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.
Jews are ‘the Jews’. If, in other words, Paul had not offered ‘the word of the Lord’ to pagans, there would be felt no jealousy and zeal to give rise to hostility and ‘the Jews’ would not have existed in Antioch.
Zeal and jealousy, then, are qualities which belong only in the context of the opposition Luke describes here. If we can now take the step that ‘the Jews’ are those who are jealous in regard to the pagans’ gathering to hear the word of the Lord, then this can only mean that ‘the Jews’ are those who are convinced that the pagans are receiving something only Jews should receive.
‘The Jews’ are zealous in regard to Paul’s sharing the word of the Lord with pagans. This can only mean that ‘the Jews’ are those who are eager, zealous to defend what is theirs from the hands of those who have no right to it. These Jews have understood Paul to go far beyond what they themselves offer to Godfearers; they must have understood so, because they react with jealousy and zeal only in the case of the offer of the word of the Lord to pagans, i.e., to those who have no intention of becoming Godfearers in the synagogue.
V. Again, the ‘word of the Lord’
What then is the content of ‘the word of the Lord’ which should not be offered to pagans? I mentioned earlier that ‘chances are slim or none’ that the word of the Lord, offered to pagans, was something other than that message which was preached in the synagogue of Antioch. One can look to previous uses of the term, ‘the word of the Lord’, in Acts so as to find significance there for our text here, but, given the way Luke has written his story, one cannot get away from the impression that, if one wants to know what Paul offered the pagans (and what irritated ‘the Jews’), one’s best option is to re-read the homily Paul had just given in the synagogue of Antioch.
What then in the synagogue homily might attract the pagans and be a source of irritation to ‘the Jews’?
1. On the one hand, the Pauline discourse is very much at home in the synagogue. It is rightly termed a synagogue homily, one based on Jewish ways12 of presenting a ‘word of consolation/exhortation’