Paul and His Purpose
Father, Your love is a mystery and an amazing gift of grace to me. Startle me again with that love today.
Read Acts 25:23-26:18
Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. All rights reserved throughout the world. Used by permission of International Bible Society.
“We must allow the Word of God to confront us, to disturb our security, to undermine our complacency, and to overthrow our patterns of thought and behavior” (John Stott).
In today’s reading Paul is given the opportunity to defend himself before the king as well as the Roman governor. Self-preservation is not at the top of Paul’s agenda. He is a man with a purpose. He needs to defend his actions as a Jew, as a Roman citizen, and as a Christian. To this end, he tells his story.
At other points in Acts he will debate with philosophers or do spiritual battle with idol worshipers. Here he shares the story of his conversion, but with the emphasis (as in much of his letter to the Romans) as much on the continuities between his Jewish religious zeal and his Christian convictions as on his crucial departures from it. At its heart is the constant theme of the early church’s proclamation of the resurrection (8). This is so much so that it has been argued that the principal name for God the Father in the New Testament church is “the God who raised Jesus from the dead.” This follows from the Old Testament habit of giving God names according to his actions or his particular attributes. This, now, is what defines God, and it surely should define our understanding and proclamation of him even today.
Yet even such a change in how God is referred to is seen as the fulfillment of the promise of God to Paul’s ancestors; it’s a logical continuation rather than a radical departure from his Jewish religion. So why should they be hostile? After all, he was simply saying what Moses and the prophets had foretold (26:22). It is difficult to accept that God can do something so radically new. It triggers opposition from those who think their definition of God and his activities was given once and for all.
Is there anything that God has done, promised to do or might do that makes you uncomfortable? What “name” might you give to God?
Sovereign God, You are the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. Often change frightens me. Reassure me that You are in complete control.
Click here to sign up to receive the EXTRAs via email each quarter.