Closed doors to ministry
It was envy that moved the Jews to hand Jesus over to Pilate. It was envy (“indignation”—zēlos, the same word as “envy” here) that moved the Jews of the homeland to turn against the apostles (Acts 5:19). It was envy that now moved the Jews of the Dispersion to turn in fury on Paul and to reject the gospel angrily and bitterly.
The synagogue Jews had never seen such crowds. People did not turn out like that for their meetings. Filled with envy, they threw all caution to the winds and took violent exception to the gospel.
They “spake against” Paul’s message and so fulfilled a prophecy. When old Simeon took the infant Christ into his arms he made a prophecy to Mary: “Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel; and for a sign which shall be spoken against” (Luke 2:34).
They not only contradicted what Paul said, they blasphemed. Their venom knew no bounds. They were transported with rage.
Thus a door was slammed in Paul’s face. He had hoped to be able to evangelize his own people, for such was always his burning desire (Rom. 9:1–3; 10:1). But they would have none of it. What does the Lord’s servant do when confronted with the obvious fact of a closed door? He looks for one that is open.
John Phillips, Exploring Acts: An Expository Commentary, The John Phillips Commentary Series (Kregel Publications; WORDsearch Corp., 2009), Ac 13:45.
There are always open doors. One door may close, but another always opens. By driving the missionaries out of Antioch, the Jews only ensured the spread of the gospel to other areas. So we picture the two of them, staff in hand, treading the miles to the new adventures that lay ahead and spending their time singing, praising God, praying for the new converts in Pisidian Antioch, and seeking guidance for the future.
John Phillips, Exploring Acts: An Expository Commentary, The John Phillips Commentary Series (Kregel Publications; WORDsearch Corp., 2009), Ac 13:51.