After Paul had left Philippi, we learn Paul passes

 

After Paul had left Philippi, we
learn Paul passes through Amphipolis, Apollonia and then reaching Thessalonica
where he went to the synagogue and taught scripture “as was his custom” (Acts
17:1-2). While yes this custom is demonstrated throughout the book of Acts, in
Luke’s account of early work in Pisidian Antioch we learn why Paul practiced
this custom. The Jews in that city were not accepting of Paul’s message and
teaching leading to Paul and Barnabas declaring to them, “We had to speak the
word of God to you first. Since you reject it and do not consider yourselves
worthy of eternal life, we now turn to the Gentiles” (Acts 13:46). Remembering
that Gentiles, who somewhat believed in the idea of God – believed also that
God was to transform the world and the people in it. In Acts 10:42 we see
Cornelius (a converted gentile) who believed that God had raise Jesus from his
tomb and appointed him to be the “judge of all the living and the dead”,
therefore he received the same Holy Spirit that the Jew who believed had also
received.

 

Those gentiles in Antioch in pisidia
believed the word that God had kept his promise the the ancient fathers by
raising Jesus and not letting his remains stay on earth as David, making him
King of all nations but also offering the forgiveness of sins to Israel as a
way of avoiding destruction (Acts 13:30-41). The Jews needed forgiveness of
sins for their long standing ways of being unlawful, their refusal to listen to
the prophets and ultimately the rejection of Jesus, “This man was handed over
to you by God’s deliberate plan and foreknowledge; and you, with the help
of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross” (Acts 2:23). The
gentiles on the other hand needed forgiveness because for a long time they had
sort their own ways, worshiping idols and not following scripture, “We are
bringing you good news, telling you to turn from these worthless
things to the living God, who made the heavens and the earth and
the sea and everything in them. 16 In the past, he let all
nations go their own ways” (Acts 14:16).

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Both the conversion and mission to the gentiles is unexpected in some
way I must say. Firstly, we as people are all called to conversion. Conversion
is not meant only for non-Christians or some would say non Catholics;
conversion is not something that only those who live in sin; it is a change of
heart wherein we look and search for what God wants for us and try to do it to
the best of our abilities. I say this because Paul’s conversion consisted of
not only him accepting Jesus but changing his heart on how he fell towards Christians.
Remembering that Paul made a life of out persecuting Christians around him for
their beliefs and faith. Paul’s conversion accounts to him seeing the Lord
Jesus (vv.3-4); therefore to him he saw resurrected Jesus and not as an accused
man on the cross but the Lord of all. Taking note also at the fact that those
around Saul knew him as a persecutor of Christians and then all of a sudden the
man they knew to look down upon believers/followers of God turned to studying
and spreading the word of the same God he disposed. No one was prepared for the
conversion thereby making is a true miracle. If that was to happen to my friend
I would call it a miracle too.

 

Paul
even refers himself as an apostle, ‘God Given’ responsibility to bring the
gentiles into a holy relationship with the God of Israel. This is Paul
reminding somewhat his audience that his authority granted to him showing how
conscious he is about his calling—apostle to the gentiles.

“Yet
I have written you quite boldly on some points to remind you of them again,
because of the grace God gave me to be a minister of Christ Jesus to the
Gentiles. He gave me the priestly duty of proclaiming the gospel of
God, so that the Gentiles might become an offering acceptable to God,
sanctified by the Holy Spirit.

Therefore
I glory in Christ Jesus in my service to God. I will not venture to
speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me in leading the
Gentiles to obey God by what I have said and done” (Romans 15:15-18).

In reality we know that the
‘gospel’ first went to the Israelite then the gentile, “For I am not ashamed
of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation
to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile” (Romans
1:16). Thus Paul being the apostle to the gentiles we see the possible
intentions of God in that all people are to know his truth, laws and mainly him
with the hope of experiencing his unending love and prosperity.

 

“A person is not a Jew who is one
only outwardly, nor is circumcision merely outward and physical. No,
a person is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the
heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code. Such a person’s
praise is not from other people, but from God” (Romans 2:28-29), it was not a
matter of if a person was Israeli or if they were circumcised; the converted
Israeli went spreading the news to everyone without discrimination. “Neither
circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything; what counts is the new
creation. Peace and mercy to all who follow this rule to the Israel of God” (Galatians
6:15-16). God sent a converted Israelite, one that was not only skilled in the
way of the law but also the ways of God, having also grown up understanding the
culture and ways of gentiles. This the seemingly unlikely conversion had a plan
behind it all along.

 

Paul was said to have had many gifts but one that stood out was that he
was a great thinker. He was able to examine ideas and opinions brought before
him with questions and answers to determine the truth; also though was he an
expert at understanding and reading the scriptures. This didn’t go unnoticed as
rulers and other government official heard and saw him. In acts 25-26 he is
accused by the Jews of breaking the law while as a prisoner in Caesarea; during
the time of his imprisonment the Jews had hoped to have a trial in Jerusalem
but Paul’s judgement was in court in front of the governor Felix later on with
Festus as well as King Agrippa.

 

These rulers where somewhat persuaded by what Paul uttered from his
mouth, the truth of God’s word as he explained the scriptures. Even King Agrippa
replied to Paul, “Do you think that in such a short time
you can persuade me to be a Christian?” (Acts 26:28). Unexpected as it may have
been, Gods plan seemed to be in action throughout.