Paul was preaching about a radical shift in the ancient Jewish religion. Essentially, the Chosen People weren’t as elite as they used to be. Now, everyone was chosen: “Here’s God’s plan that I’ve been entrusted to pass along to you. Non-Jews are equal partners with Jews….Because of Jesus the Messiah, everyone shares equally in the blessings God promised to his people” (Ephesians 3:6). What do you think it would have taken for a Jew in Paul’s day to swallow that sermon?
Many Jews believed it. The first Christians, in fact, were essentially messianic Jews—they were Jews who believed that Jesus was the Messiah that the prophets said God would send. Most Jews, however, rejected the idea that Jesus was the Messiah. They expected a warrior like King David, not pacifist rabbi. Miracles helped convince some Jews that the apostles were for real and their story was nonfiction. Lame folks starting walking. Blind folks stopped bumping into walls. Uneducated souls started talking in languages they hadn’t learned.