“For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” (2 Cor. 4:6)
From The High Standards of God for End-Times Christians
There were tens of thousands of first century Jews in Jerusalem, in Israel, and in the Mediterranean world who did accept Jesus as Messiah and believed in Him as Savior (Acts 2:41; Acts 4:4; Acts 21:20). But there obviously was a large difference in the first century between the backgrounds, cultures, and expectations of the Jews and the Gentiles. The Gentiles had no expectations about any messiah whatsoever…world ruler or suffering servant…because a gospel message regarding the fulfillment of age-old biblical messianic prophecies was entirely unknown to them.
The Gentile Christians of the New Testament era therefore had no reason to be offended by a crucified and risen Jesus Christ as Messiah. The Gentiles in the first century Greco-Roman world, who were moved by the Holy Spirit preaching of Paul, gladly received the gospel message by faith because they recognized their personal sin and their need for a Savior. The Gentiles in Antioch Pisidia believed the message of Paul, wanted to become new creatures in Christ, and recognized their need to discard their past lives of sin through the cross.
The Gentiles who believed the preaching of Paul were open to the idea of a new adventure of faith following Jesus Christ according to the new covenant model of a personal relationship with God. In this sense they were no different from the Jews in Antioch Pisidia who also believed and accepted this message of salvation through the preaching of Christ crucified and risen, introduced by Paul and Barnabas. From this moment forward, both Jews and Gentiles entered into the new covenant adventures of faith that God would compose and orchestrate for each one of them. This fulfilled the prophetic promise of God to Abraham, and is described by Paul in Romans 10:12.
The preaching of the cross by Paul in Antioch Pisidia in Acts thirteen, to begin his lifelong ministry of evangelism to the first century Mediterranean world, divides and separates forever the difference between the unconventional nature of a God-composed life-script entered through faith in Christ, and the empty and lifeless performance of perfunctory religious practices not having the intimate participation of the living God in the events and circumstances of our lives. If people are indeed made complete in our new covenant relationship with God, if being “in Christ” is the truest form of rational existence, then the preaching of Paul in Antioch Pisidia is a demonstration of the component of pure, divinely unselfish love intended to seek and to save that which is lost (Matthew 18:11). This extends down through the centuries as the love-filled component of the high standards of God for the soon coming end-times.
Christians living today in the developed nations of the world are in danger of falling into a subtle variation of the same mistake the Jews made in the first century in rejecting Jesus of Nazareth as their Messiah. If our vision is worldly horizontal only, if we are looking for a Jesus who will fix our outward world by providing a better job, a bigger house, a nicer car, better vacations, and more economic wealth and prosperity, based solely on performing religious observances and church attendance, then we are once again repeating history and looking for the wrong messiah. If we are going through the motions of attending church solely for the benefits of fitting-in and conforming to the social and cultural expectations of our immediate family and/or our local community, then we are in jeopardy of being left behind as were the Jews in Antioch Pisidia, who were exposed by Paul’s message of a new covenant adventure of faith through Christ (Acts 13:39). We are in jeopardy of likewise being identified as merely a lukewarm religious person participating in the synagogue for all of the wrong reasons.