June 14, 2019

Different Name, Same Message

Acts 12:25-13:49

“My friends, I want you to know that through Jesus the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you.”

—  Acts 13:38

The Holy Spirit and the Antioch church send Saul and Barnabas to preach about Jesus, the Savior. (The rest of the book of Acts presents a lot of missionary travel like this, so, to keep pace, most of our Bible readings for the rest of this month will be long and cover lots of ground.)

In the account of their trip through Cyprus, we learn that Saul is “also called Paul.” In those days, lots of people had more than one name, probably because many languages were spoken (Greek, Latin, local dialects). John, for example, is “also called Mark.” Barnabas is also named Joseph. Saul is a Hebrew name, and Paul derives from a Roman family name (Paulius). We learn later in Acts that Paul was born a Roman citizen (Acts 22:28), so Paul may be his registered Roman name. As a missionary in the Roman Empire, Paul likely preferred to use this name as he worked among Gentiles. One thing we know for sure is that the message he shared was the same. It was always about Jesus.

In Pisidian Antioch (in present day Turkey) the missionaries visit a synagogue and show how salvation history points to Jesus. Some of the Jewish people believe, and some do not, and yet Paul and Barnabas keep sharing the good news with both Jews and Gentiles. To a world lost in sin, these missionaries brought the good news of forgiveness and new life through Jesus— and the world has not been the same since.

Lord, help us to see opportunities you give us to speak with others, and give us the boldness to point people to you. Amen.

About the author — Julius T. Medenblik

Rev. Jul Medenblik is a former attorney who was called to pastoral ministry and became the founding pastor of a church in New Lenox, Illinois. He is currently serving as president of Calvin Theological Seminary, Grand Rapids, Michigan. Jul and his wife, Jackie, are blessed with a son, Joshua, and a daughter, Julianne.

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