Second Reading: Acts 13:22-26
Proclaim The Message!
Paul spoke to the people in the synagogue.”
22 “After he removed Saul, God raised David up as king for the people. God said, ‘I find David is close to my heart because he does everything I want him to do.’ 23 From the descendants of David, God brought Israel a Savior, Jesus, just as he promised. 24 Before Jesus appeared, John preached and baptized to all of Israel so people could turn back to God. 25 At the end of his life, John kept saying, “Who do you think I am? I’m not the Messiah. But, listen! He will come after I am gone. And I am not worthy to untie his sandal!”
26 “My brothers, you sons of Abraham and everyone who loves God, the Lord sent us this message of salvation to us.”
Paul came to Antioch in the area of Pisidia. He went to the synagogue, and was invited to speak after the Scripture readings. Paul said to the congregation:
22 Having changed (Saul as king), (God) raised up David for them as king, in whom, he said, having testified, “I found David, the (descendant) of Jesse, a man according to my heart, will carry out all my wishes.” 23 From this (man’s) seed according to his promise, God brought Israel a savior, JESUS, 24 as John announced (in) a baptism of metanoia before the presence of his coming to all the people of Israel. 25 As John finished the course (of his ministry), he kept saying, “Who do you think I am? I am not (HE). But, Look! he comes after me of whom I am not worthy to untie the sandals on his feet.”
26 “Men, brothers, sons of the family of Abraham, and the (ones) among you fearing God, the word of this salvation was sent out to us.”
13:22 Paul’s quote combined 1 Samuel 13:14, Psalm 89:20, and Isaiah 44:28.
13:24 “metanoia” is repentance, a turning toward God with mind, heart, and lifestyle.
13:24 “before the presence of his coming” is literally “before the face of his entrance.” The term “face” meant presence, just as the face of the person symbolized the presence of one’s personality.
13:26 “Men, brothers.” These two terms are synonymous; it could be translated “my brothers.” “The ones among you fearing God” could be either Greek converts or Gentiles who worshiped YHWH. In the context of the synagogue, Paul meant the converts, but in the context of reading audience, the author Luke meant Gentiles, like himself.
When Paul preached, he modified his message to his audience. To the Gentiles, he preached the resurrection and new life in Christ. But, to his countrymen, he could frame the Good News in light of national history and the testimony of those the people trusted.
These verses from Acts presented Paul the Jew preaching to Jews. He recalled the glory years for Israel for his audience, especially the reign of David. This event communicated the royal covenant God made to David. Paul inferred that God’s promises would be answered in a descendant of David, Jesus of Nazareth.
Notice Paul’s next tactic. He turned to the person of John the Baptist. By mentioning the name of the desert prophet and his baptism, Paul recognized his audience was familiar with John and his message. Both Paul and the author Luke presumed John had a favorable reputation among the Jewish population at the time. They did know the core message of John’s ministry, preparation for the coming Messiah. Paul simply connected Jesus with John’s message as another proof that the Christ had indeed arrived. David’s reign and John’s preaching were the springboards to the Good News Paul preached
History and testimony. Paul argued for Jesus in these ways. We, too, have a Christian history that extends over two thousand years and multiple testimonies about the power of God in the lives of Christ’s followers. Both history and testimony attest to the appearance of the Messiah. Both proclaim his presence in our lives.
How has Christ been proclaimed to you? How do you proclaim that message to others?