God’s Covenant and Paul

MEMORY SELECTION: “I have set thee to be a light of the Gentiles, that thou shouldest be for salvation unto the ends of the earth.” —Acts 13:47

SELECTED SCRIPTURE: Acts 13:44-52; II Corinthians 3:4-6

THE Apostle Paul was the especially chosen vessel of God to bear witness to the Gentiles. The Lord said unto him, Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel.” (Acts 9:15) Paul said in Romans 11:13, “For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office.”

During his ministry Paul, and his co-worker Barnabas, preached to all who had a hearing ear—to Jew and Gentile alike. When they entered a new region it was their usual custom to preach first to the local Jewish synagogue. “But when they departed from Perga, they came to Antioch in Pisidia, and went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and sat down. And after the reading of the Law and the Prophets the rulers of the synagogue sent unto them, saying, Ye men and brethren, if ye have any word of exhortation for the people, say on. Then Paul stood up, and beckoning with his hand, said, Men of Israel, and ye that fear God, give audience.”—Acts 13:14-16

Paul’s commitment to his special mission is pointed out in the memory selection, and the response among the Gentiles was one of gladness. “And when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad, and glorified the word of the Lord: and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed. And the word of the Lord was published throughout all the region.”—Acts 13:48,49

The apostle was disheartened by the lack of enthusiasm for the message he preached among his own people, the children of Israel. “The Jews stirred up the devout and honorable women, and chief men of the city, and raised persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and expelled them out of their coasts.”(vs. 50) Neither Paul nor Barnabas allowed discouragement to hinder their activities, “but they shook off the dust of their feet against them, and came unto Iconium. And the disciples were filled with joy, and with the Holy Spirit.”—vss. 51,52

Rejection of Paul’s message of the kingdom by the Jews was in fulfillment of prophecy. Even our Lord Jesus was rejected—for he came unto his own and they failed to receive him. Paul’s boldness in proclaiming the truth first to the children of Israel, and their rejection of him, further substantiated his special mission to teach the message to the Gentiles. “Then Paul and Barnabas waxed bold, and said, It was necessary that the word of God should first have been spoken to you: but seeing ye put it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles.”—Acts 13:46

Paul was indeed a man of action, and he did not wish to waste valuable time in preaching to those whose hearts were closed to the glorious message of the Gospel of Christ. Although he and Barnabas shook the dust from off their feet on that occasion and gave up the idea of further preaching to the Jews in that city, they did, nevertheless, at the next town they visited, stop first at the Jewish synagogue. “And it came to pass in Iconium, that they went both together into the synagogue of the Jews, and so spake, that a great multitude both of the Jews and also of the Greeks believed.” (Acts 14:1) But again (vs. 2), “the unbelieving Jews stirred up the Gentiles, and made their minds evil affected against the brethren.”

In II Corinthians 3:4-6 Paul stresses that all of God’s promises had been fulfilled in Christ. “And such trust have we through Christ to God-ward.” (vs. 4) He then makes reference to the New Covenant and the Spirit of that covenant which gives life. It is, therefore, only by God’s grace that we have opportunity to consecrate ourselves and seek to the best of our ability those things which have been promised to those who desire to know and serve the loving Heavenly Father.

The apostle to the Gentiles said, “Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think anything as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God; who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament [covenant]; not of the letter, but of the Spirit: for the letter killeth, but the Spirit giveth life.”—vss. 5,6

Dawn Bible Students Association
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