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Exclusively published to the Touchstone website each week, these Daily Reflections are brief commentaries on the lectionary readings contained in the St. James Daily Devotional Guide. The reflections are penned by Patrick Henry Reardon, editor of the Daily Devotional Guide and a senior editor of Touchstone. Father Reardon provides here a very brief directional clue for one of the texts each day. Long-time readers of the Daily Devotional Guide will find these reflections an additional help to their reading of Holy Scripture which they can print and keep with their Guide.

The Daily Reflections will be updated weekly.

 

Sunday, July 14

Acts 13:42-52: In this scene we discern the context of certain impulses that produced agitation in the early Christian mission. Judaism itself already had an extensive mission in the Greco-Roman world (cf. Matthew 23:15). As synagogues were established in the major cities, serious pagans were impressed by what they saw. The life of the synagogue stood in stark contrast to the cultural and moral decay of the surrounding world, where despair was common. In the pagan world some of the major cultural institutions, particularly marriage and the family, were in serious trouble. Sex had become increasingly separated from marriage and from child-bearing, and there was some sense that this separation was related to various forms of polytheism. What the pagans beheld in the local synagogues, however, were communities of great strength and hope, solid marriages and the joys of family, a strict moral code in which all of life was integrated, a firm emphasis on simple labor as the basis of economic life, a rich inherited literature that imaginatively interpreted the life of the community, and the regularly scheduled, disciplined worship of a single, no-nonsense God. All of this proved to be very attractive to those serious pagans who felt distress and discomfort at the popular culture. Some of these pagans accepted circumcision and the observance of the Law, thus becoming full-fledged Jews; these were known as proselytes (Acts 2:10; 6:5). Other pagans were unwilling to go so far, because such a decision obviously tended to cut them off from their own families and friends. This second group simply attached themselves to the synagogues as best they could, bringing certain structures of Jewish piety into their lives, such as regular prayer and fasting and the study of the Scriptures; these were known as "fearers of God," of which we have already seen examples in Cornelius and his friends. Thus, there were two groups of Gentiles who in varying degrees joined themselves to the local synagogues in the larger cities of the Roman Empire. Now both of these groups felt a spontaneous attraction to the Gospel when they heard it proclaimed in the synagogue by Paul and his companions. In the Gospel they saw a form of religion with all the advantages of Judaism, but with none of the disadvantages, such as circumcision and the observance of the Mosaic Law. In the present reading, we observe that these people invite their other Gentile friends to come with them to the synagogue on the following Sabbath (13:44). Now, all of a sudden, the Jews find their own synagogue over-run with all sorts of "undesirables." They perceive Paul and his companions simply to be "taking over" the synagogue, preaching a doctrine that they themselves cannot control, and, from their perspective, things are getting entirely out of hand. The local Jews react with jealousy and animosity (13:45,50). After all, the Jewish religion had survived pure and intact by preserving those very disciplines that Paul and his friends seem to want to overthrow. The Gospel, then, they experience as chaos. The very "popularity" of the Gospel becomes a reason for the stricter Jew to feel uncomfortable about it. Trouble breaks out. This sequence of events, repeated over and over again in the synagogues of the larger cities, causes the Christian Church to grow among the Gentiles, who are finally obliged to establish their own local congregations apart from the local synagogues (14:1; 16:13; 17:1,10,17; 18:4,6,19; 19:8; 28:28).

Monday, July 15

Acts 14:1-19: The city of Iconium (the present Konya), located about ninety miles southeast of Pisidian Antioch, was the regional capital of Lycaonia (cf. 14:6; 2 Timothy 3:11). The pattern of the mission in Pisidian Antioch is repeated in Iconium. Once again the apostles begin to evangelize the city by visiting the local synagogue, and the diverse responses of the various groups is identical to what we saw in the previous chapter. There is more going on than meets the eye, however. The very active Jesus continues to work His wonders within the body of believers (verse 3); however concealed from the view of the world, Jesus still walks among the candlesticks (Revelation 1:13; Matthew 28:20; Mark 16:17-20; 2 Corinthians 6:16). As the apostles flee from Iconium (verse 6), the Gospel is spread still farther. Lystra, whither they flee, is about twenty-five miles to the southwest. Here, PaulŐs healing of the lame man parallels the miracle of Peter in 3:2-8; the similarities, even down to small details, is striking. The response of the crowd in their own native tongue indicates what we might not otherwise have known, namely, that the apostles have been preaching through an interpreter. Inasmuch as a great deal "gets lost in translation," the crowd has evidently missed some of the finer points in the apostolic message. Monotheism, for instance! Witnessing the miraculous healing, these enthusiasts promptly identify the apostles with pagan gods. Their identification of Paul with Hermes, or the Latin "Mercury," is explained in verse 12. With respect to Barnabas, it is reasonable to think that his identification as Zeus, or the Latin "Jupiter" ("Zeus Pater," or "Zeus the father") probably had something to do with certain physical features (great height, large head, broad shoulders, and a majestic beard over a massive chest) and a more solemn presence. (Contrast this with PaulŐs physical appearance in 2 Corinthians 10:10.) So Paul is Hermes the messenger; Barnabas is the strong, silent Zeus, who commands by his presence. Historians of literature draw our attention to a parallel story of Zeus and Hermes visiting Phrygia, preserved by Ovid (Metamorphosis 8:611-628). The very brief sermon of the apostles (verses 15-17) probably represents their typical approach to pagans outside the synagogue; it may serve as the outline to the longer sermon that Paul will give the philosophers in Athens in 17:22-31. The fickle crowd ends the story by stoning Paul, an incident he will later mention in 2 Corinthians 11:25; 2 Timothy 3:11.

Tuesday, July 16

Acts 14:20-28: The apostolic activity in Derbe, some sixty miles east of Lystra, is not described in detail. On their return to the churches that they had earlier evangelized, the apostles endeavor to strengthen the faith of the believers, reminding them in particular that the life of the Gospel involves the mystery of the Cross. In each place the apostles establish a local hierarchy (literally "sacred order") to pastor the new congregations. This is the burden of the expression "appointing elders" (presbyteroi, the Greek root of the English word "priests"). We note that these men derive their pastoral authority, not from their congregations, but from the apostles themselves, who act for the Holy Spirit (cf. 20:17; cf. Titus 1:5). Having done this, the apostles reverse their steps back to Antioch in Syria, the church that had sent them out on mission (13:3). Thus ends PaulŐs "first missionary journey" in the year 48. In Antioch the apostles give their report, using the analogy of the "open door" to describe their apostolic opportunity. It was an expression that Paul liked (1 Corinthians 16:9; 2 Corinthians 2:12). The final verse of this chapter suggests some passage of time prior to the summoning of the council in Acts 15. During the two years or so that Paul and Barnabas have been away on mission, things have not been idle back at Antioch and Jerusalem. It is clear that a crisis is building with respect to the ChurchŐs relationship to the Mosaic Law and Jewish institutions generally. The sorts of resistance that Paul met at the various local synagogues during the journey were typical of the emotions and motives involved in this crisis. Prior to the next missionary journey, there will have to be some practical resolution to the question about the Christian ChurchŐs relationship to the Law. Specifically, with the great increase among Gentile believers, the question of the obligation of the Law on the Christian conscience will have to be addressed.

Wednesday, July 17

Acts 15:1-12: The time has come to address the question that has been nagging the Christian Church since the conversion of Cornelius in Chapter 10. Are Gentile Christians obliged to observe the Mosaic Law? Or, put another way, must one become a Jew in order to become a Christian? This is a question of great moment for those many Jewish Christians who gladly accept the Gospel as the fulfillment of the hopes of Israel, but who find in the Gospel itself no warrant for the abrogation of the Law. It is the Law, after all, that separates GodŐs chosen people from the other peoples of the earth. It is the observance of the Law that makes Israel a holy people. If the Gospel involves the dissolution of the Law, then does it not simply subvert the notion of a chosen people? This is a very serious question for Jews who believe in Jesus. Are they now simply to be like everyone else in the world? Of course not, they know, but how is this distinctiveness and consecration of the a chosen people to be reconciled with holding communion with Gentiles who do not observe the Law? It is to address this dilemma in a practical way that this first "council" of the Christian Church is convened halfway through the Book of Acts. It is at this council that the Church takes a first official, formal step toward becoming an institution recognizably distinct from Judaism. In his description of this council, Luke mentions Peter and the original apostles for the last time. The councilŐs final voice will be that of James, "the brother of the Lord," who pastors the Church at Jerusalem. The rest of the Book of Acts will be devoted to the apostle PaulŐs ministry to the Gentiles, which benefits from the councilŐs authorization. This authorization touches two practical questions in particular: circumcision and the dietary laws. In respect to both of these points the council decides that Gentile Christians are under no obligation of discipline. The decision is entirely practical. A more general and theoretical treatment of the ChurchŐs relationship to Judaism will require more time and reflection.

Thursday, July 18

Acts 15:13-22: Peter, guided by his own experience in the conversion of Cornelius and his friends, enunciates what will henceforth serve as the practical principle to be followed in the evangelization of the Gentiles; namely, that they will not be compelled to submit to the Mosaic Law. By way of response, James rises to give his own consent to this principle, which expresses GodŐs intention to draw even from the Gentiles "a people of His name." In addition, James goes on to cite this divine intention as the fulfillment of the prophecy in Amos 9:11-12, which he quotes in a variant of the standard Greek translation (Septuagint), not the Hebrew text that we may have expected at Jerusalem. The burden of this text from Amos has to do with the rebuilding of the Davidic house and the re-gathering of GodŐs scattered children. As in the case of Cornelius, to which Paul alluded (verses 7-8), the active agent of this rebuilding and re-gathering is God: "I will return . . . I will rebuild . . . I will set up . . . says the Lord who does these things." This evangelical principle now established, however, James reminds the rest of the council that a certain pastoral delicacy will be needed in its application. If all of the Mosaic Law is neglected by the Gentile Christians indiscriminately and right away, the result can be a considerable scandal, because Jewish sensitivities may be deeply (and unnecessarily) offended. If, James argues, the Gentile converts should not be disturbed (verse 19), neither should the Jewish Christians (verse 21). Therefore, he urges that four restrictions be placed on the Gentile converts with respect to the Mosaic Law (verse 20). James is not pulling these four components out of thin air. He is drawing them from Leviticus 17-18, which contains a list of rules for aliens living in the Holy Land: abstention from food sacrificed to idols (Leviticus 17:8-9), from the consumption of blood (17:10-12) and strangled animals (17:15), and from illicit sexual intercourse (18:6-18). Later on, even though St. PaulŐs epistles never refer to this decision of the Jerusalem council, we will find him applying exactly the same sensitivity that James expresses here to address a concrete pastoral situation (1 Corinthians 8-10).

Friday, July 19

Acts 15:22-35: Since the letter to be sent to the churches represents the mind of the apostles and elders at Jerusalem, two envoys from Jerusalem are commissioned to carry it. These will now join Paul and Barnabas, who are returning to Antioch. One of them, Silas, determines to remain in that city. With respect to the letter itself, it is important to observe its pastoral intent and the fairly restricted application of its mandates. It was not a document intended to be universally applied in the Christian mission at all times and in every place. The letter was addressed only to the "mixed" congregations of Syria and Cilicia that had been evangelized by the "mixed" congregation at Antioch. Although the document upheld the principle that Gentile converts are not subject to the Mosaic Law, it determined nothing definitive regarding the ChurchŐs relationship to that Law in general. (This question would be theologically worked out by Paul a few years later in connection with the Galatian crisis.) Neither should the letterŐs four-fold restriction on Christian freedom be understood as Holy ScriptureŐs definitive word on the subject. For instance, notwithstanding the prohibition against eating meats sacrificed to idols, PaulŐs own treatment of the question will be considerably more nuanced (cf. 1 Corinthians 8). (Similarly, it would be a distortion to understand that apostolic letter as containing a permanent and universal prohibition against consuming blood, and, in fact, some Christians over the centuries have become quite expert in the production of excellent blood-sausages!) The letter itself manifests another aspect of its apostolic authority: It appeals to the Holy Spirit as revealing His will in the apostolic action itself. This body of men was clearly aware of itself as possessed of authority to speak on behalf of the Holy Spirit (verse 28). This principle of the conciliar authority of the Church to determine matters not only of discipline, but also of the content of the Christian faith, was to become one of the defining characteristics of the Church that wrote the Creed and determined the canon of the New Testament.

Saturday, July 20

Acts 15:36Ń16:5: The "second missionary journey" of the apostle Paul, which apparently commences in the early spring of A.D. 49, was conceived as a plan to visit the new congregations founded during the previous journey. While the reason given here for the separation of Barnabas and Paul Ń their contention regarding John Mark Ń ties this story back to 13:13, a look at Galatians 2:11-14 suggests that there may also have been some other sources of tension between the two men. Notwithstanding the sharpness of their altercation (paroxsysmos in 15:39), nonetheless, it would be incorrect to see their separation as a complete and radical break. Indeed, one observes that it involved a simple dividing of the territory between them, Barnabas returning to Cyprus, and Paul going back to Cilicia. After their argument was over, we find no more evidence of bad feeling between Paul and Barnabas (cf. 1 Corinthians 9:1-6) or between Paul and John Mark (cf. Colossians 4:10; Philemon 24; 2 Timothy 4:11). Parting company with Barnabas, Paul is now accompanied by Silas, also known by the Latin name Silvanus, who will be with him for the next several years (cf. 1 Thessalonians 1:1; 2 Thessalonians 1:1; 2 Corinthians 1:19). Just as he was apparently PaulŐs secretary in the composition of the two epistles to the Thessalonians, Mark later did the same service for the apostle Peter (1 Peter 5:12). Early in this second missionary trip, Paul picks up yet another companion, young Timothy, from a family evidently converted during the earlier missionary journey (2 Timothy 1:5). As this young man matured over the next several years, Timothy would be given ever greater responsibilities in the ministry, amply justifying the reputation he already enjoyed (16:2; Philippians 2:19-20). Because PaulŐs usual approach to the evangelization of any city was to start in the local synagogue, he causes Timothy to be circumcised, so that the latterŐs presence in the synagogue would not be a source of scandal to the Jews (16:3). Later on, some of PaulŐs critics will apparently accuse him of opportunism in this matter (Galatians 5:11), but his intention seems best explained by his later reflections in 1 Corinthians 9:20. Paul was unwilling to give unnecessary offense that might impede the cause of the Gospel.


 

Sunday, July 7

Psalm 112: The previous psalm had closed with its famous statement about how the path to wisdom commences: "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and all who practice it have a good understanding." Psalm 112 (111 in Greek & Latin) immediately takes up the challenge, as it were, of this proclamation. "Blessed is the man that fears the Lord," it says, "he will greatly delight in His commandments." Biblical "fear of the Lord," which is the beginning of biblical wisdom, is not a psychological state marked by terror or timidity. Perhaps the correct idea is better conveyed by the word "reverence." Still, the fear of the Lord is far more than the cultivated sentiment of reverence. It is, rather, a resolved dedication of oneself to the accomplishing of GodŐs will through the industry of obedience. As the psalm says, it is something to be practiced. The wisdom promised in Holy Scripture is derived from reverent obedience to God. Since this is a motif found here in two consecutive psalms, it merits a more elaborate explanation. Much of contemporary religion is based on the dichotomy between Law and Gospel, which are usually contrasted to the advantage of the latter. Now, though the distinction between Law and Gospel is not without foundation in Holy Scripture, it hardly provides an adequate paradigm for the whole of Christian thought and experience. With respect to the "fear of the Lord," for example, which is a motif common to these two psalms, that distinction between Law and Gospel proves to be quite inadequate. It is not hard to see why. If the fear of the Lord means reverent obedience to His will, the paradigm Law-or-Gospel will almost certainly put this obedience in the former category, Law. Thus, obedience would be something associated with duty, perhaps even servile duty. What, after all, could obedience have to do with Gospel? But does not the Gospel itself include a call to a life of obedience (cf. Romans 6:16; 15:18; 1 Peter 1:2)? In fact, the very act of faith, which is manŐs correct response to the Gospel, involves a certain kind of obedience. It is called the hypakoe pisteos Ń "obedience of faith" (Romans 1:5; 16:26; cf. Acts 6:7). Obedience to GodŐs will, moreover, is the living out of our faith.

Monday, July 8

Acts 12:1-19: From the perspective of chronology, Acts 12 is something of a "flashback." LukeŐs narrative so far has taken us up to the year 46. Now, however, he looks back to the reign of Herod Agrippa I (A.D. 37-44), and more specifically to the end of that reign. He will bring us back to A.D. 46 at the end of this chapter. For a proper understanding of this story of PeterŐs imprisonment, it is important to make note of the time when the event happens. Peter is delivered from prison at the Passover, the very night commemorating IsraelŐs deliverance from bondage in Egypt. As the angel of the Lord came through the land that night to remove IsraelŐs chains by slaying the first-born of IsraelŐs oppressors, so the delivering angel returns to strike the fetters from PeterŐs hands and lead him forth from the dungeon. And as IsraelŐs earlier liberation foreshadowed that Paschal Mystery whereby Jesus our Lord led all of us from our servitude to the satanic Pharaoh by rising from the dead, so we observe aspects of the Resurrection in PeterŐs deliverance from prison. Like the tomb of Jesus, PeterŐs cell is guarded by soldiers (verses 4,6). That cell, again like the tomb of Jesus, is invaded by a radiant angelic presence, and the very command to Peter is to "arise" (anasta Ńverse 7). It is no wonder that in regarding RafaelŐs famous chiaroscuro depiction of this scene in the apartments in the Vatican (over the window in the Stanza of Heliodorus), the viewer must look very closely, for his first impression is that he is looking at a traditional portrayal of the LordŐs Resurrection. And what is the Church doing during all that night of the Passover? Praying (verses 5,12); indeed, it is our first record of a Paschal Vigil Service. PeterŐs guards, alas, must share the fate of EgyptŐs first-born sons (verse 19).

Tuesday, July 9

Psalm 11 (Greek & Latin 10): This psalm about the plight of the upright, the overthrow of the earth, the crumbling of foundations hitherto fixed, is well compared to the drama described in Genesis 19, the destruction of Sodom and the flight of Lot. The similarities are striking. Consider the psalm: "Snares will He rain upon the sinners Ń fire, brimstone, and windstorm Ń these are their portion to drink." And Genesis: "Then the Lord rained on Sodom and Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the Lord out of heaven." Or, again, in the psalm: "In the Lord have I trusted. How say to my soul, ÔFly to the mountains like a sparrowŐ?" And the angels say to Lot in Genesis: "Escape for your life; look not behind you, neither stay in the plain; escape to the mountain lest you be consumed." To which Lot answers: "I cannot escape to the mountain, lest some evil overtake me, and I die." And yet again in the psalm: "For the Lord is just, and justice He loves. His face beholds what is upright." But according to the Apostle Peter, this explains precisely what transpired in Genesis 19, where God was "turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah into ashes, condemning them to destruction, making them an example to those who afterward would live ungodly; and delivered righteous Lot, who was oppressed by the filthy conduct of the wicked; for that righteous man, dwelling among them, tormented his righteous soul from day to day by seeing and hearing their lawless deeds" (2 Peter 2:7f). And the psalm once more: "The Lord is in His holy temple. The Lord! His throne is in heaven. His glance regards the poor man; His eyes will examine the sons of men. The Lord will test the just man and the unjust. The lover of evil hates his own soul." And once again Peter, commenting on Genesis 19: "For the Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of trials, and to reserve the unjust unto punishment on the day of judgment" (2:9). Similarly, when Jesus would tell us of the final and catastrophic times, it is to Sodom that He sends us (Luke 17:28-30). Yes, "even so," for we too yet abide in the cities of the plain, "as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities round about them in a similar manner to these" (Jude 7).

Wednesday, July 10

Acts 12:20Ń13:3: This scene of Herod meeting with the Phoenician delegation is also described by another writer contemporary to the event, Flavius Josephus, who includes a gripping depiction of HerodŐs silver robe glistening in the sunlight. Like Luke, Josephus mentions their addressing him as a "god." The action of the angel who kills Herod Agrippa I in verse 23 stands in contrast to the angelic liberation of Peter, narrated earlier in this chapter. The description of HerodŐs death is usefully compared to the death of the blaspheming Antiochus Epiphanes IV in 2 Maccabees 9:5-28. Immediately after telling the story, Luke takes us forward again to A.D. 46. Barnabas and Saul, having delivered the collection for the famine to the church at Jerusalem (11:30), leave to return to Antioch, taking with them John Mark, a younger kinsman of Barnabas (12:25; cf. Colossians 4:10). Then begins the story of PaulŐs three missionary journeys, which will occupy the next several chapters. We observe that Antioch has now risen to the status of a missionary center (which it has remained unto this day!). Indeed, the very severe political climate at Jerusalem in the late 60s, culminating in the destruction of the city by the Romans in the year 70, caused Antioch to surpass Jerusalem as a missionary center in the East, rather much as Rome became in the West, and, somewhat later, Alexandria in Egypt. In the year 325, these three churches (Rome, Alexandria, and Antioch) were made the patriarchal churches, each having oversight of the other churches in those three continents that shape the Mediterranean Sea.

Thursday, July 11

Acts 13:4-12: Chapters 13-14 narrate PaulŐs first missionary journey during the years 47-48, also mentioned in 2 Timothy 3:11. The apostles depart from the port of Seleucia, which, sitting sixteen miles west, served the city of Antioch. They first visit the homeland of Barnabas, the island of Cyprus, which had a good number of Jewish inhabitants (cf. 1 Maccabees 15:23). The ruins of the ancient city of Salamis, on the east coast of the island, can easily be reached by taxi from the nearby modern city of Famagusta, and, if the visitor is as fortunate as myself, the taxi driver will include a private tour and some local fresh oranges for a reasonable price. It will be standard practice for the apostle Paul, when he comes to evangelize any new city, to pay his first visit to "the synagogue of the Jews" (13:5,14; 14:1; 16:13; 17:10,17; 18:4,19; 19:8; 28:17,23). (Indeed, this expression, "synagogue of the Jews," is preserved on a small marble plaque that once adorned the synagogue at Corinth; it may be seen today in the small museum in that city.) Traversing the length of Cyprus, the apostles arrive at Paphos on the islandŐs southwest coast. Here they make the right impression on the local proconsul, Sergius Paulus, by putting a false prophet in his proper place. Sergius Paulus, of the illustrious Roman family Paula, was well known in his day and is mentioned by name in inscriptions from Cyprus, Antioch in Pisidia, and Rome. Easily ranking the Centurion Cornelius of Caesarea, Sergius Paulus becomes the most highly placed Roman official to join the Church.

Friday, July 12

Acts 13:13-25: At the end of the mission on Cyprus, John Mark, apparently suffering from homesickness, leaves the company to return to Jerusalem. His departure makes a very negative impression on the apostle Paul, who regards the young manŐs immaturity as an indication that he cannot be entrusted with the serious labor of evangelism. Whatever Paul says at the time is not recorded ("MamaŐs boy"?), but he will have plenty to pronounce on the point two chapters later. It should also be noted that, beginning at 13:13, we no longer hear about "Barnabas and Saul" but "Paul and his companions." Obviously there has been a dramatic shift in the personal dynamics of the mission. The two apostles (evidently accompanied by others at this time) sail north to the southern shore of what we now call the Turkish peninsula, landing at the port of Attalia and journeying some five miles inland to Perga, capital of Pamphylia. From there they pass on to "Pisidian Antioch," which is actually in Phrygia near the border with Pisidia and served as a governmental center for the south of the province of Galatia. (Will these be the people who will receive the Epistle to the Galatians in about six years?) From a local inscription we know that many Jews live in Pisidian Antioch at this time, and the two apostles visit their synagogue on the following Sabbath. Answering an invitation to give a "word of exhortation" (logos paraklesos Ń verse 15; cf. Hebrews 13:22), Paul gives the first of his great sermons to be preserved in the Book of Acts. One will observe that it is a three-point sermon, each point beginning with a renewed form of address (verses 16-25, verses 26-37, verses 38-41).

Saturday, July 13

Acts 13:26-41: This section contains Point #2 of PaulŐs sermon, taking up the significance of Jesus, whom he introduced at the end of Point #1. The synagogue congregation has just been listening to the writings of the prophets (13:15), and now Paul speaks of the fulfillment of their prophecies in the death and Resurrection of Jesus (13:27). This has been a standard theme in Acts, of course (cf. 3:18,21,24; 4:28; 10:43). Luke does not identify which prophets Paul and Barnabas listened to in the synagogue on this day. Surely it is significant, nonetheless, that Paul introduces Jesus into his "word of exhortation" precisely in connection with the Davidic covenant (verse 22-23). The Resurrection of Jesus, he contends, is GodŐs fulfillment of the promises made to David, and here (verse 34) he quotes Isaiah 55:3. We are justified in suspecting, therefore, that Isaiah 55, concerned with GodŐs fidelity to David in the context of the Babylonian Captivity, was one of the texts read in the synagogue on this day. In testimony to JesusŐ Resurrection Paul refers to the official eye-witnesses of the post-Resurrection appearances (verses 30-31; cf. 1 Corinthians 15:5-7). As he will do a few years later in Romans 1:4, Paul interprets the sonship of Jesus in Psalm 2 to His Resurrection (verse 34; cf. also the same interpretation in Hebrews 1:5; 5:5). To this psalm he adds Psalm 16 (15):10, which has been a standard Resurrection-text ever since Peter used it on Pentecost morning. Paul then addresses the matter of justification and forgiveness of sins (verses 38-39), following the same line of argument that he will later pursue in his epistles (cf. Romans 6:7; 8:3; 10:4; Galatians 2:16; 3:10-14,24).




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