The missionary team preaches in Thessalonica. After a riot, they flee to Berea and preach. Paul goes to Athens, and preaches in the Areopagus. [UPDATED]
VERSE 1. Now when they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where there was a Jewish synagogue.
there was a Jewish synagogue. When Paul arrives in a new city, he goes to the synagogue. He tries to convert the Jewish people to faith in Jesus Christ.
VERSE 2. Paul, as was his custom, went in to them, and for three Sabbath days reasoned with them from the Scriptures,
as was his custom. Paul had the custom of going to the synagogue each week. The does not mandate that all believers attend the Synagogue every week.
VERSE 3. explaining and demonstrating that the Christ had to suffer and rise again from the dead, and saying, “This Jesus, whom I proclaim to you, is the Christ.”
This Jesus … is the Christ. They probably understood Paul’s words to mean: “This Jesus, whom I proclaim to you, is the military Messiah.”
They had expected a military Messiah would rise and overthrow the evil Roman empire and make Israel free. However, that did not happen.
Therefore, they would have concluded, “This Jesus, whom Paul proclaim to us, is NOT the military Messiah.”
VERSE 4. Some of them were persuaded, and joined Paul and Silas, of the devout Greeks a great multitude, and not a few of the chief women.
Some of them were persuaded. A FEW of them were able to grasp what Paul was preaching.
of the devout Greeks a great multitude. These were Gentiles who converted to Judaism. They would not have had the Jewish cultural expectation of a military Messiah. Thus they were able to grasp Paul’s message.
VERSE 5. But the unpersuaded Jews took along some wicked men from the marketplace, and gathering a crowd, set the city in an uproar. Assaulting the house of Jason, they sought to bring them out to the people.
Assaulting the house of Jason. These people resort to a violent assault. In the name of God.
How ironic is that?
Yet Christian history is littered with similar events. We Christians have inflicted unspeakable violence on other people. In the name of God.
VERSE 6. When they didn’t find them, they dragged Jason and certain brothers before the rulers of the city, crying, “These who have turned the world upside down have come here also,
These who have turned the world upside down. The evangelism by Christians was having a major effect. It was changing the world!
In our day, many of us resist even the tiniest of ministry effort. Once finally persuaded, we give it a trivial effort, and settle for the most mundane of results. Afterwards, we congratulate ourselves for our heroic effort.
However, we are NOT turning the world upside-down!
VERSE 7. whom Jason has received. These all act contrary to the decrees of Caesar, saying that there is another king, Jesus!”
VERSE 8. The multitude and the rulers of the city were troubled when they heard these things.
VERSE 9. When they had taken security from Jason and the rest, they let them go.
VERSE 10. The brothers immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Beroea. When they arrived, they went into the Jewish synagogue.
sent Paul and Silas away by night. The brothers did this to save the lives of Paul and Silas.
The brothers probably expected Paul and Silas to go into hiding and to not speak of Jesus Christ. However, that is NOT what they did:
they went into the Jewish synagogue. The first thing they did was to go into the local synagogue and try to convert the Jewish people to faith in Jesus Christ.
VERSE 11. Now these were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so.
NIV translation: Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.
they received the word with all readiness of mind. The Bereans received the message eagerly.
Are you eager to receive great preaching?
examining the Scriptures daily. The Bereans examined the Scriptures each daily.
Do you explore the Scriptures each day?
to see whether these things were so. The Bereans did not simply accept whatever was preached. Rather, they investigated everything by exploring the Scriptures themselves.
Do you fact-check your pastor’s preaching?
Proverbs 23:12. Apply your heart to instruction, and your ears to the words of knowledge.
Isaiah 29:12. and the book is delivered to one who is not educated, saying, “Read this, please;” and he says, “I can’t read.”
VERSE 12. Many of them therefore believed; also of the prominent Greek women, and not a few men.
VERSE 13. But when the Jews of Thessalonica had knowledge that the word of God was proclaimed by Paul at Beroea also, they came there likewise, agitating the multitudes.
VERSE 14. Then the brothers immediately sent out Paul to go as far as to the sea, and Silas and Timothy still stayed there.
VERSE 15. But those who escorted Paul brought him as far as Athens. Receiving a commandment to Silas and Timothy that they should come to him very quickly, they departed.
VERSE 16. Now while Paul waited for them at Athens, his spirit was provoked within him as he saw the city full of idols.
his spirit was provoked within him. Paul was inspired to speak.
Some Christians say Paul was angry that the people were idol-worshippers, and that he let his anger propel him to speak.
However, Paul did not have a volatile temper. He could understand the consequences of his actions. He did not speak from anger.
VERSE 17. So he reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and the devout persons, and in the marketplace every day with those who met him.
he reasoned. Paul’s pattern is to reason with people, not rebuke them.
VERSE 18. Some of the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers also were conversing with him. Some said, “What does this babbler want to say?” Others said, “He seems to be advocating foreign deities,” because he preached Jesus and the resurrection.
babbler. The Greek word is σπερμολόγος (“spermologos”). It means a babbler, gossiper, one who picks up seeds and trifles as does a bird.
What does this babbler want to say? They did not have a good impression of Paul. Here is how some other translations render this phrase:
- “What does this collector of words want?” (Aramaic Bible in Plain English)
- “What would this chatterer say?” (Darby Bible Translation)
- “What is this pseudo-intellectual trying to say?” (Holman Christian Standard Bible)
- “What is this blabbermouth trying to say?” (International Standard Version)
- “What has this beggarly babbler to say?” (Weymouth New Testament)
- “What would this seed picker wish to say?” (Young’s Literal Translation)
VERSE 19. They took hold of him and brought him to the Areopagus, saying, “May we know what this new teaching is, which you are speaking about?
May we know what this new teaching is. They actually want to know what Paul is talking about.
VERSE 20. For you bring certain strange things to our ears. We want to know therefore what these things mean.”
VERSE 21. Now all the Athenians and the strangers living there spent their time in nothing else, but either to tell or to hear some new thing.
This passage is a splendid example of the Christian ministry of Apologetics. It is to have kindly discussions with someone who disagrees with a Christian worldview. It is not about arguing or fighting or winning.
VERSE 22. Paul stood in the middle of the Areopagus, and said, “You men of Athens, I perceive that you are very religious in all things.
VERSE 23. For as I passed along and observed the objects of your worship, I also found an altar with this inscription: ‘TO AN UNKNOWN GOD.’ What therefore you worship in ignorance, I announce to you.
VERSE 24. The God who made the world and all things in it, he, being Lord of heaven and earth, doesn’t dwell in temples made with hands.
VERSE 25. He isn’t served by men’s hands, as though he needed anything, seeing he himself gives to all life and breath, and all things.
VERSE 26. He made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the surface of the earth, having determined appointed seasons, and the boundaries of their dwellings,
VERSE 27. that they should seek the Lord, if perhaps they might reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us.
VERSE 28. ‘For in him we live, move, and have our being.’ As some of your own poets have said, ‘For we are also his offspring.’
VERSE 29. Being then the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold, or silver, or stone, engraved by art and design of man.
VERSE 30. The times of ignorance therefore God overlooked. But now he commands that all people everywhere should repent,
VERSE 31. because he has appointed a day in which he will judge the world in righteousness by the man whom he has ordained; of which he has given assurance to all men, in that he has raised him from the dead.”
VERSE 32. Now when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked; but others said, “We want to hear you again concerning this.”
VERSE 33. Thus Paul went out from among them.
VERSE 34. But certain men joined with him and believed, among whom also was Dionysius the Areopagite, and a woman named Damaris, and others with them.
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