Here in the 17th chapter of Acts, Paul and Silas continue to spread the Gospel into Greece. The first 9 verses deal with the work in Thessalonica and verses 9-15 deal with the work in Berea. We invite all to study with us and be like the Bereans (Acts 17:11). Please have your Bibles ready to follow along.
THE ROAD TO THESSALONICA: ACTS 17:1
Paul and Silas, fresh from their missionary endeavors in Philippi, are seen in this verse traveling towards the city of Thessalonica. The distance being about 30 miles. The road they would have traveled on was called the Via Egnatia. They would have passed through the cities of Amphipolis and Apollonia. We then find our missionary company in the city of Thessalonica. James Burton Coffman writes the following,
“At least as far back as the 4th century B.C., there was a city called Therma (named after the hot springs in the area) situated at the junction of the main route from the Aegean to the Danube. Cassander, the son of Antipater who governed Macedonia while Alexander the Great was campaigning in the East, was the man who refounded and embellished Therme, and called it after his wife, Thessalonica.
PAUL TEACHES IN THE SYNAGOGUE: ACTS 17:2-4
In the latter part of verse 1 we have the arrival of Paul and Silas in the city of Thessalonica. The location of a Jewish synagogue is mentioned in the text. In passing, we must mention that Luke is no longer a traveling companion. The reason for this is he is now using the term” they”.
Concerning the term Synagogue of the Jews, J. W. McGarvey writes the following,
“AS always, Paul first addressed the beloved chosen people, turning away from them only when compelled do so by their rejection. ‘To the Jew First’ (Rom. 1:16) was a compelling principle with Paul.”
Verse 2 informs us that Paul and Silas spent 3 Sabbaths with the people in Thessalonica. How did he spend the time? Let’s read from the inspired Word of God. “…he reasoned with them from the Scriptures, explaining and proving that Christ had to suffer and rise from the dead.” “This Jesus I am proclaiming to you is the Christ.”
Concerning this passage, in verse 3 about the preaching of Paul, McGarvey wrote,
“That Jesus of Nazareth was the long-awaited Messiah promised in the Old Testament is the fundamental Christian truth, attested by some 333 Old Testament prophecies fulfilled in Him. This appeal to the Old testament is still the best beginning for teaching people who believe the Bible.:
In verse 4, we’re told that the preaching of the Gospel was bringing results. Luke records that some of the Jews were persuaded. This verse also tells us that many God-fearing Greeks and some prominent women believed the message and were led to Jesus. Things are going great. The Gospel is being proclaimed, souls are being won to the Lord of Glory. What could happen to mess things up?
THE JEALOUSY OF THE. JEWS: ACTS 17:5-9
In verse 5, we have the Jews causing trouble again. It says that the. Jews were so jealous of Paul’s work that they formed a mob and started a riot. They went to the home of Jason searching for the missionaries. Jason must have been a Christian. This might be the same Jason mentioned in Romans 16:21. We don’t know but that’s a thought.
The angry mob did not. Find Paul and Silas but found Jason. What did they do? In verse 6 we read the following, “But when they did not find them, they dragged Jason and some other brothers to the city officials shouting, ‘These men who have caused trouble all over the world have now come here, and Jason has welcomed them into his home, they are defying Caesar’s decrees, saying there is another King, one called Jesus.”
One wonders why the leaders of the city allowed Jews to drag a Greek before them. But when one hears that someone is supposedly teaching and practicing things contrary to Rome he gets worried and sometimes does not think right.
In verse 8 the city officials don’t know what to do. In verse 9 they decide to compel Jason to post a bond and let him and his friends go. In the next verses we will be looking in on the work in Berea.
THE NOBLE BEREANS (ACTS 17:10-15)
PAUL AND SILAS ARRIVE IN BEREA: ACTS 17:10
It was nighttime in Thessalonica. The brothers sent them away. William Neil writes,
“Having left Thessalonica under cover of darkness, Paul and Silas (and Timothy (?)-cf. v. 14) made their way to Berea, about 50 miles SW of Thessalonica off the Egnatian Way.”
Where was their first stop? To the synagogue. Again, “To the Jew first…” In verse 11 we have one of the most important verses in Scripture. Oh, if we could echo the actions of the Bereans. Luke writes this in Acts 17:11. The reading comes from the 1984 NIV. “Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and EXAMINED THE SCRIPTURES EACH DAY TO SEE IF WHAT PAUL SAID WAS TRUE.”
It does not say that the Bereans accepted all the teachings of Paul. But, rather than reject the teaching outright, they were willing to study the Old Testament writings to see if Paul was speaking the truth.
In verse 12 that many believed and were added to the church. Many Jews and also many Greeks. “To the Jew first and also to the. Greek.” (Rom. 1:16) Paul believed that the Gospel was for]or all.
But wait, trouble was on the horizon. The Jews from Thessalonica found out that Paul was preaching in Berea that Jesus was the Christ. They found out that. Paul was having a lot of success. This would not do. They had to come and cause trouble. They came to Berea and worked their mischief there stirring the. people against Paul and Silas.
In concluding the first 15 verses in Acts 17, we see that the work of evangelization was spreading all over Greece. Many were being won to Jesus. Despite the trouble making policies of some of the Jews, the message of the cross was being proclaimed. Let’s be willing to be like the Bereans in this chapter and be ready to search the Scriptures to see if any and all teachings we receive or hear are really from the holy Scriptures.
In our next article, we will finish up the 17th chapter. It will deal with the events in verses 16-34. The title will be “Paul Preaches in the City of Idols.” Until next time, Maranatha!