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Acts 17





This chapter covers a lot of territory, not just physical distance but spiritual distance.  It begins in Thessalonica moves to Berea and then on to Athens.  It moves from meeting in the synagogue once a week to meeting every day to meeting in the streets.  But through all of that, Paul was faithful to share the Gospel in every context.  And he was intentional enough to take people from where they were to a point where Jesus could be presented and Gospel could be preached.

In Thessalonica, Paul met with Jewish people in the synagogue on at least three consecutive Sabbath days.  Interestingly enough some of those Jewish people were very open to the Gospel and were saved.  Other Jews in that city were very opposed to the Gospel and, out of jealousy, created a situation that would force Paul and his crew out of town.

There is a very interesting statement in verse 7.  The opposition said about Paul and his crew, “These men who have turned the world upside down have come here also”.  There are a couple of important points to consider here.  First, Paul and his crew had a reputation.  The people of Thessalonica knew about the work and the impact that Paul and his crew had.  And it is just as obvious that group thought Paul and his crew were going to turn their world upside down.

I have thought about that a bit.  It seems to me that our world is being turned upside down.  And it seems to me that there are lots of culprits for that: world politics, national morality, etc.  But it doesn’t seem to me that our nation is being turned upside down by the Gospel.  We desperately need God to bring another Great Awakening to our land.  We desperately need Christ followers to be brave and bold in sharing the Gospel with the world.

From Thessalonica, Paul went on to Berea.  The Bereans were a very different group.  They were so interested in what Paul had to say, they met every day to study the Scriptures.  This would be a good place for me to say something about how today we have trouble getting people to gather once a week for Bible study. 

Athens was the next stop on Paul’s journey.  There is part of this story that I absolutely love.  That is the piece where Paul uses the statue to the unknown god as his starting point to share the Gospel.  It is so cool to see Paul start where people were (even idolaters) and lead them to Jesus. He even quoted one of their secular poets as path to lead them to Jesus. As verses 32-34 prove, not everybody went on that journey to Jesus but some did.

This is an important chapter for several reasons.  One of those has to be the evidence of Paul working hard at the work of the Gospel.  We need to be about the work of the Gospel as well. Another one of those is the evidence that Paul was willing to go wherever he could to share the Gospel.  Everyone deserves to hear the Gospel.  May we be faithful to share it.

Posted by Joe Ligon with

Acts 16





As this chapter opens, we are introduced to another character who will play an important role in the spreading of the Gospel and the growth of the New Testament Church.  His name is Timothy.  He will take the place of John Mark who went with Barnabas in the previous chapter.  Timothy will become a very special assistant to Paul.  And as you get further into the New Testament, you will find that Paul wrote Timothy at least a couple of letters.  Those letters are among what we call the pastoral epistles.  And those epistles are absolutely invaluable to the church today.

In this chapter we also encounter the Macedonian Call.  As you read about that, you will find that Paul and his missionary team seemed to be intent on going into Asia to preach the Gospel.  That was not God’s plan at the time.  He wanted the Gospel to be taken west into Europe.

There are a couple of important things to consider about this.  One, God has a plan.  His plan is not always our plan.  His ways are not always our ways.  His thoughts are not always our thoughts.  But He has a plan.  And the best thing any of us can do is discover that plan and dedicate ourselves to it.  The second important thing to consider about this is even the apostles were not always clear what they were supposed to do.  Uncertainty is not bad when we are unclear about what God is saying.  Uncertainty, however, is bad when we are clear about what God is saying.  When we know what God is saying we need to move on with certainty.

Paul and his crew headed off to Europe and arrived in Philippi.  Since I heard a very dynamic sermon about Lydia just a few days ago, I am going to skip over her story.  What a sermon that was…

Paul and Silas end up in a Philippian jail.  Have you ever thought about how many of those early church leaders spent time in jail?  I am not sure how the modern American church would react to that.  I suspect we would fire the person for such behavior.  Thankfully, the early church seemed to be more understanding.  The other interesting thing about those early church leaders and jail, is that jails had a hard time holding them.  They always seemed to be escaping. 

Although Paul and Silas could certainly have escaped this Philippian jail, they chose not to.  Instead they turned a potential jail break into an amazing opportunity to preach the Gospel.  The jailer, who was going to kill himself because of the supposed jail break, instead was saved.

It is absolutely amazing how God can orchestrate any and all of our circumstances to further His redemptive plan.  And it is absolutely amazing how God’s love for all people, even a Philippian jailer is so obvious throughout the Bible.  I am glad He loves us.

Posted by Joe Ligon with

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