(26-52) Paul and Barnabas at Antioch in Pisidia
Paul recounts how Jesus the Christ was condemned and delivered up to be executed by the rulers of Jerusalem, even though they found in him no guilt worthy of death. In this passage, Paul refers to the cross as a tree, because in the Old Testament a Jew who was hanged on a tree became cursed by God. Jesus the Christ became cursed by God for us, so that we could be blessed by God.
Paul shares how the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus was a fulfillment of Old Testament scripture. The enemies of Christ did not know that they were actually fulfilling the will and the word of God, but God is in control of all things and used the hate that many had towards His Son to accomplish His purpose to bring salvation to the world. By simply recounting true events, Paul shows that God is greater than man. He raised His Son from the dead, giving Him eternal power over sin, the grave, and death.
After hearing the message of Paul, many Jews and Gentiles believed. Paul and Barnabas urged them to continue in the grace of God. This phrase is important for us, just as it was important for them, because it is by grace that we are saved. We must not only begin in grace at the start of our walk with God, but we must also continue in grace and end in grace throughout our entire lives. Grace is the firm foundation upon which our Christian life is based.
On the next Sabbath, when Paul and Barnabas were ready to speak the Gospel again, a great crowd was ready to hear them. The Jews, however, became envious of their success and began to contradict and revile them. This opposition did not cause Peter and Barnabas to become silent, but caused them to speak all the more boldly about the Gospel. Since the Jews were unwilling to hear, they determined to go to the Gentiles who received the word of God with rejoicing. Even though Paul and Barnabas faced persecution, they too were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit because doing the work of God brings great pleasure and happiness – no matter how difficult the circumstances may be.
Favorite verse: (37) But he whom God raised up did not see corruption.