Allow me to begin today’s Gem with reference to the quote I used in the last Gem. It has piqued the curiosity of a number of you who asked about the background to my comment.
The best teachers show you where to look but don’t tell you what to see. (Given to me by a bunch of Brazil Kiwis along with a small ornamental spade.)
Well the simplest thing to do is to share it with you in a different way.
And I said, Who are you, Sir?
And He said, I am Jesus whom you persecute; but rise up and stand on your feet, for it is for this reason I appeared to you, to appoint you a servant and a witness both of what you saw, and in what I shall appear to you, having delivered you from the people and the nations, to whom I now send you, to open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the authority of Satan to God, in order that they may receive remission of sins, and an inheritance among those being sanctified by faith in Me. [LITV]Acts 15-18
“‘Who are you, lord?’ I asked.
“And the Lord replied, “I am Jesus, the one you are persecuting. Now get to your feet! For I have appeared to you to appoint you as my servant and witness. Tell people that you have seen me, and tell them what I will show you in the future. And I will rescue you from both your own people and the Gentiles. Yes, I am sending you to the Gentiles to open their eyes, so they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God. Then they will receive forgiveness for their sins and be given a place among God’s people, who are set apart by faith in me.” [NLT]Acts 15-18
“I said, ‘Who are you, Master?’
“The voice answered, ‘I am Jesus, the One you’re hunting down like an animal. But now, up on your feet—I have a job for you. I’ve handpicked you to be a servant and witness to what’s happened today, and to what I am going to show you. I’m sending you off to open the eyes of the outsiders so they can see the difference between dark and light, and choose light, see the difference between Satan and God, and choose God. I’m sending you off to present my offer of sins forgiven, and a place in the family, inviting them into the company of those who begin real living by believing in me.’ [MSG]Acts 15-18
There are a number of things I wish to comment on before we begin our analysis. First look at the way these three translations handle the inverted commas as speech markers. That alone is interesting. I am the one who has separated verse 15 in the way I did; giving you verses 16-18 broken off from verse 15. But of course they were run together in their original setting, divided only by Robert Estienne’s verse divisions.
It is intriguing isn’t it that Jesus calls Paul by the Hebrew name he was given, because that is who he was at the time of the encounter with the risen Jesus. Luke has changed his name to Paul some time ago in the book of Acts. Now during his defence before Agrippa, Paul goes back to the words Jesus used when He first spoke to him. Jesus addressed the old Paul and said, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” Jesus used Paul’s name twice to get his attention. Yes, this was addressed to Saul, the persecutor of Jesus and His followers. “What you did to the least of these My brothers, you have done to me.” Notice now how quickly Jesus moved from the negative comment about Saul’s persecution to the positive outline of God’s plan for Paul. The use of the adversative conjunction “but”, [alla] in Greek, sets the opening statement against what is to follow. The conjunction could be translated – “Now on to other things.”
How quickly Jesus sets aside His condemnation of Saul and moves on to His encouragement of Paul. Well this is after all the One who said, “Love your enemies.” As Eugene Peterson put it in the message, “you have been hunting Me down like an animal. Now get up on your feet – I have a job for you. I have handpicked you to be a servant and witness.” Remarkable! Jesus is a master at loving His enemies. Notice I used the present tense for One who loves His enemies so well. Yes, most would say He is dead. No, He is not, and furthermore He is still loving his enemies.
For God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us.Romans 5:8
Could you do that? Offer a choice job to one who has been persecuting you and out to harm you?
Christ did and still does. You are an example. I will now divide these important statements into their propositions for you.
I am Jesus whom you persecute
BUT rise up and stand on your feet,
for it is for this reason I appeared to you,
to appoint you a servant and a witness both of what you saw,
and in what I shall appear to you,
having delivered you from the people and the nations,
to whom I now send you,
to open their eyes,
and to turn them from darkness to light,
and from the authority of Satan to God,
in order that they may receive remission of sins,
and an inheritance
among those being sanctified
by faith in Me.
(Acts 15-18) [LITV]
Remember I told you this is all one sentence in Greek. So the best version to use to give us an idea of how it all fits together, other than the original Greek, is the Literal Version. To make it easier for you I have coloured the whole speech in red letters as the words of Jesus but have highlighted the connectors or relative pronouns etc in black so you can see how it connects more clearly.
Take time to look at it and we will begin the process of dissecting it in the next Gem. It has already taken me a while to get this far. I don’t want to give you too much in one Gem.
Do you know how much Jesus loves you even before you know enough to change?Ian Vail
Don’t get caught in the trap of thinking that you have to earn God’s love. You ALREADY have it.Ian Vail
Jesus is the One who comes to you and offers you the top job even when you are an enemy. Think about it!Ian Vail
No one else will ever love you like He loves you. That’s why He says, ‘You have no righteousness of your own; here have Mine.’Ian Vail