Paul’s Sermon Text in Antioch Pisidia

icon, journalingAbout 53-57 AD, the Apostle Paul preached a sermon in Antioch of Pisidia which is about 300 miles northwest of “the other Antioch” which is about 20 miles from the Mediterranean Sea and just within Turkish borders.

Remains of Byzantine Church in Antioch Pisidia

The ancient remains of this Byzantine church in Antioch Pisidia are traditionally considered the location of that sermon.

Paul was a historian and a lover of facts.   He framed his sermons in facts.   The narrative of Paul’s sermon, as recorded in Acts 13 first identifies his audience as consisting of both Jews and Gentiles: In v. 16, he addresses them as “Men of Israel and you who fear God” and then as “…sons of the family of Abraham, and those among you who fear God…” in v.26.

Paul’s Principle Points: Verses 17-22 are a succinct summary of all of God’s works written in the Old Testament. In verses 24 and 25, Paul’s reference to John the Baptist transitions into his main point: the ministry, crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus.  Then at v. 41, we see that the Jews have left the synagogue.

Paul Pointedly Pivots at v. 34:  He makes a statement about Jesus, and  then quotes the Old Testament to drive it home: “…(God) raised Him from the dead, no more to return to corruption, He has spoken thus ‘I will give you the sure mercies of David.’ ”

Paul’s use of the phrase, “the sure mercies of David,” refers to the character and purposes of God’s covenant with David as declared a thousand years earlier in Psalm 89:19-37. Paul fully intends to provide a broad and firm and historical foundation by which to appeal to the Jews to know who and Whose they are, and at the same time he was instructing the Gentiles about “this great salvation” that was offered to them as well.

I learn lots when I connect dots: Paul’s deliberate shift to David, his focus on “the sure mercies of David” and historical facts about David occur right at the pinnacle of his sermon.  Hmmmmm….. I figure that Paul figured that his audience knew (or he figured they should know) what he was referring to and what the significance of the reference was.

Here is what the connecting of dots told me about “the sure mercies of David.”

Psalm 89:19-37: The Sure Mercies of David

1. God’s Own Resources Delivered those Sure Mercies

My servant David (v. 20); My holy oil (v. 20); My hand (v. 21); My arm (v. 21); My faithfulness (v. 24); My mercy (v. 24); My name (v. 24); My firstborn (v. 27); My mercy [again] (v. 28); My covenant (v. 28); My law (v. 30); My statutes (v. 31); My commandments (v. 32); My lovingkindness (v. 33); My faithfulness (v. 33) My covenant [again] (v. 34); My lips (v. 34).

2. Words Were Given by God for David to Use toward God

My Father (v. 26); My God (v. 26); rock of my salvation (v. 26)

3. Specific Things God has done or will do for, with and through David because of Covenant

I have given help (v. 19); I have exalted one chosen (v. 19); I have found my servant (v. 20); I have anointed him (v. 21); the enemy shall not outwit him (v. 22); the son of wickedness shall not afflict him (v. 22); I will beat down his foes (v. 23); (I will) plague those who hate him (v. 23); my faithfulness and my mercies shall be with him (v. 24); his horn shall be exalted (v. 24); I will set his hand over the sea (v. 25) I will set his hand over the rivers (v. 25); he shall cry to me (v. 26); I will make his seed and his throne endure forever (v. 29); I will visit his sons’ transgression with the rod and stripes (v. 33); and…

“… my lovingkindness I will not utterly take from him, nor allow My faithfulness to fail.  My covenant I will not break, nor alter the word has gone out of My lips.  Once I have sworn by My holiness, I will not lie to David: His seed shall endure forever, and his throne as the sun before me; It shall be established forever like the moon, even like the faithful witness in the sky.”  (vv. 33-37)

4. Paul winds up the sermon with a warning about the danger of being deceived into unbelief.  He reminds them that they do get to choose what they believe.

(v. 40, 41) “Beware therefore, lest what has been spoken in the prophets come upon you:  ‘Behold, you despisers, marvel and perish; for I work a work in your days, a work which you will by no means believe, though one were to declare it to you.’ “

There is a time when I stand quiet before my God

and He asks me to know Whose I am

and act accordingly.



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