Greek God-Worshippers

Today’s Journey Through Scripture Readings: Psalm 1-3; Acts 17:1-15

17 Paul and Silas journeyed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where there was a Jewish synagogue. As was Paul’s custom, he entered the synagogue and for three Sabbaths interacted with them on the basis of the scriptures. Through his interpretation of the scriptures, he demonstrated that the Christ had to suffer and rise from the dead. He declared, “This Jesus whom I proclaim to you is the Christ.” Some were convinced and joined Paul and Silas, including a larger number of Greek God-worshippers and quite a few prominent women. (Acts 17:1-4, Common English Bible)

“Greek God-worshippers” is how the Common English Bible says it. In the New Revised Standard Version, it is “devout Greeks.” Then there is the New International Version which uses the term, “God-fearing Greeks.” Who are these Greeks?

In the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament), God-Fearers (or the other names above) were Gentiles who, to varying degrees, embraced Judaism but never actually converted to the faith. They were nominal men and women of faith.

As for the early Christian Church, in the Book of Acts (our lesson for today), it was much the same. The chief difference being, the God-fearers followed many of the teachings of the Jews or Christians. They had not converted to the Christian faith, until this story.

Paul and Silas, as they often did, visited the local synagogue. Changes in the hearts of the people there didn’t change, at least not immediately. The lesson tells us that Paul and Silas did this, interacting with the God-fearers, and I would assume Jews as well, for three Sabbaths. They continued to minister to and share the faith with those gathered for three weeks. Their faithfulness made a difference as “…a larger number of Greek God-worshippers and quite a few prominent women…” became convinced that Jesus is the Messiah.

“Pastor, I have talked with my friends and neighbors. If they aren’t already Christians, I don’t want to nag them.” There is obviously a fine-line we must walk if we are to make disciples of Jesus Christ as Jesus himself commissioned those who were already disciples in every age (that would be us) to do.

There are people around us who are already disposed to the faith. They are similar to the God-fearers. They understand something of the love God has for them but they don’t get it in full. It is not yet a full understanding.

I would challenge you as well to remember the story we read just a short time ago about Phillip and the Ethiopian eunuch. Phillip asks the eunuch if he understands what he is reading. The eunuch says, “How can I if I have no one to explain it to me.”

If the God-fearers of the New Testament era were to understand, Paul and Silas had to explain it. If those who seek more knowledge before becoming disciples are to understand, that job is up to us. How will we respond?

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

With joy and thankfulness,
Keith

Copyright 2018, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

Author:

Spirita Spiro (Esperanza for "Spirit's Breath) is rather new in my life. But the blog is not. I began writing a blog several years ago. It lived under the title, "The Pastor Ponders." Over the years I have tried several different names and "The Pastor Ponders" always seemed to fit best. I am trying again with Spirita Spiro. For 27 years I was a full-time pastor in the United Methodist Church. This year, August 2018, I semi-retired (I can't actually retire quite yet) and began teaching social studies. It is something I have always wanted to do and if I was going to do this, I needed to make it sooner rather than later. So, I made the move. I thought with the career change there also needed to be a name change to the blog and other things, such as spiritual direction. Spirita Spiro is my attempt to share some of my thoughts. I often share what I am thinking with my dog "Bishop," but he keeps his thoughts to himself. He will even go to sleep sometimes while I am sharing my thoughts with him. The truth is, if it doesn't involve getting his ears scratched, his belly rubbed or some kind of treat, he really doesn't care. I will say this for him, he never argues with me or tells me I am wrong. So, I decided to share some of my thoughts with whoever might come across this blog in their ramblings around the Internet. I live with my wife Cindy and our little dog in Lufkin, Texas. I spent the past 27 years as a full-time United Methodist pastor. Most recently I served as pastor of First United Methodist Church in Sweeny, Texas. I have also served United Methodist congregations throughout East Texas including rural Madison County (Elwood UMC), Lovelady (First UMC) and Kennard (Center Hill UMC), Canton (First UMC), rural Smith County (Mt. Sylvan UMC and Union Chapel UMC), Grapeland (First UMC), Tyler (Pleasant Retreat UMC), Santa Fe (Aldersgate UMC), Freeport (First UMC) and Oyster Creek (Oyster Creek UMC), Diboll (First UMC), and now Sweeny (First UMC). My wife Cindy and I have been married for over 40 years. We have two grown sons. Wayne and his wife Nikki and all our grandsons (Kaleb, Noah, and Jaxon) live in Southern California. Christopher and his wife Morgan and both our granddaughters (Jenna and Natalie) live in Tyler Texas. I enjoy preaching and all aspects of preaching from research to writing to the actual preaching event. I also love writing, reading, playing the guitar as well as a bit of drawing. I have spent quite a bit of time over the past two years working with paracord on various projects, mostly prayer ropes I usually give away. I sing bass with a local barbershop chorus called The Coastalaires. I have also recently begun doing a little wood carving. I also enjoy playing with Bishop, something he likes a great deal better than listening to my thoughts. I hold an Associate of Applied Science Degree in Business Data Processing, specializing in Microcomputers from San Jacinto College in Pasadena, Texas, a Bachelor of Science in Political Science with a minor in History from Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, TX, a Master of Divinity from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, TX and a Doctor of Ministry from Carolina University of Theology. When I was a student at Carolina, the school was in Iron Station North Carolina. They have since relocated to Manassas Virginia (Yeah, go figure, a school named Carolina geographically in Virginia). This blog is mostly devotional writing, but there are other things here too. Just about every week I will either post my sermon manuscript or a video of the worship service. On occasion, I will post something I see in society. Occasionally I write a short story, a poem, or a song and will post it here too. I will say this, my motivations for writing this blog are really selfish. I write it to get what I am thinking out of my head and onto something a bit more permanent. They say, after all, once something is on the internet it never really goes away. Still, I hope you enjoy reading it. And, should you desire, you can one-up Bishop and actually tell me what you think. Who knows, it might generate a bit of discussion between you and me and anyone else who might make their way here. With Joy and Thankfulness, Keith Sweeny, Texas May 2018

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