26 “Brothers, sons of the family of Abraham, and those among you who fear God, to us has been sent the message of this salvation. 27 For those who live in Jerusalem and their rulers, because they did not recognize him nor understand the utterances of the prophets, which are read every Sabbath, fulfilled them by condemning him. 28 And though they found in him no guilt worthy of death, they asked Pilate to have him executed. 29 And when they had carried out all that was written of him, they took him down from the tree and laid him in a tomb. 30 But God raised him from the dead, 31 and for many days he appeared to those who had come up with him from Galilee to Jerusalem, who are now his witnesses to the people.
Paul is appealing to this group of ethnically Jewish and ethnically greek people to believe that Jesus is the promised Messiah. The thing is, this crowd is so far away from Jerusalem, that whatever Jewish traditions they have are mostly focused around their hometown in Pisidia.
Pisidian Antioch is a mostly Greek-cultured city, with a section of town that held almost all of the Jewish people. They had been dispersed there for hundreds of years, but probably made the 3x yearly pilgrimage to Jerusalem for the major feasts. They were familiar enough to recognize Paul and Barnabas as some kind of big deal visitors because they asked them to speak at their synagogue and bring in a new word.
The question Paul is ultimately raising to these folks is “Now that the promised Messiah has come, are you going to make the same mistake the leaders in Jerusalem made?”
Paul repeats this same message all over the place:
- Jesus was sent by God
- Jesus lived a perfect life
- The Jewish leaders rejected Him and had Him killed
- Jesus was really dead
- God raised Jesus from the dead to prove that Jesus was right in everything
- Now all of the promised salvation of God is available to you
The nuances of the message might change as he goes from town to town. He has more Jewish history and prophecy when Jewish people are involved. He has more philosophy of satisfaction of common longings when the Greeks are involved.
This order fits into the celebrations and conversations of Christmas. It’s 113 days from Christmas to Easter this year. 113 days from the day we celebrate His birth to the day we celebrate His resurrection.
They were both necessary parts of one another, and they both contribute and seal the best life that was ever lived.
As we talk about Jesus’ birth, we have a perfect opportunity to celebrate our second birth as well.
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