Last Updated on :Thursday, November 20, 2014










The reader, then, will readily perceive that the apostolic preaching was very much simplified in regard to the Jews. All that was necessary was to show them what their prophets taught, and then to prove that to a certain extent their predictions were accomplished in Jesus, as an earnest that what remained would be fulfilled in and by him likewise. This was the course pursued by Paul in Thessalonica. He went into their synagogue, and reasoned with them out of the Scriptures of the prophets, opening and alleging, firstly, that the Messiah they were looking for must needs have suffered, and secondly, that he must needs stand up from among the dead. These were among the first things (en protois, 1 Cor. 15:3) he delivered to the Jews; how that their Messiah was to die for their sins, according to the prophets; be buried, or "make his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death", (Isa. 53:9) and arise on the third day, according to the scriptures. If he could convince them of these things, their minds were then prepared for his third proposition, which was, "that this is the Messiah, even Jesus, whom I announce to you". (See Acts 17:3)

They err greatly who imagine that one method of preaching "the glad tidings of the glory of Christ" (See 2 Cor. 4:4) would have been suitable for idol -- worshippers, and the members of the synagogue. The proposition that "Jesus is the Anointed, the Son of the living God", (Matt. 16:16; John 6:69) would have been meaningless and unintelligible to idolaters. To have comprehended it they must have been made previously acquainted with the existence of that living God, and with the doctrine concerning the Anointed One. And this the apostle set himself to do in laying before them the glad tidings of the kingdom, as exhibited in the revelation of His will, which God had purposed to Himself. When they came to understand this part of the subject, they would very naturally desire to know, Who should be the King by whom the world should be ruled in righteousness, when the appointed time for the manifestation of the divine purpose should arrive? Paul told them that it was a certain Jew, named Jesus, who was dead, but came to life again, and is alive for evermore, who is to be king of the whole earth. This answer to the question very naturally prompted another, namely, "If the Jesus he proclaimed were to be king of all nations, what would become of Caesar's throne?" Nor did Paul hesitate to answer this inquiry, as we have seen in the second epistle to the Macedonians of Thessalonica. "He shall be taken out of the way", (2 Thess. 2:7) and then a power, embodying the Mystery of Iniquity already working, shall take his place, which shall also be utterly abolished by the manifestation of the Lord's presence from the heavens. Such questions and answers as these created a great stir among the multitude, many of whom renounced their idols, and declared themselves, not only willing, but earnestly desirous to become heirs of that kingdom and glory, that they might reign with Jesus when he should receive the dominion, glory, and kingdom at his return from the right hand of power. But the Jews who rejected the claims of Jesus to the Davidian throne of universal empire on earth were moved with envy at this revolution in the pagan mind, and determined to put a stop to it, if possible. They excited the lowest of the people against Paul and his friends, both in Thessalonica and Berea. As Paul was preaching politics, which had been forbidden by the emperor, they assailed him as a transgressor of the imperial decrees, saying, that there is another king than Caesar, one Jesus. The same outcry was raised in Philippi with the same result -- proclaiming principles unlawful for loyal Romans to receive and do, and thereby exceedingly troubling the cities of Macedonia Prima.

Philippi, Thessalonica, Berea, etc., were thrown into an uproar by Paul's preaching the glad tidings of the glory and kingdom of God. Let not this fact be overlooked. Was it done by a sixty minutes' discourse, the burden of which was that Jesus, whom perhaps no Macedonian pagan had ever heard of before, was the Son of the unknown God of the despised Jews, and sacrificed for sin? What would they have thought of the doctrine that the blood of a murdered Jew, in some mysterious way, was to save them from wrath to come, of which they knew nothing? Instead of such preaching as this (of which the world has a surfeiting in these superficial times) exceedingly troubling cities, and turning the community upside down, the apostles would not have obtained a second hearing. No; they might have preached the divine sonship of Jesus in the modern Gentile sense of it, not for an hour only, but until this day, and have never made a Christian, or agitated a single family, That Jesus is the Son of the God of Israel, and not the Son of Mary's husband, is most true, and a very important truth in its proper place; it is a genealogical truth upon which all his claims are founded; but in the Gentile sense of it, there is no good in it. His blood cleansed from all sin; true, but what then? If that be all it leaves without hope, and the future is a blank. Such a Gospel never came from heaven to Jew, Macedonian, or Italian, or to any other Gentile family of man.

Paul's preaching was the same in all the cities of Macedonia. It planted the same hope in the hearts of the people at Philippi, as at Thessalonica. Here, it taught them to turn from idols to serve the God of Israel, and to wait for His Son from the heavens, when they should receive the kingdom of God, for which they suffered persecution; there, it taught them to be like-minded with the apostle in pressing toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God by the anointed Jesus (2 Thess. 1:5). This "mark" (Phil. 3:14) was the resurrection that Paul desired by any means to attain to, because the prize could not be obtained until that mark were reached. The prize was the subject of the glad tidings he preached to them. It was for the obtaining of this prize that they entered the lists by being baptized, that they might from that time start in the race, and press onward to the goal. Did they begin to run without knowing what they were running for? No indeed. When men, as in Paul's day, entered upon a race which exposed to torment, imprisonment, and death, they were very careful to know what they were to gain by the risks they encountered. "I so run, not as uncertainly", (1 Cor. 9:26,24) saith the apostle; "so run, that ye may obtain" (1 Cor. 9:26,24) obtain what? That which God sent Jesus to invite men to in the glad tidings of the kingdom which he preached, and therefore styled "the high calling of God by the anointed Jesus". (Phil. 3:14)

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An everlasting kingdom is the prize set before us as "untaught Gentiles", connected with which are glory, honour, riches, and life eternal. Hence, James says to them who are taught of God, "he has chosen the poor of this world, rich in faith, as heirs of the kingdom which he has promised to them that love him"; (James 2:5) and Jesus saith, "Fear not, little flock, it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom", (Luke 12:32) and when they that love him stand in his presence after rising from the dead, he saith to them, "Come, ye blessed of my Father, possess the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world". (Matt. 25:34) Were these blessed ones baptized in ignorance of the kingdom and glory they were called to? In darkness plunged into water, not dreaming that the God of Israel purposed to set up a glorious kingdom in Palestine for Jesus and his brethren, which was to rule over all? Was their faith so meagre, so death stricken in its birth, that it could only faintly whisper an assent to a leading question about the genealogy of Jesus, before they descended into water? Were their eyes so blind that they could see nothing in the future? No, no; before they were baptized they took care to know what they were baptized for. They were baptized that they might become Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise, which they understood and believed with joyous and faithful hearts. Hence, the apostle could write to the Roman citizens of Philippi, who believed, and the jailer and his house among their number, saying, "Brethren, be followers together of me, and mark them who walk, so as ye have Paul and Timotheus, servants of Jesus Christ, for an example, for our citizenship begins in the heavens; out of which also we earnestly expect the Saviour, the anointed Lord Jesus; who shall transform the body of our humiliation, that it may be conformed to the body of his glory, through the power whereby he is able to subdue all things to himself". (Phil. 3:17-21) And afterwards he adds, "Those things which ye have both, learned, and received, and heard, and seen with me, do". (Phil. 4:9) This covered the whole ground of his teaching, which was effective to their illumination as lights in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation.


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