POW plaque. Washington State Capitol.
Wednesday, 24 May 2023
explaining and demonstrating that the Christ had to suffer and rise again from the dead, and saying, “This Jesus whom I preach to you is the Christ.” Acts 17:3
Note: You can listen to today’s commentary courtesy of our friends at “Bible in Ten” podcast. (Click Here to listen).
You can also read this commentary, with music, courtesy of our friends at “Discern the Bible” on YouTube. (Click Here to listen), or at Rumble (Click Here to listen).
The translation is more closely rendered, “opening and presenting that the Christ must suffer and rise from the dead, and that this is the Christ – Jesus, whom I proclaim to you” (CG). This will be used to evaluate the verse.
The previous verse noted that Paul spent three Sabbaths in the synagogue of Thessalonica reasoning with them from the Scriptures. That included “opening.”
The word translated as “opening” is used for the last time in the Bible. It signifies to open fully. It can be a literal opening, such as the opening of the womb in Luke 2:23, but its uses in Scripture are more directed toward perception. Its other uses include the opening (restoration) of the ears and tongue of a man in Mark 7:34; the spiritual opening of the eyes in Luke 24:31; the opening of Scripture for understanding in Luke 24:45; the opening of the heavens for Stephen’s spiritual discernment in Acts 7:56; and the opening of Lydia’s heart in Acts 16:1.
The meaning here is certainly to be taken in the sense of spiritual discernment as in Luke 24:45, which says, “And He opened their understanding, that they might comprehend the Scriptures.” In this case, however, it doesn’t mean that these men will believe what Paul presents, but he is taking Scripture and he is opening it for their understanding, if they will believe. In this, he was opening “and presenting.”
This Greek word comes from two words signifying “beside” and “lay.” The idea is to set forth, set before, demonstrate, present, and so on. Paul is taking the Scriptures and drawing out the intended meaning and presenting it before his hearers, demonstrating “that the Christ must suffer.”
This was obvious and needed proof for his case because of his knowledge of who the Christ is. The Jewish idea of the Christ, meaning the Messiah, was a champion before God. He was to be a man to lead the people, free them from oppression, and set them above the nations. All of these things are true, but the manner in which they were to come about, and the order of events in how they would come to pass, was obscured and misunderstood by them.
In the case of the true Messiah, He was to first suffer “and rise from the dead.” The people anticipated a Messiah, but they misunderstood what the purpose of the Messiah was to be, because they misidentified what their major shortcoming before God was, meaning the issue of sin.
They assumed that the provisions within the law made them acceptable before God because they never considered the temporary and instructive nature of the law. They considered it as a means to an end, not a steppingstone to a fuller and more complete relationship with God.
Therefore, Paul had to go back to the basics concerning what Scripture was saying, then explain the role of the Messiah in His suffering and resurrection. When One came and fulfilled these roles, they would then know “that this is the Christ.”
Their Scriptures clearly anticipated that the Messiah would experience these things. The Psalms, the prophets, and the writings all hinted at this. Some of it was in pictures or typology. Some of it was poetic in nature. Some of it was allegorical. But it all was there and had to be dealt with. This is what Paul opened and presented to the synagogue. And this was all fulfilled in one Man. As he says, “Jesus, whom I proclaim to you.”
The New Testament fills in much of the relevant detail concerning Jesus. Where He was born, what tribe He was from, His descent from David, and so forth. However, those things were not yet written down, or they had at least not yet been widely distributed if they were written down. Paul could make such claims to the people, but it would not be as effective as conveying to them what was explicitly known.
That is why it says that he focused on the suffering and resurrection of Jesus. Those things were right in their own Scriptures and the people would have heard at least this much concerning Jesus. Paul could add the other details during his discourse, but the main presentation would have been on the role of the Messiah as fulfilled by Jesus.
The claims had been made based on events they would have heard of, they fit what Scripture said, and Paul opened those Scriptures to them so that the two could be harmonized in the minds of those in Thessalonica.
Life application: Today, we have the full record of what transpired in the life of Jesus along with the details of His genealogy, place of birth, and so forth. There is nothing wrong with using these things in an evangelistic presentation. However, the gospel focuses on the problem and its solution. The problem is sin. The solution to that is the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus.
We can type up long lists of fulfilled prophecies and give numerical calculations about what the chances are of any one person fulfilling them. But these things cannot bring a person to salvation. If those things are never mentioned, a person can still be saved through a simple understanding that all people are not right before God and that God has taken the necessary steps to resolve the matter.
Don’t get sidetracked in your zeal to convince others about Jesus. It is good to have all of the impressive facts and figures about Scripture to help convince people about the surety that Jesus is the fulfillment of it. But one must be presented with the main problem and its solution during the presentation or the presentation is a failure. Always share the gospel when explaining who Jesus is.
Lord God, may we be precise when talking to others about their need for Jesus. There is a problem in us, sin, and there is a resolution to that problem which is found in the giving of Your Son for us. May we never exclude this most important aspect of man’s need and of what You have done about it when telling others about Jesus. Amen.