Book Of Acts – Advance Study (Part 14)

Acts 17

1 Now when they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where was a synagogue of the Jews: 2 And Paul, as his manner was, went in unto them, and three sabbath days reasoned with them out of the scriptures, 3 Opening and alleging, that Christ must needs have suffered, and risen again from the dead; and that this Jesus, whom I preach unto you, is Christ. 4 And some of them believed, and consorted with Paul and Silas; and of the devout Greeks a great multitude, and of the chief women not a few.

The Doctrine of Evangelism: Paul had a ‘strategy’ (manner) to evangelism and church planting; he went to his brethren, the Jews, to their synagogue meetings and opened up the Bible and reasoned with them. In a way, this would be like going to your old church, or church group, and preaching the truth to them (i.e., to the Catholics, JW’s, Mormons, mainline Protestants…). Would they let you? Well, they let Paul. He focused solely on who Jesus Christ was. A good evangelism method is employing ‘reasoning’; get them to think things out. He used the scriptures to reason with them; to show them what was ‘reasonable’. ‘Alleging’ – putting forth a statement of fact for them to consider as fact or not.

Devout Catholics or Mormons or Budhists, etc., are hard to reach…but ‘some’ might believe. Key women in the community are also hard to reach (feminism), also…but more than a few might believe.

5 But the Jews which believed not, moved with envy, took unto them certain lewd fellows of the baser sort, and gathered a company, and set all the city on an uproar, and assaulted the house of Jason, and sought to bring them out to the people. 6 And when they found them not, they drew Jason and certain brethren unto the rulers of the city, crying, These that have turned the world upside down are come hither also; 7 Whom Jason hath received: and these all do contrary to the decrees of Caesar, saying that there is another king, one Jesus. 8 And they troubled the people and the rulers of the city, when they heard these things. 9 And when they had taken security of Jason, and of the other, they let them go.

The Doctrine of Persecution: In evangelism efforts out in a town as well as hard preaching to a ‘church’, there may be folks that ‘believe not’ and want to cause trouble…an ‘uproar’. They may call the police; they may heckle; they may try and get laws passed against it; they may make false accusations; they may try and influence folks at church to go against the Pastor; they may find those in a church of a baser sort and try and set all the church in an uproar trying to overthrow the church’s leadership. They may spread the news throughout a city that such and such a church ‘hates gays’ or ‘beats their children’ or ‘is promoting hate speech’, etc..

I guarantee you that if you ‘turn the world upside down’ you will be persecuted.

Jason was housing Paul and Silas; thus, it’s not just the preachers that people might be after…

Have you noticed much resistance to us in our community? In our church?

Would to God we would be accused of ‘turning the world upside down’, as Paul and his company were! Our reputation (for evangelism, Bible, truth, holiness, etc.) should travel from city to city. How about at least turning our city upside down?!… Are there any Jasons out there?!….

10 And the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Berea: who coming thither went into the synagogue of the Jews. 11 These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so. 12 Therefore many of them believed; also of honourable women which were Greeks, and of men, not a few. 13 But when the Jews of Thessalonica had knowledge that the word of God was preached of Paul at Berea, they came thither also, and stirred up the people. 14 And then immediately the brethren sent away Paul to go as it were to the sea: but Silas and Timotheus abode there still.

The Doctrine of Bible Study: Would to God all believers would search the scriptures daily to see whether the things that they hear about God are so; be like the Bereans!

Are Bible-believing Baptists like the ‘Bereans’ here? Some will search the scriptures and have a bias and are closed to any new ways of thinking and will have a cold heart. Some will be totally open to just about any type of new ideas. Some will search the scriptures every week or so, but don’t do a good enough job of it to really protect themselves from error. The Bereans had a ‘readiness of mind’ to know the truth of God’s word. Would to God that we would receive the truth with a ready mind, and a ‘careful’ and conservative mind, making sure that it is clearly taught in the Bible; ready to accept it if the Bible says it; we need to escape from our biases and search the Bible with newness, freshness, an open, humble, ready mind! ‘Readiness of mind’ is an important factor in someone being a ‘good prospect’. However, many will search their scriptures daily with a ‘closed mind’. They ‘know what they know’ and no-one is going to change their mind about it!…. how sad.

They (Bereans) searched their Bibles daily; it was a habit, a conviction, a consistent practice. Should you not trust what the preacher is saying to you? Should you research the Bible after every lesson or sermon that you pastor teaches/ preaches? Is it ok to trust him on things that you don’t fully understand?

15 And they that conducted Paul brought him unto Athens: and receiving a commandment unto Silas and Timotheus for to come to him with all speed, they departed. 16 Now while Paul waited for them at Athens, his spirit was stirred in him, when he saw the city wholly given to idolatry. 17 Therefore disputed he in the synagogue with the Jews, and with the devout persons, and in the market daily with them that met with him. 18 Then certain philosophers of the Epicureans, and of the Stoicks, encountered him. And some said, What will this babbler say? other some, He seemeth to be a setter forth of strange gods: because he preached unto them Jesus, and the resurrection. 19 And they took him, and brought him unto Areopagus, saying, May we know what this new doctrine, whereof thou speakest, is? 20 For thou bringest certain strange things to our ears: we would 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.)

The Doctrine of Missiology: Paul’s methodology for ‘Missions’ would be looked at kind of strangely today. Moving around from city to city; sometimes haphazardly; leaving members of the missions team here and there, and then commanding them to come to where he was immediately. It was kind of a ‘hit and miss’ approach to missions: go to an area and see what happens; with no commitment to staying in one place for any specific time period. What is the methodology typical followed today? Choose a ‘field’; raise support; eventually go to field ‘fully supported’ and stay there for 5+ years; if you leave your field you often need to start over in gaining support.

The Doctrine of Evangelism: Paul saw Athen’s idolatry and his spirit was stirred in him which caused him to preach strongly about the Lord Jesus Christ. What brought about Paul’s evangelistic zeal in Athens was seeing the sin of the city and having it stir the spirit.

Is it ok to ‘dispute’ with people about ‘religion’? Paul did. Should you do this in the ‘market place’? It didn’t necessarily go real smooth for Paul…the Epicureans and the Stoicks called him a ‘babbler’. They were intrigued by Paul’s ‘strange teachings’. Independent Baptists have strange doctrines. One of Paul’s main evangelistic methods was to daily preach the truth in the city’s market place.

22 Then Paul stood in the midst of Mars’ hill, and said, Ye men of Athens, I perceive that in all things ye are too superstitious. 23 For as I passed by, and beheld your devotions, I found an altar with this inscription, TO THE UNKNOWN God. Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you. 24 God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands; 25 Neither is worshipped with men’s hands, as though he needed any thing, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things; 26 And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation; 27 That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us: 28 For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring;

29 Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man’s device.

The Doctrine of Evangelism: Paul evangelized in Athens by finding some error in their city and then using that to teach them about the truth of Jesus Christ; an altar with the inscription ‘to the unknown God’. Paul preached to them about ignorantly worshipping false gods. Do people today ‘ignorantly worship’ false gods? Yes! All over the place! Mary, Budha, Krishna, Allah, Joseph Smith… There are many people who ‘believe in a god, but just don’t know who he is’.

Paul wisely uses something that they can relate to to instruct them on the truth of the Bible.

It is very wise to use beliefs in someone’s religion (even if totally in error) to find common issues where you can bring in the truth about Jesus Christ.

The Doctrine of God: What does the term ‘Godhead’ mean? It is mentioned in only 3 places in the Bible.

Rom 1:20 For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:

Col 2:9 For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.

The term ‘Godhead’ speaks of the Triune nature of God; it speaks of position (head); it speaks of divinity/deity (God). Some state that it is from the word ‘Godhood’; the essence of deity.

The word “Godhead” occurs in the King James Version only 3 times (Acts 17:29; Rom 1:20; Col 2:9), and oddly enough it translates in these 3 passages, 3 different, though closely related, Greek words, to theion, theiotes, and theotes.

To theion (Acts 17) means “that which is Divine,” concretely, or, “the Deity.” Among the Greeks it was in constant use in the sense of “the Divine Being,” and particularly as a general term to designate the Deity apart from reference to a particular god. It is obviously deliberately chosen in order to throw up into emphasis the qualitative idea of God; and this emphasis is still further heightened by the direct contrast into which it is brought with the term “man.”

The Greek term in Rom 1:20 is theiotes, which again, as a term of quality, is not unfairly rendered by “Godhead.” What Paul says here is that “the everlasting power and Godhead” of God “are clearly perceived by means of His works.” By “Godhead” he clearly means the whole of that by which God is constituted what we mean by “God.”

It is theotes which occurs in Col 2:9. Here Paul declares that “all the fulness of the Godhead” dwells in Christ “bodily.” The phrase “fulness of the Godhead” is an especially emphatic one. It means everything without exception which goes to make up the Godhead; the totality of all that enters into the conception of Godhood. All this, says Paul, dwells in Christ “bodily”. (ISBE)

30 And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent:

31 Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead. 32 And when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked: and others said, We will hear thee again of this matter. 33 So Paul departed from among them. 34 Howbeit certain men clave unto him, and believed: among the which was Dionysius the Areopagite, and a woman named Damaris, and others with them.

The Doctrine of Repentance: What does it mean that ‘God winked at this ignorance’? Did He ignore it; closed His eyes to avoid it? Well, these folks were surely not ‘off the hook’ regarding salvation. God was simply longsuffering with these wicked idolatrous nations and finally now is very clearly telling them to repent… to repent of their false beliefs…to turn to Jesus Christ! Repentance began to be preached with John the Baptist, and then Jesus, and then the apostles. Why should one ‘repent’? Here it states that God has appointed a day (period of time) in which He will judge the world (Tribulation, Judgment Seat of Christ, Great White Throne Judgment).