Acts 12:25-13:52, Psalm 32
Acts gives us access to what are, very likely, brief summaries of sermons by the early apostles. It would be hard to imagine in an oral culture that these preachers would be so brief. So we generally accept that what we read in these Biblical passages are just the highlights. Today is our first encounter with one of Paul’s sermons. Soon enough we will compare Paul’s sermons before a majority Gentile audience with his other sermons to primarily Jewish audiences.It is interesting to compare all the sermons in the book of Acts especially those of Peter and Paul. However, today I want to note just one difference and one similarity between Paul’s sermon in Acts 13 and Peter’s initial sermon in Acts 2. First, let’s note difference. While both of these men focused their attention on the injustice Jesus faced in the crucifixion, Paul speaks about those responsible for Jesus’ crucifixion in the third person. He speaks of “the people of Jerusalem and their rulers”, and regularly uses the word “they” (Acts 13:27-28). Peter, however spoke to those in Jerusalem in the second person saying, “and you….put him to death.” (Acts 2:23) I think on one level this makes obvious sense considering both the physical and temporal proximity to Jesus’ death when (50 days after the crucifixion) and where (Jerusalem) Peter spoke. Also there is a likelihood some of his listeners actually were, even in small ways, involved in the conspiracy to crucify Jesus. Though the Bible clearly teaches Jesus died for the sins of all, and thus all are directly responsible for His death, that would take lengthy explanation. Paul decides to forego this explanation in his presentation of the Gospel. We would do well to remember this when proclaiming the Gospel to the uninitiated. The similarity I note between the two messages is the way they explain the connection between a psalm of David that declares to God, “You will not let your holy one see decay” (Acts 2:27, Acts 13:35, also Psalm 16:10) and Jesus rising from the dead to live eternally. Both Paul and Peter clarify the fact that David is dead and his body decayed long ago. Jesus, though He died, now lives and will never meet corruption. Like all early Christians, they transparently affirmed the centrality of the Hebrews scriptures (the Old Testament) and saw Jesus as the point of all Jewish history and writings. Also, the cross and the resurrection are non-negotiables in any sound sermon.