Now they traveled through the cities of Amphipolis and Apollonia and came to Thessalonica, where there was a Jewish synagogue. As was Paul’s custom, he went there to preach, and for three Sabbaths in a row he opened the Scriptures to the people, explaining the prophecies about the sufferings of the Messiah and his coming back to life, and proving that Jesus is the Messiah. Some who listened were persuaded and became converts—including a large number of godly Greek men and also many important women of the city. But the Jewish leaders were jealous and incited some worthless fellows from the streets to form a mob and start a riot. They attacked the home of Jason, planning to take Paul and Silas to the City Council for punishment. Not finding them there, they dragged out Jason and some of the other believers, and took them before the Council instead. “Paul and Silas have turned the rest of the world upside down, and now they are here disturbing our city,” they shouted, “and Jason has let them into his home. They are all guilty of treason, for they claim another king, Jesus, instead of Caesar.” The people of the city, as well as the judges, were concerned at these reports and let them go only after they had posted bail. That night the Christians hurried Paul and Silas to Berea, and, as usual, they went to the synagogue to preach. As a result, many of them believed, including several prominent Greek women and many men also. But when the Jews in Thessalonica learned that Paul was preaching in Berea, they went over and stirred up trouble. The believers acted at once, sending Paul on to the coast, while Silas and Timothy remained behind. Those accompanying Paul went on with him to Athens and then returned to Berea with a message for Silas and Timothy to hurry and join him. While Paul was waiting for them in Athens, he was deeply troubled by all the idols he saw everywhere throughout the city. He went to the synagogue for discussions with the Jews and the devout Gentiles, and spoke daily in the public square to all who happened to be there. He also had an encounter with some of the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers. Their reaction, when he told them about Jesus and his resurrection, was, “He’s a dreamer,” or, “He’s pushing some foreign religion.” But they invited him to the forum at Mars Hill. “Come and tell us more about this new religion,” they said, “for you are saying some rather startling things and we want to hear more.” (I should explain that all the Athenians as well as the foreigners in Athens seemed to spend all their time discussing the latest new ideas!) So Paul, standing before them at the Mars Hill forum, addressed them as follows: “Men of Athens, I notice that you are very religious, for as I was out walking I saw your many altars, and one of them had this inscription on it—‘To the Unknown God.’ You have been worshiping him without knowing who he is, and now I wish to tell you about him. He made the world and everything in it, and since he is Lord of heaven and earth, he doesn’t live in man-made temples; and human hands can’t minister to his needs—for he has no needs! He himself gives life and breath to everything, and satisfies every need there is. He created all the people of the world from one man, Adam, and scattered the nations across the face of the earth. He decided beforehand which should rise and fall, and when. He determined their boundaries. His purpose in all of this is that they should seek after God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him—though he is not far from any one of us. For in him we live and move and are! As one of your own poets says it, ‘We are the sons of God.’ If this is true, we shouldn’t think of God as an idol made by men from gold or silver or chipped from stone. God tolerated man’s past ignorance about these things, but now he commands everyone to put away idols and worship only him. For he has set a day for justly judging the world by the man he has appointed, and has pointed him out by bringing him back to life again.” When they heard Paul speak of the resurrection of a person who had been dead, some laughed, but others said, “We want to hear more about this later.” That ended Paul’s discussion with them, but a few joined him and became believers. Among them was Dionysius, a member of the City Council, and a woman named Damaris, and others.Acts 17:1-34
We have crossed another of Robert Estienne’s Chapter boundaries. One which is clearly in the correct place. Take the time now to do some investigation of your own as to how you would divide up the sections and find out what you need to do in order to better understand this new region and to ensure you pick up on all that Luke is telling us. I have added the map of this region again and clipped from E-Sword the geographic details of the two towns they passed through. Notice that Luke has left the party as the “we” has changed to “they”. Likely as not Luke remained in Philippi.
A town in Macedonia, situated 53 kms southwest of Philippi, on the eastern bank of the Strymon (modern Struma or Karasu) about 5 kms from its mouth, near the point where it flows out of Lake Prasias or Cercinitis. It lay on a terraced hill, protected on the North, West and South by the river, on the East by a wall, while its harbor-town of Eïon lay on the coast close to the river’s mouth. The name is derived either from its being nearly surrounded by the stream or from its being conspicuous on every side, a fact to which Thucydides draws attention. It was at first called Ennea Hodoi, Nine Ways, a name which suggests its importance both strategically and commercially. It guarded the main route from Thrace into Macedonia and later became an important station on the Via Egnatia, the great Roman road from Dyrrhachium on the Adriatic to the Hebrus (Maritza), and it was the center of a fertile district producing wine, oil, figs and timber in abundance and enriched by gold and silver mines and considerable manufactures, especially of woolen stuffs. Paul and Silas passed through it on their way from Philippi to Thessalonica, but the narrative seems to preclude a long stay (Act 17:1). The place was called Popolia in the Middle Ages, while in modern times it is the village of Neochori (Turkish).
A town in Mygdonia, a district in Macedonia. It was situated a little to the south of Lake Bolbe, on the Via Egnatia, the great Roman road leading from the coast of the Adriatic to the river Hebrus (Maritza), one of the main military and commercial highways of the empire: it lay between Amphipolis and Thessalonica, a day’s journey (Livy xlv.28) or about 53 kms from the former and 66 kms from the latter. The foundation of the town may perhaps be attributed to about 432 BC; in any case, coins are extant which attest its existence in the 4th century BC. Paul and Silas passed through the town on their journey from Philippi to Thessalonica, but do not appear to have stayed there (Act 17:1). The name seems to have survived as the modern Pollina.
So that leaves you to check out Thessalonica, Berea and Athens. You will find sufficient data on those three places without much trouble. Remember the other data at your fingertips – we have Paul’s letters to the Thessalonians recorded for us. So in true Deeper Bible fashion it would be good to read those letters before we get to Thessalonica. That’s enough to keep you busy until the next Gem.
It’s never too late to begin what’s right as long as you are still breathing.Steve Farrar
It was the evidence from science and history that prompted me to abandon my atheism and become a Christian.Lee Strobel
The only investment I ever made which has paid consistent dividends is the money I have given to the Lord and the time I have spent in the Bible.J L Kraft
We are what we do with our silence.Andrew Dunn