Acts 17:3
In ver. 18 the point of St. Paul's teaching to the Gentiles is briefly given, and it is seen that he had but one message, which he endeavored to adapt to his varying audiences. To the Gentiles he preached "Jesus and the resurrection;" to the Jews he preached that "Christ must needs have suffered, and risen again from the dead; and that Jesus is the Christ." It may be noticed that to a Jewish audience St. Paul could make a twofold appeal:

(1) to Old Testament Scripture; and

(2) to the established facts connected with the life, death, and resurrection of our Lord. To the Gentiles he could make no appeals to Scripture testimony, seeing that they had no written revelation; but even to them St. Paul could make a twofold appeal:

(1) to the natural sense of religion, of which their idolatries gave witness; and

(2) to the circle of recognized facts connected with the manifestation of Christ in the flesh. Still our appeal to men is based on

(1) the religious nature;

(2) the older revelation;

(3) the historical facts of Christ's life. St. Paul "preached the gospel as a herald. Yes, but he preached it also by long arguments, intended and constructed to produce faith or persuasion concerning Christ. Indeed, the Greek word originally means to carry on an argument by way of dialogue; question by the hearer, answer by the preacher, according to his light. That was the real apostolic method of serving Christ - a very eager, earnest, inevitable method. To preach Christ is to reason out of the Scriptures and, in a secondary degree, out of the great book of human life and experience, and also out of the great book of material nature; but in any case it is to 'reason,' to lay out, the matter as it seems to ourselves - to press it home upon all whom it concerns; to remonstrate, expostulate, entreat, and then to leave the issue with God." Fix attention on St. Paul's three points.

I. MESSIAH MUST SUFFER. Compare our Lord's teaching to the two disciples on the way to Emmaus (Luke 24:25, 26). This suffering of their expected Messiah was the point of Old Testament teaching which the Jews missed or resisted. It is in the old Scriptures, in psalm and prophecy, plainly enough; but the conception of the Messiah as a national Deliverer and conquering King had so possessed the minds of the people that the prophetic figures of suffering were willingly turned aside, referred to some other individual, or assumed to have been exhausted in the troubles of the writers. Yet the first promise made to men after the Fall gives hint of redemption by suffering (see especially Psalm 22.; Isaiah 53.; and the Book of Lamentations). Explain the influence which the writings of David and the conflicts of the Maccabean princes had upon the national sentiment. And yet in this necessity for Messiah's sufferings is declared the distinction between a temporal and a spiritual Savior. Christ's weapons are not carnal. Of moral weapons none are mightier than suffering, and few can be used without involving suffering. The necessity for Christ's suffering may be shown

(1) in his humiliation to man's nature;

(2) in his sympathy with man's disabilities;

(3) in his bearing of man's burden. There was both suffering of feeling and suffering of circumstances.

II. MESSIAH MUST RISE. Of this the older Scriptures give witness. The kind of passages which the apostles took to prove this position are found in St. Peter's first sermons; and the necessity may be shown

(1) in that the acceptance by God of his life and work on earth must in some way be attested, and

(2) in that we must have good ground of persuasion that Christ is alive and able to continue the good work which he has begun on earth. A Savior for men who was held fast in the death-grip plainly could not deliver man from death, the worst of his foes. Such a seeming Savior could not win our confidence, for it would appear to us that he was defeated at last. And, besides, we cannot trust a thing, a work; we must trust a person who has worked and can work, and therefore Messiah must rise from the dead and be alive for evermore.

III. MESSIAH IS JESUS OF NAZARETH. The things found to be necessary are met in him, and in him alone. Show the correspondence between the facts of the Christian teaching and the requirements of Scripture prophecy, and impress the personal demand which St. Paul makes to follow on his argument; then your loyalty, your trust, your love, your life, are demanded for Jesus Messiah. - R.T.







Forasmuch then...we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold.
Up to this verse Paul has made a general statement respecting God. Here he lays down the groundwork of a true and abiding Christian philosophy. The armoury of the Church is in the word "forasmuch." It throws man back on himself, and says, "If you want to know what God is, know yourself." "Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think," etc. He made us; as certain of your own poets have said. Then judge the Father by the child; the Creator by the creature made in His own image and likeness, and rise from the human to the Divine — the ascent of reason and the way of faith. Now I know of a surety that the Bible representation of God is true, because it is true of myself. My reasoning is now invincible, because it takes this turn, namely —

I. Forasmuch, then, AS WE ARE NOT ENTIRELY COMPREHENDED, even by those who know us best and love us most, even so is God a mystery.

II. Forasmuch, then, AS WE HAVE NOT BEEN SEEN by our dearest admirers, we ought not to think that the Godhead can be seen. You have never seen your friend; you have never seen your own self. Any mystery that we find in God we find initially and typically in our own nature.

III. As we express our thought and feeling through body and form, so does God. We proceed by incarnation. Forasmuch, then, AS OUR LOVE MUST INCARNATE and embody itself, so as to touch us, we ought not to think that the Godhead is independent of the method which amongst ourselves He has made essential to union and happiness. If we have come upon this doctrine through the deep study of our own nature and ways of self-revelation, when we come to the historical Bethlehem we feel we have only come home. That Bethlehem has been in our hearts, and is the inner circle of our sacred home.

IV. Forasmuch, then, AS WE FORGIVE OUR CHILDREN who repent of their sins, we ought not to think that the Godhead is unwilling to forgive. Forasmuch, then, as that man did so to that sinning son, we ought not to think that the Godhead is a carved statue in the sky. "Like as a father pitieth his children," etc.

(J. Parker, D. D.)

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