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By Pastor Earl Herr
Correspondent 

Thought for the Week: And Then What?

 

February 21, 2019

A wonderful message of forgiveness and justification had been preached. Paul and Barnabas have done well. Their message has been gladly received. Remember that it was not only Jews by birth but also those who had become Jews as proselytes to the faith present for the message. I don't know how, perhaps there were Gentiles, not proselytes, standing within ear shot that heard the message.

It seems there were those who were not part of the original group of listeners who heard and wanted to hear more. When Paul and Barnabas left the building they were confronted and encouraged to come back the next week so the people could hear more. This they seemed glad to do. It must have been the "talk of the town" that week for when next Sabbath rolled around, it seemed almost the whole town turned out. They came prepared to listen.

I believe Paul and Barnabas came prepared to speak. It was wonderful, almost. Unfortunately, there were some of the Jews who saw this great crowd of people and the seeds of jealousy sprouted in their hearts. There was more than enough of God's grace to go around. No one needed to lack that great grace, but somehow, opposition began to arise. These jealous Jews began to speak against what Paul was saying. They went so far as to blaspheme.

To blaspheme simply means to attribute something not from God as godly or to deny something from God is from Him. I suppose this blasphemy would be something like: "This message is not from God." or "God does not want these Gentiles to come to Him." Paul and Barnabas were quick and bold to confront this. They freely said something like, "You have heard the truth – you deny the truth – you have been offered God's forgiveness and salvation – you have rejected the offer."

Paul reminds them God's intention was for Jews to be the Light that would guide all men, everywhere to come to Him. (See Isaiah 49:6.) Having made this accusation, Paul rested his case against the accusers. The Gentiles who had not before been worshipping God, now did indeed rejoice, glorify God and believe His word to them.

Sadly those jealous Jews created a great amount of agitation among the political leadership. It soon became apparent persecution against Paul and Barnabas was on the horizon. In a somewhat rare act of condemnation, Paul and Barnabas shook off the dust of their feet as a testimony against their accusers. Jesus had told His disciples they could do this and God would bring punishment against them.

I think it would have been better to pray that God would bring conviction on them and they would repent, but I do not deny this is a legitimate response to false accusations, blasphemy, and persecution.

At any rate, this seems to be the end of their ministry in Pisidian Antioch. They departed for a neighboring town of Iconium. These Disciples were filled with both joy and the Holy Spirit. What a wonderful combination to have. Do you?

 

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