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 Paul: The Instrument of God in the Advancement of the Kingdom

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The Stoning of Paul in Lystra

In Lystra Paul encounters a man who born crippled from birth. With aid of the Holy Spirit Paul discerns the man has faith in the ability to be healed and then speaks to him directly “Stand up on your feet!” Immediately the crippled man is healed. The crowed that witnessed the miracle proclaims in Lycaonian “The God’s have come upon us in Human Form!” The witnesses present associate Paul with Hermes, the God of Language, for he is the chief spokesperson and Barnabas with Zeus (Acts 14: 8-13 NIV). In response, Paul & Barnabas tear off their clothes and Paul responded, “We are only men like you and are here to tell you the God News that you must turn away from worthless things and to the Living God-Who created all creation.  In the past God let all the nations out of Mankind’s Ignorance worship as they please, or “Go their own way. Paul then proclaims that additionally in the past “the Living God provided rain from Heaven and crops of his kindness this abundance has filed your hearts with joy through the provision of food (Acts 14: 15-17 NIV).” These words however had proved difficult from keeping the crowd from sacrificing them for among the crowds were Jews from Antioch and Iconium who convinced the people the Apostles were speaking words of Blaspheme and had Paul dragged outside the city and stoned and was left dying for the people “thought he was dead “( Acts 14: 18-20 NIV).

In regards to the miracle of healing as described by Luke, this was the result of faith and in reaction the Paul by the Authority of Christ and through the Holy Spirit. Thus, the blessing or miracle serves a duality of purpose to strengthen the faith of the crippled man and to bring fourth or enable the faith of those who witnessed the miracle.  The response By Paul and Barnabas to being considered God’s by the tearing off their clothing could be sees as revealing of their own flesh or human nature.  For those familiar with the teachings of Plato the form , matter of flesh is considered to be corruptible, or changeable and those mortal and not divine while the Essence or Spirt is of a divine nature and unchanging and thus pure.  Furthermore, the focus on how God provides for all people through his provision of blessings as is evident in the rain , the seasons and crops is the use of general revelation to proof God is the Author of Creation, the living God and Salvation is inclusive to all people. However, the episode concludes with the minds and hearts of those who witnessed the miracle and heard the Good News on God as the Author of Creation being convinced that the Apostles were guilty of Blaspheme by the persuasion of the Jews in the audience who cut Paul’s sermon short. Polhill concludes, “The crowd was expecting the Good News to be a promise of material blessings.[1] However, the accusation of blaspheme is most likely centered on the ability to heal in the Authoritative Name of Jesus which was prohibited by Judaic Law. Although, the city was of Gentile origin in Faith the exposures as Charlatans by Men considered to have knowledge of the living God would certainly influence a fickle crowd expecting a reward from the Gods.   Paul’s deliverance from certain death can be seen as a miracle and a special testimony on the protective nature of the Holy Spirit. Paul mentions the incident  and how it may have slowed him down physically but strengthened him Spiritually and as such is the only matter on which he can boast (2 Cor 11:25). In 2 Corinthians 12, he continues commenting on how he can only boast on his own weaknesses and how they were used to overcome adversity. That Satan tried to stop him three times and the Providence of God prevailed. “I persevered in demonstrating among you the marks of a true apostle (In Enduring Suffering), including signs, wonders and miracles (2 Cor 12:12 NIV).”

 

Circumcision of Timothy

During Paul’s second mission two Lystra He hears of Timothy a Disciple held in high regards whose mother is A Jew and father a Greek. Through the provision of foresight of having a like-minded brother in Christ to spread the Gospel in the Advancement of the Kingdom, Paul approaches Timothy and asks him to become part of his missionary team. As many Jews live in the Area Paul circumcises Timothy as is required by Jewish Tradition.  Polhill comments that when in a mixed Jewish marriage where the women is Jewish the child is reckoned by the lineage of the mother.[2] In such cases, Timothy would be considered a Jew although his father was a Gentile and thuds by Law and culture be required to be circumcised. Thus Paul had Timothy circumcised in order to establish a cultural relationship with the Jews to whom they were to evangelize to and the circumcision is not to be considered to be contradictory the theology of Paul or Peter that circumcision is unnecessary or unwarranted. Rather it may be seen as a vehicle to build rapport, for establishing a relationship or inclusion with the Jews, The Elect or People of God, whereas Timothy and Paul’s Greek heritage can be seen as inclusion with the Gentiles The decedents or children of God. Finally, Paul would first proclaim the Gospel in the synagogues of Jews and then to the Gentiles, which is why, it was necessary for the circumcision for Timothy. Additionally, consideration would be that Paul considered Timothy a brother, and son and the act symbolizes the act of a father offering his son to God to be admitted to the people of God and into the Kingdom as well as Paul’s acceptance of Timothy as family.

 

Debate on the Use of General Revelation to One’s Conversion

When Paul visit Athens, he was distressed at the multitude of idols in the city. (Acts 17:16)  When he started preaching about Jesus and the Resurrection, the God Fearing Greeks philosopher’s intrigued on the Concept of this foreign God brought him before Areopagus, or supreme tribunal of Athens to hear more on the matter.  Paul begins by stating that he found an inscription to the Unknown God on a statue in the city and this is who he is going to teach about.  Thus, he begins by establishing a rapport between himself and the culture of his audience in a general relative sense.

Paul then Proclaims, “God who made the world and everything is everything but does not live in Temples built by human hands for he himself is the breath of life and everything. He has made every nation and the whole Earth, controls time and proximity where one lives and has done this so we may seek him, and his teachings, for in him we move and have our Being. We are his offspring.  Therefore one must concede has his offspring we should think of the Divine Being is an icon of Gold, silver or Stone, a sign, a symbol built by Man. Of such Things, we must repent. In The Past God overlooked such ignorance but he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. This was given proof to all men in the Resurrection (Acts 17:24-31).

The use of general revelation such as the relation of nature or the use of cultural symbols, philosophy or a comparison to Christ or God to another’s worldview or religion  is often considered controversial and not an effective form of evangelism. Yet in Acts 14 and 17, Paul effectively uses these tools to covey God’s providence convert some to the faith. Although, The Episode in Acts 14 ended in Paul nearly losing his life one could argue it was because he did not explicitly state the Gospel. However, when one reads further on in Acts, Chapter 16 one finds a congregation of Believers in the area showing they mission was successful. Also, although some sneered at the idea of resurrection, Others wanted to hear more on the matter and still others came to believe among the tribunal( Acts 17: 32-34). The point is often the proper technique is more about a relationship with one’s audience and not the Gospel. It may be one of General relationship; one based on experience, or is based solely off scripture or the Gospels themselves that opens Hearts and minds of individuals. However, as faith is truly only partly a matter of works that leads to believe and more fully a matter of the Holy Spirit how one comes to believe and is converted is a matter of the individual and God and not the human agent or the message presented.

In Christ God, And Spirit,

Trent Rindoks

Bibliography

Polhill, John B. The New American Commentary. Vol. 26. Nashville: Broadmen Press, B&H Publishing Group, 1992,2003.

 

[1]

Polhill John B. The New American Commentary. Vol. 26. Nashville: BroadmenPress, B&H Publishing Group, 1992,2003.

 

 

[2]

Polhill John B. The New American Commentary. Vol. 26. Nashville: BroadmenPress, B&H Publishing Group, 1992,2003.

 

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