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​Acts 17

Part II
A Time to Revisit

In the last teaching about Thessalonica, we began to see Paul’s custom, his manner when he entered a city. We saw Paul’s ethic, his character, his interaction on an individual level, his overall manner of life. Thessalonica gave us the example of his manner of entering in, but God did not give us Paul’s opening teaching in Thessalonica. However, God did give us an example of Paul’s opening teaching in Antioch in Pisidia. To see an example of Paul’s opening teaching would help complete our picture of Paul’s entering a city.

Let’s revisit Antioch in Pisidia where Paul is starting a conversation in the synagogue.

Acts 13:16
Then Paul stood up, and beckoning with his hand said, Men of Israel, and ye that fear God, give audience.

Paul opens with declaring to whom he is about to address. He calls all men of Israel, and all men who reverence God to now hear. It is always important to understand to whom scripture is speaking. Reading into your life that which is addressed to someone else brings only confusion and misunderstanding.

As we have already seen, Paul’s ministry was not exclusively to Gentiles, he was also called to present God’s Gospel of Grace to Israel (Acts 9:15).

Acts 13:17
The God of this people of Israel chose our fathers, and exalted the people when they dwelt as strangers in the land of Egypt, and with an high arm brought he them out of it.

Then, Paul speaks of the goodness of God to Israel, by selecting Israel to receive His Word through Moses, what a high honor indeed. 

Romans 3:1-2
What advantage then hath the Jew? or what profit is there of circumcision? Much every way: chiefly, because that unto them were committed the oracles of God.

In the eyes of the world the Israelites were merely slaves, but God made Israel the masters. God’s goodness has done a similar thing in every administration. Another example would be the apostles standing before the Sanhedrin (Acts 4:13).

1 Corinthians 1:27-29
But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: That no flesh should glory in his presence.

2 Corinthians 4:6-7
For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.

Remember, the purpose of the epistles of Corinthians and Galatians is to bring the believers back to the right doctrine and practice of Romans. In Acts 13 Paul is sharing the principles that are taught in the Epistle to the Romans.

Acts 13:18-21
And about the time of forty years suffered he their manners in the wilderness. And when he had destroyed seven nations in the land of Chanaan, he divided their land to them by lot. And after that he gave unto them judges about the space of four hundred and fifty years, until Samuel the prophet. And afterward they desired a king: and God gave unto them Saul the son of Cis, a man of the tribe of Benjamin, by the space of forty years.

From this point in Egypt, Paul begins to remind Israel, and show to the Gentiles, the goodness of God as He dealt with Israel. Paul gives those who are listening a brief history lesson of God working with the Nation of Israel up to King David. During this history lesson Paul emphasizes the goodness of God. 

God brought Israel through the wilderness and removed the nations that occupied the land God had promised to Israel. Then, God divided the land among the tribes, all receiving their just portion. God gave them judges that delivered Israel, and the great prophet Samuel to guide Israel. Then, when Israel desired a king, God gave them a king. God has been good to Israel, even while they were rejecting God.

I want to add at this point that not all of Israel received the promise of the land, only those who believed. The same will be true when the fulness of this promise of the land is fulfilled in the Millennial Kingdom. (Hebrews 11:6)

Paul is introducing Antioch to the doctrine of Romans. This is Paul’s custom in every city he enters, for Romans is the foundational teaching of the Administration of Grace. The Epistle to the Romans details what God did through the accomplishments of Jesus Christ. God is not a respecter of persons; however, He does respect believing His message.

Romans 2:11-14
For there is no respect of persons with God. For as many as have sinned without law shall also perish without law: and as many as have sinned in the law shall be judged by the law; (For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified. For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves:

To receive from God, you must believe Him! Believing is not an action, it is a function of the heart. Actions come second; the heart leads the way to the promises of God.

Paul continues sharing about the goodness of God.

Romans 2:4
Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?

This verse in Romans, although addressed to the Administration of Grace, has application to each administration beginning in Genesis chapter 1. The goodness of God is a Truth for all times, for it is the character and nature of God. Fear of hell does not lead a man to repent, seeing God’s goodness changes the heart of a man.

The history lesson of God’s goodness to Israel continues until King David. 

Acts 13:22
And when he had removed him, he raised up unto them David to be their king; to whom also he gave their testimony, and said, I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after mine own heart, which shall fulfil all my will.

God has always looked to a man’s heart to gage the man (1 Samuel 16:5-7).

Romans 2:28-29
For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: but he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.

Remember Proverbs 4:23, out of the heart are the issues of life

Acts 13:23
Of this man's seed hath God according to his promise raised unto Israel a Saviour, Jesus: 

Romans 1:3
Concerning his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh. 

God is good and God is faithful to His Word. 

Paul is building the case for Jesus being the Messiah of Israel beginning with the ministry of John the Baptist, coming in the spirit of Elijah.

Malachi 3:1
Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: and the LORD, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, he shall come, saith the LORD of hosts.

Acts 13:24-25
When John had first preached before his coming the baptism of repentance to all the people of Israel. And as John fulfilled his course, he said, whom think ye that I am? I am not he. But behold, there cometh one after me, whose shoes of his feet I am not worthy to loose.

Paul brings them to John, who came in the spirit of Elijah as prophesied in Malachi and Luke.

Malachi 4:5-6
Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD: And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse. 

God shows us in the prophecy to Zacharias that John would indeed come in the spirit of Elijah, to prepare a people for the Lord (Luke 1:17). However, the religious leadership in Israel were looking for a flesh and blood Elijah to return. To being their flesh and blood Elijah, John said no, probably with an uncharacteristic smile, enjoying their guessing game for a moment (John 1:19-23).

Meanwhile, back in Acts 13…

Acts 13:26
Men and brethren, children of the stock of Abraham, and whosoever among you feareth God, to you is the word of this salvation sent.

Romans 4:23-25
Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed [logizomai = accounted, it could not be imputed to Abraham because it was not yet available until Christ was raised] to him; but for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead; who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification.

“It shall be” is in the present tense, active voice, indicative mood. That means, right now, present tense, active voice, the moment you believe, indicative mood, it is a fact. While “imputed” is in the present tense and passive voice meaning God is taking the action of your justification and righteousness when you believe. This agrees with what Paul is teaching in Antioch about justification being available immediately upon belief. Therefore, this phrase would read, “it is given immediately.” What we have written in the King James Version is a poor translation.

Romans 5:8
But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

Romans 1:16
For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. 

We learned in Romans 1:1 that it is the Gospel of God, “of Christ” is not in the Critical Greek text.

Acts 13:27-29
For they that dwell at Jerusalem, and their rulers, because they knew him not, nor yet the voices of the prophets which are read every sabbath day, they have fulfilled them in condemning him. And though they found no cause of death in him, yet desired they Pilate that he should be slain. 

Romans 2:17-21
Behold, thou art called a Jew, and restest in the law, and makest thy boast of God, and knowest his will, and approvest the things that are more excellent, being instructed out of the law; and art confident that thou thyself art a guide of the blind, a light of them which are in darkness, an instructor of the foolish, a teacher of babes, which hast the form of knowledge and of the truth in the law. Thou therefore which teachest another, teachest thou not thyself? thou that preachest a man should not steal, dost thou steal?

The leadership in Jerusalem were hearers of the Law, not doers of the Law. Had they been doers of the Law, they would have recognized the Messiah standing before them.

Paul teaches there is one savior, who fulfilled the perfect sacrifice and was given the victory by God raising him out from among the dead. To his resurrection, there were many witnesses.

Acts 13:30-31
But God raised him from the dead: And he was seen many days of them which came up with him from Galilee to Jerusalem, who are his witnesses unto the people.

1 Corinthians 15:4-6
And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: and that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve: after that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep.

Consider Romans, chapter 10

Romans 10:9-10
That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

Confess Jesus as Lord and believe God raised him from the dead!
No works, no burden, no ambiguity, only confess and believe.

Romans 1:3-4
Concerning his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh; and declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead:

Now back to Acts and Paul opening the scriptures unto them.

Acts 13:32-33
And we declare unto you glad tidings, how that the promise, which was made unto the fathers, God hath fulfilled the same unto us their children, in that he hath raised up Jesus again; as it is also written in the second psalm, thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee.

Paul continues to use Old Testament scriptures concerning the Messiah, but Paul is still teaching the doctrine of Romans.

Romans 3:21
But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets.

Continuing in Acts 13:34 Paul goes to the Old Testament about God raising the Messiah from the dead. He is teaching through the figure of speech gnome. gnome is not the short, funny guy with the pointed hat, who hangs out in your garden. As cute as he might be, Paul is using a figure of speech. A gnome is a figure of speech, defined by Dr. Bullinger as, “the citation, or quoting, of a profitable saying to express a universal maxim.”1 There are two major groupings of this figure of speech with variations in each group. Another use of the figure of speech gnome is to quote a verse of scripture but use it with a different application by placing it in a whole new context.

Acts 13:34
And as concerning that he raised him up from the dead, now no more to return to corruption, he said on this wise, I will give you the sure mercies of David.

The “sure mercies of David,” through the figure of speech Catachresis, where mercies are put for promises made to David. 

In 2 Samuel 7 God promises David that his throne will be established forever. In Acts 13:34 that promise begins with the resurrection from the dead of Jesus Christ, the future King of kings.

Romans 4:6-8
Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works, saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin.

Now, back to Acts.

Acts 13:35-37
Wherefore he saith also in another psalm, thou shalt not suffer thine Holy One to see corruption. For David, after he had served his own generation by the will of God, fell on sleep, and was laid unto his fathers, and saw corruption: But he, whom God raised again, saw no corruption.

Paul has presented to those in the synagogue in Antioch in Pisidia, the opportunity to receive the salvation of God and the righteousness of God, through the accomplished life, and death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. 

Romans 1:16-17
For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, the just shall live by faith.

Then, Paul tells them how to receive.

Acts 13:38-39
Be it known unto you therefore, men and brethren, that through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins: And by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses.

“By him all that believe” have forgiveness and justification! The Old Testament sacrifice of an animal was temporary, it was required yearly. But the sacrifice of Jesus was once, for all peoples and for all time, as long as they did not already belong to the Adversary by seed.

Again, justification is in the present tense and the passive voice. It is available the moment you believe. It is received, passive voice, without any input, without any works from you, only believe.

Romans 3:24-26
Being justified [present tense, passive voice] freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation [literally = mercy seat] through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; to declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.

The word “propitiation” is the Greek word hilasterion. Blue Letter Bible says it means, “used of the cover of the ark of the covenant in the holy of holies, which was sprinkled with the blood of the expiatory victim on the annual day of atonement (this rite signifying that the life of the people, the loss of which they merited by their sins, was offered to God in the blood as the life of the victim…) 2 

Jesus Christ laid down his life as the perfect sacrifice bringing justification for all of mankind, both Judean and Gentile. The only condition, you must believe. In this synagogue in Antioch in Pisidia, the people need to believe what Paul is saying. For future generations, you must believe what God inspired Paul to write in the Epistle to the Romans.

The image God drew using the mercy seat, throughout the centuries of the celebration of the Feast of the Day of Atonement, was the sprinkling of the blood, on the mercy seat, from the substitute of the slain but innocent animal, paying the price for the sins of Israel. (Hebrews 10:1) After the price had been paid God would commune with the High Priest, once a year. God invokes the same imagery when He used the Greek word hilasterioin Romans 3:25.

God, through the ministry of the Apostle Paul, is showing Israel and the Gentiles, what He has made available, right now, through His mercy and grace. God inspires Paul to set these Truths before people with his opening teaching as he enters every city.

Does that mean Paul said the exact same thing and used the exact same verses in every city? No, it does not. Have you ever taught the same thing more than one time? Have you ever shared the same principle more than one time? Each time you share a thing it comes out in a different way, but to the same point, the same conclusion.  

In bringing the Feast of the Day of Atonement to the mind of the Israelites they would be considering the communing of God with the High Priest. As I just said, God used the same imagery for us in Romans chapter 3. Consider 1 Corinthians 2.

1 Corinthians 2:9
But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.

Paul is quoting Isaiah 64. Isaiah is praying for Israel who is in captivity in Babylon. The Temple is gone, and the people are in bondage. Isaiah is praying for a future he cannot see and does not understand. Paul using the figure of speech gnome is speaking of the believers in the Administration of Grace, specifically to the Corinthians. Instead of not seeing the future as in Isaiah, the Corinthians could not see the greatness of the mystery because of the strife and division they were experiencing as they walked as carnal men. 

1 Corinthians 2:7
But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory:

Corinth is divided. They are acting as carnal men (1 Corinthians 3:1-2). Paul is telling them the things of the mystery are amazing. But they will not see them as long as they struggle with the doctrine of Romans. As long as they look at the flesh of men, the mystery will be out of their grasp. But for those who see the mystery, “eye has not seen, nor ear heard…”

1 Corinthians 2:10
But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit [His gift of holy spirit]: for the Spirit [my new nature] searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.

God’s gift of holy spirit enables believers in our administration to commune with God, not once a year, not by one man only, but every believer, every day, multiple times every day. We get to commune with God.

Let’s read verse 39 again.

Acts 13:39
And by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses.

Romans 3:22
Even the righteousness of God which is by faith [the accomplished believing] of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference:

The word translated “by” is the Greek word dia. We have looked at dia in previous teachings, it means through or by means of when used in the genitive case, as it is here. It is by means of the accomplished believing of Jesus that the justification and righteousness of God became available to mankind in the Administration of Grace. Our spiritual identification is in Jesus Christ. What that man accomplished, abounded to us through God’s grace and mercy, to our spiritual life and union with our Heavenly Father.

Paul is teaching the doctrine of Romans when he stands to start a conversation in Antioch in Pisidia. We have been reading about Paul’s manner, his custom in Thessalonica. Paul’s custom in teaching was to first teach the doctrine of Romans in every city he entered. 


Because Romans is our identification in Christ. It explains our justification and our righteousness. It is our relationship with our Heavenly Father as His newly adopted child. By birth we are the progeny of Adam. As an heir of Adam, we are identified with his sin resulting in condemnation and death. But by our spiritual adoption we enter the glorious light of redemption and reconciliation, so that grace may have dominion because of righteousness unto our eternal life through Jesus Christ.

Romans 5:21
That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord  

Our picture of Paul’s manner and custom of entering into a city is almost complete. There is still one aspect we have not looked at that will bring to completeness Paul’s manner when he entered a city. For this last aspect we need to revisit the city of Lystra.

Acts 14:7-11
And there they preached the gospel. And there sat a certain man at Lystra, impotent in his feet, being a cripple from his mother's womb, who never had walked: The same heard Paul speak: who stedfastly beholding him, and perceiving that he had faith to be healed, said with a loud voice, Stand upright on thy feet. And he leaped and walked. And when the people saw what Paul had done, they lifted up their voices, saying in the speech of Lycaonia, the gods are come down to us in the likeness of men.

It was Paul’s custom to enter a city not just with words but also with power in manifestation. First, as in verse 7, Paul would speak God’s Word, declaring, as we have just seen, the doctrine found in the Epistle to the Romans, and this lame man heard Paul speak. You must hear the will of God before you can believe the will of God.

Romans 4:19-21
And being not weak in faith, he considered not his own body now dead, when he was about an hundred years old, neither yet the deadness of Sarah's womb: He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God; And being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform.

Romans 8:11
But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you. 

Then Paul perceiving, horao in the Greek, meaning to see, to know, to see with the mind. Believing comes from the heart, you cannot see another’s heart, but you can see with your mind when you receive revelation from God about another person’s heart. Paul, by revelation, knew the lame man had the believing to be healed. So, Paul, in a loud voice, declared, “Stand upright on thy feet,” and the man leaped and walked. Praise God!

This was Paul’s manner in every city he spoke the Gospel of God’s Grace. He spoke God’s Word and manifested the power of God. We have seen this verse before, but it bears repeating every day until we drive it into our minds and heart.

2 Corinthians 4:7
But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.

When Paul and Barnabas were in Iconium.

Acts 14:3
Long time therefore abode they speaking boldly in the Lord, which gave testimony unto the word of his grace, and granted signs and wonders to be done by their hands. 

When Paul, and Silas, and Timothy were in Philippi. 

Acts 16:16-18
And it came to pass, as we went to prayer, a certain damsel possessed with a spirit of divination met us, which brought her masters much gain by soothsaying: The same followed Paul and us, and cried, saying, these men are the servants of the most high God, which shew unto us the way of salvation. And this did she many days. But Paul, being grieved, turned and said to the spirit, I command thee in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her. And he came out the same hour.

When Paul, and Silas, and Timothy were in Thessalonica.

1 Thessalonians 1:5
For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance; as ye know what manner of men we were among you for your sake.

When Paul and Barnabas went to a council meeting in Jerusalem and spoke of the cities they had visited.

Acts 15:12
Then all the multitude kept silence, and gave audience to Barnabas and Paul, declaring what miracles and wonders God had wrought among the Gentiles by them.

In the Epistle to the Thessalonians God showed us Paul’s character of tenderness and compassion, the joy and thankfulness. His renewed mind walk in the love of God, the practical side of the Epistle to the Romans. 

In Antioch in Pisidia God showed us how Paul presented the goodness of God, the doctrinal side of justification and righteousness in the Epistle to the Romans. 

In Lystra God showed us the power in manifestation of the God in Christ, in the Apostle Paul.

All aspects, on display, in every city.

No wonder they, all the believers working together through Christ, turned the world upside down.

1Corinthians 4:15-17
For though ye have ten thousand instructers in Christ, yet have ye not many fathers: for in Christ Jesus, I have begotten you through the gospel. Wherefore I beseech you, be ye followers [mimetes = imitator] of me. For this cause have I sent unto you Timotheus, who is my beloved son, and faithful in the Lord, who shall bring you into remembrance of my ways which be in Christ, as I teach everywhere in every church.

First, imitate another believer if you see that the believer has a strong walk on God’s Word, “my ways which be in Christ.

1 Corinthians 11:1
Be ye followers [mimetes = imitators] of me, even as I also am of Christ.

Then you will see that the stronger believer has been imitating Christ as the Head of the Body.

Ephesians 5:1
Be ye therefore followers [mimetes = imitators] of God, as dear children.

Ultimately, you will understand and realize that Christ is imitating his Heavenly Father and that all believers can imitate our Heavenly Father. For God has made us like unto Himself by creating His nature of Holy Spirit, within us through His gift of grace.

This then is the completed picture of Paul’s manner of entering a city. He came teaching the doctrine of Romans, while living the practical aspects of Romans, and manifesting the power of God in agathos works. 

If there is more to Paul’s manner, this too God will reveal unto us as we search His Word.


1. Figures of Speech Used in the Bible, Dr. E.W. Bullinger, page 778
2. G2435 - hilastērion - Strong's Greek Lexicon (kjv) (

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A Journey through the Book of Acts