Acts 13:13-52 covers over a week of time and uncovers many questions on topics ranging from A to Z. Yeah, like “How many Antiochs were there in the New Testament?” to “How did Paul and Barnabas zigzag through Perga?” (Okay, I made that last one up.) Still, it isn’t surprising we weren’t able to answer all of them in the service. Here’s the remainder for the curious cats out there.
NOTE: To get a better grasp of the context behind these questions, read the passage here.
1. So do you believe the Gentiles asked and desired the sermons to be preached and taught because of faith, even though they knew nothing of faith?
What some see as mere physical curiosity or human circumstances may actually be spiritual conviction. I think this is the internal work, although unknown to them at the time probably, that resulted in the external consequence of those very people asking and desiring to hear Paul and Barnabas. This means their “drawing” — or interest — was fundamentally the work of the Spirit, not something they produced or conjured up on their own.
2. If the 7-year tribulation is for the nation of Israel, do you hold to a pre-tribulation rapture of the church?
Yes, that’s the direction in which I lean. For more on how I view this specific subject, read my blog To Most People, It’s Mess-chatology.
3. Is Acts 13 a proof text for the doctrine of “limited atonement” espoused by Calvinists?
Nothing in the text is specifically directed at that concept, only to the doctrine of election.
4. What did election look like in the Old Testament before Christ came?
Perhaps we shouldn’t assume it looks different. God’s redemptive plan has always had one goal in mind — a redeemed people from every nation, language, tribe, and tongue — and this began before Christ came to earth, found fulfillment in Christ’s death and resurrection, and continues after Christ’s ascension. Admittedly, God worked at different times in different ways (Hebrews 1:1-2), but the end game has been to elect, purchase, adopt, and sanctify a people as his own possession for his own glory (Ephesians 1:3-14).
5. So when do we “give up” on someone and move on?
While Scripture indicates that rejection releases us from responsibility, we are no where given a specific set of parameters that tell us precisely when to “go to the next town.” So you are free to stay engaged — or to disengage — as long as you’re being led by the Spirit. (Check out the beginning portion of Acts 16 for examples of both.) And be encouraged — regardless of which one you do after faithfully witnessing, remember that God’s Word will not return void.