THE STORY OF THE EARLY CHURCH
Verses preaching the "Gospel of Jesus"
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37.1 PAUL CONVERTS THE JAILER IN PHILIPPI
- Paul and Silas are in prison in Philippi when an earthquake gives the prisoners a chance to escape. If they do, the jailer will suffer their penalty. As he prepares to kill himself, Paul calls out that everyone is still there. In response to the trembling man's question, Paul "preaches" a very short sermon on how anyone can be saved:
Acts 16:30-31 - He (the jailer) led them outside, and said, "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?" And they replied, "Believe in the Lord Jesus and then you will be saved, you and your household."
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37.2 PAUL BEFORE THE SYNAGOGUE IN THESSALONICA
- Arriving in Thessalonica, Paul proclaims clearly to the Jews that Jesus is their long-awaited Messiah:
Acts 17:2-3 - On three Sabbath days he argued with them (... the Jews of the synagogue) from the scriptures, explaining and quoting passages to prove the necessity for the death of Christ and his rising from the dead. "This Jesus whom I am proclaiming to you," he concluded, "is God's Christ!"
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37.3 PAUL ADDRESSES THE PHILOSOPHERS OF ATHENS ABOUT THEIR "UNKNOWN GOD"
- After Paul was driven from Thessalonica and Berea in Macedonia, he was taken south by ship to Athens in the province of Achaia. While waiting for Silas and Timothy to join him from Berea, he has the opportunity to address a group of philosophers. They are prepared to listen to him talk about God, but when he comes to Jesus and his resurrection from the dead, Paul is soon brought to a halt:
Acts 17:22-31 - So Paul got to his feet in the middle of their council (the "Areopagus" where the philosophers of Athens could meet to discuss new ideas), and began, "Gentlemen of Athens, my own eyes tell me that you are in all respects an extremely religious people (... Paul uses the philosopher's own debating style). For as I made my way here and looked at your shrines I noticed one altar (one of a number in Athens) on which were inscribed the words, TO GOD THE UNKNOWN. It is this God whom you are worshipping in ignorance that I am here to proclaim to you! God who made the world and all that is in it, being Lord of both Heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by human hands, nor is he ministered to by human hands, as though he had need of anything - seeing that he is the one who gives to all men life and breath and everything else. From one forefather (Adam) he has created every race of men to live over the face of the whole earth. He has determined the times of their existence and the limits of their habitation, so that they might search for God, in the hope that they might feel for him and find him - yes, even though he is not far from any one of us. Indeed, it is in him that we live and move and have our being. Some of your own poets (... Aratus, Cleanthes and Epimenides speaking about the god Zeus) have endorsed this in the words, 'For we are indeed his children'. If then we are the children of God, we ought not to imagine God in terms of gold or silver or stone, contrived by human art or imagination. Now while it is true that God has overlooked the days of ignorance he now commands all men everywhere to repent (because of the gift of his son Jesus). For he has fixed a day on which he will judge the whole world in justice by the standard of a man whom he has appointed. That this is so he has guaranteed to all men by raising this man (Jesus) from the dead."
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After Athens, Paul travelled to Corinth, from where he probably wrote his two Letters to the Thessalonians:
continuing preaching the "Gospel of Jesus", on to Part 38, 1Thessalonians OR back to J B Phillips HomePage
J.B.Phillips, "The New Testament in Modern English", 1962 edition, published by HarperCollins, is presented here with the kind permission of Mrs Vera Phillips and the J.B.Phillips estate
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