Thoughts for the Day

Tuesday, 20th September 2022: A move to the gentiles

Paul Gentiles Evangelism Acts 13 Barnabas

Reading : Verses from Acts, Chapter 13

St Paul

The next sabbath almost the whole city (of Antioch) gathered to hear the word of the Lord. But when the Jews saw the crowds, they were filled with jealousy; and blaspheming, they contradicted what was spoken by Paul. Then both Paul and Barnabas spoke out boldly, saying, ‘It was necessary that the word of God should be spoken first to you. Since you reject it and judge yourselves to be unworthy of eternal life, we are now turning to the Gentiles. For so the Lord has commanded us, saying,

“I have set you to be a light for the Gentiles,
so that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.”’

When the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and praised the word of the Lord.... Thus the word of the Lord spread throughout the region. But the Jews incited the devout women of high standing and the leading men of the city, and stirred up persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and drove them out of their region. So they shook the dust off their feet in protest against them, and went to Iconium. And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.

(Lectionary, New Revised Standard Version)


Again and again we hear of those who will not listen to the Word of God; who reject the prophets; and who persecute any who spread God's messages. We have seen this happen in the 5th century BCE with Zechariah, Ezra and Nehemiah, and now in the 1st century CE as the new church spreads around the Middle East we see it happening again when Paul and Barnabas begin to teach the people about Jesus. As a traditional proverb says, 'There is none so deaf as those who will not hear!'

Moving now to the New Testament to Luke's second book, the Acts of the Apostles, we see another example of this. The whole city comes to hear the gospel from Paul on the Sabbath. He quotes Simeon's words said when Jesus is first taken to the Temple as a baby: "I have set you to be a light to the gentiles". However, the Jews rather than hearing the good news of Jesus Christ, are jealous. They have waited so long from centuries before Christ for the coming of the Messiah, and when Paul comes in the power of God to give them this Good News they reject him and his message. It seems that they wanted to keep a separation between themselves and non-jews (ie gentiles). If Jesus was the Messiah of all people, then they wanted no part of Him. They heard the good news, but they rejected it because it didn't fit with their plans.

Sometimes God challenges our plans too! We need to learn to check with Him - to listen to Him and hear what He says!


Lord Jesus Christ,
as we live our daily life,
encourage us to check our plans with Yours,
rather than thinking we know best,
and to really understand and hear
what You desire.
Help us to accept that Your way
is not necessarily ours,
but it will always be the best way.

Follow Up Thoughts

You might like to look further into Paul and his call to the gentiles:

Or remind yourself about Simeon in the Temple, which we know as the Nunc Dimittis that is sung at Evensong:

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