posted on Jul, 18 2014 @ 05:09 PM
We have an account of Paul’s preaching to the Jews (or Luke’s version of it) in Acts ch13.
In the course of of Paul’s “first missionary journey”, Paul and Barnabas arrived at Antioch in Pisidia, one of the many Antiochs which were
scattered around those provinces.
Since they had not ceased to be Jews, they went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day.
As visitors, they were invited to address the people, and Paul accepted the invitation.
He announced himself as addressing the “men of Israel and you that fear God”.
This covers two groups, the Jews themselves and the Gentiles who were attending the synagogue out of interest in the Jewish religion.
In other words, the message about the Christ of God was intended for the people of Israel in the first instance, but not exclusively (v16).
Then each stage of his argument relates his message to the Jews that he’s addressing.
In the first place, like Stephen, he goes back to the beginning of Israel’s history
This time, though, there’s a different emphasis. The stretch of history which occupied four-fifths of the speech of Stephen is covered in one
The pace of the story only begins to slow down as he gets to the beginning of the time of kings.
Then reminds them how Samuel was followed by Saul, at the people’s request.
After which, God himself raised up David.
This paves the way for the linking of David and Jesus.
The explicit connection is that Jesus comes from the “posterity” of David (v23).
The implied connection is that the function of Jesus is modelled upon what God called David; “A man after my heart, who will do all my will”
The point of the connection is fulfilling the promise of a Saviour for Israel.
He feels no need to explain the “promise” as found in the Old Testament.
He assumes they know about that already
But the same promise had also been given in the words of John the Baptist.
Paul refers to the preaching of the baptism of repentance (which is also part of the Christian message), and then reminds them of the declaration
which John made;
“After me one is coming, the sandals of whose feet I am not worthy to untie” (v25).
The same declaration is found in the Synoptic gospels and in John’s gospel; it must have been one of the standard features of early Christian
Thus Paul connects the coming of Jesus both with the old hero, David, and with the more recent hero John the Baptist.
So that is the first stage of his argument, where Paul has reminded the Jews of their long-standing relation with the God of Israel.
The second stage is to call them back to that relation, presenting the need for repentance.
He begins the second stage in the same way that he began the first, addressing himself to “the sons of the family of Abraham and those among you
that fear God”.
He calls it a message of salvation- and we know from the reference to John that the salvation will be linked with a call to repentance.
Apart from the faults which Jesus found in the Jews of his time, the most serious need for repentance now comes from the death of Jesus himself
This occurred because the Jewish authorities in Jerusalem did not fully understand the prophecies received from God, which they read every
Sabbath, with the result that they failed to recognise Jesus in the prophecies.
Therefore they instigated his death, at the hands of Pilate.
Some commentators like to suggest that Luke himself was the real author of all the speeches in Acts.
It’s worth noting, though, that the following portion of Paul’s speech in Antioch follows exactly the basic creed which he offered later at the
beginning of 1 Corinthians ch15;
“…what I also received, that Christ died for our sins [“they could charge him with nothing deserving death”]
According to the scriptures [“they fulfilled all that was written of him”]
That he was buried [“they took him down from the tree and laid him in a tomb”]
That he was raised on the third day [“but God raised him from the dead”]
He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve [“for many days he appeared to those who came up with him from Galilee to Jerusalem”]”- vv29-31
That leads on to the next point, that the resurrection itself was fulfilling a promise.
He finds the promise in the Psalms associated with David.
“The sure blessings of David” and “you will not let your Holy One see corruption” are both understood as promising the resurrection itself,
while “Thou art my Son” covers everything that Jesus represents.
But the resurrection of Jesus also fulfils the promise of salvation.
It means that the forgiveness of sins becomes possible, and can be proclaimed, through the agency of that same Jesus.
Everyone who believes is liberated from what bound them, in a way which had not been possible through the Law of Moses.
(And, again, this line of thought is characteristic of his later epistles).
But this offer might be rejected, because it comes with a call for repentance.
In that event, there is one more prophecy which needs to be applied,
It is the warning of the “deed” by which they will perish if they continue to be scoffers.
That is to say, there is a coming judgement.
So those are the basic elements of Paul’s gospel;
The state of sin, with a need for repentance.
The death and the resurrection of Christ, and the coming judgement.
Paul’s case is firmly based on the common heritage he shares with the Jews.
He understands the relation between God and his people as a continuous history, beginning with Abraham and coming to a climax in Jesus Christ.
The first part of his case is to establish this relation in his hearers’ minds, reminding them that they were God’s from the beginning.
The purpose of the second part of his case is to restore them to the old relationship, calling them back to it.
But the presence of “those who fear God” at this meeting is an early sign that God is now extending his appeal and offering the same relationship
to the world at large.
Israel are still God’s people, but they are no longer exclusively God’s people.