Event(s): Preaching at Thessalonica; Assault on Jason’s House; Ministering at Berea
Today’s Text: Acts 17:1-15
Tomorrow’s Text: Acts 17:16-33
Continuing on their missionary journey, Paul and Silas travel about 33 miles to Amphipolis, followed by another 27 miles to Apollonia, and then finally an additional 35 miles to Thessalonica. Here, Paul establishes the second major church on the European continent.
It’s interesting to learn that there was a synagogue here, seeing as this was so far out. However, Thessalonica was the capital of its district of the Roman providence of Macedonia. It was a wealthy city, possessed a fine natural harbor and was located on a major Roman military highway. Well-to-do Romans settled there and Jewish merchants were attracted by the commercial advantages the city offered.
At this point in the book of Acts, we are at approximately A.D. 49; with the books of 1 and 2 Thessalonians being written about a year or two later in A.D. 50/51.
Acts 17:2,3 “Paul…reasoned with them…explaining and demonstrating…” The words used in these two verses to describe Paul’s approach indicate that he was very discerning on what the people needed to hear and see in order to believe. He reasoned with them, explained the Scriptures to them, gave them evidence / demonstrated the Word to them, and proclaimed the truth in a compelling way.
In other words, he dealt carefully and lovingly with their questions and doubts. We all need good teachers we can go to who will take the time to explain the things of God to us and not chastise us when we have legitimate questions or roadblocks that are keeping us from understanding or believing in what the Word of God says.
Acts 17:5 “the Jews who were not persuaded, becoming envious…” On day 10, we talked quite a bit about the difference between envy and jealousy. The word use here for envious comes from the same root word we found in Acts 5:17. The Jews here in Thessalonians were jealous of Paul because of the popularity and effectiveness of his message, though the way they presented their accusation was from a political angle. Almost always, when people bring accusations, there is typically a deeper issue at work than what appears on the surface. We must not be quick to react when we are falsely accused. We can’t get so caught up on focusing on the charge itself, but instead, seek the help of the Holy Spirit who can help us to discern the true underlying problem.
Acts 17:6 “These who have turned the world upside down…” This is one of the greatest compliments ever been paid to Christianity. So explosive was the revival that was taking place, it was as if the world had turned “upside down”.
Acts 17:9 “So when they had taken security from Jason and the rest…” Taking security is similar to what we would refer to today as posting bond. “The city officials could not find the missionaries (v. 6) to bring them to trial. Consequently they made Jason and his friends pay a bond (“pledge”), guaranteeing that Paul would cause no further trouble but leave town. If trouble continued, Jason would lose his money. If it did not, he would receive it back. Paul did leave town, and later wrote to the Thessalonians that Satan hindered his return (1 Thess. 2:18).” – Dr Thomas Constable, Bible Expositor
Acts 17:11 “they received the word with all readiness and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so…” Having a teachable spirit is a mark of humility. However maturity is recognizing that we can’t just take everything we hear or read without weighing it out ourselves against the truth of God’s word. The people of Berea listened with enthusiasm and an open mind, but then they searched the Scriptures to make sure that the Word of God supported what Paul said.
One of the things that really stands out about watching Paul and the other apostles throughout the book of Acts is to see how intentional they were about establishing a community in which people could hear the word of God taught and preached, but they were also able to interact with it by asking questions, cross-referencing Scriptures, and learning how to apply it to their everyday lives. Discipleship is an intentional process; it’s a lifestyle which involves seeking the Holy Spirit for guidance and His teaching, as well as intentionally positioning ourselves under the leadership and influence of those we can learn from.
We all need a good network of teachers we can learn from and people we can go to who will take the time to talk through and explain the things of God to us. Who are your go-to people when you have questions or get stuck? Could that circle of influence grow? Notice that none of what we’ve seen take place so far in the book of Acts has been done by one person, working solo. Who would you like to learn from and what intentional steps can you take to surround yourself with others who can help you grow in your walk with God?