What does Acts 13:51 mean?
ESV: But they shook off the dust from their feet against them and went to Iconium.
NIV: So they shook the dust off their feet as a warning to them and went to Iconium.
NASB: But they shook off the dust from their feet in protest against them and went to Iconium.
CSB: But Paul and Barnabas shook the dust off their feet against them and went to Iconium.
NLT: So they shook the dust from their feet as a sign of rejection and went to the town of Iconium.
KJV: But they shook off the dust of their feet against them, and came unto Iconium.
NKJV: But they shook off the dust from their feet against them, and came to Iconium.
Verse Commentary:
Paul and Barnabas have explained to the synagogue in Pisidian Antioch that God's promised Savior has come. Initially, the synagogue leadership seems to be intrigued by this message. But interest turns to envy when they see how many Jews—and especially Gentiles—are hungry to learn more and follow this Jesus (Acts 13:45). The prominent Jews enlist the leading women and men in town to drive Paul and Barnabas out. In response, Paul and Barnabas follow Jesus' instruction to His disciples and shake the dust off their feet, as if to say nothing is redeemable in this town (Mark 6:11).

This isn't true, of course. They leave behind many disciples who continue teaching others about the salvation Jesus offers (Acts 13:52).

Compared to other incidents, this is a tame exit for Paul. The Jewish and Gentile leaders in Iconium will try to stone Paul and Barnabas (Acts 14:5–6). The leaders in Lystra will stone Paul (Acts 14:19). Paul and Silas will be beaten and imprisoned in Philippi (Acts 16:19–24), and their detractors in Thessalonica will follow them to Berea, eventually forcing the believers to send Paul to Athens by himself (Acts 17).

Paul outlines the persecution he endures in 2 Corinthians 11:23–28; it's interesting to see that in his long list of hardships, he includes anxiety about the churches. Paul has a tender heart. Despite the dust he leaves behind in Pisidian Antioch, he is also heartbroken when the Jewish establishment rejects their own Messiah (Romans 9:3). This describes a great tension in the lives of every mature Jesus-follower. We accept that abuse and persecution are part of spreading the gospel (John 15:20). We walk away when it's obvious our words aren't being heard (Mark 6:11). But we mourn those who refuse to hear (Luke 23:34).
Verse Context:
Acts 13:42–52 details the response to Paul's message in the synagogue at Pisidian Antioch. Many Gentiles and some Jews accept the news about Jesus gladly, but the synagogue leaders don't. Since Jews live in community, and the Jewish community leaders feel threatened by Paul's message and popularity, Paul can say "the Jews" reject Jesus' offer of eternal life. Paul turns his attention to the Gentiles until the Jewish leaders join with city leaders to drive Paul and Barnabas out of town.
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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