33 God hath fulfilled the same unto us their children, in that he hath raised up Jesus again; as it is also written in the second psalm, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee.
Paul and Barnabas have come to Antioch in Pisidia and were invited to preach in the synagogue on the Sabbath. After the readings from the law and the prophets, Paul proceeded to recount salvation history beginning with Abraham and continuing through Moses and the prophets, their desire for a king and all that came from that. He then told them about Jesus and how he fulfilled the prophecies concerning the Messiah. The Gentiles within the community heard about his preaching and invited him to preach for them. The following Sabbath so many people showed up to listen to Paul, the usual things happened.
Needless to say, the Jewish leaders became jealous of Paul, and gathered enough people with them to drive Paul and Barnabas out of town. Paul and Barnabas did as Jesus had told the seventy-two that he had sent out to prepare the people for Jesus’ message, and shook the dust from their feet and moved on. Paul continues to preach where he can to both the Jews and the Gentiles.
After a while, it seems that so many would come to believe that the leaders of the Jews and sometimes the Gentiles would get jealous and afraid of losing their power that they would begin to persecute them and Paul and Barnabas would have to move on.
I am amazed at their zeal! God seems to use even their persecution to move the faith further and further into the known world. Do you ever wonder what would have happened if the good news had been readily accepted by the Jewish people in Jerusalem and they were never persecuted? It’s possible that we would not know about Jesus; that this new religion would have remained just a sect of Judaism.
But God uses everything to bring about good. The disciples were forced to move out of Jerusalem and were scattered in every direction. Yes, Paul was given the ministry to the Gentiles, but the other disciples also disbursed with some going further south into Africa. Peter, Paul and John traveled to Europe. The message was the same. Jesus was the fulfillment of the promise to send a Messiah and brought salvation to all.
Thank you for their zeal in spreading the Good News of the Gospel. Thank you for giving them the courage to bring your word to the world so that we, too, would know of your goodness. Amen.