Online Bible Commentary
Shake the Dust Off
Acts 13: 48 Now when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and glorified the word of the Lord. And as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed. 49 And the word of the Lord was being spread throughout all the region. 50 But the Jews stirred up the devout and prominent women and the chief men of the city, raised up persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and expelled them from their region. 51 But they shook off the dust from their feet against them, and came to Iconium. 52 And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit. (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.
Paul and Barnabas met with great success on that Sabbath and were invited back to preach on the next Sabbath. Almost the whole city came out the next Sabbath.
On the second Sabbath the Jews contradicted and blasphemed the teaching of Paul and Barnabas. Instead of arguing with the Jews, Paul simply told them that since you reject the gospel and do not consider yourselves worthy of eternal life, we now turn to the Gentiles.
The Gentiles loved the fact that the ministry had turned to them and Paul and Barnabas met with great success in ministering to them (vv. 48-49). However, again the Jews caused trouble, by inciting God-fearing women of high standing and the leading men of the city against Paul and Barnabas (vv. 50).
The apostles responded by shaking the dust off their feet and leaving (v. 51), as Jesus had previously instructed them to do. Jesus said “And whoever will not receive you nor hear your words, when you depart from that house or city, shake off the dust from your feet. (Mt 10:14). Then the disciples went to Iconium, “filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit” (v.52).
As we minister to others, we do so understanding that we will encounter opposition. Satan is always around, always wreaking havoc. Just as Satan quoted scripture we may even encounter so called “Christians” quoting scripture in an effort to contradict our message.
There are times when those hearts we are ministering to have not yet been cultivated. Rather than argue with these people, we must be prepared to move on.
God will bring us to people that are ready to receive the Word, if we do not give up. Paul and Barnabas shook the dust off their feet and moved on. They moved on, not defeated and discouraged, but filled with joy and the Holy Spirit.