Friday, June 24, 2011
It Was Necessary For the Messiah to Suffer And to Rise From the Dead - Acts 17 & 18
Overall, I think it's important to notice this variety, because it's not like only certain types of cities received him well, or only Jews or only Gentiles or only the poor or only the influential. No. Christianity is God's new way of life in the Messiah for everyone.
You see in the Jewish synagogues again and again that Paul (and Apollos whom we meet) shows through Moses, the Prophets and the Writings (Old Testament, or Scripture at that time) that Jesus is the promised Messiah (the bringer of God's Kingdom and fulfillment of prophesy to end exile, forgive sins, etc.), and the proof is his resurrection from the dead. I wish I had transcripts or something similar of what passages Paul and Apollos used for debate! And in non-Jewish areas, Paul meets the people where they're at, finds the common ground, and gets to the good news about Jesus via that route.
Acts 17:11 about the Bereans has served as a model for all Christians for any teachers or preacher in their midst, examine the Scriptures to see if what they are saying is true. And Paul's speech to the Areopagus in Athens has always been a gem for me. Even though Paul, a good Jew, is really disturbed by all the idols, he doesn't tear into the Athenians, but instead uses their "religiosity" as a spring-board for telling them to change their ways (repent) for the coming judge of the world (Jesus) whom God raised from the dead. And he does all this in a very positive and urgent light. I always imagine Paul being kind of nervous to be before educated native Greek speakers, but by this time I'm sure he was used to crowds of all types.
When Paul got to Corinth, I can't imagine the relief he must have felt and needed when Jesus told him that he could speak freely and boldly because no one was going to harm him. And once again, we see that whenever Paul is before a court or high official, he wins the case! Because of this some have speculated that Luke prepared Acts, at least in part, to serve as a defense for Paul's trial in Rome, a trial in which Theophilus was perhaps a judge. Interesting idea, though I'm not sure how you'd prove it.