Fate has determined that I arrive in this city at the very moment the Jews conspired against me and at the beginning of my teaching on the Book of Acts. I’ll continue this path — teaching out of the book of Acts. And since there is such controversy regarding the “Jews,” it would seem foolish to shrink from the opportunity talk to, and about, the Jews. “Jew” is a Bible word — it isn’t owned by some sect or race and only the timid would shrink from using what the Holy Spirit inspired Luke to use eighty-three times in the Book of Acts alone.
Peter preaches to the Men of Judea and Israel. He charges them: “. . . you nailed [Jesus] to a cross by the hands of godless men and put him to death.” “Therefore let all the house of Israel know for certain that God has made Him both Lord and Christ – this Jesus whom you crucified.”
Again in Acts 3, Peter addresses the men of Israel: “The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the God of our fathers, has glorified His servant Jesus, the one you delivered and disowned in the presence of Pilate when he decided to release him. But you disowned the Righteous One and asked for a murder to b granted to you but put to death the prince of Life, the One whom God raised from the dead, a fact who which we are witnesses.”
Peter acknowledges that they “acted in ignorance,” urging them to recognize Jesus as the Son of God. I would that Jews not remain in ignorance — salvation is only from that Son of God, Jesus, the Christ, He is the Resurrection on the Life.
This talk upsets the Jews and (Acts 4) “as they were speaking the priests and the captain of the temple guard and the Saducees came to them being greatly disturbed because they were teaching and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection from the dead. And they . . . put them in jail.”
The next day they are investigate, Peter declares to the Jews what the Scripture say: Jesus “is the stone which was rejected by you, the builders, which became the chief corner stone.”
Jews and Gentiles, Pastors and Rabbis that ignore this, cover it up, hide it, or apologize for it, are guilty of hiding salvation from the Jews (and the Gentiles). It is Jesus Christ that offers salvation to the Jews, and Jesus Christ alone. But this angers the haters:
The Council decided (Acts 4) “But so that it will not spread any further among the people, let us warn them to speak no longer to any man in this name.” They commanded them “not to speak or teach at all in this name of Jesus.”
Peter and John, of course, refuse. For to refuse to preach this message is to refuse the opportunity of Jews to be saved. And this angers the Jews: Acts 5: For the high priest rose up, along with the sect of the Saducees and they were filled with jealousy. They laid hands on the apostles and put them in jail. And when they appeared before the Council the high priest said: “we gave you strict orders no to continue teaching in his name, and yet you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and intend to bring this man’s blood upon us.”
Well, what an observation from the High priest — he tells the preacher that, by pointing out the historical and scriptural fact that the Jews were responsible for the death of Jesus Christ, there would be a blood guilt. Indeed. And let us revisit that very moment when Pilate declared Christ innocent and tried to release him, and yet the crowd screamed: “His blood shall be on us and on your children.” (Matthew 27:25). Too late to complain about it now.
Instead of backing down, Peter doubles down: “The God of our Fathers raised up Jesus whom you put to death by hanging on a cross.” “He (Jesus) is the one whom God exalted to his right hand as a Prince and a Saviour, to grant repentance to Israel, and forgiveness to sin.”
The Jewish leadership, “when they heard this, were cut to the quick and intended to kill them.”
Again, the Christians are ordered “not to speak in the name of Jesus,” and after a good flogging they were released. “And every day, in the Temple and from house to house they kept right on teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ.”
And the opponents of the Gospel of Jesus Christ kept on trying to keep people ignorant of the only Name given by which men can be saved.
“Some men from a synagogue . . . secretly induced men to say “we have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses and against God. And they stirred up the people, the elders and the scribes” and dragged Peter again off to the Council to accuse him.
“They put forward false witnesses who said “This man incessantly speaks against this holy place and the Law. For we have heard him say that this Nazarene, Jesus, will destroy this place and alter the customs which Moses handed down to us.”
(Kindly observe that they did not claim Jesus was a Jew. A Galilean, yes. A Nazarene, yes. The King of the Jews (by Pilate), yes, to which the Jews responded with “we have no king but Ceasar.”)
The converts preach Jesus as the Christ, the Messiah, the Son of God, whom the Jews murdered. And the Jews attack. This is just the way it is. It will be repeated over and over in the book of Acts.
Acts 13:45-46 “But when the Jews saw the crowds, they were filled with jealousy and began contradicting the things spoken by Paul, and were blaspheming. Paul and Barnabas spoke out boldly and said “It was necessary that the word of God be spoken to you first; since you repudiate it and judge yourselves unworthy of eternal life. Behold, we are turning to the Gentiles.”
Acts 13:50 “But the Jews inciting the devout women of prominence and the leading men of the city, and instigated a persecution of Paul and Barnabas and drove them out of their district.”
Acts 14:2 “But the Jews who disbelieved stirred up the minds of the Gentiles and embittered them against the brethren.”
Acts 14:19 “But Jews came from Antioch and Iconium, and having won over the crowded, the stoned Paul . . . “
If the Jews aren’t attacking the Church there is probably something missing in the message the Church is teaching. Acts is a forever book — it’s not just a recording of what happened way back when. It lays out the truth for all time and Christians would be wise to not to ignore it. Like Paul, I would that the Jews as well as Gentiles be saved — that won’t happen unless we preach the Truth. Some reject Jesus out of ignorance — let not silence contribute to their damnation.
Lot’s more coming this month and next.
Fritz Berggren, PhD
Labor Day, 2021