Another day in and 11 days left in The Acts Challenge 2019! Have you been following along? You can find the links to all the last chapters in yesterday’s post, Acts Chapter 16.
Paul Reasons with the Jews
(Vs. 1) Now when they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where was a synagogue of the Jews:
(Vs. 2) And Paul, as his manner was, went in unto Jerusalem, and three sabbath days reasoned with them out of the scriptures,
(Vs. 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.
(Vs. 4) And some of them believed, and consorted with Paul and Silas; and of the devout Greek a great multitude, and of the chief women not a few.
Paul “as his manner was” (I love that, don’t you?) spent three weeks reasoning from the scriptures. One of the things that sticks out most to me is the fact that they only had the Old Testament available at this time. Yet he was preaching JESUS.
Yes, Jesus can easily be preached from the Old Testament. Since we’re not trying to explain three different “persons”, it’s a lot easier than most people think!
The Unbelieving Jews
(Vs. 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.
These unbelieving Jews chose to take the worst of society to get back at Paul and those with him. They were known as “lewd fellows of a baser sort” and they were used to set the city on an uproar.
Again, it’s funny how much of Acts so far sounds like our very own life and times in the here and now!
(Vs. 6) And when they found them not, they drew Jason and certain brethren unto the rulers of the city, crying, That these have turned the world upside down are come hither also;
(Vs. 7) Whom Jason hath received: and these all do contrary to the decrees of Caesar, saying that there is another king, on Jesus.
(Vs. 8) And they troubled the people and the rulers of the city, when they heard these things.
(Vs. 9) And when they had taken security of Jason, and of the other, they let them go.
They made it plain, they didn’t care for those who had “turned the world upside down”. They accused Jason of taking them in, harboring them, and going along with their teaching that there was some other king other than Ceasar.
***Side note: even now, the Chinese government, as I understand it from news stories, are going from home to home, forcing them to remove Christian symbolism to put up pictures of their country’s leader. Again… sounds familiar!
Paul and Silas Flee Again
(Vs. 10) And the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Berea: who coming thither went into the synagogue of the Jews.
(Vs. 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.
We find the new converts here, doing what we should all be doing. If we’re not searching the Scriptures to see if what here is “so” or not, then how will we know? This is God’s Word, and He cannot lie.
(Vs. 12) Therefore many of them believed; also of honourable women which were Greeks, and of men, not a few.
(Vs. 13) But when the Jews of Thessalonica had knowledge that the word of God was preached of Paul at Berea, they came thither also, and stirred up the people.
(Vs. 14) And then immediately the brethren sent away Paul to go as it were to the sea: but Silas and Timotheus abode there still.
Paul Goes to Athens
(Vs. 15) And they that conducted Paul brought him unto Athens: and receiving a commandment unto Silas and Timotheus for to come to him with all speed, they departed.
(Vs. 16) Now while Paul waited for them at Athens, his spirit was stirred in him, when he saw the city wholly given to idolatry.
(Vs. 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.
Paul saw the whole city given over to idolatry. And it grieved him. But instead of sitting back and watching from the sidelines, he went into not only the synagogues but also the markets, disputing the Gospel with anyone that met with him.
Some New Thing?
(Vs. 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.
(Vs. 19) And they took him, and brought him unto Areopagus, saying, May we know what this new doctrine, whereof thou speakest, is?
(Vs. 20) For thou bringest certain strange things to our ears: we would know therefore what these things mean.
(Vs. 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.)
The people mentioned in these verses, it says, spent all their time learning or speaking about any new thing they happened to hear about. They did not realize that the One they were asking about now, was the real thing. They wanted to know what Paul, whom they referred to as “a babbler”, had to say about THIS particular new thing!
You Are Too Superstitious
(Vs. 22) Then Paul stood in the midst of Mars’ hill, and said, Ye men of Athens, I perceive that in all things ye are too superstitious.
(Vs. 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.
(Vs. 24) God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth no in temples made with hands;
(Vs. 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;
Paul wanted to stress that Jesus did not live in temples MADE with hands, nor were those same hands able to worship Him. As the maker and Creator of ALL things, He has need of nothing.
(Vs. 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;
He stressed that all nations are the same blood. This was a very important statement in this particular timeframe, as people often thought themselves far superior to others simply because of their homeland. Paul goes on, though, to say that the bounds of the habitation of those nations had already been appointed.
(Vs. 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:
Truly, when we are filled with the Holy Ghost, with the evidence of speaking in tongues, He is with us, always!
(Vs. 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.
If we live… if we move… if we “have our being” (in other words, WHATEVER we do), it is IN HIM. We are His OFFSPRING… His children!
(Vs. 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.
God is NOT a statue, cannot be represented by a statue, and should never be worshiped as a statue. The same goes for any likeness of Jesus: on the cross, in a painting, or any other artistic measure made “by man’s device”. To do so is only to reanimate the spirit of the golden calf that was made in the desert because the people wanted something that was close by to worship.
(Vs. 30) And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men everywhere to repent:
In old times, God “let it slide” so to speak. Even Moses is recorded as convincing God to turn away his wrath after the golden calf incident, and NOT destroy the people. Now, however, there is a means to allow for repentance of all things against God. Jesus made the sacrifice, and we can boldly come unto the throne for grace in times of trouble!
Paul Speak of Judgment
(Vs. 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.
There were enough witnesses to the resurrection of Jesus that it was widely told about. His Word and commandments have been preached since that very day of His ascension. At the risk of death, beatings, stonings, and other various persecutions, these men and women risked their lives telling about Jesus in the time since then.
Because the Word is widely heard (and often shrugged off) there IS coming a day of judgment. It is “appointed” and He will judge the world IN RIGHTEOUSNESS! Paul is trying, as so many try today, to issue a wakeup call: YOU HAVE EVERYTHING YOU NEED… THE WORD, THE SCRIPTURES, THE MERCY AND GRACE OF GOD… TO BE SAVED FROM THAT DAY!
(Vs. 32) And when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked: and other said, We will hear thee again of this matter.
(Vs. 33) So Paul departed from among them.
Paul didn’t beg them to believe him. He didn’t do anything other than simply preach the word. He spoke, and God moved on the hearts of those in attendance. How do we know? By the last verse:
(Vs. 34) Howbeit certain men clave unto him, and believed: among the which was Dionysius the Areopagite, and a woman named Damaris, and others with him.
It is within US to accept the message of Jesus. No one can do it for us. We will feel the Spirit. Oh, we might explain it away as this, that, or the other thing, but only you know if you have felt Him tug at your heart.
Will YOU tell Jesus you’ll hear more on this matter later? Don’t wait too late!