What does Acts 13:36 mean?
ESV: For David, after he had served the purpose of God in his own generation, fell asleep and was laid with his fathers and saw corruption,
NIV: "Now when David had served God’s purpose in his own generation, he fell asleep; he was buried with his ancestors and his body decayed.
NASB: For David, after he had served God’s purpose in his own generation, fell asleep, and was buried among his fathers and underwent decay;
CSB: For David, after serving God’s purpose in his own generation, fell asleep, was buried with his fathers, and decayed,
NLT: This is not a reference to David, for after David had done the will of God in his own generation, he died and was buried with his ancestors, and his body decayed.
KJV: For David, after he had served his own generation by the will of God, fell on sleep, and was laid unto his fathers, and saw corruption:
NKJV: “For David, after he had served his own generation by the will of God, fell asleep, was buried with his fathers, and saw corruption;
Verse Commentary:
Paul is explaining how Jesus of Nazareth is qualified to be the Savior God promised would come from the line of David (Acts 13:23). Despite being killed by the Jewish leaders and buried by two friends, Jesus rose again (Acts 13:28–32). His resurrection fulfills Jewish prophecy, such as David's where he says, "You will not let your Holy One see corruption" (Psalm 16:10; Acts 13:35).

Here, Paul proves that David's prophecy cannot refer to himself. As great as David was, his purpose was for his own generation. He did God's will, then died, and his body decayed. Peter made the same point in Acts 2:27–31. David cannot provide salvation; he cannot provide political independence, fill people's physical needs, restore human relationships, or reconcile sinners to God. Only Jesus, who was not in the tomb long enough for His body to decay, can do this.

David was one of many people God chose to save His people (1 Samuel 16:3, 11–13; Acts 13:22). He did so by defeating Israel's enemies and continuing the charge God gave Joshua to inhabit the Promised Land (Joshua 1:1–9). When David's service was finished, he died and was buried (1 Kings 2:10). To "sleep" is a euphemism for death in both the Old Testament (1 Kings 2:10) and the New Testament (Acts 7:60; 1 Corinthians 15:6; 2 Peter 3:4). To say he was "laid with his fathers" is also a euphemism since David's tomb is in Jerusalem and his "fathers" were from and presumably buried in Bethlehem (1 Samuel 16:1).
Verse Context:
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).
Chapter Summary:
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.
Chapter Context:
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).
Book Summary:
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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