This is Chapter 19 of the book titled The Destiny of Israel and the Twilight of Christianity: In Quest of the Meaning and Significance of the Hebrew and Greek Scriptures, by John Saggio.










Table of Contents

          The Philippian Warden










Paul and Silas, having passed through Syria and Cilicia establishing the assemblies of faithful ones, arrive at Derbe and at Lystra. Here, Paul decides to take on Timothy as an assistant in the continued mission of the spirit initiated in Antioch of Syria and confirmed by the elders of the Antioch assembly when they had placed their hands upon Barnabas and Saul (Acts 13:3) and, again, recently, when they had given Paul and Silas “over to the grace of the Lord [Yahweh, through the agency of His Anointed Son/King, Jesus](Acts 15:40 CV).

Timothy is the son of a believing Jewish woman; however, his father is a Greek (non-Jew). Timothy has come to believe the Gospel of Jesus the Messiah, together with his mother. In Luke’s account, Timothy’s father is not referred to again. This could imply that his father had died, leaving his mother a widow. In any case, Timothy had not been circumcised.

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The Circumcision of Timothy

Paul chooses to circumcise Timothy “because of the Jews who are in those places [where they would be ministering], for they all were aware that his father belonged to the Greeks [was an uncircumcised gentile] (Acts 16:3b CV). Now, the very letter from the Jerusalem Assembly which Paul and Silas carried and delivered to the assemblies of faithful ones made it clear that circumcision is not to be required of the faithful Gentiles. However, in order for Timothy to qualify as an official member of the mission team, he must be a Jew. For the Jew, being circumcised has a special covenantal relationship to Yahweh. This relationship goes back to the covenant of circumcision made with Abraham and recorded in Genesis 17:1-14.

This covenant obligates Yahweh to bless Abraham’s circumcised seed in order that this seed would be a blessing to the nations. Yahweh would bless this seed and make them a blessing to the nations on the basis of their faithfulness to the voice of Yahweh, even as Abraham had been faithful to the voice of Yahweh in all Yahweh had spoken to him.

It also obligates Abraham’s circumcised seed to bear the responsibility of being a blessing to the nations. Thus, this seed is obligated to serve as Yahweh’s covenantal servant in evangelizing and instructing the nations in the righteousness of the Gospel of the New Covenant. The uncircumcised Jew is cut off from this covenantal people, thus, becoming unqualified to serve in Yahweh’s covenantal mission assigned only to the faithful, circumcised seed of Abraham (Gen. 17:14).

Since this covenant is an eonian covenant (Gen. 17:13 CV), it is temporal, having an appointed time of termination. That time of termination is now approaching since the proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus the Messiah.

The faithful circumcised Jews committed to Jesus the Messiah (faithful circumcised seed of Abraham) have been commissioned by Yahweh through THE SEED of Abraham, Jesus the Messiah. Jesus, as the Faithful Circumcised Seed of Abraham, has become a blessing to the Israel of Yahweh, thereby obligating them to become a blessing to the nations. Paul and Silas, circumcised faithful Jews, are bearing this gracious and prestigious burden granted exclusively to Abraham’s faithful circumcised seed. For Timothy to participate in this exclusive ministry, he must be a circumcised Jew. In circumcising Timothy, Paul does not negate the Jerusalem Assembly decision conveyed in the letter he and Silas deliver to the assemblies of faithful ones outside the land of Israel. In actuality, he upholds the unity of the Gospel of the Circumcision and the Gospel of the Uncircumcision, thereby maintaining the truth of the Gospel of Jesus the Messiah.

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The Argument of Galatians 2:11-21

This act of Paul is to be contrasted with the act of Peter, Barnabas, and all the Jews in Antioch of Syria recorded in Galatians 2:11-21. The situation described in this passage took place some time after Paul and Barnabas had returned to Antioch following their participation in the Jerusalem council recorded in Acts 15. When Peter first visits the faithful assembly at Antioch, he participates in table fellowship with the uncircumcised faithful ones from among the nations in accord with the truth of the Gospel and the decision of the Jerusalem Council. However, when some influential rabbis of considerable repute come from James in Jerusalem, Peter, Barnabas, and the rest of the circumcised Jews withdraw from table fellowship with the uncircumcised brethren.

Paul claims this withdrawal of Peter is due to his “fearing those of the Circumcision” (Gal. 2:12 CV). He declares that Peter knows better, “for he was self-censured” (Gal. 2:11b CV). Peter himself had been given a vision testifying to the fact that Yahweh is now accepting the Gentiles as clean. He, himself, had witnessed the spirit coming upon uncircumcised Cornelius and those convening in his house. He had even testified to this at the Jerusalem Council. The decision of the Council, in order to accommodate ethnic non-messianic Jewish relations with the believing Messianic Gentiles and the believing Messianic Jews, had recommended appropriate requirements found in the Mosaic Law regulating the conduct of resident aliens dwelling among the Israelites.

These requirements were not understood to be necessary between Messianic Jews and Messianic Gentiles in their own fellowship assemblies outside the synagogue. The requirements were not law, but appropriate preferences protecting ethnic non-messianic Jewish customs from being polluted, thereby assuring acceptable and peaceful relations between non-messianic Jews and Messianic Jews and those uncircumcised Messianic Gentiles now associating themselves with the Jewish synagogues. This would not be extraordinary, since many uncircumcised God-fearers already attended synagogue.

The Messianic Jews do not perceive themselves as Christians. They are Jews believing in Jesus as the promised Messiah, the fulfiller of the Law and the Prophets. They continue to attend synagogue on the sabbaths, and on the intervening days between the sabbaths, they hold their own assemblies, fellowshipping, praying, worshiping and studying the holy Hebrew Scriptures. In these assemblies, the Messianic Gentiles would be instructed in the Hebrew Scriptures and the Gospel of Jesus the Messiah (now also being recorded in the accumulating Greek Scriptures) as it (the Gospel) interpreted these Hebrew Scriptures and as it revealed in these scriptures what Yahweh had concealed in the past. Thus, there is one Jewish Community engaged in open dialogue and diverse opinions concerning the Jewish man Jesus of Nazareth.

When Peter withdraws from the table fellowship with the Messianic Gentiles in the assembly of Messianic Jews meeting apart from the synagogue, he pollutes the truth of the Gospel of Jesus the Messiah, disregarding the complete acceptance of the Messianic Gentile in his natural condition of uncircumcision. In Jesus the Messiah, there is no difference between circumcision and uncircumcision in terms of fellowship. The New Davidic/Abrahamic Covenant supersedes the old Sinatic/Mosaic Covenant. Circumcision is required for citizenship within the commonwealth of Israel under the terms of the old covenant. However, under the terms of the New Covenant, circumcision is no longer required for citizenship within the commonwealth of the New Born-From-Above Israel of Yahweh.

This new nation and kingdom incorporates on equal ground Abraham’s faithful circumcised children and his faithful uncircumcised children. The Gospel of the Circumcision is associated with the covenant of circumcision made with Abraham in Genesis 17:4-14. The Gospel of the Uncircumcision is associated with Genesis 15:6, “And Abram believes in Yahweh Elohim and accounting this faith to him for righteousness is Yahweh” (my translation).

The Gospel of Jesus the Messiah justifies, accounts one as righteous, accounts one as a full-fledged citizen of the Israel of Yahweh, on the basis of faith in the faithfulness of Jesus the Son of David, the Son of Abraham, the Son of Yahweh. The works of the law (circumcision, clean and unclean, sabbaths, festivals, sacrifices, etc.) are no longer required for Israelite covenantal citizenship under the terms of the New Covenant. The works of the law are no longer kept by minors under the Sinatic/Mosaic Covenant, but by Adult Sons under the New Davidic/Abrahamic Covenant, honoring the will of the Father as the Messianic faithful ones righteously stand alongside of the law, in spirit fulfilling both the letter of the law (when appropriate) and the essence of the law to the glory of their God and Father, Yahweh Elohim.

Peter withdraws from table fellowship with the Messianic Gentiles due to his fear of highly ranked rabbinic scholars arriving from the Jerusalem Assembly. Paul does not indicate that these Messianic Jews of great rabbinic stature have been sent by James. He does not even imply that they either requested or required Peter and the rest of the Messianic Jews to withdraw from their usual table fellowship with the Messianic Gentiles.

Peter, alone, is responsible for this hypocrisy. His fearful respect for these rabbinic giants of Judaism causes him to act hypocritically. He knows the truth of the Gospel, but he seeks to accommodate himself to these Messianic Jews, desiring to gain their respect and approval, thus, enhancing his Jewish pride and by his behavior re-erecting the Sinatic/Mosaic Covenant which Jesus the Messiah has demolished by His death, burial, resurrection, and ascension (Gal. 2:17-18). He does not perceive this behavior as compromising the truth of the Gospel. He justifies his behavior as an act of ethnic accommodation to these prestigious, noble, aristocratic rabbis. He is unaware of the damage being done to the truth of the Gospel. He is merely (from his fearful perspective) rationalizing a misappropriation of the principle of the Jerusalem Council.

By accommodating himself to these Jewish men of repute, he perceives himself as attributing due honor to these Jews of noble stature within the Messianic Jewish community, thereby maintaining the unity and harmony between the Messianic Jews and the Messianic Gentiles. However, he fails to understand that his act would thereby encourage the Messianic Gentiles to Judaize. The implication is that only by Judaizing can the Messianic Gentile attain full-fledged citizenship in the Israel of Yahweh. Peter, in his hypocrisy caused by his fear, fails to perceive the injustice inflicted upon the Messianic Gentiles in Christ. His withdrawal treats them as inferiors. By implication, he is “compelling the nations to be judaizing” (Gal. 2:14b CV), thereby annulling the truth of the Gospel, the terms of the New Covenant.

Withstanding Peter, Paul reminds him that those circumcised Jews (Jews by nature) attempting to maintain a righteous relation to the Sinatic/Mosaic Covenant (as he and Peter), having perceived that a man is not justified out of works of law but out of the faithfulness of Messiah Jesus, have believed into Messiah Jesus in order to be accounted righteous, in order to attain covenantal citizenship in the New Israel of Yahweh. Such authentic Jews, according to Paul, are in contrast to those Jews considered by ethnic Israel to be sinners out of the nations (Gal. 2:15). These Jewish sinners are classified as those out of the nations because they have given up their right standing in relation to the Mosaic Covenant by their failure to attempt to obey the Law of Moses, either making little or no attempt to keep the laws of the Mosaic Covenant or completely abandoning Judaic religion. Since the Sinatic/Mosaic Covenant has now been annulled, superseded, no Jewish person of any sort can be justified (accounted righteous) out of those works required by the Mosaic Law. Justification (being accounted righteous children of Abraham) can now come only out of the faithfulness of Jesus the Messiah in association with the New Davidic/Abrahamic Covenant. If one is to go back under the Sinatic Covenant, then one, from the perspective of the Sinatic Covenant, is making Christ a dispenser of sin and making those believing in Him sinners out of the nations.

If, then, argues Paul, we, Messianic Jews, trusting in the faithfulness of Jesus the Messiah for covenantal righteousness, are discovered to be sinners (those no longer in a right relationship to the New Davidic/Abrahamic Covenant due to their compelling of the nations to be judaizing, that is, coming under the nullified, superseded Sinatic/Mosaic Covenant), we make the Messiah Jesus a dispenser of sin. This, declares Paul, is not acceptable. We can never allow such a conclusion. Messiah Jesus can never become a dispenser of sin!

However, that is exactly the consequence of Peter’s hypocritical withdrawal from table fellowship with the Messianic Gentiles. Such an act reinstates the Sinatic/Mosaic Covenant which the faithfulness of Messiah Jesus has nullified. Such a reinstatement amounts to a sinful, unrighteous standing in relation to the New Davidic/Abrahamic Covenant instituted by Jesus the Messiah. Peter’s act, therefore, rather than honoring the New Covenant, the Gospel of Jesus the Messiah, and the Jerusalem Council (all of which he acknowledges as true), in fact, results in Peter’s honoring or commending himself as a transgressor of the New Covenant, a polluter of the Gospel of Jesus the Messiah, and an enemy of the cross of Messiah Jesus. Peter’s behavior in the flesh amounts to “building again these things [the works of the law as righteous covenantal standing before Yahweh] which I [the Messianic Jew] demolish [as requirement for entrance into the New Born-From-Above Israel of Yahweh as a full-fledged citizen] . . .” (Gal. 2:18 CV).

Peter and the rest of the Messianic Jews, realizing the truth of Paul’s admonition, stand corrected, acknowledging in spirit their transgression of the terms of the New Covenant. Consequently, they restore table fellowship with the Messianic Gentiles. Unity and harmony have been maintained, securing the integrity of both the Messianic Community and the Gospel of Jesus the Messiah.

The potential spiritual rift having been avoided, Paul goes on to explain that all those Jews in the Christ have died to the authority of the Mosaic Law through the execution of its verdict of death carried out against Jesus the Messiah. Consequently, having died to the authority of the Mosaic Law, all Messianic Jews in the Christ are liberated from its curse of enslavement in order to be living to Yahweh in the freedom of the New Davidic/Abrahamic Covenant and the law associated with it: The Law of the Exalted Christ.

Being identified with Jesus the Messiah means being identified with His crucifixion. Thus, Paul writes, “With Christ have I been crucified, yet I am living . . .” (Gal. 2:20a CV). The cross of Jesus the Messiah is associated with deliverance from the curse of the law of the Sinatic/Mosaic Covenant. This aspect of the crucifixion death affects only the Jews who had been under the authority of this covenant. For the Messianic Jew, being crucified with the Christ means deliverance from the curse of the law, which curse amounts to covenantal death. Christ’s crucifixion death terminates the authority of the Sinatic/Mosaic Covenant. Jesus has endured the suffering of death associated with Yahweh’s verdict against Israel’s transgression at Sinai. This verdict had demanded, had necessitated, the national covenantal death of Israel.

Thus, to be identified with Christ’s crucifixion, for the Messianic Jew, means sharing in the sufferings of Jesus the Messiah which bring about the termination of the Sinatic/Mosaic Covenant and the termination of the Mosaic Eon in actual historical time. This means suffering at the hands of Apostate Israel, the Cainite nation defending desperately and tenaciously the life of the Sinatic/Mosaic Covenant.

Peter’s hypocritical act at Antioch in essence denies the necessity of sharing in the sufferings of the cross of Jesus the Messiah, since it contributes to the life of the Sinatic/Mosaic Covenant rather than its death. To be crucified with Jesus the Messiah is to be dead to the authority of the old, nullified Sinatic/Mosaic Covenant and to be alive to the authority of the New Davidic/Abrahamic Covenant making one alive to Yahweh through the empowering energy of the indwelling spirit of Yahweh and His Anointed Son. To imply, through one’s conduct emulating the terms of the Sinatic/Mosaic Covenant, that the Messianic Gentiles need to Judaize in order to share in table fellowship is to invigorate, resuscitate, the old Sinatic/Mosaic Covenant which Jesus the Messiah had put to death on the cross, nullifying its authority to rule over Yahweh’s people.

Thus, Peter’s hypocritical act denies the cross of Jesus the Messiah, making him, in that moment, an enemy of the cross of Jesus the Messiah. Paul’s immediate defense of the Gospel of Jesus the Messiah swiftly delivers Peter and the offending Jewish Messianics imitating his example from this offense against their Savior and King. In doing so, he rescues them from unintentional sin, maintaining the truth of the Gospel and the unity of the members of the holy community of Yahweh’s people who are in the process of living for Yahweh “in the sphere of the interest of the faithfulness of the Son of Yahweh” (Gal. 2:20b my translation) Who gave Himself up to a crucifixion death on behalf of those accounted by Yahweh as faithful children of Abraham.

The cross of Jesus the Messiah, however, also is associated with crucifying the flesh, thereby disabling it from producing destructive lusts which prostitute the natural functions of the five senses (see Rom. 8:9-14; 6:12-14). To be crucified with Jesus the Messiah in this sense is to disable the members of the physical body from producing sinful behavior through the prostitution of the five senses. This is achieved through the renewal of the mind reschematized in accord with the guidance of the indwelling (enoikountos, actively possessing) spirit of Yahweh and His Anointed Son (see Rom. 8:11; 2 Timothy 1:14). This aspect of identification with the cross of Jesus the Messiah, (identification with His crucifixion, crucified with Christ) affects both Messianic Jews and Messianic Gentiles.

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The Double Entendre of Romans 7:1-6

Crucifixion with Christ, therefore, is associated with the renewal of the mind and the putting off of the old man, both related to Adam (see Rom. 12:1-2; Eph. 4:20-25; Col. 3:8-11). This association is fully developed by Paul in his Letter to the Romans, chapters 5-8. “For I, through law, died to law, . . .” (Gal. 2:19 CV) is another example of spiritual double entendre. This principle is associated with both Moses and Adam as each is related to the crucifixion, death, burial, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus the Messiah. Paul elaborates on this double entendre in his Letter to the Romans, chapter 7, verses 1-6.

Paul states in verse 1 that the law is lording it over the man for as much time as he [this man] is living. The law refers to both the Mosaic Law and the law associated with Adam. In the previous two chapters of Romans, Paul has been expounding on the relationship of Adam and Jesus the Messiah. Beginning with 7:7, Paul will relate the law associated with Adam to the law associated with Moses. In 7:1-6, using double entendre, he expounds humanity’s relationship to the law associated with Adam and Israel’s relationship to the law associated with Moses. He uses the analogy of a man married to a woman. However, instead of using the indefinite article “a,” he uses the definite article “the.”

This may not seem important. However, disregarding the use of the definite article the will result in the loss of the intention of Paul’s analogy. The law lording it over the man refers first to the law associated with the man Adam. This law is named for the first time in Romans 8:2, “The Law of Sin and Death.” But Paul has been developing the theme of the initiation and affect of this law since Romans 5:12. The law associated with the man Adam is ruling over the man Adam only as long as the man Adam is living. Thus, in this analogy the man Adam is perceived as the head of the first (or old) humanity. When he ate of the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden, he initiated, activated, The Law of Sin and Death within the members of his body. This law was then passed on to humanity through the process of generation. Adam’s sperm contained the gene within which was the law, the principle, of Sin and Death.

Paul continues his analogy by writing “the woman in wedlock is bound to the living man by [this] law” (Rom. 7:2a CV). The woman alludes to Eve, the mother of all humanity. Thus, all the children of Eve generated by the sperm of Adam are under the lordship of The Law of Sin and Death as long as Adam is figuratively alive as the head of humanity. However, if the man Adam as figurative head of humanity is to die, the woman (figuratively representing generated humanity) “is exempt from the law of the man” (Rom. 7:2b CV).

Paul, then, concludes his analogy by referring to Jesus the Messiah as the only legitimate Son of Adam. Since Jesus had not been generated by a sperm originating from Adam, He is not lorded over by the law associated with Adam. He, then, dying a crucifixion death as the only legitimate son of the figurative head of humanity, dies as the last (eschatos, 1 Cor. 15:45 NGEINT) Adam, figuratively putting the first man Adam to death. As a result, humanity is no longer under the headship of the first man Adam, but under the figurative headship of the Second Man: the resurrected, ascended, and exalted Jesus the Anointed Son of Yahweh.

The law of the first man Adam is no longer lording it over humanity. There is now a more powerful law ruling over humanity, the law of the Second (deuteros, 1 Cor. 15:47 NGEINT) Man. This law is first named by Paul in Romans 8:2, The Law of the Spirit of Life. Consequently, death is no longer the last word in relation to humanity. The law of the Second Man supersedes, nullifies, the law of the first man.

Therefore, all humanity shall be delivered from the death activated by Adam to the life activated by Jesus the Anointed Son of Yahweh. Humanity is no longer relegated to the grave. Humanity is guaranteed resurrection from death to the immortal and abundant life initiated by Jesus the Messiah.

Therefore, Paul exhorts the holy brethren in Rome (both Messianic Jews and Messianic Gentiles) “to be slaving in newness of spirit and not in oldness of letter” (Rom. 7:6b CV). In Christ, they “were put to death to the law through the body of the Christ, for you to become Another’s” (Rom. 7:4a CV). Both Messianic Jews and Messianic Gentiles in the Christ had been put to death to the law associated with Adam (The Law of Sin and Death) in order to come under the authority of Jesus the Messiah and the law associated with His death and resurrection (The Law of the Spirit of Life).

Whereas they had been wedded to Adam as figurative head of humanity, coming under the rule of The Law of Sin and Death, now in the Christ, they had been wedded to the resurrected and exalted Jesus the Anointed Son of Yahweh, the figurative head of the Second Humanity, coming under the powerful rule of The Law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus. By means of this law operating within them (those in Christ), they

should be bearing fruit to God [Yahweh]. For, when we were in the flesh [under the law of the old humanity], the passions of sins, which were through the law [associated with Adam], operated in our members [of the body] to be bearing fruit to Death. Yet now we were exempted from the law [associated with Adam], dying in that in which [the physical body of Jesus] we were retained, so that it is for us to be slaving in newness of spirit and not in oldness of letter. (Roman 7:4b-6 CV)

Both Messianic Jews and Messianic Gentiles could and would serve “in newness of spirit and not in oldness of letter.” “Oldness of letter” refers to service under the rule of the law associated with Adam, the rule of the old humanity. But the Messianic Jew had a unique relationship with Yahweh during the reign of the old humanity. Israel had served Yahweh in the oldness of the letter of the law associated with Moses. Paul’s double entendre analogy covers this unique relationship of Israel under the Mosaic Law.

As the nations from Adam to Jesus the Messiah regulated social, political, economic, and religious relations according to the letter of their own adopted laws (oldness of letter; elements of the world-order, Gal. 4:1-11), so Israel had also regulated such relations, the difference being that Yahweh had given Israel her laws. These laws had been associated with Moses. Thus, for the Messianic Jews at Rome, grounded in the Hebrew Scriptures, knowing law means familiarization with the Law of Moses. Those Messianic Gentiles associated with the Messianic Jews in Rome would also be familiarized with the Law of Moses, since they would have been instructed by the Messianic Jews in the Hebrew Scriptures, the Law and the Prophets.

Being grounded in the Law and the Prophets, both ethnic groups in Rome would have no trouble understanding Paul’s reference to the Adamic Eon, that period of time in which all humanity is under the figurative headship of Adam (the father of all humanity) and under the reign of death (the law associated with Adam, The Law of Sin and Death), “nevertheless death reigns from Adam unto Moses, . . .” (Rom. 5:14a CV). Beginning with Moses, Israel is elected as Yahweh’s special nation. This people, and this people alone, is given Yahweh’s Law:

He is telling His words to Jacob, His statutes and His ordinances to Israel. He has not done so for any other nation. (Psalms 147:19-20a CV)

However, the Law of Moses operates within the Adamic Eon. Therefore, the reign of death continues throughout the Mosaic Eon. The law associated with Moses runs its course during the Adamic Eon. Thus, the non-elect nations and the elect nation Israel continue to live within the Adamic Eon, during which The Law of Death reigns (the common death of all humanity, Num. 16:29). Israel serves Yahweh according to the law associated with Moses (the oldness of letter), while the non-elect nations serve their gods according to their own adopted laws (the oldness of letter).

The establishment of the Mosaic Law initiates the reign of Sin only for the elect nation Israel, since only Israel is placed under the jurisdiction of this system of law. Therefore, Paul’s analogy in Romans 7:1-6 has a special application to the elect nation Israel. From this perspective, the man referred to is Moses. The woman in wedlock to the man is Israel. As long as Moses as the covenantal head of Israel lives covenantally, the law associated with him rules over the elect nation Israel. If, however, the man Moses dies covenantally, that is, as covenantal head over Israel, then Israel becomes exempt from the law associated with Moses.

As Jesus the Messiah died as the Son of Adam, exempting humanity from the law associated with Adam, so also, Jesus the Messiah died as the covenantal Son of Moses (the prophet like unto Moses, Deut. 18:18; the only legitimate Son of the law, having kept the law flawlessly, thus, the covenantal representative of the sons of Israel), exempting Israel from the law associated with Moses. As The Law of Sin and Death had been vindicated by the death of Jesus the Anointed Son of Adam and Yahweh, so also the Law of Moses had been vindicated by the crucifixion death of Jesus the Son of Abraham/Moses/David (the glorified Son of the Torah). The death of Jesus the Last Man (the only legitimate Son of Adam) had vindicated (satisfied) the judgment of Yahweh against humanity (the death common to all humanity). The crucifixion death of Jesus the Covenantal Son of Moses had vindicated (satisfied) the judgment of Yahweh against Israel (covenantal death).

The resurrection of Jesus the Second Man (the Head of the New Jesuic Humanity) initiated a new judgment of Yahweh Gracing humanity (justification of immortal, abundant life). The resurrection of Jesus the Covenantal Son of Yahweh (the exalted and enthroned Son of David) initiated a new covenant between Yahweh and His elect people, the nation of Israel.

The judgment of Yahweh against humanity had not been based upon the choice of Adam’s offspring. The verdict of death issued against humanity had been based solely on the unrighteous act (the choice) of Adam. Adam’s children were not given a choice concerning Yahweh’s verdict of death. Therefore, the verdict of Life issued on behalf of humanity had been based solely on the righteous act (the choice) of Jesus. Faith (a choice) is not required. All human beings (all men without exception) resurrected from death on the basis of Yahweh’s new gracious verdict of Life are associated with the spiritual fatherhood of Jesus and participate in the immortal, abundant life of the Second Man (the beginning, the head, of a New Human Line, having achieved the intended state of being the image and likeness of Yahweh) upon the resurrection of each individual following the common death of each individual.

Having no choice is not the case, however, in relation to the death and resurrection of Jesus as the Son of Abraham, the Son of Moses, the Son of David. The elective blessings promised to Abraham required faithfulness to the end on the part of the children of Abraham. The elective blessings of the Sinatic/Mosaic Covenant required works of law. Failure to keep the works of the law resulted in cursings (calamities), nationally, and excommunication, individually.

Therefore, the crucifixion death of Jesus and His ensuing resurrection associated with the New Covenant required faithfulness to the end. This New Davidic/Abrahamic Covenant required the type of faithfulness to the end exemplified by Abraham. It required faithfulness to the voice of Yahweh whenever, wherever, whatever. It required sharing in the sufferings of Jesus the Messiah associated with His crucifixion death.

This New Davidic/Abrahamic Covenant is not made with humanity. It is made with Israel the elect people of Yahweh. It extends back to faithful Abram in uncircumcision. But it demands a choice on the part of its faithful elect members. It demands faithfulness to Jesus the Messiah, faithfulness to the Gospel of Jesus the Messiah, faithfulness to the terms and conditions of the New Davidic/Abrahamic Covenant, faithfulness to The Law of Jesus the Messiah (The Law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus, Rom. 8:2), faithfulness to the end (either of one’s life or the imminent end of the Mosaic Eon).

This is what is threatened by Peter’s withdrawal from table fellowship with the Messianic Gentiles at Antioch. Peter was in the process of jeopardizing his own covenantal salvation, the salvation of those Messianic Jews who had followed his example, and the purity of the Ecclesia of Jesus the Messiah. He was in the process of violating the integrity of the New Davidic/Abrahamic Covenant of his Savior and King. This was not Peter’s intention. Consequently, Paul’s brotherly correction had been appreciated in accordance with the spirit of Jesus the Messiah, resulting in the appropriate repentance of the offenders. These faithful Jewish Messianics in the Christ, realizing their error, their sin, their missing of the mark, as law-abiding members of the New Born-From-Above Nation and Kingdom, obediently respond to the voice of Yahweh and His Anointed Son/King heard in the righteous rebuke of Paul.

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The Macedonian Vision

Paul and Silas, now joined by Timothy, continue to visit the remaining cities in the territory, delivering the Jerusalem letter to the Messianic assemblies. The letter had been addressed to the assemblies in Antioch, Syria, and Cilicia. The deliverance of this letter to the Messianic assemblies beyond the addressed territories indicates the applicability of the contents of the letter to all Messianic assemblies. All Messianic brethren continue to zealously associate themselves with the Jewish synagogues, correctly perceiving themselves as faithful members of the Jewish communities making up the nation of Israel.

Again, the words of Jesus establish the justification of this perception: “salvation is of the Jews” (Jn. 4:22). The revelation of the secret of the Gospel of Jesus the Messiah had already made it clear to the Jewish Messianics that the Gentiles faithfully responding to the Gospel were being incorporated into the New Born-From-Above Israel of Yahweh as full-fledged members. This is the work of the spirit. It had been completely unexpected by all ethnic Jews, including the very Apostles of Jesus.

All had expected the salvation of Israel, the restoration of the Kingdom of Israel to her supremacy over the nations. This redeemed nation would then bestow salvific blessings upon the nations. Israel would consist only of circumcised Jews who would deliver Yahweh’s blessings to the uncircumcised nations. Apart from circumcision, the gentiles could not and would not become full-fledged citizens of the holy, elect nation of Yahweh.

The observance of the prescriptions contained in the Jerusalem letter would satisfy the requirements of ethnic Jews concerning the participation of uncircumcised gentiles in synagogue services. To the Messianic communities of Jews, this meant the Messianic Gentiles could legitimately and safely (from the point of view of non-messianic Jews) worship Yahweh in the synagogues. This would maintain the unity of the Jewish communities throughout the territories of the Roman Empire, as well as open the synagogues to the Messianic Gentiles without causing ethnic Jewish antagonism.

The proclamation of Jesus as the promised Messiah would in itself stir up heated debate among ethnic Jews in the synagogues. Any disturbance caused by the Messianic Gentiles could and would jeopardize the open discussion of the merit of the Gospel within the Jewish Community. Priority for hearing the Gospel belongs to the Jew. Such is the consensus of the entire Messianic Community participating in the larger Jewish Community.

The deliverance of this authoritative letter brought comfort to the Messianic brethren. The observance of the appropriate, accommodating prohibitions set forth in the letter stabilized the Messianic assemblies worshiping and serving Yahweh within the Jewish Community. Consequently, stabilization in the faith resulted in a superabounding increase in the number of individuals believing the truth of the Gospel (Acts 16:5).

Now, as Paul, Silas, and Timothy pass through Phrygia and the northern province of Galatia, the spirit forbids them to proclaim the word of the Gospel in the province of Asia. Once again, Luke stresses the guidance and control of the proclamation of the Gospel by the spirit. The Apostles, prophets, evangelists, elders, and disciples of Jesus the Messiah do not determine the course of the Gospel, nor do they plan and direct the triumphant advancement and incursion of the spiritual warrior-priests of the conquering army of Jesus the Messiah, the Anointed Davidic Warrior-King of Yahweh.

The entire Messianic Movement is under Yahweh’s appointed Commander-In-Chief Who directs all strategy through the agency of the spirit. This is no ordinary movement under human invention. This movement is the creative achievement of divine intervention. Luke makes it clear that his account records Yahweh’s final visitation of His people. Yahweh’s purpose is to bring about the fulfillment of all His promises made in the Law and the Prophets. This visitation would conclude His historical covenantal relationship with Israel. This holy, elect nation would soon fulfill her divinely ordained destiny.

Having been turned away from going into Asia, the three warrior-combatants attempt to go into Bithynia, but, once again, “the spirit of Jesus does not let them” (Acts 16:7b CV). Consequently, they move on to the coastal city of Troas which faces the coast of Macedonia. During the night, Paul is given a vision. As he sleeps, concerned about his current quandary, in a dream he beholds a“certain man, a Macedonian, . . . standing and entreating him, . . . ‘Cross over into Macedonia! Help us!’” (16:9b CV).

Having been prevented by the spirit from swerving either to the right or left, Paul is reminded of the command given to Joshua, “do not turn from it [the guidance of Yahweh] to the right or to the left, so that you may have success wherever you go” (Josh. 1:7 NASB). As Joshua had commanded the forces of Yahweh’s nation in the conquering of the Promised Land and the liberation of those in captivity to the oppressive ruling powers, so Paul now understands that he has been directed by his Commander-In-Chief to take command of Yahweh’s people under his apostleship in the extension of the Gospel into the territory of Macedonia, now claimed by Yahweh for His kingdom.

The oppressive spiritual powers of the gods and of Apostate Israel are to be conquered, and the people belonging to Yahweh and His Anointed Son/King are to receive liberation through the power of the Gospel. The fact that Luke records Paul beholding a certain Macedonian indicates a specific people whose hearts are anxiously prepared for the salvation of Yahweh. Those people are held captive by the oppressive enemy powers. They yearn in their hearts for the One, True, Living Elohim. This One, True, Living Elohim is the Elohim of Israel, Yahweh, Who, through His Anointed Son, His Anointed Davidic Warrior-King, Jesus the Messiah, is sending His militia of spiritually endowed soldiers to the rescue. Help is on the way!

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Crossing over into Macedonia, Paul, Silas, Timothy, and Luke arrive at the city of Philippi. Luke had joined the spiritual militia at Troas (about 52 a.d., see Acts 16:11, “we” section begins), being himself a Jewish Messianic. As is Paul’s custom, he first seeks out his fellow-Jews. The Gospel is first to be announced to Israelites. Apparently, there is no synagogue building in the city at this time, for Paul and his fellow-soldiers, having already spent a number of days in Philippi, seek out the place of prayer where devout Jews would gather to worship Yahweh on the sabbath. Outside the gate of the city, alongside a river, the group locates a number of women gathered to pray and worship Yahweh.

No men are mentioned. There may not have been even ten devout Jewish men in Philippi, since such a group would constitute a synagogical gathering. However, there could be (and most likely were) non-devout, irreligious Jewish men considered sinners out of the nations by devout Jews. These Jewish men would have separated themselves from those Jews lawfully worshiping Yahweh according to the traditions and commandments of their relatively recent forefathers and contemporary fathers. These Jewish men would not be zealously following the Law of Moses. Paul refers to this kind of Jew in his Letter to the Corinthians,

And I became to the Jews as a Jew, that I should be gaining Jews; . . . to those without law [the lawless Jews not practicing the contemporary customs of their people, but living as gentiles] as without law [associating with them as a gentile would associate with them] (not being without God’s law [living lawlessly], but legally Christ's [living according to The Law of Christ]), that I should be gaining those [Jews] without law [living apart from the lawful customs of the devout Jews]. (1 Corinthians 9:20-21 CV)

Paul, Silas, Timothy, and Luke may have encountered this kind of Jewish man during their initial days in Philippi. Such men might have been aware of a place of prayer located somewhere outside the city gate alongside the river. Responding to this information, Paul and his companions, “on the day of the sabbaths” (Acts 16:13 CV, a day upon which more than one sabbath fell, or the day initiating the countdown to Pentecost, a period of seven weeks), leave the city, searching along the river for this possible place of prayer.

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Locating the place of prayer, Paul, Silas, Timothy, and Luke seat themselves among those Jewish women gathering for prayer, initiating conversation during which the Gospel is announced to the women. Hearing the voice of Yahweh in the word of the Gospel of Jesus the Messiah, “a certain woman named Lydia, a seller of purple of the city of Thyatira, revering God [worshiping Yahweh according to the prevailing customs of her people, Jews], heard, whose heart the Lord [Yahweh through the inspiration of the spirit of Jesus the Messiah] opens up to heed what is spoken by Paul” (Acts 16:14 CV).

Again, Luke uses the word certain in describing the woman Lydia. As Paul had beheld a “certain” Macedonian man, a certain” woman hearing the Gospel has her heart opened by Yahweh’s spirit. The adjective certain indicates her character. She reverently worships Yahweh according to the Law of Moses. Her heart belongs to Yahweh. She is one of Yahweh’s faithful people. She possesses a hunger and thirst for the righteousness of Yahweh’s Law. Because she has opened her heart to Yahweh’s righteousness, the spirit of Jesus the Messiah opens her heart to hear the voice of Yahweh speaking in the Gospel of Jesus the Messiah.

As Yahweh had hardened the heart of Pharaoh as a result of Pharaoh hardening his own heart, thereby assuring Pharaoh’s opposition to Yahweh in order for Yahweh to manifest His glory and power, so now, Yahweh opens the heart of Lydia as a result of her already having opened her heart to the righteousness of Yahweh revealed in the Law and the Prophets, thereby assuring (firming up, establishing, stabilizing) Lydia’s obedience to the faith of the Gospel in order to manifest His glory and power now being revealed in the Gospel. Lydia had prepared her heart for the hearing/heeding of Yahweh’s salvation by having loved Yahweh’s word, faithfully obeying the exhortation of Moses,

Hear, Israel! Yahweh is our Elohim; Yahweh the only One. So you will love Yahweh your Elohim with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your intensity. These words which I am instructing you today will come to be in your heart. (Deuteronomy 6:4-6 CV)

Lydia had been faithful to Yahweh her Elohim, continuing to worship and serve Him with all her heart, soul, and intensity without the wholesome benefit of a synagogue and without the wholesome benefit of devout Jewish men. Such integrity of faithfulness is honored by Yahweh. To such elect people is Yahweh’s salvation sent. The Gospel is not intended for all humanity. The Gospel is restricted to those whom Yahweh is calling out (ecclesia, the called-out ones) from Apostate Israel and the apostate nations during the last generation, the last days of the Mosaic Eon.

The faithful heart of Lydia establishes her as one of Yahweh’s faithfully elect people. The Gospel is not sent to all human beings. The spirit is directing the servants of Jesus the Messiah to only those people elected by Yahweh to hear the Gospel. The Gospel is not sent to countries such as India, China, the Americas, or the heart of Africa. It is sent only to the world-order of Moses, then represented by the territories of the Roman Empire associated with the historical development of the Southern Kingdom of Judea and the Northern Kingdom of Israel. Only those peoples elected by Yahweh to hear the Gospel have the opportunity to receive the Gospel. Reception of the Gospel requires hearing the Gospel and believing the Gospel. Those who believe, becoming faithful to the end, are accounted the faithful elect of Yahweh, the Ecclesia of Jesus the Messiah, the faithful sons of Abraham, the Born-From-Above Israel of Yahweh.

Hearing the Gospel and believing (heeding, obeying) its message makes Lydia a faithfully elect member of the Born-From-Above Israel of Yahweh, a member of the New Davidic Kingdom of Jesus the New Davidic Warrior-King. Having believed the Gospel, Lydia is baptized by Silas (see 1 Cor. 1:14-17). This establishes the ethnic identity of Lydia. Only Jews are baptized with water. The Gospel of the Circumcision includes the requirement of a water baptism. Peter, on the day of Pentecost, had proclaimed “Repent and be baptized each of you in the name of Jesus the Messiah” (Acts 2:38 CV modified). The Gospel of the Uncircumcision, however, does not include the requirement of a water baptism. Paul declares, “For Christ does not commission me to be baptizing, but to be bringing the evangel, . . .” (1 Cor. 1:17a CV). Jesus the Messiah, when commissioning the Eleven Apostles with the Gospel of the Circumcision, had commanded,

Going, then, disciple all the nations [that is, the Jews among all the nations], baptizing them [the Jews] into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the holy spirit [that is, the name Jesus] . . . (Matthew 28:19 CV)

The believing Jews must be baptized with water in the name of Jesus the Messiah, since the believing Jews are to be a kingdom of priests after the order of Melchizedek (Rev. 1:6; Heb. 5:4-11), rather than after the order of Aaron; a holy priesthood (1 Pe. 2:5) in fulfillment of Exodus 19:6, “As for you [circumcised Israel], you shall become Mine, a kingdom of priests and a holy nation” (CV). The Messianic Gentiles, hearing and responding to the Gospel of the Uncircumcision, were becoming fellow-citizens of the Saints (the Messianic Jews). These Messianic Gentiles were being served by the Melchizedekian priests (the Messianic Jewish holy priesthood), as well as serving these priests as the Levitical priests had served the Aaronic priests (see Eph. 2:13-22).

Therefore, there is one holy nation consisting of a primary Melchizedekian Priesthood (the Messianic circumcised Jews anointed with the cleansing water of baptism ordaining them priests of the assembly of the firstborn ones, Heb. 12:23) and a secondary priesthood (the unanointed with water Messianic Uncircumcised Gentiles, the covenantally younger brothers equally dwelling within the holy household of the Messianic Jews, the assembly of firstborn ones). As members of this holy household, this holy nation of priests, the Messianic Gentiles, in relation to the nations and kingdoms distinguished from the nation and kingdom of the Israel of Yahweh, are holy [saints]. However, within the holy nation and kingdom of the Israel of Yahweh, the Messianic Jews are designated Saints distinguishing them (as Melchizedekian priests) functionally from the Messianic Gentiles.

The one exception to this ordaining function of baptism with water is Cornelius and his household. This is easily explained when recognizing that Peter and His Messianic Jewish companions had not expected to proclaim the Gospel to the Gentiles. They had not expected the spirit to be given to these gentiles as it had been given to the Jews. Knowing only the Gospel of the Circumcision, Peter concludes, “There can not be anyone [of his Jewish companions] to forbid water, so that these are not to be baptized, who obtained the holy spirit even as we [Jews](Acts 10:47 CV). His Gospel, which had been proclaimed to these gentiles and had been believed, required baptism with water. He continued obedient to this Gospel by baptizing with water these gentiles. Later, learning of the distinction between the Gospel of the Circumcision and the Gospel of the Uncircumcision from Paul, he came to understand that Cornelius and his household need not have been baptized with water. It did not pertain to their function within the holy household of the Israel of Yahweh.

Baptism with water is, however, required for Lydia and her household. She is Jewish and must be ordained into the holy, spiritual ministry of the Melchizedekian Priesthood assigned to the nation identified with the Abrahamic covenant of circumcision. Immediately following her baptism with water, together with her household, Lydia, as a faithful daughter of Abraham and Israel, implores Paul and his fellow-soldiers (all Messianic Jews ordained to the ministry of the Melchizedekian Priesthood) to reside in her house during the remainder of their ministry in Philippi. Paul, reminded of the command of Jesus, agrees.

Go! Lo! I am dispatching you as lambs in the midst of wolves . . . Now into whatever house you may be entering, first say, “Peace to this household!” And if a son of peace should be there, your peace will be resting on it; . . . in the same house, remain, eating and drinking what they have, for worthy is the worker of his wages. Do not proceed from house to house. (Luke 10:3-7 CV)

Lydia, a true daughter of Abraham, has enthusiastically and graciously extended the appropriate hospitality to these commissioned servants of Yahweh. Lydia and her faithful Messianic household would be blessed with the peace of Jesus the Messiah, that peace which continues to give comfort even in the midst of persecution on behalf of the righteousness of the Gospel.

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The Maid Possessed by a Pythonic Spirit

During Paul and his fellow-workers’ stay in Philippi, they continued to attend the worship at the place of prayer. As they made their way to this place of Jewish worship, a maid possessed by a pythonic spirit began to follow them on continuous occasions. She publicly shouted, “These men are servants of the Most High God, who are announcing to you a way of salvation!” (Acts 16:17 my translation). This slave woman had brought her masters much wealth as a result of her demonic prophesying.

From the perspective of the Hebrew Scriptures, when Yahweh gave the nations up to their disqualified mind, He gave them over to the jurisdiction of a selected number from among the celestial sons of El. These rulers possessing authority over these nations sent them evil, lying, deceptive spirits delivered by celestial messengers under the authority of each of the elect sons of El placed over each of the nations (see Deut. 32:7-8; 4:19; 1 Kings 22:22). These deceptive spirits possessed and inspired many prophetic priests and priestesses of the ancient national gods in accord with their divinely established purpose.

Paul, becoming exasperated, casts the demonic spirit out of the woman. Her use of the title the Most High God” is ambiguous and, thus, deceptive. Many of the gods of the nations were honored using this title. She also had declared that these men announced “a” way of salvation, again misleading to the gentiles hearing her prophetic utterance.

The proclamation of the Gospel announced “the” salvation of Yahweh the Elohim of Israel. This was not “a” salvation, but “the” only salvation being offered by the One, True, Living Elohim to both Israel and the nations coming under the divinely determined jurisdiction of the Gospel. By casting out the deceiving demonic spirit, Paul is establishing the power of the Gospel over the gods of the nations. This displayed power foreshadows the coming of the end of the world-order of the ancient gods.

Paul is soon to add his prophetic announcement concerning this termination of the rule of the sons of El over the nations in his informative speech addressed to the Athenians. The success of the elective, limited call of the Gospel will initiate the eventual fall of the ancient world-order of the gods. The nations will be liberated from the darkness of the age of their disqualified minds, even as this pythonically possessed enslaved woman had been liberated from this demonic oppression inflicted by a spirit sent by the gods.

Note, however, that the liberated possessed woman is not recorded as believing the Gospel. She does not participate in the salvation of the Gospel. She does not enter the new Israel of Yahweh. She is liberated only from the power of the demonic Python spirit associated with the god Apollo. In this, she becomes a sign of the eventual termination of the ancient world-order of the gods, which is not to be equated with the salvation offered by the proclamation of the Gospel. The demise of the ancient world-order of the gods is to be brought about only after the successful conclusion of the proclamation of the Gospel. The metamorphic transformation of the ancient world-order of the gods eventually will come about as an after-effect of the successful conclusion of the proclamation of the Gospel.

This after-effect is intuitively sensed by the owners of the possessed woman. Realizing that their hope of continued profit has vanished with the casting out of her Pythonic spirit, this oppressive and abusive business syndicate seizes Paul and Silas, hauling them before the city magistrates. Having little or no concern for the enslaved maid, they accuse Paul and Silas of attempting to introduce intrusive Jewish customs endangering the welfare of the inhabitants of Philippi, members of Roman society in good standing.

This accusation indicates ethnic prejudice against Jews. The syndicate recognizes Paul and Silas as Jews attempting to impose their alien, strange, religious customs on loyal members of Roman society. By casting out a Delphoric spirit of Apollo, an obedient member of the Roman society (and her industrious patrons) has been deprived of her unique gift of prophecy. This Jewish intrusion upon the worship of the gods is claimed to be a violation of the intent of the Roman law governing the activities of the Jewish religion. Here is an example of how the Jewish idiosyncratic religious beliefs regard as profane that which the Romans regard as sacred. Interfering with the activities of the gods, these men disturb the social, economic, and religious peace of the community. In Mediterranean culture (the culture of the ancient world-order of the gods), religious novelty is perceived as threateningly dangerous to societal order, the essential fabric of society.

In this perception, these representative uncircumcised members of the nations in darkness apprehend proleptically the potentiality of the success of the Gospel proclamation. The powers of the gods are being broken. If this is allowed to continue, the essential fabric of this ancient world-order would be destroyed. This is an essential insight of the literary purpose of the Book of Acts. It is the mirror image of the insight of Apostate Israel:

What are we doing, seeing that this man [Jesus] is doing many signs? If we should be leaving him thus, all will be believing in him, and the Romans will come and take away our place as well as our nation. (John 11:47b-48 CV)

What should we [the Sanhedrin] be doing to these men [the Twelve Apostles]? For, indeed, that a known sign has occurred through them is apparent to all who are dwelling at Jerusalem, and we can not deny it. But, lest it may be disseminated more among the people, we should be threatening them that by no means should they still be speaking in this Name [Jesus Christ, Jesus the Messiah] to any man. (Acts 4:16-17 CV)

In like manner, the city magistrates attempt to threaten these intruders (Paul and Silas) endangering the peace and order of the community (with their proclamation of some novel Jewish teaching) by flogging them and casting them into prison for a short time. In this way they appease the incensed crowd gathered against these men and hope to discourage these men from causing any further trouble when generously released from prison. This strategy would, however, be turned against them. Failing to give these men a fair hearing, they are unaware that both men, though Jews, are Roman citizens who neither should have been flogged nor cast into prison without due process of law.

Paul and Silas, having been responsible for the casting out of a demonic spirit, thereby liberating its victim, are now themselves cast into a confining cell of a local prison. This publicly vindicated the animosity of the business syndicate of slave owners, the local members of the community, and the official magistrates of the city. But it had also shamed and dishonored both the Gospel and the emissaries proclaiming the Gospel of Yahweh, completely unacceptable in a culture based upon honor and shame. The honor of the Gospel and its emissaries being publicly shamed necessitated a public vindication of this unwarranted shame.

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The Philippian Warden

Finding themselves in a prison cell, having their feet bound in chains, Paul and Silas turn to praying and singing hymns to Yahweh. This they had continued until midnight, the other prisoners listening. Suddenly, a great quake occurred, throwing open the doors of the cells and loosening all the chains of the prisoners.

The warden of the prison facility, being awakened out of sleep comes to realize that all the doors of the prison facility have been opened. Believing the prisoners to have escaped, unsheathing his sword, he is about to commit suicide (due to the public shame sure to come upon him and his household), when he hears the shout of Paul. He is exhorted not to do anything rash; all the prisoners remain in their cells.

Apparently, the quake had caused great fear to fall upon the prisoners, prostrating them within their cells. It is very possible that these prisoners, listening to the prayers and hymns of these Jewish holy men, had concluded that the great quake was the response of their god to their prayers. They, thus, feared for their lives at the hand of this angry god.

The Philippian warden of this prison facility, realizing his honor has not been shamed, his household retaining its social honor, falls humbly before Paul and Silas, addressing them as lords, masters. In his repentant humiliation as a non-practicing (lawless) circumcised Jew, acknowledging these fellow Jews as prophets of the Elohim of Israel, he asks these servants of Yahweh, “Masters, what must I be doing that I may be saved?” (Acts 16:30 CV). This is the same question asked of Peter by his fellow-Jews in Jerusalem after his Pentecostal proclamation of the Gospel of the Circumcision (Acts 2:37b).

Luke summarizes the response of Paul and Silas, recording a condensed version of their reply to this Jewish question, “Believe on the Lord Jesus, and you shall be saved, you and your household” (Acts 16:31 CV). The Jewish warden (a sinner out of the nations in the eyes of devout Jews, see Gal. 2:15 CV, NGEINT) had addressed Paul and Silas as lords (Grk. = kurioi). These two Jewish servants of Jesus the Messiah point the Philippian warden to the lordship of Jesus. He alone is Lord. He alone is to be prostrated before in humble worship.

Having then spoken further the word of the Lord, Jesus the Messiah, to the warden and his gathered household, the repentant and believing warden proceeds to bathe the wounds of Paul and Silas. Having completed this loving act of Messianic service, water having been brought to the prison facility to accomplish this service, the warden and those of his household are immediately baptized by Silas (Acts 16:33b). This, again, establishes the ethnic identity of the Philippian warden. Being baptized with water is required only of the Jews. Silas carries out the baptism, not Paul. This is confirmed by Paul’s own testimony written in his first letter to the assembly at Corinth (1 Cor. 1:14-17).

The faithful response to the Gospel by Lydia, an independent Jewess, testifies to the exalted place of the Jewish woman within the New Born-From-Above Israel of Yahweh, the Ecclesia of Jesus the Messiah. The faithful response to the Gospel by the Philippian warden, an independent, non-devout Jew, testifies to the reconciliation of the prodigal Jew within the New Born-From-Above Israel of Yahweh, the Ecclesia of Jesus the Messiah.

The following day the magistrates send word to the warden of the prison to release Paul and Silas. The publicly shamed servants of Yahweh and proclaimers of the Gospel of Jesus the Messiah refuse to be released. Informing the messengers sent by the magistrates of their Roman citizenship, they demand that the magistrates themselves come to the prison and publicly release them. In this way, their honor would be publicly restored, the honorable status of the Gospel vindicated, and the name of Jesus the Messiah exonerated.

The magistrates humbly acquiesce to the demand of the Jewish prophets. Their honor being publicly restored, Paul and Silas return to the house of Lydia where the Messianic brethren have gathered to receive the vindicated evangelists. Both the household of Lydia and the household of the Philippian warden, as well as all the other faithful followers of Jesus the Messiah who had responded to the Gospel proclaimed by Paul and Silas during their preincarceration days in Philippi, are consoled and strengthened in the faith as a result of the conquering presence of Yahweh and His Anointed Son/King. Whereas there had not been a synagogue in Philippi, there now is one in the house of Lydia.

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Thessalonica and Berea

Leaving Philippi and the Messianic assembly (synagogue) established there, Paul, Silas, and Timothy travel to Thessalonica. Unlike Philippi, this city has “a synagogue of the Jews” (Acts 17:1 CV). As is Paul’s custom, he attends the synagogue, zealously and intelligently arguing from the scriptures, “opening up and placing before them that the Christ [the Messiah] must suffer and rise from among the dead, and that ‘This One is the Christ—the Jesus Whom I am announcing to you’” (Acts 17:3 CV). He does this during the course of three sabbaths. Some of the attending Jews are convinced by Paul’s exposition of the Hebrew Scriptures. Luke writes,

And some of them [Jews] are persuaded, and were allotted to Paul and Silas, both a vast multitude of the reverent Greeks, and of the foremost women not a few. (Acts 17:4 CV)

This passage, again, confirms the fact that the proclamation of the Gospel is not sent to all humanity, but to those dwelling in the inhabited territories of the household of Israel scattered among the nations of the Roman Empire, to those whose hearts are ripe for the reception of the salvation sent to Israel, sent to the children of Abraham possessing a hunger and thirst for righteousness—the true righteousness of the One, True, Living Elohim. Those associated with the Jewish synagogue in Thessalonica (both Jews and Gentiles) who are persuaded of the truth of the Gospel of Jesus the Messiah are characterized as being allotted” to Paul and Silas, inferring that Yahweh is the One doing the allotting. Yahweh, through Jesus the Messiah, is assembling (literal Greek meaning calling out) a people for His name.

Jesus had already declared during His terrestrial ministry that He would be “building My ecclesia” (Matt. 16:18b CV), His called-out ones. Many being electively exposed to the call, hear the call, but few are chosen (see Matt. 22:14). The chosen ones are those who have prepared their hearts by hungering and thirsting for the salvation which only Yahweh the One, True, Living Elohim could provide. These chosen ones are the ones Yahweh has been in the process of allotting to His evangelists. Compared to the great numbers who electively are being exposed to the Gospel, they are few in number.

However, when numbering only those allotted, only those hearing and obeying the Gospel, these chosen ones themselves form a great multitude of people. The triumph of the Gospel should not be contemptuously limited to a few in number. It should not be concluded that Israel rejected her King and Kingdom, that the Gospel had failed to achieve the fulfilling of the Law and the Prophets, failed to establish the restoration of the Davidic Kingdom failed to complete the building of Jesus the Messiah’s Ecclesia, failed to fulfill the promise of Jesus to His disciples, “I am going to make ready a place for you. . . . I am coming again and I will be taking you along to Myself, that where I am, you also may be” (Jn. 14:2b-3 CV). The Gospel achieved all these goals within the very generation of those allowed (elected) to hear its call. There was no failure, only triumphant success.

In the synagogue of Thessalonica, some Jews believed the Gospel, but they were numbered among “a vast multitude of the reverent Greeks, and the foremost women not a few” (Acts 17:4b CV). As Luke’s account has already indicated, a multitude of Jews of the synagogues in the land and outside the land had already received the truth of the Gospel, and more were continually being added to the ecclesias. The New Born-From-Above Israel of Yahweh was being blessed by Yahweh. The nation’s numbers were increasing daily. Vast numbers were being liberated from the oppressive powers of darkness, choosing joyfully to come under the banner of the New Davidic Kingdom led by Yahweh’s New Davidic Warrior-King, Jesus the Messiah. Multitudes continued to flock to the protecting arms of Yahweh’s invading conqueror. To perceive Luke’s account any differently is to Cainishly ignore the clear intent and evidence of his literary composition, arrogantly insisting that Yahweh’s word did in fact return to Him void.

However, although many Jews had been and still were believing the truth of the Gospel, many other Jews (characterized as apostate) had and still were opposing zealously the message of the Gospel. The Jews in Thessalonica are no exception to this pattern. Being zealously jealous of the success of the Gospel among the reverent Greeks associated with their synagogue, the apostate Jews in Thessalonica, representing the ruling authorities, choose to vehemently oppose this Gospel, ethnically concerned about the threat to Jewish religious distinctiveness.

This is no surprise to Paul and Silas, since they are fully aware of the necessity of suffering on behalf of the righteousness of the Gospel. Those in Christ, especially the Jews, are required to share in the sufferings of Jesus the Messiah. Such is the essence of Paul’s teaching concerning the Cross of the Christ and being crucified with the Christ. A new exodus had begun. A new allotment is imminently to be entered. Yahweh’s visitation of His people Israel is demanding a decision similar to the one Moses had given to Israel,

Life and death I have put before you, the blessing and the malediction. Now choose life that you may live, you and your seed, by loving Yahweh your Elohim, hearkening to His voice and clinging to Him . . . (Deuteronomy 30:19b-20a CV)

and similar to the one Joshua had given to Israel:

choose for yourselves today whom you shall serve, . . . yet I and my house, we shall serve Yahweh. (Joshua 24:15 CV)

Apostate Israel chooses against Yahweh. Reverent Israel chooses to serve Yahweh. Apostate Israel refuses to hear the voice of Yahweh. Reverent Israel joyfully recognizes and obeys the voice of Yahweh. Apostate Israel chooses the death of the Sinatic/Mosaic Covenant. Reverent Israel chooses the Life of the New Davidic/Abrahamic Covenant. Apostate Israel refuses to cling to the manifestation of Yahweh’s Presence. Reverent Israel clings tenaciously to the manifestation of Yahweh’s Presence. Apostate Israel possesses the arrogant prejudice and greed of Jonah. Reverent Israel possesses the submissive kindness and generosity of Joseph.

The Jews in Thessalonica opposing the Gospel qualify as apostate. They choose to serve their own distorted perception of Moses. They choose the death of their own gospel of Moses. They choose to cling tenaciously to Moses. They refuse to hear the voice of Yahweh in the Gospel of Jesus the Messiah. Consequently, like Cain, they turn against their righteous brothers, stirring up a mob of wicked men and community loafers. This mob is led to the house of Jason (a faithful follower of the Messiah Jesus) where the opposing Jews believe Paul and Silas are residing.

Failing to find Paul and Silas, the infuriated mob drags Jason and some other followers of Jesus the Messiah to the city magistrates. The instigating Jews describe Paul and Silas as men stirring up insurrection in the inhabited territories of the Roman Empire. They charge them of treason, claiming they announce a certain man named Jesus as king, thereby encouraging sedition against Caesar and Rome. Jason is charged with offering hospitality to these seditionists, as well as conspiring with them. The entire crowd and the city magistrates are disturbed about the potential disruption of social order. However, not having before them the actual culprits, the magistrates, obtaining bail from Jason and the rest of the brethren, release them, dismissing the crowd. Realizing the explosive nature of the situation, the Messianic brethren, finding Paul and Silas, immediately send them off that very night to Berea, Timothy continuing to accompany them.

Arriving in Berea, the three emissaries of Yahweh enter into the synagogue in the city. The Jews in this synagogue, unlike those in the synagogue in Thessalonica, welcome Paul, Silas, and Timothy with hearts and ears prepared to hear the voice of Yahweh their Elohim. Luke characterizes them as

more noble than those in Thessalonica, who receive the word with all eagerness, examining the scriptures day by day, to see if these have it thus. (Acts 17:11 CV)

These Jews possess circumcised hearts. They represent those faithful Israelites continually demonstrating nobility of heart and mind. They have a genuine, sincere love of the word of Yahweh. His word has been written on the tablets of their hearts. They belong to the covenantal, spiritual nobility of the holy nation, an elite class of Jonathanites, Jonathan, whose soul “was knit to the soul of David” and whose heart “loved him [David] as himself” (1 Sam. 18:1 NASB).

Though rightful heir by birth to the throne of Israel, Jonathan loves Yahweh his Elohim with all his heart, soul, and mind. When he learns that Yahweh has chosen David to be king of Israel, he graciously and humbly submits himself to the word of Yahweh. He becomes loyal to the Anointed One of Yahweh, the elect King of Israel replacing Saul (Jonathan’s own father) upon the throne of Israel. He becomes loyal to David, the son of Jesse, a shepherd boy of Israel raised up by Yahweh the Elohim of Israel to become the royal shepherd of Yahweh’s sheep. Though Jonathan is of noble birth and heir to the throne of Israel, he bows his knee to a social inferior, a lowly shepherd chosen by Yahweh. In this he demonstrates his true nobility, the nobility of a heart dedicated to Yahweh his Elohim and the people belonging to Yahweh.

So also, these noble, fair-minded, royal elite servants of Yahweh receive eagerly the word of the Gospel of Jesus the Messiah. Hearing the word of the Gospel, they critically scrutinize the message conveyed, examining the holy Hebrew Scriptures daily to determine whether or not they are hearing the voice of Yahweh, whether or not the holy scriptures support, validate the interpretation put upon them by Paul and Silas.

This synagogue is surely a house of both prayer and genuine study of the holy scriptures of Israel, Yahweh’s elect nation. These honorable, noble, Jonathan-like Israelites gather not only on the sabbath, but also on the intervening days, during which they study the holy scriptures, listening intently with the heart and mind to hear the voice of Yahweh their Elohim.

Consequently, many of these Jews believe the Gospel of Jesus the Messiah. A vast number (Acts 17:12 CV, “not a few”) of respectable Greek women and men also commit themselves to Messiah Jesus, thus entering the commonwealth of Israel, the household of the firstborn-saints (having now become Yahweh’s in place of the Levites as a result of the terms of the New Covenant), the New Davidic Kingdom as full-fledged citizens, completely acceptable in their natural condition of uncircumcision. Abram’s faithful uncircumcised children continue to enter his covenantal household in great numbers. The Israel of Yahweh, under the blessing of Yahweh, increases daily.

Learning of the affect of the word of Yahweh announced by Paul in the synagogue of Berea, the apostate Jews in Thessalonica (who have so far chosen to serve their own distorted image of Moses rather than Yahweh and who had tenaciously opposed Paul and the Gospel in Thessalonica) travel to Berea, jealously zealous for the faith of Judaism handed down since the Babylonian captivity by the traditions of the fathers. These Jews act in conformity with the attitude of Saul when he also had persecuted the Jewish Messianics before his encounter with Jesus the Messiah on the road to Damascus. Thus, these Jews, though still the elect people of Yahweh, are, by their attitude and behavior, enemies of the Gospel of Jesus the Messiah. Like King Saul, they seek the death of Messiah Jesus and His valiant warriors.

Arriving in Berea, these Saulite Jews immediately proceed to agitate and disturb the crowds against Paul, even as they had done in Thessalonica. Seeking to avoid unnecessary and useless conflict in a most successfully fertile territory, the Messianic brethren in Berea immediately escort the Apostle Paul to Athens. Prior to their returning to Berea, Paul instructs these brethren to tell Silas and Timothy to join him as soon as possible. Silas and Timothy continue in Berea, instructing and establishing the faithful followers of Jesus the Messiah, as well as scripturally reasoning in the synagogue with the non-messianic Jews, those Jews within the synagogue who remain unconvinced, but still unantagonistic to the Gospel.

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The Proclamation to the Athenians

In Athens, Paul’s “spirit was incited in him at beholding the city being idol-ridden” (Acts 17:16 CV). Paul, perceiving the flaunted, shameful idolatry of the city, is outraged, irritated, deeply distressed in spirit. He knows the Gospel is the only answer to the idolatry of Israel and the idolatry of the nations.

Although Athens is the epitome of Greek philosophy, religion, and culture, blending enlightened philosophy and superstitious idolatry; it remains hopelessly entangled, entrenched, in the childish darkness of the ancient world-order of the deceiving gods. Learning (the gift of philosophers and poets) has not eliminated idolatry. Thus, Paul is not favorably impressed with the exalted cultural reputation of Athens.

In spite of the historical glories and advantages of Athenian society, Athenians remain the victims of the Tower of Babel with its dispersion of the peoples into nations given up to their own disqualified minds. The nations need to be reconciled to the One, True, Living Elohim. The success of the Gospel will initiate the beginning of a process which eventually will bring about this reconciliation. This reconciliation, however, will have to await the calling of a people out of Apostate Israel and the calling of a people out of the nations.

Paul is well aware of the fact that Israel also is a victim of idolatry. At Sinai she had worshiped the golden calf made with her own hands. In the holy land of promise, under the judges, “They provoked Him [Yahweh] to vexation with their high-places, And they made Him jealous with their carvings” (Ps. 78:58 CV). Under their kings, they had worshiped not only Yahweh, but also the gods of the nations around them. Even at present, the contemporary generation of Jews are guilty of worshiping Moses and making an idol of the Temple (see Acts 7:41-43, 47-50).

Paul’s Apostleship is associated with the restoration of the Kingdom of Israel. He has been commissioned to proclaim the Gospel in order to call out a people from among the Jews and a people from among the nations, making them one Nation, one People, one Kingdom, one Ecclesia having one Celestial Allotment. Thus, this new nation, new kingdom, new people is the New Born-From-Above Israel of Yahweh promised in the Law and the Prophets. Only this elect nation is to be blessed by the terms of the New Covenant made with the house of Judah and the house of Israel.

When the success of the proclamation of the Gospel had completed the calling out of this elect people, elect nation, elect Kingdom, elect Ecclesia and when this elect membership of faithful Messianic followers of Jesus the Messiah had entered her Celestial Allotment, a new religion (Christianity) would divinely sprout from among those Messianics who had not been faithful to the end, those whom Paul later is to describe as sleeping:

This, also, do, being aware of the era, that it is already the hour for us to be roused out of sleep, for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed.. . .be putting off the acts of darkness, . . . but put on the Lord Jesus Christ, . . . (Romans 13:11-14a CV)

Having been zealously stimulated in his spirit by the overwhelming picture of idolatrous Athens, Paul, again, enters first into the local Jewish synagogue. Fellowshipping with his fellow Jews, equally appalled by pagan idolatry, though unaware of their own covenantal idolatry, Paul zealously discusses with these Jews the Gospel’s association with the fulfillment of the Law and the Prophets while the reverent God-fearers listen with great interest. During the intervening days between sabbaths, Paul visits the marketplace speaking the word of the Gospel to any person happening along.

In the marketplace, Paul draws the attention of some local philosophers. Contemporary Athenians had been known for their curiosity concerning new ideas and teachings. Their cultured elite had a reputation for being fascinated with anything new, while at the same time holding tenaciously to the traditions of their gods.

Socrates would have accused them of being hypocrites, having a curiosity about the new, but having no sincere interest in truth. For Socrates had taught that knowledge is virtue, that is, knowledge as truth changes one’s thinking and behavior. Thus, truth destroys the false which has been ignorantly held to be true. The philosophers and cultural elite interested in Paul’s new teaching are not interested in truth with its capacity to overturn the status quo, in this case, the traditions of the gods.

Athenians had long ignored the wisdom of the innovative insights of their greatest philosophers and poets, such as Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Sophocles, Aeschylus, Euripides, and Aratus. These intelligent men questioning the traditions of the gods, more than likely had been influenced by the northern Israelites scattered among the western territories of the Assyrian Empire beginning in 722 B.C. These Israelites had been declared Lo-Ammi, not My people, by Hosea the prophet. Abandoning the worship of Yahweh associated with the Jerusalem Temple and the Aaronic and Levitical priesthoods, they were absorbed, assimilated, into the western cultures of Asia Minor, Macedonia, and Achaia. Though becoming uncircumcised over time, they nevertheless retained and shared with their neighbors their knowledge of the One, True, Living Elohim.

The Athenian philosophers, curious about Paul’s new teaching concerning a new god resurrected from the dead, cordially and eagerly invite Paul to elaborate on his novel ideas before the Aeropagus Council. This Athenian body is responsible for the regulation of religion in Athens. In the past, it had accused and condemned Socrates of introducing new gods and corrupting the youth.

In the present situation, Paul will speak on behalf of his own God, the God of Israel, even as Socrates had claimed to follow the voice of his own god which questioned the traditional ways of the gods. However, unlike Socrates, Paul is not on trial. He is merely a curiosity for these cultured Athenians priding themselves for their intellectual pursuit of novel ideas and teachings, while confidently and unquestionably committed to the traditions of the gods.

Paul, standing in the midst of this prestigious council, addresses his audience as “Men! Athenians!” (Acts 17:22). He is addressing the intellectually elite men of Athens, representative of the culturally elite men of the nations. These men are the descendants of the nations given up by Yahweh in Genesis 11:1-9 (see also Rom. 1:18-28). They are idolatrous worshipers of the gods.

Paul begins his oration by referring to an Athenian memorial, “To an Unknowable God” (Acts 17:23b CV). The Athenian worshipers sought to avoid offending one of the gods which somehow remained unknown to them. To Whom, then, they are “ignorantly devout” (Acts 17:23c CV), Paul is ready to announce to them.

He does not proclaim a new god. He proclaims the One, True, Living Elohim (God) Whom their ancestors had at some time in the past worshiped and served before the establishment of the ancient world-order of the gods. He proclaims to them the Elohim Who created the heavens and the earth and all things and beings in this terrestrial realm. This Elohim does not dwell in temples constructed by the technological hands of men. This Living Elohim is not dependent on anything made or provided by human beings.

Worship and service of this Living Elohim is no longer to be through cultic sacrifices, various offerings, and holy festivals. Such inferior, childish worship and service are no longer required or acceptable. The childhood of humanity as represented by the nations is coming to an end. Worship and service through the elements of the world-order (fire, water, air, earth) are now to be understood as infantile, no longer worthy of human use.

The Living Elohim is not a power, an authority, to be manipulated, cajoled, tricked, appeased into providing the perceived needs of those worshiping and serving Him. He is sovereign Lord over all His creation. He is already the provider of life and breath and all things necessary to sustain such life and breath.

This Living Elohim generates out of one original human being every nation of mankind and has assigned the nations their allotted territories. He has designed the seasons (the eons, the eras, the times of historic development) for the welfare of humanity. All He graciously does, He does in order for all men to be appropriately seeking and having access to the relationship with Him intended to procure their liberty and divine purpose and potentiality as individuals, as nations, and as a race.

During the ancient world-order of the gods (the age of darkness), the nations have been groping in the darkness of their disqualified minds for the True and Living Elohim Who alone can satisfy all their inherent needs. In this darkness, they have stumbled around, injuring themselves religiously, socially, politically, and psychologically. Though this Living Elohim is not far from human beings, the nations, in this self-inflicted darkness, are lost, unable to find this Living Elohim in the darkness of their disqualified, distorted minds.

Quoting, then, one of their own poets (Aratus), “For we also are His offspring” (Acts 17:28 NASB), Paul condemns the worship of idols made by the hands of men: “Therefore, being inherently the offspring of this Living Elohim, we ought not to be inferring the authentically Divine is like gold, or silver, or stone, an image formed by the technical skill and distorted imagination of mere inferior men” (Acts 17:29 my translation). Many of these insights above had already been realized by the classic philosophers and poets of classical Greek culture during the golden years of Greek society.

Attacking the heart of Greek religion (temples, idols, and sacrifices), Paul sums up his discourse up to this point by accusing contemporary Greek popular religion in Athens of not even living up to the virtuous insights of Greece’s own gifted philosophers and poets. Like the prophets of Israel, the gifted philosophers and poets of Greece had either been persecuted or ignored in relation to the essential wisdom of their insights. During the demise of Greek society, many of her gifted philosophers and poets were compelled, for one reason or another, to flee Greece because of the new opportunities pertaining to their genius opening up during the rise of the Roman society of Italy.

Paul, functioning as a midwife (similar to Socrates), seeks to assist the Athenian men, uncultivated during the course of many centuries, in recalling to memory (giving intellectual birth to) the ancient past of their ancestors. Paul knows from his study of the Hebrew Scriptures (Yahweh’s revelation to Israel) that these men of Athens, representing the nations, are descendants of Noah and his three sons. Paul knows that the nations, due to their idolatrous astrological worship, had been given up to their distorted ways by Yahweh, placing them at a distance from Yahweh. This distancing had taken place at the calling-out of Abram from the midst of the straying nations.

Paul’s Gospel of the Uncircumcision goes back to that significant historical break which initiated the age (the eon) of the ancient world-order of the gods. During that age, Israel is created and generated by Yahweh, drawing her close to Yahweh, thereby placing the idolatrous nations at a distance from Yahweh. Paul now informs the men of Athens that during the age of the ancient world-order of the gods, Yahweh had condoned “the times of this ignorance” (Acts 17:30a CV). He had allowed the nations to go their own way. He had given them up to their idolatrous desires, letting them live in the darkness of their chosen unbelief.

Now, however, with the proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus the Messiah, even the Gospel of the Uncircumcision committed to him in order to call out a people for Yahweh’s name from among the uncircumcised nations, Yahweh, the One, True, Living Elohim, is “charging all the men associated with the ignorance of the nations walking in darkness who are currently dwelling within the boundaries of the Roman Empire to repent” (Acts 17:30 my amplified translation). Why are these uncircumcised men of the idolatrous nations to repent? Because Yahweh, the One, True, Living Elohim has assigned a

day in which He is about to be judging the inhabited household of all the nations of the earth in the interest of a righteousness associated with a Man Whom He appointed, having given assurance of this appointment to all those men, having resurrected this Man from the dead. (Acts 17:31 my translation)

This judgment reverses the decision Yahweh rendered when calling out Abram from among the nations wandering in the darkness of their disapproved minds. This judgment is to be initiated at the Messiah’s Parousia (the completing of Jesus the Messiah’s Approach/Arrival in 70 a.d., at which time Jerusalem and the Temple would be destroyed, terminating both the Mosaic Eon and the Sinatic/Mosaic Covenant, ending the covenantal distinction between holy Israel and the profane nations). The Man, Jesus the Messiah (the Anointed One), THE Seed of Abraham, is in the process of doing away with the distinction between circumcision and uncircumcision, between the nation Israel and the rest of the nations. Abram’s circumcision (cutting off of the flesh of the foreskin) had cut off the profane nations of the flesh from close proximity to Yahweh. But Jesus’ circumcision (cutting off of the body of His flesh on the cross) reconciles these nations of the flesh (the uncircumcised in flesh) by returning these profane nations to a close proximity to Yahweh.

Yahweh is, thus, on the verge of once more becoming the One, True, Living Elohim of all the nations, no nation being drawn close at the expense of the remaining nations. The covenantal relationship with the terrestrial nation of Israel is about to be terminated. The age (eon) described as “the times of the ignorance of the nations walking in darkness” (Acts 17:30 my translation) is near its demise. THE Seed of Abraham is about to be blessing all the nations on an equal footing.

However, before this judgment is initiated, Yahweh is calling both circumcised Jews and uncircumcised gentiles to repent of their sins against Yahweh and believe the message of the Gospel of Jesus the Messiah. Receiving this Gospel, they will become full-fledged citizens of the New Born-From-Above Israel of Yahweh, entering into the New Davidic Kingdom. This kingdom’s Celestial Allotment is imminently to be entered by those Messianic followers of Jesus the Messiah who remain faithful to their Savior, Lord, and King to the end, thus becoming the conquering ones of the Book of Revelation.

In Lystra, the uncircumcised, idolatrous men of the nations had believed the gods had come down to earth in the form of men. Paul and Barnabas had barely refrained these ignorant men from offering sacrifices to Zeus on behalf of these visiting gods. In Athens, Paul proclaims a man, who having been resurrected from the dead, is exalted to the place of a god (an elohim, one given authority to subject others under his rule). While the men of Lystra are willing to believe in the gods coming down in the form of men, the men of Athens (members of the prestigious Aeropagus Council) find it difficult to believe in a man being exalted to the position of a god through resurrection from the dead. The ignorant men of the ancient world-order of the gods did not think in terms of resurrection. Death terminated life. Hades, the abode of the spirit, was perceived as a place of horror. As Odysseus had declared, better to be a slave in the land of the living than to be a king in hades.

Hearing of the resurrection of the dead, some members of the Areopagus Council mockingly ridiculed the idea of resurrection. Other members, not so quick to judge, answered, “We will hear you concerning this again also” (Acts 17:32b CV). A man exalted over the nations, a man given authority to rule, to subject, the nations in like fashion as a god is conceived, by the idolatrous nations worshiping and serving the gods, as ludicrous. Yet some, following Paul as he leaves the Areopagus Council, believe his message, seeking to learn more of this Man resurrected from the dead. To these, among whom are Dionysius, a member of the Areopagus Council, and a woman named Damaris, as well as others with them, Paul proclaims the Gospel of Jesus the Messiah in more detail.

Paul’s discourse before the Areopagus Council is significant because it prophetically announces the coming of the termination of the ancient world-order of the gods. A new heavens and a new earth are on the horizon. The Gospel is in reality a threat to the cultural order of the Roman Empire. It is a threat to the tradition of the gods.

The nations will surely be liberated from the darkness of the times of their ignorance. They will surely be liberated from enslavement to the deceptive gods of their own distorted imaginations and from the transcendent supervision of the celestial sons of El. The Man, Jesus the Messiah, resurrected from the dead and exalted to His Celestial throne, will soon rule, together with His Ecclesia, over the nations inhabiting the terrestrial realm. This Man, the Second Man, exalted as the Only-Begotten Son of Yahweh Elohim, will, by the end of His contemporary generation, receive the Headship over humanity as an immortal, living, true Elohim. Of His kingdom there shall be no end (see Dan. 7:14).