Publication Date: 1976-1977
Walter J. Cummins graduated from the Power for Abundant Class in 1962.
He received his Bachelor of Science degree in Education from Ohio State University in 1968 and his Master of Education degree in Secondary School Administration in 1978 from Wright State University.
He was ordained to the Christian by The Way International in 1968. He has studied at The Way International under Victor Paul Wierwille and K.C.Pillai. In addition to his teaching responsibilities, he was director of the Research department of the Way International and served as assistant to the president.
Paul’s First Message
We’re in Acts chapter 13, still working Paul’s first itinerary and we left off in verse 7.
And when they had gone through the isle unto Paphos, they found a certain sorcerer, a false prophet, a Jew, whose name was Barjesus:
Which was with the deputy of the country, Sergius Paulus, a prudent man; who called for Barnabas and Saul, and desired to hear the word of God.
They met this false prophet who was a Jew, way up into the religious circles of the time. Like I said before, that’s many times where you find people working for the adversary; in the top fields of religious work and another area is in the political field. This fellow was in both of them. Wherever there’s money, power, recognition, positions of envy and so on, you’ll find people like this sorcerer, Barjesus. Barjesus means “son of Joshua.” This name gave him a real interesting “in.” It made him look real religious.
He was with this deputy of the country, the proconsul, who was the head of a senatorial province which was one of the peaceful areas of the Roman Empire and he was a prudent man. He had heard about Paul and Barnabas teaching the Word on the island of Cyprus. I don’t know what went on in his background, in his life, but something must have spurred him in order for him to call for Paul and Barnabas to come to his headquarters to hear the Word. This is the second time you read that great phrase “the Word of God.”
But Elymas the sorcerer (for so is his name by interpretation) withstood them, seeking to turn away the deputy from the faith.
“Elymas” – means “the knowing one”
This deputy had some hunger. He wanted to hear the Word but the opposition, a place you’d least expect it sense-knowledge wise; here he was right in the top circle, top man, working with the deputy, advising him against the Word.
How many times has there been someone real close to you who was trying to sway you away from the Word? Perhaps it was someone like this. Perhaps they were just caught up into the things of the world.
Then Saul [Hebrew name], (who also is called Paul [Greek name],) filled with the Holy Ghost, set his eyes on him.
And said, O full of all subtilty and all mischief, thou child of the devil, thou enemy of all righteousness, wilt thou not cease to pervert the right ways of the Lord?
“child of the devil” – son of the devil [diabolos] – this fellow was born again of the wrong seed
And now, behold, the hand of the Lord is upon thee, and thou shalt be blind, not seeing the sun for a season. And immediately there fell on him a mist and a darkness; and he went about seeking some to lead him by the hand.
God didn’t bring the blindness upon him. He brought it on himself. It was bad enough he was born of the wrong seed, now he’s fighting against a man that Paul’s trying to win for the Lord.
Paul could have been in that same situation if he’d have sold out the other direction and he was so close to it. He could have but the Word was working in his heart and he went the other direction. He was born of the right seed on the road to Damascus. It reminds me of the continental divide. Two drops of water, neighbors falling from the sky, land on the top of the continental divide. One flows north up to Lake Erie, the other flows south to the Gulf of Mexico. How far apart they end, yet how close they started. But close doesn’t count, it’s where you land. They come down side by side. The one goes north, the other goes south; miles apart but they came down so close.
Paul and this fellow; how close in some respects in their early life but one got born of the right seed, one got born of the wrong seed.
Then the deputy, when he saw what was done, believed, being astonished at the doctrine of the Lord.
The deputy saw that God’s power was much greater than the adversary.
“doctrine” – teaching – it doesn’t say the Word of the Lord, it says the teaching of the Lord, but it’s the same thing.
Now when Paul and his company loosed from Paphos, they came to Perga in Pamphylia: and John departing from them returned to Jerusalem.
The country there was called Pamphylia, the city was called Perga.
“John” – John Mark, their “under rower,” who had “carried their suitcases”
It doesn’t say anything more about it here, but a little later on we’re going to read where Paul and Barnabas get in a big argument over John Mark because he had left at this time. It wasn’t the will of the Lord for him to leave but he did and he went back to Jerusalem. Maybe the pressure got to be too much. I don’t know. Maybe he didn’t like it. But he went back. He returned to Jerusalem from Perga.
But when they departed from Perga, they came to Antioch in Pisidia, and went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and sat down.
This is Antioch in Pisidia. They started from Antioch in Syria. Antioch of Pisidia is in the Galatia area. Remember the letter to the Galatians?
“sat down” – were they reading the Word? No, they would have been standing if they had been reading the Word. They sat down. In other words, they joined the fellowship. They were waiting for the guys to come out and get the machinery rolling; run through the liturgical stuff.
And after the reading of the law and the prophets the rulers of the synagogue sent unto them, saying, Ye men and brethren, if ye have any word of exhortation for the people, say on.
What did they do before the reading of the law? They stood up.
Luke 4:16 & 20:
And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up: and, as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and stood up for to read.
And he closed the book, and he gave it again to the minister, and sat down. And the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on him.
They always stood up to read the Word. That’s the respect they had for the Word and after the Word was read they sat down.
Back in Acts 13: Paul and Barnabas go in the synagogue and they sit down. Now they come in to read the law and they stand. After the reading of the law and the prophets they sit down again. Then they might have someone expound on it and maybe sing a hymn and pray. Then, if there were guests in there, from Jerusalem especially or men
who had been in that area, they’d give them a chance to say something. Paul and Barnabas had been Jews.
I bet this is why Paul many times went to the synagogue and why he had the opportunity to speak in the synagogue. Because he had been a Pharisee, above his peers; above many his equal. They respected him in that respect. He’d come into a synagogue, word gets around so they’d ask him if he had any words of encouragement for the people. It’s not that Paul just went into a synagogue and broke up the service saying, “Stop the service. I want to say something now.” He wasn’t that disrespectful. But when he had his chance, he opened his mouth.
I’ll bet as soon as those words were said, “say on,” Paul immediately stood up. He was ready to go.
Then [right then] Paul stood up, and beckoning with his hand said, Men of Israel, and ye that fear God, give audience.
“Men of Israel” - they were in a synagogue
“ye that fear God” – why’d he say that? – proselytes who had been Gentiles – perhaps proselytes of the gate; uncircumcised but they believed what the Old Testament said, or perhaps some of those proselytes of righteousness who were circumcised; they believed that much. There were Gentiles in that outfit.
They had the inner sanctum were the Jews sat and the Gentiles could only come so far and the women could only sit so far into the synagogue. Paul was a Jew in background. He could go right up in the middle. The proselytes sat in the out-skirts.
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.
He’s talking to Israel. One of the principles in public speaking is to know your audience. When Paul spoke in the synagogues, what did he talk about? How great the Roman political movement is? No, he talked about men of Israel. On the other hand, when he went to Mars hill, what did he talk about? Did he talk about Jews? No, he talked about those stupid idols they had lined up down to the seacoast. He knew his audience.
Here he says, “The God of this people, Israel.” On Mars hill he says, “The God who created the heavens and the earth.” Here he’s in the synagogue and you’ve got Jews in there who believe God is their God and you’ve got proselytes who had accepted that reality that the God of Israel was the only God that was worth anything.
This is the first recorded sermon of Paul in the book of Acts.
He first gave the promise to Abraham then Isaac and called them and chose them in Jacob, Israel. Then he exalted the people when they dwelt as strangers in the land of Egypt. They weren’t in their own land. They were in a strange land, the land of Egypt. He exalted them when they were there; He took them out.
He’s just reminding them of the Old Testament. Is he telling them anything new? Could they disagree with this? Not up to this point. This is another principle in teaching; get the other person agreeing.
And about the time of forty years suffered he their manners in the wilderness.
He put up with 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.
When the LORD thy God shall bring thee into the land whither thou goest to possess it, and hath cast out many nations before thee, the Hittites, and the Girgashites, and the Amorites, and the Canaanites, and the Perizzites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites, seven nations greater and mightier than thou;
Those are the seven nations they drove out.
And after that he gave unto them judges about the space of four hundred and fifty years, until Samuel the prophet.
Did they know all this stuff? Could they disagree with any of it? It was actually 449 years but he said, “about 450 years.”
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.
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 fulfill all my will.
The people desired a king and God said, “No.” They said, “Yep, the neighbors got one, we want one.” So God says, “Alright, you’re going to be sorry.” The king turned out to be not so good in the long run and they had a few problems. After God removed him then He gave them his choice as a king. That was David.
All he’s done, up to this point, is talk to them about things they know from God’s Word. He’s not teaching from the Jewish quarterly or from the Gentile by-monthly. He’s teaching from the Word; telling them about things that they know from God’s Word.
Of this man's seed hath God according to his promise raised unto Israel a Saviour, Jesus:
“this man's seed” – David’s seed – David was of the seed of Abraham. Abraham all the way through was the promised line. This was to whom the promises were made. Before that, when Adam and Eve fell, God promised to the woman a seed. It was the seed they were waiting for all the way through the Old Testament; the seed of Abraham; the seed of Isaac; the seed of Jacob; the seed of David. It’s not seeds. It’s seed, singular. He’s real sharp on the word.
“his promise” – to whom did He make the promise? First to Eve; that she would have seed, then later to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and then David.
“a Saviour, Jesus” – that’s what he wanted to talk to them about. See how he built up to that? That’s the way you do it whenever you teach the Word. He built. Now he says, “of this man’s seed, this David fellow. It’s been seed all the way through the Old Testament. But of this man’s seed according to the promise hath God raised up unto Israel, unto you Israel, a Saviour, Jesus.”
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.
“fulfilled his course” – was running his race
Word of John’s ministry had gotten around. Remember Apollos, way over in Ephesus? This isn’t even as far as Ephesus. Ephesus was way over on the coast. We’re only in Antioch of Pisidia. The word had gotten out about John the Baptist. John the Baptist, he says, was the one who said, “There’s someone coming after me because I’m not him. Someone who’s shoelaces I’m not even worthy to untie.”
Men and brethren, children of the stock of Abraham, and whosoever among you [including Gentiles] feareth God, to you is the word [there it is again]of this salvation sent.
For they that dwell at Jerusalem [the Jews], and their rulers [the Sanhedrin], because they knew him not, nor yet the voices of the prophets which are read every sabbath day, they have fulfilled them [the prophets] in condemning him. [that’s what the prophets prophesied]
“they knew him not” – they didn’t know this ruler that was to come; this Jesus, the saviour, the seed of Abraham. The rulers at Jerusalem didn’t even know him.
“prophets which are read every sabbath day” – just like had been read that day in which Paul was talking.
They’re starting to scratch their heads and wonder, “Why haven’t we heard about this Jesus fellow from the headquarters before?” God beat them to the punch. He had Paul tell them that the rulers at Jerusalem didn’t even know him. They didn’t even know what the prophets say about him, 27b:
...nor yet the voices of the prophets which are read every sabbath day, they have fulfilled them [the prophets] in condemning him. [that’s what the prophets prophesied]
And though they found no cause of death in him, yet desired they Pilate [who had been the procurator] that he should be slain.
And when they had fulfilled all that was written of him, they took him down from the tree, and laid him in a sepulchre.
But God raised him from the dead:
You knew that sooner or later he’d have to get around to that. Everywhere they went, they taught the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. Because that’s the one thing you’ve got to believe in order to get saved. Romans 10:9 This was a new territory, Antioch and he had to get around to the resurrection. But he didn’t start out by saying, “Ladies and gentlemen, if you want to get saved, you’ve got to believe that God raised Jesus Christ from the dead.” How cold that one would have hit them? Look where he started. When you witness to somebody, where do you start? You build on what they already know of the Word or don’t know. You build and then finally you show them how God raised Jesus 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.
I Corinthians 15:3-6:
For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;
And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:
And that he was seen of Cephas [Peter], 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.
There were quite a few witnesses he’s talking about. Is everything recorded in Acts 13 that Paul said? Probably not. There were over 500 that were witnesses that saw him after God raised him from the dead. He says, “The rulers at Jerusalem won’t accept it because they don’t accept the prophets.” He says, “But there are over 500 witnesses who saw him.” You can put up a few false witnesses, but 500? That would take a pretty big bank role.
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.
“the promise which was made unto the fathers” – did God promise in the Old Testament? It says God hath fulfilled the same – the promise.
You know how you teach people? You tell them what you’re going to tell them, then you tell them, then you tell them what you told them. Paul told them what he’s going to tell them; that God raised him from the dead then he told them, “He raised Jesus from the dead.” Before he gets done, he tells them a few more times, what he told them.
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.
Wherefore he saith also in another psalm, Thou shalt not suffer [allow] thine Holy One to see corruption.
This is a topical teaching here; using different scriptures building on this one topic, resurrection.
For David, after he had served his own generation by the will of God, fell on sleep [died], and was laid unto his fathers, and saw corruption:
But he, whom God raised again, saw no corruption.
“he, whom God raised again” – Jesus, this messiah that was promised in the Old Testament
Be it known unto you therefore, men and brethren, that through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins:
That’s how you get remission, he’s telling them. On the day of Pentecost, that’s where Peter went. Acts 2:38:
Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.
And by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses.
There you have the book of Romans.
“by him” – by Jesus Christ. By God’s grace – vs. 43b: ...persuaded them to continue in the grace of God.
“believe are justified from all things” – all you have to do to get justified is believe. We’re justified by believing because of God’s grace.
Beware therefore, lest that come upon you, which is spoken of in the prophets;
Now in summery, notice how he brought this whole thing around; he talked about the Old Testament scriptures that they all knew, then there was this Jesus, who was the seed of David. John the Baptist talked about him. The rulers didn’t know about him. That’s why you haven’t heard about him from headquarters. They didn’t even know the prophecies concerning the messiah. They killed him, buried him and put him in a sepulchre. But God raised him from the dead. David died and saw corruption. But even David in the Psalms said this holy one is not going to see corruption. So he says, “Now you can receive remission of sins through this Jesus Christ.”
Could they believe that God raised him from the dead? He taught them. All they had to do was believe. It says when you believe, you’re justified. That’s something the law of Moses couldn’t do. It’s by grace. Then he says, “You can go this way folks. It’s the greatest thing going. If you don’t want to, you can fry in your own fat.
Behold, ye despisers, and wonder, and perish: for I work a work in your days, a work which ye shall in no wise believe, though a man declare it unto you.
This is it. Here’s your opportunity to believe God’s Word, the promise. The promise first of the seed to Eve and then all the way through; Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, down to David and what the prophets spoke about. Now it’s available. That was Paul’s first sermon recorded in the book of Acts.