John Kilgallen, «Hostility to Paul in Pisidian Antioch (Acts 13,45) — Why?», Vol. 84 (2003) 1-15
Throughout Acts 13–14 Luke brings to the reader’s knowledge opponents of Paul who are called " the Jews" . The present essay attempts to clarify the meaning of this short-hand identification of Paul’s Jewish opponents. It seems best to understand these particular Jews in the light of zealotry which has its roots in centuries of vigorous defense of Jewish religious convictions.
With Acts 13,45, Luke introduces his reader to a hostility not yet experienced in the Antioch (Pisidia) story1. The verb forms a)nte/legon and blasfhmou=ntej reveal as an opposition which ends only with the forced exit of Paul and Barnabas from Antioch; indeed, those driving the missionaries out of their city try to have Paul and Barnabas driven from Lystra (Acts 14,19) as well. One asks why this opposition?
The immediate response centers directly on the two terms zh=loj and oi( 'Ioudai=oi. The matter continues when one recognizes that the circumstance, i)do/ntej tou_j o!xlouj, gives rise to this opposition. These ‘crowds’ in turn is synonymous with sxedo_n pa=sa h( po/lij which precedes and ta_ e!qnh which follows. All told, the hostility Luke describes gives rise to a vocabulary and to a general image which are impressive. Even more so, they give rise to a perplexity on the reader’s part: what has happened to the peace and joy and success which pervades the story as narrated in Acts 13,13-43?
A brief re-reading of those first 21 verses shows no sign of, or reason for a)nte/legon or zh=loj; indeed, there is no group identified as oi( 'Ioudai=oi, nor are ‘crowds’ or ‘pagans’ yet identified. There is only satisfaction on the part of those who heard Paul in the synagogue, and willingly given blessing on the part of Paul and Barnabas — quite the opposite of rebuff and anger; the change in mood and atmosphere is sudden, at v. 44, and all the more shocking. Indeed, as we leave v. 43, we seem headed for the next Sabbath’s further explanation of the welcomed lo/goj paraklh/sewj brought to Antioch’s synagogue by Paul and Barnabas. One can, again, wonder at the appearance of new vocabulary and circumstance, and ask for an explanation of it.
I. A First Consideration of zh=loj
Perhaps the best way to begin this search for explanation is with the word zh=loj. The dictionary presentation offers two possibilities: