Paul begs the Galatians not to engage in following the law, because it is not what Jesus died for. It is for freedom that Christ has set us free! So they should stand firm! Faith, expressed through love, is the visible demonstration of that freedom.
Does the Christian still have to obey the Law of Moses? Do we constantly wrestle with the condemnation it always brings? Or has the Christian— every Christian— been set free from all obligations to the Law?
Leveraging the Law of Moses, Sin consigns the Jew to eternal death in relation to God. Handed over to corrupted instincts and urges, the Gentile seems hardly any better off. Paul’s gospel is, therefore, especially good news as we hear of God’s provision of a wonderful Saviour.
Why did Paul write to the Christians in Rome? So they would adopt him as a 'Link Missionary' and send him to Spain. In order to win their support he explains, in detail, the gospel message which he preaches. It is a gospel message with power to change lives.
Against well intentioned advice, Paul travels to Jerusalem. Unsurprisingly, accusations and great unrest continued such that, when arrested, Paul ultimately used his right as a Roman Citizen to appeal to Caesar for justice. This is appeal is a turning point in the latter part of the book of Acts. It sets Paul’s course for Rome— where he wanted to go anyway— opens up a series of trials and testimonies for Paul in front of all the leadership of the Roman Empire.
The worldview of the Ephesians was founded upon a belief in magic powers, especially as they were wielded by Artemis, their favourite goddess. So when Paul brought the gospel to the Ephesians, God ensured that the Lordship and power of Jesus Christ was demonstrated alongside the message of the gospel. As in other places, some believed and were saved. Other’s rejected and opposed the gospel.
Paul’s address to the gentile elites of Athens serves as a model of preaching for the Gentile world. He begins with their world view and their assumptions. He moves his audience from what they already believe to what they need to learn. Ultimately, the gospel essentials are never compromised: Jesus Christ is presented as the crucified and resurrected Lord of all.
With hindsight, we see the remarkable importance of the Council of Jerusalem. This gathering of the church leadership clarified the gospel message and served the worldwide spread of the Christian faith.
Paul’s missionary journeys follow a pattern. Wherever he goes, he speaks to the Jews first and then the Gentiles. Some are antagonistic and raise trouble for Paul, others believe and are saved. And all the while, God’s kingdom grows.
From the very beginning, the Gospel of Jesus Christ was always intended to go out to the ends of the earth. Here, we see it crossing the great Jew=Gentile divide. After 2000 years of testimony, we might wonder if the job is now done. Reflection on Acts 10 serves to challenge us to look beyond ourselves and prioritise mission and gospel work in un-reached and under-reached areas.
Already the gospel has gone out from Jerusalem, to Judea and then to Samaria. But how will the Gentiles hear? Saul / Paul's conversion on the road to Damascus is a turning point in the story of the early Christian church.
Acts 8 concludes the account of the spread of the gospel from Jerusalem, to Judea and Samaria— just as Jesus intended. Significant walls of religious division and cultural difference have been broken down. Jesus’ kingdom is for all kinds of people, in all places. All can be saved and become full members of his kingdom. All of which calls us to consider which boundaries we might cross with the gospel.