Sermon Summary - Paul's Gospel and His Apostleship - Acts 13:4-12
In Paul’s missionary journey, Luke records the conversion of the governor Sergius Paulus despite a Jewish magician’s attempt to turn him away from the gospel. Peter and Barnabas continue to preach the gospel to the Jews. They continue to different cities planting churches, appointing elders and return to the church in Jerusalem giving them a report of all that has happened. Throughout their journey, some Jews come to faith but the vast majority don’t, which causes a tension between them and sets the stage for Paul and Barnabas to continue preaching the gospel to Gentiles. A huge question to understand about Luke as he transitions from all the events that have happened in the early church to Paul’s ministry. What is he up to? What’s his goal? How did the gospel go from being a Jewish thing to almost mainly a Gentile thing? To understand Luke’s purpose in the New Testament writing is to understand the history of the church and why there are 13 letters from Paul.
Luke established 2 crucial facts with his writing. He made it clear that the gospel of Jesus is for the Gentiles, and they can be saved by faith without becoming Jewish culturally. He also established the legitimacy and credibility of Paul as an apostle sent directly from Jesus. The Jerusalem church had already heard about Peter preaching the gospel to the Gentiles but there remained a tension over this issue for decades until Paul and Barnabas came back from their missionary journey. For the most part, the Jews rejected and opposed the gospel causing Paul to go directly to the Gentiles as if to make them jealous.
Throughout Paul’s life he faced constant opposition from his fellow Jews who hated that the gospel was being preached to the Gentiles. While he returned to Antioch, the Judaizers went back to the cities in Galatia teaching that it was necessary to adopt Jewish customs to be saved, discrediting Paul’s message and authority. Paul writes to the Galatians to affirm his authority reminding them about his calling, conversion and ministry.
The threat during the early days of the church was always to move away from the foundational question, what is the gospel? And how can sinners be saved? Luke made sure to establish Paul’s authority as an apostle and give proof to his legitimacy by recording some of Paul’s signs and wonders, starting with the blinding of the Jewish magician. Luke also includes the content of Paul’s sermons which is almost identical to what Peter preached. This is why Luke constructed his narrative in Acts and filled it with similarities between Peter and Paul, to credit him as a genuine apostle and to validate the gospel he preached for the sake of the Gentiles and the doctrine of justification by faith alone. Paul fought tooth and nail so that the message of the gospel would not be compromised. We are called to know the gospel, to know the only way to salvation is by faith in Jesus Christ and never adding works to the doorway into salvation called faith.
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