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Acts Chapter 17  

Memory verses for this week:   Phil 3:10  That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;


Introduction:     In Chapter 16, we saw Timothy being called into the ministry and joining with Paul, Silas, and Luke in Paulís missionary journey that took them into Macedonia.   The chapter closed with the Philippian jailer being saved after Paul and Silas were put in prison for removing the demon that possessed the young lady there in Philippi.   These men were not concerned for the stripes they took for the cause of Christ, but sang praises to the Lord there at midnight in the jail.   We commented about how our circumstances are never as important as how we respond to those circumstances.  Paul had learned to look to God for his strength and could rejoice in both need and abundance.



I.                 Paul and Company in Thessalonica

Acts 17:1  Now when they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where was a synagogue of the Jews:

Acts 17:2  And Paul, as his manner was, went in unto them, and three sabbath days reasoned with them out of the scriptures,

Acts 17:3  Opening 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.

We see that there was a synagogue of the Jews there in Thessalonica, just as was the case in most cities that Paul and his companions came to in their missionary journeys.  We see Paul going in three consecutive sabbath days to reason with the Jews from the scriptures.   When we reason with others about Jesus Christ, our words are a barren wasteland compared to the beauty and truth of Godís Word.  If people will not believe the bible, we are foolish to think that human reasoning will reach them.  It is by hearing of the Gospel that men and women come to know  Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.


1 Cor 1:18  For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.

1 Cor 1:19  For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent.

1 Cor 1:20  Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?

1 Cor 1:21  For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.


Paul reasoned with them it says in verses 2 and 3 that Christ must suffer, then be raised from the dead, and that Jesus was the Christ prophesied to come throughout the Old Testament. 

Acts 17:4  And 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. 

We see that the preaching of Christ had results, in that some of them believed.  When we witness for Christ, we should not be disappointed if only a few come to Christ.  If we labored our entire life and only saw one soul come to Christ, it is a soul that is saved for eternity, and no value can be placed on a soul.  We know the scriptures teach that all the money in the world can not buy the salvation of a soul.     It says that some of the Jews believed, that many of the devout Greeks accepted Christ as Savior, and many of the influential women believed also.  This was a great accomplishment, for we find in Chapter 1 verse 9 of this book that many of these people were idol worshippers.  They turned from those idols to serve the living God.   The received the words of Paul not as the words of men, but as the truth, the true word of God.  (Which they were.)

 1 Th 1:9  For they themselves show of us what manner of entering in we had unto you, and how ye turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God; 

1 Th 2:13  For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe.

We see these became followers of the churches of God which in Judea are in Christ.


1 Th 2:14  For ye, brethren, became followers of the churches of God which in Judaea are in Christ Jesus: for ye also have suffered like things of your own countrymen, even as they have of the Jews:

1 Th 2:15  Who both killed the Lord Jesus, and their own prophets, and have persecuted us; and they please not God, and are contrary to all men:

1 Th 2:16  Forbidding us to speak to the Gentiles that they might be saved, to fill up their sins alway: for the wrath is come upon them to the uttermost.


The results were that this church sounded out with the Word of the Lord through out all of Macedonia and Achaia.   Our church should be so on fire for the Lord that others hear of it far from our city.   God does not want a church of lukewarm Christians, but people who are sold out and living an abundant and joyful Christian life.


1 Th 1:7  So that ye were ensamples to all that believe in Macedonia and Achaia.

1 Th 1:8  For from you sounded out the word of the Lord not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place your faith to God-ward is spread abroad; so that we need not to speak any thing.


II.  Jewish Opposition at Thessalonica 

Acts 17:5  But 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.

Acts 17:6  And 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; 

We see that the unbelieving Jews gather a group of people together to start an uproar in the city.   We mentioned last week how that when a person hears the Word of God, and they come under conviction by the power of the Holy Spirit, they either respond and accept Christ, or they lash out against those who stand for the truth.  Godís Word is the most powerful book ever written.   After all things are destroyed, Godís Word will still stand.


Heb 4:12  For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.


Mark 13:31  Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away.

 It says in verse 6 that they brought Jason before the rulers of the city when they could not find Paul and his group.  He says that they had been the ones that had turned the world upside down.    No man has ever influenced the world like Jesus Christ.   Because the Gospel is so powerful and still alive, it still turns the world upside down for those who hear it today.   And for those who accept Christ, he sets their world right side up.  For the first time, we have feet set on a solid rock that can never be moved. 

1 Th 1:5  For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance; as ye know what manner of men we were among you for your sake.

 We see that their message was empowered by the Holy Spirit, and it so moved these men that they were determined to have it stopped.  If it were not for our religious rights, I promise you that the majority of people would seek to have the churches closed.  The gospel is an offence to those who do not know Jesus as Lord and Savior.

 Acts 17:7  Whom Jason hath received: and these all do contrary to the decrees of Caesar, saying that there is another king, one Jesus.

Acts 17:8  And they troubled the people and the rulers of the city, when they heard these things.

Acts 17:9  And when they had taken security of Jason, and of the other, they let them go.

 They accuse Jason and the others of preaching and doing contrary to the decrees of Caesar.   The truth was that Caesar was of little significance in contrast to the Kingship of Jesus Christ.  One day all men and women will acknowledge that Jesus is King of Kings, and Lord of Lords.

 Phil 2:9  Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name:

Phil 2:10  That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth;

Phil 2:11  And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.


III.                Paul and Silas at Berea 

Acts 17:10  And the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Berea: who coming thither went into the synagogue of the Jews.

Acts 17:11  These 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. 

For Paul and Silasí protection, we see the brethren send Paul and Silas away at night to Berea, a place which was not of high importance like Thessalonica.  But it was a place where a Jewish synagogue existed, and these people were more noble and had a readiness to learn about the scriptures.   None are so ignorant as they who can no longer learn.   As we grow older, we have to fight the tendency to believe we have all the truth and we do not need further teaching.  That is a trick of Satan.  No man or woman has ever come to the total knowledge of Godís Word, and we can study until the day we die.  I believe we will still be gleaning great truths from His Word.   We see these in Berea received the Word with all readiness of mind and searched the scriptures daily to see whether the apostles were preaching the truth.  Godís Word will reveal false teaching.


Acts 17:12  Therefore many of them believed; also of honourable women which were Greeks, and of men, not a few.

Acts 17:13  But 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.

Acts 17:14  And then immediately the brethren sent away Paul to go as it were to the sea: but Silas and Timotheus abode there still.


We see many of the people, after testing and proving the Gospel to be true, accepted Christ as Lord and Savior.   But the unbelieving Jews from Thessalonica donít quit.  They show up again and stir up the people.   This time, Paul is sent away to sea, but Silas and Timothy stay there in Berea.


John Calvin had this to say about these who hated the Gospel so much.

ďThe Jews not only drove Christ out when he was presented to them at home but were maddened when they heard that he was being preached elsewhere.  But in this passage we must not consider the fury of the nation so much as the desperate malice of Satan, who urges his people on to disturb the kingdom of Christ and to prevent peopleís  salvation.  When in our day so many furious people set themselves against Christís faithful ministers, it is not men who cause the war, but Satan, the father of lies.  And although the fighting does not always take the same form, Satan will never cease to weary those whom he knows to serve Christ faithfully, either openly or by insidious means or even with internal struggles.Ē


If Satan can just get us to put salvation off another dayÖ just one more day, it may be all it takes to send us to eternal damnation.   None of us are guaranteed another day on this earth.   So if you are lost and donít know Jesus as Savior, now is the accepted time.  Donít let the father of lies mislead you.


IV.  Paul at Athens 

Acts 17:15  And 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.

Acts 17:16  Now while Paul waited for them at Athens, his spirit was stirred in him, when he saw the city wholly given to idolatry.


We see that Paul encourages the brethren to send Silas and Timothy to him immediately once he arrives in Athens.   It says in verse 16 that as he awaited their arrival, he was stirred in his spirit for the people as the whole city was given over to idolatry.   We need to be so stirred for those around us who are being led astray by idolatry today.   You might say that people donít worship idols anymore.  They may not setup a statue or a specific thing and bow down to it, but by our actions we find many find other things more important than the service of God.   If a fishing pole and a bass boat are more important on Sunday than being in Godís house, I believe they qualify as a major distraction.   Many will play 18 rounds of golf on Sunday morning, and never consider being in Godís house to worship him.  Is fishing and golfing horrible things?   Not at all if done at the right time, but we still need to find time for God.  This city here in Athens was totally given over to worshipping idols, and it moved Paul.


Acts 17:17  Therefore disputed he in the synagogue with the Jews, and with the devout persons, and in the market daily with them that met with him.

Acts 17:18  Then 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 17:19  And they took him, and brought him unto Areopagus, saying, May we know what this new doctrine, whereof thou speakest, is?

Acts 17:20  For thou bringest certain strange things to our ears: we would know therefore what these things mean.

Acts 17:21  (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.)


We see as Paul went into the synagogues, he disputed with the Jews.  In the market, each day he met with the people and told them the truth about the Lord Jesus Christ.   We see in verse 18, that the philosophers said he was a babbler, bringing forth a strange god.   Many today consider those who preach the pure gospel unlearned and ignorant men.  Those that put God before the pleasures of the world and tickling the ears of the congregation are not highly touted.  But in Godís eyes, they are of great price.    We see that Paul is brought to Mars Hill and questioned concerning the doctrine that he preached.   The reason it seemed so strange to them is that they did not know the true God.  These were materialistic people who were atheistsÖ they did not believe in God.  I heard R.C. Sproul on the radio one day last week, and he said a recent survey was done concerning Christianity, and he marvelled at two of the findings.  It said 100 people were asked if they believed that God existed, and 95 of 100 said yes.  (Far more than either he nor I thought would say yes.) He said the second question was ďIs there absolute right and wrong?Ē  Of this group, 75 said that right and wrong was relative.  In other words, of 95 who believed that there was a righteous and perfect God, only 25 believed that there is absolute right or wrong.   How horrible.   God has laid down the truth as to what is right and wrong, and we are to believe it.  Satan has the world believing a lie that each man or woman can decide daily whether something is right or wrong.    These in Athens thought that the things in the world came by accident and chance.   Things do not happen by chance, but all things are upheld by God.  The providence of God is what allows us to live and breathe this day.   Verse 21 says they lived to tell or to hear some new thing.   Sounds like things havenít changed much in 2,000 years.


V.  Paulís Sermon on Mars Hill

 Acts 17:22  Then Paul stood in the midst of Mars' hill, and said, Ye men of Athens, I perceive that in all things ye are too superstitious.

Acts 17:23  For 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. 

Paul begins by calling out ďYe men of Athens, I perceive that in all things ye are too superstitious.Ē  Whether he meant this as too religious or too superstitious, we know they were caught up in false beliefs.  Paul got to the truth immediately.  Some people wonít drive down a street when a black cat crosses their path.   What happens if a white and black cat crosses your path?  It is silly to worry about things like this.  These people were so superstitious that they had set up an altar to the unknown god.   Paul tells them he was there to declare this unknown God to them.


Acts 17:24  God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands;

Acts 17:25  Neither is worshipped with men's hands, as though he needed any thing, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things;

Acts 17:26  And 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;

Acts 17:27  That 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:

Acts 17:28  For 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.


Paul lays down the truth on how God made the world and all things in it.  He declared that God did not dwell in temples made with hands today.  And while God does not need anything from man, be gives us all life and breath, and all things.  In verse 26, he tells them that God had made of one blood all nations of men to dwell on the face of the earth.  He goes on to say how that God has determined the appointed time for each nation and set the bounds of their habitation.   I wonder how much longer America will stand if our nation does not turn back to God.

 Gen 9:19  These are the three sons of Noah: and of them was the whole earth overspread.

Gen 10:32  These are the families of the sons of Noah, after their generations, in their nations: and by these were the nations divided in the earth after the flood.


Acts 17:29  Forasmuch 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.

Acts 17:30  And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent:

Acts 17:31  Because 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.

Acts 17:32  And when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked: and others said, We will hear thee again of this matter.

Acts 17:33  So Paul departed from among them.

Acts 17:34  Howbeit certain men clave unto him, and believed: among the which was Dionysius the Areopagite, and a woman named Damaris, and others with them.


Paul declares that God is not far from any of us, and that we are all his offspring.  Because of this, we should not view the Godhead as unto gold, silver, or stone graven by man.   And while God had overlooked this ignorance earlier, today he commands all men to repent.  God judgment is sure, and everyone will stand before God one day.  When Paul spoke of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked him.   But even at this, there were a few that heard the truth and were saved.


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Prov 4:18  But the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day.


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