Monday, August 21, 2017

A Light to the Gentiles

There are many passages in the Bible that people refer to as their favorites, but has Acts 13:14-52 ever made your list? This historical account takes place in the middle of Paul's first missionary trip in the city of Antioch of Pisidia and should be an uplifting passage to every Christian.

In verse fourteen it is recorded that Paul and Barnabas enter into a synagogue on the Sabbath day. They have come to the Jews to preach about Christ. Their intentions are evident in verses fifteen and sixteen when one of the rulers ask if there are any who would "offer a word of exhortation for the people (Acts 13:15,16)." 

Paul makes it a point to stand and address the people. He beckons them with his hand telling them that they need to give audience to what he is saying. In other words, pay attention, this is important! He reminds the Israelites that they had been favored by God throughout their own history.

In Acts 13:15-22 Paul lists some of the specifics of what God had done for them. Including the fact that their fathers had been exalted as they dwelt in the land of Egypt, and when the time came that the Egyptians forgot about Joseph (Exodus 1:8), God delivered them from Egyptian oppression. (Acts 13:17)

God had been faithful to the Israelites even when they had turned from him. He was always ready to forgive them if they turned back to him. Paul reminds them that God had promised that a Savior would be born. One who would give his blood for the transgression of sin ( Isaiah 53:1-12).

Remember, Paul is speaking to the Jews there in Antioch, and they should already be intimately familiar with the promises of God, sadly many times they weren't.

Paul doesn’t just leave the people with their “ancient” history. He tells them about things that had been happening in the world around them. He teaches them about John, the forerunner of Christ. In fact, he quotes John as saying, "There cometh one after me, whose shoes of his feet I am not worthy to loose." (Acts 13:25)

Paul brought all these things to the minds of the Jews, so they would understand who Christ is, and know assuredly that their Messiah had not only come in their own century, but had been killed by their fellow Jews in Jerusalem, and had been raised from the dead! (Acts 13:26-37).

It was Paul's desire to save the house of Israel (Romans 10:1), and through his teachings, he tried to convince those in the audience that Jesus had fulfilled all that had been spoken of him in the prophets and the Psalms. It is sad to know that the Jews heard the Law read every Sabbath, and yet refused to believe it, even when Paul stood before them! (Acts 13:40-41). Unfortunately, the same holds true today. How many people sit in the pews every Sunday and are never really convicted?  

Thankfully, Paul and Barnabas found an audience of believers in the Gentile nation. While there were some proselytes and Jews that believed (Acts 13:43), the Gentiles sought Paul out, begging that they would preach to them the following Sabbath day (Acts 13:42).

Truly, the interesting part of this passage is found in Acts 13:44. When Paul and Barnabas went to speak to the Gentiles on the following Sabbath, there were not only a few people in the crowd. Almost the entire city came to hear about Christ!

Acts 13: 14-52 is a beautiful, true account of first-century history. Because the Jews rejected their own Law, prophets, and Messiah, Barnabas and Paul concentrated their preaching on the Gentile nation. According to verse forty-seven, the Lord set Paul and Barnabas to be a light to the Gentiles, that they should be able to send them the word of salvation.

Today, we have the word of God to light our way thanks to men like Paul. While we are not fortunate enough to hear Paul’s words or to experience a first-hand living knowledge of Christ, through the Bible, we know assuredly, that Christ came to rescue our souls from sin.

Praise God!

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