Attention in the Book of Acts begins to shift toward Paul (Saul of Tarsus) as the church in Syrian Antioch begins some intentional missionary outreach.
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When the “wise men” or magi came from the east, they came to worship the king of the Jews. To all but Christians this may seem odd since the Jews never worshiped their kings. They were not a people whose religion allowed for the worship of humans, angels, anyone or anything else but the one true God.
2 Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, 2 saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” (ESV throughout)
This non-worship of others besides God continued into the Christian era. Take this example of Peter when he meets the Roman centurion Cornelius in Acts 10:24-26.
24 And on the following day they entered Caesarea. Cornelius was expecting them and had called together his relatives and close friends.25 When Peter entered, Cornelius met him and fell down at his feet and worshiped him. 26 But Peter lifted him up, saying, “Stand up; I too am a man.”
Paul and Barnabas react similarly to Peter in a similar situation.
11 And when the crowds saw what Paul had done, they lifted up their voices, saying in Lycaonian, “The gods have come down to us in the likeness of men!” 12 Barnabas they called Zeus, and Paul, Hermes, because he was the chief speaker. 13 And the priest of Zeus, whose temple was at the entrance to the city, brought oxen and garlands to the gates and wanted to offer sacrifice with the crowds. 14 But when the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard of it, they tore their garments and rushed out into the crowd, crying out, 15 “Men, why are you doing these things? We also are men, of like nature with you, and we bring you good news, that you should turn from these vain things to a living God, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and all that is in them.”
In Revelation John gets reprimanded not once, but twice by an angel for giving him excessive honor.
9 And the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.” And he said to me, “These are the true words of God.” 10 Then I fell down at his feet to worship him, but he said to me, “You must not do that! I am a fellow servant with you and your brothers who hold to the testimony of Jesus. Worship God.” For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy. (Rev 19:9-10)
8 I, John, am the one who heard and saw these things. And when I heard and saw them, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who showed them to me, 9 but he said to me, “You must not do that! I am a fellow servant with you and your brothers the prophets, and with those who keep the words of this book. Worship God.” (Rev 22:8-9)
Back to the magi. In Matt 2:11, they follow through on their mission.
And going into the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh.
Only God is worthy of our worship. Jesus is worthy of our worship. Jesus is God.
Unity, Diversity and Our Identity in Christ
Part 10 of 14
The Holy Spirit comes upon the first followers of Jesus. He begins to unite in Christ people who had no reason to be united about anything before.