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A Survey of the Use of the OT by Paul in His Sermon in Acts 13:16–41

What follows below is a simple guide through Paul’s “word of exhortation” (Acts 13:15) to both Jews and Gentiles who listened in the synagogue in Pisidian Antioch in Acts 13:16–41. References in Acts are matched to their corresponding references in the OT.

Acts 13:17–22 / Various — Paul surveyed Israel’s history from Abraham to Jesus. He spoke of God’s choice of Israel (Acts 13:17a; cf. Gen 12–50; Deut 7:6–8), the Exodus (Acts 13:17b; Exod 1–15), the wilderness wanderings (Acts 13:18; Exod 16–Deut 34), the conquest in Canaan (Acts 13:19; cf. Josh 1–24), the time of the judges until Samuel (Acts 13:20b; cf. Judg 1–1 Sam 8), Israel’s request for a king and Saul’s reign (Acts 13:21; cf. 1 Sam 8–31), and David’s rise to the kingship (Acts 13:22; cf. 1 Sam 16–2 Sam 5).

Acts 13:22 / 1 Samuel 13:14; Psalm 89:20 — David was found by God (Ps 89:20) and a man after God’s own heart (1 Sam 13:14).

Acts 13:23 / Various — The OT repeatedly promised that one of David’s offspring would be a Savior for Israel (e.g., 2 Sam 7:12–16; Ps 89:21, 29; Isa 11:1–16; Jer 23:5; 33:15; et al). Paul identifies this Savior as Jesus.

Acts 13:25 / John the Baptist — While not Scripture, just as Paul cites Jesus as the fulfillment of the Davidic promise, so also Paul cites John the Baptist in a way that is equally authoritative in identifying Jesus as the Savior.

Acts 13:27, 29 / Various — “The utterances of the [OT] prophets” were read every Sabbath but not understood by Jerusalem and its rulers. Ironically, they “fulfilled them by condemning him,” which recalls the prophecies of the Messiah’s suffering (e.g., Ps 22; Isa 52:13–53:12). Speaking of this fulfillment again, “they had carried out all that was written of him.”

Acts 13:29 / Deuteronomy 21:22–23 — Though “tree” is just a word, especially in Acts (cf. Acts 10:39), it is enough to conclude that Paul explained how Christ was sinlessly (cf. Acts 13:28) cursed by God for others by dying on the cross.

Acts 13:33 / Psalm 2:7 — “Raising” in Acts 13:33 probably refers to Christ’s exaltation as Acts 13:34 specifically focuses on Christ being “raised from the dead.” Psalm 2:7 then refers to how Christ is exalted in heaven at the right hand of God, a proper position for the coming Davidic King (cf. Ps 110:1).

Acts 13:34 / Isaiah 55:3 – The holy and sure blessings of David to Christ apparently include the resurrection.

Acts 13:35 / Psalm 16:10 — Similarly, Ps 16:10 promised that the Messiah would not see decay or corruption after death.

Acts 13:39 / Law of Moses — Paul viewed the Law as unable to justify or free the sinner from its demands and penalties. Implied is the depravity of man, which makes perfect law-keeping impossible.

Acts 13:41 / Habakkuk 1:5 – In a warning against unbelief, Paul used Hab 1:5 to say that, just as God was going to use the Babylonians to punish Israel then, so also would God punish Israel for unbelief in his day for rejecting Jesus as Savior.

David Huffstutler

About David Huffstutler

David pastors First Baptist Church in Rockford, IL, serves as a chaplain for his local police department, and teaches as adjunct faculty at Bob Jones University. David holds a Ph. D. in Applied Theology from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. His concentration in Christian Leadership focuses his contributions to pastoral and practical theology.

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