A Unique Way to Share Jesus

In Your Bible: Acts 17: 16-34

Paul was whisked away from Berea to Athens. There he saw idols everywhere in this great university city. However, the Athenians didn’t have a clue about the Most-High God. Paul told them of God’s purpose through Jesus.

Paul Reasoned with the Council

Paul’s spirit was deeply troubled when he saw Athens full of idols. That gave him a unique way to share Jesus with the Jews in the Synagogue, the God-fearing Gentiles, with those in the market-place, and now with the high council.

The high council of the city [the Areopagus in Greek] – a select group of about 30 members * was intrigued at what they heard from Paul. “Come tell us about this new teaching,” they said. “You are saying some rather strange things, and we must know what it’s all about” (Acts 17:19b,20 NLT).

He told them they were wise to honor an unknown god, but there was much more they were missing. This was Paul’s perfect opening to reason at length about what God did for mankind through Jesus. He commended them for being religious and showed them a better way.

God’s Purpose

Paul proclaimed that God, the Most-High God, made the world and everything in it – including man. God’s purpose was for nations to seek and find him – for he is not far from any one of us. For in him we live and move and exist. (Acts 17: 27b, 28a NLT).

When Paul explained about the resurrection of the dead [God raising Jesus from the dead], some laughed in contempt but others said, “We want to hear more about this later” (Acts 17:32 NLT). And some eagerly believed. Paul told them of God’s purpose through Jesus.

Prayer: Father, continue to give me unique ways to use circumstances to show the joy of knowing Jesus.

Questions: How does Paul’s mentioning of nations seeking after God and finding him, relate to individuals needing to seek after God for themselves? Has God given you unique or surprising ways to share Jesus?

* The Daily Bible Series, Acts of the Apostles, William Barclay, The Westminster Press, Philadelphia, 1955, pp. 141, 142.

Opposition to the Gospel

In Your Bible: Acts 17: 1-15

Paul and Silas traveled to Thessalonica and Berea (Macedonia) where they shared in Synagogues for several weeks. As they preached about Jesus, but this stirred up anger from those who didn’t understand or believe. However, to those who did (and now do) receive the message, it is salvation and life. Opposition to the gospel continues today.

Thessalonica

The Roman road from the Adriatic Sea to the Middle East was called the Egnatian Way. The main street of Thessalonica was part of that road! If Christianity were firmly founded there, it could spread quickly in the Roman Empire.

Paul and Silas traveled through Amphipolis and Apollonia (100 miles of walking) and came to Thessalonica. In the Synagogue Paul preached from the Scriptures. Paul told them bluntly, there were no other options, this Jesus is the Messiah. Many God-fearing Greeks, men and women from the aristocracy, joined them.

But some Jews became furious over the conversions and sought to capture Paul and Silas for insurrection! The said, “These men who have upset the world have come here also” (Acts 17:6b NASB). Wow, what an authentication of effective evangelism!

Berea

But the opposition to Paul and Silas was a real danger. In response to this, the brethren in Thessalonica immediately sent Paul and Silas to Berea. When they arrived, they went into the Synagogue of the Jews to preach Jesus.

Now those who heard Paul and Silas, received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to validate what was preached. Again, many believed with a number of prominent Greeks, as happened in Thessalonica.

 

When the Jews of Thessalonica heard that the word of God had been proclaimed in Berea, they came there to stir up the crowds against the message Paul and Silas preached. The Berean believers immediately escorted Paul to Athens but Silas and Timothy remained in Berea. Opposition to the gospel continues today.

Prayer: Father, thank you for believers who listen to your Spirit and watch over fellow believers and respond to real needs. Selah.

Questions: How do you see opposition displayed in other cities Paul or other disciples preached? Compare opposition to the gospel message in Thessalonica and Berea to opposition to Christianity today.

Prayer, Salvation and Hospitality

In Your Bible: Acts 16: 11-40

Paul and Silas reached the city of Philippi, a major city of Macedonia,
and stayed for several days. The many events there reveal God’s grace on them. The Spirit softened people’s hearts to receive Christ as Savior. . . and hospitality resulted.

Lydia

In Philippi, there were no synagogues, so Jews often used the riverside as a place to gather for prayer. Paul and Silas went to the riverside on the Sabbath to meet people and join in prayer. There they met Lydia, a God-fearing woman and a merchant of purple cloth. Paul spoke to her about Jesus.

She listened with carefully to what Paul said, the Master gave her a trusting heart—and she believed! After that, she was baptized as well as everyone in her household. Lydia immediately extended hospitality to Paul and Silas.

The Jailer

Again, when Paul and Silas went to a prayer meeting by the riverside, they met a demon possessed slave girl and cast the demon out of her. This made her owners very angry. . . due to their loss of income. Under false charges, Paul and Silas were brought before a judge who had them beaten, stripped, and taken to prison.

The jailer put them in stocks and chains. Along about midnight, Paul and Silas were at prayer and singing a robust hymn to God. The other prisoners couldn’t believe their ears. Then, without warning, a huge earthquake! The jailhouse tottered, every door flew open, all the prisoners were loose (Acts 16:25,26 Message).

The jailer saw doors open, chains loosed and assumed all the prisoners escaped. But none left the prison. Badly shaken by this and he went to Paul and Silas and led them out of jail!

He exclaimed, “Sirs, what do I have to do to be saved, to really live?” They said, “Put your entire trust in the Master Jesus. Then you’ll live as you were meant to live—and everyone in your house included” (Acts 16:30,31 Message).

Paul and Silas told the Gospel story to the jailer’s family. He dressed their wounds and extended hospitality to them. His entire family:

  • Put their trust in God
  • Was baptized
  • Celebrated with a festive meal

The Spirit softened people’s hearts to receive Christ as Savior. . . and hospitality resulted.

Prayer: Father, thank you for giving me the gift of eternal life through Jesus.

Questions: How does Paul’s approach in Macedonia differ from their speaking in the synagogues? How important is hospitality in giving thanks to God?