Welcome! This episode continues our series on the book of Acts.
In part one (0:00-13:20), Tim and Jon briefly recap the series so far. They discuss Paul’s complex background. Paul was a Jew but was living primarily among Gentiles in different cities in the Roman Empire. Tim points out that because of his background, Paul’s reputation as a controversial figure continues to grow. He doesn’t fit into the normal social categories of the day.
In part two (13:20-33:00), Tim dives into Acts 11:27-30:
“During this time some prophets came down from Jerusalem to Antioch. One of them, named Agabus, stood up and through the Spirit predicted that a severe famine would spread over the entire Roman world. (This happened during the reign of Claudius.) The disciples, as each one was able, decided to provide help for the brothers and sisters living in Judea. This they did, sending their gift to the elders by Barnabas and Saul.”
Tim says that this is hugely symbolic. Paul is arriving back in Jerusalem with a group of international Christians bearing a gift of money to help give relief to the Jerusalem famine.
Jon points out that it's really remarkable that Paul was able to raise these funds, before the days of Kickstarter. Tim says that for Paul, the gift was a symbol of the unity of the Church. There was no class system and no division across racial, ethnic, or economic lines. The gift was a representation of all that Paul believed was possible in the communities of Christians.
In part three (33:00-end), Tim shares a passage from Ephesians:
"Remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by setting aside in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace.” – Ephesians 2:12-15.
Tim says that this passage is more evidence that Paul really wanted Jews and Gentiles to be united as one Church.
Then in reference to Ephesians 3, Tim says that for Paul, the creation of the new humanity through Christ is the way that God also chooses to demonstrate his wisdom to the divine council.
“Although I am less than the least of all the Lord’s people, this grace was given me: to preach to the Gentiles the boundless riches of Christ, and to make plain to everyone the administration of this mystery, which for ages past was kept hidden in God, who created all things. His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms.” – Ephesians 3:8-10.
Tim says that Paul believed he was participating in a cosmic story and that working to unify Jews with all other ethnicities through Jesus was what Jesus was praying for in John 17:21: “I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one—as you are in me, Father, and I am in you. And may they be in us so that the world will believe you sent me.”
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World Upside Down: Reading Acts in the Graeco Roman Age by Kavin Rowe
Show Produced by:
Dan Gummel, Jon Collins
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