Urged on (parōtrunan). First aorist (effective) active of paṙotrunō, old verb, but here alone in the N.T., to incite, to stir up. The Jews were apparently not numerous in this city as they had only one synagogue, but they had influence with people of prominence, like “the devout women of honourable estate” (tas sebomenas gunaikas tas euschēmonas), the female proselytes of high station, a late use of an old word used about Joseph of Arimathea (Mar 15:43). The rabbis went after these Gentile women who had embraced Judaism (cf. Act 17:4 in Thessalonica) as Paul had made an appeal to them. The prominence of women in public life here at Antioch is quite in accord with what we know of conditions in the cities of Asia Minor. “Thus women were appointed under the empire as magistrates, as presidents of the games, and even the Jews elected a woman as Archisynagogos, at least in one instance at Smyrna” (Knowling). In Damascus Josephus (War II. 20, 21) says that a majority of the married women were proselytes. Strabo (VIII. 2) and Juvenal (VI. 542) speak of the addiction of women to the Jewish religion.
The chief men of the city (tous prōtous tēs poleōs). Probably city officials (the Duumviri, the Praetors, the First Ten in the Greek Cities of the east) or other “foremost” men, not officials. The rabbis were shrewd enough to reach these men (not proselytes) through the women who were proselytes of distinction.
Stirred up a persecution (epēgeiran diōgmon). First aorist active indicative of epegeirō, old verb, but in the N.T. only here and Act 14:2. Paul seems to allude to this persecution in 2Ti 3:11 “persecutions, sufferings, what things befell me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra, what persecutions I endured.” Here Paul had perils from his own countrymen and perils from the Gentiles after the perils of rivers and perils of robbers on the way from Perga (2Co 11:26). He was thrice beaten with rods (tris erhabdisthēn, 2Co 11:25) by Roman lictors in some Roman colony. If that was here, then Paul and Barnabas were publicly scourged by the lictors before they left. Probably the Jews succeeded in making the Roman officials look on Paul and Barnabas as disturbers of the public peace. So “they cast them out of their borders” (exebalon autous apo tōn horiōn autōn). Second aorist active indicative of ekballō, forcible expulsion plainly as public nuisances. Just a few days before they were the heroes of the city and now!