of "God brought to Israel yeshu'ah, Yeshua." By saying that God had brought a Savior, Paul means that Yeshua is acting for God to accomplish salvation of His people. Yeshua must be the Savior of Israel before he can be Savior of the world. This is the essence of Paul's later assertion that the good news is for the Jew first (Rom 1:16).
In his letters Paul speaks of the promise given to Abraham and its significance (Rom 4:13, 16; Gal 3:14, 16, 18, 29), as well as Isaac (Rom 9:7-8, 10; Gal 4:28) and Jacob (Rom 9:4, 9-13; Eph 2:12). Just as important is that the Savior, Yeshua, was the promised Seed of David, the one who would sit on David's throne:
"Paul, a slave of Messiah Yeshua, called to be an emissary and set apart for the Good News of God, which He announced beforehand through His prophets in the Holy Scriptures. Concerning His Son, He came into being from the seed of David according to the flesh." (Rom 1:1-3 TLV)
"Remember Yeshua the Messiah, raised from the dead, from the seed of David—according to my Good News." (2Tim 2:8 TLV)
Paul continues the thought from verse 23 and summarizes the ministry of Yochanan the Immerser, which is recorded in the four apostolic narratives (Matt 3:1-12; Mark 1:4-8; Luke 3:1-20; John 1:6-8, 19-36).
Yochanan: Grk. Iōannēs attempts to transliterate the Heb. Yōchanan ("the Lord is gracious") (Stern 15). The Mace New Testament (1729) was the first Christian version to use the spelling of "John," which became standard in all Christian versions. Yochanan was the son of Zechariah, a priest descended from Aaron, and a cousin (degree unknown) of Yeshua, born in Hebron just six months before Yeshua, c. March, 3 BC (cf. Luke 1:26, 36, 56-57). See my nativity commentary on Luke 1. Yochanan's ministry likely began in autumn of A.D. 26, coinciding with the fifteenth year of the reign of Caesar Tiberius (Luke 3:1; Edersheim 183; Santala 125). For the purposes of this commentary the name "Yochanan" will be used for the Immerser and "John" for the apostle.
having proclaimed: Grk. prokērussō, aor. part., (from pro, "before," and kērussō, "announce by herald"), to announce or proclaim by herald beforehand, proclaim publicly. The verb occurs only here in the Besekh. an immersion: Grk. baptisma (from baptizō, to submerge or immerse), ceremonial washing; plunging, dipping, or immersing. Unlike the verb baptizō the noun baptisma does not occur in the LXX or other Jewish sources before the apostolic writings. However, the corresponding Hebrew word is tevilah, "dipping, immersing." The translation of "immersion" rather than "baptism" is to be preferred as best representing Jewish culture. Ritual washings, as prescribed in Leviticus, occurred on a variety of occasions, including (1) restoring the right to rejoin worship after illness, menstruation or contact with a dead body (Niddah 29b; 30a); and (2) preparing for annual Temple ceremonies, whether priests and Levites, or festival pilgrims (Sanh. 39a; Yoma 88a).
Jewish immersion was (and is) governed by three important practices. First, Jewish immersion is self-immersion. Yochanan did not assist any penitent under the water. Rather, Yochanan supervised the immersion of all those who came to him to insure that each person completely immersed himself. In all likelihood several people would be immersing at the same time. Second, Jewish immersion is gender-specific. That is, men are not present when women immerse and vice versa for the sake of modesty. Christian baptism would greatly benefit from adopting this practice. Third, among Jews ablutions of all kinds are not performed by people under bar/bat mitzvah age when a boy or girl became fully accountable to the Torah and considered to be adult. Thus, only adults were immersed. (See Ron Moseley, The Jewish Background of Christian Baptism.)
Yochanan conducted his immersion ministry in the Jordan River, although at different locations (John 1:28; 3:23). Yochanan's choice of having people immerse in the Jordan River may seem unusual. According to Jewish custom of the time ritual immersion had to take place in a pool (Heb. mikveh) with water from a fresh water source and deep enough to submerge oneself by squatting. The Talmud tractate Tohoroth ("Cleansings”) explains the ritual procedures. In the first century there were many pools (mikvaot) that surrounded the Temple area for ritual purification. Excavations of the southern wall of the Temple area, begun in 1968, have uncovered dozens of mikvaot. (See pictures at BibleWalks.com.)
Yochanan may have had four reasons for choosing to conduct his ministry at the Jordan. First, Yochanan described the Temple leadership as a "brood of vipers" (Matt 3:6). Even though he was of priestly descent Yochanan did not want to give any impression that he was acting on behalf of the corrupt priesthood in charge of the Temple. Second, according to the Mishnah there are six descending orders of ritual baths and the sixth and highest order is that of "living water," a spring or flowing river (Mikvaoth 1:1-8; Ron Moseley, cited above). For Yochanan the Jordan served as the most "kosher" mikveh with its continuous flow of fresh water.
Third, conducting immersion ministry in the Jordan had great spiritual meaning. Paul likened the exodus through the Red Sea on dry land to being immersed (cf. 1Cor 10:1-2). The same thing happened at the Jordan. When Israel crossed the Jordan to claim the land God promised, the priests went before the people and stood in the water. The water parted and the people walked across the dry river bed. Only after the entire nation completed the crossing did the priests leave the river bed and the waters returned (Josh 3:6-17). Crossing the Jordan became symbolic of entering the new life God promised. Yochanan was a priest, so he stood in the water of the Jordan and invited Israelites to the new life of the Messiah. Fourth, the Jordan was also the most practical place from the standpoint of handling large crowds.
of repentance: Grk. metanoia is a serious change of mind and heart about a previous point of view or course of behavior. In the LXX metanoia occurs only one time and without Hebrew equivalent in Proverbs 14:15, "The guileless believe every word, but the astute one comes to repentance" (ABP). Thayer points out that the noun occurs in Josephus to represent especially the change of mind of those who have begun to abhor their errors and misdeeds, and have determined to enter upon a better course of life, so that it embraces both a recognition of sin and sorrow for it and hearty amendment, the tokens and effects of which are good deeds (Ant. XIII, 11:3). Metanoia also occurs in Sirach 44:16 where it says "Enoch pleased the Lord, and was taken up; he was an example of repentance to all generations."
The immersion represented the person's repentant heart. The people did not immerse in order to repent. Since Paul probably spoke in Hebrew and the message was translated into Greek, then we should consider that he used the Heb. word t’shuvah. As a word for repentance t’shuvah means to turn away from evil in the sense of renouncing and disowning sin, and to turn toward the good or becoming obedient to God’s will as expressed in the commandments (TWOT 2:909).
Repentance was actually a virtue to Pharisees. The daily prayer, Amidah, included repentance in the fifth benediction, which reads in its original Jerusalem form, "Return us, O Lord, to Thee, and we shall return. Renew our days as before. Blessed are Thou, Who hast pleasure in repentance" (quoted in Lane 596). Rabbinic revision, reflected in the Babylonian form, would emphasize returning to Torah. There is a considerable difference in perspective between Paul's teaching in this synagogue and his former Pharisaic point of view.
Yochanan and Yeshua had demanded a "turning" of one's whole self to the fulfillment of God's will. Paul did not presume to judge his hearers, but the nature of the good news included a call to repentance. The expectation of stopping sinful practice stems from the anticipation of God's wrath (cf. John 5:14; 8:11; 1Cor 15:34; Eph 4:26; 1Tim 5:20). The fact that a disciple may be instructed to cease sinning or to avoid sinning contradicts the assumption by some Christians that they must sin in thought, word and deed every day. Only consider the words of Paul the Pharisee in Romans 6:1. True repentance with its unequivocal turning away from sinful conduct is at the heart of receiving the good news.
to all: Grk. pas, adj. See verse 10 above. the people: Grk. laos. See verse 15 above. of Israel: See the previous verse. before: Grk. pro, prep. indicating precedence, either (1) spatially, 'ahead, before,' (2) temporally, 'earlier than, before' or (3) in rank, before or above. The second usage applies here. the presence: Grk. prosōpon, lit. "face," is used to mean (1) the front part of the human head, by which someone is identified; (2) the countenance or visage projected by someone; and (3) a personal presence or the act of appearing before someone. The third meaning is intended here. Only three versions translate this noun: DLNT with "presence," and LITV and WYC with "face."
of his: Grk. autos, personal pronoun. arrival: Grk. ho eisodos, 'a going in,' the act of arriving on the scene, entry, entrance. Many versions translate eisodos with "coming." Paul emphasizes that Yochanan as the prophesied forerunner of the Messiah began his ministry before Yeshua made his public appearance before Yochanan at the Jordan to be immersed (Matt 3:13; Mark 1:9; Luke 3:21).
25― Now while Yochanan was completing his course, he was saying, 'Whom do you suppose me to be? I am not he, but behold, he comes after me, of whom I am not worthy to untie a sandal of his feet.'
Parallel Passages: Matthew 3:11; Mark 1:7; Luke 3:16; John 1:20.
Now: Grk. de, conj. while: Grk. hōs, adv. See verse 18 above. Here the adverb has a temporal aspect that complements the following verb. Yochanan: See the previous verse. was completing: Grk. plēroō, impf., may mean (1) cause to abound in content to a maximum, fill; or (2) to bring to fruition or completion, complete, fulfill, fill up, carry out. The imperfect tense refers to continuous action in past time. The second meaning has application here. his course: Grk. dromos, properly, a race-course (track), where foot-runners competed in the ancient Greek games (HELPS). The noun occurs only three times in the Besekh. Paul himself will use the term the other two times (Acts 20:24; 2Tim 4:7). Paul likened the mission calling of God as a course to be run with a set distance and point of completion.
he was saying: Grk. legō, impf. See verse 2 above. Whom: Grk. tís, interrogative pronoun indicating interest in establishing something definite; who, which, what, why. do you suppose: Grk. huponoeō, pres., have an idea constituting preconception; assume, expect, suppose. me: Grk. egō, pronoun of the first person. to be: Grk. eimi, pres. inf. See verse 1 above. I: Grk. egō. am: Grk. eimi, pres. not: Grk. ou, adv. See verse 10 above. he: The pronoun is assumed. The denial alludes to the question asked of him by Judean authorities "who are you?" (John 1:19) and Yochanan affirmed that he was not the Messiah prophesied by Daniel (Dan 9:25-26), or Elijah prophesied by Malachi (Mal 4:5) or the prophet prophesied by Moses (Deut 18:15).
but: Grk. alla, conj., adversative particle used adverbially to convey a different viewpoint for consideration; but, on the other hand. behold: Grk. idou, aor. imp. See verse 11 above. he comes: Grk. erchomai, pres. See verse 13 above. The subject of the verb is the Messiah. after: Grk. meta, prep. See verse 15 above. me: Grk. egō. of whom: Grk. hos, relative pronoun. See verse 2 above. I am: Grk. eimi, pres. not: Grk. ou. worthy: Grk. axios, adj., having worth or value, in the sense of being weighed on a scale. to untie: Grk. luō, aor. inf., to remove a hindrance; loose, release. a sandal: Grk. hupodēma, anything bound under, a sandal (Mounce). The singular noun does not imply that Yeshua wore only one sandal, but the kind of shoe he wore. The shoe was considered the humblest article of clothing and could be bought cheaply.
Two types of shoes existed: slippers of soft leather and the more popular sandals with a hard leather sole. During the first century, Jewish practice forbade the wearing of sandals with multilayered leather soles nailed together, as this was the shoe worn by Roman soldiers. of his feet: pl. of Grk. pous, the body part that is used for walking or running; the foot. The quotation attributed to Yochanan was apparently a well known anecdote that illustrated his humility. Yochanan made this announcement before Yeshua came to the Jordan for his own immersion. It is quite possible that Paul's recollection of the quotation was from first-hand knowledge. Being associated with the ruling council he could have heard the report of the priests and Levites whom the Pharisees had sent to confront Yochanan (John 1:19, 24).
Synagogue Message: Fulfillment of the Promise, 13:26-37
26― Men, brothers, sons of the family of Abraham and those among you fearing God, this Word of salvation has been sent to us.
Paul again addresses those present to mark the second part of his discourse.
Men: Grk. anēr. See verse 6 above. The term could have been directed to all the men in the meeting, but Paul probably intended it as a nod of respect to the synagogue rulers. Brothers: pl. of Grk. adelphos. See verse 15 above. This term includes all those descended from Jacob and therefore his kinsmen. sons: pl. of Gr. huios. See verse 10 above. of the family: Grk. genos may mean (1) line of descent from the original ancestor; (2) role of birth in terms of a geographically identified people group; (3) a people group, family, people, relatives; (4) a group with a distinguishing characteristic. The first meaning applies here.
of Abraham: Grk. Abraam, a transliteration of Heb. Avraham, a personal name. The first Hebrew patriarch, he became the prime example of trusting faithfulness. He was the son of Terah, a descendant of Noah's son, Shem (Gen 11:27). He was known at the beginning as Abram ("father is exalted"), but his name was changed subsequently to Abraham ("father of a multitude") (Gen 17:5). For more information on the great patriarch see my web article The Story of Abraham. The phrase "sons of the family of Abraham" in its literal sense would refer to those who can trace their genealogy to the great patriarch, including descendants of Ishmael. Yet, the "sons of Abraham" are those who looked for the Messiah and welcomed him upon his arrival, such as Zacchaeus (Luke 19:9).
and: Grk. kai, conj. those: pl. of Grk. ho, definite article, but used here as a demonstrative pronoun. among: Grk. en, prep. you: Grk. humeis, pl. pronoun of the second person. fearing: Grk. phobeomai, pres. mid. part., to fear. See verse 16 above. God: See verse 5 above. As indicated in verse 16 above the "God-fearers" were Gentiles who attached themselves to synagogues and the Jewish religion. Like Ruth they had joined themselves to the people of Israel and chose to follow the God of Israel as an act of trusting faithfulness (Ruth 1:16). Paul's description of the Gentiles in the crowd distinguishes them from proselytes that fully converted to Judaism by being circumcised.
this: Grk. houtos, demonstrative pronoun. See verse 7 above. Word: Grk. logos, a vocalized expression. See verse 5 above. Bible versions are divided between translating the noun as "message" or "word." Considering the verb that follows Paul may have engaged in a play on words and used Logos in the same sense as John 1:1 (see my comment there). Gill favors this interpretation in contrast to other commentators that restrict the use of logos here as "message" or even "doctrine" (Clarke). Like John, Paul's use of logos corresponds to the use of the Aramaic word "mimra" (also spelled memra, "word") in the Targums, the interpretative translation of the Hebrew Scriptures into Aramaic. Mimra is a technical theological term used when speaking of God's expression of himself (Stern 154).
of salvation: Grk. sōtēria means rescue, deliverance or salvation from physical harm, but often from God's wrath (Rom 5:9; 1Cor 5:5). In the LXX sōtēria translates Heb. shalom (SH-7965), peace (Gen 26:31; 28:31; 44:17), but primarily nouns derived from the verb yasha, to deliver (DNTT 3:206). These nouns include yeshu'ah (Gen 49:18; Ex 14:13; 15:2; 1Sam 2:1), teshu'ah (Jdg 15:18; 1Sam 11:9, 13), and yesha (2Sam 22:3; Ps 18:2), each of which can mean deliverance, salvation or victory. In the Tanakh "salvation" typically meant deliverance from enemies (Ex 14:13), whether personal or national.
The phrase "word of salvation" summarizes the heart of the good news. Christians sometimes speak of being "saved from sin," but this is not how the apostles characterized salvation. We are saved from the consequences of sin. The wages of sin is death (Rom 6:23). Salvation is sometimes spoken of as a present experience (1Cor 1:18; Eph 2:5; Titus 3:5), but it is also a future hope, something that will happen when Yeshua returns (Rom 5:10; 10:9; 13:11; 1Cor 3:15; 1Th 2:16; 5:9; 1Tim 4:16; Heb 1:14; 9:28).
has been sent: Grk. exapostellō, aor. pass., send, which may focus on (1) moving persons from one place to another, send out/away/forth; or (2) dismissal, send away. The first usage is intended here. The verb occurs 13 times in the Besekh and is consistently used of sending persons (Luke 1:53; 20:10-11; Acts 7:12; 9:20; 12:11). to us: Grk. hēmeis, pl. pronoun of the first person. Noteworthy is that Paul did not say, "I am bringing this message of salvation to you." Paul is among the "us." The sending was from heaven. Yeshua repeatedly asserted that he had been sent by the Father (John 5:36-37; 6:44, 57; 8:16, 18, 42; 12:49; 14:24; 17:21, 25; 20:21). Paul's mention of "to us" also demonstrates his later assertion that the Good News is intended for the Jews first (Rom 1:16; cf. Acts 3:26), and also those who have joined themselves to Israel.
27― For those staying in Jerusalem and their rulers, not having understood him and the predictions of the prophets which are being read every Sabbath, having condemned him, fulfilled them.
The setting for this verse is Passover of AD 30. For: Grk. gar, conj. those: pl. of Grk. ho, definite article, but used here as a demonstrative pronoun. staying: Grk. katoikeō, pres. part., to make a specific locale or area of residence, thus to dwell, reside or live in. in: Grk. en, prep. Jerusalem: Grk. Ierousalēm, which transliterates Heb. Yerushalaim (SH-3389), 660 times in the LXX, first in Joshua 10:1 (DNTT 2:324). See the note on "Jerusalem" in verse 13 above. The verbal phrase "staying in Jerusalem" does not mean born and raised in Jerusalem. These Jews were either expatriates or visitors from the Diaspora for the festival.
and: Grk. kai, conj. their: pl. of Grk. autos, personal pronoun. rulers: pl. of Grk. archōn, one who has eminence in a ruling capacity or one who has administrative authority. Among Jews the term is used of synagogue officials (Luke 8:41; Acts 14:5), religious party leaders (Luke 14:1), and members of the Sanhedrin (Luke 18:18; Acts 4:5, 8). In the LXX archōn translates Heb rôsh (SH-7218), head, leader (Jdg 10:18), and also Heb. sar (SH-8269), prince, ruler (Gen 12:15) (DNTT 1:165). By "rulers" Paul likely meant the temple ruling council that passed the sentence of death on Yeshua.
not having understood: Grk. agnoeō, aor. part., to be without knowledge of something; be ignorant, be uniformed. Many versions translate the verb as "did not recognize." him: Grk. houtos, demonstrative pronoun, lit. "this one." Paul asserts that the adversaries of Yeshua did not really comprehend that he was the Messiah. and: Grk. kai, conj. the predictions: pl. of Grk. phōnē can mean (1) an auditory sound defined in the context; (2) the faculty of producing speech, voice; or (3) a system of communication, language. The second meaning applies here. In the LXX phōnē generally translates Heb. qôl (SH-6963), sound, voice; first of God's voice (Gen 3:8), and second the human voice (Gen 3:17) (DNTT 3:113). AMPC and Thayer interpret the plural noun as "predictions." The Messianic prophecies were originally given orally, first by God to his messenger and then by the messenger to Israel.
of the prophets: pl. of Grk. prophētēs. See verse 1 above. The plural noun probably refers to the second division of the Hebrew Bible, "the prophets" (Heb. Neviim), verse 15 above. Later Jewish tradition excluded Daniel from the Neviim. However, Yeshua, reflecting Jewish opinion of his time, regarded Daniel as a prophet, since his book contains an important prophecy of the Messiah (Matt 24:15). Peter had said to the people in Jerusalem "all the prophets who have spoken from Samuel on have announced these days" (Acts 3:24 TLV). Yet, the "prophets" could also include the Torah, because Moses was a prophet (Deut 18:15; Acts 3:22), and the Psalms, because the words of David are treated as prophecy (Luke 20:42; 24:44; Acts 1:16; 2:25; 4:25). See my article The Messiah in the Prophets.
which: Grk. ho, used here as a relative pronoun. are being read: Grk. anaginōskō, pres. pass. part., to know again, here to recognize written characters, and so 'read.' every: Grk. pas, adj. See verse 10 above. Sabbath: Grk. sabbaton. See verse 14 above. This clause alludes to the mention of reading the Haftarah in verse 15 above. There is a certain incredulity in this statement. While it's not clear when synagogues began including Haftarah readings in Shabbat services, Paul asserts that the Messianic predictions had been heard by the people and the leaders.
having condemned him: Grk. krinō, aor. part., may mean (1) make a selection, prefer; (2) subject to scrutiny and evaluation of behavior, judge, often in legal contexts, or (3) draw a conclusion. The second meaning applies here in the sense of pass judgment on or condemn. Paul alludes to the three hearings conducted by Annas, Caiaphas and the temple ruling council. See a comparative chart of the three hearings here. Paul makes the point that the condemnation was the result of ignorance. He reiterates this point in his Corinthian letter:
"we speak of God's wisdom in a mystery, having been hidden, which God predetermined before the ages to our glory; 8 which none of the rulers of this age has understood; for if they had understood they would not have crucified the Lord of glory" (1Cor 2:7-8 BR).
Paul also attributes his own adversarial action against the disciples of Yeshua to acting "ignorantly in unbelief" (1Tim 1:13). This ignorance did not absolve him or the Judean leaders of wrongdoing. fulfilled them: Grk. plēroō, 3p-pl. See verse 27 above. There are many prophecies of the Messiah in the Tanakh, which may be categorized as those describing his arrival, his character, his ministry, his sufferings and his victory. Paul has in mind prophecies of the suffering of the Messiah. Paul no doubt alludes particularly to Psalm 22 and Isaiah 53, but there are other relevant passages. (See the list in the comment on verse 29 below.) Paul declares that even though the leaders treated Yeshua shamefully in ignorance they nevertheless accomplished what God had predicted would happen.
28― And having found not one cause worthy of death, they petitioned Pilate to execute him.
And: Grk. kai, conj. having found: Grk. heuriskō, aor. part. See verse 6 above. not one: Grk. mēdeis, adj. (from mē, "not" and heis, "one"), not even one, nothing, none. cause: Grk. aitia, the basis for something; reason, cause, and by extension guilt or blame. In the LXX aitia translates Heb. avon (SH-5771), iniquity or guilt (Gen 4:13), and Heb. ashaq (SH-6231), blood-guilt as a result of extortion (Prov 28:17). worthy of death: Grk. thanatos, death in the natural physical sense, extinction of life, but used here in the judicial sense of being condemned to death.
The record of Yeshua's third hearing says that when the high priest charged Yeshua with blasphemy and pressed for a verdict the members of the Council declared him to be deserving of death (Mark 14:64). The charge of blasphemy flies in the face of the previous praise of Yeshua's character (Mark 12:14; John 3:2), and contradicts the Torah definition of blasphemy (Num 15:30). The high priest could not name a single Torah commandment Yeshua violated, and so the verdict of the Council had no legal basis, and was itself a miscarriage of justice.
they petitioned: Grk. aiteō, aor., 3p-pl. See verse 21 above. Pilate: Grk. Pilatos. Pontius Pilate was the fifth governor of Judaea from the time that Archelaus was deposed in A.D. 6. As a Roman province Judaea included the territories of Idumea, Judea and Samaria. Pilate ruled A.D. 26 to 36 and therefore the judge in the trial of Yeshua. Pilate is singled out as having unique role in bringing about Yeshua's death. For more information on Pilate see my note on John 18:29. to execute: Grk. anaireō, aor. inf., lit. "to take up," and used here to mean to remove by causing death; kill, slay. Luke also used this verb in describing the intention of the chief priests to kill Yeshua (Luke 22:2). him: Grk. autos, personal pronoun.
The chief priests wanted Yeshua dead so their petition to Pilate invented a three-fold lie to defame Yeshua. Only in Luke's version of this meeting at the Praetorium do we find the text of the actual accusation made by the chief priests, listing three specific charges:
"We found this One perverting our nation and forbidding payment of taxes to Caesar and saying Himself to be Messiah, a king." (Luke 23:2 BR)
The first charge of perverting the nation probably alludes to Yeshua's criticism of legal practices that were actually violations of Torah and his minimizing of the importance of some traditions. Thus, the implication was that Yeshua had been insensitive to Jewish law. The truth is that Yeshua's teaching not only instructed people to obey Torah, but imposed an even more rigorous interpretation of Torah. The second charge was a patent lie. Yeshua had previously declared his unequivocal support to paying Roman taxes (Matt 12:15-21; Mark 12:13-17; Luke 20:19-25). The third charge was a half-truth. Yeshua had declared himself to be the Messiah (Matt 26:63-64), but he never said he was a king. The chief priests wanted Pilate to think that Yeshua was a threat to Roman rule, which Yeshua later rebutted (John 18:36).
29― And when they completed all things having been written concerning him, having taken him down from the tree they laid him in a tomb.
And: Grk. de, conj. when: Grk. hōs, adv. they completed: Grk. teleō, aor., 3p-pl., to bring to completion in a manner that leaves nothing undone, to achieve fully, fulfill, accomplish, complete. all: pl. of Grk. pas, adj. things: pl. of Grk. ho, definite article but used here as a demonstrative pronoun. having been written: Grk. graphō, perf. pass. part., to write or inscribe as a physical act, generally in reference to a document, especially in reference to some portion of the Tanakh. concerning: Grk. peri, prep. him: Grk. autos, personal pronoun; Yeshua, the Messiah. David Stern provides a summary list of the Tanakh prophecies of adversarial actions taken against the Messiah (CJB xlv-xlvii):
● Hated without a cause: Ps 69:4; Isa 49:7 (John 15:24–25).
● Betrayed by a friend: Ps 41:9; 55:12-14 (John 13:18-21; Acts 1:16-18).
● Betrayed for 30 pieces of silver and the price thrown into the Temple treasury: Zech 11:12-13 (Matt 26:15; 27:6-7).
● Bore the reproaches due others: Ps 69:9; Isa 53:11-12 (Rom 15:3).
● Rejected by Jewish leadership: Ps 118:22 (Matt 21:42, John 7:48).
● Considered a transgressor: Isa 53:12 (Matt 27:38).
● Struck on the cheek: Mic 5:1 (Matt 27:30).
● Spat on: Isa 50:6 (Matt 26:67, 27:30).
● Mocked: Ps 22:7-8 (Matt 26:67–68; 27:31, 39–44).
● Beaten: Isa 50:6 (Matt 26:67; 27:26, 30).
● Lifted up as the serpent in the wilderness: Num 21:8-9 (John 3:14; 8:28; 12:32).
● Hung on a tree: Deut 21:21-23 (Acts 5:30; 10:39; 13:29).
● Executed by having hands and feet pierced: Ps 22:16; Zech 12:10 (Matt 27:35; Luke 24:39; John 19:18, 34-37; 20:20-28).
● Executed without having a bone broken: Ex 12:46; Ps 34:20 (John 19:33–36).
● "Cut off, but not for himself," 69 x 7 years after rebuilding of the wall of Jerusalem: Dan 9:24–26 (Rom 5:6).
All of these prophecies were fulfilled in Yeshua, yet his death accomplished atonement for the sins of humanity as was also prophesied (Isa 53:1-12; cf. Mark 10:45; John 1:29; 3:16; Acts 8:30-35; 1Cor 5:7; 2Cor 5:21). Paul then alludes to the method of Yeshua's execution, Roman crucifixion. having taken him down: Grk. kathaireō, aor. part. See verse 19 above. from: Grk. apo, prep. the tree: Grk. ho xulon is used to refer to (1) wood; (2) objects made of wood or (3) a botanical tree. This term was used for a gallows or a stake on which a criminal was impaled, a gibbet or the cross-beam of a crucifixion stake (LSJ). The last meaning applies here since Yeshua actually carried the cross-beam to Golgotha, not the entire cross (John 19:17).
In the LXX xulon translates Heb. ets (SH-6086), tree, first in Genesis 1:11. The mention of "tree" alludes to Deuteronomy 21:22–23,
"And if a man has committed a sin deserving of death and he is put to death, and you hang him on a tree, 23 his corpse shall not pass the night on the tree, but surely you shall bury him that day, for he who is hanged is accursed of God, and so that you not defile the land, which ADONAI your God is giving you as an inheritance." (BR).
The Hebrew word ets is used of botanical trees from which individuals were hung as punishment (Gen 40:22; Josh 8:29; 10:26; 2Sam 21:6-9), as well as a constructed gallows on which someone was hung (Esth 2:23; 7:9-10; 9:25). The LXX translates ets in those passages with xulon. Death was by strangulation. Xulon occurs 20 times in the Besekh, five of which refer to the implement of Yeshua's execution, first by Peter (Acts 5:30; 10:39; 1Pet 2:24) and then by Paul (also Gal 3:13). The usual word for "cross" is stauros (Luke 23:26), so the use of xulon is probably meant to emphasize that Yeshua bore the curse as a sin offering for mankind.
Many versions translate xulon here with "cross," but more have "tree," which can be misleading. Paul obviously did not mean a botanical tree, for which there is another Greek word (dendron). The CJB has "stake." Indeed, Stern uniformly uses "stake" or "execution-stake" in place of "cross" in his Complete Jewish Bible. He explained his translation decision by saying that for centuries Jews were put to death under the sign of the cross by persons claiming to be followers of the Jewish Messiah. Therefore the cross symbolizes persecution of Jews. He says, "As a Messianic Jew, still feeling the pain on behalf of my people, I do not have it in me to represent my New Testament faith by a cross" (41).
Stern's rationale for "stake" is understandable from a Jewish point of view, but we must interpret not just what Paul said, but what he meant, considering the fact that Roman soldiers carried out the crucifixion of Yeshua. Moreover, for the apostles the execution of Yeshua on a Roman cross came to represent the power of God for salvation (1Cor 1:18) and reconciliation between God and man (Eph 2:16). The cross of Messiah accomplished atonement (Col 2:14; 1Pet 2:24).
they laid him: Grk. tithēmi, aor., 3p-pl., may mean (1) to arrange for association with a site, place or put; or (2) arrange for creation of role or status, make or appoint. The first meaning applies here. in: Grk. eis, prep., lit. "into." a tomb: Grk. mnēmeion, a place for depositing remains of a deceased person held in memory, burial place, grave or tomb. Decent burial was regarded to be of great importance in ancient Israel. In Bible times corpses were typically placed in natural caves (Gen 23:19; 49:30-31), other above-ground tombs cut into soft rock (Jdg 8:32; Matt 27:60; Acts 2:29), or in the ground (Gen 35:8, 19; 2Kgs 23:6; Jer 26:23; Matt 27:5-10).
Burial places were outside but near the town where the person lived. The rock tombs sometimes contained chambers or a single room with shelves cut into the walls on three sides of the chamber (cf. Luke 23:53), the entrance being closed by a large flat stone rolled or pushed into position. As generations of the same family used the tomb, skeletons and grave goods might be heaped up along the sides or put into a side chamber to make room for new burials. Since burial had to take place before sundown of the day of execution, Joseph of Arimathea provided his own tomb for Yeshua (Matt 27:60). This last act was also prophesied, that Messiah's burial place would be with the rich (Isa 53:9). Christian dramatizations of Yeshua's body lying on a table in the center of the tomb have no biblical support.
30 But God resurrected him from death!
But: Grk. de, conj. God: See verse 5 above. resurrected: Grk. egeirō, aor. See verse 22 above. The verb egeirō appears in Yeshua's prophecies of being raised on the third day from his arrest (Matt 16:21; 17:23; 20:19; Luke 9:22; 24:6). The verb graphically depicts the prone corpse of Yeshua lying on a tomb shelf being reanimated and transformed by the return of his spirit so that he could rise to an erect position and leave the tomb. Thus, God "brought him back to life" (GW, NOG, TLB). him: Grk. autos, personal pronoun. from: Grk. ek, prep. death: Grk. nekros may be used as (1) a noun, corpse or (2) adj., without life in the physical sense, being dead. The term, of course, applies to Yeshua's body not his spirit.
Although nekros lacks the definite article most versions render the term as a noun "the dead," which may be misleading. When people die the spirit goes either to Heaven or Hades (Luke 16:22). Many Christians believe that Yeshua went to Hades after he died and was resurrected from there as declared in the Apostles' Creed. However, Scripture does not say anywhere that Yeshua descended into Hades, which is a place of torment and punishment and the abode of demons and fallen angels. (For this unbiblical claim see my article Is the Apostles' Creed Apostolic?) Paul means "death" as a condition or state. Several versions render nekros here as "death" (CEV, ERV, GNB, ICB, NMB, WE).
Unlike previously resurrected people who had to die again, Yeshua was given victory over death so that he could never die again. Paul makes the point, which is uniformly and consistently declared in the Besekh, that God resurrected Yeshua from death. Yeshua did not resurrect himself.
31 who was seen over many days by those having gone up with him from Galilee to Jerusalem, who now are his witnesses to the people.
who: Grk. hos, relative pronoun. See verse 2 above. was seen: Grk. horaō, aor. pass. See verse 12 above. over: Grk. epi, prep. See verse 11 above. The MSG qualifies the preposition as "over and over again." many: pl. of Grk. polus, adj., extensive in scope, here indicating a high quantity or a high degree, here the former. days: pl. of Grk. hēmera. See verse 14 above. Luke previously reported the time period as 40 days (Acts 1:3). by those: pl. of Grk. ho, definite article, but used here as a relative pronoun. having gone up with: Grk. sunanabainō, aor. part., to ascend at the same time, come up together with to a higher place (Thayer). The verb occurs only twice in the Besekh, the other in Mark 15:41 of a similar report as here. him: Grk. autos, personal pronoun. from: Grk. apo, prep.
Galilee: Grk. Galilaia, from the Heb. Galil, lit. "circle" or "region." Galilee was the northern part of Israel above the hill country of Ephraim and of Judah and encompassed the areas originally given to the tribes of Naphtali, Asher, Issachar, Zebulun, and Dan. To Jews in the first century the Galil included territory on the east side of the Jordan and around the lake. (See the map here.) to: Grk. eis, prep. Jerusalem: See verse 13 above. Paul alludes to the large group of disciples, including women, who followed Yeshua from Galilee (cf. Matt 27:55; Mark 15:41; Luke 23:49) and witnessed the events of the passion week.
who: Grk. hostis, relative pronoun used as a generalizing reference to the subject of a verb or a preceding entity; who, which. now: Grk. nun, adv. See verse 11 above. are: Grk. eimi, pres. See verse 1 above. his: Grk. autos. witnesses: pl. of Grk. martus, one who attests the fact or truth of something, often used in a legal context of who testifies before a legal proceeding regarding first hand knowledge (cf. Matt 18:16; Acts 7:5; 10:39). to: Grk. pros, prep. See verse 15 above. the people: Grk. ho laos. See verse 15 above. Paul later reported that Yeshua was seen after his resurrection by the twelve apostles (including Mattathias), his half-brother Jacob, and over 500 people at one time (1Cor 15:6-7). The 500 included the 70 disciples Yeshua sent out (Luke 10:1).
32 And to you we proclaim good news, the promise having been made to the fathers!
And: Grk. kai, conj. to you: Grk. humeis, pl. pronoun of the second person. we: Grk. hēmeis, pl. pronoun of the first person. Paul included Barnabas in "we." proclaim good news: Grk. euangelizō, pres. mid. (from eú, "good, well" and angellō, "announce, herald"), to announce the good message, and is used to mean (1) pass on information that provides good news to the recipient, and (2) spread good news of God's beneficial concern, specifically of a proclamation with focus on God's saving action in connection with Yeshua. The second meaning applies here. In the LXX euangelizō stands for Heb. basar (SH-1319), to publish or bring news or a report, whether good or bad (DNTT 2:108-109).
The Hebrew verb is especially used in passages that announce the salvation of God (Ps 96:2; 1Chr 16:23; Isa 40:9; 41:27; 52:7; 61:1; Nah 2:1). The focus of this verb from its first use in the nativity narratives (Luke 1:19; 2:10-11), next in the message of Yochanan the Immerser (Luke 3:18), and then by Yeshua who proclaimed the good news to the poor (Matt 11:5; Luke 4:18) was the arrival of the Kingdom of God in the person of Yeshua (Mark 1:1). The verb occurs 15 times in Acts (5:42; 8:4, 12, 25, 35, 40; 10:36; 11:20; 13:32; 14:7, 15, 21; 15:35; 16:10; 17:18), always in reference to proclaiming Yeshua as the Messiah of Israel.
the promise: Grk. epangelia. See verse 23 above where the promise was the one made to David. Then Paul reminds his hearers that the promise to David was an extension of an earlier promise. having been made: Grk. ginomai, aor. mid. part. to: Grk. pros, prep. See verse 15 above. the fathers: pl. of Grk. patēr. See verse 17 above. Again, Paul alludes to the patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. God made several covenantal promises to the fathers (Gen 12:1-3; 13:14-17; 15:1-21; 17:1-22; 18:18; 22:16-18; 26:2-5, 23-24; 28:10-22; 35:9-12), of which three are paramount in this context:
● God will bless all the nations on the earth (Gen 18:18; Gal 3:8).
● Abraham's Seed, the Messiah, will possess the gates of his enemies (cf. Gen 22:17; Matt 16:18); he will triumph over Satan (cf. Col 2:15).
● God's blessing will be transmitted through his "Seed," the Messiah (cf. Gen 22:18; Gal 3:16).
Paul asserts that all the covenantal promises made to the fathers are implicit in the single promise made to David, as he will later write, "For as many promises of God there are, in Him [Yeshua] is the Yes!" (2Cor 1:20 BR). In the Christian teaching of replacement theology the promises to Israel were negated and restricted the "good news" ("gospel") to salvation from God's judgment. NIBD gives this definition:
"The joyous good news of salvation in Jesus Christ. … The gospel is not a new plan of salvation; it is the fulfillment of God's plan of salvation which began in Israel, was completed in Jesus Christ, and is made known by the church. The gospel is the saving work of God in His Son Jesus Christ and a call to faith in Him." (438)
Among many modern Christians the "good news" has the practical meaning of "Jesus died to give me a happy life and a home in heaven." The biblical message is very different. The fulfillment of the promise of the Messianic Seed, made in the beginning (Gen 3:15; cf. Rev 12:1-2), then declared to the patriarchs and finally to David is key to understanding the nature of the good news proclaimed by the apostles. "His-Story" set forth by the prophets and apostles is the story of God's great plan to fulfill His promises to His covenant people Israel.
33 that God has fulfilled this promise to their children, to us, having raised up Yeshua, just as also it is written in the psalm, the second: 'You are My Son. Today I have begotten you.'
Source: Psalm 2:7
that: Grk. hoti, conj. that serves as a link between two sets of data, whether (1) defining a demonstrative pronoun; that; (2) introducing a subordinate clause as complementary of a preceding verb; (3) introducing a direct quotation and functioning as quotation marks; or (4) indicating causality with an inferential aspect; for, because, inasmuch as. The second usage applies here. God: Grk. ho theos, the God of Israel. See verse 5 above. has fulfilled: Grk. ekplēroō, perf., fill completely, fulfill in every particular (to the utmost), make good. The verb occurs only here in the Besekh. this: Grk. houtos, demonstrative pronoun. See verse 7 above. promise: Grk. ho, definite article, but used here as a demonstrative pronoun, lit. "one." The antecedent is the promise mentioned in the previous verse.
to their: pl. of Grk. autos, personal pronoun. children: pl. of Grk. ho teknon normally refers to man or woman's immediate biological offspring, but may also refer to more distant relations such as grandchildren or descendants. The term has a dual meaning, first the sons of promise, Isaac and Jacob, and then their descendants through the twelve tribes. to us: Grk. hēmeis, pl. pronoun of the first person. Paul makes the point that the promise had not been negated by past failures of Israel (cf. Jer 31:31-37; 33:20-26; Ezek 37:21-28), but had continued to be passed on through succeeding generations until the present day.
having raised up: Grk. anistēmi, aor. part. See verse 16 above. Bible versions generally intend the meaning of the verb to be resurrection. However, the verb is qualified by the following quotation from the Tanakh, and therefore can be taken in the sense of causing to be born, causing to appear or bringing forward. Stern adds "raising to prominence." Some commentators recognize that the verb in this verse does not strictly refer to resurrection (e.g., Barnes, Bruce, Gill, Stern). Yeshua: See verse 23 above. God brought forth Yeshua from his previous hidden status to the forefront of the public eye. just as: Grk. hōs, adv. See verse 18 above. The adverb is used here to introduce something that illustrates the point. also: Grk. kai, conj. it is written: Grk. graphō, perf. mid. See verse 29 above.
in: Grk. en, prep. the psalm: Grk. ho psalmos, a celebratory poem, from psallō, "to pluck a stringed instrument." In the LXX psalmos is the name given to a song of praise, usually accompanied by a musical instrument. Psalmos is especially the name given to individual songs in the Book of Psalms, which among Jews of that day had canonical status (cf. Luke 20:42; 24:44; John 10:34; Acts 1:20). the second: Grk. ho deuteros, adj., second, in the second place. Gruber notes that this is the only quotation in Scripture that is designated by a chapter number, though chapter numbers were not assigned in Christian Bibles until many centuries later (MW-Notes 199). Psalm 2 was authored by David according to Peter (Acts 4:25), even though there is no superscription. See my commentary on Psalm 2.
Specifically the quotation is from Psalm 2:7. See the Hebrew text here. The quoted verse conveys two important truths. You: Grk. su, pronoun of the second person. are: Grk. eimi, pres. See verse 1 above. "You are" translates Heb. attah, to be. My: Grk. egō, pronoun of the first person. Son: Grk. huios. See verse 10 above. "My Son" translates Heb. ben with a first person masc. construct. The first truth is that God has a Son. Unbelieving Jews typically object to the concept of God having a divine son and can rightly claim that at this time "Son of God' had a very human meaning. Adam was the first son of God (Luke 3:38). Then God declared that the nation of Israel was His son (Ex 4:22; Deut 14:1; Isa 63:16; 64:8; Jer 31:9; Hos 11:1). Yet, there are verses in the Tanakh that mention God having a unique Son in a very personal sense, including Psalm 2:
· "I will raise up your descendant after you, who will come forth from you, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for My name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. I will be a father to him and he will be a son to Me." (2Sam 7:12-14 NASB)
· "6 I myself have installed my king on Tziyon, my holy mountain." … 11 Serve ADONAI with fear; rejoice, but with trembling. 12 Kiss the son, lest he be angry, and you perish along the way, when suddenly his anger blazes. How blessed are all who take refuge in him." (Ps 2:6-7, 11-12 CJB)
· "Who has gone up to heaven and come down? Who has cupped the wind in the palms of his hands? Who has wrapped up the waters in his cloak? Who established all the ends of the earth? What is his name, and what is his son's name? Surely you know!" (Prov 30:4 CJB)
· "For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace." (Isa 9:6 NASB)
For Jews during the first century "son of God" was used as a title for a human descendant of King David, the Messiah, who would establish the promised Kingdom. "Son of God" was a title of the Davidic king inasmuch as the king functioned as God's regent on earth and was vested with God's authority. So when Yochanan the Immerser introduced Yeshua with the old title for the king of the House of David (John 1:34) he means "Son of God" as the Messiah of Israel, just as Nathanael (John 1:49) and Martha (John 11:27) intended when they called Yeshua "Son of God."
The second truth is that God has revealed His Son to the world. Today: Grk. sēmeron (for Heb. yom), today, this day, now. "Today" introduces a prolepsis, the representation of something in the future as if it already existed. Indeed God's sovereign decision occurred before the world began (cf. Matt 13:35; John 17:5, 24; 1Pet 1:20; 1Jn 1:1; Rev 13:8). I: Grk. egō for Heb. ani, pronoun of the first person. The pronoun emphasizes that God and no other has accomplished the action. have begotten: Grk. gennaō, perf., to father, beget or procreate. In the LXX gennaō is used chiefly for Heb. yalad (SH-3205), to bear, bring forth, to beget, to father (first use in Gen 4:18), which can refer to either the male or female role in conception and birth (DNTT 1:176).
you: Grk. su. In the Hebrew text the pronoun is a suffix stem of the verb. The announcement "I have begotten you" has a dual meaning. First, the announcement predicted incarnation. The psalm prophesied that God's son would be born into the world by an impregnated woman and would thus be very God and very human (cf. John 1:1, 14). Second, the announcement refers to a formal accession to the throne with divine rights. In Psalm 2:7 the verbal phrase "I have begotten" functions as a synonymous parallelism to "I have installed" in the previous verse.
The psalm as prophetic Scripture not only referred to David's own installation and reign as king, but anticipates his descendant who would be anointed as king over Israel and serve as God's regent on the earth (cf. Isa 9:6-7; 11:1-2; Jer 23:5-6; 30:9; 33:15, 17, 22; Ezek 34:23-24; 37:24; Hos 3:5; Amos 9:11; Mic 5:2). This promise was fulfilled at the immersion of Yeshua as reiterated by the voice from heaven that said, "You are my beloved son" (Luke 3:22). Moreover, the resurrection of Yeshua confirmed absolutely the Messianic message of Psalm 2. Paul declares forthrightly that Yeshua IS presently the king of Israel (cf. Matt 2:2; John 1:49; 12:13; 19:19).
34 and that He resurrected him from death, no more being about to return to decay, thus He has spoken that, 'I will give you the sacred of David, the trustworthy.'
Source: Isaiah 55:3
and: Grk. de, conj. that: Grk. hoti, conj. He resurrected: Grk. anistēmi, aor. See verse 16 above. In the LXX anistēmi occurs in a few passages to refer to the dead coming back to life. In Job 14:12 anistēmi translates Heb. qum (SH-6965, to arise, stand up, stand), where Job questions the possibility of life after death. Then in Job 19:26 anistēmi occurs without Heb. equivalent to translate "in my flesh" where Job affirms his expectation of seeing God. The verb anistēmi also translates Heb. amad (SH-5975), "to take one's stand, to stand," in Daniel 12:13 where it is used of the last days' resurrection.
In the Besekh the verb anistēmi is used 31 times (out of 108) in an idiomatic sense of restoring to life after death, mostly of Yeshua's own resurrection (Mark 8:31; 9:9-10, 31; 10:34; 16:9; Luke 18:33; 24:7, 46; John 20:9; Acts 2:24, 32; 3:26; 10:41; 13:34; 17:3, 31; 1Th 4:14). Several versions translate the verb here as "raised up," perhaps implying that Yeshua was raised from Hades as declared in the Apostles' Creed. Most versions simplify the translation with just "raised." Paul reiterates his point in verse 30 that God resurrected Yeshua.
him: Grk. autos, personal pronoun, i.e. Yeshua. from: Grk. ek, prep. death: Grk. nekros. See verse 30 above. The ICB aptly translates "God raised him from death." The GW and NOG versions have a good descriptive translation, "God brought him back to life." Implicit in the promise made to the fathers and to David is the promise of resurrection in the general sense, as Yeshua proclaimed to the Sadducees (Matt 22:23-32), and resurrection in the particular, that is, the Messiah. no more: Grk. mēketi, adv., no longer, not from now on, any longer.
being about: Grk. mellō, pres. part., a future oriented verb with a pending aspect, being in the offing, be about to, be going to. Many versions do not translate the verb, but it stresses that not one second of time passed without the law of conservation being in effect with respect to Yeshua's body. to return: Grk. hupostrephō, pres. inf. See verse 13 above. to: Grk. eis, prep. decay: Grk. diaphthora, bodily dissolution upon death; corruption, decay, destruction. In the LXX diaphthora is used to translate several different Hebrew words that mean ruin, destruction or the Pit. God very effectively arrested the law of entropy (the Curse) that causes all dead things to decay. The noun is used here synonymously of "death," so that Yeshua would not return to that state.
thus: Grk. houtōs, adv., used to introduce the manner or way in which something has been done or to be done; thus, in this manner, way or fashion, so. He has spoken: Grk. ereō, perf., 3p-ms., inform through utterance, here denoting speech completed. that: Grk. hoti. The conjunction is used here to introduce a direct quotation. Paul then quotes from Isaiah 55:3 with his own interpretive translation. I will give: Grk. didōmi, fut. See verse 20 above. The Hebrew text has karath, to cut or make, used in reference to entering a covenant. The LXX has diatithēmi, to appoint or make. Paul omits the mention of "covenant" found in the source text (Heb. b'rit; Grk. diathēkē). you: Grk. humeis, pl. pronoun of the second person. The plural pronoun refers to the beneficiaries of the covenantal promise.
the sacred: Grk. ta hosia, pl. of hosios, adj., generally used to mean (1) undefiled by sin, free from wickedness, and characterizing the nature of deity (Acts 13:35; Heb 7:26; Rev 15:4; 16:5); or (2) religiously observing every moral obligation, pure, holy, pious, and applied as a characteristic of disciples of Yeshua (1Th 2:10; 1Tim 2:8; Titus 1:8). Hosios is also used as a substantive characterizing something sacred to God, such as His decrees and laws, which is the intention here. Most versions render the adjective as "holy."
In the LXX hosios is used to translate Heb. yashar (SH-3477), adj., just, upright, to define the character of God (Deut 32:4), but predominately to translate Heb. chasid (SH-2623), pious, godly, to denote the man who readily accepts the obligations which arise from the covenantal relationship to God (first in Deut 33:8), and occurring chiefly in the Psalms (DNTT 2:237). In the quoted passage in Isaiah hosia is used to translate the plural form of Heb. chesed (SH-2617), goodness, kindness, covenant loyalty. Many versions insert "blessings" or "promises" after "holy," even though neither of these words is in the Greek text.
of David: See verse 22 above. The noun is an objective genitive, which indicates that David receives the action of the verb. Gill notes that the name "David" sometimes occurs as a name for the Messianic King (Jer 30:9; Ezek 34:23-24; 37:24-25; Hos 3:5) and thus is a type of the Messiah. the trustworthy: Grk. ta pista, pl. of pistos, adj., may mean (1) characterized by constancy and therefore worthy of trust; or (2) believing or trusting with commitment. The first meaning applies here. In the LXX pistos translates the participle of the Heb. verb aman (SH-539), made firm or sure, lasting (first in Num 12:7). Many versions render the adjective with "sure," but other versions have "faithful" and a few have "trustworthy." Some versions inexplicably omit translation of the adjective (ISV, NLT, NRSV, WE).
The quotation could mean "I will give you the sacred and sure promises made to David" (MRINT). The statement needs to be understood and interpreted in the light of the entire verse:
"Incline your ear and come to Me. Listen, so that your soul may live. I will make an everlasting covenant with you, the trustworthy [pl. of Heb. chesed; Grk. hosios] loyalty [pl. of Heb. aman; Grk. pistos] to David." (Isa 55:3 TLV)
We should note that the plural form of the Hebrew words chesed and aman does not strictly refer to quantity, although considering the passages quoted by Paul, God made more than one promise to David. The Hebrew plural form is often used to denote (1) an abstract condition that consists of separate acts to accomplish the result, such as atonement (kippurim, Ex 29:36; 30:16); or (2) eminence, which intensifies the singular such a Elohim, God (Ross 388).
In accordance with Jewish practice the recitation of Isaiah 55:3 implies the entire chapter, which begins with the appeal "Ho, everyone who thirsts." The use of Isaiah 55 implies a subtle critique of the ideology of traditional Jews. Pharisaic legalism cannot possibly give life to the soul. True satisfaction can only come about by having a personal relationship with God based on the fulfillment of the covenant made with David. God promised David that a successor would not fail to sit on his throne (cf. 2Sam 7:16; Ps 89:4-5; 132:11-12). That promise was a sacred and trustworthy pledge since God cannot lie and He always keeps His promises. That promise has been fulfilled by Yeshua.
35 Inasmuch as also in another psalm He says, 'You will not permit Your Holy One to experience decay.'
Source: Psalm 16:10
Inasmuch as: Grk. dioti, conj., on the very account that, because, inasmuch as. also: Grk. kai, conj. in: Grk. en, prep. another psalm: Grk. heteros, adj., a distributive pronoun that may (1) distinguish one item from another in a numerical sense, other, another; or (2) express dissimilarity of one item relative to another, whether generically or qualitatively; other, another or different. The second meaning applies here. He says: Grk. legō, pres. See verse 2 above. Paul then quotes from Psalm 16:10. You will not: Grk. ou, adv. See verse 10 above. permit: Grk. didōmi, fut., 2p-sing. See verse 20 above. Your: Grk. su, pronoun of the second person. Holy One: Grk. hosios. See the previous verse. The "Holy One" is presumptively the promised David heir. to experience: Grk. horaō, aor. inf. See verse 12 above.
decay: Grk. diaphthora. See the previous verse. In this verse of Psalm 16 diaphthora translates Heb. shachath (SH-7845), the pit of Sheol (also found in Job 33:28; Ps 30:9; 55:23; Isa 51:14). Stern notes that Paul's argument is the same as Peter in his Pentecost sermon (Acts 2:25–36). The promise is two-fold. First, the body of the Holy One will not undergo the typical decomposition that occurs after death. Second, the Holy One will not go to Hades as assumed in the Apostles' Creed. The spirit of Yeshua went to the Father in Paradise upon his death (Luke 23:43, 46). Thus, the Holy One, the promised heir of David, the Messiah, would not be subjected to imprisonment by Abaddon, the angel of the abyss (Rev 9:11), whose name means destruction.
36 For indeed David, having served the purpose of God in his own generation, fell asleep and was laid with his fathers and experienced decay.
Source: 1Kings 2:10
For: Grk. gar, conj. indeed: Grk. mén, a particle of affirmation. See verse 4 above. Many versions do not translate the word. David: See verse 22 above. having served: Grk. hupēreteō, aor. part., render service in varying capacity. In Greek culture the verb originally meant to serve under direct authority as a rower on a ship (HELPS). The verb occurs only three times in the Besekh, all in Acts (also 20:34; 24:23). the purpose: Grk. boulē may refer to (1) the process of thinking as prelude to decision; deliberation, motive; or (2) the product of deliberation, decision, resolve, used frequently of a divine plan or purpose. The second usage fits here. of God: See verse 5 above. The purpose of God for David was to do His will (verse 22 above) and thus serve as a type of the Messiah.
in his own: Grk. idios, adj., belonging to oneself, one's own. generation: Grk. genea means family or descent and can mean a clan, race, kind (Luke 16:8), or nation. The noun can refer to an age, a span of generations (Gen 50:53; Ex 13:18; 20:5; Matt 1:17; Luke 1:48) or mean all the people alive at a given time, as here (cf. Matt 23:36). The mention of "in his own generation" points back to God's original plan to bring about the Seed of the Woman who would accomplish redemption for the world and the continued outworking of that plan in succeeding generations.
fell asleep: Grk. koimaō (for Heb. shakab, to lie down, to sleep), aor. pass., to sleep or cease being awake, but the verb is used here euphemistically of death (e.g., Matt 27:52; John 11:11; Acts 7:60). The verb also implies dying while asleep in contrast to being killed by an adversary. and: Grk. kai, conj. was laid: Grk. prostithēmi, aor. pass., to put to or to add to, i.e., to join to or gather with. with: Grk. pros, prep. his: Grk. autos, personal pronoun. fathers: pl. of Grk. patēr. See verse 17 above. The plural noun is used here of direct ancestors. Being gathered with one's people is idiomatic of joining one's family in the experience of death and often being buried in the same location: e.g., Abraham (Gen 25:8), Ishmael (Gen 25:17), Isaac (Gen 35:29), Jacob (Gen 49:29, 33), Aaron (Num 20:24; Deut 32:50), and Moses (Num 27:13; 31:2).
The particular expression of being "gathered to one's fathers" is found a few times in the Tanakh: of Jacob (Gen 49:29), of the generation of Joshua (Jdg 2:10), and of King Josiah (2Kgs 22:20; 2Chr 34:28), but much more common is the expression "slept with his fathers:" of David (1Kgs 1:21, 2:10), of Solomon (1Kgs 11:43) and of the succeeding kings of the divided kingdoms (1Kgs 14:20, 31; 15:8, 24; 16:6, 28; 22:40, 50; 2Kgs 8:24; 10:35; 13:9, 13; 14:16, 22, 29; 15:7, 22, 38; 16:20; 20:21; 21:18; 24:6; 2Chr 26:23). The expression is the basis for the expectation of seeing one's family after death. The location of David's tomb was well known (Acts 2:29).
and: Grk. kai. experienced: Grk. horaō, aor., lit. "saw." See verse 12 above. decay: Grk. diaphthora. See verse 34 above. Since ancient Israelites generally did not practice embalming the corpse of David would have been reduced to dust (Gen 3:19).
37 But the One God resurrected did not experience decay.
But: Grk. de, conj. the One: Grk. hos, relative pronoun, alludes to the "Holy One" of Psalm 16:10 and used as a reference to Yeshua. God: See verse 5 above. resurrected: Grk. egeirō, aor. See verses 22 and 30 above. did not: Grk. ou, adv., particle of strong negation. experience: Grk. horaō, aor., lit. "see." See verse 12 above. decay: Grk. diaphthora. See verse 34 above. Paul asserts that once Yeshua's spirit departed his body on the cross God preserved the body from the curse of death. Yeshua also did not see Abaddon ("Destruction"), the demonic prince of Hades.
38 Therefore let it be known to you, men, brothers, that through this One forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you, indeed from all things which you were not able to be acquitted by the Torah of Moses."
Therefore: Grk. oun, inferential conj. See verse 4 above. let it be: Grk. eimi, pres. imp. See verse 1 above. known: Grk. gnōstos, adj. (from ginōskō, to know), perceived, understood, known, which may be used to mean (1) known, such as being known to someone; or (2) that which can be known or what can be known about something. The second usage applies here. to you: Grk. humeis, pl. pronoun of the second person. men: pl. of Grk. anēr, voc. See verses 6 and 16 above. Paul may be again addressing the seven rulers of the synagogue. The noun might be intended to include the male Gentiles, which contrasts with the next greeting.
brothers: pl. of Grk. adelphos. See verse 15 and 25 above. Paul addresses the Israelites or he could mean the traditional Jews in particular. Liberman interprets "brothers" to include the Gentiles, but this would be contrary to the meaning of the noun. Paul would also not call Gentiles "brothers" with whom he had no prior relationship and whom had yet to accept Yeshua. that: Grk. hoti, conj. See verse 33 above. through: Grk. dia, prep. used as a prefix to a statement, which may express (1) instrumentality; through, by means of; or (2) causality; on account of, because of. The first usage applies here. this One: Grk. houtos, masc. demonstrative pronoun. See verse 7 above. The pronoun is used in reference to Yeshua.
forgiveness: Grk. aphesis (from aphíēmi, "send away, forgive"), a letting go, release, pardon, forgiveness. Here the noun is used of the remission of the penalty for sin upon repentance (e.g., Luke 24:47; Acts 2:38; 5:31; 10:43). In the LXX aphesis translates six different words (DNTT 1:698): First, Heb. shilluchim (SH-7964), a sending away, in regarding to Moses sending his wife Zipporah back to her father (Ex 18:2). Second, Heb. shamat (SH-8058), to let drop, used of observing a rest for the land in the seventh year (Ex 23:11). Third, Heb. yobel (SH-3104), year of jubilee (Lev 25:10-13, 28-33, 50-54; Num 36:4).
Fourth, Heb. shemittah (SH-8059), release from debts in the year of jubilee (Deut 15:1-3, 9; 31:10). Fifth, Heb. shalach (SH70-71), let go, send away, used metaphorically of releasing the oppressed (Isa 58:6). Sixth, Heb. deror (SH-1865), liberty, used of releasing prisoners (Isa 61:1) and releasing slaves in the seventh year (Jer 34:8, 15, 17; Ezek 46:17). God instructed that in the Sabbatical year all debts were to be canceled and in the fiftieth year all lands were to be restored to the original owners, and men were to return to their families and clans. The latter provision included giving Hebrew slaves their freedom.
The Greek noun aphesis occurs once in the LXX without Hebrew equivalent in Leviticus 16:26 to clarify the purpose for the releasing of the scapegoat into the wilderness on Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement), an acted out parable of sins being carried away from the people. Noteworthy is that the LXX does not use aphesis in the sense that Paul applies in his message. Rather, the LXX uses the root verb aphiēmi (for Heb. nasa, to lift, carry or take) in the sense of releasing from the penalty that sinning deserves (Gen 50:17; Ex 10:17; 32:32; 34:7; Num 14:19; Josh 24:19; 1Sam 25:28).
of sins: pl. of Grk. hamartia may refer to (1) a behavioral action, a misdeed that creates liability, every departure from the way of righteousness; (2) the result of sinning or the condition of being sinful; or (3) an invasive evil power. The first meaning is intended here. Hamartia is the dominant word for sin in the Besekh. In Greek culture hamartia meant to miss the mark, to fail, be mistaken. A mistake is the result of ignorance (DNTT 3:577). However, God does not define "sin" according to Greek culture or current social mores. There is no moral relativism in Scripture.
In the LXX hamartia translates a range of Hebrew words for guilt and sin, particularly Heb. chata (SH-2398), miss, go wrong, lapse, sin (Gen 20:6; 39:9); chatta'ah (SH-2403), sinful thing, sin (Gen 18:20), and avon (SH-5771), iniquity, guilt, punishment for iniquity (Gen 15:16). Sin as a behavior is a violation of commandments given by God and recorded in the Torah by Moses (Rom 3:20; 4:15; 7:7; Jas 2:9; 1Jn 3:4). Behavioral sin may be one of commission, i.e., doing what is prohibited, or one of omission, i.e., failing to do what is commanded, and in both cases implies knowledge of God's will (Jas 4:17).
The degree of intentionality is not a factor in defining sinful behavior. Indeed, the Torah recognizes that a transgression could be unintentional, a sin of error, inadvertence or negligence (Lev 4:1-3, 27-28; 5:18; Num 15:22-29; Deut 19:4-6). Nevertheless, a sin offering was still required (Lev 4:2-3). In Scripture hamartia does not include mistakes, the imperfections that separate humanity from divinity, "falling short of the glory" (Rom 3:23).
is proclaimed: Grk. katangellō, pres. mid. See verse 5 above. to you: Grk. humeis. The pronoun refers to the Jews in the room. The grace of forgiveness follows upon the provision of Yeshua as the Savior of Israel. After all, the promise of his name is that he would "save His people from their sins" (Matt 1:21). Atonement precedes forgiveness, as Paul will later write, "without shedding of blood there is no forgiveness" (Heb 9:22 NASB). Thus, Yeshua died as a sin offering to provide atonement (Rom 8:3-4; 2Cor 5:21; Eph 5:2; Heb 2:17; 7:27; 9:28).
On the national Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur, Tishri 10) Aaron was to offer one goat to purify the holy place (Lev 16:9, 20) and a second goat was sent into the wilderness to carry the sins of the nation away from the presence of God (Lev 16:10, 21-22). The benefit of the national atonement was temporary and lasted only a day. The Yom Kippur sacrifice had to be repeated year after year. Yeshua's death provided a "once-for-all" atonement (Heb 7:27; 9:7-12, 28; 10:10); i.e., efficacious indefinitely into the future.
Unlike the promise of the New Covenant, sacrificial offerings under the Old Covenant never gave spiritual life to the people. The fact is illustrated in Paul's declaration, "the blood of bulls and goats cannot really remove the guilt of sin" (Heb 10:4 Phillips). Sacrifices could not cleanse the human conscience (Heb 9:9). The good news is that Yeshua accomplished what the Torah could not do (Rom 8:3; Heb 9:14).
indeed: Grk. kai, conj. See verse 1 above. The conjunction is intensive. from: Grk. apo, prep. See verse 8 above. The preposition can allude to the action of the scapegoat to take sins away from the people. all things: pl. of Grk. pas, adj. which: Grk. hos, relative pronoun. you were not: Grk. ou, adv. able: Grk. dunamai, aor. pass., to be capable of doing or achieving, to have power. to be acquitted: Grk. dikaioō, aor. pass. inf., which in classical Greek literature could mean (1) set right, in the sense of testing; (2) claim or demand as a right; or (3) do a man justice, whether to chastise or punish, or on the other hand to vindicate character (LSJ). BAG adds that the passive voice of the verb (as in this verse) in biblical usage may mean "(1) be acquitted, or (2) made free or pure."
In the LXX dikaioō translates Heb. tsadaq (SH-6663), a verb with two categories of meaning: (1) as a condition or character quality, to have a just cause, be in the right, be just or righteous (Gen 38:26; Job 33:12; Ps 51:6; Isa 43:26), and (2) in the administration of justice, to declare right, to vindicate, or prove right, to acquit or be acquitted, or to be cleared of wrongdoing (e.g., Ex 23:7; Deut 5:21; 2Sam 15:4; Ps 51:4; Isa 5:23) (DNTT 3:355). The context of this important word is a righteous standard against which people are measured. The majority of Bible versions translate the verb dikaioō here with "justified," which can be misleading to modern readers. Other translations include "declared righteous," "freed," and "set free." MW and NEB have "acquitted," which I think best suits the context.
The biblical terms Heb. tsadaq and Grk. dikaioō function as a word picture of a trial with a heavenly Judge and a righteous standard against which people are measured and evaluated. One case before the court is an innocent person wrongly accused. The outcome of that trial vindicates the person's character and he is acquitted. Throughout the Tanakh the verb tsadaq occurs only in this vindication scenario. In other words the person is actually righteous and the verb describes the defense of that person's character. The same usage of dikaioō may also be found in the Besekh (Matt 11:19; 12:37; Luke 7:29; 10:29; Rom 3:4; 4:2; 1Cor 4:4; 1Tim 3:16).
However, in most instances in the Besekh dikaioō is used to depict a different trial in which the accused is guilty. The defendant before the bar of God is definitely a sinner, a law-breaker. No witnesses and no evidence can be presented to demonstrate innocence. Acquittal is not deserving, but yet in response to humble confession and repentance God, the Supreme Judge, offers mercy and forgiveness, and then grants pardon, release from condemnation and cancellation of the deserved punishment, thereby creating a relationship of favor with God (Rom 4:5; 5:1; 8:1-2; 1Cor 6:11; Gal 2:16-17; 3:8, 11, 24; 5:4; Titus 3:7). The parable of the Pharisee and tax collector is a case in point (Luke 18:13-14). See the additional note on the doctrine of justification after the comment on the next verse.
by: Grk. en, prep. the Torah: Grk. nomos. See verse 15 above. of Moses: Grk. Mōusēs transliterates Heb. Mosheh (Ex 2:10). Born into the tribe of Levi about 1525 BC in Egypt there is no greater figure in the Tanakh than Moses. The story of Moses is found in the extensive narratives from Exodus 1:1 through Deuteronomy 34:1. His life can be easily divided into three 40-year periods, the first being his birth and early life in Egypt (Acts 7:23), the second his years in Midian (Acts 7:30), and the third from the deliverance of the Israelites from Egypt through the years spent in the wilderness until his death (Ex 7:7; 16:35; Num 14:33; Deut 2:7; Josh 5:6; Acts 7:36). He had two wives and two sons (Ex 18:2-4; Num 12:1).
During the last third of his life Moses served Israel as deliverer, judge, mediator, lawgiver, priest, elder, prophet and scribe. Moses was privileged to speak with ADONAI "face to face" (Ex 33:11). He was noted for his humility (Num 12:3) and his faithfulness to God (Heb 11:23-29), and being anointed of the Spirit (Num 11:17). He died at the age of 120 in the land of Moab (Deut 34:1-7). Moses left Israel and the Body of Messiah with the rich legacy of the first five books of the Bible (Ex 24:4). Moses was a giant of a man. For a summary of his life and deeds see my article Moses, Servant of God.
Paul's declaration in the second part of this verse (which many versions have in verse 39) probably seemed shocking to his audience. He had the audacity to assert both the adequacy and superiority of Yeshua's atonement over that provided by the Torah. Whether the Jewish audience fully understood the nuances of Paul's argument, interpretation hinges on the meaning of "all things." The straightforward meaning, the national atonement of Yom Kippur notwithstanding, refers to individual acts for which at the time of commission the Torah provided no atonement or means of restoring fellowship.
30 "But the person who sins defiantly, whether native or outsider, reviles ADONAI and that person is to be cut off from his people. 31 Because he has despised the word of ADONAI and has broken His commandment, that person will certainly be cut off—his guilt will remain on him." (Num 15:30-31 TLV)
In fact, there were thirty-six specific transgressions for which the Torah specifies the punishment of karet, that is, being "cut off" from Israel without atonement, usually by death (cf. Ex 30:33; 31:14; Lev 7:25-27). The capital offenses are listed in the Mishnah (K'ritot 1:1). The transgressions meriting karet included the most serious crimes of murder (Ex 21:14; Lev 17:4), prohibited sexual unions (Lev 18), blasphemy (Num 15:30), idolatry (Ex 32:7-10; Deut 13), and necromancy (Lev 20:6).
There were also violations of covenantal obligations that merited the same punishment: refusing circumcision (Gen 17:14), profaning Shabbat (Ex 31:14), certain violations of purity laws (Lev 7:20-21, 25; Num 19:13), eating chametz (leavened product) during Pesach (Ex 12:15), not "humbling" oneself on Yom Kippur (Lev 23:29), anointing a layman with priestly oil (Ex 30:30), duplicating priestly perfume (Ex 30:38), and eating blood (Lev 17:14).
However, Paul had just said that forgiveness of sins was available through Yeshua. Then Paul clarifies the application of the atonement of Yeshua in the second part of this verse (which many versions place in verse 39). The conjunction introducing the sentence is intended to be intensive to make the point that the application of forgiveness is more extensive than previously available. So, forgiveness is now available through Yeshua for the most heinous sins. Consequently, the atonement of Yeshua means there is no sin and no sinner that cannot be forgiven, if there is confession and repentance (cf. Acts 2:38; 1Cor 6:9-11; 1Jn 1:9).
Textual Note: Verse Division
Bible versions are not in agreement over the division of verses 38-39. The Textus Receptus, the Majority Text and the Westcott-Hort Greek Text place the clause "and from all things which you were not able to be acquitted by the Torah of Moses" in the next verse. Bible versions with the clause in verse 39 translate the Greek text in reverse order.
The Nestle Greek Text and the United Bible Societies Greek Text, reflecting the earliest and best MSS, include the clause in this verse. I have translated verses 38-39 according to the Nestle/UBS text. Bible versions with the clause in verse 38 include the AMPC, CEB, CEV, DLNT, DRA, ERV, EHV, GNB, GW, LEB, MPNT, MRINT, NABRE, NOG, NCV, NTE, OJB, and TLV.
39 Every one trusting in him is acquitted.
Every: Grk. pas, adj. one: Grk. ho, definite article, but used here as a relative pronoun. trusting: Grk. pisteuō, pres. part., in general Greek usage means to have confidence or faith in the reliability or trustworthiness of some thing or someone. In the LXX pisteuō translates the Heb. 'aman, which essentially means to confirm or support (BDB 52). In the Niphal form 'aman means to be true, reliable or faithful and can be applied to men (e.g., Moses, Num 12:7), but especially to God who keeps his covenant and gives grace to those who love him (Deut 7:9). In the Hiphil form 'aman means to stand firm or trust as Abraham trusted in God's promise (Gen 15:6). The Hebrew concepts of trust and faithfulness are inseparable. If one trusts, then one is faithful. The present tense of the verb is significant, since it indicates a continuing relationship.
in: Grk. en, prep. him: Grk. autos, personal pronoun, i.e., Yeshua. The Protestant Reformation made "sola fide" ("faith alone") a pillar of its theology. In other words, justification (or salvation) is accomplished only by faith. Various passages in Paul's writings are employed to prove the point (Rom 1:17; 3:26, 28, 30; 5:1; Gal 3:8, 24; Eph 2:8). Sanctification is also by faith (2Th 2:13). "Faith" in Christian usage essentially means to believe everything that Scripture claims about Yeshua and to trust in his atoning sacrifice for forgiveness of sins. For many Christians the concept of "faith" excludes any consideration of religious or pietistic works. Christian theology with its antinomian tendency has generally sought to strip pistis of its Hebraic meaning of "faithfulness."
is acquitted: Grk. dikaioō, pres. pass. See the previous verse. The present tense indicates a concurrent status with the continued trusting. This declaration is similar to Yeshua's statement "the one having endured to the end, he will be saved" (Matt 24:13 BR). The verb dikaioō occurs 39 times in the Besekh, of which two occur in this sermon and 28 occur in Paul's letters. Thus, the reality of complete acquittal through Yeshua had a very personal meaning for Paul who saw himself as one of the foremost sinners undeserving of God's grace (1Tim 1:15).
About half of Bible versions treat the verb as describing a change in status with God, most with the translation of "justified," but some with "declared good," "declared righteous," "made righteous" or "made right with God." The other half of Bible versions treat the verb as God removing the penalty for sin, most with the translation of "freed" or "set free," but some have "absolved," "acquitted," or "cleared." AMP has "declared free of guilt," which I believe to be Paul's intended meaning of dikaioō.
Paul's proclamation would have had earth-shaking implications. The forgiveness and acquittal available through Yeshua meant that presentation of animal offerings to atone for sin at the temple in Jerusalem was no longer necessary. God's mercy was immediately available in Antioch. In fact, the sacrifices ceased to provide atonement, beginning the day Yeshua died. Jewish literature explains that the shekinah glory of God left the Temple forty years prior to its destruction (which confirms A.D. 30 for the crucifixion). The Talmud says that four signs occurred to show evidence of this: (1) the lot for selecting priests did not come up in the right hand; (2) the westernmost light of the menorah refused to burn continually; (3) the doors of the Temple would open of themselves; and (4) the red wool no longer turned white supernaturally (Yoma 39b).
The fourth sign was the most grieving. Jewish tradition states that a cord of red wool was tied on the horn of the scapegoat, before it was let go in the wilderness. When the red wool turned white, it was a sign that God forgave the people’s sin (cf. Isa. 1:18). In a similar fashion the priests used to bind a shining crimson strip of cloth on the outside door of the Temple. If the strip of cloth turned into the white color, they would rejoice; if it did not turn white they were full of sorrow and shame (Yoma 67a). After the crucifixion of Yeshua, the people began to realize more and more that the sacrifice of Yom Kippur did not have the power to cleanse them from sin.
In Christian theology justification has three components. First, justification is the gracious and judicial act of God by which He grants full pardon of all guilt. Second, justification provides complete release from the penalty of sins committed. Third, justification provides acceptance as righteous. This grace is given to all who trust in Yeshua and receive Him as Lord and Savior. In modern English the verb "justify" may seem an odd choice since its common meaning is to provide a reason or excuse for something done. So for God to "justify" the sinner might mistakenly be taken to mean that God simply excuses the sinner for his conduct. "It's not a big deal."
However, sin to God is a very big deal and the penalty for sin is death (Rom 6:23). So, how can God "justify" or declare a guilty sinner righteous who has yet to produce a single work of righteousness? Given the meaning of the biblical terms (as explained above) justification represents a paradox. On the one hand the sinner is guilty and therefore unworthy of being vindicated. Moreover, the sinner is dead in his trespasses (Eph 2:1). Yet, God elects to accept the sacrifice of Yeshua as a sin offering (1Cor 5:7; 2Cor 5:21; 1Pet 3:18) in order to bestow the mercy of forgiveness (Rom 3:24).
While theologians may define dikaioō to mean "declare righteous" or "make pure" (BAG 196), Paul does not apply those definitions. He does not confuse dikaioō with the terms that describe the new birth and regeneration (2Cor 5:17; Gal 6:15; Eph 1:5; Col 2:13) and sanctification of the heart by the Holy Spirit (Rom 15:16; 1Cor 6:11; 1Th 5:23; 2Th 2:13; Titus 3:5). Rather, dikaioō represents that upon forgiveness of the sin debt God admits a believer into the company of the righteous and calls the redeemed person to a life of righteousness. Consider Paul's words,
"who was delivered on account of our trespasses and was resurrected for the sake of our righteousification" (Rom 4:25 BR)
"But thanks be to God that though you were slaves of sin, now you have become obedient from the heart into the form of teaching to which you were delivered, 18 and having been set free from Sin, you have become servants of Righteousness." (Rom 6:17-18 BR) (from Satan to Yeshua)
"if you confess in your mouth that Yeshua is Lord, and believe in your heart that God resurrected him from death, you will be saved; 10 for with the heart is trusting into righteousness, and with the mouth is confessing into salvation." (Rom 10:9-10 BR)
"The One not having known sin He made a sin offering for us, so that we might become the righteousness of God in him" (2Cor 5:21 BR)
"For we through the Spirit, from faithfulness, eagerly await the hope of righteousness" (Gal 5:5 BR)
What might be described as the first work of grace is not complete and final, but the entry point of a new relationship. What good would it do for God to declare someone righteous and then allow that person to go on sinning as some Evangelicals believe of born-again persons? Being righteous and continued sinning are mutually exclusive. Paul rebuts this false teaching in the strongest terms (Rom 6:1-2).
God desires His people to be holy (Eph 5:27; Col 1:22). A new heart provides the motivation for becoming righteous, but the divine work to make someone fully righteous does not occur in a moment of time. Righteousness is something to be pursued (1Tim 6:11; 2Tim 2:22; cf. Matt 5:6). A number of verses speak of righteousness resulting from "faith," but in those instances "pistis" should be translated as "faithfulness" (Rom 3:26; 4:5, 9, 11, 13; 9:30; 10:6; Gal 5:5; Php 3:9).
40 Therefore, take heed lest what having been spoken in the Prophets should come upon you:
Therefore: Grk. oun, conj. See verse 4 above. take heed: Grk. blepō, pres. imp., lit. "be watching." See verse 11 above. The verb is used here of contemplation that seriously considers a warning. lest: Grk. mē, adv., used here as a conjunction. See verse 11 above. The adverb is used here to introduce a clause expressive of an action or occurrence requiring caution. what: Grk. ho, definite article but used here as a relative pronoun. having been spoken: Grk. ereō, perf. pass. part., inform through utterance, here denoting speech completed. The verb emphasizes the Jewish understanding of biblical inspiration, "God spoke and the prophet wrote." The verb may also allude to the portion Scripture read in the Sabbath service.
in: Grk. en, prep. the Prophets: pl. of ho prophētēs. See verses 1, 15 and 27 above. The plural noun functions as a literary term for the latter prophets of the Neviim that was read in synagogue services. come upon: Grk. eperchomai, aor. subj., to come on or upon, in the sense of an event or circumstance making its appearance with the element of peril. you: Grk. humeis, pl. pronoun of the second person. Paul no doubt saw himself as a watchman for Israel (cf. Acts 9:15; 13:16-17, 23-24; 28:20; Rom 9:3) and thus his warning was motivated by the instruction given to Ezekiel:
"Son of man, I have appointed you as a watchman for the house of Israel. When you hear a word from My mouth, give them a warning from Me. 18 When I say to the wicked, 'You will surely die,' and you do not warn him or speak to warn the wicked of his wicked way, to save his life, that wicked person will die in his iniquity, but I will require his blood from your hand. 19 Yet you, if you warn the wicked, and he does not turn from his wickedness or from his wicked way, he will die in his iniquity, but you have delivered your soul." (Ezek 3:17-19 TLV)
Paul then quotes from Habakkuk 1:5, which very likely had been read earlier in the service.
MT: "Look among the nations, and see; wonder and be astounded. For I am doing a work in your days that you would not believe if told." (Hab 1:5 ESV)
LXX: "Behold, ye despisers, and look, and wonder marvelously, and vanish: for I work a work in your days, which ye will in no wise believe, though a man declare it to you." (Brenton)
Paul offers his own free translation of the text and does not include all the words found in the Hebrew or LXX text. Look: Grk. horaō, aor. imp. See verse 12 above. The verb is used in the fig. sense of mentally considering something. you scoffers: pl. of Grk. ho kataphrontēs, voc., someone who views something as not being worthy of attention, something having no significance or value. The noun occurs only here in the Besekh. This seems a strange choice of translation for both Paul and the LXX since the Hebrew text has goyim, "nations." The LXX scholars probably chose "scoffers" as a commentary on the Israelite reaction to the prophecy of Habakkuk. "You didn't think it could happen, but it did."
be amazed: Grk. thaumazō, aor. imp., be extraordinarily impressed; to wonder, be amazed, astonished, impressed, surprised. The Israelites were totally amazed when the Babylonians showed up at the gates of Jerusalem. and: Grk. kai, conj. perish: Grk. aphanizō, aor. pass. imp., cause to be in a condition not subject to appearance, hid from view, disappear, perish. The verb is a reminder of the brevity of life (cf. Job 14:1-2; Ps 90:5-6; 103:15-16; Isa 40:7-8). The LXX scholars probably inserted the verb to emphasize the completion of the prophecy. The arrival of the Babylonians meant death to thousands of Israelites and captivity for many other thousands who would die in a foreign land.
because: Grk. hoti, conj. See verse 33 above. The conjunction is used here to indicate causality with an inferential aspect. I: Grk. egō, pronoun of the first person. am working: Grk. ergazomai, pres. mid., to work, be at work, do, carry out, either with (1) the focus on effort itself in the course of activity, or (2) the result of effort. Both of these meanings can have application here. a work: Grk. ergon. See verse 2 above. The verbal description emphasizes the true nature of God. He is not passive or disengaged from His creation. He is actively involved, shaping history by his sovereign power and bringing to pass all that the Hebrew prophets declared. in: Grk. en, prep. your: Grk. humeis, pl. pronoun of the second person. days: pl. of ho hēmera. See verse 14 above. The phrase is equivalent to "in your lifetime."
a work: Grk. ergon. The noun alludes to the fulfillment of prophecy. that: Grk. hos, relative pronoun. not ever: Grk. ou mē, a double negative, lit. "not, not." The combination of negative particles strongly contradicts a supposition. would you believe: Grk. pisteuō, aor. subj., 2p-pl. See verse 39 above. even if: Grk. ean, conj. that serves as a conditional particle and produces an aspect of tentativeness by introducing a possible circumstance that determines the realization of some other circumstance. someone: Grk. tis, indefinite pronoun. See verse 6 above. should declare it: Grk. ekdiēgeomai, pres. mid. subj., to tell in detail, declare at length, give a full account of a matter and its outcome. The verb occurs only twice in the Besekh, the other in Acts 15:3. to you: Grk. humeis.
Paul's quotation from Habakkuk was likely preemptive, because he knew there would be men in the audience who would be skeptical of his message and even antagonistic. Thus, Paul likens the reaction of some in his audience to the astonishment of Habakkuk when God warned of an impending Babylonian invasion that would execute God's wrath on the disobedient Kingdom of Judah. The unthinkable was that God would use a more wicked nation to punish a less wicked nation. Paul's use of Habakkuk is not unlike Yeshua's own prophetic warning about the destruction of Jerusalem.
"If only you had recognized this day the things that lead to shalom! But now they are hidden from your eyes. For the days will come upon you when your enemies will surround you with barricades and hem you in on all sides. And they will smash you to the ground—you and your children within you. And they won’t leave within you one stone upon another, because you did not recognize the time of your visitation." (Luke 19:42-44 TLV)
Quoting Habakkuk functions as a midrash on the concept of an unbelievable work. The Messiah had been prophesied for centuries. Now he had come in their time. Messianic expectancy had been at best a hope, but the reality had finally arrived. Paul recognizes that in spite of his own personal testimony and his persuasive speech that some in his audience would refuse to accept the message. There would be a disconnect in their brains that could not handle such an astounding revelation.
Continued Apostolic Instruction, 13:42-43
42 And as Paul and Barnabas were going out, the people were urging these words to be spoken to them on the next Sabbath.
And: Grk. de, conj. as Paul and Barnabas were going out: Grk. exeimi (from ek, "out of," and eimi, "to be"), pl. pres. part., to go forth, to go out. The subject of the verb is Paul and Barnabas and many versions insert the names to make it clear. The KJV has "And when the Jews were gone out of the synagogue." See the textual note below. the people: 3p-pl. of Grk. autos, personal pronoun. The pronoun refers to those who heard the apostolic message. Many versions translate the pronoun with "the people" to clarify the point. The KJV has "the Gentiles." See the textual note below. However, the pronoun would also include Jews as the next verse makes clear.
were urging: Grk. parakaleō, impf., 3p-pl., may mean (1) call to be at one's side or summon to one's aid, with a connotation of urgency; invite, entreat, urge; (2) hearten in time of trouble; comfort, console; or (3) to motivate performance; exhort, encourage. The first meaning applies here. A number of versions have "begged." these: pl. of Grk. houtos, demonstrative pronoun. words: pl. of Grk. ho rhēma, a communication consisting of words, often with the implication of importance or special significance. In secular Greek literature rhēma referred to a statement, discourse or explanation. In the LXX rhēma translates Heb. dabar (SH-1697), word, whether a discourse, counsel, or utterance of a sentence (DNTT 3:1119f). The plural form of the noun alludes to the many words that made up Paul's sermon. For the Jews it would be the good news of the Messiah and for the Gentiles it would be the good news of salvation.
to be spoken: Grk. laleō, aor. pass. inf., to make an oral statement and to exercise the faculty of speech; assert, proclaim, report, say, speak, talk about, utter. to them: 3p-pl. of Grk. autos. The pronoun refers to those who attended the service. on: Grk. eis, prep. the next: Grk. metaxu, prep. used to denote a point at which one entity is separate from another, here as a temporal reference denoting anticipation; following, next. Sabbath: Grk. sabbaton. See verse 14 above. The request was obviously made by people whose hearts responded favorably to Paul's message and entreaty. Their desire was for family and friends who were not present to be able to hear the really great news of Messiah Yeshua. There is no implication that Paul and Barnabas would not receive visitors at their lodging before the next Sabbath to discuss the content of Paul's sermon.
The Textus Receptus following late MSS (none earlier than the 9th cent.) reads: "And having gone out of the synagogue of the Jews, the Gentiles entreated that these words might be spoken to them the next Sabbath." The late MSS apparently sought to relieve the perceived ambiguity of the early text (Metzger367). The KJV/NKJV translates the TR, but the earliest, best and majority of MSS support the Nestle and UBS Greek texts. The TR gives the impression that only the Gentiles were interested in hearing more about the good news.
43 Now the synagogue having been released, many of the traditional Jews and of the worshipping proselytes followed Paul and Barnabas, who, speaking to them, were urging them to continue in the grace of God.
Now: Grk. de, conj. the synagogue: Grk. ho sunagōgē. See verse 5 above. Some versions have "synagogue meeting" (CJB, TLV) or "meeting of the synagogue" (ESV, GW, ISV, NOG, NASB, NET, NRSV, RSV) to make the point. Some versions have "congregation" (AMP, KJV, NABRE, NIV, NKJV, NMB), essentially treating sunagōgē as a synonym of ekklēsia, and thereby obscuring the Jewish context. It's important to remember that in Scripture the term "synagogue" refers primarily to an assembly of Jewish people. having been released: Grk. luō, aor. pass. part. See verse 25 above. The verb has the sense of dismissing those attending the Sabbath service after its conclusion.
many: pl. of Grk. polus, adj. See verse 31 above. of the traditional Jews: pl. of Grk. ho Ioudaios. See verse 5 above. The noun distinguishes Jews that live by precepts of the Pharisees from Hellenistic Jews. and: Grk. kai, conj. of the worshipping: pl. of Grk. ho sebō, pres. mid. part., have a worshipful reverence for, worship. Some versions have "devout" or "God-fearing." proselytes: m.pl. of Grk. prosēlutos, a technical term invented by the Jewish rabbis to designate a convert from polytheism to Israelite religion. The term occurs nowhere in secular Greek literature (DNTT 1:360). Prosēlutos occurs only four times in the Besekh (Matt 23:15; Acts 2:10; 6:5; 13:43). In the LXX prosēlutos translates Heb. ger (SH-1616), a sojourner or temporary dweller with no inheritance rights, alien or sojourner (Ex 12:48).
Gentiles have chosen to unite with Israel ever since the exodus from Egypt (Ex 12:38). By Jewish definition there were two kinds of proselytes, the righteous proselyte (Heb. ger tzedek) and the gate proselyte (Heb. ger ha-sha'ar, Ex 20:10, Deut 5:13-14). The righteous proselyte chose full identification with Israel (cf. 2Chr 2:17-18; Esth 8:17), and, if male, submitted to circumcision (Ex 12:48). The gate proselyte was not circumcised, but believed in and prayed to the God of Israel, attended synagogue worship, kept at least the moral code and other Jewish traditions in varying degrees, and gave alms and other financial support to the Jews. The description of "worshipping" identifies these men as proselytes of the gate, a synonym of "God-fearer" in verse 16 and 26 above.
followed: Grk. akoloutheō, aor., may mean (1) to be in motion in sequence behind someone; (2) to be in close association with someone, especially as a disciple. The first meaning of the verb applies here, although there could be a nuance of the second meaning. Paul: See verse 9 above. and: Grk. kai. Barnabas: See verse 1 above. It's noteworthy that a mixed group followed Paul and Barnabas out of the synagogue service. who: Grk. hostis, relative pronoun. See verse 31 above. speaking: Grk. proslaleō, pres. part., speak to, converse with. to them: 3p-pl. of Grk. autos, personal pronoun. were urging: Grk. peithō, impf., to bring about a convinced state in regard to something; convince, persuade, urge. them: 3p-pl. of Grk. autos. to continue in: Grk. prosmenō, pres. inf., continue steadily in a state, circumstance or with someone; abide, continue, remain, stay.
the grace: Grk. charis, disposition marked by inclination to generosity, frequently unmotivated by the worth of the recipient; thus, grace, gracefulness, graciousness, favor, thanks or gratitude. In the LXX charis occurs about 190 times in the derivative form of charin of which only about 75 have a Hebrew equivalent, of which 61 are for Heb. hēn (SH-2580), favor, first in Gen 6:8 in regards to Noah receiving the favor of God, and the others for Heb. racham (SH-7356), compassion, mercy, first in Gen 43:14 (DNTT 2:116). of God: See verse 5 above. The point of Paul's entreaty is that having gained the mercy of God, determine to remain in the favor of God by faithfulness.
Impact and Controversy in the City, 13:44-49
44 Now on the coming Sabbath nearly the whole city assembled to hear the word of the Lord.
Now: Grk. de, conj. on the coming: Grk. ho erchomai, pres. pass. part. See verse 13 above. Most versions translate the participle as "the next," although some versions have "following." A few versions have "coming" (DARBY, DLNT, LEB, YLT). The literal meaning of the verb emphasizes anticipation. Sabbath: Grk. Sabbaton. See verse 14 above. nearly: Grk. schedon, adv., short of the extreme end on a scale of extent; almost, nearly. Longenecker suggests the use of the adverb is hyperbolic, but it is clearly an estimate based upon what was seen. Luke does not provide an exact count in previous narrative. the whole: Grk. pas, adj. See verse 10 above. city: Grk. polis, a population center whose size or number of inhabitants could range broadly, a city or town. Longenecker regards "the whole city" as hyperbole. From the Jewish perspective it may have seemed as if their synagogue had been taken over by Gentiles.
assembled: Grk. sunagō, aor. pass., to bring together in a collective manner; assemble, gather together. In the LXX sunagō primarily translates Heb. asaph (SH-622), to gather, which is used to mean (1) to gather or collect persons into a group or a place (Gen 29:22; Ex 3:16); and (2) to gather an individual into the company of others (Deut 22:2; 1Sam 14:52; 2Sam 11:27); (3) gathering a harvest (Lev 23:39). Whenever the verb occurs in a religious context it almost always has a Jewish setting (e.g., Matt 13:2; 22:41; 28:12; Luke 22:66; John 11:52; Acts 4:5, 27; 12:12; 22:30). to hear: Grk. akouō, aor. inf. See verse 7 above. the word: Grk. logos. See verse 5 above. of the Lord: Grk. kurios. See verse 2 above. The "word of the Lord" is identical with the "word of God" in verse 5 above and would mean the message about Yeshua.
The description of this verse indicates that the good news Paul declared in the synagogue had spread through the Jewish quarter and into the rest of the city. Perhaps a certain "leavening" of Jewish religion had taken place among the mixed population of Antioch. People likely came to hear Paul for a variety of reasons, some simply curious about a "new thing" happening in their town, but others genuinely interested in spiritual things. The significance of Gentiles coming to the synagogue on the seventh day should not be missed. The seventh day was a day of rest for Jews, but not the Gentiles in Antioch. It was a work day. But, apparently, the people considered hearing Paul more important than going to work.
45 But the unbelieving traditional Jews having seen the crowds, they were filled with zealous anger and were contradicting the things spoken by Paul, blaspheming.
But: Grk. de, conj. the unbelieving traditional Jews: pl. of Grk. ho Ioudaios. See verse 5 above. The common translation of Christian versions "the Jews" is misleading since many Jews had believed in Yeshua. CJB has "Jews who had not believed," imitating the description in 14:2. The negative use of Ioudaioi here would include those in authority who rejected the message of Yeshua as the Messiah (Bruce). The relevant authorities in this context would be the synagogue rulers and prominent men of the synagogue. A few versions appropriately have "Jewish leaders" (ISV, TLB, TPT, TLV, VOICE). Longenecker includes traditional Jews who had expressed initial interest in the apostolic message, but the strong negative reaction would clearly be from those who did not believe.
having seen: Grk. horaō, pl. aor. part. See verse 12 above. the crowds: pl. of Grk. ho ochlos, an aggregate of people or an assembled company of people; crowd, multitude, great number. In many passages the term denotes common people in contrast to the ruling classes and religious elite. Luke offers an explanation for the negative reaction. Unbelieving Jews were incensed that their synagogue was being flooded by Gentiles as though it were a common theater. Even worse, Paul the Pharisee, as in his previous sermon, was saying nothing about embracing Judaism. Offering salvation to the Gentiles on the same basis as the Jews was offensive.
they were filled: Grk. pimplēmi, aor. pass., to cause to be in a condition that allows for no further addition, to be filled. The verb in this context does not mean being filled as a vessel is filled with water, but being fully possessed by or being completely under the control of. with zealous anger: Grk. zēlos, a passionate interest or intense interest in something or someone, which can be manifested positively (John 2:17; 2Cor 7:7) or negatively (as here); zeal, fervor, jealousy. In the LXX zēlos translates the Heb. qinah, ardor, zeal or jealousy, from the color produced in the face by deep emotion (BDB 888). HELPS says the noun literally means "hot enough to boil." Thayer explains that the noun can refer to "boiling anger, love, or zeal for what is good or bad."
The KJV translates the noun as "envy," but most versions have "jealous" or "jealousy," all of which can be misleading. The description does not mean the unbelieving Jews were covetous of something they wished to have. Their emotional response was a zealous opposition to something they hated. The MW and WNT have "zealous rivalry" and YLT has "zeal." The unbelieving Jews were disturbed that their legalistic Phariseeism was under assault. Paul had no doubt witnessed the hateful zeal on the part of Pharisee leaders in Jerusalem who persecuted anyone who openly declared Yeshua as the Messiah (cf. Matt 10:17; John 9:22, 34; 12:42; 16:2; Heb 10:24). The Judean authorities handed Yeshua over to Pilate out of envy and spite (Matt 27:18; Mark 15:10).
Paul himself, prior to his transformation, manifested this kind of zeal when he persecuted Messianic disciples (Acts 8:1; 9:1; 1Tim 1:13). The negative reaction in Pisidian Antioch proved Paul's later observation in his letter to the Romans that the good news of Yeshua being embraced by the nations would provoke zealous anger among traditional Jews (Rom 11:11). Initially Sanhedrin members were willing to maintain the status quo (cf. Acts 5:34-39), but the outspoken ministry of Paul beginning in Damascus made unbelieving Jewish leaders more zealous for defending their orthodox religion. Luke will record from this point on the strong and sometimes violent opposition of Jewish leaders against Paul and his fellow Jewish apostles (Acts 14:2, 19; 17:5, 13; 18:12; 21:11, 27; 22:30; 23:27; 24:9; cf. 2Cor 11:24; 1Th 2:15).
and: Grk. kai, conj. were contradicting: Grk. antilegō, impf., may mean (1) speak in an adversarial manner, contradict, argue against, speak against; and by extension (2) take a position in opposition to, oppose, refuse. The first meaning applies here. The verb depicts efforts to rebut the good news of Yeshua. the things: pl. of Grk. ho, definite article but used here as a relative pronoun. spoken: Grk. laleō, pres. mid. part. See verse 42 above. by: Grk. hupo, prep. See verse 4 above. Paul: See verse 9 above. blaspheming: Grk. blasphēmeō, pl. pres. part., to cause damage to reputation by arrogant speech or action; slander, revile, malign, vilify, defame. The verb implies defamation of Paul's character, even though he was a Pharisee. Those contradicting and blaspheming would likely have been the orthodox leaders.
46 Having spoken boldly also Paul and Barnabas said, "It was necessary the word of God to be spoken to you first. If indeed you reject it and you judge yourselves not worthy of eternal life, behold, we are turning to the Gentiles.
Having spoken boldly: Grk. parrēsiazomai, aor. mid. part., speak without sense of constraint; speak openly/boldly/freely. The verb occurs seven times in Acts of apostolic proclamation (9:27-28; 14:3; 18:26; 19:8; 26:26). also: Grk. te, conj. used to connect an idea closely to another in a manner that is tighter than with kai; also, both. Paul: See verse 9 above. and: Grk. kai, conj. Barnabas: See verse 1 above. The two apostles were not intimidated by the opposing point of view, but boldly proclaimed the good news of Yeshua. said: Grk. legō, aor. See verse 2 above. It was: Grk. eimi, impf. See verse 1 above. necessary: Grk. anagkaios, adj., pertinent to meeting a need with focus on importance; essential, necessary, proper. the word: Grk. logos. of God: Grk. theos. The expression equals the good news of Yeshua. See verse 5 above for the standard content.
to be spoken: Grk. laleō, aor. pass. inf. See verse 42 above. to you: Grk. humeis, pl. pronoun of the second person. The pronoun alludes to the leaders of the Jewish community. A number of versions place a negative connotation on the pronoun with the translation of "you Jews" (ERV, TLB, NLT, TPT), as if Paul, a Pharisaic Jew, was separating himself from them. first: Grk. prōton, having to do with beforeness, with resultant meanings of (1) having a primary position in sequence and (2) standing out in significance or importance. The first meaning has application here. God intended that the descendants of Jacob have the priority in receiving the good news of salvation (Rom 1:16).
If indeed: Grk. epeidē, conj. (from epí, "on, fitting;" ei, "if", that assumes the premise is factual; and dē, "indeed"), aptly 'if indeed,' which assumes the preceding is something factual, and emphatically what aptly or predictably follows (HELPS). The majority of versions translate the conjunction as "since." Paul likely did not intend the conjunction to bear the weight of such finality. Some versions have "seeing," which reduces the conjunction to a simple observation. A few versions have "because," which totally misrepresents Paul's following declaration and action. He did not go to the nations because of Jewish rejection, as he clarifies in the next verse. The conjunction "if indeed" represents incredulity, i.e., "if it is really true."
you reject: Grk. apōtheō, pres. mid., to push or thrust away from one's self, often with the connotation of force; or fig. as here to discard, refuse or reject. it: Grk. autos, personal pronoun, used in reference to the Messianic message. and: Grk. kai. you judge: Grk. krinō, pres. See verse 27 above. yourselves: pl. of Grk. heautou, reflexive pronoun of the third person used for self-reference. not: Grk. ou, adv. See verse 10 above. worthy: Grk. axios, adj. See verse 25 above. Many versions combine the negative particle and adjective with "unworthy." TLV has "unfit." The idea of "worthiness" or "unworthiness" was mentioned by Yeshua, first in a wedding parable of those who refused the invitation (Matt 22:8) and then of those deemed acceptable to receive the resurrection into eternal life (Luke 20:35).
of eternal: Grk. aiōnios, adj., can mean (1) relating to a period of time extending far into the past; long ages ago; (2) relating to time without boundaries or interruption; eternal; or (3) relating to a period of unending duration; permanent, lasting. The second meaning applies here. In the LXX aiōnios occurs about 150 times to render Heb. olam, "a long duration, antiquity or futurity" (BDB 761), which is also used as an adverb meaning "for ever, for all time," the first being in Genesis 9:12 (DNTT 3:827). In the Tanakh olam is used for ancient time (Gen 49:26), and indefinite futurity, which may equate to a man's lifetime (Deut 15:17), but more often to the everlasting nature of God (Gen 21:33), His laws (Ps 119:89), His promises (Isa 40:8) and His covenant (Gen 9:16; 17:7; Ex 31:16; 2Sam 23:5). Lastly, olam encompasses existence after death and into eternity (Ps 90:2; Isa 45:17; Dan 12:2–3).
life: Grk. zōē, alive in contrast with being dead. "Eternal life" is the ultimate prize and the quality of life manifested in glory, honor and immortality. Both the Pharisees and Essenes embraced the doctrine of the immortality of the soul and resurrection (Josephus, Wars II, 8:11, 14). Reward and punishment would begin after death and the souls of the righteous would enter heavenly blessedness, while the souls of the ungodly are punished in Hades in the depths of the earth. This separation is clearly presented in the parable of the rich man and Lazarus (Luke 16:22–26). Eternal life, however, is not merely a quantitative expression (eternal existence), but a qualitative relationship with the eternal God. Viewed from that perspective eternal life begins with the new birth (cf. John 3:16; 4:14; 5:24; 6:47; 10:10). It doesn't wait until after one dies.
Some versions totally mischaracterize Paul's declaration of "not worthy for eternal life." BBE has "because you will have nothing to do with it, and have no desire for eternal life." WE has "By that you are saying you Jews are not good enough to live for ever." The MSG has "But seeing that you want no part of it—you've made it quite clear that you have no taste or inclination for eternal life." These translations are wrong because traditional Jews certainly had a desire for eternal life (cf. Matt 19:16; Luke 10:25; John 5:39). The issue was also not low self-esteem. Pharisaic Jews could in fact view themselves as deserving of salvation and a share of the inheritance in the age to come because of their devotion to Torah (cf. Luke 18:11). The idea of "worthiness" is paradoxical since people "dead in trespasses" (Eph 2:1) can never be worthy of salvation.
Who possesses the holiness required to dwell in the presence of the One who alone is holy (Rev 15:4)? In spite of the fallen nature of humanity God deems mankind to have value and worth the sacrifice necessary to secure their redemption and eternal life. God offers eternal life in exchange for trusting in the atoning sacrifice of Yeshua. Thus, Paul is incredulous at the rejection of the Jewish leaders. This is personal for Paul, who had initially rejected Yeshua and then received unmerited favor and mercy. The unbelieving Jews refused salvation through Yeshua, because they viewed it as a threat to institutional Judaism. Paul thus warned the unbelievers that rejecting God's terms is tantamount to saying that they are unacceptable to God and ought not to be saved. This is the proverbial cutting off your nose to spite your face.
behold: Grk. idou, aor. imp. See verse 11 above. we are turning: Grk. strephō, pres. mid., to redirect a position; turn. In the LXX strephō or (or epistrephō) is used to translate shuv, (SH-7725), turn back or return (DNTT 1:354). to: Grk. eis, prep. the Gentiles: Grk. ethnē, pl. of ethnos. See verse 19 above. Paul does not use ethnē in any pejorative sense (e.g., "heathen," AMPC, Goodspeed). At this point the receptive Gentiles were those that attended synagogue services. Paul's declaration that he and Barnabas were "turning to the Gentiles" is also a local perspective. Paul certainly did not mean that he was rejecting evangelism of Jews, as Luke demonstrates his continued methodology of going to synagogues to proclaim the good news.
47 For so the Lord has commanded us, 'I have placed you for a light of nations, that you should be for salvation to the end of the earth.'"
For: Grk. gar, conj. so: Grk. houtōs, adv. See verse 8 above. the Lord: Grk. ho kurios. See verse 2 above. Paul does not mean Yeshua, but with the following quotation he means ADONAI. has commanded: Grk. entellō, perf. mid., to give instruction with magisterial claim; instruct, command, order. us: Grk. hēmeis, pl. pronoun of the first person. Given the following quotation the pronoun could refer to Israel and by extension the Jews in the audience. However, in consequence to the previous verse the plural pronoun could also be taken in a personal sense of Paul and Barnabas, especially considering that Paul's commission from Yeshua was to take the good news to the nations (Acts 9:15). Paul then quotes from Isaiah 49:6, providing his own translation.
I have placed: Grk. tithēmi (for Heb. nathan, give, put or set), perf. See verse 29 above. The LXX has "I have given" (Grk. didōmi). you: Grk. su, pronoun of the second person. The quoted text with the singular pronoun views Israel as a person. God had previously declared Israel to be His son (Ex 4:22-23). However, Paul applies the verbal phrase to himself. The LXX includes a phrase not found in the Hebrew text: "for a covenant of a people." Paul's omission of this phrase is appropriate for personalizing the commission and indicates that he offers his own translation of the Hebrew text.
for: Grk. eis, prep. a light: Grk. phōs (for Heb. or), that which serves as a revealing or disclosing medium; light. of nations: Grk. ethnōn, pl. of ethnos (for Heb. goyim). See verse 19 above. Paul emphasizes God's call upon Israel based on the Isaiah text (also 42:6; 51:4; and 60:3). The declaration of Israel's responsibility is implicit in the covenant God made with Abraham, "I will make you the father of a multitude of nations" (Gen 17:5 NASB). God repeated this covenantal expectation to Isaac, "by your descendants all the nations of the earth shall be blessed" (Gen 26:4 NASB).
Then God made His desire even more specific to Jacob, "A nation and a company of nations shall come from you" (Gen 35:11 NASB). Thus, God always wanted Jacob (Israel) to be a company of nations. An initial fulfillment occurred when a mixed multitude left Egypt with the Israelites (Ex 12:38). Some of these people were Egyptians, and some were of other nations that lived in Egypt. The Targum of Jonathan calculates the number of the non-Israelites in the exodus to be 240,000 out of perhaps as many as two million.
The mixed crowd might have come with the Israelites for a variety of reasons, but at Sinai they agreed to accept God's covenantal terms (Ex 19:8). Over the following centuries Scripture records a number of non-Israelites that joined the covenant people (e.g., Rahab, the Gibeonites, Othniel, Shamgar, Jael, Ruth, and Uriah). Israel never purposely sought the inclusion of Gentiles, but in the time of Isaiah God declared that He expected Israel to be the voice of truth to the nations about the one true God (cf. Isa 42:6; 51:4; 60:1-3). Paul views this responsibility to be light to the nations as his own personal call (Acts 9:15; 22:15, 21; 26:18).
that: Grk. ho, definite article but used here as a demonstrative pronoun. you: Grk. su, used again of Israel in the quoted text, but applied personally by Paul to himself. should be: Grk. eimi (for Heb. hayah, to be), pres. inf. See verse 1 above. The infinitive expresses purpose. for: Grk. eis. Here the preposition expresses motion to a particular purpose. salvation: Grk. sōtēria (for Heb. yeshu'ah). See verse 26 above. to: Grk. heōs (for Heb. ad, as far as, even to, up to), adv. See verse 20 above. Here the adverb marks the limit of distance. the end: Grk. eschatos (for Heb. qatseh, end, extremity), adj., coming at the end or after all others; end, last. The adj., occurring 53 times in the Besekh, is used of place, of position, of rank/status, and of time, but only twice of a topographical distance (also Acts 1:8).
In the LXX eschatos translates three different Hebrew words used for topographical distance: (1) Heb. qatseh, end or extremity (Deut 28:49); (2) Heb. ephes, end or extremity (Isa 45:22); and (3) Heb. yerekah, extreme parts or remotest part (Jer 6:22). Some versions translate the adj. as plural, perhaps considering the four directions of the compass (e.g., CJB, ESV, HCSB, KJV, NIV, NKJV, NRSV). In topographical terms the adjective denotes the furthermost point from the point of origin.
of the earth: Grk. gē (for Heb. erets). See verse 19 above. From the standpoint of an observer the "end of the earth" would indicate the horizon. The topographical reference occurs over forty times in the Tanakh, all of which indicate a physical distance in relation to the land of Israel. In terms of the light-bearing mission the truth of God should impact every part of the globe where Gentiles may be found, no matter how far away from the land of Israel they might dwell.
Bruce points out that the quotation comes from the second of the servant songs in Isaiah. Four passages in Isaiah are often identified as "the Servant Songs" because they focus on the call and work of the one whom God identifies as "My servant" (Heb. Abdi): Isaiah 42:1-4; 49:1-6; 50:4-9; and 52:13—53:12. These poetic monologues describe the servant as the one God chose to "bring justice to the nations" (42:1) and "to lead back the people of Israel" to God (49:5). But the servant will also be "a light" so that other nations will receive God's salvation (49:6). Yet, the servant of God will also have a mission that requires suffering and humiliation (50:6; 52:14; 53:3-5, 7). Moreover, the suffering of the servant will ultimately take away the sins and guilt of others (53:4-5, 10-11), and God will reward the servant for sacrificing his life for others (53:12).
The early followers of Yeshua clearly connected "the servant" with Yeshua the Messiah. For example, the priest Simeon applied the third servant song to the infant Yeshua (Luke 2:32). Matthew states that the predictions of the first and fourth songs were fulfilled in the life and work of Yeshua (Matt 8:17; 12:18-21). The other apostolic narratives also apply the fourth song to Yeshua (Mark 15:28; Luke 22:37; John 12:38). Similarly, Philip explained to an Ethiopian official that the words of the fourth song referred to Yeshua (Acts 8:26-35). Yeshua identified himself as the servant who will "give his life to rescue many people" (Mark 10:45) and offered his work as a model of servanthood for his followers to imitate (John 13:15).
Traditional Jewish interpretation, of course, views the servant of ADONAI as Israel (cf. Isa 44:1-2, 21; 45:4; 49:3; Luke 1:54). On that basis Israelites should be passionate about spreading the good news of salvation into all the nations. Unfortunately, Israel did not fulfill the call to be a light as God intended, since traditional Jews avoided personal contact with foreigners (cf. Acts 10:28). Conversely, the proselytizing work of the Pharisees was not to bring salvation to the nations but to enslave Gentiles to their oppressive legalism (Matt 23:15).
Israel might have failed in its mission, but Yeshua fulfilled the servant mandates and Paul understood that Yeshua had passed the "baton" to him. After his encounter with Yeshua on the Damascus Road Paul affirmed that his life's work was to bring the message of salvation to the ends of the earth.
48 And hearing, the Gentiles were rejoicing and were glorifying the word of the Lord; and they believed, as many as were being appointed for life eternal.
And: Grk. de, conj. Many versions insert "when" after the conjunction even though there is no adverb meaning "when" (hōs) in the Greek text. hearing: Grk. akouō, pres. part. See verse 7 above. Most versions insert "this" after the verb on the assumption that the verb alludes to the comment Paul made in the two previous verses (46-47). However, it is much more likely that the verb pertains to hearing the "word of the Lord" and accepting the truth of the good news proclaimed by the apostles. the Gentiles: pl. of Grk. ho ethnos. See verse 19 above. The following action verbs were likely concurrent with the negative reaction described in verse 45 and the expression of the worshipping proselytes in verse 43 above and other Gentiles that had just embraced the good news.
were rejoicing: Grk. chairō, impf., may mean (1) to be in a state marked by good feeling about an event or circumstance; be happy, glad, delighted, rejoice; or (2) an expression of greeting that is normally tantamount to assuring the other of one's good will, a kind of introductory social ointment; greetings, hail. The first meaning is intended here. The verb has a direct etymological connection with the noun charis ("grace") and chara ("joy") with the same core meaning of delight in God's favor (HELPS). In the LXX chairō for the most part translates Hebrew words from the root verb samach (SH-8055), be glad, rejoice (Ex 4:14; 1Sam 6:13; Isa 39:2), but also gil (SH-1523), rejoice (Prov 2:14; 23:25), and sis (SH-7797), to exult, rejoice (Isa 66:14) (DNTT 2:356).
and: Grk. kai, conj. were glorifying: Grk. doxazō, impf., enhance esteem or reputation through word (of praise) or action to honor. In the LXX doxazō translates Heb. navah (SH–5115), to beautify, adorn with praises (Ex 15:2), but principally kabad (SH–3513), to be weighty, to be honored or praised (Lev 10:3; Ps 15:4). The imperfect tense denotes continuing action in past time, so the rejoicing and glorifying were concurrent actions. the word of the Lord: See verse 5 above. The Gentiles had heard and comprehended the "word of the Lord," i.e., the good news about Yeshua, and thus rejoiced that the favor and grace of God had been extended to them. and: Grk. kai. they believed: Grk. pisteuō, aor., 3p-pl. See verse 12 above. The subject of the verb alludes to those rejoicing and glorifying.
as many as: Grk. hosos, correlative pronoun signifying maximum inclusion and is used of (1) space and time, as great as; (2) of quantity and number, how much, how many, as many as, as much as; and (3) of measure and degree, so much, much more. The second usage applies here with the sense of "all those who" (BAG). Thus, the pronoun points back to the preceding verb, "all those who believed." In the LXX hosos first appears without Hebrew equivalent to qualify the noun kol (SH-3605), "all, the whole" (Gen 1:31; 6:22; 7:4) and then is used to translate kol (Gen 6:17) and the relative pronoun asher (SH-834), "that, which" (Gen 9:24). Marshall notes that the pronoun does not reflect a unanimous acceptance of the good news. There was no "head count," but from the apostolic perspective, wow, "how many!" The pronoun could denote scores of people out of the multitude that came to hear Paul.
were being: Grk. eimi, impf. See verse 1 above. Luke uses the verb eimi on purpose. The imperfect tense with its continuing action in past time hints at God's providential working to bring individuals to the personal awareness of His existence and His saving love. Wesley referred to the action as "prevenient grace." The verb emphasizes that only those who came to the synagogue heard the good news. God had been working on people's heart in advance and then arranged the opportunity for presentation of the salvation message, but the people had to exercise choice in attending and responding.
appointed: Grk. tassō, perf. pass. part., to arrange so as to be in order. Originating in the military sphere the verb may indicate (1) put in an arranged order; (2) enroll as a beneficiary; (3) devote to service; or (4) make arrangement for something. Bruce says that there is papyrus evidence for the use of the verb to mean "inscribe" or "enroll." We should note that the participle as a verbal noun denotes a dynamic occurrence. The KJV has "ordained" but most modern versions have "appointed." TLV has "inscribed." I don't believe the meaning of arrangement can be excluded from understanding Luke's description. In other words, Luke is saying that the "many" were divinely arranged to be at the synagogue in order to hear the good news with the goal of gaining a spiritual benefit.
for: Grk. eis, prep. See verse 2 above. The preposition denotes purpose and points toward benefit to be gained. life: Grk. zōē. eternal: Grk. aiōnios, adj. The same Greek words are used as in verse 46 above, but in reverse order. This word order would suggest "the life of the age to come." The supreme benefit to receive from God is life with Him. The verbal phrase "appointed for life eternal" could be synonymous with the idea of being enrolled in the heavenly book of life (cf. Ex 32:33; Ps 69:28; Luke 10:20; Php 4:3; Heb 12:23).
The important take-away from this verse is that a great many people who gathered to hear Paul believed the good news and received assurance of eternal life. The ICB captures this sense with the translation, "And many of the people believed the message. They were the ones chosen to have life forever."
Additional Note: Believed and Appointed
Almost all Bible versions (except the YLT) translate the second clause of the verse with the verb "believed" at the end of the verse. Some commentators read "individual pre-creation predestination" into this translation word order. However, the concept of certain individuals predestined for heaven leaving the rest destined for hell, is an invention of Reformed Christianity, not of Judaism, and it's not found in Scripture (cf. Acts 2:21; 16:31; Rom 10:13). Theologians find the doctrine of predestination in Paul's writings, based on his use of proorizō, "predestined" (Rom 8:29-30; 1Cor 2:7; Eph 1:5, 11). However, Paul uses that verb in reference to Israel with the goal of their becoming conformed to the "image of His Son." The verb also has to do with the accomplishment of God's will in fulfilling Messianic prophecy.
If anyone should believe in predestination it would be Paul who had a strong sense of the election of Israel (Rom 9:1-5). Yet, he recognized that no Jew went to heaven simply by virtue of being part of the chosen people (Rom 9:6-9; 14:10; 2Cor 5:10). The Mishnah declares the Pharisee point of view, "All Israel has a portion in the world to come," (Sanhedrin 11:1), but immediately qualifies this statement with a list of Israelites who have no place in the world to come. Other leading Pharisee Sages concurred saying, "when you behave as sons you are designated sons; if you do not behave as sons, you are not designated sons" (Kiddushin 36a).
Marshall offers two other plausible interpretations: (1) Those who were appointed had already put their trust in God in accordance with the revelation of His grace in the Tanakh and were enrolled in His people; or (2) the Gentiles believed in virtue of the fact that God's plan of salvation included them. The second option I believe comes closer to expressing the intent of Luke's description. There is no suggestion that the Gentiles received eternal life independently of their own conscious act of trust and repentance (cf. Acts 2:38-39). The act of appointing is predicated on believing.
There are three other reasons to rebut the predestination interpretation. First, the verb pisteuō actually appears before the verb tassō in the Greek text, as I have translated. Other passages are clear that believing comes before gaining eternal life (cf. John 3:15-16, 36; 5:24; 6:40, 47; Rom 10:9; 1Tim 1:16; 1Jn 5:13). Second, the verb tassō simply does not mean "destined" as wrongly translated in some versions (AMPC, ISV, NABRE, NRSV, OJB, TPT). Third, even if the verb "believed" is placed at the end of the verse, the phrase "appointed to life eternal" would be equivalent to "arranged at the synagogue to hear the good news of life eternal."
49 And the word of the Lord was being spread through the whole region.
And: Grk. de, conj. the word: Grk. logos. of the Lord: Grk. kurios. See verse 5 above for the expression "word of the Lord." was being spread: Grk. diapherō, impf. part., has two kinds of meaning (1) to carry through as in carrying a bowl, spreading a teaching, or driving about of a ship; (2) to differ, be different, from someone or something; differ to one's advantage from someone or something. The first meaning applies here. The manner of evangelism would be as previously conducted. Paul and Barnabas would present the good news in Jewish synagogues (14:1). The negative reaction of Jewish leaders in Antioch would not change the methodology of Paul in fulfilling his commission to take the message of the Messiah to the sons of Israel first and then the nations.
through: Grk. dia, prep. the whole: Grk. holos, adj., signifier of a person or thing understood as a complete unit and not necessarily every individual part; all, whole, entire. region: Grk. ho chōra, properly, the space lying between two places or limits and may refer to (1) a stretch of territory as contrasted with owned property or open country contrasted with city, region, area; or (2) an area under a proprietor, landed property or fields. The first meaning applies here. It's important to understand that the Roman province of Galatia was composed of several regions: Pisidia, Galatian Phrygia, Lycaonia, Central Galatia, Paphlagonia, and Galatian Pontus (Atlas 91). The "whole region" most likely alludes to Galatian Phrygia, because in the next chapter the good news will advance into Lycaonia.
Departure from the City, 13:50-52
50 But the Jewish leaders incited the prominent worshipping women and the chief men of the city, and they stirred up a persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and they expelled them from their district.
But: Grk. de, conj. the Jewish leaders: pl. of Grk. ho Ioudaios. See verse 5 above. As in verse 45 above the definite article points to a particular group of the traditional Jews within the Jewish population. The common translation of Christian versions "the Jews" is misleading since many Jews had believed in Yeshua. CJB has "unbelieving Jews," imitating the description in 14:2. However, there is no question that the negative use of Ioudaioi here would especially include those in authority, such as the synagogue rulers and prominent men of the synagogue. Only they would be able to orchestrate opposition against the apostles. Several versions have "Jewish leaders" (CEV, ISV, TLB, NIRV, NIV, TPT, TLV, VOICE).
incited: Grk. parotrunō, aor., 3p-pl., give impetus to; incite, urge on. The verb occurs only here in the Besekh. the prominent: Grk. euschēmōn, adj., lit. "good form," that (1) focuses on the outward form that is comely, desirable, or presentable; (2) focuses on the outward manifestation of godliness, i.e. as being winsome to others which attracts attention in a positive way; or (3) denotes a person who properly uses influence, especially by serving in a respected position; of good standing, honorable, influential, prominent or wealthy. The third usage applies here with a nuance of the second.
worshipping: Grk. sebō, pres. mid. part. See verse 43 above. women: pl. of Grk. gunē, an adult female person, without respect to age, marital or social status except as defined in the context. In the LXX gunē translates the Heb. ishshah ("woman, wife"). Gill allows that the expression "worshipping women" might refer to female Pharisees (Sotah 3:4) and thus be Jewish. They could have been Gentiles as the verb sebō is used of "gate proselytes" in verse 43 above, or they could have been Hellenistic Jews as sebō is used with Hellēnōn in 17:4. These women could have been wives or widows of gate proselytes. In any event these women clearly had influence outside the home and could be just as zealous about religious matters as the men.
and: Grk. kai, conj. the chief men: masc. pl. of Grk. ho prōtos, adj., having to do with beforeness, whether (1) indicating primary position in sequence; first, earlier, earliest; (2) standing out in significance or importance, chief, principal; or (3) adverbially denoting first of all, at the first. The second meaning applies here. Most versions have either "leading men" or "leaders." HNV and MW have "chief men." The plural noun does not appear to include any official of the Roman government. Rather the "chief men" were community leaders, perhaps the ancient equivalent of the chamber of commerce.
of the city: Grk. ho polis. See verse 44 above. The prominent women and chief men are depicted as sharing a common social standing in the city. The Jewish leaders apparently had strong influence with the upper crust of society, which is surprising considering antisemitic attitudes in pagan culture. The intent was to undermine the impact of the good news among the Gentiles, but the Jewish leaders were not going to waste their time with the common people and the poor. It would take power and influence, perhaps aided with bribes, to counter the spiritual revival taking place.
and: Grk. kai. they stirred up: Grk. epegeirō, aor., arouse to hostile activity; stir up, excite against. a persecution: Grk. diōgmos (from diōkō, "follow, pursue"), a program of systematic harassment, especially because of differing belief or expression, persecution. Here the noun indicates trying to suppress or punish religious convictions (HELPS). No time period is given for the persecution, but it could have lasted several days, gradually building in intensity. against: Grk. epi, prep. Paul: See verse 9 above. and: Grk. kai. Barnabas: See verse 1 above. This is the fourth time in this chapter in which the two names appear together.
and: Grk. kai. they expelled: Grk. ekballō, aor., 3p-pl., to cause to move out from a position, state or condition; to put out, drive out, send out, bring out, cast out. The subject of the two verbs is unclear, whether the Jewish leaders or the chief men of the city, but probably the former. them: pl. of Grk. autos, personal pronoun. from: Grk. apo, prep. their: pl. of Grk. autos. district: Grk. horion, a defined geographical area, district, region. In this context the district probably implies the lands immediately surrounding the city over which the chief men had control, perhaps the distance of a Sabbath journey. The description indicates that the apostles were forcibly removed from the city.
51 But having shaken off the dust of their feet against them, they went to Iconium.
But: Grk. de, conj. having shaken off: Grk. ektinassō, aor. part., masc. pl., to shake off so that something adhering should fall. the dust: Grk. koniortos, dust, a cloud of finely powdered earth. of their feet: pl. of Grk. ho pous. See verse 25 above. against: Grk. epi, prep. them: 3p-pl. of Grk. autos, personal pronoun. Yeshua instructed his disciples on their first mission to shake off the dust of any location where the people refused to heed the message of the Messiah (Matt 10:14; Mark 6:11; Luke 9:5). The background of this symbolic act was that the very dust of a heathen country was considered unclean and it defiled by contact (Edersheim-Sketches 16). So, shaking off the dust of any house or city that rejected the Kingdom message meant treating the offenders as heathen and under the judgment of God.
Paul and Barnabas followed Yeshua's principle literally. The action was directed against those who had incited strong opposition to the apostolic ministry in Antioch, even though many Jews and Gentiles did believe. they went: Grk. erchomai, aor., 3p-pl. See verse 13 above. to: Grk. eis, prep. Iconium: Grk. Ikonion, the eastern-most city of Phrygia in southern Galatia, although some ancient authorities considered it a principal city of Lycaonia. Bruce says that local inscriptions show clearly that Phrygian was spoken in Iconium until the end of the second century (272). The city lay about 90 miles east-southeast of Antioch on the road between Antioch and Derbe. The country round about it was famous for feeding great numbers of sheep (Gill). The city had a population of about 30,000 (PC), including a Jewish quarter evidenced by the mention of a synagogue in 14:1.
52 Also the disciples were filled with joy and the Holy Spirit.
Also: Grk. te, conj. See verse 1 above. the disciples: pl. of Grk. ho mathētēs (from manthanō, to learn), one who learns through instruction from a teacher; adherent, learner, pupil, disciple. In the Besekh the noun occurs only in the apostolic narratives and corresponds to the Heb. talmid (SH-8527), a student of a Jewish Sage or Torah scholar (Heb. rabbi). The term is used for members of the Pharisee party (Matt 22:15-16; John 9:28) and disciples of Yochanan the Immerser (Matt 9:14; Mark 2:18; Luke 5:33; John 3:25), but especially of followers of Yeshua, those who not only believed in Yeshua but sought to obey his instructions (Matt 28:20). See my article Disciples of Yeshua.
The mention of disciples alludes to the new believers in Pisidian Antioch (Bruce). Paul and Barnabas had not been in the city anywhere near the length of time they spent in Syrian Antioch discipling new believers (Acts 11:26), but it was long enough to confirm their loyalty to the Messiah. were filled: Grk. plēroō, impf. pass. See verse 25 above. with joy: Grk. chara, joy as an emotional response that may be experienced in a variety of circumstances or of sharing in a celebration. The opposition of unbelieving Jews in the community did not dampen their enthusiasm for following Yeshua. and: Grk. kai, conj. the Holy Spirit: See verse 2 above. Luke notes that these disciples were filled with the Holy Spirit, but offers no accompanying narrative of their experience as in the case of Cornelius.
Atlas: Oxford Bible Atlas, Second Edition. ed. Herbert G. May. Oxford University Press, 1974.
BAG: Walter Bauer, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature. trans. W.F. Arndt & F.W. Gingrich. The University of Chicago Press, 1957.
Barclay: William Barclay, The Acts of the Apostles. Rev. ed. The Westminster Press, 1976. Daily Bible Study Series.
Barnes: Albert Barnes (1798-1870), Notes on the Whole Bible (1834). Baker Book House, 1949. Online.
BBMS: Henry Morris, Biblical Basis for Modern Science. Baker Book House, 1984.
BDB: The New Brown, Driver, Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon. Oxford University Press, 1907. Reprinted by Associated Publishers and Authors, Inc., 1981.
Bruce: F.F. Bruce, The Book of the Acts. Rev. ed. William B. Eerdmans Pub. Co., 1988. (New International Commentary on the New Testament)
Chrysostom: John Chrysostom (347-407), Homilies on the Acts of the Apostles. Oxford Edition. trans. J. Walker, et. al. (Online)
CJB: David H. Stern, Complete Jewish Bible. Jewish New Testament Publications, 1998.
Clarke: Adam Clarke, Commentary on the Holy Bible. (1826). Ed. Ralph Earle. Baker Book House, 1967. Online.
Danker: Frederick William Danker, The Concise Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament. The University of Chicago Press, 2009.
DM: H.E. Dana & Julius R. Mantey, A Manual Grammar of the Greek New Testament. The Macmillan Co., 1955.
DNTT: Dictionary of New Testament Theology, 3 vols., ed. Colin Brown. Zondervan Pub. House, 1975.
Dorotheus: Dorotheus (255-362), Bishop of Tyre, The Choosing of the Seventy Holy Apostles. Online.
Edersheim: Alfred Edersheim (1825-1889), The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah. New Updated Edition. Hendrickson Publishers, Inc., 1993. Online.
Edersheim-Sketches: Alfred Edersheim, Sketches of Jewish Social Life. Hendrickson Publishers, 1994. Online.
Edmundson: Charles Edmundson, The Church in Rome in the First Century. Longmans, Green and Co., 1913. Online.
Gilbert: Gary Gilbert, Annotations on "The Acts of the Apostles," Jewish Annotated New Testament, eds. Amy-Jill Levine and Marc Brettler. Oxford University Press, 2011.
Gill: John Gill (1697-1771), Exposition of the Entire Bible. Online.
GNT: The Greek New Testament, eds. Kurt Aland, Matthew Black, Bruce M. Metzger, & Allen Wiegren. American Bible Society, 1966. [NA25]
Hamp: Douglas Hamp, Discovering the Language of Jesus: Hebrew or Aramaic? CreateSpace, 2005.
Hippolytus: Hippolytus of Rome (170-236), On the Seventy Apostles. Online.
Hirsch: Emil Hirsch and Joseph Jacobs, Pentateuch. Jewish Encyclopedia, 1906. Online.
HBD: Trent C. Butler, ed., Holman Bible Dictionary. Broadman and Holman Publishers, 1991. Online.
Jerome: Eusebius Sophronius Hieronymus, "Jerome of Stridon" (342-420), Lives of Illustrious Men. Online.
Lane: William L. Lane, The Gospel According to Mark. William B. Eerdmans Pub. Co., 1974. (NICNT)
Liberman: Joel Liberman, The Acts of the Emissaries: Practical Sermons on the Spirit-filled Birth & Explosive Growth of Messianic Judaism. Tree of Life, Inc., 2014.
Lightfoot: John Lightfoot (1602-1675), Hebrew and Talmudical Exercitations upon the Acts, A Commentary on the New Testament from the Talmud and Hebraica (1859 ed.), Vol. 4. Hendrickson Pub., 1989.
Longenecker: Richard D. Longenecker, The Acts of the Apostles, Vol. 9, Expositor's Bible Commentary, Software version 2.6. Zondervan Corp, 1989-1999.
LSJ: Henry George Liddell and Robert Scott, An Intermediate Greek-English Lexicon (1889). rev. by Sir Henry Stuart Jones. Clarendon Press, 1940. Online
McClintock: John McClintock and James Strong, The Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological, and Ecclesiastical Literature. Harper, 1867-1887. Online.
Metzger: Bruce Metzger, A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament. 2nd ed. United Bible Societies, 1994.
Meyer: Heinrich August Wilhelm Meyer (1800-1873), Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament (1859). 21 vols. T&T Clark, 1880. Online.
Moseley: Ron Moseley, Yeshua: A Guide to the Real Yeshua and the Original Church. Lederer Books, 1996.
Mounce: William D. Mounce, Mounce Concise Greek-English Dictionary of the New Testament. 2011. Online.
Gruber: Daniel Gruber, The Messianic Writings. Elijah Publishing, 2011. Annotations by the author.
NASBEC: New American Standard Bible Exhaustive Concordance, Updated Edition. Foundation Publications, Inc., 1998.
NIBD: Herbert Lockyer, ed., Nelson's Illustrated Dictionary of the Bible. Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1986.
OCB: The Oxford Companion to the Bible. ed. Bruce M. Metzger and Michael D. Coogan. Oxford University Press, 1993.
PC: The Pulpit Commentary (1890). 23 vols. Edited by Rev. Joseph S. Exell and Henry Donald Maurice Spence-Jones. Hendrickson Pub., 1985. Online.
Polhill: John B. Polhill, Paul and His Letters. B & H Academic, 1999.
Purkiser: W.T. Purkiser, ed. Exploring the Old Testament. Beacon Hill Press of Kansas City, 1955.
Ross: Allen P. Ross, Introducing Biblical Hebrew. Baker Academic, 2001.
Santala: Risto Santala, Paul: The Man and the Teacher in the Light of Jewish Sources. Keren Ahvah Meshihit, 1995. Online.
Schurer: Emil Schurer, A History of the Jewish People in the Time of Jesus Christ. 4 vols. trans. Peter Christie. T&T Clark, 1885. Online.
Stern: David Stern, Jewish New Testament Commentary. Jewish New Testament Publications, 1996.
SECB: James Strong (1822–1894), Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible (1890). Online.
Thayer: Joseph Henry Thayer (1828-1901), Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament. Harper Brothers, 1889. Website HTML 2011 by Biblesoft, Inc. Online.
TWOT: R. Laird Harris, ed., Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament. 2 vols. Moody Press, 1980.
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