Tuesday, September 1, 2020

Acts Study | Session 29 | 16:32-17:17

 In today's study, we Paul leading the Philippian Jailer to faith, being forced to use his Roman citizenship card again, and his ministry in Thessalonica, Berea, and Athens.

VERSE 32: And they spake unto him the word of the Lord, and to all that were in his house. After the jailer asks the question, Paul begins to answer it by sharing the word of the Lord with him. 

VERSE 33: And he took them the same hour of the night, and washed their stripes; and was baptized, he and all his, straightway. Afterward, the jailer took them to his home and washed their stripes. Afterward, he and all his were baptized straightway. 

VERSE 34: And when he had brought them into his house, he set meat before them, and rejoiced, believing in God with all his house. (35) And when it was day, the magistrates sent the serjeants, saying, Let those men go. (36) And the keeper of the prison told this saying to Paul, The magistrates have sent to let you go: now therefore depart, and go in peace. Can't help but note that by not leaving and allowing the jailer to minister to them, they saved his life. 

VERSES 37-40: But Paul said unto them, They have beaten us openly uncondemned, being Romans, and have cast us into prison; and now do they thrust us out privily? nay verily; but let them come themselves and fetch us out. (38) And the serjeants told these words unto the magistrates: and they feared, when they heard that they were Romans. (39) And they came and besought them, and brought them out, and desired them to depart out of the city. (40) And they went out of the prison, and entered into the house of Lydia: and when they had seen the brethren, they comforted them, and departed. Again, we see Paul playing his Roman citizenship card. Saul was both a Jew and a Gentile by citizenship. We spoke to this in regards to his calling to be the apostle to the Gentiles. He was the only one that had these certifications, but he was really the only one that needed them because the others never left Jerusalem. Only he uniquely met these qualifications that would enable him to reach the Gentiles. He uses this card again in Acts 21:37-40 and Acts 22:24-29.

Notice also that he demands justice. No where in the Bible does it say that Christians as supposed to be chumps. All of this passivism stuff comes from not rightly dividing. 

Chapter 17

VERSES 1-3: Now when they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where was a synagogue of the Jews: (2) And Paul, as his manner was, went in unto them, and three sabbath days reasoned with them out of the scriptures, (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. Notice once again that Paul goes straight to the synagogue of the Jews in Thessalonica as his manner was and reasoned with them out of the Scriptures. That means that he was trying to convince them using the Old Testament Scriptures. This is something that each of us should be able to do and the only way to get better at it is to do it (Pro 27:17).

What was he trying to convince them of? That Christ must needs have suffered, and risen again from the dead; and that this Jesus, whom I preach unto you, is Christ. Bear in mind that he is speaking to Jews, who like many in the church today, believe that Jesus' ministry was a failure because it ended with the cross. It wasn't a failure, it was the entire reason that he came! He had to fulfill the Old Testament prophecies in regard to his crucifixion in order for the Kingdom to be offered. 

Too many in the church see it the same way in that they view the rejection of the Messiah as the rejection of the Kingdom. No! The Kingdom was not offered in the Gospels. It couldn't have been offered prior to the crucifixion and resurrection. This misunderstanding is where the birth of the church in Acts 2 comes from. 

He did this for three sabbath days. I think that anyone who teaches the Scriptures to others totally understands this. It just does not happen overnight. It takes time to convince people using the Scriptures as to the truth of the Gospel. 

Note: I believe that Paul, being Jewish, still preached the Gospel of the Kingdom to the Jews because the full revelation of the postponement had not been made to him yet. 

VERSE 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. In the end, some of them believed, both Jews and proselytized Greeks (Rom 10:17). As a result, they consorted with Paul and Silas. That literally means to give a lot to or cast lots with.  In other words, they were all in! 

VERSE 5a: 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, Oops, here they go again! Can't just disagree and walk away. They gotta run or ruin it! Sorry, I am having flashbacks to my times of pastoring a church. Of course, troublemakers are never content to go it alone, they always precede to gather the discontented and confused around them. 

Notice that they were moved with envy. So instead of comparing Scripture with Scripture, they are just moved with fleshly jealousy against them and gathered unto them certain lewd fellows of the baser sort. This means that these people were easy to influence and bring them to their side to set all the city on an uproar. 

VERSES 5b-6: and assaulted the house of Jason, and sought to bring them out to the people. (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 are come hither also; (7)  Whom Jason hath received: and these all do contrary to the decrees of Caesar, saying that there is another king, one Jesus. Little is known about Jason, but he was apparently hosting Paul's party. He is also apparently mentioned in Rom 16:21. 

The accusation against Paul and Silas was insurrection. Some would say that this is proof that Paul was teaching a Kingdom Gospel here, for if it had been the Gospel of Grace which is spiritual and heavenly, this accusation would not have been laid against them. Remember that the Kingdom Gospel speaks of a future, physical, fraternal Kingdom that had been promised to the Jews. This is the only way in my opinion that they could have been accused of insurrection. An insurrection is an act or instance of  revolting against a civil government or authority. The Grace Gospel simply does not teach that. 

By the way, Jesus is exactly what Jesus was accused of (Luke 23:2). Why? Because he spoke of a Kingdom of which is is the King. The hypocrisy of it is that while accusing Jesus of being an insurrectionist, they asked the release of a known convicted insurrectionist by the name of Barabbas (Luke 23:18-19). Again, I just don't think they could have accused him of this had he been preaching simply the Grace Gospel. 

VERSES 8-9: And they troubled the people and the rulers of the city, when they heard these things. (9)  And when they had taken security of Jason, and of the other, they let them go. The lewd fellows of the baser sort continue to stir up the people and the rulers of the city with this accusation. 

VERSE 10: And the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Berea: who coming thither went into the synagogue of the Jews. Once again, Paul is sent away by night. 

Berea is modern-day Veria in Greece. Historically, the last 460 Jews were removed on May 1, 1943, by the Germans and sent to concentration camps. 150 of them were children who were then taken to Thessaloniki by the Nazis and dropped off on Math 8 at Auschwitz where every one of them were put to death.

Notice he goes straight to the synagogue as his custom was. 

VERSES 11-12: These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so. (12)  Many of them therefore believed, along with a number of prominent Greek women and men. A compliment is made in that these Jews in Berea were nobler than those in Thessalonica in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, but also searched the scriptures daily to see whether those things were so.  

Of course, the Scriptures they used were the Old Testament. As a result, many of them believed. 

I really do believe that if people would just listen, and search the Scriptures, they will see just what these Bereans saw, that Jesus is the Messiah. As such we all must be students of Scripture. I posted the other day that every four years we get a front-row seat to see just how rampant Biblical illiteracy really is. Romans 10:17 says that faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of God. Notice also that once again not only did Jews respond but also Greeks. 

VERSES 13-15: But when the Jews of Thessalonica had knowledge that the word of God was preached of Paul at Berea, they came thither also, and stirred up the people. (14)  And then immediately the brethren sent away Paul to go as it were to the sea: but Silas and Timotheus abode there still. (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. And, here come the trouble makers! These are the same ones that stirred up trouble in Thessalonica. They obviously found Paul's preaching to be offensive in that it by default condemned the nation for rejecting their Messiah. Silas and Timothy stayed while Paul went to Athens expecting that they would join him there which they will in 18:5. 

Notice that the brethren sent away Paul to go as it were to the sea. This seems to indicate that they did a "pump fake" to shake the Jews that were coming after him off his scent (cf. NASB). 

VERSE 16: Now while Paul waited for them at Athens, his spirit was stirred in him, when he saw the city wholly given to idolatry. I so identify with this verse today. I too am stirred for our nation, like Athens, is truly wholly given to idolatry. The word stirred means provoked. By definition, provoked means to call forth, to stir up purpose, or to provide the needed stimulus for. 

I honestly believe that if anyone who claims to be a Christian does not fill the same way, there is a leak somewhere in their faith. If we are not careful, our passive and sinful nature can become calloused to what is going on around us. 

There is a progression to this: abhorrence, tolerance, and acceptance. I honestly believe that we go down this road naturally when we fail to not just read the Bible, but study it. I posted this yesterday, "A poor appetite or lack of desire for studying God’s word results in stunted spiritual growth, a weakened faith, and eventually disobedience to God."

VERSE 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. Notice that Paul put feet to his provocation. He did this by disputing with those in the synagogue, and with the devout persons, and in the market daily with them that met with him. We must do the same. It is not enough to simply pray and hope. 

I can't help but notice that he began in the synagogue. I firmly believe that the downward spiritual spiral that our nation is in is because of the spiritual apathy of God's people. Our churches are complacent, lazy, and for the most part, spiritually malnutritioned, and it reflects in our society. The lights have gone out of the lighthouses. 

Notice that hs disputed with them. We need to be willing to do the same, but that requires preparation, and most Christians are simply too Biblically illiterate to speak with any compassion, let alone knowledge. 

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