Carrying on from the previous post – I recently read something which is quite relevant to the discussion supporting both Old and New Testaments as integral to understanding the gospel and who Jesus is. It has already been stated in the discussion that Jesus drew attention to the Old Testament being about Him (Luke 24:25-27; 45-47; cf. John 5:39-40; 45-47. But this also is supported by Paul’s preaching and teaching in the Book of Acts, as in 26: 22-23; 28:23.
But also in “The Book of Acts,” by Wilson Paroschi, published by PPPA, March 2018 (ISBN 978-0-8163-6354-4), there is a very valuable insight for us on pages 66-67 of chapter 7, ‘Paul’s First Missionary Journey’. There the author writes:
“Hospitality was also a Jewish practice (Mark 6:10), and many synagogues had guest rooms for this purpose. This not only made it convenient for Paul to frequent synagogues on his journeys but also gave him direct access to God-fearing people who could then provide a bridge for reaching other Gentiles.
But the main rationale behind Paul’s practice was primarily theological. As a life-long Jew, he understood his Damascus experience as a conversion to Jesus Christ, and not from the Jewish faith and its fundamental aspects. Though he experienced a radical change with respect to many of his religious concepts (cf. Philippians 4: 3-11), he never understood this transformation in terms of leaving one religion and embracing another.
Organised Christianity did not yet exist as a separate entity, so for most Jews, including preconversion Paul, the followers of Jesus was just another radical sectarian movement (Acts 9:1, 2). For most outsiders, including the Roman authorities, the differences between Christians and Jews were an internal Jewish affair (Acts 18:12-16). This scenario would change only after the Great Fire of Rome in A.D. 64. The inferno, which historians suspect Nero ordered, cleared the land for a new palatial complex, the Domus Aurea. Nero subsequently targeted Christians in his effort to diffuse blame, ordering them to be tortured and executed.
As for the early Christians, they believed themselves to be the true holders of the Jewish traditional faith and hope (Acts 2: 22-24). Paul was persuaded that he had been called by the God of Israel who had always demanded exclusive worship. For him, faith in Jesus Christ was not a desertion of Jewish monotheism (1 Corinthians 8:6); it was a logical extension of his understanding of God. He remained loyal to the Jewish Scriptures and consistently drew his theological concepts from the history and literature of Israel, not from the history and literature of the Greeks.
He came to the Gentiles determined to share the richness of God’s revelation to Israel (Romans 15:27), and not to translate the Jewish faith into Greek thinking. Though he spoke and wrote in Greek, the vocabulary and key concepts of his thoughts were biblical and developed with particular attention to Israel’s religious history (2 Corinthians 3:7-18). It should be noted, however, that his forays into this history do not indicate a radical discontinuity between the Old Testament and the new era of salvation. In Galatians, for example, he reflects on the specific transitory role performed by the law within the old covenant (Galatians 3:19-25; 4:1-7, 21-31), knowing full well that the law transcends that role (Romans 7: 12-14), does not contradict the enduring principles of the Abrahamic covenant (Romans 3:31; Galatians 3:21), and is not invalidated by the grace of salvation (Romans 3:3).
Paul never compromised his belief in Israel as God’s covenant people (Romans 3:1-4; 11:1-5), even as Gentiles began to outnumber the Jews in the faith (cf. Romans 11:11-32). Though he no longer conceived Israel’s election in the narrow sense, he did believe in Israel’s role in salvation history granted them priority in the preaching of the gospel (Romans 1:16). This was not only Paul’s understanding; it was the priority Jesus envisioned in His Acts 1:8 commission to His disciples.
Paul’s attachment to the synagogue, therefore, was not just for logistic and pragmatic reasons, He remained faithful Jew; and wherever there was a Jewish community
(The author concludes with a footnote: ‘On Romans 11:26, see chapter 13 of this book).
About The Author: “Wilson Paroschi is professor of New Testament Studies at Southern Adventist University. He previously served at the Latin-American Adventist Theological Seminary at the Adventist University located in Brazil. He holds a PhD (2003) from Andrews University and a postdoctoral degree from the University of Heidelburg, Germany. He has authored several books and articles, both in Portuguese and English, for scholarly as well as popular readership.”
On the back cover of his “The Book of Acts” we read:
“Thirty years – that’s all it took. In those 30 years the Christian church gained sufficient growth and credibility to become the largest religion the world has ever seen and to change the lives of hundreds of millions of people. And it all began with a dozen men, a handful of women, . . . and the Holy Spirit. Acts is their story.
“While it is tempting to think of the early Christian church, as the pinnacle of unity, purity, and perfection, this is misleading. Author, Wilson Paroschi writes, ‘We find the early believers, including the apostles, entangled with misconceptions, personal conflicts, prejudice, and several other difficulties of human nature. They were not infallible. What they were able to accomplished in such a short period of time, however, is a perpetual testimony of how powerfully God can work when men and women, despite their limitations and failures, humble their hearts in prayer and submit their lives to the control of the Holy Spirit.’
“We should not look at Acts as a retelling of the missionary success of the apostles, but rather, as an example of the amazing things God was able to accomplish through them in reclaiming humanity for Himself.”