Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Acts 13 continued - Jesus as a fulfilment of Scripture

Apostle Paul's First Missionary Journey Map

The second half of chapter 13 of Acts is largely taken up with a homily of St Paul which summarises the basic Gospel message in terms pitched at the Jewish community he was preaching to in the Synagogue, focusing on Christ as the fulfilment of the promises of Scripture.

 The sermon is rich in biblical number symbolism that would have been extremely meaningful to his audience, but is less so to us.  The numbers he uses - 40/400/4, 7, 50 and 3 - recur very frequently indeed in Scripture, ad by using them, St Paul is reminding his audience of the Old Testament prophesies that these types of the Old Testament would be fulfilled in the Messiah, and this is now occurring.  So the forty years of hardened hearts in the desert are replaced by the forty days in which Christ appeared to the disciples after the Resurrection for example.

Acts 13:
13 After this Paul and his companions took ship from Paphos and made for Perge in Pamphylia; here John left them, and went back to Jerusalem. 14 They passed on from Perge, and reached Pisidian Antioch, where they went and took their seats in the synagogue on the sabbath day.15 When the reading from the law and the prophets was finished, the rulers of the synagogue sent a message to them to say, Brethren, if you have in your hearts any word of encouragement for the people, let us hear it. 16 Then Paul stood up, and made a gesture with his hand to claim audience. Listen, he said, men of Israel, and all you who worship the true God. 17 The God of this people of Israel chose out our fathers, and made his people great at the time when they were strangers in the land of Egypt, stretching out his arm to deliver them from it.
 Chrysostom (Homily 29): Then Paul stood up, it says—this was a custom of the Jews— and beckoned with his hand. And see how he prepares the way beforehand for his discourse: having first praised them, and showed his great regard for them in the words, you that fear God, he so begins his discourse... See, he calls God Himself their God peculiarly, Who is the common God of men; and shows how great from the first were His benefits, just as Stephen does.

This they do to teach them, that now also God has acted after the same custom, in sending His own Son; Luke 20:13: as (Christ) Himself (does) in the parable of the vineyard— And the people, he says, He exalted when it sojourned in the land of Egypt— and yet the contrary was the case: true, but they increased in numbers; moreover, the miracles were wrought on their account: and with an high arm brought He them out of it. Of these things (the wonders) which were done in Egypt, the prophets are continually making mention.
18 For forty years he bore with their hard hearts in the wilderness; 19 then he overthrew seven nations in the land of Chanaan, whose lands he gave them for an inheritance.
 et per quadraginta annorum tempus mores eorum sustinuit in deserto. 19 Et destruens gentes septem in terra Chanaan, sorte distribuit eis terram eorum, 
 Chrysostom: And observe, how he passes over the times of their calamities, and nowhere brings forward their faults, but only God's kindness, leaving those for themselves to think over...Here he shows that God varied His dispensations towards them (at various times).
20 By now, some four hundred and fifty years had passed; and after this he appointed judges over them, up to the time of the prophet Samuel. 21 Then they asked for a king, and God gave them Saul, son of Cis, a man of the tribe of Benjamin, who reigned forty years; 22 but afterwards dispossessed him, and raised up David to be their king. To him, he gave this testimony, I have found in David, son of Jesse, a man after my own heart, who will accomplish all that is my will.23 It is out of this man’s posterity, according to the promise made to him, that God has brought us a Saviour, Jesus.
quasi post quadringentos et quinquaginta annos: et post hæc dedit judices, usque ad Samuel prophetam. 21 Et exinde postulaverunt regem: et dedit illis Deus Saul filium Cis, virum de tribu Benjamin, annis quadraginta: 22 et amoto illo, suscitavit illis David regem: cui testimonium perhibens, dixit: Inveni David filium Jesse, virum secundum cor meum, qui faciet omnes voluntates meas.23 Hujus Deus ex semine secundum promissionem eduxit Israël salvatorem Jesum,
Chrysostom: And afterward they desired a king: and (still) not a word of their ingratitude, but throughout he speaks of the kindness of God.... This was no small thing that Christ should be from David.
 24 John had prepared the way for his coming, by proclaiming a baptism in which all the people of Israel was to repent; 25 but John himself, when he was coming to the end of his life’s course, told them, I am not what you suspect me to be; look rather for one who comes after me; I am not worthy to untie the shoes on his feet.
Chrysostom: Then John bears witness to this: When John had first preached before His coming the baptism of repentance to all the people of Israel. And as John fulfilled his course, he said, Whom do you think that I am? I am not He. But, behold, there comes one after me, whose shoes of His feet I am not worthy to loose. (v. 24, 25.) And John too not merely bears witness (to the fact), but (does it in such sort that) when men were bringing the glory to him, he declines it: for it is one thing (not to affect) an honor which nobody thinks of offering; and another, to reject it when all men are ready to give it, and not only to reject it, but to do so with such humility.
26 Brethren, you who are sons of Abraham, and you others who fear God, this message of salvation is sent to you. 27 The people at Jerusalem, like their rulers, did not recognize Jesus for what he was; unwittingly they fulfilled, by condemning him, those utterances of the prophets which they had heard read, sabbath after sabbath. 28 And although they could find no capital charge against him, they petitioned Pilate for his death. 29 So, when they had fulfilled all that had been written about him, they took him down from the cross and laid him in a tomb.
 Chrysostom: On all occasions we find them making a great point of showing this, that the blessing is peculiarly theirs, that they may not flee (from Christ), as thinking they had nothing to do with Him, because they had crucified Him. Because they knew Him not, he says: so that the sin was one of ignorance. See how he gently makes an apology even on behalf of those (crucifiers). And not only this: but he adds also, that thus it must needs be. And how so? By condemning Him, they fulfilled the voices of the prophets.
 30 And, on the third day, God raised him from the dead. 31 He was seen, over a space of many days, by the men who had come up with him from Galilee to Jerusalem; it is they who now bear witness of him before the people. 32 And this is the message we preach to you; there was a promise made to our forefathers, 33 and this promise God has redeemed for our posterity, by raising Jesus to life.Thus, it is written in the second Psalm, Thou art my son; I have begotten thee this day.34 And this is how he describes raising him from the dead, never to return to corruption again, I will grant you the privileges I have promised to David; 35 to which purpose he says in another psalm, Thou wilt not allow thy faithful servant to see corruption. 36 David saw corruption; he served God’s purpose in his own generation, and then fell asleep, and rested with his fathers; 37 but he whom God raised to life saw no corruption at all.38 Here is news for you, then, brethren; remission of your sins is offered to you through him. There are claims from which you could not be acquitted by the law of Moses, 39 and whoever believes in Jesus is quit of all these. 40 Beware, then, of incurring the prophets’ rebuke; 41 Look upon this, you scornful souls, and lose yourselves in astonishment. Such wonders I am doing in your days, that if a man told you the story you would not believe him.ourselves in astonishment. .
30 Deus vero suscitavit eum a mortuis tertia die: qui visus est per dies multos his 31 qui simul ascenderant cum eo de Galilæa in Jerusalem: qui usque nunc sunt testes ejus ad plebem. 32 Et nos vobis annuntiamus eam, quæ ad patres nostros repromissio facta est: 33 quoniam hanc Deus adimplevit filiis nostris resuscitans Jesum, sicut et in psalmo secundo scriptum est: Filius meus es tu, ego hodie genui te. 34 Quod autem suscitavit eum a mortuis, amplius jam non reversurum in corruptionem, ita dixit: Quia dabo vobis sancta David fidelia. 35 Ideoque et alias dicit: Non dabis sanctum tuum videre corruptionem. 36 David enim in sua generatione cum administrasset, voluntati Dei dormivit: et appositus est ad patres suos, et vidit corruptionem. 37 Quem vero Deus suscitavit a mortuis, non vidit corruptionem. 38 Notum igitur sit vobis, viri fratres, quia per hunc vobis remissio peccatorum annuntiatur, et ab omnibus quibus non potuistis in lege Moysi justificari, 39 in hoc omnis qui credit, justificatur. 40 Videte ergo ne superveniat vobis quod dictum est in prophetis: 41 Videte contemptores, et admiramini, et disperdimini:quia opus operor ego in diebus vestris, opus quod non credetis, si quis enarraverit vobis.
 Chrysostom: Observe how Paul here is more vehement in his discourse: we nowhere find Peter saying this. Then too he adds the terrifying words: Beware therefore, lest that come upon you, which is spoken of in the prophets; Behold, you despisers, and wonder, and perish: for I work a work in your days, a work which you shall in no wise believe, though a man declare it unto you...
42 As they left, they were implored to preach the same message there on the next sabbath. 43 And when the synagogue broke up, many Jews and many who worshipped the true God as proselytes followed Paul and Barnabas; and they preached to them, urging them to be true to the grace of God. 44 On the following sabbath almost all the city had assembled to hear God’s word. 45 The Jews, when they saw these crowds, were full of indignation, and began to argue blasphemously against all that Paul said. 46 Whereupon Paul and Barnabas told them roundly, We were bound to preach God’s word to you first; but now, since you reject it, since you declare yourselves unfit for eternal life, be it so; we will turn our thoughts to the Gentiles. 47 This, after all, is the charge the Lord has given us, I have appointed thee to be a light for the Gentiles, that thou mayst bring salvation to the ends of the earth. 48 The Gentiles were rejoiced to hear this, and praised the word of the Lord; and they found faith, all those of them who were destined to eternal life. 49 And the word of the Lord spread far and wide all through the country. 50 But the Jews used influence with such women of fashion as worshipped the true God, and with the leading men in the city, setting on foot a persecution against Paul and Barnabas and driving them out of their territory; 51 so they shook off the dust from their feet as they left them, and went on to Iconium. 52 The disciples, meanwhile, were filled with rejoicing, and with the Holy Spirit.

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