Daily Bible Studies & Sermon Notes

Acts 17:1-6
Pastor Steve Schell
Sunday: Acts 17:1
v1 (continued): Luke says the missionaries “passed through” Amphipolis and Apollonia, which probably means they only spent the night in those communities and didn’t stop to preach. Amphipolis, the capital of one of the four districts of Macedonia and a commercial center (gold, silver and timber) was located about 30 miles west/southwest of Philippi. Apollonia was a small town about 27 miles past Amphipolis and then it was another 34 miles from Apollonia to Thessalonica (New Bible Dictionary, J.D. Douglas ed., pp. 33 and 47), where they stopped to minister. Thessalonica was the largest city in Macedonia, the seat of the Roman governor of the province of Macedonia, one of the major seaports on the Aegaen Sea, and the Egnatian Way ran straight through it. But apparently, of greater significance to Paul was the fact that there was a small Jewish community in that city and a synagogue.

Monday: Acts 17:2
v2: Luke mentions it was Paul’s “custom” to attend synagogue on Sabbath. Apparently, wherever he went, it if were possible, he would participate in the local Sabbath service. Obviously, in his own thinking, following Jesus Christ had not separated him from Judaism. By coming to Christ he had not “converted” to a new religion, but had become the servant of Israel’s promised Messiah. So when he attended a local synagogue and its gathering, he naturally preached Christ to them. Again, in his own mind, he was not proclaiming a new religion, nor was he trying to get them to leave Judaism, he was announcing that their promised Savior had arrived.

Tuesday: Acts 17:2
v2 (continued): As we saw earlier (Ac 13:16-41), his presentation to Jews was normally an explanation of promises in the Scriptures which had been traditionally overlooked, and then he would show them how those had been fulfilled by Jesus of Nazareth. Then, at some point, he would challenge them to acknowledge that they had failed to live up to God’s standard of righteousness, and invite them to accept God’s gift of righteousness by believing in Jesus (Ac 13:38, 39). So when he arrived in Thessalonica, Paul naturally attended the services in the synagogue, and for three weeks presented this message and “dialogued” with those who were interested. That “dialogue” must have involved a good deal of questions and answers, and as time went on, a good deal of debate and argument.

Wednesday: Acts 17:3
v3: In this verse Luke very concisely summarizes the main point of contention: Paul was showing them that the Messiah would not only be a powerful king and deliverer, but that it was also prophesied that He would suffer and die, and be miraculously raised from the dead. For many of those listening this revelation would have been a shocking reinterpretation of a familiar theme. While groups did exist within Judaism which recognized that the Scriptures describe a suffering Messiah (e.g. the Qumran Community), most did not, so the discussions which followed Paul’s presentations must have been lively. Then, after making this point, that the Messiah must die and rise again, Paul went on to identify Jesus of Nazareth as that Person, and then he invited people to believe and become Jesus’ disciples.

Thursday: Acts 17:4
v4: Luke says some of the Jews in the synagogue were “persuaded” by Paul’s presentation and “threw in their lot” (joined) with Paul and Silas, which almost certainly means they began attending daily gatherings (Ac 19:9) to listen to the apostles teach about Jesus. But Luke also notes that a far greater response came from the Greeks who attended the synagogue. There were men and women who had already stopped believing in the gods of Greek mythology and had chosen instead to worship the God of the Bible. Luke says “a great multitude” of these began attending Paul’s gathering, including a large number of women from the most prominent families in the city.

Friday: Acts 17:5
v5: The leaders of that synagogue became very angry at Paul and Silas. They were watching as a large portion of their congregation, and, undoubtedly, a large portion of income and influence, began gathering elsewhere to listen to a pair of traveling rabbis, and they felt threatened. They do not appear to have been motivated by concerns over religious doctrine, in other words they weren’t primarily alarmed by Paul’s interpretations of Scripture, but rather their fury seemed to arise out of an intolerance for a rival. They were not going to allow anyone to challenge their leadership without a fight. And they showed no signs of ethical constraints about what they must do to get the people back. They were determined to force Paul and Silas out of the city or have them killed and they did it by going into the public market and hiring a group of men from the do-nothings that tend to lounge around such places and organized them into a mob.

Saturday: Acts 17:5, 6
v5 (continued): When a group of people begins to march and yell, others tend to join in, and apparently they were able to collect enough people who made enough noise to attract the attention of the whole city. They led this mob to the home of a man named Jason, who probably had provided housing for these missionaries. As they stood in front of the house, someone must have forced their way in to search for Paul and Silas, intending to bring them out so the mob could attack them. v6: When they were unable to find the apostles, they seized Jason along with some other believers they had captured, and dragged them to a place where they could make accusations against them before the leaders of the city. In Thessalonica, these leaders were called “politarchs,” a very unusual title, but Luke specifically uses that term and in 1835 archeologists discovered that word written on the ancient gates of the city (Paul Lawrence, The IVP Atlas of Bible History, Intervarsity Press, 2006, p.155).

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