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In Pisidian Antioch August 17, 2016

Posted by flashbuzzer in Books, Christianity.
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Here are my thoughts on Acts 13:13-52.

Summary: In this passage, Paul and Barnabas traveled from Paphos to Pisidian Antioch via Perga in Pamphylia. On the next Sabbath, they were invited to speak in the Jewish synagogue. Paul then delivered a cogent speech where he made the following points:

He also asserted that free forgiveness of sins was offered to them through Jesus of Nazareth. He then adapted Habakkuk 1:5 to warn the Jews regarding their potential rejection of his overall argument. On the following Sabbath, though, the Jews explicitly acted accordingly. Their actions spurred Paul and Barnabas to assert that they would now make the same overall argument to the Gentiles – as commanded by God in Isaiah 49:6. The Jews would later drive them out of that region – yet their efforts were not in vain; many Gentiles in that region believed the Gospel message.

Thoughts: In verse 14, we see that Paul and his companions entered a Jewish synagogue in Pisidian Antioch. It seems that at this point in his apostolic career, his evangelistic strategy entailed preaching the Gospel message in synagogues. This approach had several advantages, including:

  • his audience would already accept the veracity of the Old Testament
  • his audience would be anticipating the arrival of the Messiah – as that dramatic event was predicted by the Old Testament.

Yet this approach had several drawbacks, including:

  • some Jews probably wondered if Paul’s understanding of the Old Testament was correct – especially since he often quoted it in his speeches
  • some Jews probably wondered if Jesus of Nazareth fulfilled the Old Testament prophecies regarding the Messiah – especially since there were doubts as to whether He had risen from the dead.

I am curious as to whether the Holy Spirit commanded Paul to adopt this evangelistic strategy – or if he chose this approach given his background. Did his companions recommend that he adopt an alternate strategy?

Paul’s evangelistic strategy also intrigued me for a different reason: I am a Gentile with several unsaved family members. My thought is that sharing the Gospel message with Gentiles has several challenges, including:

  • they do not already accept the veracity of the Old Testament; they may even question the existence of God
  • they may question their need for a Savior – especially if they do not view themselves as sinful creatures.

Now I should note that sharing the Gospel message with Gentiles does have some potential advantages, including:

  • they have fewer preconceived notions regarding the Old Testament, and so they may be more open to the Christian interpretation of that text
  • they may be more open to the possibility that Jesus of Nazareth did rise from the dead.

I certainly need strength from the Lord in order to be faithful in my calling and display the truth of the Gospel message to my unsaved family members. I hope that God will use me for His glory in that regard.

I hope to meet the Gentile believers in Pisidian Antioch in the next life and learn more about them. Had any of them converted to Judaism before the events of this passage, and if so, how did they come to believe in the God of the Old Testament? What were their thoughts and emotions as Paul shared the Gospel message with them and furnished them with the correct interpretation of the Old Testament? Were they persecuted by the Jews after Paul and Barnabas were expelled from their region? How did they maintain their faith in Jesus of Nazareth as their Savior?

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