Wednesday: Iconium

Under the instigation of the Jewish leaders in Antioch, the local authorities incited a mob against Paul and Barnabas and ran them out of town (Acts 13:50). The disciples, however, were filled with joy and the Holy Spirit (Acts 13:52). The missionaries then headed to the city of Iconium.

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Read Acts 14:1-7. What was the result of Paul and Barnabas’s activities in Iconium?

In Iconium, Paul and Barnabas continued their practice of addressing first the Jews before turning to the Gentiles. Paul’s sermon in Antioch (Acts 13:16-41) offers the main reason behind the Jewish priority in their ministry: the election of Israel, with all that it involved (Rom. 3:2Rom. 9:4-5), and God’s fulfillment of His promise of a Savior from David’s lineage. Despite the fact that many Jews were rejecting the gospel, Paul never lost hope of a substantial Jewish conversion.

In Romans Chapters 9-11, Paul makes it clear that “not all who are descended from Israel are Israel” (Rom. 9:6, NIV) and that it is only because of God’s mercy that some of the Jews believe at all. God has not rejected His people, but “at the present time there is a remnant chosen by grace” (Rom. 11:5, NIV). Paul continued to preach the gospel to Gentiles, though he believed that one day more Jews would come to faith in Jesus.

“Paul’s argument in Romans Chapters 9-11 offers a further explanation of the mission strategy he pursues in the narrative of Acts and confronts every generation of Christians with the theological importance of bearing witness to unbelieving Jews.”—David G. Peterson, The Acts of the Apostles (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2009), p. 401.

The situation was not much different from that in Antioch. The first reaction of both Jews and Gentiles to Paul’s gospel was highly positive, but again the unbelieving Jews, possibly the leaders of the local Jewish community, stirred up the Gentiles and poisoned their minds against the missionaries, causing a division among the people. As the opponents were planning to attack and lynch Paul and Barnabas, the two missionaries decided to leave the town and move to the next one.

More than just hearing the gospel, Jewish people need to see it lived among those who profess the name of Jesus. If you have Jewish acquaintances, what kind of witness are you presenting to them?

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Source: Daily Sabbath School Lessons