Acts, Chapter 17
© Copyright 2007 Darroll Evans, all rights reserved
1 Now when they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where was a synagogue of the Jews:
2 And Paul, as his manner was, went in unto them, and three sabbath days reasoned with them out of the scriptures,
3 Opening and alleging, that Christ must needs have suffered, and risen again from the dead; and that this Jesus, whom I preach unto you, is Christ.
4 And some of them believed, and consorted with Paul and Silas; and of the devout Greeks a great multitude, and of the chief women not a few.
They went through the cities of Amphipolis and Apollonia, and finally came to Thessalonica. There, there was a synagogue. It had an active Jewish community. As was his manner, Paul, went to the Synagogue. For “three Sabbaths,” three weeks, Paul discussed the Scriptures with them.
We must never loose sight of the fact that Paul was an expert in interpreting the Scriptures from a Jewish point of view. We might say that Paul knew where the bodies were buried. He knew what the Orthodox Jews would say, and he was led by the Holy Spirit to counter each and every debate point they attempted to make.
He pointed out the Scriptures that taught that Christ, the Messiah must suffer, and rise again from the dead. He taught that Jesus, fulfilled each and every point of reference to the “suffering Messiah” (haMesshiach ben Yoseph). And, Paul boldly preached Christ to them.
Some believed, and joined in with Paul and Silas. In fact, it was a large group of the devout Gentile converts to Judaism along with many of the female leaders of that Synagogue.
In those days the men and
women were separated within the Synagogues as they are still separated at the
Wailing Wall in
5 But the Jews which believed not, moved with envy, took unto them certain lewd fellows of the baser sort, and gathered a company, and set all the city on an uproar, and assaulted the house of Jason, and sought to bring them out to the people.
6 And when they found them not, they drew Jason and certain brethren unto the rulers of the city, crying, These that have turned the world upside down are come hither also;
7 Whom Jason hath received: and these all do contrary to the decrees of Caesar, saying that there is another king, one Jesus.
8 And they troubled the people and the rulers of the city, when they heard these things.
9 And when they had taken security of Jason, and of the other, they let them go.
However, the Jews that did not believe were jealous. They employed some really ill natured men to cause an upheaval in the city.
Many times, we think of the Jews of that day as being calm, cool and collected in their behavior. That is simply not true. They could be rude, underhanded, scheming, manipulative, backbiting pains to society.
The men that were employed attacked Jason’s home. They attempted to drag both he and his family out of their home.
When they found that a frontal attack was not succeeding, they complained to the city fathers. The complaint was, “These men that have turned the world upside down have come here. And, Jason has accepted them. They do things contrary to the decrees of Caesar by telling others that there is another king, that One they call Jesus.”
When they heard the accusations it caused a quandary among the people and city fathers. So, Jason was taken into custody.
10 And the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto
11 These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.
12 Therefore many of them believed; also of honourable women which were Greeks, and of men, not a few.
Immediately, the local
brothers-in-Christ sent Paul and Silas to
The Bible tells us that Jews
They were not afraid of the Word of God. Due to their private search of the Scriptures, many of them believed, as did many Greek converts, both men and women.
13 But when the Jews of Thessalonica had knowledge that the word of God was preached of Paul at
14 And then immediately the brethren sent away Paul to go as it were to the sea: but Silas and Timotheus abode there still.
However, when the Jews of
Thessalonica found out that the Word of God was being preached by Paul in
Paul was unequaled in his ability to debate Jews on their own turf. He was considered the leader of the supposed Christian rebellion against Judaism.
Paul is still a lightening rod today. Try preaching the Pauline Doctrine of grace without flavoring it with law in any Church today. Your message will be denied by what we assume to be the Church!
15 And they that conducted Paul brought him unto
16 Now while Paul waited for them at
17 Therefore disputed he in the synagogue with the Jews, and with the devout persons, and in the market daily with them that met with him.
18 Then certain philosophers of the Epicureans, and of the Stoicks, encountered him. And some said, What will this babbler say? other some, He seemeth to be a setter forth of strange gods: because he preached unto them Jesus, and the resurrection.
19 And they took him, and brought him unto Areopagus, saying, May we know what this new doctrine, whereof thou speakest, is?
20 For thou bringest certain strange things to our ears: we would know therefore what these things mean.
21 (For all the Athenians and strangers which were there spent their time in nothing else, but either to tell, or to hear some new thing.)
Next, Paul went to
He discussed the issue with many devout people in the local Synagogue, and in the market place. Such activity was socially acceptable at that time.
Of course, we today are too sophisticated for something such as idols! Aren’t we? No! We are just as vulnerable today.
It was there that Paul
encountered Epicureans and stoics. They were classical Greek philosophers who
When they encountered Paul, they asked, “What is this babbling buffoon saying?”
Others said, “He seems to be teaching some strange gods.” They said that because Paul preached Jesus, and the resurrection. They did not accept or understand either.
Mythological gods are still common. We worship money, political power, and personal accomplishment.
Go to any book store and count the number of psychological self-help books. Many Church services are just psychology sessions without couches.
As a consequence of the Athenian curiosity, they brought him to Areopagus (Mar’s Hill), and asked, “May we know what this new doctrine is? You brought strange things to us, and we want to know what they mean.”
Athenians spent their leisure time in what they considered to be “deep discussion” about mythology, and they were naturally curious about new things.
22 Then Paul stood in the midst of Mars' hill, and said, Ye men of
23 For as I passed by, and beheld your devotions, I found an altar with this inscription, TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you.
24 God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands;
25 Neither is worshipped with men's hands, as though he needed any thing, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things;
26 And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation;
27 That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us:
28 For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring.
29 Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man's device.
30 And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent:
31 Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead.
32 And when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked: and others said, We will hear thee again of this matter.
33 So Paul departed from among them.
34 Howbeit certain men clave unto him, and believed: among the which was Dionysius the Areopagite, and a woman named Damaris, and others with them.
When Paul addressed the
gathering at Mar’s Hill, he said, “You men of
“It is Him that I proclaim. God made the world everything in it! He is Lord of heaven and earth, and does not live in temples made with human hands. Neither is God worshipped with men's hands, as though He needed any thing. He gives to all life, and breath, and all things. And, from one blood has made all nations of men that inhabit the earth.
“God has established the times of ascendency and decline of all nations, and He has assigned the boundaries of the nations, so they may be seeking the Lord to find Him, although He is not far from each and every one of us. It is in Him that we live, and move, and have our being! One of your own poets has said, ‘For we are His offspring.’
“And, forasmuch as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like anything like gold, or silver, or stone, a graven image of art crafted by a man's contrivance. And during the times of ignorance God winked, but now has commanded all men everywhere to repent!
“He has appointed a specific day, in which He will judge the world in righteousness by means of that Man whom He ordained, and whereof He has given assurance to all men, in so much that He raised him from the dead.”
***Please read that sermon by Paul several times and study it in depth. Any complete commentary would take volumes.
Some mocked Paul when they heard the reference to resurrection, and others said, “We want to hear this teaching again.”
So, Paul left them. But, some among them stuck like clue to Paul and believed! Among them were Dionysius the Areopagite (a high ranking member of the court at Mar’s Hill), and a woman named Damaris, along with others.
You will notice that Paul did not teach or preach anything about the Doctrine of their unknown god! Instead, he used the concept of that unknown god to turn their attention to the True God and Savior, Christ Jesus! All who teach a false god are, themselves, false! False teachers may be good speakers, but their message of false, because their god is false!
Also notice that Paul did not invite any to repent! Like Christ Jesus, Paul commanded all men to repent!