Verse 1 – Now when they had passed through Anphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonia, where there was a synagogue of the Jews.
Thessalonica was one of the wealthiest and most influential cities in Macedonia.
Verse 2 – Then Paul, as his custom was, went in to them, and for three Sabbaths reasoned with them from the Scriptures,
A synagogue could be set up whenever there were ten or more Jews. Paul’s practice was to teach in the synagogues as long as the Jews allowed it.
Verse 3 – explaining and demonstrating that the Christ had to suffer and rise again from the dead, and saying, “This Jesus whom I preach to you is the Christ.”
Verse 4 – And some of them were persuaded; and a great multitude of the devout Greeks, and not a few of the leading women, joined Paul and Silas.
Verse 5 – But the Jews who were not persuaded, becoming envious, took some of the evil men from the marketplace, and gathering a mob, set all the city in an uproar and attacked the house of Jason, and sought to bring them out to the people.
These men that they found in the marketplace, were idle, were doing nothing but disturbing the peace. A mob usually doesn’t have a cause in which they are engaged in.
Envy is a powerful spirit within people who are resentful of someone else’s possessions, qualities, or luck. They want something awarded or achieved by another, Jealousy has very close ties to envy.
Verse 6 – But when they did not find them, they dragged Jason and some brethren to the rulers of the city, crying out. These who have turned the world upside down have come here too.
Verse 7 – “Jason has harbored them, and these are all acting contrary to the decrees of Caesar, saying there is another king – Jesus.”
Verse 8 – And they troubled the crowd and the rulers of the city when they heard these things.
Verse 9 – So when they had taken security from Jason and the rest, they let them go.
Jason had to post bond with either money or property, assuring the trouble would cease.
Verse 10 – Then the brethren immediately sent Paul and Silas away at night to Berea. When they arrived, they went into the synagogue of the Jews.
Verse 11 – These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so.
We should always compare what we hear a teacher of the Gospel say, to what the Scripture says. If you do this daily, you will be less likely deceived by false teaching. A preacher or teacher of the true God will never contract or explain away anything found in God’s word. And one more thing, whatever is said in Scripture cannot be taken out of the context in which it is written.
Verse 12 – Therefore many of them believed, and also not a few of the Greeks, prominent women as well as men.
Verse 13 – But when the Jews from Thessalonica learned that the word of God was preached by Paul at Berea, they came there also and stirred up the crowds.
Verse 14 – Then immediately the brethren sent Paul away, to go to the sea; but both Silas and Timothy remained there.
Verse 15 – So those who conducted Paul brought him to Athens; and receiving a command for Silas and Timothy to come to him with all speed, they departed.
Athens, with its magnificent buildings and many gods, was a center for Greek culture, philosophy, and education. Philosophers and educated men were always ready to hear something new.
Verse 16 – Now when Paul waited for them at Athens, his spirit was provoked within him when he saw that the city was given over to idols.
Verse 17 – Therefore he reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and with the Gentiles worshipers, and in the marketplace daily with those who happened to be there.
Verse 18 – Then certain Epicurean and Stoic philosophers encountered him. And some said, “What does this blabber want to say?” Others said, “He seems to be a proclaimer of foreign gods,” because he preached to them Jesus and the resurrection.
The Epicureans believed that seeking happiness and pleasure was the primary goal in life. By contrast, the Stoics placed thinking above feelings and tried to live in harmony with nature and reason, suppressing desires for pleasure. We know that either one of these philosophies to one extreme or the other is foolishness. They had never heard the things Paul was saying, so therefore they said it was foreign gods.
Verse 19 – And they took him and brought him to the Areopagus, saying, “May we know what this new doctrine is of which you speak?
Verse 20 – “For you are bringing some strange things to our ears. Therefore we want to know what these things mean.”
For a time the Council or Court met on a low hill in Athens near Acropolis. This was called the Areopagus, where gatherings were held to hear new philosophical and religious ideas and then debated.
Verse 21 – For all the Athenians and the foreigners who were there spent their time in nothing else but either to tell or to hear some new things.
Verse 22 – Then Paul stood in the midst of the Areopagus and said, “Men of Athens, I perceive that in all things you are very religious;
Verse 23 – “for as I was passing through and considering the objects of your worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Therefore, the One who you worship without knowing, Him I proclaim to you:
verse 24 – “God, who made the world and everything in it since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands.
Verse 25 – “Nor is He worshiped with men’s hands, as though He needed anything, since He gives to all life, breath, and all things.
Verse 26 – “And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their habitation.
All the families of mankind are descended from one origin, Adam. No one nation or people can claim any pre-eminence over others in virtue of birth or blood. All are equal, even though they may differ in complexion, customs, and laws.
The times appointed: This refers to the dispersion and migration of nations. That God had, in His plan, fixed times when each country should be settled, and the rise, the prosperity, and the fall of each nation. These things were not settled by chance, but by wise rule and in accordance with God’s arrangement and design. It is God’s design that people were born when and where and to whom and then placed where He chose. And we have no right to displace them in a violent manner.
Verse 27 – “So that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us;
Verse 28 – “for in Him we live and move and have our being, as also some of your own poets have said, ‘For we are also His offspring.’
Verse 29 – “Therefore, since we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold or silver or stone, something shaped by art and man’s devising.
All these things were used in making images or statues of the gods. It is absurd to think that the source of all life and intelligence resembles a lifeless block of wood or stone.
Verse 30 – “Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent,
Verse 31 – “because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead.”
Ignorance will not be a defense in the day of judgement. You will either be clothed in the righteousness of Christ or you will be condemned.
Verse 32 – And when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked, while others said, “We will hear you again on this matter.”
Verse 33 – So Paul departed from among them.
Verse 34 – However, some men joined him and believed, among them Dionysius the Areopagite, a woman named Damaris, and others with them.
Paul’s missionary efforts in Athens were not as successful as they were elsewhere since he founded no church there. Some people will listen and believe, while others will mock and go on. Our job is to plant the seed.