38 Let it be known to you therefore, brothers, that through this man forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you, 39 and by him everyone who believes is freed from everything from which you could not be freed by the law of Moses. 40 Beware, therefore, lest what is said in the Prophets should come about:
41 ” ’Look, you scoffers,
be astounded and perish;
for I am doing a work in your days,
a work that you will not believe, even if one tells it to you.’ “
42 As they went out, the people begged that these things might be told them the next Sabbath. 43 And after the meeting of the synagogue broke up, many Jews and devout converts to Judaism followed Paul and Barnabas, who, as they spoke with them, urged them to continue in the grace of God.
After establishing that Jesus came from God and that God proved it by raising Him from the dead, Paul tells them what Jesus’ message was. It seems important that Paul would work in this order. Sure, there is a lot of wisdom going around in the 1st century and today, but a man raised from the dead?! That’s shocking.
That’s not the only shocking thing in this conclusion to Paul’s speech. Remember, he is in a Jewish synagogue talking to Jewish people. Some are Jewish because they were born into it. Many in this area, however, were converted from Roman paganism into Judaism as adults. It was a very popular religion for Greeks. It celebrated monogamy, sexual purity, high morality, and it could get you out of obligatory military service for Caesar!
The bomb that Paul drops at the end:
through [Jesus] forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you, and by him everyone who believes is freed from everything from which you could not be freed by the law of Moses.
These folks were running and clinging to the Law of Moses for their dear lives! The number one thing that ordered and controlled their lives was the Law of Moses. Now a way of life that is bigger and better than the Law of Moses has come, and it was proclaimed by the God-man that rose from the dead! You can’t get any more far-out and awesome than this.
This city that was genuinely seeking out God had the fulfillment of what they were seeking in the life and message of Jesus Christ. His victory was now their ever-sought victory. His life was now their indwelling life.
These are also all of the people that would later get a letter from Paul that we now call “The Letter to the Galatians.” Paul would tell this very crowd about the fruit of the Spirit, the freedom from the Law, and the life that Christ Jesus now lives in them. Check out the book of Galatians to see all of the things Paul would re-iterate to them in his letter.
You can get the Daily Bible Readings to your inbox via email every day by subscribing on our home page. Join the discussion on Facebook or Twitter.