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  • Chad Werkhoven

Acts 13:42-48 - All Appointed

Preaching God's Word has a powerful effect on all who hear it, but only the appointed believe it.


Acts 13:42-48 (NIV)

CONTEXT: Paul & Barnabas preached the gospel in a synagogue in Antioch, and the people there invited them back to preach the following week.

42 As Paul and Barnabas were leaving the synagogue, the people invited them to speak further about these things on the next Sabbath. 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.

44 On the next Sabbath almost the whole city gathered to hear the word of the Lord. 45 When the Jews saw the crowds, they were filled with jealousy. They began to contradict what Paul was saying and heaped abuse on him.

46 Then Paul and Barnabas answered them boldly: “We had to speak the word of God to you first. Since you reject it and do not consider yourselves worthy of eternal life, we now turn to the Gentiles. 47 For this is what the Lord has commanded us:

“ ‘I have made you a light for the Gentiles,

that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.’”

48 When the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and honored the word of the Lord; and all who were appointed for eternal life believed.


Listen to passage & devotional:


Belgic Confession of Faith, Article 16: The Doctrine of Election

We believe that—

all Adam’s descendants having thus fallen

into perdition and ruin

by the sin of the first man—

God showed himself to be as he is:

merciful and just.

He is merciful

in withdrawing and saving from this perdition those whom he,

in his eternal and unchangeable counsel,

has elected and chosen in Jesus Christ our Lord

by his pure goodness,

without any consideration of their works.

He is just

in leaving the others in their ruin and fall

into which they plunged themselves.



Verse 44 is every preacher's dream - that the entire city would show up to listen. Of course, Paul would be the first one to tell us that they weren't coming to hear him speak; after all, he admits often in his letters that he wasn't an impressive speaker. It wasn't a celebrity preacher the people came out for, rather, they "gathered to hear the word of the Lord."

God's Word contains immense power, especially when it's proclaimed to people as Paul and Barnabas were doing. Romans 1:16 says that the gospel - that is, the message of the good news of salvation through Jesus Christ - is the very "power of God!"

We picked up our reading today at verse 42. Most of the verses that come before today's passage in chapter 13 record the first powerful sermon Paul preached in Antioch. Like any good sermon, it's full of scripture references, and it has a clear gospel call in v38-39:

...through Jesus the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you. 39 Through him everyone who believes is set free from every sin...

But a few verses later, the sermon ends and nothing really happens. There's no emotional altar call as Barnabas quietly strums his guitar to the tune of Just As I Am, and Paul doesn't ask for a show of hands while everybody's eyes are closed from those who accepted Christ. There's just a cordial invitation for Paul and Barabbas to return the following Sabbath.

If preaching is so powerful, why wasn't anybody converted in that first sermon in Antioch? Why are there so many people who let these powerful, life bringing words just bounce off of their ears?

Dig Deeper

Something resonated with people the first time Paul preached there; enough that word spread and the whole city - not just the Jews - showed up to hear Paul & Barnabas preach the following week. And it was at this second time that the work of the Spirit suddenly became visible.

But the first manifestation didn't look the way we might expect. Rather than a people rejoicing in their newly discovered forgiveness, we see a group of Jews who saw the crowds and "were filled with jealosy (v45)." That's the thing with the Holy Spirit: when He moves upon people, they certainly react, but only those who are "appointed to eternal life believe (v48)."

And so it was with the Gentiles who "honored the word of the Lord (v48)." These, the unlikeliest of converts, people who had probably never heard a verse of scripture before this day, these were people who had been appointed for eternal life by our loving Father before the world had even been formed.

Remember these ancient Gentiles from Antioch. Your salvation doesn't come because of your commitment to serving your church (the Jews had much more), and it doesn't come because you have an awesome preacher (although God does use him). Your salvation comes to you simply because, as our Confession puts it, God "elected and chose you in Jesus Christ our Lord by his pure goodness, without any consideration of your works."

  • ACKNOWLEDGE WHO GOD IS: Our Father, who appointed us to salvation and provides the means for us to recieve it;

  • ALIGN YOUR LIFE WITH GOD'S WILL: Pray that the doctrine of election will humble you so that you might better serve God;



Read the New Testament in a year! Today: Romans 2


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