“But when Silas and Timothy came down from Macedonia, Paul began devoting himself completely to the word, solemnly testifying to the Jews that the Messiah is Jesus” (Acts 18:5).

Because Paul was “solemnly testifying to the Jews that the Christ [Messiah] is Yeshua,” the verse assumes two things about Paul’s pool of knowledge. First, the verse assumes Paul has a thorough knowledge of the Hebrew Scriptures: specifically, what they teach about and how they point to the Messiah. Second, the verse assumes that Paul has a thorough knowledge of Yeshua’s life and how it corresponds so perfectly to the description of the Messiah in the Hebrew Scriptures.

While many believers content themselves with a knowledge of the New Testament alone, their ability to “solemnly testify” about, let alone understand, the Messianic faith is sorely lacking. Our faith that the Messiah is Yeshua requires us not just to know what Yeshua did and said, but also to understand why he did and said those specific things.

Deepening Our Knowledge

Studying the New Testament without deepening our knowledge of the Tanakh (the Law, the Prophets, and the Writings) may be likened to a new immigrant who learns to speak the language of the new country of his residence quite well, but for lack of cultural immersion and context, never quite understands the point of jokes. (I speak from experience; having immigrated to Israel over thirty years ago, I speak Hebrew fluently but always find it difficult to understand jokes.) To get the point of the New Testament “jokes,” we must make a point of immersing ourselves fully in the Bible of Yeshua and his apostles!

“And also some of the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers were conversing with him. Some were saying, ‘What would this idle babbler wish to say?’ Others, ‘He seems to be a proclaimer of strange deities,’ — because he was preaching Jesus and the resurrection. And they took him and brought him to the Areopagus, saying, ‘May we know what this new teaching is which you are proclaiming? For you are bringing some strange things to our ears; so we want to know what these things mean'” (Acts 17:18-20).

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