While preparing for an upcoming Bible study lesson on Acts 13, I found the various responses to the apostle Paul’s preaching very intriguing. At this stage of the game, Paul and Barnabas were set apart by the Holy Spirit to take the gospel of Christ further than it had ever gone before.
As they ministered to the Lord and fasted, the Holy Spirit said, “Now separate to Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them. Acts 13: 2
After traveling through Cyprus and ending up in Antioch in Pisidia, Paul and his crew found the local synagogue and exhorted the Jews. Paul, being filled with the Holy Spirit, spoke with boldness and magnified Jesus. Now, here is where there were a variety of responses:
So when the Jews went out of the synagogue, the Gentiles begged that these words might be preached to them the next Sabbath. Acts 13: 42
And when the Gentiles learned that Paul would now turn to the Gentiles with the message of Hope, they…
were glad and glorified the word of the Lord. And as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed. Acts 13: 48
Now, the Jews, however, were filled with envy when they saw the crowd that came to hear the word of God from Paul and Barnabas. They contradicted, blasphemed and opposed the things spoken by Paul (verse 45). Because of their unbelief, Paul reminded them of Isaiah 49: 6.
I have set you as a light to the Gentiles, that you should be for salvation to the ends of the earth.
Quite opposing views and responses! I find it easy to quickly judge the Jews when I’m reading the Bible and wonder why they would be so oblivious to the message of Jesus Christ. But, I need to take an honest account here. What is my response to the pastor’s sermon on Sunday mornings? Am I receiving his words, the words of the Lord, with such eagerness that I am begging for more? Or am I contradicting him and blaspheming the word of God?
Am I glad and glorifying the word of the Lord or am I more concerned with myself, my ministry (or insert your favorite thing), my plans?
May we be like the Gentiles in gladness as we hear God’s word in preaching and reading. May we encourage our pastors and ministry workers as they speak Truth and exhort us in holiness and obedience.