A Great Mystery of the Faith

Acts 22 recounts a message delivered by Paul. He had been before the tribune asking for permission, and receiving it proceeds to speak to fellow Jews.

The crowd appears to listen intently, all the more because Paul speaks in Hebrew. He tells of his stirring conversion, meeting with Christ on the road to Damascus. He then was taken in by Ananias, received back his sight, and was given the call to be a witness. Paul repented and was baptized.

Paul is commanded in a vision to flee from Jerusalem, because the people there will not accept his testimony. Paul knows that people remember the role he took in persecuting the church, even standing by approvingly as Stephen was marytred.

St Paul Preaching in Athens, Raphael – Preaching to the Gentiles.

The crowd was listening throughout all of Paul’s message, but in verse 22 it says that at his last line they raised their voice and called for him to be cast out. What could he have said that would cause them, after listening throughout his message so intently, to turn so quickly?

In verse 21 Paul says that God commanded him to, “Go, for I will send you far away to the Gentiles.’”

Paul’s opponents will tolerate his words up to the point that he claims God calls him to go to people unlike themselves. They appreciate that he is like them, that he is from a place like them, and that he speaks a language like them. They do not appreciate that he is ministering to “the other.” Their vision is so clouded and their understanding of God’s intent so narrow that they cannot hear the good news of Paul’s message.

God’s love for the gentiles is described as the core of a great mystery of our faith, revealed to us now. We now know how great is this new word that Paul speaks of in his letter to the church in Ephesus. I, a Gentile, for one am thankful for the ministry of Paul, as called by God, and need to follow suit to seek out not only others who are like me, but to bring the gospel to others.

For this reason I, Paul, a prisoner for Christ Jesus on behalf of you Gentiles— assuming that you have heard of the stewardship of God’s grace that was given to me for you, how the mystery was made known to me by revelation, as I have written briefly. When you read this, you can perceive my insight into the mystery of Christ, which was not made known to the sons of men in other generations as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit. This mystery is that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.

Ephesians 3:1-6

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