Today’s Journey Through Scripture Readings: Psalm 1-3; Acts 17:1-15
17 Paul and Silas journeyed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where there was a Jewish synagogue. 2 As was Paul’s custom, he entered the synagogue and for three Sabbaths interacted with them on the basis of the scriptures. 3 Through his interpretation of the scriptures, he demonstrated that the Christ had to suffer and rise from the dead. He declared, “This Jesus whom I proclaim to you is the Christ.” 4 Some were convinced and joined Paul and Silas, including a larger number of Greek God-worshippers and quite a few prominent women. (Acts 17:1-4, Common English Bible)
“Greek God-worshippers” is how the Common English Bible says it. In the New Revised Standard Version, it is “devout Greeks.” Then there is the New International Version which uses the term, “God-fearing Greeks.” Who are these Greeks?
In the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament), God-Fearers (or the other names above) were Gentiles who, to varying degrees, embraced Judaism but never actually converted to the faith. They were nominal men and women of faith.
As for the early Christian Church, in the Book of Acts (our lesson for today), it was much the same. The chief difference being, the God-fearers followed many of the teachings of the Jews or Christians. They had not converted to the Christian faith, until this story.
Paul and Silas, as they often did, visited the local synagogue. Changes in the hearts of the people there didn’t change, at least not immediately. The lesson tells us that Paul and Silas did this, interacting with the God-fearers, and I would assume Jews as well, for three Sabbaths. They continued to minister to and share the faith with those gathered for three weeks. Their faithfulness made a difference as “…a larger number of Greek God-worshippers and quite a few prominent women…” became convinced that Jesus is the Messiah.
“Pastor, I have talked with my friends and neighbors. If they aren’t already Christians, I don’t want to nag them.” There is obviously a fine-line we must walk if we are to make disciples of Jesus Christ as Jesus himself commissioned those who were already disciples in every age (that would be us) to do.
There are people around us who are already disposed to the faith. They are similar to the God-fearers. They understand something of the love God has for them but they don’t get it in full. It is not yet a full understanding.
I would challenge you as well to remember the story we read just a short time ago about Phillip and the Ethiopian eunuch. Phillip asks the eunuch if he understands what he is reading. The eunuch says, “How can I if I have no one to explain it to me.”
If the God-fearers of the New Testament era were to understand, Paul and Silas had to explain it. If those who seek more knowledge before becoming disciples are to understand, that job is up to us. How will we respond?
Have a blessed day in the Lord.
With joy and thankfulness,
Copyright 2018, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved