Summary: How mighty is the Army of God. Do we cower at opposition or do we see the salvation of the Lord?
Those who oppose us
Acts 13:44 to 14:7
How do we look at opposing forces? There are those who oppose the Christian message of Salvation through Jesus Christ alone. There are those who willfully and some not so willfully subvert the message. How do we stand against them? Do we stand in fear? Do we cower in the corner? Do we shut the door, sometimes in fear or sometimes because we cannot be bothered at that time? Remember the words of Elisha to his servant as he saw the multitude of soldiers coming (2 Kings 6:15-17) When the servant of the man of God got up and went out early the next morning, an army with horses and chariots had surrounded the city. "Oh, my lord, what shall we do?" the servant asked.16 "Don’t be afraid," the prophet answered. "Those who are with us are more than those who are with them." 17 And Elisha prayed, "O LORD, open his eyes so he may see." Then the LORD opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.
Those that are with us are more than those who are with them. When we face confrontation over matters of faith, remember those words. In this passage we are also going to see some miraculous things as well. Lets go to the passage and see what the Holy Spirit has for us this day.
AC 13:44 On the next Sabbath almost the whole city gathered to hear the word of the Lord.
Luke talks of the excitement in the city over the message of Paul and Barnabas. In verse 43 we read 43 When the congregation was dismissed, many of the Jews and devout converts to Judaism followed Paul and Barnabas, who talked with them and urged them to continue in the grace of God.
It is no stretch of the imagination that Paul and Barnabas spent that week teaching the people. It is said by J.W. McGarvey Paul’s characteristic zeal, which afterward would cause some sober men to style him a babbler, would not permit him to remain silent for a week, when the tide of public opinion was running so strongly in his favor. The public opinion of Paul and Barnabas must have been high; the town comes out to meet him. This is similar to Samaria with the woman at the well, the whole town comes to meet Him and hear His message. The same is true with Paul and Barnabas, no miracles, but a strong pertinent message. It would be difficult for the almost the whole town to gather in the Synagogue, they were not made to accommodate such large crowds. Why? Were the Jews not very evangelistic? Probably. They were though very high on segregation. Not expecting a high turnover from the Gentiles, they kept the Synagogues in size to the Jewish population. It is possible that they did not meet at the Synagogue because of this, but not likely. This would go against the style and position of Paul and Barnabas. The news of the message of Paul and Barnabas spread throughout Antioch of Pisidia. It is possible that the Jews, the converts to Judaism and the God-fearers sat inside the Synagogue, while the other Gentiles gathered outside. Paul then would have preached from the doorway. The seating arrangement was not like that of chapels today. There were little by way of benches. Most would have sat on mats or laid on the floor, it would be easy then to turn and face the doorway.
45 When the Jews saw the crowds, they were filled with jealousy and talked abusively against what Paul was saying.
The word used for Jealousy is actually the word used for zeal, it denotes wrath, indignation showing they rejected the message. Why? The Gospel is good news to both Jew and Gentile. Yet it threatens the Jews. Why? Paul’s message showed that Jesus is the Only Way. His message threatens the Law, matter of fact that is what James tells Paul when he returns to Jerusalem after his third missionary journey. Why would the Jews see Paul’s message as threatening to the Jewish faith? Paul said in verse 38-39 Therefore, my brothers, I want you to know that through Jesus the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you. 39 Through him everyone who believes is justified from everything you could not be justified from by the law of Moses.
What the Law was unable to do, Jesus did. When the whole identity of the Jewish religion is in the Law of Moses, this is threatening. Paul spoke about how the Law could not save us and how Jesus did. Paul’s letter to the Romans speaks about the Law and how it was a schoolmaster. In Romans 8 Paul tells us the Law was powerless because of the sin nature. This threatens the “identity” of the Jewish people.