Acts 17: 1-9

Written by kathleen on Oct 11, 2015 in - No Comments

Acts 17: 1-9

There is a better plan

Paul has begun a missionary outreach in Europe. By divine calling of God through a vision, he has come to Philippi where he began his European mission.  He left Philippi under strained circumstances and went to Thessolonica.  Thessalonica as a city was named in 315 B.C. after the half-sister of Alexander the Great and served as the capital of Macedonia (northern Greece) after 146 B.C. Along with Corinth, it was one of the two most important commercial centers in Greece. In leaving a pocket of believers there, he later wrote one of his epistles to them.

( 1st & 2nd Thessalonians)

Amphipolis was thirty-three miles from Phillipi.  Apollonia was another thirty miles from Amphipolis.  And another thirty-seven miles beyond that was another major city known as Thessalonica and it was on the main Roman highway.

Paul liked to come to the cultural centers and the centers of commerce because there were so many people coming and going, it gave opportunity for a more rapid spread of the gospel and generally there was a synagogue of the Jews somewhere in the city.

After their miraculous release from a Philippian prison by way of an earthquake, Paul and Silvanus—or Silas—hit the road again;

1 Now when they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where there was a synagogue of the Jews.

2 Then Paul, as his custom was, went in to them, and for three Sabbaths reasoned with them from the Scriptures,

Paul had as a custom, when he would come to a new city, to take the gospel to the Jews first and then from there to the Gentiles.  So he would always go to the synagogues to begin his ministry in an area.

When Paul walked into a synagogue, it was obvious by the way he carried himself and by his style of speech that he was a learned scholar, a rabbi.

As was the custom in those days, the ruler of the synagogue would turn part of the meeting over to a visiting rabbi of Paul’s stature.

So Paul would begin by:

3 explaining and demonstrating that the Christ had to suffer and rise again from the dead, and saying, “This Jesus whom I preach to you is the Christ.”

Paul showed them from their own Hebrew Scriptures (Our Bible – O.T.) how that it was declared that the Messiah would suffer and rise from the dead.

He no doubt shared with them, Isaiah 53, Psalm 22, and Psalm 16, where the promise of the Father was, You will not leave My soul in hell neither will You allow the Holy One to see corruption; and how this Jesus whom he was sharing with them is the Messiah.

He would then spend as much time as needed reasoning with whoever would listen telling them not only because the scriptures say so but that the gospel of Jesus Christ is a very reasonable thing, & Salvation is a very reasonable offer that God has also made to us!

It makes sense to commit your life to God.  Paul said in Romans 12:1  I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.  He said this because It makes sense!

God has a much better plan for your life than anything you could come up with for yourselfTherefore: It makes sense to commit your life, and to present your body unto God as a living sacrifice.

The gospel is so reasonable; it makes the rejection of the gospel unreasonable.

The only thing that you can attribute to the fact that some people reject the gospel is that Satan has so deceived them and blinded their eyes and is holding them captive so that they cannot make informed rational decisions about their lives.

And it is interesting how unreasonable is the stance that people take who reject the gospel of Jesus Christ; especially when you look at the things they believe!

At that point you really know that there is something wrong and they are not using the full capacities of their mental abilities.

Paul writing to the Thessalonians a little later in his ministry talks about how that because they did not have the love of the truth in their hearts that they believed the lie rather than the truth.  Therefore those who reject the truth; and do not respond to the truth; the Bible says that they are deluded!

When they heard this truth of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus

4 And some of them were persuaded; and a great multitude of the devout Greeks, and not a few of the leading women, joined Paul and Silas.

In response, some of them were persuaded; most of them were devout Greeks, but also many prominent Jewish women not just a few of the leading women.

Just a note to what’s happening here; When Paul was in Thessalonica, he received financial support from the Christians in Philippi (Philippians 4:15-16). They helped with this successful work among the Thessalonians.

As seen here in the ministry of Paul, the key to opening the Scriptures is always to look for, talk about, and focus on the Person of Jesus Christ

Whether you’re sharing with children, talking to a neighbor, or teaching a Bible study; the key to opening a person’s hearts is to look not for principles of parenting, deals for dating, or methods for marriage; but for Jesus.

Our faith is not in a philosophy, or in principles, but in a Person.  Therefore when we talk about Jesus & Look for Jesus we will find that He is the key to opening Scripture and changing hearts & lives!

5 But the Jews who were not persuaded, becoming envious, took some of the evil men from the marketplace, and gathering a mob, set all the city in an uproar and attacked the house of Jason, and sought to bring them out to the people.  6 But when they did not find them, they dragged Jason and some brethren to the rulers of the city, crying out, “These who have turned the world upside down have come here too.

These men were the kind that hung out on the street corners; sort of a gang and they knew how to start problems and create a mob mentality.

The accusation was almost right! They weren’t turning the world upside down.  They were turning the world right side up!

 Jesus did not come only to be Savior and Teacher, but to turn our world right side up!

The powerful of this world are at the top of the power pyramid and look down on the weak and insignificant; but Jesus comes and turns that pyramid upside down and says, “If you want to come to Me, you have to come like a little child.”

 1 Cor 1:27– But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; and so God has turned the world’s power-pyramid upside down

Jesus gave a great example of this upside-down thinking when He spoke of a rich man who had gained great wealth, and all he could think about was building bigger barns to store all his wealth.

Today we would make the man a political leader and recognize him as something special; Jesus turned it all upside down and called the man a fool, because he had done nothing to get his life right with God.

When you and your thinking are upside-down, the other direction concerning Jesus appears to be upside-down!

And in the context of this story that type of thinking would be one of those perusing and accusing Paul & Silas

 7 Jason has harbored them, and these are all acting contrary to the decrees of Caesar, saying there is another king — Jesus.”

8 And they troubled the crowd and the rulers of the city when they heard these things. 9 So when they had taken security from Jason and the rest, they let them go.

Jason was a Christian in Thessalonica whose house seems to have been a center for the church.

In that time citizens to Rome were required to say, Caesar is lord or the government rules with the idea of the government is lord over our lives.

The problems would start when Christians would refuse to say the Caesar is lord.  They would say that Jesus is Lord!  And this was the thing that became the testing in those days of a Christian.

Consequently thousands and hundreds of thousands of Christians were executed by the Roman government because they were looked upon as insurrectionists against Rome for their refusal to say that Caesar is lord.

And when they were brought for execution, whether it was to be stretched on the rack, burned at the stake, or crucified, they would be given an opportunity to change their position.

When they were standing there ready to be killed, the executioner would say, say Caesar is lord.  And they could get out of the execution by just saying that Caesar is lord and if they did the charge would be dismissed.

But hundreds of thousands of them refused to acknowledge the lordship of Caesar and went to the crosses, burned at the stake, stretched on the racks, beheaded or one of many horrible deaths!

(Foxe’s Book of Martyrs is a must read to find the courage and the commitment of the early church.  The book Jesus Freaks brings you into more modern day martyrs. When you read them you will say; I wonder if I am even a Christian! )

Here in chapter seventeen is a very brief account of Paul’s ministry in Thessalonica, but in that brief time that he was there, there was a strong church established.  (It would be beneficial to you to read Paul’s epistles to the Thessalonians in conjunction with the seventeenth chapter. It will help you to understand what was accomplished in this very short time of ministry there.)

Paul’s letter to the church that was established here in Acts seventeen was wrote to them when he had arrived in Corinth.

It was somewhere around four to six years after he had left them.

In 1Thes. 1:2 he gives this little personal note to the Thessalonians.  2 We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers, 3 remembering without ceasing your work of faith, labor of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ in the sight of our God and Father,

Paul is recognizing a mature healthy growing church that God has established. Today a mature Church (Mature Christian) will possess the same three characteristics Paul saw in the Thessalonians church.

First, a mature church/person demonstrates the work of faith.

John 6 the disciples asked. “Master, what must we do to do the works of God?” Jesus answered, “This is the work of God,” “that you believe on Him whom the Father has sent.”

When a church /person says, “We believe in Jesus Christ and are amazed at what He did on the Cross,” that is a work of faith.

Second, a mature church (Christian) labors in love. This is only logical, because whenever a person / church begins to comprehend how much God has done for them you can’t help but love others & get involved in ministry.

During his visit to the Boys’ Town orphanage in the 1940s, a reporter for Life magazine observed a ten-year-old boy carrying a much older boy on his back.

“Isn’t he heavy?” asked the reporter.

“He ain’t heavy,” replied the younger boy. “He’s my brother”—which birthed the song that would later be written about this true story.

It’s not a burdensome obligation, but a labor of love that says, “God’s been so good to me that I can’t help but carry someone else.”

Third, a mature church (Christian) patiently hopes for the return of the Lord.

In John 13:13.The night before Jesus’ crucifixion, and after telling His disciples He would be betrayed, Jesus arose from the supper, girded Himself with a towel, and began to wash their feet.

There are many suggestions why He did this but one thing the Bible says that is very clear it was because He knew from where He came and where He was going.

For us today Knowing that we have been born again by faith in Jesus’ sacrifice and resurrection and Knowing that we’re going to heaven is the main ingredient in our growth to maturity in Christ

Heaven alone is not just a promise or a hope; it also allows us to see the big picture. Knowing the big picture about God’s plan for your life and the hope of heaven puts everything about life in perspective.

1 Cor 2:12-16 And God has actually given us his Spirit (not the world’s spirit) to tell us about the wonderful free gifts of grace and blessing that God has given us.

But the man who isn’t a Christian can’t understand and can’t accept these thoughts from God, which the Holy Spirit teaches us.

Not only that; they sound foolish to him because only those who have the Holy Spirit within them can understand what the Holy Spirit means.

The non saved person just can’t get it! But the spiritual man has insight into everything, and that bothers and baffles the man of the world, who can’t understand him at all.

How could he? For he has never known the Lord’s thoughts, or to discuss them with him, or to move the hands of God by prayer.

But, strange as it seems, as Christians we actually do have within us a portion of the very thoughts and mind of Christ therefore receiving insight to life and godliness.