Jesus was born of the Jewish tribe of Judah, a descendant of King David. This would put him in a line of Jewish kings. It was illegal for anyone to declare anyone to be a king except at the authority of the Caesar. The Christian message was preached first among the Jews, though intended to go to the whole world. The Christians met much opposition from the Jews who did not recognize Jesus as the promised Messiah to be our Savior/King. Also those of other religions who saw people turning to Christianity felt that the new movement would rob some of their pagan treasures. Then, from the legal standpoint, many were nervous that this talk of a new King (King Jesus) would bring trouble from the civil authorities. The first Christians were persecuted as a movement that was “turning the world upside down”.
Acts 17:4 Then some of them were persuaded and joined Paul and Silas, including a great number of God-fearing Greeks, as well as a number of the leading women. 5 But the Jews became jealous, and they brought together some scoundrels from the marketplace, formed a mob, and started a riot in the city. Attacking Jason's house, they searched for them to bring them out to the public assembly. 6 When they did not find them, they dragged Jason and some of the brothers before the city officials, shouting, "These men who have turned the world upside down have come here too, 7 and Jason has received them as guests! They are all acting contrary to Caesar's decrees, saying that there is another king--Jesus!"
8 The Jews stirred up the crowd and the city officials who heard these things. 9 So taking a security bond from Jason and the others, they released them.
10 As soon as it was night, the brothers sent Paul and Silas off to Berea. On arrival, they went into the synagogue of the Jews. 11 The people here were more open-minded than those in Thessalonica, since they welcomed the message with eagerness and examined the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so. 12 Consequently, many of them believed, including a number of the prominent Greek women as well as men. 13 But when the Jews from Thessalonica found out that God's message had been proclaimed by Paul at Berea, they came there too, agitating and disturbing the crowds. (HCSB)
There were places where the people accepted the Word freely, but as it should be, they searched the Scriptures to be sure that the teachings did not conflict with what was taught by the prophecies. The teachings of the Messiah and His purpose were well established in Jewish teachings. Still, those who fought against the prophetic teachings and fulfillment stirred up agitation with those who believed.
Acts 19:17 This became known to everyone who lived in Ephesus, both Jews and Greeks. Then fear fell on all of them, and the name of the Lord Jesus was magnified. 18 And many who had become believers came confessing and disclosing their practices, 19 while many of those who had practiced magic collected their books and burned them in front of everyone. So they calculated their value and found it to be 50,000 pieces of silver. 20 In this way the Lord's message flourished and prevailed. (HCSB)
Many pagan and religions that became Christian totally destroyed any traces of their former beliefs, even by burning costly books. Other religions cannot be allowed to be intermingled into the true message of our Creator and our Savior.
Acts 20:22 "And now I am on my way to Jerusalem, bound in my spirit, not knowing what I will encounter there, 23 except that in town after town the Holy Spirit testifies to me that chains and afflictions are waiting for me. 24 But I count my life of no value to myself, so that I may finish my course and the ministry I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of God's grace. 25 "And now I know that none of you will ever see my face again--everyone I went about preaching the kingdom to.
26 Therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of everyone's blood, 27 for I did not shrink back from declaring to you the whole plan of God. 28 Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock that the Holy Spirit has appointed you to as overseers, to shepherd the church of God, which He purchased with His own blood.
29 I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. 30 And men will rise up from your own number with deviant doctrines to lure the disciples into following them. 31 Therefore be on the alert, remembering that night and day for three years I did not stop warning each one of you with tears. 32 "And now I commit you to God and to the message of His grace, which is able to build you up and to give you an inheritance among all who are sanctified. 33 I have not coveted anyone's silver or gold or clothing. (HCSB)
Paul counted the gospel of Christ as far more valuable than his own earthly life. He was willing to let go of anything earthly and material for the cause of Christ. He warned that many would come in teaching divisive and contrary teachings. Among these were Jews who held to the keeping of the Old Testament Covenant along with the New Covenant in Christ as well as Gnostics who taught many different concepts and secretive teachings to attain salvation. Only in the pure and open acceptance of Christ as Savior will mankind be able to approach our Heavenly Father. Paul emphasized that he did not covet material rewards. This is in keeping with Jesus’ teaching that we should seek our rewards above and not here on earth. Jesus also taught that those who kept their rewards in this world’s materialism have received their rewards, and what earthly rewards that those who followed Him had were to be shared with the needy.
Proverbs 14:31 The one who oppresses the poor person insults his Maker, but one who is kind to the needy honors Him.
32 The wicked one is thrown down by his own sin, but the righteous one has a refuge in his death. (HCSB)
Even in the Old Testament teachings, people were to be kind to the needy. Verse 33 from Proverbs chapter 14 caught my eye in a different way. “The righteous one has a refuge in his death.” The actual understanding of the translation of this Hebrew phrase is uncertain. This could be considered as the righteous one has a refuge in the death of the wicked one, but many see this teaching as contrary to the overall understanding of the concept. Many see the meaning as a recognition that the rewards (after death) of the wicked will be paid in his eternal separation from the rewards of the righteous after death. The righteous will be rewarded with an eternal home in Heaven. The literal teaching from the Old and New Testaments are that there is absolutely no one who is truly righteous, but that faith as Abraham had in God and His promised Messiah (our way of attaining righteousness) would be counted as righteous, not on our own merits, but on our acceptance of Christ as the Messiah who would grant us mercy for our sins and give us the credit of righteousness. Jesus taught that the suffering of the wicked would be eternal.