The Comedy of Grace

Porter Sprigg - July 7, 2024

The Comedy of Grace

The Gospel Unbound

Scripture References: Acts 13:13-52

From Series: "The Gospel Unbound"

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Questions for Reflection and Discussion:

Read Acts 13:13-52 (NIV):
     From Paphos, Paul and his companions sailed to Perga in Pamphylia, where John left them to return to Jerusalem. 14 From Perga they went on to Pisidian Antioch. On the Sabbath they entered the synagogue and sat down. 15 After the reading from the Law and the Prophets, the leaders of the synagogue sent word to them, saying, “Brothers, if you have a word of exhortation for the people, please speak.” 

     16 Standing up, Paul motioned with his hand and said: “Fellow Israelites and you Gentiles who worship God, listen to me! 17 The God of the people of Israel chose our ancestors; he made the people prosper during their stay in Egypt; with mighty power he led them out of that country; 18 for about forty years he endured their conduct in the wilderness; 19 and he overthrew seven nations in Canaan, giving their land to his people as their inheritance. 20 All this took about 450 years. 

     “After this, God gave them judges until the time of Samuel the prophet. 21 Then the people asked for a king, and he gave them Saul son of Kish, of the tribe of Benjamin, who ruled forty years. 22 After removing Saul, he made David their king. God testified concerning him: ‘I have found David son of Jesse, a man after my own heart; he will do everything I want him to do.’ 

     23 “From this man’s descendants God has brought to Israel the Savior Jesus, as he promised. 24 Before the coming of Jesus, John preached repentance and baptism to all the people of Israel. 25 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.’ 

     26 “Fellow children of Abraham and you God-fearing Gentiles, it is to us that this message of salvation has been sent. 27 The people of Jerusalem and their rulers did not recognize Jesus, yet in condemning him they fulfilled the words of the prophets that are read every Sabbath. 28 Though they found no proper ground for a death sentence, they asked Pilate to have him executed. 29 When they had carried out all that was written about him, they took him down from the cross and laid him in a tomb. 30 But God raised him from the dead, 31 and for many days he was seen by those who had traveled with him from Galilee to Jerusalem. They are now his witnesses to our people. 

     32 “We tell you the good news: What God promised our ancestors 33 he has fulfilled for us, their children, by raising up Jesus. As it is written in the second Psalm: 

“‘You are my son;
    today I have become your father.’ 

34 God raised him from the dead so that he will never be subject to decay. As God has said, 

“‘I will give you the holy and sure blessings promised to David.’ 

35 So it is also stated elsewhere: 

“‘You will not let your holy one see decay.’ 

     36 “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. 37 But the one whom God raised from the dead did not see decay. 

     38 “Therefore, my friends, I want you to know that through Jesus the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you. 39 Through him everyone who believes is set free from every sin, a justification you were not able to obtain under the law of Moses. 40 Take care that what the prophets have said does not happen to you: 

41 “‘Look, you scoffers,
    wonder and perish,
for I am going to do something in your days
    that you would never believe,
    even if someone told you.’” 

     42 As Paul and Barnabas were leaving the synagogue, the people invited them to speak further about these things on the next Sabbath. 43 When the congregation was dismissed, many of the Jews and devout converts to Judaism followed Paul and Barnabas, who talked with them and urged them to continue in the grace of God. 

     44 On the next Sabbath almost the whole city gathered to hear the word of the Lord. 45 When the Jews saw the crowds, they were filled with jealousy. They began to contradict what Paul was saying and heaped abuse on him. 

     46 Then Paul and Barnabas answered them boldly: “We had to speak the word of God to you first. Since you reject it and do not consider yourselves worthy of eternal life, we now turn to the Gentiles. 47 For this is what the Lord has commanded us: 

“‘I have made you a light for the Gentiles,
    that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.’” 

     48 When the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and honored the word of the Lord; and all who were appointed for eternal life believed. 

     49 The word of the Lord spread through the whole region. 50 But the Jewish leaders incited the God-fearing women of high standing and the leading men of the city. They stirred up persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and expelled them from their region. 51 So they shook the dust off their feet as a warning to them and went to Iconium. 52 And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit. 


  1. If you can think of a story or situation that seems almost too good to be true, but actually is true, share that with your group.  
  2. How did Israel’s history point to and prepare the way for Jesus?
  3. What hints were there in the Old Testament that the Messiah would die but then rise from the dead?
  4. In Porter’s story of Miss Strickler, his Latin teacher, he was surprised by her mercy.  If you’ve ever had an experience of undeserved and unexpected mercy, share about that and about how it affected you.
  5. Many misperceive God as someone who is very strict and just wants to judge them.  If you were talking to someone who had this perspective, what might you say to help them?  What are some things Christians can do to help correct false perceptions like this about God?
  6. Look at Acts 13:39.  How would this have been offensive to Jewish people in Paul’s audience?  What is Paul communicating here?
  7. What does it mean to be “set free” from sin?
  8. Jewish people were surprised that God’s salvation was also offered to Gentiles. In a similar way, many of us would be surprised if large numbers of New Englanders began to accept Jesus Christ.  Why would this be surprising?
  9. Name some surprising aspects of the gospel that are like a “comedy” ending to what initially seemed like a tragedy.
  10. What did you sense God saying to you through this passage and this message?