Monday, April 24, 2017

Monday Paul 3.2

So when Paul convinced Barnabas to go north into Galatia, it was the last straw for Mark. He didn't sign up to go to Anatolia! He signed up to visit his family in Cyprus with his uncle in charge. Now Paul seemed to be calling the shots and Barnabas was letting him. And they were now targeting Gentiles as much as Jews.

Barnabas had the resources to send Mark back on a ship to Antioch. Once their boat from Cyprus landed at Perga, in the south of Asia Minor, Mark headed back alone toward Jerusalem.

Paul knew he would have to face the music when he returned. They would be gone for at least another year, giving Mark a long time to bad mouth him. But Paul hardly gave it another thought for the rest of the mission. He figured God would take care of it in due time.

From Perga they traveled north to another Antioch, this one in the middle of Galatia. The Roman province of Galatia was a fairly young province, only established in its current form less than a hundred years earlier. The original Galatians had long since moved on west even beyond Rome. But the people who lived in the south-middle of Asia Minor liked to think of themselves as Galatians, even though they spoke different languages and belonged to quite different groups.

Paul and Barnabas always went to the synagogue of a new town first. Such synagogues often gave guests like them an opportunity to bring a word of exhortation. So Paul or Barnabas would do their best to share the good news that the king of the Jews, the Messiah, had finally arrived.

However, much to Paul's puzzlement, they often did not get a good reception from their fellow Jews. The idea that the anointed one of Israel had died on a cross was just too big of a stumbling block. Sometimes, the idea so angered their fellow Jews that their own lives were in danger. Often they would ask for miraculous signs to verify that they were sent of God.

And God often performed such miracles through the hands of Paul and Barnabas. But when you are convinced something is wrong, even miracles often don't change your mind.

It was in these days when Paul's sense that he was an apostle primarily to Gentiles was being forged. Peter might have a fruitful mission among the Jews, but God evidently was calling Paul in a different direction. Nor did Paul see himself serving primarily in churches that someone else had planted. No, he was called to be the front line of the mission, to plant where no one else had planted before.

It was usually less than a month that Paul and Barnabas found themselves unwelcome in the local synagogue. So they would set up regular meetings in the house of someone who had believed and they would turn their focus to Gentiles. Paul would set up shop in the forum and sell leather goods like tents and use his business interaction as an opportunity to share the good news.
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continued from last week

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