Monday 11 May 2015

Bible Book:

“When the proconsul saw what had happened, he believed, for he was astonished at the teaching about the Lord” (v. 12)

Acts 13:1-12 Monday 11 May 2015

Psalm: Psalm6:1-9


Acts 13 opens with the church in Antioch (now Antakya inTurkey). This was one of the earliest Jewish Christian communitiesoutside Judaea, Samaria and Galilee. Acts11 tells us that it was a wave of migration following themartyrdom of Stephen which took the early Christians to Antioch. Itwas a major centre of early Christianity with prophets andteachers, including Barnabas who was sent by the Jerusalem church,and of course the Apostle Paul, or Saul as he is still called,until verse 9.

The context for today's passage is the mission field. The UKtoday is very much post-mission, almost 300 years after another'apostle', John Wesley preached widely, facing similar challengesand threats to those of Paul. It is a feature of the Bible thatbringing the word to new, or even old, places results in conflict,sometimes of a supernatural kind. It is in these contexts that weencounter 'magicians' and others, as here. It does not make foreasy reading, it is hard to imagine missionaries saying, "You sonof the devil, you enemy of all righteousness..." (v. 10). Readingit now it seems coercive at best, possibly even vindictive.However, it made an impact, leading to the punchline at verse 12,"when the proconsul saw what had happened, he believed, for he wasastonished at the teaching about the Lord".

The "teaching about the Lord" is often challenging. Readingthese texts 2,000 years later may raise questions that did notimmediately occur to the original readers and hearers. Yet it isessential that they still astonish - as readers of the word wecannot afford to take these accounts for granted and read them asif they describe everyday events.

To Ponder

  • How aware are you of the history of the early Christians andkey Christian centres? How might you learn more about thisperiod?
  • What kinds of conflict have you experienced when sharing yourfaith?
  • How does the gospel (good news of Jesus) make an impact in yourlife?
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