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The apostles thence proceeded by sea from Cyprus to Perga in Pamphylia, where John, who was surnamed Mark, left them. They next came to Antioch in Pisidia,* and went into the synagogue on the sabbath day. Here Paul addressed the men of Israel, reminding them of the promises made to their forefathers, and telling them that Jesus had been raised up of the seed of David to fulfil these promises. He explained how the rulers at Jerusalem, because they knew Him not, nor yet the voices of the prophets which were read every Sabbath day, they fulfilled them in condemning Him. “And though they found no cause of death in Him, yet desired they Pilate that He should be slain. And when they had fulfilled all that was written of Him, they took Him down from the tree, and laid Him in a sepulchre. But God raised Him from the dead; and He was seen many days of them which came up with Him from Galilee to Jerusalem, who are His witnesses unto the people." The apostle concluded his address with these renarkable words. “Be it known unto you therefore, men and brethren, that through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins : And by Him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses. Beware, therefore, lest that come upon you, which is spoken of in the prophets; Behold, ye despisers, and wonder, and perish : for I work a work in your days, a work which ye shall in no wise believe, though a man declare it unto you."
“When the Jews were gone out of the synagogue, * Note the difference between Antioch in Syria, from which the apostles started, and Antioch in Pisidia in Asia Minor.
the Gentiles besought that these words might be preached to them the next sabbath. And the next sabbath day came almost the whole city together to hear the word of God. But when the Jews saw the multitudes, they were filled with envy, and spake against those things which were spoken by Paul, contradicting and blaspheming. Then Paul and Barnabas waxed bold, and said, 'It was necessary that the word of God should first have been spoken to you : but seeing ye put it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles. For so hath the Lord commanded us, saying, I have set thee to be a light of the Gentiles, that thou shouldest be for salvation unto the ends of the earth.'
Many among the Gentiles believed ; but the Jews raised persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and expelled them out of their coasts.
And they came to Iconium, where they preached both to Jews and Gentiles as at Antioch, and many of both Jews and Gentiles believed. But the unbelieving Jews stirred up the people, and "the multitude of the city was divided, and part held with the Jews and part with the apostles." The unbelievers had planned to rise up and stone them, but Paul and Barnabas, being aware of it, fled to the regions about Lystra and Derbe, cities of Lycaonia.
Lystra was a heathen city, and Paul having there cured a person who had been a cripple from his mother's womb, the people were so astonished that they cried out, “ The gods are come down to us in the likeness of men." But the apostles exhorted them to turn “from these vanities to the living God, 'Which made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all things · that are therein: Who in times past suffered all nations to walk in their own ways. Nevertheless He left not Himself without witness, in that He did good, and gave us rain from heaven, and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness.' And with these sayings scarce restrained they the people, that they had not done sacrifice unto them.”
Soon afterwards there came “certain Jews from Antioch and Iconium, who persuaded the people, and, having stoned Paul, drew him out of the city, supposing he had been dead. Howbeit, as the disciples stood round about him, he rose up, and came into the city: and the next day he departed with Barnabas to Derbe. And when they had preached the gospel to that city, and had taught many, they returned again to Lystra, and to Iconium, and Antioch, confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God. And when they had ordained them elders in every church, and had prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord, on Whom they believed. And after they had passed throughout Pisidia, they came to Pamphylia. And when they had preached the word in Perga, they went down into Attalia ; and thence sailed to Antioch, from whence they had been recommended to the grace of God for the work which they fulfilled. And when they were come, and had gathered the church together, they rehearsed all that God had done with them, and how He had opened the door of faith unto the Gentiles. And there they abode long time with the disciples.”
This journey to Cyprus and Asia Minor probably did not occupy more than a year, and the long time" which the sacred historian mentions in the last verse is calculated to have been three years.
During these years Paul and Barnabas were labouring in the church at Antioch, while the churches which they had founded and settled in Asia Minor under ordained priests* or elders, were making increase of themselves in love, believers, we cannot doubt, being added unto the Lord, from those who had not yet been called by His name.
Acts xiii. xiv. * Priest is the same word as Presbyter, which is the Greek word for Elder.
THE COUNCIL AT JERUSALEM.
The church at Antioch, like the churches of Asia Minor, was made
both of Jewish and Gentile converts.
Such as had been Jews were very zealous for the law of Moses. They did not understand that the ceremonial law was to be done away, but thought that Christians were to believe in Christ as the Messiah, but were, like the Proselytes of Righteousness,* to observe the rite of circumcision and all other Jewish customs. This party at Antioch were confirmed in their views by men who came from Judæa, and taught the brethren and said, “Except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved.”
* Proselytes were those who came in to the Jews from among the heathen. They were of two kinds :-1. Proselytes of the gate, who merely gave up idolatry, and acknowledged Jehovah as the One True God. 2. Proselytes of righteousness, who accepted the whole Law.
There were, however, many Gentile converts who were unwilling to submit to this, and Paul and Barnabas, knowing better the true spirit of the Gospel, disputed much with these men of Judæa.
But as the two parties could not agree together, it was determined “that Paul and Barnabas, and certain other of them, should go up to Jesusalem unto the apostles and elders about this question. And being brought on their way by the church, they passed through Phenice and Samaria, declaring the conversion of the Gentiles : and they caused great joy unto all the brethren. And when they were come to Jerusalem, they were received of the church, and of the apostles and elders, and they declared all things that God had done with them.”
The apostles and elders assembled to consider the matter. And when there had been much disputing, Peter rose up, and said unto them, Men and brethren, ye know how that a good while ago God made choice among us, that the Gentiles by my mouth should hear the word of the gospel, and believe. And God, which knoweth the hearts, bare them witness, giving them the Holy Ghost, even as He did unto us, and put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith. Now therefore why tempt ye God, to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear? But we believe that through the grace of the Lord