Once again Paul was traveling to neighboring and finding themselves in Thessalonica. Because of his Jewish customs he sought out the synagogues to spend the Sabbath. He would spend the next three weeks trying to preach to Jews and to show them that it was necessary for Jesus to suffer and die for them. Like other times many did change to follow the Way.
The Orthodox Jews became jealous of what was going in their synagogue. They couldn't understand how this Christian faith was a fulfillment to their ancient faith. They just thought it was a rival religion. How many times do we act like this? Don't we get jealous deep down when other Christians are doing great new things and we are still stuck in our old ways. We should be rejoicing at their new faith and not looking to ourselves.
With the Jews jealousy also came anger and they formed a mob and went to the house where Paul and his men were staying. When they found that Paul wasn't there they dragged the owner of the home, Jason and his family to the officials. They wanted Jason beaten for housing a man who was destroying their "world." Jason told them that Paul meant no harm and would be good. With that the officials released him and his family.
Paul and his men are once again secretly taken out of another city. Can you imagine someone preaching so much and so strongly that they had to leave a city in darkness so to escape safely. We are so lazy now!
They found themselves in a new town called Berea where the people where so set apart in their faith. They would study the Scriptures so thoroughly that they had a stronger foundation in the Faith than Thessalonica. Many came to know the truth. But once again the Jews from Thessaloniac found out what Paul was preaching and quickly headed to Berea to stir up trouble.
Paul's Berean friends helped him escape from the mob by sending him out to sea and throwing off the crowd. Once Paul arrived in Athens he began to walk around the city and saw all the idols that adorned the streets. Since the city was so old and full of history the people wanted to remember their great leaders by making statues of them. The problem was that they considered these people like god's. This was too much to handle for Paul and he began to grieve for them.
Chapter 17: 17-21
Paul began to teach in the streets and it wasn't long before he was noticed by the people of leadership. They wanted to know more about what he was talking about so they invited him into their courts. This alone was a big honor for Paul to even be invited. The scholars probably had no intention of changing their religion but instead having a discussion about the latest theologies.
Chapter 17: 22-31
This sermon from Paul must have been hard to preach. He was standing in front of people who were so set in their ways that they made statue after statue to remind them of what they believed. He tells them that the ONE true God is right here with them. He doesn't just dwell in one place or in a piece of marble. He is living and in power now. How awesome is that that we have a God is continuous forever and ever. Paul also pointed out to them that they are more concerned with sitting around having debates amongst themselves instead of reaching out to others. They need to get up and repent.
Many people after hearing Paul preach just turned away while others wanted to hear more. Among the crowd there were a few people who became followers, one being Dionysius. Hopefully he had a great influence to those around him.