Thursday, 7 May 2009

Paul and Barnabas

Reading Acts 13 13-35 TNIV

In Pisidian Antioch

13 From Paphos, Paul and his companions sailed to Perga in Pamphylia, where John left them to return to Jerusalem. 14 From Perga they went on to Pisidian Antioch. On the Sabbath they entered the synagogue and sat down. 15 After the reading from the Law and the Prophets, the leaders of the synagogue sent word to them, saying, "Brothers, if you have a word of exhortation for the people, please speak."

16 Standing up, Paul motioned with his hand and said: "People of Israel and you Gentiles who worship God, listen to me! 17 The God of the people of Israel chose our ancestors; he made the people prosper during their stay in Egypt; with mighty power he led them out of that country; 18 for about forty years he endured their conduct [a] in the wilderness; 19 and he overthrew seven nations in Canaan, giving their land to his people as their inheritance. 20 All this took about 450 years.

    "After this, God gave them judges until the time of Samuel the prophet. 21 Then the people asked for a king, and he gave them Saul son of Kish, of the tribe of Benjamin, who ruled forty years. 22 After removing Saul, he made David their king. God testified concerning him: 'I have found David son of Jesse, a man after my own heart; he will do everything I want him to do.'

23 "From this man's descendants God has brought to Israel the Saviour Jesus, as he promised. 24 Before the coming of Jesus, John preached repentance and baptism to all the people of Israel. 25 As John was completing his work, he said: 'Who do you suppose I am? I am not the one you are looking for. But there is someone coming after me whose sandals I am not worthy to untie.'

26 "Brothers and sisters from the children of Abraham and you God-fearing Gentiles, it is to us that this message of salvation has been sent. 27 The people of Jerusalem and their rulers did not recognize Jesus, yet in condemning him they fulfilled the words of the prophets that are read every Sabbath. 28 Though they found no proper ground for a death sentence, they asked Pilate to have him executed. 29 When they had carried out all that was written about him, they took him down from the cross and laid him in a tomb. 30 But God raised him from the dead, 31 and for many days he was seen by those who had travelled with him from Galilee to Jerusalem. They are now his witnesses to our people.

32 "We tell you the good news: What God promised our ancestors 33 he has fulfilled for us, their children, by raising up Jesus. As it is written in the second Psalm:
       " 'You are my son;
       today I have become your father.'

34 God raised him from the dead so that he will never be subject to decay. As God has said,
       " 'I will give you the holy and sure blessings promised to David.'

35 So it is also stated elsewhere:
       " 'You will not let your holy one see decay.'

Gospel John 13 16-20 TNIV

16 Very truly I tell you, servants are not greater than their master, nor are messengers greater than the one who sent them. 17 Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.

18 "I am not referring to all of you; I know those I have chosen. But this is to fulfil this passage of Scripture: 'He who shared my bread has lifted up his heel against me.' [a]

19 "I am telling you now before it happens, so that when it does happen you will believe that I am who I am. 20 Very truly I tell you, whoever accepts anyone I send accepts me; and whoever accepts me accepts the one who sent me."


Last week – the conversion of the Ethiopian eunuch after Philip explained to him the reading from Isaiah and how it related to the life and death of Jesus Christ.

Then attention turns to Saul – his conversion after a vision on the Damascus road that struck him temporarily blind. Paul’s preaching in Damascus after he regained his sight. Then Paul’s journey to Jerusalem where he sought to join the disciples there, who were initially afraid of him.

Then back to Peter. Peter heals a young woman in Joppa who was feared dead. His encounter with the centurion Cornelius which signalled the start of the mission to the Gentiles. Lastly the account of the death of James, the brother of John – killed by a sword on the orders of Herod – Peter’s miraculous delivery from prison – and the death of Herod himself.

Now we shift back to Paul who was commissioned with Barnabas to commence their mission, starting in the Greek isles, then Perga and Antioch. Here Paul is invited into the synagogue and asked to address the people. Using his extensive knowledge Paul expounds the Hebrew scriptures as they foretold the coming of Jesus Christ. But Paul stresses his testimony is not to the Jews alone, but is an inclusive mission to the whole world.

By all accounts, his speech was well received. He was asked back the following week to tell the people more about the background to his mission, and the challenge of the future – the offer of forgiveness of sins. The Jews reacted badly and chased Paul and Barnabas out of the city, but the Gentiles rejoiced.

More next week, a couple of chapters later, on the feast of Matthias the apostle.

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