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.
Jewish zeal to be right; Luke knows Jewish zeal to be wrong. Yet, if I am right about Old Testament influence, one cannot deny that ‘the Jews’ acted in accord with their insights and education, and thus acted ‘rightly’, with all the limitations that word should have in this context.
One of the most enduring aspects of the early preaching in the wider Mediterranean Basin was opposition to it from ‘the Jews’. While not belonging to this category of Jew34, such Jews as Peter and his church in Jerusalem had to undergo a change of understanding which culminates in the decree of James in Jerusalem in regard to the Church of Antioch in Syria.
The ‘change of understanding’ was provoked by massive divine intrusion, both in the life of Cornelius (Acts 10,3-8.30-33) and in the life of Peter (Acts 10,11-16.19-23.44-48). Indeed, so thorough is the Lucan explanation of the full admission of Gentiles into Christianity that he dedicates his first 15 chapters to justifying the Church of the ‘80s AD; only after this thorough preparation does Paul give a full discourse to the pure pagan (Acts 17).
What Luke recounts, then, in Acts 13,44-45, is the conflict raised by the offer of salvation to the Gentiles35. Better, he recounts the conflict raised by the offer of ‘the holy things entrusted to David for Israel’ to the pagans, which is concretely the forgiveness of sins and justification by God — if only they believe in him ‘through whom’ and ‘in whom’ these blessings will be bestowed. ‘The Jews’ is not an ethnic term; it is a religious term. It is not given lightly or with disdain; the author uses his words carefully, in the light of past Israelite history and devotion, to depict the intensity of conviction on the part of Jews