(34 verses, 3:30 to read)
What I am about to READ
- Paul continues his second missionary journey.
- Thessalonica (1-9)
- Berea (10-14)
- Athens (15-34)
- Paul’s preaching among the Jews and Gentiles is consistent, the content of the cross and resurrection remain the same, but it takes different shapes relative to the audience. For instance, notice how when Paul is among the Jews in both Thessalonica and Berea he reasons from the Old Testament Scriptures to prove that Jesus is the long awaited Christ (3, 11). Especially commendable for an example for us are the Bereans who tested Paul’s preaching against the Scriptures. The Word of God cannot be divided against itself. The Bereans discovered that the same Christ promised by Moses and the Prophets was indeed fulfilled by Jesus whose works were preached by Paul.
- The Gentiles, on the other hand, do not have Moses and the Prophets. Rather, they have the idols and false gods, that is, the religion of the demons. How and where can Paul start his sermons among ignorant Gentiles? First, they need to know about their blindness. Paul says, “What you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you” (23). It’s not that the Greeks could attain some sort of communion with God through either their philosophy or demonic religious practices, quite the opposite. They cannot know God until he is proclaimed. This first presents itself as condemning Law. “The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.”
- There’s no Gospel at this point. Knowing that God has risen Christ from the dead to judge the earth in righteousness cannot save you. It can only terrify. The Greeks stumbled at hearing about the resurrection, just as many stumble today. The result was that Paul’s sermon was cut short. Their hardened hearts kept them from hearing that this God-man has also become righteousness for sinners through his death, resurrection, and ascension to the Father’s right hand. May the Lord keep our hearts from such hardness when we also receive the Law that shatters our worldly opinions and security.
- Prayer: Heavenly Father, make known to me the way of salvation through your Son, Jesus Christ, who will return on the last day not to condemn me, but to fulfill his promises made to me in Baptism. Amen.
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-Pastor A. Brian Flamme