Paul and Silas in Thessalonica
Paul and Silas then traveled through the towns of Amphipolis and Apollonia and came to Thessalonica, where there was a Jewish synagogue. As was Paul’s custom, he went to the synagogue service, and for three Sabbaths in a row he used the Scriptures to reason with the people. He explained the prophecies and proved that the Messiah must suffer and rise from the dead. He said, “This Jesus I’m telling you about is the Messiah.” Some of the Jews who listened were persuaded and joined Paul and Silas, along with many God-fearing Greek men and quite a few prominent women. But some of the Jews were jealous, so they gathered some troublemakers from the marketplace to form a mob and start a riot. They attacked the home of Jason, searching for Paul and Silas so they could drag them out to the crowd. Not finding them there, they dragged out Jason and some of the other believers instead and took them before the city council. “Paul and Silas have caused trouble all over the world,” they shouted, “and now they are here disturbing our city, too. And Jason has welcomed them into his home. They are all guilty of treason against Caesar, for they profess allegiance to another king, named Jesus.”
The people of the city, as well as the city council, were thrown into turmoil by these reports. So the officials forced Jason and the other believers to post bond, and then they released them.Acts 17:1-9
Paul and Silas in Berea
That very night the believers sent Paul and Silas to Berea. When they arrived there, they went to the Jewish synagogue. And the people of Berea were more open-minded than those in Thessalonica, and they listened eagerly to Paul’s message. They searched the Scriptures day after day to see if Paul and Silas were teaching the truth. As a result, many Jews believed, as did many of the prominent Greek women and men. But when some Jews in Thessalonica learned that Paul was preaching the word of God in Berea, they went there and stirred up trouble. The believers acted at once, sending Paul on to the coast, while Silas and Timothy remained behind. Those escorting Paul went with him all the way to Athens; then they returned to Berea with instructions for Silas and Timothy to hurry and join him.Acts 17:10-15
Paul in Athens
While Paul was waiting for them in Athens, he was deeply troubled by all the idols he saw everywhere in the city. He went to the synagogue to reason with the Jews and the God-fearing Gentiles, and he spoke daily in the public square to all who happened to be there. He also had a debate with some of the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers. When he told them about Jesus and His resurrection, they said, “What’s this babbler trying to say with these strange ideas he’s picked up?” Others said, “He seems to be preaching about some foreign gods.”
Then they took him to the high council of the city. “Come and tell us about this new teaching,” they said. “You are saying some rather strange things, and we want to know what it’s all about.” (It should be explained that all the Athenians as well as the foreigners in Athens seemed to spend all their time discussing the latest ideas.)Acts 17:16-21
You have got to be kidding, Ian. Do you mean that is all to Paul’s contact with the Philippians? Reading the letter to the Philippians you could get the impression that those in Philippi are Paul’s favourite people. But are we seriously saying that’s the end of the time with the church in Philippi? Such a whirlwind chapter in Paul’s life and experience is now over? Seriously? How did Paul get such a bond with the Philippians after such a short time?
I have told you to read Paul’s letter to the Philippians at the same time we looked at the action in Philippi and Macedonia from Luke’s account in Acts. Now it’s over and we are moving on to other places? Surely not.
- I would hope that you would be filled with questions now.
- What are the questions that are going through your head?
- Write them down. Send them to me
It is not that I want your help in coming up with questions. I am perfectly capable of coming up with my own questions. I have been doing it for years. Rather I am training you to stop and ponder and list all of your questions.
After reading Luke’s account of the time in Philippi and Paul’s letter to the Philippians you ought to have lots of questions. Here are some to start you off:
- How long did Paul and Silas stay in Philippi?
- Was this their only visit?
- Do they go back again?
Paul’s letter to the Philippians is very positive, without any rebuke or criticism. He appears to have a good, close personal relationship with them. How was such a close relationship developed in so short a time? Is there more to what you asked us to do Ian, related to reading the book of Philippians or is that it? You asked us to ponder on the way Acts Chapter 16 was written: fast, punchy with frenetic pace. Is that all we are going to do with that suggestion? I hope there is so much more you want to know before we move on accompanying Paul on his rather strange lifestyle. Well as we pause at the train station in Philippi before heading off to Amphipolis, Apollonia and Thessalonica do some research.
But Ian, I don’t have all the books at my elbow like you have. How do I do research?
- You have the Book of Books (the Bible) – use that!
- Don’t rely on other books people have written about the Bible to study the Bible.
- Use the Bible as your primary source. So, what should I do? If you have an electronic Bible do these things:
- Do a Bible search on <Philippi> and see what you find. (That alone might answer a number of your questions)
- Do a Bible search on <Macedonia> and <Macedonians>.
- Read back through Acts 16 to see if there is any indication of how long Paul and Silas were there in Philippi.
- After doing that and having read Paul’s Letter to the Philippians see if you can work out why Paul had such a good relationship with the Philippians.
If necessary, read Paul’s Letter to the Philippians again. (I am assuming you have read it at least once already. That might be a false assumption.) Come on you can do it. In my favourite Bible the letter only takes up 3 and a half pages. That is not too much of a burden. This is a perfect opportunity to read the letter seven times like my old Greek Professor advised us to do. He is not old anymore; he is ageless and just starting on his second wind. Time for you to get your second wind and roll your sleeves up.
Most people never run far enough on their first wind to find out they’ve got a second.William James
Don’t always wait for me to tell you the answers; develop your own ability to search for yourself.Ian Vail
You know when you do the work it builds character. The one who does the work gets more out of it – muscles.Ian Vail
You spend a lot of time and money on updating your gadgets; It’s time you updated the user.Ian Vail
Never return to a place you’ve outgrown. It won’t fit!Rick Godwin
Learn how to move on and develop your own abilities.Ian Vail
Here at the station as we prepare to leave Philippi is a perfect opportunity to do it. So Just Do It.Ian Vail