Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Wednesday - Acts 17 - Evangelism in Thessalonica, Berea & Athens



S Paul continued from Philippi on his second missionary journey, he preached the gospel faithfully in other cities, including Thessalonica, Berea and Athens. He followed a distinct pattern of going into the synagogues in these cities to preach the gospel to the Jews first. Simply put, he preached that the Messiah (for which they were looking) had already arrived, and that it was Jesus of Nazareth. Specifically, Paul preached that it had been necessary for the Messiah to be rejected, to suffer, to die and to be resurrected. Many of Paul's listeners were convinced. Many believed Paul's message and turned to Christ. But from those who did not receive God's message humbly, Paul encountered tremendous opposition.  In Thessalonica, the unbelieving Jews gathered together some "lewd fellows of the baser sort" & literally started a riot (Acts 17:5).  They lied about Paul & harassed those who were associated with him. In fact, the uproar in Thessalonica was severe enough that the believers there sent Paul & Silas on to Berea.

The noble Jews of Berea listened to Paul too, and compared his message with the words of the Old Testament. There again, many were convinced. A significant number of people received Christ as their personal Lord and Savior. But, the jealous Jews of Thessalonica came to Berea and stirred up trouble there too. So, Paul was forced to flee again.  This time he went to Athens.  There he preached one of the most unique gospel sermons of all time. On Mars Hill, Paul preached about the unknown God. The Athenians had assumed that there had to be a divine being somewhere of whom they simply had not heard. Paul took advantage of that superstition and preached to them about the only real God. It seems that the number of conversions in Athens was considerably smaller than the number to which Paul was accustomed, but there were some. Then again, Paul moved on.

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