Dr. John Hartmann

Proclaiming the Whole Counsel of God

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Antioch-Syria and the Early Mission to the Gentiles – Part 1

June 5th, 2011 · No Comments

Acts 11:19-26 The church of Antioch-Syria was founded by Jewish-Christian missionaries scattered abroad because of the persecution that arose in connection with the death of Stephen. God used persecution to bring about the expansion of the gospel, with the chief antagonist being Saul of Tarsus, who in the meantime was converted to faith in Christ and commissioned to be Jesus’ chief witness to the Gentiles (32 AD). These scattered Jewish-Christian missionaries made their way to Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Antioch-Syria, speaking the word at this point to Jews only. This work probably went on for several years (32-41 AD), until a transition took place, probably around 41-42 AD, when Peter was providentially sent to the house of a Gentile centurion named Cornelius, in the city of Ceasarea on the Mediterranean coast. The outpouring of the Spirit upon the believing Gentiles gathered at Cornelius’ house marked a transition in the gospel mission, as the message of salvation would from this point onward go out to the Gentiles (Acts 10:1-11:18).

The timeline begins in the spring of 30 AD, when Jesus is crucified, raised, and exalted to heaven. Jesus spends 40 days on earth after His resurrection, during which time He appears to, teaches and commissions the chosen witnesses. His ascension to the right hand of God is understood in relation to Psalm 110, which speaks of the Messiah as Lord of all (verse 1) and the King-Priest after the order of Melchizedek (verse 4). Both of these verses are cited throughout the NT with reference to Jesus. The significance of Jesus’ high-priestly intercession on our behalf is particularly prominent in Hebrews 7 and Romans 8:31-34. Our teacher unpacks Jesus’ role of delivering us from the charges brought against us by the demons in the heavenly law-court.

Our study ends with discussion of God’s salvation-historical time-clock, which unfolds in ages and epochs. We presently live in “the period between the times” in which the evil age of darkness continues on (Gal 1:4), but the in which the powers of the age to come are manifest in and through the redeemed community (Heb 6:5).

This message again issues a challenge for God’s believing remnant to embrace the mission to which the church has been called in the Gospel for all nations.

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