Saturday, November 25, 2017

Daily reading assignment – Acts 17–18

Today’s Scripture reading is a study of the early church in the Book of Acts, chapters 17 and 18.

Rather than a verse by verse devotional commentary, I invite you to consider in the apostle Paul’s example three characteristics of a dynamic witness for Christ: The Message; The Manner; and the Motivation.

Notice that the manner or custom of Paul was to go into a synagogue on the Sabbath where Jews gathered to worship and boldly declare Jesus Christ as Savior.  [The amplification in the following verses are those of the author].

The city of Berea (Acts 17:1-13)

Acts 17:1 – Now when they [Paul and Silas] had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where was a synagogue of the Jews:

Acts 17:2-3 – And Paul, as his manner was [i.e. as was his custom or habit], went in unto them [the Jews in the synagogue at Thessalonica], and three sabbath days reasoned [disputed; preached; conversed] with them out of  [from] the scriptures [i.e. The Old Testament Scriptures],
3  Opening [explaining; setting forth] and alleging [setting forth], that Christ must needs [ought; should] have suffered [experienced pain], and risen again from the dead; and that this Jesus, whom I preach [declare; proclaim] unto you, is Christ [the Messiah].

The response of some was to believe; however, the response of many was to reject Jesus Christ and oppose His witnesses.

Acts 17:5-7 – But the Jews which believed not, moved with envy [jealous over Paul’s success], took unto them certain lewd [evil; wicked] fellows of the baser sort [vulgar; good for nothing], and gathered a company [crowd], and set all the city on an uproar [tumult; disturbance], and assaulted [rushing at] the house of Jason [a man who was a Christian], and sought to bring them [Paul and Silas] out to the people [for the purpose of publicly accusing and attacking].  6 And when they found them not, they drew Jason and certain brethren unto the rulers of the city, crying, These that have turned [made an uproar] the world upside down [made an uproar] are come hither also; 7 Whom Jason hath received: and these all do contrary [oppose; against] to the decrees [laws; ordinances] of Caesar, saying that there is another king, one Jesus.

The city of Berea (Acts 17:10-14)

Acts 17:11 – These were more noble [i.e. noble minded] than those in Thessalonica, in that they received [accepted] the word with all readiness of mind [eagerly; joyfully], and searched [examined; investigated] the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.

The city of Athens (Acts 17:15-34)

Known for both its academics and idolatry, Paul journeyed to Athens and seeing the idols of the city in every place, he boldly declared Jesus Christ in both the synagogue and public places.

Acts 17:16-17 –  Now while Paul waited for them at Athens, his spirit [soul; inward man] was stirred [provoked] in him, when he saw the city wholly given to idolatry [i.e. was full of idols].
17  Therefore disputed he [reasoned; preached; teach public twin ] in the synagogue with the Jews, and with the devout persons [religious; reverent], and in the market [i.e. The town square; public thoroughfare] daily with them that met with him [that he chance to meet].

Acts 17:20-22 – For thou bringest certain strange things [surprising; shocking] to our ears: we would know [understand; desire to know] therefore what these things mean.
21  (For all the Athenians and strangers which were there spent their time in nothing else, but either to tell, or to hear some new thing.) 22 Then Paul stood [standing] in the midst [center; lit. he seized the opportunity] of Mars’ hill [a hill in Athens; a meeting  place], and said, Ye men of Athens, I perceive that in all things [everything] ye are too superstitious [religious ;i.e. Fear of the gods ].

Acts 17:29 – Forasmuch then as we are the offspring [family; people] of God, we ought not to think [suppose; regard] that the Godhead is like [similar; i.e. the nature of God] unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven [scratch; etched; sculpted] by art and man’s device [thought or  imagination].

Acts 17:30-31 – And the times of this ignorance God winked at [overlooked;  do not punish]; but now commandeth [ declares] all men every where to repent [change of mind accompanied by sorrow]:
31  Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge [condemn] the world in righteousness [justice] by that man whom he hath ordained [i.e. Jesus Christ]; whereof he [God] hath given assurance unto all men, in that he [God] hath raised him [Jesus Christ] from the dead.

The city of Corinth (Acts 18)

Departing from Athens, Paul journeyed to Corinth and continued his bold witness.

Acts 18:4-8 – And he reasoned [discussed; disputed] in the synagogue every sabbath, and persuaded [tried to convinced] the Jews and the Greeks. 5 And when Silas and Timotheus were come from Macedonia [region of Greece], Paul was pressed [constrained;  stimulated by the arrival of his friends] in the spirit [soul], and testified [earnestly attested] to the Jews that Jesus was Christ [the Messiah].
6  And when they opposed themselves [resisted; i.e. raised up in opposition to], and blasphemed [railed; reviled; slandered], he shook [to shake violently] his raiment [robe; i.e. indicating exasperation], and said unto them, Your blood be upon your own heads [i.e. a  disclaimer; Paul was not responsible for their souls]; I am clean: from henceforth I will go unto the Gentiles.
7  And he departed thence, and entered into a certain man’s house, named Justus, one that worshipped God, whose house joined hard [bordered on; adjoined] to the synagogue.

8 And Crispus, the chief ruler of the synagogue, believed [commitment of faith] on the Lord with all his house; and many of the Corinthians hearing believed, and were baptized.

9 Then spake the Lord to Paul in the night by a vision, Be not afraid, but speak, and hold not thy peace:
10  For I am with thee, and no man shall set on thee to hurt thee: for I have much people in this city.
11  And he continued there a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them.

The city of Ephesus (Acts 18:18-21)

Acts 18:19 – And he came to Ephesus, and left them there: but he himself entered into the synagogue, and reasoned [discussed; disputed; preached] with the Jews.

The manner of Paul’s witness in Acts 17-18 invites us to consider our own manner as a witness for Christ. 

Christian friend, what is your manner (Acts 17:2)?   What is the overriding message of your life?   What dominates your conversations with others?

What is your daily discourse?  Are you a bold witness for Christ?  Are you interested in men’s souls?

Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith