Acts 17:2, 3
And Paul, as his manner was, went in to them, and three sabbath days reasoned with them out of the scriptures,…
It was a great idea, and much more than mere idea with Paul, to "redeem the time." He would not have stayed a continuous three weeks in one place doing nothing at all, much less doing what was good for nothing, or for very little. The time he gave, therefore, to a subject, and the stress he laid upon it, may fairly measure to a certain degree his persuasion of the value of it. There are subjects which depend upon their very mode of treatment, not in the merely ordinary sense for producing greater or less impression, but for apprising us of the estimate they purport to put on themselves. And this thought may certainly help to guide us, even in these days. It may help work conviction as to the reality of things long "believed among us," but perhaps never more attacked or less boldly grasped than at this present. For we here may notice that -
I. PAUL TAKES THE OLD TESTAMENT SCRIPTURES AS HIS TEXT-BOOK.
1. It would have been particularly like Paul to have dealt with his subject or subjects through a period of upwards of three weeks, on their own merits, and not have laden them with any unimportant connection with things that had gone before. His method shows that the connection was not deemed unimportant by him.
2. If Paul does deal with great subjects, which might have been discussed on their own merits, in very close connection with their associations with the Old Testament, it were inevitable that those associations must cling to them. They will in a sense bring with them the atmosphere, or the flagrance of it, to which they have been accustomed.
3. There can be no doubt, no contradiction, as to the connection of the promised Messiah in the Old Testament with the sacrifices, which are really its most unique feature; nor can there be any doubt of the great sacrifices themselves, that they were in the main propitiatory.
II. THE DEATH OF CHRIST IS THE OLD TESTAMENT TOPIC SELECTED OUT OF ALL OTHERS BY PAUL. For what conceivable purpose should the apostles have taken all the trouble and encountered all the dangers they did in order to reconcile the minds of the Jews, to whom they preached, to the identity of the foretold Messiah of the Scriptures with the Jesus crucified of late at Jerusalem? There could be no satisfactory reason for this but one, that the suffering of Christ unto death was the central requirement of the whole position. While the Jew from first to last objected to the subject
(1) because the crucifixion of Christ lay at his door and on his conscience;
(2) and because the Jew had never consented to believe in such a King as Christ, such a grandeur as the grandeur of the cross for him, or such a method of recovering and exalting the distinction of his own nation, as the method which went right down to the root of its decay, disorder, misery! It would surely seem that nothing could be more nugatory than to labor as apostles labored, and to suffer as they suffered, and to be filled with zeal as they were filled with zeal, if it were for mere persistence sake in the matter of an unwelcome historical identification. Whether for Jew or Gentile, the death of Christ was with the apostles the foundation theme. But with the Jew it was argued as now, with all the light and necessarily with the associations that his Scriptures must throw upon it.
III. THE INVARIABLE SEQUEL-SUBJECT OF THE DEATH OF CHRIST - THE RESURRECTION - IS PREACHED BY PAUL. AS much as all the deepest traceable significance of the death of Christ tends to humble those to whom it is preached, as "the way of salvation," so much avails the significance of his resurrection to comfort and to raise them! The glory of glories for Christ, it is, and it is ever scripturally exhibited as, the joy of joys for the believer in Christ. These, then, were the great topics upon which Paul and his companions and other apostles were constantly insisting. Let it be explained as it may, these purport to be the message of Heaven to earth; let it be objected to as it may, nothing else comes in their place. The forces that lie hidden, yet scarcely hidden, in both of these are now at least testified by an unsurpassed mass and variety of practical and irrefutable evidence. Men's hearts have been softened, humbled, and won to the exercise of profoundest trust and firmest faith by the fact of the sufferings and death of Christ. Their highest nature has answered to the quickening influence of the clearly revealed and clearly exhibited fact of the Resurrection, and so far forth its correlative, immortality. The pride of man rarely finds its gain or its object in rejecting the latter, yet is it abundantly doubtful whether any man come to it rightly, much less come to it to the purest and truest advantage, except through that approach which Paul found so often "to the Jews a stumbling-block, and to the Greeks foolishness," but to "some" others even at Thessalonica (ver. 4) "the power of God and the wisdom of God." - B.
Parallel VersesKJV: And Paul, as his manner was, went in unto them, and three sabbath days reasoned with them out of the scriptures,