Acts Part 27: Searching the Scriptures

Acts 17:1-15 NIV

17 When Paul and his companions had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where there was a Jewish synagogue. As was his custom, Paul went into the synagogue, and on three Sabbath days he reasoned with them from the Scriptures, explaining and proving that the Messiah had to suffer and rise from the dead.“ This Jesus I am proclaiming to you is the Messiah,” he said. Some of the Jews were persuaded and joined Paul and Silas, as did a large number of God-fearing Greeks and quite a few prominent women.

  1. Thessalonica: Paul and Silas made a 100 mile trip from Philippi to Thessalonica, the capital city of Macedonia. The city, boasting a population of about 200,000, would be a strategic bulwark for the missions movement in this region.
  2. Reasoned… from the Scriptures: Paul could appeal to personal revelation as the basis of his message (Galatians 1:10-11; 2 Peter 1:20 KJV), but instead used the Old Testament Scriptures to (1) reason, (2) explain, and (3) prove to His mostly Jewish hearers that Jesus was their Messiah.
  3. Some of the Jews were persuaded: Paul’s Scriptural arguments were unassailable, and those with ears to hear accepted the plain truth of what was accepted. Although conversion to Christianity is a spiritual event and cannot be reduced to mere mental assent to its claims, the spiritual renewal will cause us to intellectually accept and understand those said claims.

But other Jews were jealous; so they rounded up some bad characters from the marketplace, formed a mob and started a riot in the city. They rushed to Jason’s house in search of Paul and Silas in order to bring them out to the crowd. But when they did not find them, they dragged Jason and some other believers before 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 house. They are all defying Caesar’s decrees, saying that there is another king, one called Jesus.” When they heard this, the crowd and the city officials were thrown into turmoil.Then they made Jason and the others post bond and let them go.

  1. Other Jews were jealous: Some Jews were persuaded by the weight of the Scriptural evidence Paul provided (v. 4), but others were stiff-necked because of jealousy.
  2. Bad characters: Literally “evil men,” were recruited by the Jews to incite a riot against Paul and his party. This is an example of how the corrupt religious establishment is always willing to join with the unclean pagans to oppose God’s Word.
  3. Another king, one called Jesus: The apostles were accused of sedition- rebellion against the governing authorities- just like Jesus was (John 19:1-16). The claims of Christianity are political in nature, because they teach that Jesus is the supreme authority- the King of kings- who is over all civil magistrates, even the Roman Emperor.
  4. Post bond: The charge was not taken entirely seriously by the city rulers, probably because of the peaceful conduct of the Christians. But in order to appease the rioters, Paul and Silas were ordered to leave or else they be made pay a large sum of money (1 Thessalonians 2:18).

10 As soon as it was night, the believers sent Paul and Silas away to Berea. On arriving there, they went to the Jewish synagogue.11 Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true. 12 As a result, many of them believed, as did also a number of prominent Greek women and many Greek men.

13 But when the Jews in Thessalonica learned that Paul was preaching the word of God at Berea, some of them went there too, agitating the crowds and stirring them up. 14 The believers immediately sent Paul to the coast, but Silas and Timothy stayed at Berea.15 Those who escorted Paul brought him to Athens and then left with instructions for Silas and Timothy to join him as soon as possible.

  1. More noble character: The Berean Jews are heralded and memorialized as having noble character for being both open-minded and sober-minded about the things of God. In Christian nomenclature, to be a “Berean” means to be eager to receive God’s Word while at the same time testing all claims about it (James 3:1; 2 Timothy 4:1-5; Matthew 7:24-29; 13:9, 18-23; James 1:22-25).
  2. To Athens: The text indicates that Paul was initially taken to the coast to take the mob off his tracks, only for the Berean Christians to take him down to Athens. Meanwhile, Silas and Timothy remained to build up the church in Berea.


  1. Have an open mind to receive everything the Word of God teaches!
  2. Use your mind to test every teaching that claims to be the Word of God!
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