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Jesus Creed

Paul.jpgThe Book of Acts, once it turns to Paul, turns almost exclusively to Paul — Peter mostly drops from the narrative (except in chp 15) and we now read about Paul’s missionary travels, and we need to remind ourselves that Paul’s missionary travels are his chasing down where God’s Spirit was guiding and where God’s Spirit was at work. So, Paul moves from Pisidian Antioch to Iconium:

14:1 The same thing happened in Iconium when Paul and Barnabas went into the Jewish synagogue and spoke in such a way that a large group of both Jews and Greeks believed. 14:2 But the Jews who refused to believe stirred up the Gentiles and poisoned their minds against the brothers. 14:3 So they stayed there for a considerable time, speaking out courageously for the Lord, who testified to the message of his grace, granting miraculous signs and wonders to be performed through their hands. 14:4 But the population of the city was divided; some sided with the Jews, and some with the apostles. 14:5 When both the Gentiles and the Jews (together with their rulers) made an attempt to mistreat them and stone them, 14:6 Paul and Barnabas learned about it and fled to the Lycaonian cities of Lystra and Derbe and the surrounding region. 14:7 There they continued to proclaim the good news.

This pattern repeats itself: synagogue preaching, response of faith, opposition by those who do not believe, and the need to leave. A few points to observe:

First, opposition to the gospel often takes shape in alliances of unlikely friends. A common opponent frequently unites people — and it is unhealthy to be united on the basis of opposition.
Second, a precis of early Christian preaching: “So they stayed there for a considerable time, speaking out courageously for the Lord, who testified to the message of his grace, granting miraculous signs and wonders to be performed through their hands.” Time plus courage.  The Lord himself testifies to the grace by prompting signs and wonders.

Third, Paul and Barnabas — called apostles here — flee an almost certain death by stoning and find another place to gospel.
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