Daily Bible Studies & Sermon Notes

Acts 17:7-12
Pastor Steve Schell
Sunday: Acts 17:7
v7: The synagogue leaders shouted out their accusations against Paul and Silas, even though they hadn’t been able to locate them, and also against a fellow-citizen named Jason whom they said was guilty because he had taken the missionaries into his home. We have no definite information about this man named Jason, but there are some references made elsewhere that would allow us to guess about his religious background. In the conclusion of his letter to the Romans, Paul mentions a man named Jason whom he places in a group with two other men named Lucius and Sosipater (Ro 16:21), and states that these men were his “kinsmen” meaning they were fellow Jews. This Sosipater may be the “Sopater of Berea” mentioned in Ac 20:4. There, Luke listed him next to “Aristarchus and Secundus of the Thessalonians” apparently because all three men were from Macedonia. If so, then the Jason mentioned at the end of Romans is almost certainly the same Jason we’re reading about now. In that case, he was one of the Jews who believed when Paul preached in the synagogue (v4).

Monday: Acts 17:7
v7 (continued): Paul and Silas, and those associated with them, were charged with the crime of “…acting in opposition to the decrees of Caesar by declaring Jesus to be another king.” The charges were unquestionably false. Paul did not come into the city and preach political subversion. He was not trying to start a rebellion. In fact, he taught believers to submit to human authorities, insofar as their conscience would permit (Ro 13:1-7), and even to pray for them (1Ti 2:1-4). But Paul did faithfully proclaim Jesus as the Messiah (Christ, v3), and we know from his letters that he told the Thessalonians that someday in the future Jesus would return from heaven as Lord to judge the earth and set up God’s Kingdom (1Th 1:9, 10; 4:13-17; 2Th 1:6-10). That teaching could be interpreted as disloyalty to Rome.

Tuesday: Acts 17:7
v7 (continued): This confrontation in Thessalonica took place about a year to two years after the Roman emperor Claudius (41-54AD) expelled all Jews from the city of Rome (Ac 18:2). He may have done this out of frustration over the rioting that had been repeatedly erupting within the city’s Jewish community as a response to the preaching of the gospel. The Roman historian Suetonius wrote a very interesting statement about those riots. He said, “As the Jews were indulging in constant riots at the instigation of Chrestus, he (Claudius) banished them from Rome” (Suetonius, Life of Claudius, XXV.4, as quoted by F.F. Bruce, Acts, Eerdmans, 1974, p. 368). If Suetonius mistook the name Chrestus for Christus (same pronunciation in Greek) then the charges made against Paul and Silas by the synagogue rulers in Thessalonica may have been accurate. There may have been a decree from Caesar forbidding such preaching because it had caused riots, though the synagogue rulers in Thessalonica worded their accusation in such a way as to make the apostles appear to be political rebels.

Wednesday: Acts 17:8, 9
vs8-9: Luke says these accusations produced the desired effect. The crowd and city authorities became angry and alarmed, but rather than let the situation turn violent, as the leaders in Philippi had done (Ac 16:20-24), the leaders in Thessalonica took control of the situation in a far more clever way. They refused to release Jason and the other believers who were with him until they deposited a large amount of money, or valuables into the city’s custody. That money would be forfeited if trouble broke out again. In other words, they forced these believers to guarantee that Paul and Silas would leave town immediately. Even though the apostles weren’t present at the trial, their mission was effectively ended because if they kept preaching, all who had been forced to post bond would lose large amounts of money.

Thursday: Acts 17:10
v10: Paul and Silas had been hidden somewhere, and when the trial was over Jason and the others came back and reported to them what had taken place. It was decided that they would leave immediately and during the night the church gathered to prayerfully send them to a smaller, remote town off the main highway, called Berea. But as soon as they arrived, these two missionaries went straight to the local synagogue and preached the gospel. Berea was about 50 miles southwest of Thessalonica and located in a different district of Macedonia, so the authorities there would not yet have heard about the uproar in Thessalonica.

Friday: Acts 17:11
v11: Luke says the attitude of the members of the synagogue in Berea was far more noble (“well-born”) than the attitude of the synagogue leaders in Thessalonica. The root of the problem in Thessalonica was that the leaders felt their income and influence was threatened. It didn’t really matter to them whether the gospel was true or not. But in Berea the members of the synagogue were motivated by a desire to know the truth, so they listened carefully to what was being presented, and then examined for themselves each passage of Scripture that Paul and Silas presented. Luke says they “…received the Word with all eagerness (keen, active minds), and daily examined the scriptures (to see) if it might have these things in this way” (literal).

Saturday: Acts 17:11, 12
v11 (continued): He’s telling us that they approached the gospel with a combination of open-mindedness and caution. They were open minded in that they were hungry to know as much as they could about God, and humble enough to acknowledge that there were truths they did not know. But they also were cautious, meaning they knew they could be deceived if they relied on their own feelings. In their minds the Bible itself was the final authority, so they engaged in diligent study undoubtedly reading each passage in its context, to see if these visiting preachers were presenting accurately what each passage really intended to say. And that honest hearing was all Paul and Silas asked for, or needed, because the fact that “the Christ (Messiah) had to suffer and rise again from the dead” (Ac 17:3), is indeed a truth taught in Scripture. And once that truth is acknowledged, it becomes obvious from the historical facts about the life of Jesus of Nazareth that He is the Christ (Ac 17:3). v12: After much careful study, many in that synagogue believed, including a significant number of Greek women and men who were highly respected in that community.

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