13 Now when Paul and his party set sail from Paphos, they came to Perga in Pamphylia; and John, departing from them, returned to Jerusalem. 14 But when they departed from Perga, they came to Antioch in Pisidia, and went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day and sat down. 15 And after the reading of the Law and the Prophets, the rulers of the synagogue sent to them, saying, “Men and brethren, if you have any word of exhortation for the people, say on.” 16 Then Paul stood up, and motioning with his hand said, “Men of Israel, and you who fear God, listen:
From verse 13, the gospel team of Paul, Barnabas, and John Mark moved from the island of Cyprus to Perga in Pamphylia and then to Pisidia. There they arrived at a second city called “Antioch.” The team had departed on the mission from Antioch of Syria, but now they moved to another city called Antioch. Paul now took a prominent role on the team.
Now when Paul and his party set sail from Paphos, they came to Perga in Pamphylia;
The gospel team sailed from Cyprus to Perga in the providence of Pamphylia, on the southern coast of what is Turkey today. The group probably arrived at the port of Attalia and then traveled to Perga from there. This city was on the main trade route that paralleled the coast and was 12 miles inland from the Mediterranean. It was known for its large shrine to Artemis Pergaia. It had a stadium with a capacity of 12,000. They preached at Perga (Acts 14:25).
and John, departing from them, returned to Jerusalem.
No sooner had they landed in Pamphylia than John Mark deserted from the team and returned to Jerusalem. His wealthy mother was there. He wanted to go home to “momma.” His departure from the team caused a split between his cousin Barnabas and Paul in Acts 15:37-38, where Paul called Mark’s departure a desertion and refused to take Mark on the second missionary journey. However, Paul later changed his mind about Mark and said that “he is profitable to me for ministry” (2 Tim 4:11). Mark was with Paul in Rome and sent greetings to the Colossians (Co 4:10-11). Mark wrote the Gospel of Mark after this event in Perga.
But when they departed from Perga, they came to Antioch in Pisidia,
After Mark went home to Jerusalem, Paul and Barnabas went to Antioch in Pisidia via the paved Roman highway, the Via Sebaste, which went through Perga. The Via Sebaste Road ran from Ephesus in the west to the Euphrates in the east. The route was often flooded by rivers, and bandits, and they had to climb the 3,600-foot Taurus Mountains (2 Co 11:26). The perilous journey was through rugged mountain passes and wild rivers.
Antioch was a Roman colony and military center, the garrison of which served southern Asia Minor. This Antioch in Asia Minor was a prominent city with many of its citizens belonging to the Roman senate. It was about 100 miles north of Perga and about 3,600 feet above sea level.
and went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day and sat down.
Paul and Barnabas attended a synagogue service on the Sabbath day, as was their custom. The synagogue was a cultural center for the Jewish community and some Gentiles.
And after the reading of the Law and the Prophets, the rulers of the synagogue sent to them, saying, “Men and brethren, if you have any word of exhortation for the people, say on.”
Paul and Barnabas heard the reading of the Torah and the Prophets. The rulers of the synagogue invited the team to give a word of encouragement. Usually, there was only one ruling elder, but former elders were counted as elders. This is why “rulers” is in the plural.
Then Paul stood up, and motioning with his hand said,
Beginning with verse 16, Paul preached a sermon beginning with Israel in Egypt; it extended to Jesus, the fulfillment of Jewish prophecy. These passages demonstrated that Jesus fulfilled the promises of a coming Messiah. This discourse by Paul is the first recorded by Luke. He was someone who preached from the Bible. He began his sermon with shared doctrines in the Old Testament. The speech by Paul is the first of three in the book of Acts.
“Men of Israel, and you who fear God, listen:
Paul requested the attention of his Jewish audience by direct address (Acts 13:26, 38). The phrase “and you who fear God” may mean God-fearing Gentile proselytes who attended the synagogue.
God’s history of Israel climaxed in the coming of Jesus as the Messiah.
Paul’s message was primarily to Jews, but Gentiles were also present. The sermon resulted in Gentiles turning to Christ, marking a new emphasis on missions. God was moving from the unique place of Israel in Old Testament history to ministry to Gentiles. Paul traveled to strategically important cities. His philosophy of mission was to go to strategic centers and then establish mission bases from there to go to more remote regions. That is why the apostle went to cities such as Lystra, Troy, Philippi, Athens, and Corinth.