OF THE FIRST CENTURY
Acts 17:1-9 "Now
when they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to
Thessalonica, where there was a synagogue of the Jews: Then Paul, as his
custom was, went in to them,
and for three Sabbaths reasoned with them from the Scriptures,
explaining and demonstrating that the Christ had to suffer and
rise again from the dead; and saying, 'This Jesus, whom I preach to
you, is Christ. And some of them were persuaded; and a great
multitude of the devout Greeks, and not a few of the leading women,
joined Paul and Silas. But the Jews who were not persuaded,
envious, took some of the evil men from the marketplace, and
gathering a mob, set all the city in an uproar, and attacked
the house of Jason, and sought to bring them out to the people. But when they
did not find them, they dragged Jason and some brethren
to the rulers of the city, crying out, These who have turned the
world upside down have come here too.' Jason has harbored them: and these
contrary to the decrees of Caesar, saying that there is another
king--Jesus. And they troubled the crowd and the rulers of
the city, when they heard these things. So when they had taken
security from Jason, and the rest, they let them go.'"
"These who have turned
the world upside down have come here too."
There is truth in
this statement because Satan turned the world upside down in the
Garden of Eden by getting Adam and Eve to sin. Paul was preaching a
gospel that brought mankind back into a proper relationship with God.
The truth is that he was turning men and women right side up. From a
carnal viewpoint it was upside down from their previous condition as
a lost sinner.
After leaving Philippi, Paul and his evangelistic
party made their first stop at Thessalonica where there was a Jewish
synagogue. Paul attended for three Sabbaths and as a visiting rabbi,
he was given the privilege of speaking.
of the accusations was that Jason was required to sign a security
bond that he, nor his guests in his house would create another riot.
Paul knew he would have to stop preaching the gospel in Thessalonica
for that to be possible, so he and his party left to preach in
Paul took the synagogue congregation on a journey
through the Old Testament scriptures and showed that Jesus was the
fulfillment of those scriptures that spoke of the Messiah (Christ).
He strongly emphasized the sufferings, death, and resurrection of
The results were that first, a great number believed and
joined with Paul and Silas, and second, the unbelieving Jews stirred
up a great riot and, third, brought charges against Paul and Silas
before the rulers of the city:
have turned the world upside down are come here too!"
"Whom Jason has
"…And these all do contrary to the decrees of
"…saying that there is another king--Jesus"
True Christians should have a desire to be like
Paul and Silas in turning an upside down lost world right side up.
Those who do so in our day will become 20th century
spiritual revolutionaries. We can learn from the example of Paul and
- THEY WERE SENSITIVE TO FOLLOW THE LEADING OF THE LORD
In Acts 16:6-10 they were planning to go first
into Asia, but the Holy Spirit forbid them to go. They made
alternate plans to go to Bithynia, but the Holy Spirit would not
allow them to go there. It was then that Paul received the night
vision of a man in Macedonia saying, "Come over and help us."
Sensing the leading of the Holy Spirit, they crossed over to
Philippi, and found that a great harvest of souls was waiting to be
reaped. They could go to Asia and Bithynia at a later time.
After leaving Philippi they passed through two
cities before setting up ministry in Thessalonica. We can be sure
they were being sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit (Philip,
Ananias, and Peter are also examples. Acts 8, 9 & 10)
No one person nor one church can win all lost
souls. However, at any one moment there are many lost souls ready to
receive the gospel message and place their trust in Christ. By being
sensitive to the Holy Spirit He will lead us to those we can win.
- THEY WENT TO THE LOST RATHER THAN WAITING FOR THE LOST TO COME
Although Paul officially became the apostle to
the Gentiles (Galatians 1:7-9) his rule of ministry in each new area
was to go to the Jew first and afterwards the Gentiles (Acts 13:46;
Romans 1:16; 2:9,10).
And so we read in Acts 17:2 "Paul, as his
manner was, went in unto them" (the Jews in the synagogue) Paul
believed that Jews should have the privilege of hearing the gospel
and so he took the gospel to them. After he had taken the gospel to
them he went to the Gentiles as he said to the elders of Ephesus, "…and
taught you publicly, and from house to house, testifying
to the Jews and also to Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith
toward our Lord Jesus Christ." Acts 20: 20, 21.
In order to win lost souls to Christ we must go
to where they are. We can win some of these to Christ with a gospel
witness. Some we can invite to meetings where they will hear the
gospel. Others may need to see our Christian life and require much
prayer. In any case, we must go to them and make a gospel witness
available if we are going to win them. In so doing we join the ranks
of 20th century spiritual revolutionaries
in the synagogue Paul "reasoned with them out of the Scripture…"
This is the most effective way to reach Jews. Paul showed them right
out of their own scriptures that Jesus was the fulfillment of all
their scriptures that spoke of Christ. Later in this chapter we find
Paul preaching to Greeks on Mars Hill located in Athens. He did not
quote one verse of scripture in his first presentation because it
would have no effect. He gave them the historical record of the
death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. A few believed.
- THEY USED THE MOST EFFECTIVE METHOD TO WIN THOSE THEY WERE
TRYING TO REACH
There is much to be learned from Paul’s
principles of reaching the lost. "...And to the Jews I became as a
Jew…to those who are under the law, as under the law…To those who
are without law as without law…To the weak became I as weak…I have
become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some."
1st Corinthians 9:20-22. Paul tried to find a point of common
ground and acceptance and then work from that point to lead the lost
to faith in Christ.
IV THEY PERSEVERED IN SPITE OF OPPOSITION
The gospels tell of how Jesus came to die as a
sacrifice for the sins of mankind in order that men, women, boys,
and girls might be saved. The gospels also tell of unspeakable
opposition to Christ that brought to Him unspeakable suffering…but
He persevered. The book of Acts begins with a band of 120 believers
in Christ witnessing to their fellow Jews. It also records the
intense persecution they received…but they persevered.!
Beginning with Acts 13 we have the record of Paul
taking the gospel to Gentiles in Asia and Europe. It is also a
record of rejection and riots…but Paul and his party persevered.
There are great spiritual forces in conflict.
Jesus goes with His disciples as they share the gospel. Satan is
with those in darkness who oppose the gospel. There will be times of
opposition from those whose minds are under Satan’s power…but let us
be twentieth century spiritual revolutionaries who persevere.
Copyright © 2002 Thomas E Berry
All Scriptures quoted from NKJV unless otherwise noted