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ACTS 17:1-15

Paul and his helpers – also known as missionaries – were teaching and preaching in every city possible in order to spread the Good News about Jesus Christ. They are here, in Thessalonica, preaching in the synagogue. In their preaching, they explained and gave evidence that Jesus Christ had so suffer, die and rise again. This they explained using the Scriptures. And, remember, these Scriptures are not the New Testament which we have available to us today.

According to the prophecies of Scripture - Old Testament - the Messiah was appointed to suffer and die and then rise from the dead. Both of these experiences were fulfilled in Jesus and no one else. So, the message they preached was that Jesus is the Messiah.

As a result of their preaching, many believed and join with Paul and the missionaries. Some of them were Jews and others of them were Greeks. Both men and women believed and joined with them.

17 When Paul and his companions had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where there was a Jewish synagogue. 2 As was his custom, Paul went into the synagogue, and on three Sabbath days he reasoned with them from the Scriptures, 3 explaining and proving that the Messiah had to suffer and rise from the dead. “This Jesus I am proclaiming to you is the Messiah,” he said. 4 Some of the Jews were persuaded and joined Paul and Silas, as did a large number of God-fearing Greeks and quite a few prominent women.

5 But other Jews were jealous; so they rounded up some bad characters from the marketplace, formed a mob, and started a riot in the city. They rushed to Jason’s house in search of Paul and Silas in order to bring them out to the crowd. But when they did not find them, they dragged Jason and some other believers before the city officials, shouting: “These men who have caused trouble all over the world have now come here, 7 and Jason has welcomed them into his house. They are all defying Caesar’s decrees, saying that there is another king, one called Jesus.” 8 When they heard this, the crowd and the city officials were thrown into turmoil. 9 Then they made Jason and the others post bond and let them go.

10 As soon as it was night, the believers sent Paul and Silas away to Berea. On arriving there, they went to the Jewish synagogue. 11 Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true. 12 As a result, many of them believed, as did also a number of prominent Greek women and many Greek men.

13 But when the Jews in Thessalonica learned that Paul was preaching the word of God at Berea, some of them went there too, agitating the crowds and stirring them up. 14 The believers immediately sent Paul to the coast, but Silas and Timothy stayed at Berea. 15 Those who escorted Paul brought him to Athens and then left with instructions for Silas and Timothy to join him as soon as possible.

But, many of the Jews and rulers there were angered by the preaching of these men. These missionaries were coming into their towns and telling them that there was another king besides Caesar and a greater king than Caesar. So, they brought wicked men from the marketplace, formed a mob, and incited the mob to riot. They accused Paul and his fellow workers of upsetting Roman rule and the authority of Caesar. You will recall that these are very similar to accusations the crowds laid upon Jesus by essentially the same people as we see in Luke 23:2 – “We found this man misleading our nation and forbidding to pay taxes to Caesar, and saying that He Himself is Christ, a King.” These accusers found Jason, a Christian, and brought him up on charges of harboring political agitators, spreading propaganda, and proclaiming a different kingdom. In the meantime, Paul and the missionaries were forced to get out of town. And why? Because they were preaching the truth! And the authorities did not want to hear the Truth!

The preachers then came to Berea. Berea was about 60 miles from Thessalonica. This is where we find them in verse 11. Here, too, they went into the synagogue to teach and preach. But the Jews here in Berea received them in a very different manner than the Jews had in Thessalonica. Look at that 11th verse: Now these were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the Word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so.”

These Bereans were not opposed to the teaching, but they were not gullible either. That is why they examined the Scriptures daily and I just imagine they went over it with “a fine-tooth comb” very carefully. They wanted to be sure that what the messengers were telling them was what the word said. Because of their careful and thorough examination, they recognized the truth in it and believed it.

This is the way we must evangelize. We must present the Scriptures to them in a manner they can understand and see the great blessing of serving Christ, knowing who He is and why He came to this earth and knowing why He had to die a cruel death on a cross so that they might be saved.

Paul had to continuously move from place to place to preach the Gospel. There was no place he went that everyone believed. But his efforts were never in vain, no without gain. In every place he preached Jesus Christ, crucified and risen, the Church was established and thrived and grew. Because in every place, there were some, like the more noble in Berea, who received Jesus as Lord, examined the Word, and believed that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, that He died for their sins; they were repentant and were baptized into Christ for the forgiveness of their sins. And the church began in those cities and flourished under the power of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in their lives.

So, we can say “Be like Paul” and “Be like the Bereans” As we go, we need to be receiving the Word, examining it, searching for truth. We cannot use the excuse, “the Bible is too hard to understand.” We have the greatest ever interpreter in the Holy Spirit to help us to understand the Word and apply it to our daily lives.

Gary K Fair

Wednesday Word 08 September 2021

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