Our chapter today (10) in Acts is most thought provoking. The message of the Gospel is now spreading and what is most fascinating is all the different reactions Paul and Barnabas experienced as they travelled. What is also significant is the extent to which they quoted from the Old Testament – but that was their Bible. Our chapter contains no less than 7 quotations from the Old Testament made in the speech at Antioch in Pisidia. The Old Testament is God’s word just as much as the New Testament.
Their initial preaching was to Jewish communities, for they visited them first as they travelled from place to place and supported their message about Jesus with all these quotations from the Old Testament. Evidently the Jews, and sadly it is the same today, only read their Bible selectively – but God’s word must be read in totality.
“Paul and Barnabas spoke out boldly, saying, ‘It was necessary that the word of God be spoken first to you. Since you thrust it aside and judge yourselves unworthy of eternal life, behold, we are turning to the Gentiles.” [v.46,47] There is some comparison in this in what has happened over the last 50 years. Belief in God and his word has shrunk alarmingly in the ‘western’ world. – and so those who earnestly believe his word have turned to other countries such as India, where, for example, there are now about 100 congregations – and growing each year – but we know of none in India 40 years ago – or Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Nepal or Bangladesh for that matter.
How many today are not taking the word of God seriously? Or maybe only taking it selectively in an endeavor to try to prove, for example, that they go to heaven when they die, or that “grace” is ever abounding so they do not have to really strive against sin. If they are not taking God’s word seriously – and ‘thirstily’ into their hearts, they are, to quote Paul and Barnabas, starting to “judge themselves unworthy of eternal life”
Let us make sure we are among those who accepted and obeyed the message and “began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord …” [v.48]