What does Acts 13:25 mean?
ESV: And as John was finishing his course, he said, ‘What do you suppose that I am? I am not he. No, but behold, after me one is coming, the sandals of whose feet I am not worthy to untie.’
NIV: As John was completing his work, he said: 'Who do you suppose I am? I am not the one you are looking for. But there is one coming after me whose sandals I am not worthy to untie.'
NASB: And while John was completing his course, he kept saying, ‘What do you suppose that I am? I am not He. But behold, one is coming after me, the sandals of whose feet I am not worthy to untie.’
CSB: Now as John was completing his mission, he said, 'Who do you think I am? I am not the one. But one is coming after me, and I am not worthy to untie the sandals on his feet.'
NLT: As John was finishing his ministry he asked, ‘Do you think I am the Messiah? No, I am not! But he is coming soon — and I’m not even worthy to be his slave and untie the sandals on his feet.’
KJV: And as John fulfilled his course, he said, Whom think ye that I am? I am not he. But, behold, there cometh one after me, whose shoes of his feet I am not worthy to loose.
Paul and Barnabas are in Antioch of Pisidia, a small district on the west side of the larger Galatian province in the center of modern-day Asia Minor. They are in a synagogue filled with Jews and Gentiles who worship the Jewish God. The synagogue leader has asked them to speak, so Paul takes the opportunity. He wants to tell them about Jesus, but starts by recounting the ways that God has saved the Jews throughout Israel's history using Moses, the judges, the kings Saul and David, and the final Savior He promised would come from David's line (Acts 13:16–24).
Now, Paul has the monumental task of redefining the nature of salvation, for the sake of these people who misunderstand it. As it did throughout the Old Testament, salvation will include political rescue and independence of Israel, but because the Jewish leaders rejected God's Savior, freedom will have to wait. Paul hints that the salvation God presently offers has to do with John the Baptist's exhortation for the people to repent of their sins and the man John promised would follow him.
Although John had died years ago, his teaching of repentance and his reputation has already spread into the region (Acts 18:25; 19:3–4). Paul subtly shows there is more to John's message than repentance: there's the Savior. John, himself, asserted that he wasn't worthy to be the slave that cared for the feet of the Messiah. John said, "I baptize you with water, but he who is mightier than I is coming, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire" (Luke 3:16).
This is the end of the first of five points Paul makes in his message. Next, he will give Jesus' story, show how Jesus fulfills Jewish prophecy, explain what salvation Jesus is offering, and warn his audience to accept it.
Acts 13:16–41 gives the transcript of Paul's message in Pisidian Antioch. It is the only recording of Paul's many synagogue sermons. Paul's message can be broken into five parts, each identified with a call to heed Paul's words: 1. God's saving work in Israel's history and promise of a future Savior (Acts 13:16–25); 2. The Savior's story (Acts 13:26–31); 3. The prophecies of the Savior (Acts 13:32–37); 4. The nature of ''salvation'' (Acts 13:38–39); 5. A warning to accept the Savior (Acts 13:40–41). Some Jews and many Gentiles do accept the message, but the synagogue leaders drive Paul and Barnabas out of town (Acts 13:42–51).
Acts 13 transitions Luke's account (Acts 1:1) fully into a record of Paul's ministry to spread the news about Jesus. The Holy Spirit calls Paul and Barnabas for their first missionary journey. They teach about Jesus' offer of forgiveness of sins on the island of Cyprus and in the district of Pisidia in modern-day south-central Asia Minor. Along the way, they face opposition, desertion, and persecution: themes that will follow Paul throughout his life. But they also experience the joy of watching the people they'd least expect come to a saving faith in Jesus.
The first chapters of Acts, save for a quick account of Paul's conversion (Acts 9:1–31), cover the ministry of the apostles, particularly Peter. Those passages also detail the spread of the news about Jesus from His followers. That message goes to the Jews of Jerusalem (Acts 2—7) and Judea (Acts 8:26–40; 9:32–43), the Samaritans (Acts 8:4–25), and God-fearing Gentiles (Acts 10—11). Now, Paul's contribution to the ''end of the earth'' portion of Jesus' commission in Acts 1:8 begins, as he and Barnabas start their first missionary journey. Luke will record two more of Paul's journeys (Acts 15:36—18:22 and 18:23—20:38) before settling in on his return to Jerusalem, arrest, and sea voyage to Rome (Acts 21—28).
The summary of the book of Acts is provided in Jesus' words in Acts 1:8: ''But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.'' In Acts 2:1–13, the Christ-followers receive the Holy Spirit. Acts 2:14—7:60 describes the rapid growth of the church in Jerusalem. Chapters 8—12 find Jewish persecution inadvertently spreading the gospel throughout Judea and Samaria. And in chapters 13—28, Paul and his companions spread the good news throughout the Roman Empire.
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