The Review and Herald

1703/1902

May 25, 1911

Lo, We Turn to the Gentiles

EGW

After the departure of Mark, Paul and Barnabas visited Antioch in Pisidia, and on the Sabbath day went into the Jewish synagogue, and sat down. “And after the reading of the law and the prophets the rulers of the synagogue sent unto them, saying, Ye men and brethren, if ye have any word of exhortation for the people, say on.” Being thus invited to speak, “Paul stood up, and beckoning with his hand said, Men of Israel, and ye that fear God, give audience.” He then proceeded to give a history of the manner in which the Lord had dealt with the Jews from the time of their deliverance from Egyptian bondage, and to relate how a Saviour had been promised of the seed of David. He then preached Jesus as the Saviour of men, the Messiah of prophecy. RH May 25, 1911, par. 1

In this wonderful discourse, Paul boldly declared that of the seed of David “hath God according to his promise raised unto Israel a Saviour, Jesus: when John had first preached before his coming the baptism of repentance to all the people of Israel. And as John fulfilled his course, he said, Whom think ye that I am? I am not he. But, behold, there cometh One after me, whose shoes of his feet I am not worthy to loose.” RH May 25, 1911, par. 2

Having made this declaration, Paul addressed his Jewish brethren, “Children of the stock of Abraham,” and also all others present in the synagogue who feared God, and announced that unto all alike. Gentile as well as Jew, “is the word of this salvation sent. For they that dwell at Jerusalem, and their rulers, because they knew him not, nor yet the voices of the prophets which are read every Sabbath day, they have fulfilled them in condemning him.” RH May 25, 1911, par. 3

Paul did not hesitate to speak the plain truth in regard to the rejection of the Saviour by the Jewish leaders. “Though they found no cause of death in him,” the apostle declared, “yet desired they Pilate that he should be slain. And when they had fulfilled all that was written of him, they took him down from the tree, and laid him in a sepulcher. But God raised him from dead: and he was seen many days of them which came up with him from Galilee to Jerusalem, who are his witnesses unto the people.” RH May 25, 1911, par. 4

“We declare unto you good tidings,” the apostle continued, “how that the promise which was made unto the fathers, God hath fulfilled the same unto us their children, in that he hath raised up Jesus again; as it is also written in the second psalm, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee. And as concerning that he raised him up from the dead, now no more to return to corruption, he said on this wise, I will give you the sure mercies of David. Wherefore he saith also in another psalm, Thou shalt not suffer thine Holy One to see corruption. For David, after he had served his own generation by the will of God, fell on sleep, and was laid unto his fathers, and saw corruption: but he, whom God raised again, saw no corruption.” RH May 25, 1911, par. 5

And now, having spoken plainly of the fulfilment of familiar prophecies concerning the Messiah, Paul preached unto them repentance and the remission of sin through the merits of Jesus, their Saviour. “Be it known unto you,” he said, “that through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins: and by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses.” RH May 25, 1911, par. 6

The Spirit of God accompanied the words that were spoken, and hearts were touched. The apostle's appeal to Old Testament prophecies, and his declaration that these had been fulfilled in the life-ministry of Jesus of Nazareth, carried conviction to many a soul longing for the advent of the promised Messiah. And the speaker's words of assurance that the “glad tidings” of salvation were for Jew and Gentile alike,—for all that feared God,—brought hope and joy to those who had not been numbered among the children of Abraham according to the flesh. RH May 25, 1911, par. 7

“When the Jews were gone out of the synagogue, the Gentiles besought that these words might be preached to them the next Sabbath.” The congregation having finally broken up, “many of the Jews and religious proselytes” who had accepted the glad tidings borne to them that day, “followed Paul and Barnabas: who, speaking to them, persuaded them to continue in the grace of God.” RH May 25, 1911, par. 8

The interest aroused in Antioch of Pisidia by Paul's discourse, brought together, on the next Sabbath day, “almost the whole city ... to hear the word of God. But when the Jews saw the multitudes, they were filled with envy, and spake against those things which were spoken by Paul, contradicting and blaspheming. RH May 25, 1911, par. 9

“Then Paul and Barnabas waxed bold, and said, It was necessary that the word of God should first have been spoken to you: but seeing ye put it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles. For so hath the Lord commanded us, saying, I have set thee to be a light of the Gentiles, that thou shouldest be for salvation unto the ends of the earth.” RH May 25, 1911, par. 10

“When the Gentiles heard this, they were glad, and glorified the word of the Lord: and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed.” They rejoiced exceedingly that Christ recognized them as the children of God, and with grateful hearts they listened to the word preached. Those who believed, were zealous in communicating the gospel message to others, and thus “the word of the Lord was published throughout all the region.” RH May 25, 1911, par. 11

Centuries before, the pen of inspiration had traced this gathering in of the Gentiles; but these prophetic records had been but dimly understood. Hosea had said: “Yet the number of the children of Israel shall be as the sand of the sea, which can not be measured nor numbered; and it shall come to pass, that in the place where it was said unto them, Ye are not my people, there it shall be said unto them, Ye are the sons of the living God.” And again: “I will sow her unto me in the earth; and I will have mercy upon her that had not obtained mercy; and I will say to them which were not my people, Thou art my people; and they shall say, Thou art my God.” RH May 25, 1911, par. 12

The Saviour himself, during his earthly ministry, foretold the spread of the gospel among the Gentiles. In the parable of the vineyard, he declared to the impenitent Jews, “The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof.” And after his resurrection, he commissioned his disciples to go “into all the world,” and “teach all nations.” They were to pass none by unwarned, but were to “preach the gospel to every creature.” RH May 25, 1911, par. 13

In turning to the Gentiles in Pisidia, Paul and Barnabas did not cease laboring for the Jews elsewhere, wherever there was a favorable opportunity to gain a hearing. Later, in Thessalonica, in Corinth, in Ephesus, and in other important centers, Paul and his companions in labor preached the gospel to their Jewish brethren, as well as to the Gentile world. But their chief energies were henceforth directed toward the building up of the kingdom of God in heathen territory, among peoples who had but little or no knowledge of the true God and of his Son. RH May 25, 1911, par. 14

The hearts of Paul and of his associate workers were drawn out in behalf of those who were “without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world.” Through the untiring ministrations of the apostles to the Gentiles, the “strangers and foreigners” who “sometimes were far off” learned that they had been “made nigh by the blood of Christ,” and that through faith in his atoning sacrifice, they might become “fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God.” RH May 25, 1911, par. 15

Advancing in faith, Paul labored unceasingly for the upbuilding of God's kingdom among those who had been neglected by the teachers in Israel. Constantly he exalted Christ Jesus as “the King of kings, and Lord of lords,” and exhorted the believers to be “rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith.” RH May 25, 1911, par. 16

To those who believe, Christ is a sure foundation. Upon this living stone, Jews and Gentiles alike may build. This is the only foundation upon which we may securely build. It is broad enough for all, and strong enough to sustain the weight and burden of the whole world. And by connection with Christ, the living stone, all who build upon this foundation become living stones. This is a fact plainly recognized by Paul himself. In the closing days of ministry, when addressing a group of Gentile believers who had remained steadfast in their love of the gospel truth, the apostle wrote: Ye are ... built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner-stone; in whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: in whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.” RH May 25, 1911, par. 17

As the gospel message spread in Pisidia, the unbelieving Jews of Antioch, in their blind prejudice, “stirred up the devout and honorable women, and the chief men of the city, and raised persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and expelled them” from that district. RH May 25, 1911, par. 18

The apostles were not discouraged by this expulsion; they remembered the words of their Master: “Blessed are ye when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.” RH May 25, 1911, par. 19

The gospel message was onward, and the apostles had every reason for feeling encouraged. Their labors had been richly blessed among the Pisidians at Antioch; and the believers, whom they left to carry forward the work alone for a time, “were filled with joy, and with the Holy Ghost.” RH May 25, 1911, par. 20