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sent to the nations

12-11-2011 - Posted by Andre Piet

In a previous blog, I wrote about Paul, being in Rome (Acts 28), is telling the Jewish leaders that the salvation of God was sent to the nations. He was not referring to some “stranger within the gates”, such as Cornelius and his house, to whom the Gospel was made known. That, indeed, was for many Jews quite shocking enough. But Paul’s statement goes much further: the salvation of God was sent to the nations, that is to say, no longer to Israel! Israel’s repentance and restoration were not anymore on the agenda. That was the point in Acts 28, where Paul declared:

25 …”Ideally the holy spirit speaks through Isaiah the prophet, to your fathers (…) 27 stoutened is the heart of this people (=Israel), And with their ears heavily they hear, And with their eyes they squint, Lest at some time they may be perceiving with their eyes, And with their ears should be hearing, And with their heart may be understanding, And should be turning about, And I shall be healing them.’ 28 Let it be known to you, then, that to the nations was dispatched this salvation of God…”

Paul announced in Rome what he had preached since his name was changed to Paul (Acts 13:9). The name Paul marks Israel’s setting aside, while the message of salvation (“the salvation of God”) goes to the nations. Already in Acts 13, he had preached in the synagogue of Antioch:

40 “Beware then, that that which has been declared in the prophets may not be coming on you: 41 Perceive, you despisers (=Israel), and marvel, and disappear! for a work am I working in your days — a work which you should by no means be believing if anyone should be detailing it to you.”

The fate of Israel as a nation was sealed. Paul no longer addressed himself to the nation of Israel, but only to “some of them” (Rom.11:14). As “despisers” of the word that was preached to her, the nation would “disappear”; a truth that became reality in 70 AD, when Jerusalem was leveled to the ground. Now, God would do a wonderful work in their days of disappearance, which most certainly would not be believed. When Paul, in that same community of Antioch, encounters massive resistance from the Jews, he declares:

Being bold, both Paul and Barnabas, say, “To you first was it necessary that the word of God be spoken. Yet, since, in fact, you are thrusting it away, and are judging yourselves not worthy of eonian life, lo! we are turning to the nations. Acts 13:46

With this is established that Paul’s statement in Acts 28:28, indeed, is a reminder of a profound change that was announced, earlier, in the book of Acts (chapter 13). In a subsequent blog, we will pay attention to Paul’s last speech in Jerusalem (Acts 22)

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