"Therefore let it be known to you, brethren, that through Him forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you,Acts 13:38(NASB)
Generally, in the New Testament, the word 'brethren' is used to refer to our brothers and sisters in Christ, and in certain passages believers are also addressed as 'holy brethren'.
However, there are other times when 'brothers' or 'brethren' refers only to the physical decedents of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob – circumcised in the flesh but unsaved members of the Jewish race. How important to identify the context in which certain words or phrases are used.
Early in Acts, the apostles often addressed Jews as 'brothers', when seeking to share the gospel of grace with their unsaved, fellow countrymen. On the day of Pentecost, many Jewish men were pierced to the heart when they heard that they had crucified their Messiah, and they cried out to the apostles, "Brothers, what shall we do?" Peter's response was: "Brothers, I know that you did it in ignorance, just as your leaders also did."
Peter also reminded these men of Israel that Moses had prophesied that a Prophet "from among their brothers," would be raised up and they must listen to Him. And here in this passage it is Paul's Jewish 'brethren' that are hearing: "Through Christ, the forgiveness of sins is being proclaimed to them."
In this passage, the apostle Paul was ministering to 'brothers' in a synagogue in Antioch on a Sabbath day. He read from the Law and the Prophets, quoted from Psalms, and began to teach them the Scriptures. Starting from their slavery in Egypt, he progressed through Jewish history until he reached the ministry of John the Baptist who preached a baptism of repentance to Israel and identified Jesus as: "The Lamb of God, Who takes away the sin of the world."
Finally, Paul dropped the climatic bombshell: "Let it be known to you, brethren, that through Jesus, the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you." Paul was explaining to his unsaved Jewish 'brethren' that Jesus was great David's greater Son, after the flesh. He was the one about Whom David prophesied, for He died, and rose again for the forgiveness of their sins, and for ALL who would believe on His name.
Christ offered these Jewish 'brethren' something that the Law could never provide – the remission of sins and life everlasting. The indestructible life of Christ Jesus, was greater than king David, for He was raised from the dead by the almighty power of God and was the perfect Sacrifice for their sin – and by faith in Him, redemption would be theirs.
This is the gospel that must be preached to unsaved Jew and Gentile alike, that through faith in the Man, Christ Jesus is received the forgiveness of sin. For by grace we are saved, through faith. We are not saved by works of the Law, but by faith in the sacrificial death and glorious Resurrection of Jesus, the eternal Son of God and sinless Son of Man.
Heavenly Father, thank You for Your Word and the truths that it contains. I pray that I may read its pages with wisdom and understanding. Help me to recognise the different audiences that are being addressed in different Bible passages. Keep me from reading into the Scriptures what I think it is saying, rather than understanding it in its correct context. Help me to grow in grace and in a knowledge of the Lord Jesus. In His name I pray, AMEN.
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