ACTS 17:10

 

 

The Bible says in Acts 17:10-14, “And the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Berea: who coming thither, went into the synagogue of the Jews. 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. Therefore many of them believed; also of honorable women which were Greeks, and of men, not a few. 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. And then immediately the brethren sent away Paul to go as it were to the sea: but Silas and Timothy abode there still

 

Of course, the thing that stands out in this passage is the example of the people who live in the city of Berea. When Paul came to them to teach them, they responded in the way that everyone should respond when the Word of God is preached unto them. It says, “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.” They were more noble first of all because of their attitude towards the Word of God. Attitude is everything. If someone has the wrong attitude, they are unteachable. In order to teach, you must have a good teacher, but you also must have a good student.

 

You can give out the Word of God all that you want, but unless it falls on good ground, it will not bear fruit. Jesus said, “He that ears to hear, let him hear.” It is not the sower of seed who determines if fruit will be born or not: it’s the type of ground upon which the seed falls. If someone does not have ears to hear, they will not hear. Those in Berea were so noticeable because they had ears to hear: they had a ready mind. They did not think that they had all the answers. They realized that they had more to learn, and they wanted to learn it. Everyone is in that condition. No one knows everything they need to know about the infinite God. We will spend an eternity learning about Him. Jesus said, “Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled  

 

Even though the Bereans had a ready mind and an obvious hunger for truth and a willingness to be taught, they also realized where the final authority was to be found: in the scriptures. “They searched the scriptures daily to see if those things were so.” The reason that people get involved in a cult or other false teaching is because they are receptive to listening to teachings all right, but they are too receptive and they do not have the second quality exhibited by the Bereans. They do not search the scriptures daily to see if those things are true. Some people become too attached to a man or to a personality, and not attached nearly enough to the scriptures as the final authority. “All scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.” It is good to have a good teacher, but there are not many good teachers out there. Man might lead you astray, but the Word of God never will, if you understand it rightly. Too many people have become followers of man, instead of followers of the Word. The things that you claim to believe, did you learn them from man or did you learn them from your own study of the Word?

 

Not only did the believers in Berea search the scriptures, but they searched the scriptures “daily.” Don’t ever forget that you need to feed upon God’s Word daily. The Bible is our spiritual food. We cannot be strong spiritually speaking without spiritual nourishment. That is what Jesus was talking about when He said, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every Word of God.” You eat food every day because that is a physical requirement for your body to stay strong and healthy. In the same way if you do not have a regular daily intake of the Word of God, you will not have the spiritual strength that you need to take on the challenges of the day.

 

After Paul left the city of Berea, he went to Athens, and the Bible says in Acts 17:15-17, “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. Now while Paul waited for them at Athens, his spirit was stirred in him, when he saw the city wholly given to idolatry. 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.” The thing to notice about Paul when he was first in Athens is that he immediately saw the spiritual needs of the people of Athens. He did not condemn them: he had compassion on them. That should always be the attitude of believers to the unsaved. We should care about the condition of their souls. It says here concerning Paul, “his spirit was stirred in him, when he saw the city wholly given to idolatry

 

It would be a sad thing should there be one lost soul in this world for whom no one’s heart is ever stirred. If Christians loved souls the way that they ought to, no one could ever say, “No man careth for my soul.” Have you seen the multitudes in the community in which you live, and has your heart been stirred for them? The day of judgment is coming and they must be saved or all is lost. It says in Joel 3:14, “Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision: for the day of the Lord is near in the valley of decision.” If Christians walk close to the Lord, and have a little bit of the love of Christ for souls, then that will never happen. Paul wrote in Second Corinthians 5:14, “For the love of Christ constraineth us.” If we had more love and compassion for lost souls, maybe we would see more souls saved. Psalm 126:6 says, “He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him

 

The Bible says in Acts 17:18-21, “Then certain philosophers of the Epicureans and of the Stoics encountered him. And some said, What will this babbler say? Others said, He seemeth to be a setter forth of strange gods: because he preached unto them Jesus, and the resurrection. And they took him and brought him unto Areopagus, saying, May we know what this new doctrine, whereof thou speaketh, is? For thou bringeth certain strange things to our ears: we would know therefore what these things mean. 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.” As Paul was questioned by followers of the great philosophies of the world, once again we see that Paul’s central theme was Jesus. It says here that “he preached unto them Jesus and the resurrection

 

How much different was the preaching of Jesus than the philosophies of the Epicureans and the Stoics! We can see in the teachings of the Epicureans and the Stoics the full range of humanistic philosophies. On one end of the spectrum you have the Epicureans. They advocated the pursuit of all sensual gratification and materialism. The general phrase that describes this philosophy is as follows: eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die. This philosophy is very widespread in the world today. It is pursued and taught very aggressively by Hollywood and the entertainment industry. The Stoics were just the opposite. They emphasized much more a human discipline and a neglecting of the pursuit of pleasure, but they did it in a way that was very negative and fatalistic.

 

True Christianity which centers around Jesus and His resurrection is so much different than anything that humanistic philosophies can ever conceive of. That is because the truth comes by revelation from God. It does not come from the imagination of man. If you want to be reminded of what comes from the imagination of man, look at Genesis 6:5. It says, “And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually

 

Isaiah 55:7-8 says, “Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord.” The whole problem with the human race is not the philosophy that someone holds to: the problem is the sinfulness of the human race. That is where Jesus comes in. Jesus came and died for the sins of the world, and then He rose from the dead. By believing in Jesus, we can escape the terrible consequences of the foolish thoughts of man and we can enter into the benefits of His death and resurrection. And then we can have a destiny in heaven, and we can have the very things that both the Epicureans and the Stoics were striving for. We can enjoy life to its fullest the way that it was meant to be enjoyed, and we can have a reasonable discipline. We can enjoy life, but enjoy it within the boundaries that God set for all things. This is what leads to the greatest possible fulfillment of human life. Christianity is not the unbridled license of the Epicureans, and it’s not the negative restrictions of the Stoics either. Jesus said to His disciples, “I am come that you might have life, and that you might have it more abundantly

 

Concerning the sermon that Paul preached in Athens, the Bible says in Acts 17:22-23, “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. 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.” We do not know who made this altar to the unknown God, but it was evidently someone with a great deal of perception. Of course, the Greeks had many gods. But someone must have considered all of the Greek gods that had been invented by the mind of man, and then realized that still there were things that happened that just could not be accounted for even by all of their gods. They knew that there must be another God that they did not known personally. Paul, in seeing this altar, used it as a means to start his sermon and his conversation with the people of Athens in order to preach unto them Jesus. By the way, that is one of the best ways to be a witness in this world: see what is going on around you, and then in your conversation with the people of the world interpret what you have seen according to the principles of the Bible. Being a witness can and should be a very normal and natural outgrowth from your daily experience. If you understand your surroundings, you will understand the spiritual significance of what you are seeing, and you will speak forth your understanding.

 

As Paul spoke forth his message to the people of Athens about the unknown God, we will see several things emphasized by Paul. The first thing is the fact that even though Paul is speaking about the unknown God, God does not have to remain unknown to them. That is what Christianity is all about: people coming into a personal relationship with the great eternal God. Once they were estranged from Him. Once they did not know Him, but now through Jesus, they can know Him the way that He was meant to be known. That is why Paul said, “Whom therefore, you ignorantly worship him declare I unto you  

 

In Paul’s sermon he will emphasize several things about God. He will emphasize the fact that God is the all-powerful creator of all things and of man in particular. Paul will also tell the Athenians that God is omnipresent; that is, God is everywhere. Paul will tell the Athenians as we shall see over the next few verses that God is the Judge before whom we will all be judged; but that Jesus is the Savior who will save us from that judgment and deliver us to share in the glories of the resurrection. Concerning the creation, Paul said in Acts 17:24-26, “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, as though he needed any thing, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things; And has 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

 

God is the creator of the world and of all things. There are several important points that Paul makes from this fact. The first is implied from the very theme that he is on here. Remember that Paul is speaking to the Athenians about the unknown God. This is the God that created all things including ourselves. We need to know Him in order to know the meaning of life and the reason for our own existence. Since God created all things, God cannot possible dwell within a temple made by human hands. Idolatry as it is found in the false religions of the world consistently has portrayed God as dwelling within the great temples and other religious structures built by the hand of man. This whole idea of God being within a building and man going into that building to know God better is a false idea. Even in Christianity the church is not the building. The church is made up of people, and the church will still be the church even if they gather together without a building. God is known personally within the heart, and mind, and soul of a man or woman. The question is: do you know God in a personal way through faith in Christ?                                     

 

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Copyright; 2003 by Charles F. (Rick) Creech
All Rights Reserved