Acts 17:1-34 Comments by Stephen Ricker
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The Man Appointed to Judge the World
Comments for Study 19

Acts 17:1-34
Memory Verse: 31

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I. In Thessalonica (1-9)

>1. Other than at Philippi, what was Paul's usual custom on the Sabbath? (Note: there must be ten adult males in a area to have a synagogue.)

* Acts 17:1-2 "When they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where there was a Jewish synagogue. As his custom was, Paul went into the synagogue, and on three Sabbath days he reasoned with them from the Scriptures,"

* "they" -Paul and Silas left probably because they didn't' want to cause a threat to the church. (16:40) Luke the author was not with them, staying in Philippi. Timothy was with Paul as far as Barnea. (15)

* "passed through" -Paul and Silas are traveling down a major Roman highway called the Egnation Way. Each town on the highway was a days walk apart; about 30 miles (45km) apart. they did not stop to preach in these towns, perhaps because the neighboring city's new congregations could reach out to the skipped towns (1 Th. 1:8), to get far away from the problem city, and/or because there was no synagogue there.

* God's use for the excellent Roman roads was to bring the gospel very far very fast. The Romans built it for military and business purposes.

* "Amphipolis" -A Roman capital of one of the four regions that Macedonia was divided into near Philippi and Apollonia.

* "Apollonia" -Sixty miles (90km) south west of Philippi on the Egnatia Way.

* "Thessalonica" -Thessalonica, the capital of Macedonia was a very large city around one hundred miles (160km) west of Philippi.

* "a Jewish synagogue" -This gives the impression that the two previous towns was without one, just as Philippi was without one. This synagogue was called a Jewish one to indicate that there was no Christians in it yet and because the Greek word means congregation and assembly.

* "As his custom was, Paul went into the synagogue" -Paul's custom never changed unless there was no synagogue for some time around an area or if the Holy Spirit lead him to a city without one. The strategy behind this is explained in a previous study in Acts.

* "three Sabbath days" -unhindered Sabbath days (two weeks) for most believe that his later letters to this show that he taught the new church so much and he was engaged in tent making while there which would have to be more than two weeks. It is believed that after the three Sabbaths Paul taught in Jason's house.

* "he reasoned with them from the Scriptures" -Paul was very good by this time in using the around three hundred Scriptures that prove that Jesus is the Messiah through his first coming. Paul probably taught the same points in every synagogue as some are recorded in 13:16-41 and the letter to the Hebrews. This is probably the reason that Luke does not record what he taught over and over again.

>What was the subject of his teaching?

* Acts 17:3 "explaining and proving that the Christ had to suffer and rise from the dead. "This Jesus I am proclaiming to you is the Christ," he said."

* "the Christ had to suffer and rise from the dead" -We might think, "Why would he need to teach such an obvious thing to a Jew?" The answer is that the concept of the Messiah was confused by the religious teachers of the day. Most Jews were taught that the Messiah would come as conqueror, drive out the Romans, establish Israel as the world dominate nation, and fulfill the Lord's promises to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and David. Though some recognized that the Scriptures also mentioned a suffering Messiah they didn't want to acknowledge it or perhaps considered that the Messiah might be two persons. The fact that the Messiah would come twice had not accrued to them.

* Paul taught that Jesus was the Christ as of first importance. He wrote concerning his message on this trip, "When I came to you, brothers, I did not come with eloquence or superior wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified." (1 Cor. 2:1-2) And, "Now, brothers, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures..." (1 Cor. 15:1-4)

* "Christ" -Christ is the Greek word equivalent to the Hebrew word "Messiah", both meaning the Anointed One.

>2. Who received the message? (4)

* Acts 17:4 "Some of the Jews were persuaded and joined Paul and Silas, as did a large number of God-fearing Greeks and not a few prominent women."

* "Some of the Jews were persuaded" -The Holy Spirit usually moved some Jewish men, God's chosen descendants of Abraham to accept Jesus when Paul showed them the true meaning of the Scriptures concerning the Messiah.

* "a large number of God-fearing Greeks" -Men who had not blood of Abraham in them. They accepted the teaching of the Old Testament (the new had not been written yet) but did not become Jewish converts and thus were not circumcised.

* "prominent women" -Perhaps the wives of the leading men of the city, but women who deserve notice and position in their own right.

>What does it mean to be God-fearing? (Proverbs 1:7, 8:13)

* Proverbs 1:7 "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline."

* Proverbs 8:13 "To fear the Lord is to hate evil; I hate pride and arrogance, evil behavior and perverse speech."

* The fear of God comes when a person understands that they have not lived up to God's plan and deserve to be punished for their actions. Fearing God means that they know that God has the right and ability to punish the guilty, of which we admit we belong to. The realization of our guilt and a sentence hanging over our head leads to the acceptance of God's forgiveness through Jesus.

* Fear of God's punishment and hope in God's reward leads a forgiven person to do what is good and resist what is evil.

* Fear of God compels us to tell the good news of the kingdom of God to others.

* Fear of God does not compel us to condemn others, for only God is able to judge. A guilty sinner cannot condemn nor can a forgiven sinner. Jesus taught this in the parable recorded in Matt. 18:22-35.

>Why was it hard to fear God in that society and ours?

* Mark 8:38 "If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his Father's glory with the holy angels."

* Matthew 10:34-36 "Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to turn "'a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law-- a man's enemies will be the members of his own household.'"

* The unsaved mock us.

* The unsaved persecute us.

* The unsaved lie concerning us.

* The unsaved hate us.

* The unsaved cast us out of our society.

* The unsaved tempt us.

* Our sinful nature is constantly at war with the new nature of Christ in us.

* We forget the truth, being weak in our mortal bodies.

>3. Why were some jealous? (Gen. 37:11, 2 Cor. 11:2)

* Acts 17:5a "But the Jews were jealous"

* Genesis 37:11 says of Joseph, "His brothers were jealous of him, but his father kept the matter in mind."

* 2 Corinthians 11:2 "I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy. I promised you to one husband, to Christ, so that I might present you as a pure virgin to him."

* Jealousy is wanting and unable to have and jealousy is having and not wanting to part with.

* Jealousy is good when it is of God, and bad if it is of the flesh.

* Jealousy is a lack of God in the heart which satisfies all.

* Jealousy is a lack of understanding and accepting the unconditional love of another, most importantly God.

>Why is jealousy foolish in the eyes of God? (1 Kings 10:9, Ezra 3:11, Hosea 1:7, 6:4; Psalm 98:3, 136:1)

* 1 Kings 10:9 "Praise be to the Lord your God, who has delighted in you and placed you on the throne of Israel. Because of the Lord's eternal love for Israel, he has made you king, to maintain justice and righteousness."

* Ezra 3:11 "With praise and thanksgiving they sang to the Lord: "He is good; his love to Israel endures forever." And all the people gave a great shout of praise to the Lord, because the foundation of the house of the Lord was laid."

* Hosea 1:7 "Yet I will show love to the house of Judah; and I will save them--not by bow, sword or battle, or by horses and horsemen, but by the Lord their God."

* Hosea 6:4 "What can I do with you, Ephraim? What can I do with you, Judah? Your love is like the morning mist, like the early dew that disappears."

* Psalms 98:3 "He has remembered his love and his faithfulness to the house of Israel; all the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God."

* Psalms 136:1 "Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good. His love endures forever."

* God's love for his people is eternal. He loves us all if we love His Son Jesus.

* God is good. He does not desire wrong. He does not act badly toward those who love his Son.

* The Lord God's love for his people is such that he sent his One and Only Son to save them.

* Even though Ephraim (the northern kingdom) and Judah (the southern kingdom) lost their love for their God and he let them go to other loves he has not forgotten them and saved them from the sin and destruction the other love left them in.

* God's love endures forever. He loves Judah forever. He loves Ephraim forever. He loves Israel forever. He loves all those who accept and believe in his Son Jesus.

* No one can pull out more love from God than he has for his people.

>4. What was said about Paul's message?

* Acts 17:5-7 "But the Jews were jealous; so they rounded up some bad characters from the marketplace, formed a mob and started a riot in the city. They rushed to Jason's house in search of Paul and Silas in order to bring them out to the crowd. But when they did not find them, they dragged Jason and some other brothers before the city officials, shouting: "These men who have caused trouble all over the world have now come here, and Jason has welcomed them into his house. They are all defying Caesar's decrees, saying that there is another king, one called Jesus."

* "Jealous" -Those who did not accept the facts of Jesus' Messiahship did not want people to respect and honor their teachings instead of Paul's. Their kind of jealousy leads to death.

* "some bad characters from the marketplace" -All commentaries that I've read said that these men were the cheap lewd unscrupulous lawyers and businessmen who would do anything for the right price.

* "formed a mob" -Paid them money and organized them with one mission, stop the gospel.

* "these men" -Paul's companions.

* "defying Caesar's decrees, saying that there is another king" -A capital offense with only one punishment, death.

>What was said of Jesus?

* Acts 17:7b "...saying that there is another king, one called Jesus."

* Jesus is The King of kings (John 18:36-37) and his bride, his people are made pure by her bridegroom's love. Psalms 45:4-15 states concerning Jesus, “In your majesty ride forth victoriously in behalf of truth, humility and righteousness; let your right hand display awesome deeds. Let your sharp arrows pierce the hearts of the king's enemies; let the nations fall beneath your feet. Your throne, O God, will last forever and ever; a scepter of justice will be the scepter of your kingdom. You love righteousness and hate wickedness; therefore God, your God, has set you above your companions by anointing you with the oil of joy. All your robes are fragrant with myrrh and aloes and cassia; from palaces adorned with ivory the music of the strings makes you glad. Daughters of kings are among your honored women; at your right hand is the royal bride in gold of Ophir. Listen, O daughter, consider and give ear: Forget your people and your father's house. The king is enthralled by your beauty; honor him, for he is your lord. The Daughter of Tyre will come with a gift, men of wealth will seek your favor. All glorious is the princess within [her chamber]; her gown is interwoven with gold. In embroidered garments she is led to the king; her virgin companions follow her and are brought to you. They are led in with joy and gladness; they enter the palace of the king.”

* Jesus is the King of all; Jew and Gentile. Romans 15:12-13 states, “And again, Isaiah says, ‘The Root of Jesse will spring up, one who will arise to rule over the nations; the Gentiles will hope in him.’ May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Jesse is the father of David, the boy who became the second king of Israel. David is Jesus' human ancestor. Jesus is of kingly descent. Jesus is no ordinary king for he will rule over the nations, Jew and Gentile. Jesus full rule is not experienced now because most do not accept his rule. However, someday his full rule will be experienced. Jesus' bride, both Jew and Gentile, hope in his eventual world rule.

* Jesus' kingship is stated in many places and ways in the Bible. For example, Christ appears five hundred and one times in the New Testament, each time referring only to Jesus. Christ refers to Jesus' kingship. Today many people believe that Jesus' sir name is Christ. It is not. People having sir names only started a few hundred years ago. Before that people had only one word for a name. However, sometimes when referring to a person, people would say that he was the son of someone. For example, James was called the son of Zebedee to distinguish him from James the son of Alphaeus (Matt. 10:2-3). In other cases a person's title and/or position was added to their name (i.e. King Herod, Tiberius Caesar, etc.). These practices did not mean that those men had sir names (although in some cultures centuries later this did happen). Thus, it is the same with Jesus.

* Christ is not Jesus' sir name; it is his title. “Christ” refers to Jesus' kingly position. Christ is a Greek word with the same meaning as the Hebrew word Messiah. Jesus being the Messiah refers to his kingly linage stemming back to King David and at the same time looks to his future reigning as King of Israel and the world. When the Bible states Jesus is the Messiah; that is the Christ, it means that Jesus is the King, God's anointed one.

* Throughout human history only two types of people were anointed with oil; kings and priests. (Ex. 29:29, 40:15, Lev. 7:36, and 1 Sa. 2:10, 35, 10:1, 15:17, 15:13) Oil poured over their head was a symbol of the Holy Spirit coming over them. Jesus, the Christ, is God's special anointed one. (Ps. 2:2, Dan. 9:25) Jesus was anointed by God with the Holy Spirit as king and priest. (Luke 4:16-24, Acts 10:38)

* The above five points are from the manuscript The Believer's Future - Hope That Inspires.

>What happened to the new believers?

* Acts 17:8-9 "When they heard this, the crowd and the city officials were thrown into turmoil. Then they made Jason and the others post bond and let them go."

* "city officials" -The Greek term here has been found on a number of local artefacts, explicitly used for their cities officials.

* "were thrown into turmoil" -They accusations about advocating another king was a big deal in Roman society. Any town known to try to subvert the Roman rule were destroyed and/or it leaders and citizens killed. In less than twenty years this would happen to Jerusalem and many other Judean cities.

* "post bond" -Little different than posting bond in many western cultures today. Jason was required to guarantee a peaceful, quiet community, or he would face the confiscation of his properties and perhaps even death.

* "let them go" -They did not suffer as much as Paul usually was.

>Paul was forced to leave. Because of this not long after this, while in Corinth, Paul wrote the believers in Thessalonica two letters. Read the letters according to the Holy Spirit's prompting.

II. In Berea (10-15)

>5. What was the first thing Paul did in Berea?

* Acts 17:10 "As soon as it was night, the brothers sent Paul and Silas away to Berea. On arriving there, they went to the Jewish synagogue."

* Below is a outline tracing the locations and events during this missionary trip:
    1) 50 A.D. Paul and Silas left Antioch going through Tarsus to the churches in Galatia where Timothy joins them. (15:36-16:10)
    2) The same year crossing the Aegean Sea arriving at Philippi. (16:11-40)
    3) They flee Philippi after considerable time there and went to Thessalonica were they spend considerable time. (17:1-9)
    4) Paul and Silas flee from Thessalonica to Berea. Since Timothy is not mentioned, it is possible that he stayed in Thessalonica or Philippi and then rejoined Paul in Silas in Berea.
    5) Paul fled to Athens from Berean persecution, leaving Silas and Timothy in Berea. (14) Paul asked Silas and Timothy to join him in Athens. (15, and 1 Thess. 3:1-2)
    6) Timothy rejoined Paul at Athens and was sent back to Thessalonica. (1 Thess. 3:1-5) Since Silas is not mentioned, it has been conjectured that he went back to Philippi when Timothy went to Thessalonica.
    7) Paul moved on the Corinth. (18:1) Silas and Timothy came to Paul in Corinth. (18:5, and 1 Thess. 3:6)
    8) Paul wrote 1 Thessalonians and sent it to the church. About six months later in late 51 or early 52 A.D. Paul wrote 2 Thessalonians. These are the first two letters that we have that Paul wrote.

>What did the Bereans do to confirm Paul's words?

* Acts 17:11-12 "Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true. Many of the Jews believed as did also a number of prominent Greek women and many Greek men."

* "more noble character" -A noble character searches for God and the truth of his word. Proverbs 31 speaks of a wife of noble character. We who are Jesus' bride should follow its direction.

* "they received the message" -They accepted the gospel of the kingdom of God that Paul preached.

>What can we learn from them?

* "examined the Scriptures every day" -A noble character reads and/or studies some of the Bible every day. Jesus said, "Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the Father." The written word of God is our food. Jesus is the Word. Reading and having the Holy Spirit reveal God's word should be a daily discipline, just as eating and drinking are.

* "to see if what Paul said was true" -We should not accept a preacher's or teacher's word without examining it against the word of God.

* "Many of the Jews believed" -With God's work through the Holy Spirit, reading the word of God brings life for it leads one to Jesus. The Holy Spirit works is needed when we study the Bible. Without his touch reading the Bible will do nothing. As a pre-teen I at times read the Bible starting at Genesis. However, since the Holy Spirit did not move me I stopped reading at the long lists of names in Numbers. I was not moved and remained in sin. Then when I was eighteen, just out of high school, I was moved to order from a TV add the free book The Power of Living by Buckingham. Along with it came The Living Bible version of the Gospel of John. I thank The Arthur S. DeMoss Foundation for making these books available to me freely. I read the gospel first, amazed at what Jesus taught and said. The Holy Spirit moved my heart as I read John's gospel. I had attempted to read the Bible before and went to Catholic church almost every week, yet I was not moved until the day I received the gospel in the mail and read it twice. Then, I wanted to know how to become a follower of Jesus. I read the book Power For Living. I believed the good news of forgiveness of sins and a relationship with God through Jesus. I accepted Jesus into my heart. I asked him to be absolute ruler of my life. I asked him to be King of my life. I relented the kingship of my life to him. At that very moment the Holy Spirit came on me powerfully and completely. I praise God for reaching an unreachable person and shedding his grace on me. I thank DeMoss and Buckingham for being the vessels of the message of the life of faith in Jesus. Enough about my beginnings.

* "as did also a number of prominent Greek women and many Greek men" -Jews and Gentiles consisted of this new congregation just as it had been in all the congregations prior to this.

>6. What did the Thessalonians do when they heard Paul was preaching at their neighboring town?

* Acts 17:13 "When the Jews in Thessalonica learned that Paul was preaching the word of God at Berea, they went there too, agitating the crowds and stirring them up."

* "Jews in Thessalonica" -Those who did not accept Jesus as the Messiah. Those who had opposed him and tried to have him killed. Paul wrote of them, "For you, brothers, became imitators of God's churches in Judea, which are in Christ Jesus: You suffered from your own countrymen the same things those churches suffered from the Jews, who killed the Lord Jesus and the prophets and also drove us out. They displease God and are hostile to all men in their effort to keep us from speaking to the Gentiles so that they may be saved. In this way they always heap up their sins to the limit. The wrath of God has come upon them at last." (1 Thess. 2:14-16)

* "they went there too" -They stopped everything in order to quench the grace of God.

* "agitating the crowds and stirring them up" -Jew and Gentile sinners worked together against the gospel.

* It should be of no surprise if people go out of their way to stop the gospel and God's word from being preached.

>What did Paul have to do?

* Acts 17:14 "The brothers immediately sent Paul to the coast, but Silas and Timothy stayed at Berea."

* "The brothers" -The Jew and Gentile new believers and Silas and Timothy.

* "immediately" -by know all knew that Paul was always the one that was targeted for and foremost in the persecutions. This is fulfilment of Jesus' words when he came to Paul on the road to Antioch.

* "to the coast" -The coast was twenty miles (30km) from the city. Paul may have taken a boat. However, the road to Athens is a coastal road. The two cites are around one hundred fifty miles (200km) apart.

>What shows the emergency?

* Acts 17:15 "The men who escorted Paul brought him to Athens and then left with instructions for Silas and Timothy to join him as soon as possible."

* "the men who escorted Paul" -they made sure he arrived in Athens safely.

* "left with instructions" -the men with Paul did not contain the men who had been traveling with him up until this time.

* "Silas and Timothy to join him" -Paul was left all alone in Athens.

>7. Why did Paul ask for Silas and Timothy to join him right away? (Matt. 18:20, Mk. 6:7)

* Matthew 18:20 Jesus said, "For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them."

* Mark 6:7 "Calling the Twelve to him, he sent them out two by two and gave them authority over evil spirits."

* Jesus wants his people to work together, not individually. Ecclesiastes 4:12 states, "Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken."

>In light of this can a person act alone in the gospel work?

* No one is called to be alone in Christ. We are to work together. Romans 12:3-8 states, "For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you. Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man's gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully."

III. In Athens (16-34)

>8. Why did Paul expand his normal missionary work in Athens? (16-17)

* Acts 17:16-17 "While Paul was waiting for them in Athens, he was greatly distressed to see that the city was full of idols. So he reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and the God-fearing Greeks, as well as in the marketplace day by day with those who happened to be there."

* "While Paul was waiting for them" -Paul was all alone at this time. He did not plan on starting his work of preaching the gospel until others arrived. In order to support himself Paul must have started a tent making and mending business in Athens.

* "Athens" -Athens was renowned for centuries to be the center of high education (philosophy) and literature in the western world. Many have called it the "mother of western civilization." It contained the leading universities, the Epicurean and the rival Stoics in Paul's day. People from all over the world traveled to Athens to learn all different disciplines. Another name should be mentioned of Athens, "the father of foolish street idols."

* "full of idols" -Perhaps hundreds. I've been to London and saw its many statues, getting an idea of what Paul saw in Athens.

* "the synagogue... as well as in the marketplace" -For the first time Paul is mentioned to venture outside of the synagogue to preach the gospel. In the past the only time he preached and taught outside of the Jewish synagogues was when he was forced out of them. One of the reasons for this is perhaps because Athens streets welcomed and contained many who would stand up to propagate their messages.

* "those who happened to be there" -Paul became a street corner evangelist, legally acceptable in Athens. I've heard some preachers with degrees denounce street corner evangelists. Mark 9:38-41 records, "Teacher," said John, "we saw a man driving out demons in your name and we told him to stop, because he was not one of us." "Do not stop him," Jesus said. "No one who does a miracle in my name can in the next moment say anything bad about me, for whoever is not against us is for us. I tell you the truth, anyone who gives you a cup of water in my name because you belong to Christ will certainly not lose his reward."

>What did the educated philosophers think of the simple message of the gospel? (18-21, and 1 Cor. 1:23)

* Acts 17:18-21 "A group of Epicurean and Stoic philosophers began to dispute with him. Some of them asked, "What is this babbler trying to say?" Others remarked, "He seems to be advocating foreign gods." They said this because Paul was preaching the good news about Jesus and the resurrection. Then they took him and brought him to a meeting of the Areopagus, where they said to him, "May we know what this new teaching is that you are presenting? You are bringing some strange ideas to our ears, and we want to know what they mean." (All the Athenians and the foreigners who lived there spent their time doing nothing but talking about and listening to the latest ideas.)"

* 1 Corinthians 1:22-25 "Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than man's wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man's strength."

* "Epicurean" -believed that gods existed, but had no interest whatsoever in the welfare of men. They believed the chief end of life was pleasure and sought it with vigor. They sought freedom from pain, trouble, and fear (especially the fear of death).

* "Stoics" -believed that God was the world's soul which indwelt all things, and that the happy life was the lived in accordance with nature. Since God was in all men, all men were brothers. Stoics often were men of great moral principle.

* "a meeting of the Areopagus" -The hill of Mars situated between the market place to the west and the Acropolis to the east. The council met in the ancient times on Mars' Hill (aka Are's Hill). They supervised religious and educational matters. They had the authority to stop a person from preaching in Athens' streets.

* "new teaching" -Paul's teaching on the good news about Jesus and the resurrection had never been known to them. Thousands of years and great minds had not thought of what God has revealed. All glory goes to God who in his sovereignty reveals his plan to those who are humble enough to accept it by faith.

>9. How did Paul start his message? (22-23)

* Acts 17:22-23 "Paul then stood up in the meeting of the Areopagus and said: "Men of Athens! I see that in every way you are very religious. For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: TO AN UNKNOWN GOD. Now what you worship as something unknown I am going to proclaim to you."

* "Men of Athens" -Paul, as in his earlier recorded messages in Acts complements his hearers.

* "very religious" -Having a form of religion does nothing toward salvation. Paul wrote Timothy, "having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them." (2 Tim. 3:5)

* Paul started where they were at in their beliefs, understandings, and statements and moved toward the truth.

>What does this say about his understanding about giving messages?

* When we speak to people with a intention to reveal the gospel to them, we should start with where they are at. We should have an understanding of where they are and make sure that they understand that we know something about them and their beliefs. Preaching the gospel is a person to person exchange, not a preaching session.

>What famous temple is in Athens?

* Acts 17:24 "The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands."

* "does not live in temples built by hands" -The Acropolis is a high rock outcrop with temples on it including the famed Parthenon dedicated to the Greek goddess Athena, whom the people of Athens considered their patron.

* Paul did not specify any temple and in his statement could be included the temple in Jerusalem. God's presence was there for sure. However, Paul is correct for God was not only in the temple of Jerusalem. The mere fact that God's Spirit dwelt in the prophets and many of Israel's kings while there was a temple in Jerusalem proves that God did not confined himself that one location. The temple in Jerusalem was made for man, not for God. Its purpose was to give man a place to go to to worship him. Abraham and the patriarch worshiped God in many places. When Israel became a nation the LORD gave them one place to worship him.

>10. What does God need from us and how does Paul prove this? (25-26a)

* Acts 17:25-26a "And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything, because he himself gives all men life and breath and everything else. From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth"

* "he is not served by human hands" -God doesn't need us to serve him, though he does desire what is best for us.

* "as if he needed anything" -God does not need man or anything from man. Man needs God.

* "he himself gives all men life" -No exceptions. John wrote about Jesus, "In him was life and that life was the light of man." (John 1)

* "and breath" -A man's life is not contained by physical life. We also have a spirit.

* "everything else" -God gave the earth to man to rule and live in. Though we have through following the sinful way of Satan turned rule of the earth over to Satan,

* "From one man he made every nation" -Refers to Adam.

* "nation" -Nation refers to groups of people. Genesis chapter 10 gives a list. The Bible also refers to the nations as islands.

* "that they should inhabit the whole world" -God original intent was for people to be scattered throughout the world, organized into national groups. Even during the one thousand year reign of Christ (Millennium) there will be nations of men.

* Paul clearly is proclaiming monotheism. This went against the Athena's belief in many gods to the point of people having household gods.

>What does Paul reveal about why you are where your are? (26b)

* Acts 17:26b "and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live."

* "the times set for them" -God determined when each person would live on the face of the earth. No one is an accident. No one was born that God didn't know would be born. God knows everyone and loves everyone just as they are.

* "the exact places where they should live" -God determined what nation, state, city, and piece of land that a person would live in.

>Do you know why God wants you were you are?

* God never planned for man to be in sin. He gives us a chance to choose his love or reject it. If we reject his love we live outside of his love. When we are wrongly affected by sin in the body we have, in the time we live in, and in the place we live it we can not blame God, but must blame ourselves.

* God is good and intends for all to share in his goodness.

* God is love and intends for all to share in his love.

>11. What does God desire? (27-28)

* Acts 17:27-28 "God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us. 'For in him we live and move and have our being.' As some of your own poets have said, 'We are his offspring.'"

* "so that men would see him" -No one is to far from God that they can not find him if they chose to do so.

* "and perhaps reach out for him and find him" -Sin separates us from God. Yet God has made a way for us to be united with him again. He does not reject anyone even though all have rejected him.

* The source of the quote can be Deut. 20:30, Job 12:10, and Daniel 5:23.

* "some of your poets" -Paul did not put down their ancestors. His quotes from the Epimenides and Aratus in which Zeus is considered as the source of all life, and these quotations would help to maintain the interest of the councillors.

* With that said we need to look at what Paul said about his next stop after Athens, that is Corinth. In his letter to them he wrote what he decided to do after this Athens speech. Obviously he realized that the speak here was not that good of an idea. He wrote, "When I came to you, brothers, I did not come with eloquence or superior wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. I came to you in weakness and fear, and with much trembling. My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit's power, so that your faith might not rest on men's wisdom, but on God's power. (1 Cor. 2:1-5)

>Why should we repent? (29-31)

* Acts 17:29-31 "Therefore since we are God's offspring, we should not think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone--an image made by man's design and skill. In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent. For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to all men by raising him from the dead."

* "Therefore" -Paul's concluding statement.

* "God overlooked such ignorance" -God let men have their foolish ideas without punishing them right away. Yet will hold each accountable for their actions.

* "He commands all people everywhere to repent" -No exceptions.

>Who will judge us?

* "he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed" -The resurrected Jesus will judge all men.

* Romans 2:16 states, "This will take place on the day when God will judge men's secrets through Jesus Christ, as my gospel declares.

* Galatians 2:6b states, "...God does not judge by external appearance..."

* 2 Timothy 4:1-2a "In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: Preach the Word..."

* James 4:12a says, "There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy."

* Jude 1:14-15 states, "Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied about these men: "See, the Lord is coming with thousands upon thousands of his holy ones to judge everyone, and to convict all the ungodly of all the ungodly acts they have done in the ungodly way, and of all the harsh words ungodly sinners have spoken against him."

>What is the nature of idol worship? (Rom. 1:21-23)

* Romans 1:21-23 "For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles."

>What do you find glory in, praise, and value most?

* Jesus taught, "No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money." (Matt. 6:24)

>Do you need repentance?

* Romans 3:23 states, "for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,"

>What were the two responses to Paul's message?

* Acts 17:32-34 When they heard about the resurrection of the dead, some of them sneered, but others said, "We want to hear you again on this subject." At that, Paul left the Council. A few men became followers of Paul and believed. Among them was Dionysius, a member of the Areopagus, also a woman named Damaris, and a number of others."

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