Reading: Acts 17
Now when they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where there was a synagogue of the Jews. And Paul went in, as was his custom, and on three Sabbath days he reasoned with them from the Scriptures, explaining and proving that it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead, and saying, "This Jesus, whom I proclaim to you, is the Christ." And some of them were persuaded and joined Paul and Silas, as did a great many of the devout Greeks and not a few of the leading women.
The brothers immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea, and when they arrived they went into the Jewish synagogue. Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so. Many of them therefore believed, with not a few Greek women of high standing as well as men....
Now while Paul was waiting for them at Athens, his spirit was provoked within him as he saw that the city was full of idols. So he reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and the devout persons, and in the marketplace every day with those who happened to be there....
Now when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked. But others said, "We will hear you again about this." So Paul went out from their midst. But some men joined him and believed, among whom also were Dionysius the Areopagite and a woman named Damaris and others with them. (Acts 17:1-4, 10-12, 16-17, 32-34, ESV)
Reflecting and Thinking
The gospel did not go forward without problems and challenges. Problems in Thessalonica sent Paul and Silas to Berea by night. When the opposition followed Paul and Silas to Berea, Paul was whisked away to Athens. At Athens he preached as he waited for his companions to join him, but those who believed were few, and some mocked him.
What is your general attitude toward the rapid way the gospel spread in the first century? Are we ever guilty of "glorifying" the Pentecost results and the Jerusalem experience that followed while ignoring the great challenges the gospel faced as it moved into Asia Minor and Macedonia? On a scale of 1 to 10, how would you rate the magnitude of the problems described in this chapter? How would you compare them to the challenges the church faces today?
Dear God, give us courage as we live our Christian lives. Give us courage when we have opportunities to speak to others about Jesus. Help us keep going when things are difficult. We have not suffered as Paul and Silas did in today's reading. We ask your presence with us today, in Jesus' name, Amen.