Tuesday: Pisidian Antioch – Part 2

Acts 13:38-39, presents the issue of the law’s inability to justify, an important doctrinal concept. Despite the binding character of its moral commandments, the law is unable to bring justification because it cannot produce perfect obedience in those who observe it (Acts 15:10Rom. 8:3). Even if the law could produce perfect obedience in us, that perfect obedience cannot atone for past sins (Rom. 3:19Gal. 3:10-11). This is why justification cannot be earned, not even partially.

Preaching Justification by Faith

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We can receive it only by faith in Jesus’ atoning sacrifice (Rom. 3:28Gal. 2:16), a gift that we do not deserve. However central it may be to the Christian life, obedience cannot earn us salvation.

Read Acts 13:42-49. How did the synagogue receive Paul’s message?

Notwithstanding the harsh way Paul ended his message, the reaction of most in the synagogue was highly favorable. The following Sabbath, however, things changed drastically. It is highly probable that “the Jews” who were rejecting the gospel message were the synagogue leaders, those who represented official Judaism. Luke ascribes their ruthless attitude toward Paul to jealousy.

In the ancient world, several aspects of Judaism, such as monotheism, life style, and even the Sabbath, exerted a strong attraction among non-Jews, and many of them joined the Jewish faith as proselytes. Circumcision, however, was a serious hindrance, as it was considered a barbaric and disgusting practice. Consequently, many Gentiles would attend the synagogues to worship God but without formally converting to Judaism. These were known as “God-fearers”, and it might have been the God-fearers, as well as the proselytes, of the Antioch synagogue (Acts 13:16Acts 13:43) who helped to spread the news about Paul’s message among the people in general, and they came in great numbers. The possibility to experience salvation without first having to adhere to Judaism was no doubt particularly attractive to many.

This may help to explain the jealousy of the Jewish leaders. In any case, by rejecting the gospel they were not only excluding themselves from God’s salvation but also liberating Paul and Barnabas to turn their full attention to the Gentiles, who rejoiced and praised God for including them in His saving plan.

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Source: Daily Sabbath School Lessons