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“Another Antioch, Another Gospel Opportunity” (Acts 13:13-52)

First Baptist Church https://fbcbartow.org

Have you ever thought about a missed opportunity? When I first started a job as a youth pastor in Naples, Florida, I was invited by a family member to go on an Alaskan cruise and have the entire thing paid for by that person. Well, everything within me said that it was not a good idea to ask for twelve days off work after I just started a new job. So, I didn’t go. They had the time of their lives, and I stayed behind to work. Though I think I made the right decision, it was certainly a missed opportunity.

Opportunities come and go in our lives, don’t they? Some of those opportunities are chances to share the love of God or tell someone about the saving work of Jesus Christ. These are gospel opportunities.

Today, we’re going to hear about the continued missionary work of Paul and Barnabas. In the second part of Acts 13, we’re going to see them ministering in another city named Antioch. Today’s sermon is entitled “Another Antioch, Another Gospel Opportunity.”

Let’s pray together before we go any further.


Ok, so let’s recall what was happening in the earlier part of chapter 13.

Paul and his companions were ministering on the island of Cyprus.

Now, let’s look at verse 13 and part of verse 14:

13 Paul and his companions set sail from Paphos and came to Perga in Pamphylia, but John left them and went back to Jerusalem. 14 They continued their journey from Perga and reached Pisidian Antioch.

So, Paul and his companions left Cyprus, then came to Perga, from there they went to Pisidian Antioch.

Now, pay attention to two aspects of these two verses.

First, this is a different Antioch than the one from where they were sent off.

This is Pisidian Antioch. This is another Antioch.

Similarly, there’s a Lakeland, Georgia; there’s a Bartow County, Georgia; there’s a Polk County, Georgia; and so forth. So, also, there were several different Antiochs.

Remember, this is another Antioch, another gospel opportunity.

Second, notice that John Mark left them and went back to Jerusalem.

We’re not really sure why John Mark left them, but we know from later in the Book of Acts that Paul was not happy that John Mark left them. There will be more on that later in our series in this book.

Alright, now we have some context for what’s going on in this passage, so let’s dive into this passage some more.

Initially, we see . . .

‌I. The first opportunity.

Let’s pick it up in the second part of verse 14:

On the Sabbath day they went into the synagogue and sat down. 15 After the reading of the Law and the Prophets, the leaders of the synagogue sent word to them, saying, “Brothers, if you have any word of encouragement for the people, you can speak.”

16 Paul stood up and motioned with his hand and said: “Fellow Israelites, and you who fear God, listen! 17 The God of this people Israel chose our ancestors, made the people prosper during their stay in the land of Egypt, and led them out of it with a mighty arm. 18 And for about forty years he put up with them in the wilderness; 19 and after destroying seven nations in the land of Canaan, he gave them their land as an inheritance. 20 This all took about 450 years. After this, he gave them judges until Samuel the prophet. 21 Then they asked for a king, and God gave them Saul the son of Kish, a man of the tribe of Benjamin, for forty years. 22 After removing him, he raised up David as their king and testified about him: ‘I have found David the son of Jesse to be a man after my own heart, who will carry out all my will.’

23 “From this man’s descendants, as he promised, God brought to Israel the Savior, Jesus. 24 Before his coming to public attention, John had previously proclaimed a baptism of repentance to all the people of Israel. 25 Now as John was completing his mission, he said, ‘Who do you think I am? I am not the one. But one is coming after me, and I am not worthy to untie the sandals on his feet.’

26 “Brothers and sisters, children of Abraham’s race, and those among you who fear God, it is to us that the word of this salvation has been sent. 27 Since the residents of Jerusalem and their rulers did not recognize him or the sayings of the prophets that are read every Sabbath, they have fulfilled their words by condemning him. 28 Though they found no grounds for the death sentence, they asked Pilate to have him killed. 29 When they had carried out all that had been written about him, they took him down from the tree and put him in a tomb. 30 But God raised him from the dead, 31 and he appeared for many days to those who came up with him from Galilee to Jerusalem, who are now his witnesses to the people. 32 And we ourselves proclaim to you the good news of the promise that was made to our ancestors. 33 God has fulfilled this for us, their children, by raising up Jesus, as it is written in the second Psalm:

You are my Son; today I have become your Father.

34 As to his raising him from the dead, never to return to decay, he has spoken in this way, I will give you the holy and sure promises of David. 35 Therefore he also says in another passage, You will not let your Holy One see decay. 36 For David, after serving God’s purpose in his own generation, fell asleep, was buried with his fathers, and decayed, 37 but the one God raised up did not decay. 38 Therefore, let it be known to you, brothers and sisters, that through this man forgiveness of sins is being proclaimed to you. 39 Everyone who believes is justified through him from everything that you could not be justified from through the law of Moses. 40 So beware that what is said in the prophets does not happen to you:

41 Look, you scoffers,

marvel and vanish away,

because I am doing a work in your days,

a work that you will never believe,

even if someone were to explain it to you.”

First of all, notice that Paul and his companions went to the synagogue and sat down.

Remember, the synagogue is the center of religious and educational life for the Jewish people.

Paul and those with him went into the synagogue as participants, not as preachers.

Yet, we notice that they were invited to say something.

The leaders of the synagogue said, “ . . . if you have any word of encouragement for the people, you can speak.”

Well, you better believe that Paul had a word to share. He always had a word to share.

Brothers and sisters: Do you have a word of encouragement to share with someone?

If given a gospel opportunity, how would you respond?

Paul’s word of encouragement was the gospel of Jesus Christ.

In verses 16 through 41, Paul shares the basics of the gospel story.

Notice that he addresses his words to “Fellow Israelites, and you who fear God.” Apparently, there were Jews, as well as non-Jews, gathered at the synagogue.

Paul walks through how God chose Abraham, led His people out of Egypt, they wandered in the wilderness, they settled in Canaan, He gave them judges, He gave them prophets, He gave them kings, He raised up David as king, He raised up Jesus the Messiah from the line of David, and John the Baptizer prepared the way for Jesus.

Paul then says in verse 26, “Brothers and sisters, children of Abraham’s race, and those among you who fear God, it is to us that the word of this salvation has been sent.”

So we see next that Paul describes how Jesus was rejected, condemned, and crucified. Then, Paul says Jesus rose from the dead and appeared to people.

Paul finishes this section by quoting a series of Old Testament passages that point his hearers to the reality that Jesus Christ has fulfilled all of God’s promises to His people.

Finally, Paul warns them not to miss out on what God is doing through Jesus.

So, this is the first opportunity Paul has to speak to this group, and he wants them to know the good news of Jesus Christ.

However, this was not his only opportunity.

Next, we see . . .

‌II. The second opportunity.

The first opportunity happened as Paul and others were invited to speak after the normal teachings had already taken place at the synagogue.

We learn from this passage, though, that the listeners wanted more. Listen to verses 42-44:

42 As they were leaving, the people urged them to speak about these matters the following Sabbath. 43 After the synagogue had been dismissed, many of the Jews and devout converts to Judaism followed Paul and Barnabas, who were speaking with them and urging them to continue in the grace of God. 44 The following Sabbath almost the whole town assembled to hear the word of the Lord.

We see two ways that the listeners wanted more:

First, they followed Paul and Barnabas out of the synagogue.

Now, our pastors always stay after service to talk to folks, answers questions, pray with people, and more. We stay until everyone has chance for ministry.

However, I’ve never had anyone follow me after I leave the church building. I imagine I would say, “Can I help you with something? Leave me alone; I’m going to go get some lunch.”

Yet, the people in this passage were so touched by what Paul and Barnabas said that they followed them out of the synagogue.

That’s the first thing that we see.

Second, we see that Paul and Barnabas were invited back to teach the next Sabbath day.

Those who gathered at the synagogue gathered on the Sabbath day, which is Saturday.

The Sabbath is the Jewish day of rest and intentional reflection on God.

So, the people asked Paul and Barnabas to come back so they could hear more about the gospel of Jesus Christ.

However, as we’ve seen several times in the Book of Acts, not everyone was excited to hear the gospel story.

That leads to our final point:

‌III. The lost opportunity.

If we’re not in tune with what God is saying to us, we may lose an opportunity that is presented to us, as happened in this passage.

Listen to these final few verses from Acts 13:

44 The following Sabbath almost the whole town assembled to hear the word of the Lord. 45 But when the Jews saw the crowds, they were filled with jealousy and began to contradict what Paul was saying, insulting him.

46 Paul and Barnabas boldly replied, “It was necessary that the word of God be spoken to you first. Since you reject it and judge yourselves unworthy of eternal life, we are turning to the Gentiles. 47 For this is what the Lord has commanded us:

I have made you

a light for the Gentiles

to bring salvation

to the end of the earth.”

48 When the Gentiles heard this, they rejoiced and honored the word of the Lord, and all who had been appointed to eternal life believed. 49 The word of the Lord spread through the whole region. 50 But the Jews incited the prominent God-fearing women and the leading men of the city. They stirred up persecution against Paul and Barnabas and expelled them from their district. 51 But Paul and Barnabas shook the dust off their feet against them and went to Iconium. 52 And the disciples were filled with joy and the Holy Spirit.

Ok, there are several things happening in these verses:

First, we see that nearly the entire town gathered to hear the word of the Lord from Paul and Barnabas.

However, the Jewish authorities didn’t like the fact that Paul and Barnabas were getting so much attention. So, they began to oppose them, contradict them, and even insult them.

Notice in verse 46 that Barnabas and Paul boldly replied to them, stating that because of their rejection of the message, the door would open for the message to go to the Gentile people.

This was a lost opportunity for the Jews but a new opportunity for the Gentiles.

Verse 48 says, “When the Gentiles heard this, they rejoiced and honored the word of the Lord, and all who had been appointed to eternal life believed.”

You see, God was not caught off guard. He knew all along that some of the Jews would reject their Messiah, and He knew all along that some of the Gentiles there that day would believe. Indeed, they were appointed to eternal life.

So, the word of God continued to thrive and continued to spread.

Meanwhile, the Jewish power-players stirred up persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and they were expelled from the region.

Since Paul and Barnabas were no longer welcome there, they symbolized that they were moving on by shaking the dust off their feet.

Indeed, this command was given by Jesus Himself when He was speaking to those He sent out. Matthew 10:14 says, “If anyone does not welcome you or listen to your words, shake the dust off your feet when you leave that house or town.”

You see, there are so many who need to hear the gospel of Jesus Christ that if a person or area rejects it, we can simply move on to the next person or area.

Many of the Jewish leaders in that region lost an opportunity, but how did it affect the disciples?

Verse 52 says, “And the disciples were filled with joy and the Holy Spirit.”

There’s a sweet joy and blessing that comes from the Lord when you are walking in His will, Amen?

Even though they were pushed out of the region, even though some rejected their message, they were filled with joy and the Holy Spirit.

Church, let’s transition now to our bottom line:

‌Bottom Line: God’s servants must maximize gospel opportunities.

When Paul and Barnabas had an opportunity to speak after that first day in the synagogue, they maximized that opportunity.

When Paul and Barnabas had an opportunity to speak in the synagogue the next week, they maximized that opportunity.

When some of the influential Jews rejected the gospel, Paul and Barnabas maximized the opportunity to share the gospel with non-Jewish people.

God’s servants must maximize gospel opportunities.

‌Weekly Challenge #1 – Recall a past gospel opportunity, and think how you could have maximized it.

Sometimes the best way to move forward is to think how we could have handled the past differently.

How could you have maximized opportunities better at school, work, in your home, in your neighborhood, or out in the community? Perhaps a conversation comes to mind? Perhaps a relationship? Maybe even a conflict comes to mind? Reflect upon past opportunities and learn, so by God’s grace, you can be prepared to maximize future gospel opportunities.

(Gospel presentation)

(closing prayer)

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