Friday, September 10, 2010

Where They Were: What were the Apostles doing in the temple and synagogues after the Resurrection?

What were the Apostles doing in the temple and synagogues well after the Resurrection ...when there were very many other places to gather and meet? They went everywhere, to where the people were, like the Master before them. Sometimes the Lord preached the Kingdom with words, sometimes with signs, sometimes in holy silence or very few words.
Said the Apostle to the Gentiles: "To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God's law but am under Christ's law), so as to win those not having the law. To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some. I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings"---1 Corinthians 9: 20-23

"And continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they took their meat with gladness and simplicity of heart---Acts 2
They were doubtless teaching, preaching, praying and witnessing to the Gospel in many ways. In words, or in prayer and silence. It was good for them to be there, was it not? And as the gentiles were waiting, the Jews were hardly neglected, even after the salvific events of the Cross and the Empty Tomb:

"As far as the gospel is concerned, they are enemies on your account; but as far as election is concerned, they are loved on account of the patriarchs"---Rom 11:28

What was St. Paul doing in the Synagogues in gentile lands after the Resurrection? God was still seeking, imploring:

The answer is found in the texts. "As Paul and Barnabas were leaving the synagogue, the people invited them to speak further about these things on the next Sabbath...(Acts 13:42). Doubtless this "about" involved dialog.

Also, "At Iconium Paul and Barnabas went as usual (note "as usual") into the Jewish synagogue (in Turkey). There they spoke so effectively that a great number of Jews and Gentiles believed (Acts 14:1).

In Thessalonica: "When they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where there was a Jewish synagogue. As his custom was (please not that for the apostle to the gentiles), Paul went into the synagogue, and on three Sabbath days he reasoned with them [please note that too] from the Scriptures...Some of the Jews were persuaded [note "persuaded" = dialog] and joined Paul and Silas, as did a large number of God-fearing Greeks and not a few prominent women"...Note: "reasoned with them," doubtless respectfully, answering questions they had, etc. (Acts 17:1-4). Reasoning implies dialog by definition.

with NicodemusIn Athens, "A group of Epicurean and Stoic philosophers began to dispute with him. Some of them asked, "What is this babbler trying to say?" [a Christopher Hitchens type!] Others remarked, "He seems to be advocating foreign gods" [echoes of today's New Agers and NCReporter types] "They said this because Paul was preaching the good news about Jesus and the resurrection"

"Then they took him and brought him to a meeting of the Areopagus, where they said to him, "May we know what this new teaching is that you are presenting? You are bringing some strange ideas to our ears [an Oprah?], and we want to know what they mean." (All the Athenians and the foreigners who lived there spent their time doing little but talking about and listening to the latest ideas, scholars say; it was like a philosophical society.

Paul, having sought out every chance to proclaim and dialog, then stood up in the meeting of the Areopagus and said: "Men of Athens! I see that in every way you are very religious [note the sensitivity]. For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship [ala UN types and Freemasons], I even found an altar with this inscription: TO AN UNKNOWN GOD [Unitarians]. Now what you worship as something unknown I am going to proclaim to you" (Acts 17: 16-23]

But we note that Paul began where they were existentially and spiritually ["you are very religious"] and used that as a point of departure in dialog and proclamation. Truly a model for us, he was.

Also in Corinth "Every Sabbath he reasoned in the synagogue, trying to persuade Jews and Greeks. Then Paul left the synagogue and went next door to the house of Titius Justus, a worshiper of God. (Acts 18:4-7)"

"reasoned, trying to persuade..." all. Can we doubt the Apostles and disciples were kind and helpful while seeking to persuade?

Witnessing to both "Jews and gentiles," doubtless teaching, preaching, talking "about," witnessing to the Gospel in many ways, even silently, even in prayer within the synagogues of gentile nations...The Church met souls where they were. Is it possible there were simple discussions at times with synagogue leaders about problems? Who can doubt it? [This Post Last Updated 9.11.10]