Acts 17 Commentary

Acts chapter 17 commentary Bible study

Acts Chapter 17 Commentary Bible Study


Acts 17:10-14 Berea
Acts 17:15-18 Paul in Athens
Acts 17:19-23 Areopagus
Acts 17:24-28 Lord of Heaven and Earth
Acts 17:29-34 Divine
Acts 17 Bible Study Questions (Handout)
ACTS 17:1  1 Now when they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where there was a synagogue of the Jews.

Who are "they" (Acts 17:1)?
Paul, Silas and Timothy (see Acts 16).

Where are "Amphipolis ... Apollonia ... Thessalonica" (Acts 17:1)?
Thessalonica was the capital of the Roman province of Macedonia. To get there from Philippi, Timothy, Paul and Silas traveled about 100 miles (160 kilometers) west along Via Egnatia, the 1,200 mile (1,930 kilometer) long Roman road that ran from today's Istanbul in Turkey to the west coast of Albania. Amphipolis and Apollonia were cities en route from Philippi to Thessalonica.

At least how many Jewish men lived in Thessalonica?
Ten, the number required for "a synagogue" (Acts 17:1) to be established. Given the size of Thessalonica, however, it most likely had many more than ten Jewish male residents.

ACTS 17:2-4  2 Then Paul, as his custom was, went in to them, and for three Sabbaths reasoned with them from the Scriptures, 3 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 the Christ.” 4 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.

Why was it Paul's "custom" (Acts 17:2) to go to the Jews first?
They were the ones to whom "the Scriptures" (Acts 17:2), which prophesied about Christ, had been given. Therefore, they should have been the first to recognize Jesus as Christ, whom they had been awaiting for so long, when Paul declared, "This Jesus whom I preach to you is the Christ" (Acts 17:3).

Where in the Scriptures - the Old Testament in this case - is Jesus prophesied?
All over, including entire chapters dedicated to Him in Isaiah 53 and Psalm 22. Compare the prophecies in them with the details of their fulfillment in John 19.

ACTS 17:5-7  5 But the Jews who were not persuaded, becoming 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. 6 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. 7 Jason has harbored them, and these are all acting contrary to the decrees of Caesar, saying there is another king - Jesus.”

Who were the "evil men from the marketplace" (Acts 17:5) taken by the unbelieving Jews?
Thugs to incite "a mob" (Acts 17:5) and "set all the city in an uproar" (Acts 17:5).

Why did they attack "the house of Jason" (Acts 17:5)?
Paul, Silas and Timothy had been staying there - "Jason has harbored them" (Acts 17:7) - and "when they did not find them, they dragged Jason and some brethren to the rulers of the city" (Acts 17:6).

What is peculiar about their claim that Paul is "acting contrary to the decrees of Caesar" (Acts 17:7)?
Jews suddenly caring about someone supposedly being anti-Caesar, granted that they may have been trying to capitalize on Caesar Claudius' decree against Jews after the Jewish Zealots' riot in Rome at about this time.

What was the real reason for their accusation?
They were "envious" (Acts 17:5) of Paul and his ministry.

Where have we seen this sentiment and accusation before?
When the Jews in Jerusalem led Jesus to Pilate (see Barabbas).

Was this to be expected?
Jesus told us, "If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, they will keep yours also" (John 15:18-20).

How insulting is their accusation that Paul and those with him had "turned the world upside down" (Acts 17:6)?
Spiritually, it's a compliment. When Jesus commissioned, "Go into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature" (Mark 16:15), He was giving an order to invade the enemy (Satan's) territory with the Gospel. Paul and company had indeed turned Satan's turf into a spiritual battlefield, and turned it upside down.

Is the spiritual battle in your neighborhood outside your 'church' or inside? Who invaded who?

ACTS 17:8-9  8 And they troubled the crowd and the rulers of the city when they heard these things. 9 So when they had taken security from Jason and the rest, they let them go.

What is meant by "When they had taken security" (Acts 17:9)?
The original Greek phrase, λαβοντες το ικανον (labontes to hikanon), literally means to "receive the enough," and refers to a bond having been posted, in this case by Jason as assurance that "the crowd and the rulers of the city" (Acts 17:8) won't be troubled again by his guests.

So, did the unbelieving Jews and their thugs succeed?
Yes, in spreading the Gospel even farther, this time to "Berea" (Acts 17:10), located west of Thessalonica.

What happened to the new Christians in Thessalonica?
They became a faithful church: "Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy, To the church of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers, remembering without ceasing your work of faith, labor of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ in the sight of our God and Father, knowing, beloved brethren, your election by God. For our Gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Spirit and in much assurance, as you know what kind of men we were among you for your sake. And you became followers of us and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Spirit, so that you became examples to all in Macedonia and Achaia who believe. For from you the word of the Lord has sounded forth, not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place. Your faith toward God has gone out, so that we do not need to say anything" (1 Thessalonians 1:1-8).