Friday, May 20, 2016
“Then Paul and Barnabas waxed bold, and said, It was necessary that the word of God should first have been spoken to you: but seeing ye put it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles” (Acts 13:46 KJV).
Israel has been warned—there are two more admonitions to come!
Anyone who has seriously studied the book of Acts is familiar with the three-fold announcement the Apostle Paul made to the nation Israel. Today’s Scripture was the first. Acts 18:6 is the second: “And when they opposed themselves, and blasphemed, he shook his raiment, and said unto them, Your blood be upon your own heads; I am clean; from henceforth I will go unto the Gentiles.” Acts 28:28 is the last: “Be it known therefore unto you, that the salvation of God is sent unto the Gentiles, and that they will hear it.”
While there are some very asinine teachings associated with this three-fold announcement, we push such denominational biases aside to look at the verses themselves. Consult a good Bible atlas (there may be one in the back on your Bible) and notice where Acts 13:46, Acts 18:6, and Acts 28:28 were spoken. The first was uttered in Antioch of Pisidia, Asia Minor (modern-day Turkey). The second was spoken in Corinth, Achaia (modern-day southern Greece). The last was uttered in Rome, Italy (the world’s capital at that time). In other words, Paul traveled westward making this proclamation. We in the Western world should be thankful. The Gospel of Grace, instead of spreading eastward (the Far East), came our way first!
Although it is common to view the book of Acts as “the record of the birth of the Church” (a faulty phrase found commonly in “Christian” thinking), a more appropriate summary is “God’s justice exhibited in setting Israel aside.” The more Paul preached from Acts chapter 9 through chapter 28, the more unbelieving Jews followed him, argued with him, and even physically abused him. By the end of Acts, the transitional period was over. Israel had “diminished” (Romans 11:12); the Holy Spirit through Paul would warn her no more. He had already gone to the Gentiles, and, unlike national Israel, how the Gentiles so joyfully received Him!