Times & Directions Give

"behold, I'm with you always, to the end of the age."

navigate Xclose

Neither Jew Nor Greek

Acts Blogpost

          Peter's vision and subsequent proclamation of the Gospel to the Gentiles in Acts chapter 10 marks a huge transition in redemptive history.  Formerly, from the time of the patriarchs, God's covenantal promises were made to Israel, and to Israel alone.  Now these promises were being extended to those who were formerly excluded.  Understanding the significance of this moment is vitally important for a number of reasons.

          First, it points to Jesus as the central figure of the Old Testament.  Most Christians would affirm that the Bible is all about Jesus, but struggle to understand how the pieces fit together to form a robust Biblical Theology that finds its center in Christ.  However, this is the charge we have been given as students of God's word.  Jesus himself teaches us that a proper framework for understanding the Old Testament is Christocentric in nature (Luke 24:27).  That is to say that everything in the Old Testament foreshadows and points to Jesus.  This includes the covenants, and in particular, the covenant with Abraham which establishes the nation of Israel.  The apostle Paul makes this argument in Galatians 3, where he writes:

"Now the promises were made to Abraham and to his offspring.  It does not say, 'And to offsprings,' referring to many, but referring to one, 'And to your offspring,' who is Christ...
For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.  There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.  And if you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's offspring, heirs according to promise."

          Thus we come to understand and see Jesus as the greater Israel.  Where they had shown themselves to be exclusively covenant-breakers, Christ serves a dual role as not only the divine author of the covenant promises, but also as the representative for his people in keeping their promises as well; so that, through him, we (us and they) might be co-heirs to the inheritance that was promised. 

          Second, and consequently, we see continuity in the relationship between ethnic Israel and the ethnically diverse New Testament church.  Where there had formerly been enmity, there is now unity in the body of Christ.  Some might argue this continuity doesn't exist, instead pointing to the Church as a direct replacement for Israel as the recipient of the covenant promises.  We have already seen briefly how this isn't compatible with the testimony of Scripture, and a larger case could be made.  Others, on the other hand, would contend that God's purposes in Israel have yet to be fully realized.  While it is entirely plausible to believe that God may yet stir the affections of ethnic Israel for himself en masse, it seems, at least to me, to largely be an argument over semantics; since any person who has been, or will ever be, brought into right relationship with God is only redeemed through Christ and he alone.  Therefore making him part of true Israel or the Church, depending on the terminology you choose to use, regardless of their background.  God's promises always find their end in Christ, independent of time and place.  My point, simply stated, is this...our shared brokenness and deeply rooted need for the Gospel puts us all on even ground at the foot of the cross.  It is the thread that binds together the entire history of humanity ever since the Garden.  Salvation has always been, and will always be found in looking forward to Christ, in faith; and can never be found by looking back at our own meritorious works.

          The lesson I think we can learn here in Acts chapter 10 is that God will call unto himself whomsoever he pleases, and those whom he calls - red, yellow, black, or white; Jew or Gentile - will respond to him by professing faith in Christ and living lives marked by obedience to him as their Lord and Savior.  The inclusion of the Gentiles is a reminder to all people that the accomplishment of God's purposes, regardless of the means through which they are accomplished, always glorify him and him alone.  It wasn't about making much of the nation of Israel (we see that in this week's scripture lesson), and it isn't about making much of us as the Church today (lest we forget the lesson learned)...it's always been and always will be about making much of Jesus!

In Grace,
Chris Morris


If you missed this week's sermon (or just want to listen again), follow the link below to listen. Or subscribe to our podcast in iTunes.

Part 24 - Peter's Vision Changes Things

Questions discussed in this sermon:

1.  What does Peter's vision mean?
2.  Why was Peter perplexed?
3.  What does it mean that the Holy Spirit fell on the Gentiles?

Leave a Comment

Comments for this post have been disabled.

Latest Tweet