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This morning we continue our summer journey through St. Paul’s epistle to the Ephesians. As we said last Sunday, Paul’s evangelism strategy was to visit a place where he wanted to plant a new congregation and visit the local synagogue. Because he was a Jew and a Pharisee at that, he would always be asked to speak. When Paul spoke he testified as to why Jesus Christ, crucified for the sins of the world and raised from the dead on the 3rd day was the Messiah that the Jews were waiting for.
Eventually Paul would get kicked out of the Synagogue and those who believed his message would follow him and that would be the beginning of a new Christian congregation.
So, the congregation in Ephesus was made up of Jews who believed that Jesus Christ is the Messiah. But the message of the cross is that Jesus Christ died for the sins, not just of the Jews, but of the WHOLE WORLD, for ALL PEOPLE. And that message was well received among the Gentiles. And so especially in a city like Ephesus that is predominately Greek, the congregation is made up of both Jews and Gentiles, or as Paul refers to it, ‘the circumcised and uncircumcised.’
And there’s some HISTORY between the Jews and Gentiles, if you know what I mean. Irish Catholics and Irish Protestants may learn to live side by side but there’s a lot of ‘history’ there and that ‘history’ can cause problems. The Sunni and the Shia will have a hard time living together peacefully because there’s a ‘history’ between them and with that history comes a lot of RESENTMENT and HOSTILITY. Continue reading