Preaching to Pagans

There's an interesting contrast in the book of Acts illustrating the contextual nature of theology, especially in missionary contexts.

In Acts 13 and 14 we find Paul on his first missionary journey and we get to listen in on two of his sermons.

The first sermon is in Acts 13.16-41, and it is preached to a largely Jewish audience. And this sermon sounds a lot like many of the sermons we've already heard Peter and Stephen deliver to Jewish audiences in Jerusalem. Specifically, Paul's sermon walks back through Jewish history, with an emphasis on the patriarchs, the Exodus, and God's promises to David:
Acts 13.16-22
“Fellow Israelites and you Gentiles who worship God, listen to me! The God of the people of Israel chose our ancestors; he made the people prosper during their stay in Egypt; with mighty power he led them out of that country; for about forty years he endured their conduct in the wilderness; and he overthrew seven nations in Canaan, giving their land to his people as their inheritance. All this took about 450 years.

“After this, God gave them judges until the time of Samuel the prophet. Then the people asked for a king, and he gave them Saul son of Kish, of the tribe of Benjamin, who ruled forty years. After removing Saul, he made David their king. God testified concerning him: ‘I have found David son of Jesse, a man after my own heart; he will do everything I want him to do.’"
In contrast to this sermon, in the very next chapter we find Paul preaching to a largely pagan audience. This is the first time we get to see this happen in the book of Acts. This audience knows nothing about the history of Israel, so Paul has to preach the gospel from a very different starting place. Notice how different this sermon sounds from the sermon above:
Acts 14.15-17
“Friends, why are you doing this? We too are only human, like you. We are bringing you good news, telling you to turn from these worthless things to the living God, who made the heavens and the earth and the sea and everything in them. In the past, he let all nations go their own way. Yet he has not left himself without testimony: He has shown kindness by giving you rain from heaven and crops in their seasons; he provides you with plenty of food and fills your hearts with joy.” 
Notice that with the pagans there's no mention of Abraham, Moses, or David. Paul instead starts with God as Creator and the evidences of natural revelation: "He has not left himself without testimony." And that testimony isn't the Torah, but the blessings of creation: "He has shown kindness by giving you rain from heaven and crops in their seasons; he provides you with plenty of food and fills your hearts with joy."

Two very different audiences, two very different sermons.  

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