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Acts of the Apostles
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Acts Chapter 17
PAUL'S JOURNEY CONTINUES
PAUL TRAVELS WITH SILAS
Click to view Map Animation
I Posted a a Map Animation with an overlay of today's map, the map of the Jewish diaspora 100 AD, and Paul's Journeys to show how completely he covered the Jewish region north with the gospel.
1Now when they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where was a synagogue of the Jews:
2And Paul, as his manner was, went in unto them, and three sabbath days reasoned with them out of the scriptures,
THERE IS A PATTERN
Paul goes to the synagogues first in every city, "as his manner was".
Jesus commissioned the twelve apostles to go to the "Lost Sheep of the house of Israel" in Matthew 10:6. Again sent them forth at His ascension to "Jerusalem, Judaea, Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth" in Acts 1:8. In Acts 15:21, we read that "in every city" in the regions of the Gentiles there are synagogues where there are readings of the books of Moses.
The scriptures say the gospel must go to the Jew first then the Gentile.
16For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.
But if the Jew rejects the gospel:
14And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear your words, when ye depart out of that house or city, shake off the dust of your feet.
15Verily I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrha in the day of judgment, than for that city.
When the Apostle Paul traveled to these "uttermost regions", he was fulfilling the great commission of Jesus to the apostles as an apostle to the "lost sheep of the house of Israel". Of course Paul knew what would happen at these synagogues and he could empathize with the zealots, being a former one himself, yet was steadfast in his mission and message.
16Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.
17But beware of men: for they will deliver you up to the councils, and they will scourge you in their synagogues;
18And ye shall be brought before governors and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them and the Gentiles.
Did any of this happen to the apostles when Jesus sent them forth before His death? No! This was a prophetic scripture for the future of the kingdom. And Paul himself wrote regarding the Jews:
28As concerning the gospel, they are enemies for your sakes: but as touching the election, they are beloved for the fathers' sakes.
Nevertheless the gospel must be preached to the Jew first then the Gentile, as a witness to them and as testimony for judgment in their rejection of it.
Remember Greeks are Gentiles.
3Opening and alleging, that Christ must needs have suffered, and risen again from the dead; and that this Jesus, whom I preach unto you, is Christ.
4And some of them believed, and consorted with Paul and Silas; and of the devout Greeks a great multitude, and of the chief women not a few.
5But the Jews which believed not, moved with envy, took unto them certain lewd fellows of the baser sort, and gathered a company, and set all the city on an uproar, and assaulted the house of Jason, and sought to bring them out to the people.
" Jews which believed not, moved with envy", remember in the book of Romans, the purpose of the gospel going to the Gentiles and the mighty miracles by the power of the Holy Spirit was to provoke Israel to jealousy.
Romans 10:19 Paul is quoting from Deut 32:21
19But I say, Did not Israel know? First Moses saith, I will provoke you to jealousy by them that are no people, and by a foolish nation I will anger you.
11I say then, Have they stumbled that they should fall? God forbid: but rather through their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles, for to provoke them to jealousy.
As a witness TO the Jews and AGAINST the Jews, the gospel must be preached to every Jewish synagogue in the regions where the Jews were, not to every Gentile, but to every Jew.
6And when they found them not, they drew Jason and certain brethren unto the rulers of the city, crying, These that have turned the world upside down are come hither also;
7Whom Jason hath received: and these all do contrary to the decrees of Caesar, saying that there is another king, one Jesus.
8And they troubled the people and the rulers of the city, when they heard these things.
9And when they had taken security of Jason, and of the other, they let them go.
10And the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Berea: who coming thither went into the synagogue of the Jews.
11These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.
One word continually is mentioned in this book of Acts is "daily".
- "Searched the scriptures daily"
- "Increased in number daily"
- "Added to the church (assembly) daily"
- "Preaching daily in the temple and in every house"
So far we see the people of God continually coming together "daily", not once a week on Sunday. Even in Hebrews it says:
13But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.
Yet the "forever doctrine" of the church has morphed into once a week on Sunday. I am not saying this is a requisite for salvation or such, but it is good to come together often with believers. What has happened to our society that we do not even make time for our own families much less our brothers and sisters in Christ? We are so busy being slaves to our debtors, we have no life in our lives! My mom had a little saying hanging on the wall next to the refrigerator I always took to heart:
"THE MOST IMPORTANT THINGS IN LIFE ARE NOT THINGS"
7But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ.
8Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ,
12Therefore many of them believed; also of honourable women which were Greeks, and of men, not a few.
13But when the Jews of Thessalonica had knowledge that the word of God was preached of Paul at Berea, they came thither also, and stirred up the people.
14And then immediately the brethren sent away Paul to go as it were to the sea: but Silas and Timotheus abode there still.
15And they that conducted Paul brought him unto Athens: and receiving a commandment unto Silas and Timotheus for to come to him with all speed, they departed.
16Now while Paul waited for them at Athens, his spirit was stirred in him, when he saw the city wholly given to idolatry.
17Therefore disputed he in the synagogue with the Jews, and with the devout persons, and in the market daily with them that met with him.
18Then certain philosophers of the Epicureans, and of the Stoicks, encountered him. And some said, What will this babbler say? other some, He seemeth to be a setter forth of strange gods: because he preached unto them Jesus, and the resurrection.
Acts 17:18 Albert Barnes Notes
[Of the Epicureans] This sect of philosophers was so named from Epicurus, who lived about 300 years before the Christian era. They denied that the world was created by God, and that the gods exercised any care or providence over human affairs, and also the immortality of the soul. …But whatever his views were, it is certain that his followers had embraced the doctrine that the pleasures of sense were to be practiced without restraint. Both in principle and practice, therefore, they devoted themselves to a life of gaiety and sensuality, and sought happiness only in indolence, effeminacy, and voluptuousness. Confident in the belief that the world was not under the administration of a God of justice, they gave themselves up to the indulgence of every passion.
[And of the Stoics] This was a sect of philosophers, so named from the Greek stoa (NT:4745), a porch or portico, because Zeno, the founder of the sect, held his school and taught in a porch, in the city of Athens. Zeno was born in the island of Cyprus, but the greater part of his life was spent at Athens in teaching philosophy. After having taught publicly 48 years, he died at the age of 96, that is, 264 years before Christ. The doctrines of the sect were, that the universe was created by God; that all things were fixed by Fate; that even God was under the dominion of fatal necessity; that the Fates were to be submitted to; that the passions and affections were to be suppressed and restrained; that happiness consisted in the insensibility of the soul to pain; and that a man should gain an absolute mastery over all the passions and affections of his nature.
Speaking of the Stoics, I immediately though of Spock from Star Trek! With this understanding of the audience to whom Paul is speaking, tailored by the Holy Spirit, the message at Mars Hill directly spoke to and confronted their belief system.
19And they took him, and brought him unto Areopagus, saying, May we know what this new doctrine, whereof thou speakest, is?
20For thou bringest certain strange things to our ears: we would know therefore what these things mean.
21(For all the Athenians and strangers which were there spent their time in nothing else, but either to tell, or to hear some new thing.)
22Then Paul stood in the midst of Mars' hill, and said, Ye men of Athens, I perceive that in all things ye are too superstitious.
23For as I passed by, and beheld your devotions, I found an altar with this inscription, TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you.
24God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands;
25Neither is worshipped with men's hands, as though he needed any thing, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things;
26And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation;
27That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us:
The bounds of habitation are not national boundaries, but the barrier between the habitation of mankind and the habitation of God. "Though He be not far."
28For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring.
29Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man's device.
30And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent:
31Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead.
32And when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked: and others said, We will hear thee again of this matter.
33So Paul departed from among them.
34Howbeit certain men clave unto him, and believed: among the which was Dionysius the Areopagite, and a woman named Damaris, and others with them.
The time of ignorance is over. God is not winking, " but now commandeth all men every where to repent". There is an "appointed day" which spoke directly to the Epicurians and the Stoics, fixed and predestined in the timeline of God's creation. The day of judgment will come and you must be ready, but God gave an assurance to "ALL" people. That assurance is the resurrection of Jesus Christ, the firstborn of the living. We are the church of the firstborn (Heb 12:23), receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved (Heb12:28), "through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you perfect in every good work to do His will" (Heb 13:20,21) Being sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise (Eph 1:13) so we might have everlasting life.