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

Acts 16

Beaten up for Christ than asked by their torturers for forgiveness. This is the essence of Acts 16. Also, note the often used word “WE” in this chapter. This means that Luke was a part of this missionary journey of Paul and Silas as he uses the inclusive pronoun “WE.”dna

We also find and are introduced to the young Timothy in this chapter. He is the son of a Jewish woman and a Greek father. Usually the Jews of Judaism would see him as a Samaritan; one of mixed blood; often detested by pure DNA Jews of Israel. The half breeds are the ones who basically made up the the Samaritans but this discussion is reserved for another article.

This picture is of the Samaritans of today dressed in their traditional garb. They are half Israeli and half something else. There is much to explain how this works even in today’s attitudes of Israelis, most Jews of Judea back then and perhaps those of Israel today.

We will revisit this at a later time…knowledge first then understanding.

Young Timothy was renown for his gentle attitude and firm belief in God. He was a believer in The Way of Jesus Christ. For some reason not explained that well, Paul knowing the issues between Samaritans and the full blood Jews took Timothy and circumcised him as a young adult. This is usually something that is done on the 8th day after birth. Remember that his father was Greek, not Israeli. It most likely had something to do with keeping the fundamental Jews off his back and eventual ministry.

Acts 16:4 explains that the letter to which we referred to in our previous article on Acts 15 was in Paul and Silas’ possession. It regarded the idea of requiring circumcision for salvation. This is what is referred to as a hmm-moment in scripture. Guesses are speculative.

The next verse in Acts 16 Paul shares this good news from the council in Jerusalem that “no circumcision required” for salvation. They were sanctified in their faith. Then Acts 16 (Luke is author) states that “they added to their numbers daily.” This is not a measure of those attending church services but of those who became followers of Christ. There is a significant difference. To simply add to the rolls of membership is to unequally yoke unbelievers with believers. This makes for compromise and political correctness therefore an additional reason even original church groups establish denominations and conditional (building) church worship.

Paul in verse 6 wished to go to the area of Galatia but for some reason the Holy Spirit refused him. Another bible hmm-moment. This too we will discuss in a later article. The same is true in verse 7. Paul wished to go to Bithynia but again the Holy Spirit refused them.

The following verse states that “Paul then had a vision to go to Macedonia.” How do we respond to the promptings of the Holy Spirit? Even though Paul wished to go to Galatia and then Bithynia he didn’t via the prompting of the Holy Spirit. Then in a vision the same Holy Spirit points him to Macedonia. On all three occasions the word “immediately” (v8) comes to mind. He and his colleagues didn’t sit back and debate the pros and cons. They didn’t question the Holy Spirit. They immediately responded to a “NOT” then to a “GO” (v8); no attempt to find excuses… [to not teach a SS class perhaps?]

In verse 12 we find Paul and company in Philippi, a city named by Alexander after his father, King Philip. This is about 400 years after this fact in history. What few recognize is this Philippi is a colony occupied mostly be retired Roman soldiers. The word for colony is kolōnia; i.e. Latin for “Roman colony for veterans.” Philippi was not a stronghold of Jews, priests, Pharisees, and dominated by a synagogue. It was a colony of retired Roman soldiers. This is why in the following verse Paul and his entourage sought a place to pray being that it was Sabbath and no synagogue.

They found a pleasant place by the river only to discover that a group of women also saw it as a pleasant place to gather. One of these women was Lydia, a dyer and seller of purple garments. This is the color of status in Roman culture. She was not from Philippi but Thyatira. Verse 15 tells us she had a house in the Philippi area. Today Thyatira is Akhisar, Turkey.

Lydia was a worshiper of the God of Israel but did not know or understand the salvation offered through Jesus Christ. She overheard Paul preaching or teaching, perhaps just sharing his testimony. She wanted to be baptized. She was and her “household” followed in this action. This suggests that in her household already existed God fearing believers.

Acts 16:16-18 we find that a fortunetelling slave-girl, without doubt demon influenced or possessed, loudly and persistently proclaimed that Paul and company were of “the most high God.” This went on for several days. Finally Paul turns to her and said to the evil spirit, “I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.” The evil spirit came out of her; no longer a fortuneteller. He owners were devastated as she was a profiteer for them.

Instead of being hauled before Jewish leaders in a Synagogue (as there was none in Philippi) her owners hauled Paul before the Roman magistrate. Verse 21 of Acts 16 has a deep message other than Paul being accused of doing good but not of Roman custom/tradition. We must add that verse 17 states that a crowd joined Paul’s accusers inaguringhim in front of the magistrate. Their fear of Rome was great so imagined and real violations may bring retribution upon them.

How often have we seen but do not recognize that when a church of today has become politically correct and fallen away from teaching depth bible studies, a voice such as Paul’s arouses some in their congregation. Others follow suite in attacking that voice spoken in truth? Then just as did the magistrates in this bible passage, church leaders show outrage over what? That someone stepped outside of their church/community service “customs and traditions.”

Paul and Silas were thrown into prison after being verbally and physically attacked. The jailer was ordered to “guard them with their lives.” Such was Roman conditions for guards. If they failed to guard their prisoners, they paid for it with their own lives. This is where we get the statement… GUARD IT WITH YOUR LIFE. That first night in prison and as Paul and Silas were singing praises to God and Jesus, an earthquake struck the area. Not just an earthquake but a “great earthquake.” The prison doors fell open and any prisoner could have walked out. As the jailor was about to take his own life knowing his consequence for a great escape would be death, Paul shouted out… “Do yourself no harm as we are all [hapas] here.”

This testimony of Paul and Silas now brought fruit for their labors. The jailer wanted what they had as they lead by example and continued praising God almighty. They didn’t try to flee through the open prison doors. The jailer pleaded on knees to Paul. Some may say his plea was out of gratitude for not escaping. Reading the text closely it was for spiritual reasons the guard appealed to Paul and Silas.

He washed their open wounds, fed them and accepted Jesus as his Savior, Lord and God, only then discovering that they were also Roman citizen by birth. The magistrate had violated Roman law. Again, fear of Rome came upon them. From this particular bible passage we can get the statement…”Do you know who we are?”

Paul did not let it rest as there are consequences. When the next morning the Roman leaders of Philippi determined no law was broken by Paul, Silas , Luke, etc, and that Paul was a Roman citizen, they order their immediate release. Paul refused to leave until the public also recognized their violation of human or Roman law. He required the accusers come, apologize and then escort them out of prison.

Rev Dr. Jstark

November, 2018

The Letter Writer

paul letter writerPerhaps an aha-moment for some if not each of us today…

Luke wrote Acts as did he the Book of Luke. But do we know how to identify the books Paul wrote? Following are hints in the opening words of each of his books:

Romans 1:1  Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God,

1Cor 1:1  Paul, called by the will of God to be an apostle of Christ Jesus, and our brother Sosthenes,

1Cor 1:2  To the church of God that is in Corinth,

2Cor 1:1  Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, To the church of God that is at Corinth, with all the saints who are in the whole of Achaia:

2Cor 1:2  Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Php 1:1  Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus, To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are at Philippi, with the overseers and deacons:

Php 1:2  Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Gal 1:1  Paul, an apostle—not from men nor through man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead—

Gal 1:2  and all the brothers who are with me, To the churches of Galatia:

Eph 1:1  Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, To the saints who are in Ephesus, and are faithful in Christ Jesus:

Eph 1:2  Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Php 1:1  Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus, To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are at Philippi, with the overseers and deacons:

Php 1:2  Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

1Thes 1:1  Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy, To the church of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace to you and peace.

2Thes 1:1  Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy, To the church of the Thessalonians in God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ:

2Thes 1:2  Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

1Tim 1:1  Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by command of God our Savior and of Christ Jesus our hope,

1Tim 1:2  To Timothy, my true child in the faith: Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.

2Tim 1:1  Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God according to the promise of the life that is in Christ Jesus,

2Ti 1:2  To Timothy, my beloved child: Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.

Titus 1:1  Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, for the sake of the faith of God’s elect and their knowledge of the truth, which accords with godliness,

Tit 1:2  in hope of eternal life, which God, who never lies, promised before the ages began

Philemon 1:1  Paul, a prisoner for Christ Jesus, and Timothy our brother, To Philemon our beloved fellow worker

Phm 1:2  and Apphia our sister and Archippus our fellow soldier, and the church in your house:

Phm 1:3  Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

cropped-minijim1Dr. jStark

July 2018