Acts 17

Act 17:1 Now when they [Paul, Silas, Luke, Timothy and others] had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where there was a of the Jews.

Act 17:2 And Paul went in, as was his custom, and on three Sabbath days he reasoned with them from the Scriptures… (ESV)

Following Paul’s stop at Philippi where there was NO SYNAGOGUE he comes to a place where there is one. As is his custom and as it states in verse two, Paul “went in.” For three consecutive Sabbaths he speaks to those in attendance. He “reasoned with them from the scriptures.” Here is a point we often miss. The ONLY scripture that existed at this time was the Old Testament. The New Testament had yet to be written.

Traditionally Thessalonica was founded in c. 316 BCE by the Macedonian general Cassander who named it after his wife Thessalonike, daughter of Philip II of Macedon. This means that Alexander the Great was his brother-in-law. This city was a gem. It went from a backward village to a prosperous and significant city-state under King Philip. Even though its armies were eventually defeated by the Romans, the city itself kept its prosperity. This is what Paul saw in his visit in Acts 17.

jesus messiah

Messiah

Paul points out in Acts 17:3 that “This Jesus I proclaim to you is the Christ.” The word Christ is a direct translation of the word meaning Messiah. The Thessalonians ruled by Rome at the time of Paul and worshiped Rome’s many gods including the Roman Emperor… Nero! Eventually these forces would clash.

JIV NOTE: Nero is the Roman Emperor who eventually had Paul beheaded and Peter crucified. Paul’s grave markers still exist to this day in Rome. (National Geographic)

https://www.nationalgeographic.com/science/2006/12/news-st-paul-tomb-found-rome/

Acts 17:4 specifically states that a few Jews, many Gentiles and a great number of women in

Thessalonica accepted Jesus as The Way. But, as in every place the disciples, Apostles, and followers of Jesus went to share their faith, the Jewish leadership rejected them and often openly attacked them. This is again true in Thessalonica.

Paul, Luke, Silas, Timothy (and perhaps a few others) stayed at the house of Jason in this city. The Jews went to the back allies of Thessalonica to gather a (paid) mob to protest their presence in their city. They went to the house of Jason demanding he throw out these “Christ followers.” He refused so the paid mob of back alley thugs dragged Jason to the authorities. Their accusation? These men protected by Jason claimed that their was another king by the name of Jesus. In verse 17:10 we find the first mention of someone(s) providing bond for their release.

Immediately upon their bonded release, Paul and Silas (with others) were sent packing to Berea. One would think a lesson should be learned by now, but guess where Paul and Silas go upon entering Berea? The local synagogue. Acts 17:11 states that “these Jews were more noble. They received the Word with a degree of eagerness.” How eager? They examined the (O.T.) scriptures daily. Not for devotions but for evidence of the Christ, probably in passages like Isaiah. Having left Thessalonica behind did not mean the Jews from there had forgotten about Paul and Silas. They sent men there to agitate the people of Berea.

Paul, being the chief spokesperson for this missionary group was again spirited out of Berea to Athens but Silas and Timothy remained behind. Once Paul was in Athens he called for Silas and Timothy to join him. A good personal review of Athens and their culture would benefit anyone at this time but that is not the goal of this article. Athens was a city of many gods (idols) including one to the unknown god.

athens-Athens was a place of famous philosophers and speakers. There was a high place called the Areopagus upon which philosophies and philosophers were given center stage. People listened and questioned those given the platform. Great men of historical renown stood on this same place as now did Paul, Silas, Timothy and Luke. Those present obviously did not know anything about this Jesus, crucifixion, resurrection and salvation. EVIDENCE? Acts 17:19 & 20 state: (ESV) And they took him and brought him to the Areopagus, saying, “May we know what this new teaching is that you are presenting? For you bring some strange things to our ears. We wish to know therefore what these things mean.”

Here is when Paul points out that these people were very religious and open to understanding as they had an alter designated to the unknown god (17:23). Paul continues by explaining who God and Jesus are. They created all things and were master over all. But when he spoke of the resurrection of Jesus, some began to mock, but others wished to hear more of this “unknown God.”

So Paul went out from their midst. But some men joined him and believed, among whom also were Dionysius the Areopagite and a woman named Damaris and others with them.

Late night Bible Study

STUDY THE WORD for yourself!

JIV point of bible study: Whenever the bible identifies a proper name, place, or event it is there for a study reason. Dionysius, the Areopagite, a woman named Damaris. All others are left unnamed. The Holy Bible does not mince, mix or add words for the purpose of filling a page or chapter. The true student sees this then researches them to add to his or her understanding. Memorizing or even learning how to pronounce them adds little. Researching them adds to our understanding of each and every bible setting.

Rev Dr. Jstark – November 2018

Paul and Silas

The Bible often mentions earthquakes. If they are so, they are also a matter of secular records making these Bible records the same history as found in secular records. This series is designed to explore secular history, archeological digs [discoveries] and scriptural records of Biblical Earthquakes. This series will end with an article or two  on End-Time earthquakes. This is article number five in the series.


The Earthquake of Paul and Silas – Acts 16; Philippians; A Prison Letter

When we read the Book of Philippians, written from prison by the Apostle Paul, of an event recorded even in secular history. Many Bible teachers and scholars refer to the Book of Philippians as one of the “Prison Letters. [The other “prison letters” include Ephesians, Colossians, and Philemon] Acts 16:16-39 records the same Bible history. We find Paul and Silas in chains due to the fact that they had cast out an evil spirit in a young girl, slave, who was able to predict (foretell) the future. In the Greek it means a μαντεύομαι, manteuomai: a prophet, soothsayer, one who utters spells.

SPECIAL NOTE: It is only fair to inform the reader of this article that the time period of this imprisonment is debatable. Many Bible scholars and well-meaning researchers have affixed multiple dates and places to this particular event. Some suggest it was around 52 A.D. and some go as far as to suggest it to be around 61 B.C. My personal approach in historical research is to look up major earthquakes in this region and connect the dots with Acts 16:26…[NIV] “Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken.” Secular historians and modern seismologist report such an earthquake around 58 to 61 A.D. in western Turkey near Ephesus.

We should keep in mind that Luke (supposed author of the Book of Acts) writes in Acts 16:16: “Once when we were going to the place of worship…” Note this is not at all specific to where this place of worship is and when it is. It is like telling a friend or group of people who are discussing particular life events that one of the participants simply starts in with the same introduction to the event s/he is going to explain; i.e. “Once when we (I) did such-and-such…”. It isn’t sequential, but it did happen sometime within his or her lifetime; perhaps as a teen, when just married, as an employee of whomever, while on a hunting trip or vacation, etc.
(Acts 16:20, 21) Paul and Silas’s accusers claimed “These men are Jews and are throwing our city into an uproar by advocating customs unlawful for us as Romans.” The fact that Paul and Silas were Roman citizens was unknown to their accusers and the magistrates who gave them a quick and speedy kangaroo trial (read the event in the Acts 16:37, 38 and see the terror that came over their accusers once this fact was revealed to them).

The documented record from the Bible and in Roman and Biblical history states that these men were put in prison with leg stocks; something usually reserved for only the most dangerous law breakers. In case the reader does not recall this recorded history, Paul and Silas were accused of anything but the truth. They had cast out an evil spirit that dwelt within this slave girl. This evil spirit recognized, as is stated in Acts 16:17, “these men are servants of the *Most High God.” She followed Paul and Silas around town with the spirit shouting out this fact.

*The Greek for “Most High” is hupsistos. It means the “Supreme God.” This fallen angel (evil spirit) and agent of Satan had to acknowledge the fact of God being supreme even above its boss, ol’ Satan/Lucifer.

We should also understand that during this time in history the Romans who occupied almost the entire Mediterranean area allowed Judaism and its offshoot of Christianity as Romans thought it to be, to be practiced (and protected). Romans viewed it as just another cult or religion within the massive Roman Empire.

The Romans had many gods including one to “the unknown god” (see Acts 17). Some of the Roman authorities saw the God of Judaism as possibly the unknown god for which the Romans even had a statue. This means from the onset, Paul and Silas were accused of something the Romans did NOT object to AT THIS TIME. The Emperor Nero soon changed all of this.
Historical Note: The Romans and The Romans , during the time of the Maccabees, had made an alliance and agreement to cooperate in most of life’s matters. This secular history can be read in 1 Maccabees 8:19-21, 29. The conclusion… since the Romans initially saw Christianity as an offshoot of Judaism, what Paul and Silas were doing was within the law.

Back to the real reason for Paul and Silas’s kangaroo trial: Acts 16: 17-19… Once the evil spirit was cast out, she (the slave girl) was no longer influenced by the evil spirit therefore incapable of foretelling the future; i.e. the money-making business of her owners and the real reason for bringing charges against Paul and Silas. Consequently these owners of the slave girl were put out of business. This fact was never mentioned in the kangaroo trial of Paul and Silas.

A Reader’s Note: The reader should take a few minutes to examine the scripture surrounding this point in history. It is directly relevant to recorded secular history and the earthquake mentioned in Acts 16:26.

EarthquakeThe short of it (the earthquake; v26)… shook the foundations of the prison opening the doors of not only the inner prison room in which Paul and Silas were chained, but all of the surrounding prison cells. In Roman times, this would mean death to the jailor if the prisoners escaped.

The aha-moment in secular and Biblical history…

In all likelihood, Philippi was not the epicenter of this earthquake and it is probable that Paul and Silas were not in prison in Philippi. After all, Paul was writing a letter to them. It may only be a coincident of timing but secular records and historians write that a very significant earthquake sometime around 59 to 61 A.D., the time in history when Paul and Silas were in prison, destroyed Laodicea, Colossus, and Hierapolis. These three cities were totaled as they lay within a natural fault between them and the Aegean Sea; the Northern and Western Anatolia Faults; the Lycus River Valley (http://www.padfield.com/2005/laodicea.html). A look at a map would also tell us that Ephesus was well within the tremors of this devastating earthquake recorded in both secular and Biblical history. After all, they are not separate histories. There is only one history and these coincide.

Scientist and seismologists tell us that tremors can travel thousands of miles and up to speeds of 500 plus miles per hour. The destroyed cities of Laodicea, Colossus, and Hierapolis were only a 90 to 100 miles, or so, from the eastern shores of the Aegean Sea where Philippi is/was almost on the western shores of this same Sea. Ephesus was next door to these cities within Turkey.

Secular records from Pliny, Eusebius, as do the Annuls of Tacitus record the same event within a few years [plus or minus] the earthquake record in the Book of Acts.

Coincidence… perhaps? But the records of the Bible and secularists match quite well. But, don’t take my word for it. Study it yourself. Secular history and Biblical history are not two unconnected stories. They are one history (not a story) recorded as a slice of the same historical pie.

Also see links:
1. http://religiouslyincorrect.com/Articles/TriCityAreaEarthquake.shtml
2. http://www.padfield.com/acrobat/history/laodicea.pdf
3. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seismic_wave
4. http://www.friendsandheroes.tv/episode19_paul_and_silas.html
5. http://www.gotquestions.org/Book-of-Philippians.html

a) Author: Philippians 1:1 identifies the author of the Book of Philippians as the apostle Paul, likely along with the help of Timothy.
b) Date of Writing: The Book of Philippians was written in approximately A.D. 61.

jStark3