Teaching the Gospel From the Old Testament

Paul is regarded as the Apostle to the Gentiles, and rightly so; but in every city, he went to the synagogue first.  As he stated in Romans 1: 16,  For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile (NIV).  Often we quote the first half of this verse and leave out the rest, and yet it was Paul’s method of evangelism.

Note that In the following passage, Paul is sharing the Gospel with Jews and Gentiles alike in the synagogue.  He is not quoting the New Testament, which did not exist at that time, but is teaching primarily from  the Tanahk (Old Testament).

On the Sabbath, they [Paul and his companions] entered the synagogue and sat down.  After the reading from the Law and the Prophets, the synagogue rulers sent word to them, saying, “Brothers, if you have a message of encouragement for the people, please speak.”

Standing up, Paul motioned with his hand and said:  “Men of Israel and you Gentiles who worship God, listen to me!  The God of the people of Israel chose our fathers; he made the people prosper during their stay in Egypt, with mighty power he led them out of that country, he endured their conduct for about forty years in the desert, he overthrew seven nations in Canaan and gave their land to his people as their inheritance.  All this took about 450 years.

“After this, God gave them judges until the time of Samuel the prophet.  Then the people asked for a king, and he gave them Saul son of Kish, of the tribe of Benjamin, who ruled forty years.  After removing Saul, he made David their king.  He testified concerning him: ‘I have found David son of Jesse a man after my own heart; he will do everything I want him to do.’

“From this man’s descendants God has brought to Israel the Savior Jesus, as he promised.  Before the coming of Jesus, John preached repentance and baptism to all the people of Israel.  As John was completing his work, he said: ‘Who do you think I am? I am not that one.  No, but he is coming after me, whose sandals I am not worthy to untie.’

“Brothers, children of Abraham, and you God-fearing Gentiles, it is to  us that this message of salvation has been sent.  The people of Jerusalem and their rulers did not recognize Jesus, yet in condemning him they fulfilled the words of the prophets that are read every Sabbath.  Though they found no proper ground for a death sentence, they asked Pilate to have him executed.  When they had carried out all that was written about him, they took him down from the tree and laid him in a tomb.  But God raised him from the dead, and for many days he was seen by those who had traveled with him from Galilee to Jerusalem.  They are now his witnesses to our people.

Torah
Torah (Photo credit: Lawrie Cate)

“We tell you the good news: What God promised our fathers he has fulfilled for us, their children, by raising up Jesus.  As it is written in the second Psalm:

” ‘You are my Son; today I have become your Father.’

The fact that God raised him from the dead, never to decay, is stated in these words:

” ‘I will give you the holy and sure blessings promised to David.’

So it is stated elsewhere:

” ‘You will not let your Holy One see decay.’

“For when David had served God’s purpose in his own generation, he fell asleep; he was buried with his fathers and his body decayed.  But the one whom God raised from the dead did not see decay.

“Therefore, my brothers, I want you to know that through Jesus the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you” (Acts 13: 14-38 NIV).

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