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Tuesday, June 8, 2021

Paul Dealt With Jews and Gentiles Differently in the Acts Age

There several different strains in Christendom today which, to one degree or another, are trying to put professed believers under the Mosaic Law (primarily Sabbath-Keeping). So, let's look at how the Apostles, particularly Paul, dealt with the different nations in their day. And we are quick to note that this is the Acts Age. We no longer live in the Acts Age, but even then (as in all scripture from Moses to the end of the Acts), Gentiles and Israelites were dealt with differently.

From Pentecost to Paul

“Look, are not all these who speak Galileans? 8 And how is it that we hear, each in our own language in which we were born? 9 Parthians and Medes and Elamites, those dwelling in Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya adjoining Cyrene, visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, 11 Cretans and Arabs—we hear them speaking in our own tongues the wonderful works of God.” 12 So they were all amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “Whatever could this mean?” -Acts 2

Here at Pentecost, these were all Jews (see Acts 2:22), yet they do not comment that the Apostles spoke in Hebrew. No, they spoke as "Galileans." And then the Holy Spirit had these non-Aramaic, non-Hebrew speaking Jews say, "how is it that we hear, each in our own language in which we were born?" and "we hear them speaking in our own tongues."

The Apostles also wrote in Greek. Can you imagine Paul writing to Gentiles in Ephesus and Colossae and Philippi in Hebrew? Did he speak to the Greek Philosophers in Athena at the Areopagus in Hebrew?

Then Paul stood in the midst of Mars’ hill, and said, Ye men of Athens, I perceive that in all things ye are too superstitious. 23 For as I passed by, and beheld your devotions, I found an altar with this inscription, TO THE UNKNOWN GOD [Greek: theós]. Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you. 24 God [Greek: theós] that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands... -Acts 17

Not "Yah" as the Hebrew Roots movement demands, but "theós."

Note that Paul does not reference the Law to these Greeks, but appeals to the work of the Messiah alone and to the need of all humanity. For the Greeks were never given the Law.

neither is worshipped with men’s hands, as though he [PRONOUN] needed any thing, seeing he [PRONOUN] giveth to all life, and breath, and all things; 26 and hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation; 27 that they should seek the Lord [Greek: kýrios], if haply they might feel after him [PRONOUN], and find him [PRONOUN], though he [PRONOUN] be not far from every one of us: 28 for in him [PRONOUN] we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his [Greek using a PRONOUN to refer to God] offspring. 29 Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God [Greek: theós], we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man’s device. 30 And the times of this ignorance God [Greek: theós] winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent: 31 because he [PRONOUN] hath appointed a day, in the which he [PRONOUN] will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he [PROUNOUN] hath ordained; whereof he [PRONOUN] hath given assurance unto all men, in that he [PRONOUN] hath raised him [PRONOUN] from the dead.

No mention of the Law.

Note the difference when Paul speaks to Jews and proselytes in the synagogue:

And after the reading of the law and the prophets the rulers of the synagogue sent unto them, saying, Ye men and brethren, if ye have any word of exhortation for the people, say on. 16 Then Paul stood up, and beckoning with his hand said, Men of Israel, and ye that fear God, give audience. 17 The God of this people of Israel chose our fathers, and exalted the people when they dwelt as strangers in the land of Egypt, and with an high arm brought he them out of it. 18 And about the time of forty years suffered he their manners in the wilderness. 19 And when he had destroyed seven nations in the land of Chanaan, he divided their land to them by lot.

Who are the "Men of Israel" and "this people of Israel" at that time? The Church which is his Body made up of Jews and Gentiles? Surely not. How can we say, then, that the One Body is the new Israel?

We have looked at the use of "Yeshua" or "Yehoshua(Hebrew for Jesus) several times on this blog and on the podcast. As this is also a characteristic of the Hebrew Roots movement, we turn our attentuion in Acts 17 to this issue. This chapter speaks of a sorcerer who is called "Son of Jesus" or "Son of Yeshua."

We turn to the Orthodox Jewish Bible translation:

Having passed through the whole island as far as Paphos, they found a certain ish, a magician, a Jewish navi sheker, by name of Bar-Yehoshua (Acts 13:6 OJB)

Is anybody confused by this reference? Do we conclude this sorcerer is the son of the Christ? Are we confused by pronouns too? 

Scripture, using any language, uses the SAME pronouns for Satan nd for the true God, the SAME word for the true God as the false gods (in Hebrew and in Greek) and "Yehoshua" is used of a number of 
people in scripture. Do we conclude these are all the same? Of course not.

  • Just as at Pentecost, we know of whom the scripture speaks by enlightenment of the Holy Spirit.
  • We know how to read pronouns and understand context.

Paul at Mars' Hill uses "theós" of the true God and of the false God of the Greeks. Paul is not a blasphemer as the true God knows the intent of his heart as he does ours. Many people today using "Jesus" or "Yeshua" preach a false gospel. The name alone does not define faith, but the finished work connected to the name (no matter the language we hear being preached - see Pentecost).