Acts 17:1-15 Persecution Leads To The Spread Of The Gospel.
“Paul…reasoned…from the scriptures, explaining and demonstrating that the Christ had to suffer and rise again from the dead” (Acts 17:2-3). Whenever there was a synagogue, it was Paul’s practice to visit them first, and in this case he spent three Sabbaths in a row proclaiming the gospel (Cf. 9:20; 13:5, 14; 14:1; 19:8). It was a time of transition, and in doing so he was following the example of the Lord Himself (Cf. Lk. 4:16). His message was twofold, first explaining that “the Christ had to suffer and rise again from the dead,” and that Jesus was and is this Christ. Obviously Paul needed to explain from the Old Testament scriptures that this was the Christ that they ought to have in view, and that Jesus in fact fulfilled this word, as He Himself taught (Lk. 24:25-26, 44-46). “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” (v. 4).
The unbelieving or apostate Jews, were of a different mind. Not only were they not persuaded, they became envious, which means they not only objected to the biblical position, but they were determined to fight Paul and the spread of the gospel message (v. 5 Cf. 13:45). So filled with hate were they, that they decided to in effect hire some thugs to stir up the city against the church, in particular Jason, who had opened his home to Paul, Silas, and the disciples (Cf. Rom. 16:21). Not finding the latter, they took Jason and some of the brethren and dragged them to the rulers of the city (v. 6 Cf. 16:20). Their charge was that they, contrary to the decrees of Caesar, had declared Jesus to be King (v. 7 Cf. Lk. 23:2; Jn. 19:12). The apostles clearly had a different idea of kingship in view (Cf. I Pet. 2:13). However, though troubled, all they did was impose a fine on Jason and the rest (vv. 8-9).
This was enough for the brethren to send Paul and Silas on their way to Berea, and as was their custom, they again went to the synagogue first, to deliver their message (v. 10). “These were more fair-minded…in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so” (v. 11 Cf. Lk. 16:29; Jn. 5:39). Because they were open to receive and examine the Scriptures, “many of them believed, and also not a few of the Greeks, prominent women as well as men” (v. 12). The apostate Jews in Thessalonica could not bear hearing that they were continuing to preach the word, and so they followed them seeking to continue to again stir up the crowds (v. 13). So again, Paul was sent off, this time to Athens, with Silas and Timothy following (vv. 14-15). This series of providential events are in fact exactly what Jesus had predicted and commanded would and should come to pass (Cf. Mt. 10:23).