Online Bible Commentary
Unworthy of Everlasting Life
Acts 13:42 So when the Jews went out of the synagogue, the Gentiles begged that these words might be preached to them the next Sabbath. 43 Now when the congregation had broken up, many of the Jews and devout proselytes followed Paul and Barnabas, who, speaking to them, persuaded them to continue in the grace of God. 44 On the next Sabbath almost the whole city came together to hear the word of God. 45 But when the Jews saw the multitudes, they were filled with envy; and contradicting and blaspheming, they opposed the things spoken by Paul. 46 Then Paul and Barnabas grew bold and said, "It was necessary that the word of God should be spoken to you first; but since you reject it, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, behold, we turn to the Gentiles. 47 For so the Lord has commanded us: 'I have set you as a light to the Gentiles, That you should be for salvation to the ends of the earth.' " (NKJV)
The time is about A. D. 45 and Paul’s First Missionary Journey has begun. Paul, Barnabas and their party have come to Antioch in the province of Pisidia in Asia Minor, present day Turkey.
As was their custom, Paul and his party attended the synagogue in Antioch on the Sabbath. After the reading of the scriptures, Paul and his party were given the opportunity to speak. Paul launched into a lengthy message detailing the history of the Jews concluding with the finishing work of the Lord Jesus Christ. This message was the first account of a message from Paul on his missionary journeys and was likely a pattern for all of his future preaching.
Initially Paul’s message was a rousing success, at least with the Gentiles. After the Jews had left the service, the Gentile converts to Judaism remained and “begged” for more teaching on the next Sabbath (v. 42).
Then as they gathered outside the Synagogue, the Gentiles, and even “many of the Jews”, continued to “follow” Paul and Barnabas obviously wanting to hear more (v. 43a). Paul and Barnabas “persuaded them to continue in the grace of God” (v. 43b).
The following Sabbath “the whole city” turned out to hear more from Paul (v. 44). Seeing the huge numbers who turned out, the Jews became envious and began to contradict and blaspheme Paul as he spoke (v. 45).
Paul and Barnabas responded with "It was necessary that the word of God should be spoken to you first; but since you reject it, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, behold, we turn to the Gentiles” (v. 46). They supported their pronouncement with Scripture from Isaiah 49:6: “I have set you as a light to the Gentiles, That you should be for salvation to the ends of the earth” (v. 47).
In this verse from Isaiah, God had commanded Jesus to take the Gospel to the Gentiles. Paul and Barnabas could apply this commandment to themselves since they were representing Jesus.
Everlasting, or eternal, life is a gift from God. It costs us nothing but it cost Jesus everything, an unbelievably painful death on the cross.
As with all gifts there are some people who are unworthy of receiving them. There are those who reject the gift of eternal life, even to the point of contradicting and blaspheming those who are lovingly trying to give them the gift. These people are unworthy of everlasting life.
That is not to say that we give up on them for Jesus never gives up on anyone. Jesus loves everyone and wants everyone to have the gift of everlasting life in Heaven. However, if someone proves himself unworthy of everlasting life, and continues that pattern unto death, he has only himself to blame for the fires of Hell. God does not send anyone to Hell. They send themselves.