Gentiles Receptive to Paul’s Message – Jews Become Envious

The godly Scottish preacher Andrew Bonar penned a diary entry. He wrote, “This day 20 years ago I preached for the first time as an ordained minister. It is amazing that the Lord has spared me and used me at all. I have no reason to wonder that He used others far more than … More

Envy

The Gentiles were very receptive to Paul’s message and wanted him to tell them more (vv. 42-43). The next Sabbath a great crowd, which probably was predominately Gentile, gathered to hear Paul (v. 44). This made the Jews very envious and angry (v. 45). In fact, the Jewish leaders began to argue and contradict everything that Paul and Barnabas said, so that the others could not listen. The one thing that infuriated the Jews was that any of God’s privileges could be for the uncircumcised Gentiles. At this time the Jewish religion had a special attraction for Gentile women. Nothing in the ancient world was more lax than sexual morality. Family life was rapidly breaking down. The worst sufferers were women. Many of these women became proselytes. The Jews persuaded them to incite their husbands, who were often men in influential positions, to take steps against the Christian preachers. Persecution resulted.

Paul declared that God had sent the Word to the Jews first, but since they had rejected it he would now take it to the Gentiles (vv. 46 -47). The Gentiles were glad and happy to hear this, and many of them opened their hearts to the Savior (vv. 48-49). Also many witnessed to others, and God’s Word was given out all around the countryside. At the same time the Jewish leaders were so jealous of Paul and Barnabas that they went to some of the leaders of the city and got them to bring legal action against them. Paul and Barnabas were told that they must leave the city and not come back (v. 50).

The missionaries were not discouraged, but simply shook the dust off their feet and went to the next town, which was Iconium (v. 51). They left behind a group of joyful disciples, and trusted the Heavenly Father to take care of them. Paul and Barnabas had been obedient to the voice of the Holy Spirit, and they were happy (v. 52).

Application

Am I willing to share the gospel? Am I willing to present Christ to others even though it may bring persecution? There are always some who will listen, while others may mock and make fun.

Acts 13:42-52 (English Standard Version)

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. But the Jews incited the devout women of high standing and the leading men of the city, stirred up persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and drove them out of their district. But they shook off the dust from their feet against them and went to Iconium. And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.

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