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by Dr. John Thomas
When he arrived at this city, he called the chief of the Jews together, and told them that he had nothing to accuse his nation of; but he had sent for them to inform them how matters really stood.
He then told them how it was they found him in the custody of a Roman soldier, with fetters upon his person: "On account of the hope of Israel" said he, "am I bound with this chain".
This is conclusive.
The hope of the promise made to the fathers was, and, indeed, is to this day, the Hope of Israel; and for preaching this hope, and inviting the Gentiles to a participation in it without other circumcision than that of the heart, he was denounced as a pestilent fellow, and unfit to live.
But what was the hope of Israel about?
The answer to this question is easy.
Having made the chief of the Jews at Rome acquainted with the cause of his appeal to Cæsar, they remarked to him, that they should like to hear of him what he thought upon the question of the national hope, as so strenuously contended for by the sect of the Nazarenes.
As it was not, however, convenient then, they appointed a future day when they would meet him, and hear what he had to say upon the subject.
Accordingly, at the time appointed, they came together at Paul's lodging, and he proceeded to lay before them his thoughts upon the subject of Israel's hope.
But I cannot do better than to state what he did in the words of Luke; who says that "He expounded and testified to them the kingdom of God, persuading them concerning Jesus both out of the law of Moses and out of the prophets, from morning till evening".
Now who can be so dim of vision as not to perceive that the subject-matter of the hope of Israel is the Kingdom of God?
And observe, that in giving his thoughts of the national hope, the apostle's persuasions turned upon things concerning,Jesus.
The Kingdom of God and Jesus were the subjects of Paul s testimony, when he preached "the hope of Israel," or "the hope of the promise made of God unto the fathers".
Having begun his testimony with the chiefs of the Jews, some of whom received it, he continued to publish it for two years in his own hired house to all that visited him, "preaching the Kingdom of God, and teaching those things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ, with all confidence".
In this way he bore witness for Jesus in Rome, as he had done before in Jerusalem.
But, one might say, if the hope the apostle preached, and the hope of the twelve tribes, were the same hope, why was he persecuted by the Jews?
The answer is, because Paul and the rest of the apostles testified that Jesus whom they had crucified was the king whom God had anointed to be the Judge of Israel in His Kingdom, of which they were the natural born citizens.
They had been constituted "a kingdom of priests, and a holy nation," by the covenant of Sinai; and had on that occasion accepted Jehovah as their king.
They were therefore the kingdom of God.
In after ages, they had demanded a king who might go in and out before them.
He gave them David; and promised to raise up from among his descendants, sleeping in the tomb, a king, who should be immortal, and reign over them for ever, according to the provisions of a new constitution.
Now the apostles testified that God had raised up Jesus from among the dead for this very purpose; and had sent them to the Jews first, to inform them that if they desired to reign as princes over Israel and the nations with his king, it was not enough for them to be natural born descendants of Abraham; but that they must acknowledge Jesus as King of Israel, and walk in the steps of Abraham's faith.
They testified furthermore, that if they would not acknowledge him as their king, seeing that the kingdom and empire of God would require kings and priests to administer its affairs, they would turn to the Gentiles, and invite them to accept the honour and glory of the kingdom, upon terms of perfect equality with Israel; for so the Lord had commanded them to do.