Acts 13:4-12 – Smart Believe & Worldly Deceive
Diving Deeper Lesson Outline for Acts 13:4-12
Title derived from “intelligent” Sergius believing as opposed to Bar-Jesus, the false prophet, seeking to turn Sergius away. It is my opinion that an “intelligence” that leads one to Christ originates with God and not the person. Many believe that Bar-Jesus, because he was described as a false prophet, was a Jew who either represented himself as, or had associations with, the Cypriot Christian community.
1) TRUTH OF CHRISTIANITY ELEVATED OVER A SYNCRETIZED PAGANISM/JUDAISM/CHRISTIANITY
Point 1 is a general principal drawn from entire text.
Examples of this principal from other OT and NT texts:
- Exodus 7:8-13 – Battle of the Staffs
- 1 Kings 18:22-40 – Who said fire and water don’t mix?
- Acts 8:9-14 – Crowd amazed by Simon, but Simon amazed by Peter
The example of this principal from our text – Acts 13:4-12:
- Sergius Paulus, at some earlier time, was impressed enough with Bar-Jesus to appoint him as part of his entourage; presumably, due to his abilities. But Sergius, seeing the power of God’s Word in Bar-Jesus’ loss of vision, is astonished by the Word of God as proclaimed by Paul and so believes. Sergius’ belief is a victory over and condemnation of Bar-Jesus teachings and desire to turn Sergius away.
- POI – Non-believers most often see above stories as untrue; as made up simply to elevate Judaism/Christianity above the competition. They are unable to see the deeper implications of the truth of Scripture as we hope to uncover below.
2) POWER OF INSPIRED WORD OF GOD OVER THE DECEITFUL WORD OF MAN
Point 2 is drawn specifically from the confrontation of a Spirit filled Paul with Bar-Jesus, a false prophet. See Acts 13:9 for description of Paul and see Acts 13:6 for description of Bar-Jesus.
Examples of similar conflicts from other OT & NT texts:
- Evidence of the conflict from the OT
- Deuteronomy 18:22 – OT description of false prophet
- Jeremiah 29:8-14 – OT example of false prophet
- Evidence of the conflict from the NT
- 2 Peter 2:1-3 – NT description of false prophet seeking personal gain
- 2 Cor 11:12-15 – Paul expresses desire to expose and undermine them
The example of this conflict from our text – Acts 13:9-11:
- Holy Sprit filled Paul identifies and exposes Bar-Jesus. He calls Bar-Jesus, meaning “the son of Jesus”, “the son of the devil.” Bar-Jesus had made crooked the straight paths of the Lord with his words and actions. And, as an enemy of righteousness, is rendered as blind visually as he is spiritually. Bar-Jesus’ deceitful words are unable to turn Sergius from the inspired Word of God as proclaimed by Paul.
3) POWER OF THE WORD OF GOD TO EXPOSE THE “INTELLIGENT” & “WORLDLY”
Point 3 is derived from contrasting the attitudes of Sergius and Bar-Jesus toward Paul’s proclaimation of the Word of God. Sergius is said to be intelligent in Acts 13:7. Bar-Jesus is wordly because of his status as a false prophet who corrupts the truth of God for personal gain. See notes under outline title at top and see Acts 13:6 and Acts 13:10.
- SOUGHT TO HEAR (Acts 13:7) – Sergius desires to hear what Paul and Barnabas have to say.
- SAW (Acts 13:12) – Sergius recognizes/witnesses the truth of God’s Word proclaimed by Paul.
- ASTONISHED (Acts 13:12) – Sergius has a heart & mind that have the capacity to be struck exceedingly with amazement and fear at the Truth of God’s Word.
- BELIEVED (Acts 13:12) – In God’s grace, acts upon the Truth of God’s Word and believes. Thereby validating Luke’s description of him as intelligent.
- SOUGHT TO TURN (Acts 13:8) – Bar-Jesus, concerned with threat to his own position and way of life, seeks to hinder its presentation to Sergius
- MAKING CROOKED (Acts 13:10) – Bar-Jesus has a heart that seeks to warp and distort the truth of God’s Word and to do so for personal gain. If he loses, he is out of a job
- CONSUMED BY DARKNESS (Acts 13:11) – He ultimately falls victim to his opposition to righteousness and is blinded. We can only hope that in his darkness, he finally saw the light.
So are we intelligent or worldly?
Do we recognize, see, the truth of Scripture and apply it?
Are we astonished or struck with amazement by God’s word?
— OR —
Are we more concerned with ourselves (worldly)?
Do we misapply or ignore God’s word to suit our needs?
Do we operate in life based on the truth of Scripture or based on our own worldly experience?