Paul was preaching to Jews who were well versed in the Hebrew scriptures. So he uses their knowledge of scripture, not only to back up his claim that Jesus was literally raised from the dead, and not just to point out that there are scriptural references which prophesy that this would happen, but he also uses scripture to warn them not to dismiss him as many had done before with the great prophets throughout their history. He quotes the prophet Habakkuk who was writing God’s own explanation for allowing Babylon to overrun the Israelites. Folk are often happy to accept the truth of God’s power as it was reported by the prophets over the centuries. But that God could move powerfully among us today, here and now? Well that is quite another thing. It was the same in the days when Paul was on his first missionary journeys around the Mediterranean. The men Paul preached to about the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, were no more easily convinced about Jesus’s triumph over death, or the new covenant, sealed by his blood which rendered salvation by keeping the Law of Moses obsolete, than we are today. So Paul used scriptures they already knew to back up and confirm the good news.
Acts 13:32-41 NLT
“And now we are here to bring you this Good News. The promise was made to our ancestors, and God has now fulfilled it for us, their descendants, by raising Jesus. This is what the second psalm says about Jesus: ‘You are my Son. Today I have become your Father.’ For God had promised to raise him from the dead, not leaving him to rot in the grave. He said, ‘I will give you the sacred blessings I promised to David.’ Another psalm explains it more fully: ‘You will not allow your Holy One to rot in the grave.’ This is not a reference to David, for after David had done the will of God in his own generation, he died and was buried with his ancestors, and his body decayed. No, it was a reference to someone else—someone whom God raised and whose body did not decay. “Brothers, listen! We are here to proclaim that through this man Jesus there is forgiveness for your sins. Everyone who believes in him is declared right with God—something the law of Moses could never do. Be careful! Don’t let the prophets’ words apply to you. For they said, ‘Look, you mockers, be amazed and die! For I am doing something in your own day, something you wouldn’t believe even if someone told you about it.’ ”
All I can say to anyone who is finding it difficult to come to terms with what Christians believe about Jesus’s life, death and resurrection is this: if you are serious about finding the answers you are looking for, they are to be found in the Bible. Paul used the scriptures to back up the good news he preached. The Good news is that we no longer need to try and live by an impossibly hard set of laws in order to be acceptable to God. Because of Jesus’s ultimate sacrifice, our failures, past, present and future have already been made good. We are invited to believe this and live forever with God because he loves us, even though many of us don’t even acknowledge him.
1 Kings 22:1-53, Acts 13:16-41, Psalms 138:1-8, Proverbs 17:17-18