Acts 13:42-49 (ESV)
As they went out, the people begged that these things might be told them the next Sabbath. And after the meeting of the synagogue broke up, many Jews and devout converts to Judaism followed Paul and Barnabas, who, as they spoke with them, urged them to continue in the grace of God.
The next Sabbath almost the whole city gathered to hear the word of the Lord. But when the Jews saw the crowds, they were filled with jealousy and began to contradict what was spoken by Paul, reviling him. And Paul and Barnabas spoke out boldly, saying, “It was necessary that the word of God be spoken first to you. Since you thrust it aside and judge yourselves unworthy of eternal life, behold, we are turning to the Gentiles. For so the Lord has commanded us, saying, ‘I have made you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.’”
And when the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord, and as many as were appointed to eternal life believed. And the word of the Lord was spreading throughout the whole region.
The grapevine sure works well in this town. After just one week, everyone has heard about Paul’s message and wants to hear the next installment. Antioch in Pisidia is mainly a gentile town. So, when the whole city gathered the Jews are outnumbered. This would have felt strange, since Paul’s sermon the previous Saturday was given in the synagogue to a mostly Jewish audience.
So, the Jews are a bit taken aback. The crowd is way too large for the synagogue and they’re not synagogue people anyway. Although everything’s peaceful, they’re swamped. Whatever Sabbath plans they had are trashed.
Still, Luke isn’t referring to all the Jews when he says, “But when the Jews saw the crowds, they were filled with jealousy and began to contradict what was spoken by Paul, reviling him.” That’s just the turn of a phrase. Obviously, many of the Jews weren’t against Paul, but the ones who were got pretty nasty.
Paul’s comeback is famously blunt. He lays out the sad truth in crystal clear terms. They’re missing the boat, and it’s their boat! “It was necessary that the word of God be spoken first to you. Since you thrust it aside and judge yourselves unworthy of eternal life, behold, we are turning to the Gentiles.”
And the whole thing was prophesied in Isaiah 49:6.
I will make you as a light for the nations, that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth.
So please pray for the Jews in general and for Israel in particular. Antisemitism is horrifyingly widespread.
Meanwhile, Israel’s “neighborhood” never ceases to amaze. Ask the Lord to bless them and protect them.
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