Acts 17: 10-21

Written by kathleen on Oct 18, 2015 in - No Comments

Acts 17: 10-21

A cure for itching ears

 9 So when they had taken security from Jason and the rest, they let them go.

Evidently, the Jews made a deal with Jason, saying, “If Paul and Silas get out of here and don’t come back, we won’t press charges. Send them out, Jason, and give us money as security.” So Jason complied in order that Paul and Silas could go free.

10 Then the brethren immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea. When they arrived, they went into the synagogue of the Jews.

Paul and Silas left Thessalonica quickly not wanting to bring more persecution on the Christians there or to jeopardize Jason’s security deposit; but they just keep going for it and head for the Jewish synagogue.

Remember Thessalonica was main highway and the center of a lot of traffic. And now they find themselves in Berea which was a small town off the main road known as “a place of many waters” because it located near natural springs.

11 These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so.

(Often in religious discussions, people simply believe what others have told them and have never done their own homework on their belief!)

The Bereans listened to Paul as he taught in the synagogue. Every day, they searched the Scriptures, saying, “Let’s check out the teaching Paul’s giving. Let’s consider what he’s saying as it relates to the Scriptures.”

And because the Bereans searched the Scriptures daily, they have been noted throughout the ages as being noble. It wasn’t a one time, quick look. They made it a point of diligent, extended study

The Bereans were taught by the most famous apostle and theologian of the early church, and the human author of at least 13 New Testament books. Yet, they searched the Scriptures when Paul taught, to see if his teaching was truly Biblical!

They would not accept Paul’s word at face value, but wanted to know if these things were so. When they heard Paul teach, their reaction wasn’t “wow he’s a fine speaker.”

It wasn’t “I don’t like the way he talks.” It wasn’t “What a funny preacher!” Instead, the Bereans wanted to know, “Are these things . . . so? Is this man teaching us the truth? Let’s search the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things are true.”

They believed they could understand and find out truth from the Bible for them, the Bible was not just a pretty book of poetry or mystery or nice spiritual inspiration for thoughts-for-the-day. It was a book of truth, and that truth was there to be found out.

12 Therefore many of them believed, and also not a few of the Greeks, prominent women as well as men.

The power is in the Word—it’s not “What do you think?” or “What do I think?” but “What does God say?”

How many problems would be solved, how many questions would be answered if people would only take the time to study the Scriptures daily.

Faith comes not by encounter sessions or group therapy, but by hearing the Word of God (Romans 10:17).

Faith comes to those who are in the Word, for only the Word can affect lives, change hearts, strengthen faith, and renew minds.

But with all their diligent searching and concern for the truth, the Bereans did not become skeptics. They received the word with all readiness. When Paul preached, they had open hearts, and clear heads.

Many people have clear heads, but closed hearts, and never receive the word with all readiness. It was both of these things that made the Bereans more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica.

We should be more fair-minded than the Bereans. We should receive the word with all readiness, with open hearts. But we must also have clear heads, and when we hear a preacher or teacher, we should be those who search the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things that they are saying are so.

If the apostle Paul was worthy of this kind of close examination, how much more should teachers and preachers today be carefully compared with the Scriptures!

Paul had nothing to fear by the diligent searching of the Scriptures by the Bereans. If they were really seeking God and His Word, they would find out that what Paul was preaching was true. This is exactly what happened among the Bereans, and therefore many of them believed.

13 But when the Jews from Thessalonica learned that the word of God was preached by Paul at Berea, they came there also and stirred up the crowds.

The Jews from Thessalonica were not satisfied to force Paul out of their own city. They even followed Paul to Berea to disrupt his work there also and by stirring up the crowds against Paul, just as had been done before in Pisidian Antioch (Acts 13:45, 50), Iconium (Acts 14:2, 5), and Lystra (Acts 14:19) on the first missionary journey, and in Thessalonica (Acts 17:5-8) on the second missionary journey. This is now the fifth city Paul has been run out of by an angry mob, being stirred up by envious Jewish leaders.

14 Then immediately the brethren sent Paul away, to go to the sea; but both Silas and Timothy remained there.

The Bereans said. “Time to go, Paul,” “We’ve heard the Word and understand it. Now, since the Jews are out to get you again, you’d better keep moving.”

So the Christians in Berea sent Paul away to Athens, fearing for his life and a total disruption of the work going on there. But both Silas and Timothy remained there, because Paul wanted to leave them behind to take care of new Christians in Berea.

Paul had a passion for planting churches, not just making converts. If Paul could not stay in the city and strengthen the Christians there, he wanted his associates to stay and do the job.

15 So those who conducted Paul brought him to Athens; and receiving a command for Silas and Timothy to come to him with all speed, they departed.

Paul left Berea and headed for the next city, the city of Athens—the intellectual capital of all of history, the city of Aristotle, of Plato, of Socrates.

The Athenian architecture alone was overwhelming. To this day, the Parthenon is considered the most architecturally sophisticated building in history. To allow for optical illusion, it was constructed in such a way that the roof lines are concave and the columns lean inward so that the structure looks perfectly straight when viewed from any direction at any distance.

16 Now while Paul waited for them at Athens, his spirit was provoked within him when he saw that the city was given over to idols.

17 Therefore he reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and with the Gentile worshipers, and in the marketplace daily with those who happened to be there.

The sense is that Paul would have preferred to wait until Timothy and Silas came from Berea before he began ministry in Athens.

Paul faced a challenging audience in Athens; it was an intellectual

center, cultured, educated city that was proud of its history

Athens was the city of idols.  It is said that they had more idols than people in Athens. They were a Pantheistic people, and so they had deified practically everything!  There were over three thousand altars and temples built to different deities.

They had the gods of war, the gods of peace, the gods of anger, the gods of love, the gods of hate.  There was the temple dedicated to Aphrodite with temple prostitutes which was man’s attempt to justify sexual freedom.

The Temple of Zeus was for those with a “Clint Eastwood Make My Day Mentality” who were into being uncivilized.

The Temple of Bacchus was for those who enjoyed alcohol. They had gods for everything.  Every emotion and desire that a person has.

The idea behind given over to idols is really under idols, or swamped by idols.

Paul saw the beauty of Athens, having the best that Greek sculptors and architects could offer.  But all that beauty did not honor God so it did not impress him at all therefore Paul talked daily in the church and on the street concerning the idolatry that gripped the city.

18 Then certain Epicurean and Stoic philosophers encountered him. And some said, “What does this babbler want to say?”

Others said, “He seems to be a proclaimer of foreign gods,” because he preached to them Jesus and the resurrection.

The Epicureans had an interesting philosophy.  They were the philosophers who said, “Eat, drink, and be merry. Tomorrow we die, so satisfy yourself sensually. Live the good life. Relax. Take it easy.”

They believed that everything happened by chance.  No design.  They believed that death ended it all.  It’s all over when you die.

They believed that there were gods, but that the gods were remote from this world and really didn’t care about the world at all.

So they believed that pleasure was the chief end of man

They pursued pleasure as the chief purpose in life, and valued most of all the pleasure of a peaceful life, free from pain, disturbing passions and superstitious fears and so they measured every experience by the amount of pleasure that it brought.

The Stoics were pantheists that believed that everything was god and who put great emphasis on moral sincerity and a high sense of duty therefore they cultivated a spirit of pride.

Their god was a fiery spirit that was in everything.  And it’s what gave man life and it gave life to everything.

They believed that you couldn’t change what was to be; everything was predetermined because everything was of god and god was in everything.

So they believed that all things, good or evil, were from god and so nothing should be resisted, and there was no particular direction or destiny for mankind.

So the Epicureans and Stoics now get involved and join forces against Paul . Epicureans were couch potatoes.

The Stoics, on the other hand, were aerobics instructors. “Be disciplined,” they said. “Free yourself from anything that is emotional, sensual, or material.” “Enjoy life.”

The Stoic said, “Endure life” and neither considered eternal life or believed in eternal life.

Todays society is made up of a high percentage of these two catagories of people and like these in Athens they don’t consider eternal life and don’t know or want to know about Jesus the Savior!

Therefore, Paul’s talked about the resurrection and captured the attention of both.

19 And they took him and brought him to the Areopagus, saying, “May we know what this new doctrine is of which you speak? 20 For you are bringing some strange things to our ears. Therefore we want to know what these things mean.” 21 For all the Athenians and the foreigners who were there spent their time in nothing else but either to tell or to hear some new thing.

The Areopagus—Mars Hill—was three hundred and thirty-seven feet in elevation and located in the center of Athens where you have a great view of the marketplace down below with the large temples on either end of the marketplace; Just above you the Parthenon and the temple of Athenia

And so in the midst of all of these idols, statues, and temples looking down and seeing the city with the many altars It was the place where philosophers hung out and where the council of education and religion met daily. Whenever a new religious thought was presented, it had to clear the council of education and religion.

I find it fascinating that the Athenians—the smartest men in history from the world’s perspective said, “Religion and education are inseparable.” Just the opposite from our “smart men” of today

These ancient Greeks lusted after the latest & greatest; and continually analyzed discussed new things just like we today

So if you’re searching for some new book, or teaching or experience that will suddenly unlock the mystery of spirituality, you’re on a wild chase to no where!

You see if it’s true it’s not new.     And if it’s new, it’s not true.

What the Athenians needed, and what saints of today need, is not some novel truth or new understanding.

We need a return to the old truths that have been with us from the beginning!

It seems that the day of Bible study has long since come and gone, It has been said that only 3 percent of evangelical, fundamental churches in America have midweek Bible studies.

As sad as this is, it should come as no surprise, for Paul told Timothy that in the end times, people would not have a desire for sound doctrine but will heap up unto themselves teachers who will tickle their ears with some strange doctrine

2 Tim 4:3-5 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; 4 and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables.

Once people leave the word of God, they start embracing the most fantastic of fantasies.

When a man rejects God’s truth, it isn’t that he believes in nothing: rather he will believe anything.

How about this: our destiny, when we die, is to make it through a series of heavens and after-lifes, until one day we become god over our own planet, and living on a planet named Kolob.

And when we are gods over our own planets, we spend the rest of eternity having celestial relations with a harem of goddess wives, producing spirit babies to populate the earth we are god over.  Joseph Smith and the Mormons have turned aside to fables!

Or how about this: There is no God who created everything; instead, everything just came about by chance.

(From a sidebar to a science article in the Los Angeles Times, titled “The Big Bang and What Followed It”)

These people say; In the beginning, there was light but also quarks and electrons?  (Besides the question where they came from what are quarks?)

Quarks (physics) any of a set of six hypothetical elementary particles together with their antiparticles thought to be fundamental units of all baryons and mesons but unable to exist in isolation. The magnitude of their charge is either two thirds or one third of that of the electron

So then The Big Bang spewed out energy that condensed into radiation and particles. The quarks joined into protons and spun around in a hot, dense, glowing gas as opaque as a star.

Then time (300,000 years or so) passed. Space expanded. Matter cooled. The electrons and protons, electrically irresistible to each other, merged into neutral hydrogen, and from this, the first atoms were born. Space between atoms became as transparent as crystal – pretty much the way it looks today.

The rest, as they say, is history. Atoms merged to form dust clouds, which grew into stars and galaxies and clusters. Stars used up their nuclear fuel, collapsed and exploded in recurring cycles, fusing elements in the process.

Occasionally, a stable planet condensed around a second-generation star, where carbon-based life forms grew into, among other things.

Those who believe something can come from nothing, that chance has some power to create, have turned aside to fables!

What fables have you bought into? Into the fable that you must earn your way before God? The fable that God only loves you when you are good?

The fable that you should walk around thinking of yourself as better than others because you are a Christian?  (Grace?)

Mic 6:8 He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. NIV

The understanding of God’s word will free us from all these fables!

“Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

John 14:6  Jesus says, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.