ACTS OF THE APOSTLES
Chapter 17; & Chapter 18:1-22
More Missionary Work
We will study the way the gospel was spread in Thessalonica, in Berea, in Athens, and in Corinth, cities in Greece.
The Word Preached at Thessalonica – Acts 17:1-9: No matter what sufferings the missionaries had endured at Philippi, this did not stop them from going on to other places. They came to Thessalonica, west of Philippi. Here they found a synagogue of the Jews. Paul preached to them out of their Old Testament Scriptures which showed that the Christ must suffer, die, and raise from the dead. Some Jews believed, some Greeks, and even a lot of the chief women also believed. The Jews who didn’t believe caused a lot of trouble, bringing them before the rulers of the city, claiming they were working against the Roman government. Finally they let them go. Just because we preach Jesus doesn’t mean we don’t obey the laws of our land, and know we need human government. The only thing is, that we must first obey God. He has to come before all others.
The Work in Berea – Acts 17:10-14:
The believers sent Paul and Silas away in the night from Thessalonica. They lost no time for they went into the synagogue. The people there showed how noble they were, for they listened to what the missionaries said, and looked it up for themselves. It says they searched the Word (Bible) daily to see it these things were so. Of course they were, but it was right that they check it out for themselves. We have the same privilege. A lot of people believed. The trouble makers from Thessalonica came to Berea and caused still more trouble. They stirred up the people. Again the brethren sent Paul away. They wanted people to believe he went by ship. Instead he sent by land to Athens. Silas and Timothy stayed in Berea for a time.
Paul at Athens – Acts 17:15-34:
While Paul waited for Silas and Timothy to come, his spirit was stirred in him when he saw all the idols there in Athens. He went to the synagogue of the Jews, as usual, but he also sent to the market place and spoke there. There were all kinds of superstitious folks who had images of lots and lots of so-called gods. (Now we know, as did Paul, that there is only One true God, the God of heaven. He is a triune being, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, yet He is Only One.) When Paul spoke of Jesus and the resurrection, they figured he was just speaking of still another god, of Whom they had never heard. They did want to hear Paul, since they always had ears to hear some new things.
They took him to Mars’ Hill, a high hill where they could hear him. Paul told them about their being superstitious. He said that among all the other altars, he found one, TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Paul didn’t pretend that the idol represented the true God, but he used what was written there to declare unto them Jesus Christ. He said that the true God was the Creator, and that He gave to all life, and breath, and all things. He told them that they should seek the Lord, and they would find Him – V. 27. He also said that “In Him we live, and move and have our being.” He said we are God’s offspring, or child. Such being the case, they should not think that their gods which they had made, of gold, silver, or stone, were actually gods. Paul went on to talk about judgment day and that judgment would be by THAT MAN – which is Jesus – V. 31. He is the One who died and was raised from the dead. When they heard of the resurrection, some mocked, others said they would hear him again, and some believed. How could idols which people made with their own hands have any saving power? See Isa. 46:5-7 to see how ridiculous these thought are.
Paul at Corinth – Acts 18:1-17:
At Corinth, Paul found a Jew named Aquila with his wife Priscilla. They had been told to leave Rome, probably because of their teaching about Jesus. They were tentmakers, like Paul. That worked out fine, for Paul stayed with them. Of course, Paul went to the synagogue to tell about Jesus. Both Jews and Greeks were there to listen. It was at Corinth where Timothy and Silas caught up with him. They were an encouragement to Paul. The Jews, to whom he preached, didn’t want to hear that Jesus was the Christ. They worked against Paul and the others and blasphemed. Paul showed what he had to do at that time – he wouldn’t be preaching to the Jews, but rather go unto the Gentiles – V. 6.
So he left the Jews’ house of worship and went next door to the house of Justus, one who worshiped God. Crispus, the chief ruler of the synagogue believed on the Lord with all his household. Many of the Corinthians believed, and were baptized. It was there at Corinth, where the Lord spoke to Paul in a vision, telling him to keep speaking out the Word, for there, were many in that city who would believe. He did keep speaking and stayed there one and one-half years. It seemed that they had a new deputy come on the scene. This gave the Jews ideas about coming more against Paul. The Jews tried to say that Paul was causing trouble, having people worship God contrary to the Law. Paul was about to tell the difference, but this deputy, Gallio, told them that he wouldn’t’ decide such issues as things about their law, so “forget it.” The Jews then took Sosthenes, the chief ruler of the synagogue and beat him. He must have come to believe, like the other chief ruler did – Crispus – 18:8.
Paul went on from there after he stayed a good while, and sailed into Syria, along with Priscilla and Aquila. He stopped briefly in Ephesus, promised to come back if the Lord would permit.
Conclusion: What a busy life these missionaries had. They worked all the time. It was not easy for them to travel, either. Sailing was not all that pleasant, neither was walking over the rough roads, or going places where there were no roads. The main thing was – they had a message to give and they would give it, no matter what it cost. Are we willing to give the message to our friends and families, or the people in our neighborhood?
Continued in the nest issue