In several places in the Bible provide brief overviews of Israel’s history. Psalm 105 and 106 are but two examples.
Here, before a gathering of Israelites in Antioch, on the sabbath, in the synagogue, Paul recounts highlights of Israel’s history. He does it in such a way such as to make his case that Jesus truly is God’s long-awaited Messiah.
Jesus’ credibility, at least in the early years following his death and resurrection, was not tied to his miracles. It was tied to his identity as one coming from the lineage of King David. That gave everything else Jesus did, his miracles and his teaching, the proper context they needed. That historical linkage to David and the prophetic expectation of an heir to David’s throne who would restore Israel to its former glory elevated Jesus beyond being just another first century snake oil salesman to his true identity as the Son of God.
13 Then Paul and his companions set sail from Paphos and came to Perga in Pamphylia. John, however, left them and returned to Jerusalem; 14 but they went on from Perga and came to Antioch in Pisidia. And on the sabbath day they went into the synagogue and sat down. 15 After the reading of the law and the prophets, the officials of the synagogue sent them a message, saying, “Brothers, if you have any word of exhortation for the people, give it.” 16 So Paul stood up and with a gesture began to speak:
“You Israelites, and others who fear God, listen. 17 The God of this people Israel chose our ancestors and made the people great during their stay in the land of Egypt, and with uplifted arm he led them out of it. 18 For about forty years he put up with them in the wilderness. 19 After he had destroyed seven nations in the land of Canaan, he gave them their land as an inheritance 20 for about four hundred fifty years. After that he gave them judges until the time of the prophet Samuel. 21 Then they asked for a king; and God gave them Saul son of Kish, a man of the tribe of Benjamin, who reigned for forty years. 22 When he had removed him, he made David their king. In his testimony about him he said, ‘I have found David, son of Jesse, to be a man after my heart, who will carry out all my wishes.’ 23 Of this man’s posterity God has brought to Israel a Savior, Jesus, as he promised; 24 before his coming John had already proclaimed a baptism of repentance to all the people of Israel. 25 And as John was finishing his work, he said, ‘What do you suppose that I am? I am not he. No, but one is coming after me; I am not worthy to untie the thong of the sandals on his feet.’ ” NRSV
Now, we share in this divine inheritance as joint heirs in Christ.
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