13 From Paphos, Paul and his companions sailed to Perga in Pamphylia. There John Mark left them and returned to Jerusalem. 14 From Perga they went on to Pisidian Antioch. On the Sabbath day they entered the synagogue and sat down. 15 The Law and the Prophets were read aloud. Then the leaders of the synagogue sent word to Paul and his companions. They said, “Brothers, do you have any words of instruction for the people? If you do, please speak.” 16 Paul stood up and motioned with his hand. Then he said, “Fellow Israelites, and you Gentiles who worship God, listen to me! 17 The God of Israel chose our people who lived long ago. He blessed them greatly while they were in Egypt. With his mighty power he led them out of that country. 18 He put up with their behavior for about 40 years in the desert. 19 And he destroyed seven nations in Canaan. Then he gave the land to his people as their rightful share. 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. He gave them Saul, son of Kish. Saul was from the tribe of Benjamin. He ruled for 40 years. 22 God removed him and made David their king. Here is God’s witness about him. ‘David, son of Jesse, is a man dear to my heart,’ he said. ‘David will do everything I want him to do.’ 23 “From this man’s family line God has brought to Israel the Savior Jesus. This is what he had promised. 24 Before Jesus came, John preached that we should turn away from our sins and be baptized. He preached this to all Israel. 25 John was coming to the end of his work. ‘Who do you suppose I am?’ he said. ‘I am not the one you are looking for. But there is someone coming after me. I am not good enough to untie his sandals.’ 26 “Listen, fellow children of Abraham! Listen, you Gentiles who worship God! This message of salvation has been sent to us. 27 The people of Jerusalem and their rulers did not recognize Jesus. By finding him guilty, they made the prophets’ words come true. These are read every Sabbath day. 28 The people and their rulers had no reason at all for sentencing Jesus to death. But they asked Pilate to have him killed. 29 They did everything that had been written about Jesus. Then they took him down from the cross. They laid him in a tomb. 30 But God raised him from the dead. 31 For many days he was seen by those who had traveled with him from Galilee to Jerusalem. Now they are telling our people about Jesus. 32 “We are telling you the good news. What God promised our people long ago 33 he has done for us, their children. He has raised up Jesus. This is what is written in the second Psalm. It says, “ ‘You are my son. Today I have become your father.’ (Psalm 2:7) 34 God raised Jesus from the dead. He will never rot in the grave. As God has said, “ ‘Holy and sure blessings were promised to David. I will give them to you.’ (Isaiah 55:3) 35 In another place it also says, “ ‘You will not let your holy one rot away.’ (Psalm 16:10) 36 “David carried out God’s purpose while he lived. Then he died. He was buried with his people. His body rotted away. 37 But the one whom God raised from the dead did not rot away. 38 “My friends, here is what I want you to know. I announce to you that your sins can be forgiven because of what Jesus has done. 39 Through him everyone who believes is set free from every sin. Moses’ law could not make you right in God’s eyes. 40 Be careful! Don’t let what the prophets spoke about happen to you. They said, 41 “ ‘Look, you who make fun of the truth! Wonder and die! I am going to do something in your days that you would never believe. You wouldn’t believe it even if someone told you.’ ” (Habakkuk 1:5)
This story takes place in a strategic military and administrative Roman colony, that was a major trading route to the coast of Syria and Ephesus. This pagan city, with a temple to Ascaenus, was also a strategic location to preach the gospel on Paul’s first missionary journey. Here Paul and Barnabas start preaching to the God-fearing Gentiles and many are saved. Paul begins, by giving these people a complete history lesson of God’s redemption plan from Abraham to Jesus. Many came to believe and “the word of the Lord spread throughout the whole region”. (Acts 13 v 49)
What struck me about this passage: These people were Gentiles (not Jews, not cultured in the stories of their history and the retelling of these through their celebrations) – yet as Paul teaches this journey of God and His people to them. He unfold the story of God on earth through His people and then through Jesus – they understand and have an encounter with Christ and they are saved.
It struck me – so often I wonder how to share Christ to certain people? What is the best approach? My testimony? History? Yet, here Paul is able to reach these pagan people just sharing HIStory. The journey of God and His people – completely revealed in Jesus.
How well do I know the word of God and the stories in the Bible to share it so concisely?
Lord help me to share your word, your life, your history and your truth that those who listen will come to a knowledge and understanding of you. Help me and lead me to share with people where they are at and what they need to hear from you.
Written by Ps. Sue Botta