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English Sermon (`19.05.19) Things that happened in Pisidian Antioch
2019-05-21 03:01:22, view [
Things that happened in Pisidian Antioch
Acts 13:48 19.5.2019
When the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and honored the word of the Lord; and all who were appointed for eternal life believed. (Acts 13:48 NIV)
The city of Antioch in one of the places Paul went during his missionary journey. Not Antioch in Syria from where he started the journey, but this is Antioch that is in the region of Pisidia. Because of the fact the two cities bare the same name, what happened in the latter might not have been known so widely.
To get to the point, if you are to summarise things that happened in Pisidian Antioch, that would be Acts 13:48. “When the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and honored the word of the Lord; and all who were appointed for eternal life believed.” Not the Jews but the Gentiles came to honour and glorify the word of God. They had thought it was only the Jews who were ‘appointed for eternal life’ but the Gentiles were actually included in it. In a word, salvation also came to the Gentiles.
The people who Paul and Barnabas first tried to evangelise were the Jews. Therefore they picked Sabbath than other days. And on that day they visited the Synagogue of the Jews than any other places. They took part in the service of worship that went on in the Synagogue and also preached according to its order. But when they spent a week there, the synagogue was not a place only for the Jews any more.
At first it was only the Jews and the devout converts to Judaism who gathered at the synagogue on the Sabbath to listen to Paul and Barnabas’s sermons. And then they requested Paul and Barnabas to come back and preach the same word on the next Sabbath. The content of the sermon fills almost the whole of chapter 13.
The fact the Jews who gathered at the synagogue made such a requested to Paul does not mean that they were turned into Christians on its own. It was not as if the Jews converted into Christians, nor that the synagogue turned into a church at the sermon.
But Luke who recorded this event says, the people who rejoiced and glorified God, who actually came to belong to the ‘appointed’, to the eternal life, were not the Jews, but the citizens of Antioch, the Gentiles who gathered on the next Sabbath. Isn’t this interesting? Not only the fact that the Gentiles came to the synagogue of the Jews, but also the fact that they heard the gospel there and got saved.
If we look at 13:46 it says: “And Paul and Barnabas spoke out boldly”. This means that they spoke boldly in front of the Jews and the Gentiles. It means that they stood before a great crowd of audience, as well as that they had to speak difficult words that would move that great crowd. In the end, it means that on one hand, they spoke out words that would turn many Gentiles to God, and on the other hand, words that would make the ones who remained as Jews angry.
If we look at how Paul and Barnabas could speak so boldly, we can see that someone first provoked Paul. In v.43 it says, “When the Jews saw the crowds, they were filled with jealousy. They began to contradict what Paul was saying and heaped abuse on him.” All they did was preaching the same sermon as the previous week, but the Jews grew extremely jealous as they heard this message along with the Gentiles.
It was probably because Paul grew popular with the people. Not just a few among them, but even the Gentiles who visited their synagogues stood on Paul’s side. The Salvation they meant to receive would go to the Gentiles. It is like having an educational minister to teach our children, but the overseas students end up receiving more grace.
To summarize, it is important that in whatever manner they gathered on the Sabbath to hear God's Word. It does not matter whether they are Jews or Gentiles. What is more important is the fact that they gathered, not just once, but many times, a Sabbath after Sabbath, regularly.
And it is even more important that the meeting had the reading of the Law and the Prophets and also a word of engagement for the people, related to what was read. There were reading of the Bible and preaching. Other things you can do with or without. But the Word of God and its preaching is the essence.
Most importantly here is the fact that the sermon must be repeated. The sermon of the same content has to be preached this Sabbath and the next Sunday. Of course, it does not mean that it has to be exactly the same word for word. But it has to be of the same subject, the same content, and the same gospel.
It was at this very sermon, some were saved, others turned away. Some of the Jews even contradicted and reviled Paul’s preaching and eventually drove Paul’s company out. So-called landlord's abuse of power, in a way. By doing so, they have revealed themselves as ones who can cut it right off, when they find anything offensive to their ears, destroying their vested interests or damaging their authority, even if the Word of God.
Now, let us hear Paul's argument against such Jews. Paul's word of argument stirred up anger among the Jews, but was a joy to some Gentiles who were appointed to be saved. It was probably this very word that made them honour and glorify the Word of God and eventually led them to enter eternal life God had prepared.
What did Paul say? V. 47, “I have made you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.”
Did God make Paul a light for the Gentiles? Is it Paul whom God took as a light for the Gentiles that preached to them? Is this one whom God sent to save Pisidian Antioch at the ends of the Gentile land, the same one as who preached the very word in the Jewish Synagogue?
In fact, saying things like that can only happen in fake religions. People crowd in if you advertise yourself that you are the one the Bible refers to as Second Advent Jesus Christ, or even if not so dramatic, that you are a prophet with some supernatural power. It is like crowds of people gathering in for a rally, when the speaker is introduced to them as a great scholar or a godly person with an extraordinary experience.
If we think the reason we as Gentiles got to know God and were saved is because of Paul who preached to the Gentiles and because of the fact Paul was a Pharisee among the Jews, a scholar having studied under Gamaliel, and appointed as an Apostle through a mysterious experience; if we think we follow Paul for these reasons and have come to church as a result; then it is as good as we have volunteered to be deceived.
In other words, if we think that the Word Paul quoted from Isaiah 49: 6, in v. 47, "I have made you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth” a prophecy that points to Paul himself, then we are still fakes. If we believe that our teacher Paul is the one who will save the ends of the earth, a light for us the Gentiles, and the apostle for us the Gentiles, it is no different than joining Shincheonji, believing the leader Lee Man-hee's words.
The word through which the Gentiles were saved when they heard it! The word Paul preached through his own mouth! Was he saying this ancient word of prophecy is fulfilled in him? Did he or they think that for that reason people have to stand on Paul’s and not on Peter’s side? Did the citizens of Antioch understand Paul this way because they were Gentiles themselves?
First of all, we must go to where this word is originally from. Isaiah 49: 6, “He says: “It is too light a thing that you should be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob and to bring back the preserved of Israel; I will make you as a light for the nations, that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth.”
Isaiah begins, ‘He said…’ Who is saying this? God. But, who does God say that He will make a light of the Gentiles? Paul? No. Who is it that will be the servant of God and raise up the tribes of Jacob? And who does God will bring back the preserved of Israel?
The one who will make a light for the Gentiles and make salvation God gives reach the ends of the earth is the servant of the LORD who appears constantly in the book of Isaiah, the Messiah. Jesus Christ, Yeshua HaMashiach!
To put it simply, Paul preached to the Gentiles of Antioch gathered in the Judaic Synagogue on the Sabbath day, not of himself, but Jesus, whom God made their light. What did Paul say that Jesus would do to them? – that He brings salvation of God to the ends of the earth.
Again, Paul preached the gospel, not only to the Jews but also to the Gentiles. He said, ‘God is shining the light. It is Jesus! God made this Jesus your, the Gentiles’, salvation!’ ‘People of Antioch! He is alive and shining upon you; Know this and come back!’
This is the same for us today. The gospel is a declaration that God is shining Jesus Christ onto us. There is no other gospel. The gospel is an indication that salvation Jesus accomplished has reached the Gentiles like us who stand at the ends of the earth in the last days.
But today we are, like that Jews, still look for someone who is from acknowledgeable lineage, well leaned, full of experience like Paul; someone who is excellent in prayer and spirituality, who is eager and sincere. Instead of Jesus, the light that shines upon us who saves us.
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