Acts 17: Reaching Unbelievers

In traveling through Amphipolis and Apollonia, how many times do you think Paul might have stopped to talk to someone? What might he have said?

Author’s Thoughts
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Acts 17:1 After traveling through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they stopped at a synagogue in Thessalonica.
King James
Acts 17:1 Now when they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where was a synagogue of the Jews.

Why do you think Paul kept going to the synagogues?

Author’s Thoughts
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Acts 17:1 After traveling through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they stopped at a synagogue in Thessalonica.
17:2 Consistent with his usual practice, on three Sabbaths Paul used the words of the prophets to reason with the Jews concerning Christ,
17:3 showing that the crucifixion and resurrection proved that the Jesus he proclaimed was indeed the Messiah.
King James
Acts 17:1 Now when they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where was a synagogue of the Jews:
17:2 And Paul, as his manner was, went in unto them, and three sabbath days reasoned with them out of the scriptures,
17:3 Opening and alleging, that Christ must needs have suffered, and risen again from the dead; and that this Jesus, whom I preach unto you, is Christ.

How would you describe the effect of Paul’s ministry in Thessalonica?

Author’s Thoughts
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Acts 17:4 Some of them heeded the message, joining themselves with Paul and Silas. The new followers of Jesus included many God-fearing Greeks of the Jewish faith, as well as prominent women of the community.
King James
Acts 17:4 And some of them believed, and consorted with Paul and Silas; and of the devout Greeks a great multitude, and of the chief women not a few.

What arguments might have been sufficient for the unbelieving Jews to stir a mob of foreigners against Paul and Silas?

Author’s Thoughts
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Acts 17:5 However, the unbelieving Jews were furious and stirred a mob of common people in the marketplace against them. In a mad frenzy, they broke into Jason’s house to bring Paul and Silas before the crowd in judgment.
17:6 Paul and Silas weren’t there, so they dragged Jason and other followers of Jesus before the city officials, saying, “The men who have been upsetting the world have come to cause trouble here.
King James
Acts 17:5 But the Jews which believed not, moved with envy, took unto them certain lewd fellows of the baser sort, and gathered a company, and set all the city on an uproar, and assaulted the house of Jason, and sought to bring them out to the people.
17:6 And when they found them not, they drew Jason and certain brethren unto the rulers of the city, crying, These that have turned the world upside down are come hither also.

How would the Jews have found out where Paul was staying?

Author’s Thoughts
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Author’s Paraphrase
Acts 17:5 However, the unbelieving Jews were furious and stirred a mob of common people in the marketplace against them. In a mad frenzy, they broke into Jason’s house to bring Paul and Silas before the crowd in judgment.
17:6 Paul and Silas weren’t there, so they dragged Jason and other followers of Jesus before the city officials, saying, “The men who have been upsetting the world have come to cause trouble here.
17:7 Jason welcomed them into his home, which is a crime against Caesar because they claim allegiance to another king, namely Jesus.”
King James
Acts 17:5 But the Jews which believed not, moved with envy, took unto them certain lewd fellows of the baser sort, and gathered a company, and set all the city on an uproar, and assaulted the house of Jason, and sought to bring them out to the people.
17:6 And when they found them not, they drew Jason and certain brethren unto the rulers of the city, crying, These that have turned the world upside down are come hither also;
17:7 Whom Jason hath received: and these all do contrary to the decrees of Caesar, saying that there is another king, one Jesus.

Evidently, Paul, Silas, and Timothy weren’t at Jason’s house when the mob arrived. Where do you think they were?

Author’s Thoughts
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Acts 17:6 Paul and Silas weren’t there, so they dragged Jason and other followers of Jesus before the city officials, saying, “The men who have been upsetting the world have come to cause trouble here.
King James
Acts 17:6 And when they found them not, they drew Jason and certain brethren unto the rulers of the city, crying, These that have turned the world upside down are come hither also;

Why would the situation bother the city leaders?

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Acts 17:8 Both the people and the city leaders were troubled when they heard these things.
King James
Acts 17:8 And they troubled the people and the rulers of the city, when they heard these things.

What was the purpose in requiring Jason to post bail? What kind and level of security do you think was demanded?

Author’s Thoughts
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Acts 17:9 Jason and the others had to post bail before they were allowed to leave.
King James
Acts 17:9 And when they had taken security of Jason, and of the other, they let them go.

Why might we believe Jason was filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke with boldness when he was brought up for trial?

Author’s Thoughts
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Acts 17:9 Jason and the others had to post bail before they were allowed to leave.
King James
Acts 17:9 And when they had taken security of Jason, and of the other, they let them go.

What would have motivated the believers in Thessalonica to send Paul and Silas to Berea, preventing them from defending Jason at his trial?

Author’s Thoughts
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Acts 17:10 That night, Paul and Silas were sent by the believers to Berea, and they went to the synagogue there.
King James
Acts 17:10 And the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Berea: who coming thither went into the synagogue of the Jews.

Why do you think the Jews in Berea were more open-minded?

Author’s Thoughts
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Acts 17:11 These Jews were more open-minded than those in Thessalonica. Not only were they eager listeners, but they searched the Scriptures daily to see if everything Paul and Silas taught was true.
17:12 As a result, many Jews became followers of Jesus, including many men and well-respected women of the community.
King James
Acts 17:11 These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.
17:12 Therefore many of them believed; also of honourable women which were Greeks, and of men, not a few.

How might the Jews in Thessalonica have found out that Paul and Silas were teaching at the synagogue in Berea?

Author’s Thoughts
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Acts 17:10 That night, Paul and Silas were sent by the believers to Berea, and they went to the synagogue there.
17:13 But as soon as the Jews in Thessalonica heard that Paul was preaching in Berea, they came to turn the people against him.
King James
Acts 17:10 And the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Berea: who coming thither went into the synagogue of the Jews.
17:13 But when the Jews of Thessalonica had knowledge that the word of God was preached of Paul at Berea, they came thither also, and stirred up the people.

The message of Jesus Christ had not created a stir in the Berean community until the unbelieving Jews arrived from Thessalonica. Why were they able to turn the community against Paul?

Author’s Thoughts
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Acts 17:13 But as soon as the Jews in Thessalonica heard that Paul was preaching in Berea, they came to turn the people against him.
King James
Acts 17:13 But when the Jews of Thessalonica had knowledge that the word of God was preached of Paul at Berea, they came thither also, and stirred up the people.

Why do you think Paul had to be sent away, but Timothy and Silas stayed in Berea?

Author’s Thoughts
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Acts 17:14 So the believers immediately sent Paul to the Mediterranean seacoast, but Silas and Timothy stayed behind.
King James
Acts 17:14 And then immediately the brethren sent away Paul to go as it were to the sea: but Silas and Timotheus abode there still.

What work do you suppose Timothy and Silas had to do before they could meet Paul in Athens?

Author’s Thoughts
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Acts 17:15 Men escorted Paul as far as Athens, then returned home with instructions to tell Silas and Timothy to meet him there as soon as possible.
King James
Acts 17:15 And they that conducted Paul brought him unto Athens: and receiving a commandment unto Silas and Timotheus for to come to him with all speed, they departed.

How would you describe Paul’s concern for those who worshiped other gods?

Author’s Thoughts
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Acts 17:16 While Paul waited in Athens, he was deeply troubled when he saw the city so dedicated to the worship of other gods.
King James
Acts 17:16 Now while Paul waited for them at Athens, his spirit was stirred in him, when he saw the city wholly given to idolatry.

In what ways would Paul’s reasoning with the Jews differ from his approach with people who knew nothing of the Jewish faith?

Author’s Thoughts
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Acts 17:17 Therefore, he reasoned with Jews in the synagogue, devout pagans in the marketplace, and anyone else who might show up.
King James
Acts 17:17 Therefore disputed he in the synagogue with the Jews, and with the devout persons, and in the market daily with them that met with him.

Why did Paul go to where the people were instead of expecting people to come to him?

Author’s Thoughts
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Acts 17:17 Therefore, he reasoned with Jews in the synagogue, devout pagans in the marketplace, and anyone else who might show up.
King James
Acts 17:17 Therefore disputed he in the synagogue with the Jews, and with the devout persons, and in the market daily with them that met with him.

What motivated philosophers to see Paul?

Author’s Thoughts
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Acts 7:18 Epicurean and Stoic philosophers came to him, curious what he might have to say, because he was thought to have knowledge of the gods, proclaiming Jesus who rose from the dead.
King James
Acts 7:18 Then certain philosophers of the Epicureans, and of the Stoicks, encountered him. And some said, What will this babbler say? other some, He seemeth to be a setter forth of strange gods: because he preached unto them Jesus, and the resurrection.

Why do you think the philosophers took Paul to Mars Hill?

Author’s Thoughts
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Acts 17:19 They took him to the Areopagus, the public council on Mars Hill, and said, “Tell us about this new teaching we keep hearing about.
17:20 Your sayings are strange to us, and we want to know what this is all about.”
King James
Acts 17:19 And they took him, and brought him unto Areopagus, saying, May we know what this new doctrine, whereof thou speakest, is?
17:20 For thou bringest certain strange things to our ears: we would know therefore what these things mean.

Besides themselves, who would the philosophers want to hear what Paul had to say? Why?

Author’s Thoughts
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Acts 17:21 The citizens of Athens and foreigners living there were people of learning, either telling or hearing the latest discovery.
King James
Acts 17:21 (For all the Athenians and strangers which were there spent their time in nothing else, but either to tell, or to hear some new thing.)

How would you describe the attitude of the audience when Paul stood to speak?

Author’s Thoughts
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Acts 17:22 So Paul stood to address them from center-stage on Mars Hill. “People of Athens, I have seen that you are exceptionally religious, giving great honor and respect to all gods.
King James
Acts 17:22 Then Paul stood in the midst of Mars’ hill, and said, Ye men of Athens, I perceive that in all things ye are too superstitious.

Who might have been standing with Paul?

Author’s Thoughts
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Acts 17:22 So Paul stood to address them from center-stage on Mars Hill. “People of Athens, I have seen that you are exceptionally religious, giving great honor and respect to all gods.
King James
Acts 17:22 Then Paul stood in the midst of Mars’ hill, and said, Ye men of Athens, I perceive that in all things ye are too superstitious.

Why didn’t Paul tell the people that they were wrong in worshiping other gods?

Author’s Thoughts
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Acts 17:22 So Paul stood to address them from center-stage on Mars Hill. “People of Athens, I have seen that you are exceptionally religious, giving great honor and respect to all gods.
King James
Acts 17:22 Then Paul stood in the midst of Mars’ hill, and said, Ye men of Athens, I perceive that in all things ye are too superstitious.

What made Paul’s explanation of the “Unknown God” effective?

Author’s Thoughts
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Acts 17:23 In passing your places of worship, I saw a shrine with this inscription: TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. The one you have been worshiping without knowledge, I now declare unto you.
King James
Acts 17:23 For as I passed by, and beheld your devotions, I found an altar with this inscription, TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you.

Why did his description of God as Creator avoid conflict with their beliefs?

Author’s Thoughts
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Acts 17:24 This God created our world and everything in it. Since he rules the universe, his presence is too vast to be contained in manmade temples.
17:25 He is not served by the fruit of our labor, as if he needed anything, for he gives all creatures life and breath and all that they need.
King James
Acts 17:24 God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands;
17:25 Neither is worshipped with men’s hands, as though he needed any thing, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things.

How did Paul’s description of God go beyond their understanding of their gods?

Author’s Thoughts
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Acts 17:25 He is not served by the fruit of our labor, as if he needed anything, for he gives all creatures life and breath and all that they need.
17:26 From one man, he brought forth all human kind on the face of the earth, determining where and how we must live,
17:27 desiring that we search and find him, though he is not far from any one of us.
King James
Acts 17:25 Neither is worshipped with men’s hands, as though he needed any thing, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things;
17:26 And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation;
17:27 That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us.

Why would Paul have quoted one of their pagan philosophers and not something from the Law and prophets?

Author’s Thoughts
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Acts 17:28 In him we live and move and have our being, as your own poet Epimenides has said, for we are his children.
King James
Acts 17:28 For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring.

After hearing Paul describe the nature of God and what their own philosopher had said, how do you think the people felt when they were told that their gods of gold, silver, or stone had not created them?

Author’s Thoughts
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Acts 17:29 Since we are his children, we should not think our Father is fashioned by human hands from gold, silver, or stone.
King James
Acts 17:29 Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man’s device.

Why did Paul say that what they had believed before was no longer good enough?

Author’s Thoughts
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Acts 17:30 God has overlooked our ignorance in the past, but now that we know, it’s time to repent,
17:31 because a day is coming when he will righteously judge the world. He chose Jesus to be the judge and showed him worthy of this task by raising him from the dead.”
King James
Acts 17:30 And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent:
17:31 Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead.

What do you think Paul had to say about Jesus?

Author’s Thoughts
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Acts 17:30 God has overlooked our ignorance in the past, but now that we know, it’s time to repent,
17:31 because a day is coming when he will righteously judge the world. He chose Jesus to be the judge and showed him worthy of this task by raising him from the dead.”
King James
Acts 17:30 And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent:
17:31 Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead.

Might Paul have said something about his past prejudice against Jesus and then his experience on the way to Damascus? Why or why not?

Author’s Thoughts
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Acts 17:30 God has overlooked our ignorance in the past, but now that we know, it’s time to repent,
17:31 because a day is coming when he will righteously judge the world. He chose Jesus to be the judge and showed him worthy of this task by raising him from the dead.”
King James
Acts 17:30 And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent:
17:31 Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead.

Why would some people dismiss Jesus’ resurrection as ridiculous while others wanted to hear more?

Author’s Thoughts
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Acts 17:32 Some laughed at Paul’s reference to Jesus’ resurrection, but others said, “We want to hear more about this.”
King James
Acts 17:32 And when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked: and others said, We will hear thee again of this matter.

What effect might Paul’s previous discussions with people in the city have affected the decisions made when he left Mars Hill?

Author’s Thoughts
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Acts 17:33 When Paul left Mars Hill,
17:34 some of the people joined him and became believers, including Dionysius, a member of the Areopagus council, and a woman named Damaris.
King James
Acts 17:33 So Paul departed from among them.
17:34 Howbeit certain men clave unto him, and believed: among the which was Dionysius the Areopagite, and a woman named Damaris, and others with them.

Why was it important that Paul mention the names of prominent people who became believers?

Author’s Thoughts
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Acts 17:33 When Paul left Mars Hill,
17:34 some of the people joined him and became believers, including Dionysius, a member of the Areopagus council, and a woman named Damaris.
King James
Acts 17:33 So Paul departed from among them.
17:34 Howbeit certain men clave unto him, and believed: among the which was Dionysius the Areopagite, and a woman named Damaris, and others with them.