Last week (3/10/13) and this week (3/17/13), our study in Tentmakers has found us in a now very familiar book – Acts – but an unfamiliar chapter – 17. If you would, please grab your Bible and read Acts 17:1-3. As you read, ask yourself the five ‘W’ questions. Who? What? Where? When? Why? Of course you could cheat by looking ahead, but Bible study (any study for that matter) works best when you give yourself a chance to record your own thoughts before looking at anyone else’s.
When? Who? Acts 16:40-17:1 tell us that “they” (i.e. Paul and Silas without Luke) have just left Philippi and have “passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia” and have come to Thessalonica.
Where? What? You may have included ‘Thessalonica’ in your ‘Where?’ answer, and you would have been correct (if you‘re worried about being correct), but within the city itself where did Paul go and what did he say there (see vs. 2-3)?
Verse 2 reminds us that it was Paul’s custom, when entering a new city, to first make his case to the Jews in the local synagogue. (I wonder if that is why Paul and Silas stopped in Thessalonica and not in the other two cities mentioned in verse 1.) The what of “his case” was the explanation of Scripture. He spent three Sabbaths reasoning with them, showing them proof “that it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead, and saying, ‘This Jesus, Whom I proclaim to you is the Christ.” (Acts 17:3, Amplified version).
Why? It wasn’t that the Jews were resistant to the coming of their Messiah. They looked for Him, hoping every day for His coming, but they missed it. How? The Old Testament includes many prophecies that rabbis and teachers of the Mosaic Law had studied and taught throughout the centuries leading up to Christ’s first coming. The problem was that the prophecies set side-by-side didn’t seem to fit together. For example (just to show one of many), Daniel 7:27 describe the “everlasting kingdom” while Daniel 9:26 says that the Messiah “will be cut off.” Early scholars couldn’t reason how their eternal King could suffer, and so (because of their lack of understanding) they largely ignored that part of the prophecy. Jesus’ crucifixion sealed the deal for them; He couldn’t be their King. Before Paul could get his fellow Jews to accept Jesus as their King, he had to correct the error in their theology. Paul didn’t have to use fancy words of his own. All he needed was the common ground of Scripture. Read Acts 17:4 to see (and record) how the Jews reacted.
We aren’t told that they eagerly accepted Paul’s message; rather that some “were induced to believe.” Other translations use the word persuaded here. Like us watching an infomercial, they stopped on Paul’s channel skeptical, at first, of what they were being told and by the end, they had the telephone in their hand giving their credit card number to the operator on the other line.
Now what? Well those who were persuaded in Thessalonica became witnesses to the truth; they had seen it firsthand in the Word of God. It is the duty of a witness to testify … like it or not. You and I have a duty today to testify to what we have witnessed God say through His Word and what we have seen Him do in our lives. Some days, our job is fun; others are hard or painful. Just ask Jason in Acts 17:5-9.
… I’m going to have to leave it here for today. I’m planning to write something about Jason later in the week. If God knows otherwise, then I’ll catch up to you on Sunday at church or next week right here on Now What? As for now, I have to get a little girl some Cheerios and chocolate milk. Have a blessed day!!