Tuesday, July 18, 2017

He was chased out of the city and barely escaped under the cover of night. Local friends are good to have at times like this—they can find the city gates in the dark. Traveling by the light of the moon Paul and his companions arrived with the morning dew in Berea only twenty miles to the west.

But his enemies in Thessalonica quickly discovered Paul had escaped to Berea and was again teaching—they came after him again. This time Paul was rushed off to the coast and escaped by the Aegean Sea, sailing to Athens. All he wanted to do was share the Good News, but not everyone wanted to hear it—in fact some wanted to kill the messenger. His companions Silas and Timothy stayed behind but soon joined Paul in Athens 200 miles to the south (Acts 18:5).

The Jews in Thessalonica had been furious to hear that a Galilean man named Jesus had claimed to be the Son of God had come to earth to save the Jews and Gentiles by being assassinated on a cross. What blasphemy! And to make it worse, the one preaching this message to the Jews was a Jew himself!

And to make it even worse this Jewish preacher was telling the Gentiles, of all people, that the Jewish God was welcoming them into a new covenant. And to make it even worse than that, he was telling the Jews they could be reconciled to God without circumcision and without following all 613 commands in the Law of Moses! No wonder they were furious.

Paul had arrived in Thessalonica (in modern day Greece) around ad 50 and went directly to the Jewish synagogue since there was a sizeable Jewish population living in the city (Acts 17:1). But the Jews were very defensive of their unique identity and didn’t want some itinerant preacher coming along and stealing their people away, or trying to include unclean Gentiles into the community.

They argued with Paul as he proved from the Jewish scriptures that Jesus was the Messiah. They rejected Paul’s new revelation that God had revealed to him (1 Thes 2:13; Gal 1:16).

After denouncing him and scowling at his teaching of Jesus, they became jealous because some of the people believed Paul, both Jews and Greeks, especially some of the well-to-do Greek women (Acts 17:4). They treated Paul with contempt and violence—they threw him ignominiously out of town.

Why? “For three weeks he [Paul] reasoned with them from the scriptures” in the synagogue as was his custom. They did not revile Paul the first week, or the second, rather, they listened and discussed, but ultimately they rejected what he had to say. They had listened, compared his “new teaching” to the Old Testament scriptures, and then decided that Paul was wrong.

Click here for the whole article.

{ 1 comment }