Episode #106. Today we’ll read Acts chapter 17 together. Jews got jealous and started a riot, the upset was repeated in Berea, and Paul reasoned with Jews and Greeks in Athens.
Joy: You’re listening to the Lifting Her Voice podcast, Episode #106. Today we’ll read Acts chapter 17 together: Jews got jealous and started a riot; the upset was repeated in Berea; and Paul reasoned with Jews and Greeks in Athens.
Welcome to the Lifting Her Voice podcast. I’m your host, Joy Miller, and I invite you to grab your Bible and join me as we simply read God’s word together. Some things require discipline and sometimes that’s just not easy to muster by yourself, no matter how badly you want to do it or how much you know you should. It’s just easier to do it with a friend. So refill your coffee or tea, get comfortable in your favorite chair and follow along as I read aloud. I’m so glad you’re here!
I feel like I need to go back to Episode #103 and make a correction. Somehow, I let my comments talk about idols instead of pointing out that there is only One True God. The Lycaonians weren’t treating Paul and Barnabas as idols…they were trying to make them into gods! Now, we can still consult the Ten Commandments for confirmation that this is a great way to rouse God’s jealousy, but that would be the FIRST commandment, not the second. Whew! I’m glad that’s out of the way. Moving on!
By way of a short introduction, I just want to say that I hope you didn’t put that map away! Paul covers some territory that we haven’t traveled thru while he waits for Silas and Timothy to join him. Never one for idleness, Paul preaches in the synagogues, the marketplace, and he’s even invited to the local think-tank of the day.
Acts Chapter 17
A Short Ministry in Thessalonica
After they passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where there was a Jewish synagogue. As usual, Paul went into the synagogue, and on three Sabbath days reasoned with them from the Scriptures, explaining and proving that it was necessary for the Messiah to suffer and rise from the dead: “This Jesus I am proclaiming to you is the Messiah.” Some of them were persuaded and joined Paul and Silas, including a large number of God-fearing Greeks, as well as a number of the leading women.
Riot in the City
But the Jews became jealous, and they brought together some wicked men from the marketplace, formed a mob, and started a riot in the city. Attacking Jason’s house, they searched for them to bring them out to the public assembly. When they did not find them, they dragged Jason and some of the brothers before the city officials, shouting, “These men who have turned the world upside down have come here too, and Jason has welcomed them. They are all acting contrary to Caesar’s decrees, saying that there is another king — Jesus.” The crowd and city officials who heard these things were upset. After taking a security bond from Jason and the others, they released them.
The Bereans Search the Scriptures
As soon as it was night, the brothers and sisters sent Paul and Silas away to Berea. Upon arrival, they went into the synagogue of the Jews. The people here were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, since they received the word with eagerness and examined the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so. Consequently, many of them believed, including a number of the prominent Greek women as well as men. But when the Jews from Thessalonica found out that the word of God had been proclaimed by Paul at Berea, they came there too, agitating and upsetting the crowds.
Then the brothers and sisters immediately sent Paul away to go to the coast, but Silas and Timothy stayed on there. Those who escorted Paul brought him as far as Athens, and after receiving instructions for Silas and Timothy to come to him as quickly as possible, they departed.
Paul in Athens
While Paul was waiting for them in Athens, he was deeply distressed when he saw that the city was full of idols. So he reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and with those who worshiped God, as well as in the marketplace every day with those who happened to be there. Some of the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers also debated with him. Some said, “What is this ignorant show-off trying to say?” Others replied, “He seems to be a preacher of foreign deities” — because he was telling the good news about Jesus and the resurrection.
They took him and brought him to the Areopagus, and said, “May we learn about this new teaching you are presenting? Because what you say sounds strange to us, and we want to know what these things mean.” Now all the Athenians and the foreigners residing there spent their time on nothing else but telling or hearing something new.
The Areopagus Address
Paul stood in the middle of the Areopagus and said, “People of Athens! I see that you are extremely religious in every respect. For as I was passing through and observing the objects of your worship, I even found an altar on which was inscribed, ‘To an Unknown God.’ Therefore, what you worship in ignorance, this I proclaim to you. The God who made the world and everything in it — he is Lord of heaven and earth — does not live in shrines made by hands. Neither is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives everyone life and breath and all things.
From one man he has made every nationality to live over the whole earth and has determined their appointed times and the boundaries of where they live. He did this so that they might seek God, and perhaps they might reach out and find him, though he is not far from each one of us. For in him we live and move and have our being, as even some of your own poets have said, ‘For we are also his offspring.’ Since, then, we are God’s offspring, we shouldn’t think that the divine nature is like gold or silver or stone, an image fashioned by human art and imagination.
Resurrection of the Dead
“Therefore, having overlooked the times of ignorance, God now commands all people everywhere to repent, because he has set a day when he is going to judge the world in righteousness by the man he has appointed. He has provided proof of this to everyone by raising him from the dead.”
When they heard about the resurrection of the dead, some began to ridicule him, but others said, “We’d like to hear from you again about this.” So Paul left their presence. However, some people joined him and believed, including Dionysius the Areopagite, a woman named Damaris, and others with them.
I love the way Paul uses the altar of the Unknown God to witness to the intellectuals in the Areopagus. I have so much respect for those who can take an ordinary, everyday object and use it as a tool to share the Gospel. As I’ve told you before, my pastor is very gifted at this. The crowded city of Athens was full of idols. Not only did Paul take the opportunity to give definition to their Unknown God, but he also gave the warning that God was requiring repentance from worship of idols. God had overlooked the offense…but now there was Jesus. And then the mention of resurrection brought an abrupt end to the session, didn’t it? But Paul wasn’t put off. He just kept preaching.
Finally, I would be remiss if I didn’t at least mention the riots that went on in Thessalonica and Berea. They were instigated by misplaced motives, power-mongering, and hatred…not unlike what we’re seeing on TV and computer screens in 2020. In my view, riots are not useful, they are hurtful, and if we participate, I don’t think we represent Christ well. I’m grateful that Paul and the saints of the time kept their cool and gave us a blueprint to follow.
Let’s pray. Jesus, thank You for the men and women You called to grow Your Church. From the apostles to Stephen to Paul and many others, they counted it a privilege to suffer like You did. Help us to think less about fighting back and more about serving those around us. Even if we have to take a hit for it. Like You did. Amen.
Thank you for joining me here today. I pray God will grow in you what has been planted and watered here. In this time of unprecedented struggle worldwide, we can look to God for guidance and comfort. Be sensitive to those in your circle of influence who need a word of encouragement and invite them to join us. If you like this show, it would be great if you give it a five-star review. Don’t forget to subscribe wherever you get your podcasts. See you right here tomorrow. Be well!
Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Christian Standard Bible(r), Copyright (c) 2017 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Christian Standard Bible(r) and CSB(r) are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers.
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