THE ACTS 24
PAUL’S MAGNIFICENT SERMON AT ANTIOCH
In the 13th chapter of Acts, Luke gives us the complete record of Paul’s sermon to the people in the Synagogue at Antioch. This is an extremely important sermon. First of all, he repeats, in different words, the essential points of Peter’s sermon on Pentecost. Second, he traces the national history of the Jews through the ages. This shows that God is fulfilling His purposes as history unfolds. He promised Abraham that all mankind would be blessed by his seed. Here, Paul shows that that promise is fulfilled in Jesus Christ.
God never disturbs His creature’s freedom of choice, but He is a just God, and so He always makes the choice very clear. The Gospel was first preached to the Jews. Their rejection of Jesus was by their own choice. As a result of this, God selected the very talented and dynamic Paul to take the message to the Gentile world. However, he started by making sure that the Jews had every possible truth given to them, and proved to them, by their own history.
The story, as Paul tells it, reflects the patience of God. He recounts the bondage that they suffered in Egypt, and that God rescued them from it. Then he says that God put up with their recalcitrance for forty years in the wilderness. In spite of their rebellious nature, He drove out the pagan nations, and prepared the land of Canaan for them.
Paul then says that God protected them, and cared for them, for about four hundred and fifty years. Evidently, he was starting with the birth of Isaac, the son of promise to Abraham, and extending it to the time of Joshua, who acted as a leader and judge of Israel. This would be from about 1897BC to about 1451BC.
This was the end of the Wilderness Wandering, and their entrance into Canaan at Jericho. Paul says, “about four hundred and fifty years”, so the time is not exact.
After mentioning the Judges and Saul, the first king of Israel, Paul introduces David into his story. David was one of the most revered of all the characters in Jewish history. By tying Jesus to the lineage of David, he nailed the final indisputable fact to his proof of the authenticity of Jesus as the promised Messiah. No further argument was needed.
At this point Paul, who was a Pharisee himself, places the charge on the Jewish leaders that they did the very thing the prophets said they would. They rejected Jesus and had the Romans hang Him on the Cross. Then, Paul used the very words of David to graphically tell them that Jesus did not stay in the grave, but that God raised Him up. He wrapped up his sermon, by telling them that salvation was to be found in Jesus, who alone could forgive their sins, and that he knew they would still reject Him, no matter who told them, just as the prophets had said they would.
The result of this magnificent sermon was that the multitudes loved it and wanted to hear more, but the leaders found it threatening to their power and began a process to stop them. This we will look at in our next essay.