In Acts 17, Paul and his companions passed through Thessalonica and visited the synagogue there on three Sabbath days. Paul taught from the Scriptures, reasoning and proving that the Messiah was Jesus and he had to suffer and rise from the dead. Some of the Jews joined Paul and Silas, along with some Greeks and a few prominent women. Other Jews became upset and formed a mob and started a riot. They rushed Jason’s house, searching for Paul and Silas. When they didn’t find them, they took Jason and some of the other believers before the city officials, because they had welcomed Paul and Silas. They accused them of defying Caesar’s decrees. Jason and the others were forced to post bond and were set free.
As soon as night fell, the believers sent Paul and Silas to Berea. When they arrived in Berea, they went to the Jewish synagogue. The Jews in Berea received the message eagerly and examined Scripture for themselves to see if Paul was teaching the Truth. Verse 12 says, “As a result, many of them believed, as did also a number of prominent Greek women and many Greek men.” Isn’t it funny how trouble follows us? The Jews of Thessalonica found out that Paul was preaching the Word of God in Berea, went there, and stirred up more trouble. When this happened the believers sent Paul to the coast and from there, he went to Athens. Timothy and Silas were given instructions to joined him, as soon as possible. I pray that we can support men of God, even when society and the law go against them. I pray we can be people of God and continue to minister, even though society and even new laws say we can’t. We have to remember that we are to follow the laws of the land, until they go against the teaching of God.
While waiting in Athens, Paul became distressed to see the city full of idols. Do you become physically distressed when we see those around us worshipping idols? What do you recognize as those idols? We should feel uncomfortable and unsettled when other things are put in a position higher than God. Paul began reasoning with the Jews and God-fearing Greeks in the synagogue. He also went into the marketplace and spoke to those who where there. How often do you go into the marketplace and share the Gospel? I pray we can take every opportunity to share the Message of Christ, no matter where we may be. Some philosophers began to debate Paul and took him to a meeting of the Areopagus (a council of philosophers and religious leaders). Some asked him about the strange deities (NASV). They were confused because Paul was preaching about Jesus and the resurrection (Anastasis). They thought he was preaching about two different gods. They were hearing strange ideas and wanted to know what he meant. Paul stood and pointed out to them that they were a very religious people, even worshipping and unknown god. Paul went on to tell them about the God of Creation, who created the world and everything in it. He told them that God does not live in temples made with human hands and is not served by human hands. God needs nothing, for it is God who gives life and breath and everything else. He explained how God made all nations from one man and marked out their appointed times in history, and the reason God did this was that people would seek him, reach out for him, and find him, because He isn’t so far that He can’t be found. Verse 28 says, “For in him we live and move and have our being. As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’”
Verses 29-31 says that for those who are God’s offspring, we should not think of God as any image made by humans. God commands people to repent. God has set a day when he will judge the world through Christ, who He has raised from the dead. These words ring true for those of us who are believers. We must have repentance.
When the Areopagus heard this, some sneered, but others were interested to know more. Paul left the Council. Some believed. I pray that we can speak God’s Word clearly enough for others to understand. I pray that we can accept when some sneer, but know that if even one soul comes to faith in Christ, it is worth the sneers.