Category Archives: Books

What does the Southern Baptist Convention have to do with slavery?

Last month, we made available a couple Baptist history books in the Jimmie Beller Memorial eLibrary (to read our explanation of why we did it, read here).  We received some encouraging comments from posting those books, and so we are going to give you another one, which we truly think you will find worthwhile.

If you’re wondering what all this has to do with the title of today’s post, keep reading.

Today’s free book is called “A History of the Baptists in the Southern States.”  It was written by Benjamin Franklin (B.F.) Riley, a noted Baptist professor, back in 1898, and was published by the American Baptist Publication Society.  In other words, this is a purely Baptist book, not one written by someone with an agenda against them.

Southern States(0)

It is important that we note that, because some of the things he writes about are things which most modern-day Baptists don’t know–and many would probably staunchly deny.  For example, there is an entire chapter on how slavery, and the south’s defense of it, was the reason why the Southern Baptist Convention was created.  There is another entire chapter on the Baptist Church and the Negro, in which it is stated that if not for slavery, black people would be barbarians.  Add to that a section dealing with Alexander Campbell, and an explanation of several of the different Baptist branches (Freewill, Primitive, Two-seed-in-the-spirit Predestinarians, Seventh-Day Baptists, and more), and you have a book that is well worth reading.

As always, we have taken this book and completely reformatted it, adding footnotes where necessary, and given it a thorough proofreading.

This book is FREE in the Jimmie Beller Memorial eLibrary, or you can purchase a copy of this new edition in print from Amazon here.

To read it online, or to download for later reading, simply click the link below.

History of the Baptists in the Southern States (eBook)

-Bradley S. Cobb

So, we’ve missed a month… have a gift on us.

I’m sure you’ve noticed, but we haven’t posted anything new for about a month now.  I could rattle off a lot of different things that have happened which kept me from getting things done here, but the gist of it is that we’ve been swamped with life, work, and death here locally.  And with everything going on, pressing for my time and attention, something had to give for a while, and posting new material here was the victim.

But we’re back!

So, today we’ve got a new freebie for you, and tomorrow we’ve got a GREAT BIG ANNOUNCEMENT!

I’m really trying to hold my tongue (so to speak) on what we’ve got in the works (and it involves some material that has never before been available ANYWHERE–and some of it is going to be free!).  So, please check back in tomorrow for the big announcement!

Today’s freebie is pertinent, considering the political divide in our country.  One one side, you have people calling capitalism and free enterprise “evil,” and on the other side, you have people who point to Socialism as “evil.”

In 1951, Dr. James D. Bales presented a lecture at Harding College, entitled “Christ and the Problem of Private Ownership of Property in the Present-Day World.”  In this lecture, Bales addresses the biblical evidence regarding ownership of property, and shows how it applies to the economic systems of Free Enterprise and Socialism, and shows which system fits with biblical commands.

We have taken the time to proofread and reformat this lecture for you, just like always!  To read online, or to download for later perusal, simply click the link below!

The Right of Private Property (James D. Bales)

-Bradley S. Cobb

Freebies for the New Year

First, allow me to apologize.  The day after Christmas, I wrote that a book called “Origin of the Disciples of Christ” was available as a free download in the Jimmie Beller Memorial eLibrary.  Well, I meant for it to be there, but apparently I didn’t get it done.

It is there now (look under “Restoration Movement”).

But there are also a couple other free books added to the Library, that I want to tell you about.  And these might seem strange, so I’m telling you about them now, so you’ll understand why we are posting them.

First, there is a book called “A History of the Rise and Progress of the Baptists in Virginia.”  It was originally written in 1809, and then updated in 1894 (or thereabouts).  It gives some of the history of a man named Jacob Creath Sr., who later left the Baptist Church to simply be a Christian.  His nephew, Jacob Creath Jr., is one of the best-known gospel preachers of the second half of the 1800s.

Virginia Baptists

In addition to Mr. Creath, there is random mentions of others who left the Baptist Church to join “the Reformers” or “the views of A. Campbell.”  That is, some of the men described in this book left the Baptist Church in order to simply follow the Bible, and become a Christian as those in the Bible did.

Also, and this is perhaps the most interesting feature of this book, it gives some tidbits about the doctrinal stances of many of the first Baptist Churches in Virginia.  And this may surprise you.  Most of them were decidedly not Calvinistic at all.  They rejected the idea of the direct operation of the Holy Spirit, and asked men to respond to the gospel of Jesus Christ.  Not only that, but several times in this book, allusion is made to baptism being required in order to be made right with God.  That is, it sure reads like they taught baptism was for the remission of sins, in order to be saved.

Secondly, there is a book titled “A History of the Baptists in the Middle States,” by Henry C. Vedder. You might start scratching your head here, too, but let me explain.

BaptistsMiddleStates

In this book, there is a chapter on controversies, and the first half is dedicated to the Restoration Movement’s effect on the Baptist Church in the 1820s and 30s.  For the most part, Mr. Vedder is fair with the discussion, even stating that his Baptist brethren were ignorant for taking issue with Alexander Campbell’s Sermon on the Law (which can be found in Historical Documents Advocating Christian Union, also free in the Jimmie Beller library).

In addition, he mentions very plainly that the first Baptist Churches in New York were very anti-Calvinistic as well.

It is very interesting that the Baptist churches of today in those areas are descended from men who they would call heretics.  But it may just be the other way around…

Both of these books can be found in the “Church History” section of the Jimmie Beller Memorial eLibrary.

-Bradley S. Cobb

The Quarterly has Arrived!

You probably remember a few months ago that we made the announcement of a new publication, called The Quarterly.  In fact, we even made the Preview Edition available as a free download.  Now, we want to share the news with you…

The first official issue of the Quarterly is now available!

quarterly01_front

ARTICLES INCLUDE:

  • Editorial: An Important Note
  • Insights from Seasoned Ministers: Loren Gieger
  • Insights from Seasoned Ministers: Stafford North
  • Equipping (Jim Mitchell)
  • The Lost Sermons of H. Leo Boles (Kyle Frank)
  • Elders in the Old Testament (Richard Mansel)
  • I Can Do All Things Through Christ Which Strengtheneth Me (Roderick Ross)
  • Not Always Roaring… (Bill Howard)
  • Restoration Moments: The Conversion of Blue Dick (William Baxter)
  • Divine Peace (Jake Schotter)
  • The Parable of the Lighted Candle (Devin Self)
  • CHRISTIANS: Different Cultures, Different Races, Different Generations, Different People (Joseph T. McWhorter)
  • Biblical Biography: Barnabas (Bradley S. Cobb)
  • Quotes
  • What Ever Happened to Shepherding? (Jamie Beller)
  • Paul Darst: A Novel (Daniel R. Lucas)
  • Funny and Not-So-Funny Events in the Life of Elijah Martindale (Elijah Martindale and Bradley S. Cobb)
  • Poetry Corner (Deserae Cobb)
  • Sons and Daughters of Encouragement (Gerald Cowan)
  • Tabernacle Shadows (Mark McWhorter)
  • Preparing Yourself to Conduct Bible Studies (James Sims Sr.)
  • Hospitality Revisited (Perry Hall)
  • The Practical Atheist (Gantt Carter)
  • Book Review: Bobby Gayton’s My Thorn in the Flesh: A Vietnam Veteran Speaks about PTSD and the Bible (William Howard)
  • Bible Q&A: What was Paul’s “Thorn in the Flesh”? (Bradley S. Cobb)
  • Children’s Puzzle Page: WHO AM I? (Questions from the Book of Esther)

If you already subscribe, then look for your copy to arrive this week.  If you don’t already subscribe, but want to, you can do that here.  If you want just a single issue, you can get it on Amazon by clicking here.

Thanks for all your support and for reading what we have to write!  There will be more real articles coming soon!

-Bradley S. Cobb

Post-Christmas Freebies

We’ve got some new free stuff for you!

front-cover

This book contains the most important documents of the early Restoration Movement writers, as well as a couple second and third generation writings.

*The Last Will and Testament of the Springfield Presbytery (Barton W. Stone)
*The Declaration and Address (Thomas Campbell)
*The Sermon on the Law (Alexander Campbell)
*Our Position (Isaac Errett)
*The World’s Need of Our Plea (J.H. Garrison)

Also included are introductions to each document/writer by Charles A. Young.

origindisciplescover1

William Whitsitt was a Baptist professor whose stated purpose was to prove that the church of Christ (known popularly as “the Disciples of Christ”) was nothing more than the offspring of the Sandemanians, a group which Baptists and some others had labelled as heretics years earlier.  George W. Longan, a preacher of the gospel, wrote a book of in reply, exposing the ludicrous reasoning (if such it could be called) of Whitsitt, and made it abundantly clear by also including scathing reviews of Whitsitt’s book–reviews that were written by his own Baptist brethren!

Updated, with a whole bunch of brand-new footnotes by yours truly.

BOTH of these books are now available in the Jimmie Beller Memorial eLibrary (look under the “Restoration Movement” heading).

-Bradley S. Cobb

This… is why we’ve been so quiet here lately

We’ve been trying to keep our lips sealed as much as possible, but we’ve finally decided it is time to break the silence.

Over the past couple months (and it is still ongoing), we’ve been working on several projects, and we want to tell you about some of them today!

Bible Broadband

This book, written by our good friend, Stephane (“Stefan”) Maillet, creator of AddedSouls.com, and the “Added to the church of Christ (Acts 2:47)” Facebook page, is a brief collection of tips and tactics for effectively reaching people with the gospel via social media (Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, etc.).  Interspersed throughout the 52-page book are actual messages these endeavors have received from people he’s never met in person, showing the impact that one can have for Christ through this medium.

cover5 backcover

100% of the profits from the sale of this book go to help this worthy and dedicated Canadian preacher in his efforts for Jesus Christ.

Paperback, $6.99
digital, $2.99

Evenings with the Bible

This three-volume collection of in-depth Bible studies, full of practical application and encouragement for a deeper faith in God, Christ, and the Bible, is now available in a brand-new, updated, corrected, and fully-reformatted edition, complete with new explanatory footnotes for any obscure or archaic words.evenings01front evenings02front evenings03front

Volume 1: Genesis through Solomon
Volume 2: Rehoboam through Esther
Volume 3: John the Baptist, the early life and ministry of Jesus, and the characteristics of Christianity.

Each book is approximately 280 pages, and will be officially released January 3rd, but we are taking pre-orders now.

3-Volume Set (paperback): $24.00 (Regularly $32.00)
Digital 3-Volume set: $7.00 (Regularly $12.99)

Recollections of Men of Faith

This is a Restoration Movement book unlike any other.  Stories, incidents, anecdotes (humorous and not-so-humorous), and reflections on pioneer preachers, written by someone who knew and traveled with them.  Why did Alexander Campbell request tobacco before speaking?  Why was B.F. Hall afraid of cats in the worship? Why did John T. Johnson tell a group of girls not to be interested in a young preacher who was traveling with him?  What caused Jacob Creath to break down in tears in the forest?  These and many other interesting tidbits are revealed in this book by W. C. Rogers.

recollectionsfront recollectionsrear

194 pages, completely updated, corrected, reformatted, and includes explanatory footnotes where necessary.

Officially available January 3rd, this book is now available for pre-order.

Paperback: $8.95 (Regularly $10.95)
Digital: $2.99 (Regularly $5.99)

Dawn of the Reformation in Missouri

This book chronicles the rise of the Restoration Movement (which they then called “The Present Reformation”) in the state of Missouri, and gives biographical sketches of several well-known servants of the Lord, but also some others who are not as well-known.  In its 36 chapters (not counting the introductory section on the history of Missouri), well over 50 faithful gospel preachers are covered.  This book is quite encouraging in showing what men of God went through to bring souls to Jesus Christ, and gives great examples for faithfulness and devotion to God that we would do well to emulate.

dawnofreformation-front dawnofreformation-rear

Officially Available January 24th, this 339-page book is also available for pre-order at a discounted price!

Paperback: $9.95 (Regularly $13.99)
Digital: $3.99 (Regularly $5.99)

Other Projects

In addition to these projects above, work is still ongoing on our book, Who Were the Apostles? as well as on our book on Revelation, our Sermon Commentary on Mark, and the first issue of the Quarterly.

That, and about 19 more projects that we hope to have finished and available by the end of January.  Look for more announcements in the coming days and weeks.

Thanks for taking the time to read this, and please don’t hesitate to contact us with any questions.

Bradley S. Cobb

From Murderer to Missionary – The Life of the Apostle Paul (Part Nine)

ApostlesLogo

Returning to Antioch

Paul must have been quite the sight as he entered into Derbe.  But people listened to what he and Barnabas taught, and many obeyed the divine commands.  After an apparently persecution-free visit there,1 they returned to the scene of the stoning, Lystra, and met again with the souls who had obeyed the blessed gospel, encouraging them, grounding them in the truth, and warning them that they will have difficult times ahead of them—but that the eternal reward is worth the tribulation here on earth.  How powerful this message must have been when coming from the one who had been viciously attacked and left for dead by an angry mob!  He tells them that even though he was nearly killed, it was worth it for heaven!  Then, from among the gathered disciples, Paul and Barnabas selected and ordained men to serve as elders.2

Departing from Lystra, he returned to Iconium—the same city that he had to flee from in order to avoid being stoned earlier; the same city that was home to some of the very Jews who had chased him to Lystra and actually caused the stoning that left him looking dead.  This shows incredible boldness on the part of Jesus’ own chosen apostle.3  There, he and Barnabas did as they did in Lystra: encouraging the saints to persevere under pressure, and selecting and ordaining godly men to serve as elders.

Doing the same thing in Antioch of Pisidia, they then returned to Perga (where John Mark had left them) and preached the gospel there before going to Attalia and sailing back to Antioch of Syria, from which they had been called by the Holy Spirit in the first place.

Once they returned to Antioch, they gathered the church together and reported all the things that had happened to them.  You can imagine the smiles when Paul shared the joyful news of the obedient believers; the looks of surprise and horror when they described the priest of Zeus and the crowds in Lystra trying to worship mere men; the shock and compassion when Paul’s near-death experience was mentioned.  They were certainly pleased and encouraged by the response to the gospel by the Gentiles, and welcomed these two men back as beloved brothers in Christ.  Paul and Barnabas stayed in Antioch “a long time” after returning.4

-Bradley S. Cobb

1 It seems most likely that, after believing Paul to be dead, the Jewish persecutors thought the matter over, and went back home.  Paul probably didn’t make his entrance into the city a public event or spectacle, and his departure was probably the same way, giving the persecutors no reason to stay.  Thus, they wouldn’t have heard about Paul’s work in Derbe until much later.

2 Acts 14:21-23.  See 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1 for the characteristics that the chosen men had.  There are those who claim that these are simply guidelines, suggestions for those who want to serve as elders; but the Scripture says that an elder must be those things, possess those character traits.  If a man doesn’t meet those qualifications, then he can call himself an elder all he wants—but according to God, he isn’t an elder.  Instead, he is a usurper of the divinely-given office, and will have to give an account to God for his usurpation of authority that doesn’t belong to him.

3 It is possible that the return visits to Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch of Pisidia did not involve public preaching, but were instead private, inconspicuous visits.  Paul would not have wanted to push his persecutors into repeating their murderous attempt at Lystra.

4 All of these events can be found described in Acts 14:21-28.

From Murderer to Missionary – The Life of the Apostle Paul (Part Eight)

ApostlesLogo

The Conflicts in Iconium and Lystra

In Iconium, Paul preached in the synagogue, and a “great multitude” of Jews and Greeks obeyed the gospel.1  The Jews who refused to believe riled up the Gentiles against Paul and Barnabas, but these two men continued for a long time to speak boldly, and silenced some of the opposition by their bold preaching and accompanying miracles.  However, the Jews wouldn’t stop, and eventually convinced some of the Gentiles to join with them in a mob for the purpose of assaulting and stoning God’s missionaries.  Paul and Barnabas discovered their intent and fled to the cities of Lystra and Derbe, where they commenced preaching again.2

While preaching in Lystra, Paul stared intently at a man who was listening to the sermon.  This man was sitting (most likely on the ground), because he was physically incapable of standing.  In fact, he was crippled from birth, and had never walked.  This man, listening, believed what Paul was preaching, and Paul could see that the man had faith to be saved.3  So Paul spoke very loudly, assuring that all the people could hear what he said, “Stand up on your feet!”  And not only did the man stand, but he also amazed the crowd by jumping and walking.4

This brought out a reaction that even Paul and Barnabas couldn’t have foreseen—the people started shouting that “The gods have come down to us in the form of men!”5  Barnabas, apparently the stronger figure, they called Zeus;6 while Paul, the main speaker, they called Hermes.7  The priest of the temple of Zeus was so excited (and perhaps quite concerned about offending the gods) that he brought oxen to sacrifice, and garlands to decorate them with.8  The people all joined in with the desire and cry to sacrifice to these mighty gods who had come to bless them with their presence.

Upset and anxious to stop them—for only the God of heaven is worthy of worship—Paul and Barnabas tore their clothing, running through the chanting crowd, shouting:

“Why are you doing these things?  We are humans, the same as you, and we are telling you to turn from these empty things, and to the living God, who made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and everything that is in them; who in times past permitted all nations to walk in their own ways.  However, He did not leave Himself without testimony, in that He did Good, and gave us rain from heaven, and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness.”9

Even with these earnest pleadings, these denials of godhood, they just barely were able to keep the people from sacrificing to them.  The crowd must have been confused by their actions, but some were willing to listen, and several obeyed the gospel.10

While Paul and Barnabas were in Lystra,11 the Jews who had tried to kill Paul in Iconium and Antioch arrived and stirred up the people—quite possibly on the heels of the two missionaries finally calming them down from their fervor to sacrifice.  These Jews persuaded the people—almost certainly accusing God’s messengers of rejecting Zeus and Hermes—and stirred them into such a frenzy that they began to pelt Paul with rocks and stones, knocking him to the ground and continuing the assault until he lay motionless.  Believing he was dead, they dragged his bruised and bloodied body outside the city and left him there.  But while the believers stood sadly around his beaten form, their hearts leapt with joy when they saw movement—Paul moved!  He was alive!  He got up from the ground, and walked back into the city.  But the next day, he and Barnabas left and traveled to Derbe.12

-Bradley S. Cobb

1 Acts 14:1.  As noted earlier in this chapter, the biblical writers often use the word “believe” to describe the entire process of salvation.  The reason for this is that true faith (the noun form of the word “believe”) is always accompanied with obedience, as proven abundantly by Hebrews 11.

2 Acts 14:1-7.  Paul was only stoned once, according to his own account, and that didn’t happen until he was in Lystra (Acts 14:19-20; 2 Corinthians 11:25).

3 Acts 14:8-9.  The word translated “healed” (or some synonym) in almost every translation is the Greek word sozo, which is usually translated “saved”—93 of the 120 times it appears, in fact.  It seems incredible that when Paul is preaching the gospel, the man’s reaction and faith has nothing to do with being cleansed from sins, but only on being healed of his physical infirmity.  If the faith that came from hearing Paul’s sermon was faith in miraculous healing ability, then Paul preached quite a different gospel here than in other places.  If this word were translated “saved,” like it is so many other times in the New Testament, then there would be no confusion.  H.T. Anderson, in his 1865 translation of the New Testament, and his 1918 translation of the Sinaitic Manuscript, did just that.

4 Acts 14:10.

5 Acts 14:11.  This was a common theme in ancient literature.  See the works of Homer, for example.  Much of the legends surrounding the pantheon of gods include one of the gods coming to earth as a human and consorting with a human, bringing about demigods.  Given that these legends and myths were heavily promoted, especially by the priests of the pagan temples where worship to these “gods” was conducted, it shouldn’t really that surprising that the people would have this reaction.  Since they believed in a plethora of gods, and their literature had said that gods frequently came to earth and walked around as humans, it was logical for them to conclude that the miracle-working men must be gods.

6 Acts 14:12.  The KJV says “Jupiter,” but the Greek is Zeus.  The Romans basically assimilated the legends of the gods into their culture and gave them new names.  What in Greek was Zeus, the Romans called “Jupiter.”

7 Acts 14:12.  KJV says “Mercury,” but the Greek is Hermes.  Hermes was the messenger god, the god of speech and eloquence.  See Robertson’s Word Pictures and Vincent’s Word Studies on this passage for more details.

8 Acts 14:13.  It was common for oxen to be sacrificed to Zeus during this time, and the garlands were used to decorate them during the sacrifices.  See Matthew Henry’s commentary on this verse.

9 Acts 14:14-17.

10 Acts 14:18.  The text doesn’t describe anyone being converted, though the healed man (14:8-10) certainly would have obeyed the gospel, and there were others, because when Paul is stoned and left for dead, “the disciples” stood around him (14:20).  Whether these people obeyed the gospel prior to the healing and the sacrificial attempts, or between that event and the arrival of the Jews, is not made clear.

11 The inspired text does not tell us how long there is between the sacrificial fiasco and the arrival of Jewish perpetrators.  It could have taken place the same day, or it could have been several weeks later.  The way the text reads, it is quite possible that these Jews arrived while the sacrificial attempts were taking place, and stirred up the people, accusing Paul and Barnabas of denying the power of the great Zeus and Hermes.

12 Acts 14:19-20.

From Murderer to Missionary – The Life of the Apostle Paul (Part Seven)

ApostlesLogo

The Conflict in Antioch of Pisidia

Upon their arrival in Antioch of Pisidia, a free Roman city, they entered the Jewish synagogue on the Sabbath, and they sat down for the reading of the Law and the Prophets.  The rulers of the synagogue (that is, the ones in charge of the Sabbath gatherings)1 sent [literally, apostled] someone to go to Paul and Barnabas and tell them, “Men, brethren, if you have any word of encouragement for the people, speak.”

Paul rose from his seat, motioned with his hand for their attention, and said to them: “Men of Israel, and you who fear God, listen.”  He then proceeded to give them a brief recap of their history as a nation, going back to the Exodus, the conquest of Canaan, the period of the judges, the monarchy under Saul, and then he stopped for a moment to deal with David.

“He [God] raised up David for them, to be their king; about whom He bore witness and said, ‘I have found David, the son of Jesse, to be a man after my own heart, who shall do all my desire.’  Of this man’s seed, God has, according to His promise, raised for Israel a Savior, Jesus.”2

After reminding them that John the Baptist preached baptism of repentance, and foretold of one greater than he, Paul described the perversion of justice that resulted in the murder of Jesus.  Then he adds the words, “But God raised Him from the dead,”3 and then showed how it was prophesied in the Old Testament.  He concludes this stirring sermon to the Jews with the words:

Therefore, [let] it be known to you, men, brethren, that through this man is preached to you the forgiveness of sins.  And through Him, all that believe are justified from all the things from which you couldn’t be justified under the Law of Moses.  Therefore, beware, lest that which is spoken of in the prophets come upon you: “Behold, you despisers, and wonder, and perish!  For I do a work in your days, a work that you shall not ever believe, even though a man declares it to you.”4

Leaving the synagogue, several people (Jew and Gentile both) followed Paul and Barnabas, wanting to hear more.5  Paul took the opportunity to persuade them, and it is likely that some obeyed the gospel soon thereafter.6

The next Sabbath day, most of the city turned out to hear this message from God.  However, the Jews saw that the people were listening to these visitors, and their jealousy stopped their minds from listening to the truth presented.7  Instead, they began to contradict Paul’s message, and speaking evil of him—and by doing so, they were blaspheming God.8

Paul’s bold response to their action was to express a truth that would have made them hate him even more:

It was necessary that the word of God was spoken to you first.  But seeing that you have cast it away from you, and condemned yourselves as unworthy of everlasting life, behold, we are turning to the Gentiles.  Because this is what the Lord commanded us: “I have set you to be a light to the Gentiles, that you should be for salvation to the ends of the earth.”9

The Gentiles were ecstatic about this message, and many of them obeyed the gospel, and the result was that God’s message was preached throughout the whole area.  However, the Jews were incredibly upset, and caused a persecution against Paul and Barnabas by influencing the prominent men and women in the city.  As a result, the two missionaries were thrown out of the city.  Outside the city limits, Paul and Barnabas shook the dust of their feet at them, and traveled to Iconium.10  But they could be glad that there were now Christians living in the city of Antioch.

-Bradley S. Cobb

1 Thayer gives the definition of archisunagogos as “Ruler of the synagogue. It was his duty to select the readers or teachers in the synagogue, to examine the discourses of the public speakers, and to see that all things were done with decency and in accordance with ancestral usage.”

2 Acts 13:22-23.

3 Acts 13:30.

4 Acts 13:38-41.

5 Acts 13:42-43.  There are some textual variants in verse 42 which clouds the exact chronology of events.  The KJV says the Jews left the synagogue, leaving the missionaries and the Gentiles in the building.  The ASV says the missionaries left the synagogue first and talked with others outside after the synagogue meeting ended.  Either way, they still talked to Jews and Gentiles.

6 The text does not describe the reaction of the ones who were being “persuaded” by Paul, but he would have been in the city, studying with people throughout the next week.  It would be strange indeed if not a single one of the “many” who followed them obeyed the gospel.

7 The Jews were apparently quite influential in this city.  When the city was established under the Seleucid kings, its settlers were comprised of Phrygians, Greeks, and Jews (see International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, “Antioch of Pisidia”).  Thus, they had a long history in this Antioch.  The existence of many “religious proselytes” (Gentiles who converted to Judaism) in Acts 13:43, and the possible mention of Gentiles in the synagogue (verse 42, KJV), shows that they held a place of prominence in the city, religiously speaking.  So it is no surprise that when someone comes in, convincing the people that the Law of Moses was fulfilled/removed, and draws huge crowds, the Jews would be upset.  Robertson, commenting on verse 45, says “Nothing is specifically stated here about the rabbis, but they were beyond doubt the instigators of, and the ringleaders in, the opposition as in Thessalonica (Acts 17:5). No such crowds … came to the synagogue when they were the speakers.”

8 Acts 13:45.  Luke says they were “blaspheming,” though it is incredibly unlikely that they were intentionally blaspheming (speaking evil against) God.  Thus, the blaspheming must be against Paul—but the effect was that they were also (unknowingly) blaspheming against God.

9 Acts 13:46-47.

10 Acts 13:48-52.  The word “expelled” (verse 50, KJV) is ekballo, which means to throw out.  Whether this means the mob of people literally tossed them outside the city, or just forced them to leave, the result is the same: they were removed from the city.

From Murderer to Missionary – The Life of the Apostle Paul (Part Six)

ApostlesLogo

Paul’s First Missionary Journey

The Conflict with Elymas

Leaving Antioch, they went to Seleucia, a seaport town just southwest of Antioch, where they boarded a ship heading to Cyprus.  They landed on the eastern edge of the island of Cyprus, and worked their way westward across the island, preaching in the synagogues along the way.1

Once they got to Paphos, a city on the western coast of the island, their preaching attracted the attention of the proconsul of the island,2 whose name was Sergio Paul.3  He called Saul and Barnabas to meet him, because he wanted to hear the word of God.  However, there was another man who was with Sergio Paul, and who apparently held some measure of influence with him (or at least thought he did).  This man, Elymas, called himself Bar-Jesus (which means “son of Jesus”), but was a Jewish sorcerer and false prophet.4  When they began to preach the word to Sergio Paul, Elymas spoke against them—attempting to negate their message and imply that they were the false prophets, because he did not want the proconsul to obey the gospel.5

Saul (who from this point onward is known as “Paul”) stared him down,6 and by inspiration, called down a curse on him:

O [you are] full of all subtlety and mischief.  You son of the devil!  You enemy of all righteousness!  Will you never cease perverting the straight ways of the Lord?  And now, behold, the hand of the Lord is on you, and you shall be blind, not seeing the sun for a time.7

The first recorded miracle of Paul, a former opponent of Christianity who was blinded by God, was blinding another opponent of Christianity.  Immediately after Paul spoke those words, Elymas became blind, and walked around searching for someone to guide him.  This miracle had the desired effect: showing who the true spokesperson for God actually was.  After seeing the miracle, Sergio Paul believed, and was struck with amazement at the teaching about Jesus.  There can be no doubt that the proconsul obeyed the gospel.8

When they left Cyprus, they sailed northwest to Perga, a seaport city in Pamphylia.  It was while there that John Mark left them and returned to Jerusalem (most likely by sea).  We aren’t told why Mark left them, but it left Paul with a not-too-high regard for his trustworthiness.  Most likely, Paul preached in the city of Perga9 before they traveled to Antioch of Pisidia10 (not to be confused with Antioch of Syria, where Paul and Barnabas had worked together as prophets).

-Bradley S. Cobb

1 Acts 13:4-5.  It is possible that there were multiple synagogues in Salamis, the first city that they came to, but it is also certain that they would have preached as often as possible as they traveled through the island.

2 Luke was the target of many skeptics and atheists for this statement, because Cyprus didn’t have a proconsul; at least, that’s what they thought.  Archaeological discoveries have since shown that Augustus Caesar changed their governmental setup, and inscriptions from AD 51-52 have been unearthed which mention the proconsul of Cyprus named Paulus.  See Vincent’s Word Studies on Acts 13:7 for more information.

3 Acts 13:7.  The Greek in this verse is Σεργίῳ Παύλῳ, that is, Sergio Paulo.  Without exception, every translation renders it “Sergius Paulus,” even though the second word is translated “Paul” the other 154 times it appears in the Bible.

4 Acts 13:6-8.  Elymas fought against the truth of Jesus Christ as taught by Barnabas and Saul, yet called himself “son of Jesus,” which he may have done in an attempt to gather followers after himself, as though he was the heir to Jesus’ mantle.  He was a Jew, and his rejection of the truth leads us to conclude that he would have embraced the Law of Moses—which also condemns him because of his involvement in sorcery (Deuteronomy 18:10), and his being a false prophet (Deuteronomy 18:20).  See also Malachi 3:10.

5 Acts 13:8.

6 Acts 13:9.  The phrase “set his eyes” (KJV) on him is atenisas, from which we get the word “attention.”

7 Acts 13:9-11.  Paul calls him the “son of the devil” as a contrast to the name Elymas wore, “son of Jesus.”

8 Acts 13:12.  Often, the New Testament writers use the word “believe” to encompass the entire process of obedience to the gospel (Romans 1:16, for example).  Luke would not have recorded the incident in this way if the proconsul had refused to be baptized.  It is possible that the book of Acts was written as part of Paul’s defense before Caesar.  If this is the case, then maybe Luke didn’t specifically mention the baptism in order to not put any unnecessary persecution on Sergio Paul for joining the Christians.

9 The Scriptures do not give us every detail of Paul’s missionary journeys.  It seems very unlikely that he would be in a city for any length of time and not attempt to spread the gospel there.

10 This description by Luke has been the cause of some confusion, as this city was the capitol of southern Galatia, and in the region of Phrygia.  Souter, in James Hastings’ Dictionary of the Bible (“Antioch”), says that the official title of the city was “Antioch near Pisidia,” and attempts to explain the difficulty.