-As the team moves out from Philippi they go through Amphipolis and Apollonia (two good sized cities but apparently without a synagogue to connect the gospel with) coming into a city where there was a synagogue of the Jews, Thessalonica. As was the custom, Paul began with the Jews reasoning with them for several weeks of Sabbaths from the Scriptures concerning Jesus as Messiah preaching the suffering of Immanuel and His resurrection (Acts 17:1-3). *Application* This has always been how God has worked. He begins with His people in His plan for salvation. The Old Testament focuses primarily on the Hebrew people, who were chosen as His instruments for bringing Jesus the Savior into the world. Jesus was primarily concerned for “the lost sheep of Israel” in His earthly ministry (Matthew 15:24). Even the church begins with the Jewish people in the proclamation of the gospel. So, salvation and its message begins with the Jews and extends outward to all the nations (Luke 24:47). We need to thank God for His willingness to include all of us in His plan for redemption and His impartiality (Deuteronomy 10:17, Acts 10:34, Romans 2:11, Galatians 2:6, Ephesians 6:9).
-Once again we see the conflict that the message of Christ brings eventually with those being confronted with the truth of God. Jealousy springs forth from the unbelieving Jews and a mob scene ensues in an attack on the house of Jason who had welcomed the disciples. The famous quote is mentioned here, “These men who have upset the world (inhabited earth) have come here also (Acts 17:4-9).” *Application* May we have the courage, boldness, and tenacity to “upset” our world with the message of Christ Jesus. In other places of Scripture, we see why this message was not accepted right away. The cross was the barrier along with unbelief. To the Jews the Messiah would perform signs and wonders and leave no doubt about His Kingdom. Jesus became a stumbling block for them because they could not see the humility of their Messiah. To the Greeks this criminal that was hanged on a cross showed no wisdom and power that they were accustomed to seeing in their saviors. For more read 1 Corinthians 1:18-31.
-The brethren immediately sent Paul and Silas out of Thessalonica to Berea, where there was another synagogue of the Jews. “Now these were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so (Acts 17:10-12).” Actual reading of God’s word and letting the Spirit of God move how He wanted is what led many to believe here in Berea. *Application* How eager are we to get into God’s Word and examine the Scriptures daily to find His truth? God’s Word is the power tool for transformation in one’s life.
-Trouble comes from the raging Jews coming over from Thessalonica pretty quickly, and Paul departs for Athens, the great city of Greece, which was full of idols. As Paul was waiting for Silas and Timothy to arrive he observed the city of great prominence and prestige in regard to philosophical debate with many vain idols. He was reasoning with the Jews and the God-fearing Gentiles in the synagogue and the market place every day. Eventually Paul is given an open door to speak in the Areopagus about the salvation message of Christ Jesus. This he does in brilliant fashion as we get perhaps the best biblical glimpse of his artistry and form for presenting the good news. He connects with his crowd by observation of their worldview and quoting their own poets. He preached repentance and judgment and the righteousness of Christ to save furnishing proof through the resurrection from the dead. Some rejected the message and mocked, but some believed and wanted to hear more from this stranger (Acts 17:13-34). *Application* Here is the best biblical example of assimilation into a culture for the missionary purpose. If we are to evangelize an area, any area home or foreign, we must be observant and relevant to the culture we are engaging. Otherwise, our message will have no impact. Notice too that Paul does not compromise the gospel in any form or fashion. He speaks the truth boldly with no concession. This is how the message of Christ goes forward into the darkness of lost people.
Verses to Memorize: Acts 17:11, 30-31