Posted by: mattcolvin | November 18, 2011

Acts 28:17-end: To the Jew first, and also to the Greek

Saturday of the 21st week after Trinity: Acts 28:17-end.

At the conclusion of Acts, we get an apparent happy ending, with Paul successfully completing his mission to bring the gospel to Rome, the center of the Gentile world. His account of himself to “the leaders of the Jews” in Rome should remind everyone of another Jew who was put on trial:

I was delivered as a prisoner from Jerusalem into the hands of the Romans, 18 who, when they had examined me, wanted to let me go, because there was no cause for putting me to death.

Like the Sanhedrin and the Areopagus that had previously failed to reach a verdict about Paul, the council of Jewish leaders is divided:

And some were persuaded by the things which were spoken, and some disbelieved.

The end result is that Paul, having discharged his duty of going to the Jews first, turns to the Gentiles, quoting as usual the same poetic reasons from Isaiah 6:9-10 that Jesus had used to explain why he spoke in parables to the Jews. The logic of Romans 9-11 is operative in Paul’s conduct of his ministry: it is only because the Jews have shut their ears to the message of the gospel that he can turn to the Gentiles and save them. Yet the message itself is nothing other than “the hope of Israel.”

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