Acts Chapter 17
Paul's Second Missionary Journey (see also Paul's First Missionary Journey and Paul's Third Missionary Journey) continued with Paul arriving in Thessalonica, which was named by Cassander (one of the Greek generals who divided up Alexander the Great's kingdom after he died - see Alexander The Great In Prophecy) after his wife (see Thessalonica). By the time of the New Testament, the Greek empire (see Ancient Empires - Greece) had declined and Thessalonica became one of the four Roman (see Ancient Empires - Rome) districts of Macedonia.
"17:1 Now when they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where was a synagogue of the Jews: 17:2 And Paul, as his manner was, went in unto them, and three sabbath days [see How To Be A True Christian - Lesson 4] reasoned with them out of the scriptures, 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. 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.
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. 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 [see Turning The World Upside Down] are come hither also; 17:7 Whom Jason hath received: and these all do contrary to the decrees of Caesar, saying that there is another king, one Jesus [see Israelite Monarchy - The Messiah]. 17:8 And they troubled the people and the rulers of the city, when they heard these things. 17:9 And when they had taken security of Jason, and of the other, they let them go." (Acts 17:1-9 KJV)
Paul and Silas continued on to Berea which was more welcoming, until some of the truth-haters from Thessalonica arrived in the city.
"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. 17:11 These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind [see The Cure For The Carnal Mind], and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so. 17:12 Therefore many of them believed; also of honourable women which were Greeks, and of men, not a few.
17:13 But when the Jews of Thessalonica had knowledge that the word of God was preached of Paul [see also Paul's Ministry] at Berea, they came thither also, and stirred up the people. 17:14 And then immediately the brethren sent away Paul to go as it were to the sea: but Silas and Timotheos abode there still.
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 17:10-15 KJV)
The believers "that conducted Paul brought him unto Athens" in an effort to keep the apostle from being killed (note that Christians, or rather, true Christians, have never martyred anyone - while many people of other religions, and of counterfeit Christianity, Roman Catholic and Protestant, have a vast amount of blood on their hands).
The pagan philosophers of Athens were at least relatively peaceful (see also Paul In Athens).
"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 [see Thou shalt have no other gods before Me and Thou shalt not make any graven image] . 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. 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 [see Resurrections]. 17:19 And they took him, and brought him unto Areopagus, saying, May we know what this new doctrine, whereof thou speakest, is?
17:20 For thou bringest certain strange things to our ears: we would know therefore what these things mean. 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.
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. 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.
17:24 God that made the world and all things therein [see Christ The Creator], seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands; 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;
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 [see Landmark]; 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:
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.
17:29 Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God [see Spiritual Conception and Spiritual Adoption], we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man's device. 17:30 And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent: 17:31 Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world [see When Will You Be Judged?] 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 [listen to the Sermon Christ's Passover: The Death And Birth Of The Saviour from our Sermons page].
17:32 And when they heard of the resurrection of the dead [see also Born Again, How and When?], some mocked: and others said, We will hear thee again of this matter. 17:33 So Paul departed from among them.
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." (Acts 17:16-34 KJV)
Acts Chapter 18
Paul then journeyed on to Corinth where he met Priscilla and Aquila. Corinth is located about 50 miles / 80 kilometers west of Athens, on the narrow isthmus that connects the southern section of Greece, known as the Peloponnesus, to the Greek mainland. The city name has become well-known to Christians from the two Epistles that the apostle Paul later wrote to the Christians there - First and Second Corinthians.
"18:1 After these things Paul departed from Athens, and came to Corinth; 18:2 And found a certain Jew named Aquila, born in Pontus, lately come from Italy, with his wife Priscilla; because that Claudius had commanded all Jews to depart from Rome: and came unto them. 18:3 And because he was of the same craft, he abode with them, and wrought: for by their occupation they were tentmakers. 18:4 And he reasoned in the synagogue every sabbath, and persuaded the Jews and the Greeks.
18:5 And when Silas and Timotheus were come from Macedonia, Paul was pressed in the spirit, and testified to the Jews that Jesus was Christ [see also Zionism]. 18:6 And when they opposed themselves, and blasphemed, he shook his raiment, and said unto them, Your blood be upon your own heads; I am clean: from henceforth I will go unto the Gentiles.
18:7 And he departed thence, and entered into a certain man's house, named Justus, one that worshipped God, whose house joined hard to the synagogue. 18:8 And Crispus, the chief ruler of the synagogue, believed on the Lord with all his house; and many of the Corinthians hearing believed, and were baptized [see Baptism].
18:9 Then spake the Lord to Paul in the night by a vision [see Visions and Dreams], Be not afraid, but speak, and hold not thy peace: 18:10 For I am with thee, and no man shall set on thee to hurt thee: for I have much people in this city. 18:11 And he continued there a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them.
18:12 And when Gallio was the deputy of Achaia, the Jews made insurrection with one accord against Paul, and brought him to the judgment seat, 18:13 Saying, This fellow persuadeth men to worship God contrary to the law.
18:14 And when Paul was now about to open his mouth, Gallio said unto the Jews, If it were a matter of wrong or wicked lewdness, O ye Jews, reason would that I should bear with you:
18:15 But if it be a question of words and names, and of your law, look ye to it; for I will be no judge of such matters. 18:16 And he drave them from the judgment seat.
18:17 Then all the Greeks took Sosthenes, the chief ruler of the synagogue, and beat him before the judgment seat. And Gallio cared for none of those things." (Acts 18:1-17 KJV)
Apollos, a short version of the Greek name Apollonius, was a Jew from Alexandria, an early convert to Christianity. He began teaching before his knowledge was well developed, but with help from Priscilla and Aquila who had learned much from Paul, he soon became a very influential preacher of The Gospel of The Kingdom of God.
"18:18 And Paul after this tarried there yet a good while, and then took his leave of the brethren, and sailed thence into Syria, and with him Priscilla and Aquila; having shorn his head in Cenchrea: for he had a vow. 18:19 And he came to Ephesus, and left them there: but he himself entered into the synagogue, and reasoned with the Jews. 18:20 When they desired him to tarry longer time with them, he consented not; 18:21 But bade them farewell, saying, I must by all means keep this feast that cometh in Jerusalem: but I will return again unto you, if God will. And he sailed from Ephesus. 18:22 And when he had landed at Caesarea, and gone up, and saluted the church, he went down to Antioch.
18:23 And after he had spent some time there, he departed, and went over all the country of Galatia and Phrygia in order, strengthening all the disciples.
18:24 And a certain Jew named Apollos, born at Alexandria, an eloquent man, and mighty in the scriptures, came to Ephesus. 18:25 This man was instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in the spirit, he spake and taught diligently the things of the Lord, knowing only the baptism of John. 18:26 And he began to speak boldly in the synagogue: whom when Aquila and Priscilla had heard, they took him unto them, and expounded unto him the way of God more perfectly.
18:27 And when he was disposed to pass into Achaia, the brethren wrote, exhorting the disciples to receive him: who, when he was come, helped them much which had believed through grace:
18:28 For he mightily convinced the Jews, and that publicly, showing by the scriptures that Jesus was Christ." (Acts 18:18-28 KJV)
Acts Chapter 19
"19:4 Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus" (Acts 19:4 KJV) provides an important lesson in that while repentance is vital to salvation, so is directing that repentance to the only one through whom salvation is found - after which the Holy Spirit will come in full measure (see The Cure For The Carnal Mind and The Process Of Conversion).
"19:1 And it came to pass, that, while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul having passed through the upper coasts came to Ephesus: and finding certain disciples, 19:2 He said unto them, Have ye received The Holy Ghost since ye believed?
And they said unto him, We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost.
19:3 And he said unto them, Unto what then were ye baptized?
And they said, Unto John's baptism [see also The Origin of Baptism].
19:4 Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus.
19:5 When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.
19:6 And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues [see Speaking In Tongues], and prophesied. 19:7 And all the men were about twelve." (Acts 19:1-7 KJV)
As always, with those who accepted the Truth were those who opposed it.
"19:8 And he went into the synagogue, and spake boldly for the space of three months, disputing and persuading the things concerning the kingdom of God. 19:9 But when divers were hardened, and believed not, but spake evil of that way before the multitude, he departed from them, and separated the disciples, disputing daily in the school of one Tyrannus. 19:10 And this continued by the space of two years; so that all they which dwelt in Asia heard the word of the Lord Jesus, both Jews and Greeks.
19:11 And God wrought special miracles by the hands of Paul: 19:12 So that from his body were brought unto the sick handkerchiefs or aprons, and the diseases departed from them, and the evil spirits went out of them.
19:13 Then certain of the vagabond Jews, exorcists [see The Exorcist], took upon them to call over them which had evil spirits the name of the Lord Jesus, saying, We adjure you by Jesus whom Paul preacheth.
19:14 And there were seven sons of one Sceva, a Jew, and chief of the priests, which did so.
19:15 And the evil spirit answered and said, Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are ye?
19:16 And the man in whom the evil spirit was leaped on them, and overcame them, and prevailed against them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded.
19:17 And this was known to all the Jews and Greeks also dwelling at Ephesus; and fear fell on them all, and the name of the Lord Jesus was magnified. 19:18 And many that believed came, and confessed, and showed their deeds. 19:19 Many of them also which used curious arts brought their books together, and burned them before all men: and they counted the price of them, and found it fifty thousand pieces of silver. 19:20 So mightily grew the word of God and prevailed.
19:21 After these things were ended, Paul purposed in the spirit, when he had passed through Macedonia and Achaia, to go to Jerusalem, saying, After I have been there, I must also see Rome.
19:22 So he sent into Macedonia two of them that ministered unto him, Timotheus and Erastus; but he himself stayed in Asia for a season." (Acts 19:8-22 KJV)
The Roman idol Diana was known to the Greeks as Artemis. Her pagan cult is mentioned in the Bible, depending on the translation, as either "Diana of the Ephesians" or "Artemis of the Ephesians." A riot at Ephesus broke out after Paul told them that their "goddess" was a fraud, along with those who peddled her idols.
"19:23 And the same time there arose no small stir about that way.
19:24 For a certain man named Demetrius, a silversmith, which made silver shrines for Diana [see Diana of the Ephesians], brought no small gain unto the craftsmen; 19:25 Whom he called together with the workmen of like occupation, and said, Sirs, ye know that by this craft we have our wealth. 19:26 Moreover ye see and hear, that not alone at Ephesus, but almost throughout all Asia, this Paul hath persuaded and turned away much people, saying that they be no gods, which are made with hands: 19:27 So that not only this our craft is in danger to be set at nought; but also that the temple of the great goddess Diana should be despised, and her magnificence should be destroyed, whom all Asia and the world worshippeth.
19:28 And when they heard these sayings, they were full of wrath, and cried out, saying, Great is Diana of the Ephesians. 19:29 And the whole city was filled with confusion: and having caught Gaius and Aristarchus, men of Macedonia, Paul's companions in travel, they rushed with one accord into the theatre. 19:30 And when Paul would have entered in unto the people, the disciples suffered him not. 19:31 And certain of the chief of Asia, which were his friends, sent unto him, desiring him that he would not adventure himself into the theatre.
19:32 Some therefore cried one thing, and some another: for the assembly was confused; and the more part knew not wherefore they were come together. 19:33 And they drew Alexander out of the multitude, the Jews putting him forward. And Alexander beckoned with the hand, and would have made his defence unto the people. 19:34 But when they knew that he was a Jew, all with one voice about the space of two hours cried out, Great is Diana of the Ephesians.
19:35 And when the townclerk had appeased the people, he said, Ye men of Ephesus, what man is there that knoweth not how that the city of the Ephesians is a worshipper of the great goddess Diana, and of the image which fell down from Jupiter? 19:36 Seeing then that these things cannot be spoken against, ye ought to be quiet, and to do nothing rashly. 19:37 For ye have brought hither these men, which are neither robbers of churches, nor yet blasphemers of your goddess.
19:38 Wherefore if Demetrius, and the craftsmen which are with him [see Demetrius The Idol Merchant], have a matter against any man, the law is open, and there are deputies: let them implead one another. 19:39 But if ye inquire any thing concerning other matters, it shall be determined in a lawful assembly. 19:40 For we are in danger to be called in question for this day's uproar, there being no cause whereby we may give an account of this concourse. 19:41 And when he had thus spoken, he dismissed the assembly." (Acts 19:23-41 KJV)
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