5/12/16 The Gentiles Of Antioch Believe

acts 13 51 map

When the service is over, everyone files out of the synagogue in relative silence.  Nobody knows what to make of Paul and Barnabas and the message they have just heard.  Paul and Barnabas find a place to stay in the town and offer their services as tent-makers while they are there.  Soon everyone in the town knows who these men are, and the Gentiles are beginning to come to them, their curiosity aroused.  “Please, let us hear your message on the next Sabbath,” many are asking.  Paul and Barnabas invite everyone who comes to them to come and hear them speak again.  Sure enough, when the next Sabbath comes around, there is a crowd of people, Jew and Gentile, so large that more than half of them have to stand outside the synagogue to hear Paul speak.  The Jewish people are incensed by the presence of the Gentiles, however, and refuse to listen to anything else that the two men have to say.  They have been taught all their lives that they must not associate themselves with Gentiles in any way, and this gathering goes against all their fundamental principles.  The Jews in the synagogue begin to speak out against Paul and Barnabas and contradict everything they try to say.  Paul does not storm out in anger, nor does he demand that the Gentiles leave.  Instead, he sighs sadly and proclaims in a loud voice, “I had to come to you first with God’s message, but since you don’t want to hear it, and you don’t have any interest in the complete forgiveness of all your sins or in living forever in the Kingdom of Heaven, we will take our message to the Gentiles, who will receive it gladly.  God gave us this special distinction as His own for this express purpose, as it says in the scriptures:  ‘I have set you as a light to the Gentiles, that you should be for salvation to the ends of the earth.’”  Hearing Paul’s words, the Gentiles outside of the synagogue send up a loud and heartfelt cheer.  But the Jews inside glower at the two men and all but cast them out.  Paul and Barnabas turn their attention to those who are seeking it, explaining the message of the forgiveness of sins that Jesus died to bring about to the Gentiles.  Many of them give their hearts joyfully to Jesus and are baptized into the community of believers.  Jesus’ message is spread throughout the town and into the surrounding regions.  But while this is happening, the Jewish leaders of the town keep trying to get in the way of the spreading of the Word of God.  The entire Jewish community turns its back on the two men, and the Jews work together to try to get the men to leave their town.  Finally, they drive Paul and Barnabas out and tell them that they are not welcome to come back.  But Paul and Barnabas are not disheartened.  They know that a great number of Gentiles have turned their hearts to God in that town and the message is spreading like wildfire.  They take a day to rest and pray, and then set off for Iconium, singing joyfully as they go.

 

Acts 13:42-52, Isaiah 49:6, https://www.lds.org/bc/content/shared/content/images/gospel-library/manual/10734/map-acts_1219535_inl.jpg

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