BackgroundActs 17:1-9 explicates Paul's and Silas' missionary journey to Thessalonica. This journey occurs in the macro-context of Paul's deliberate Gentile ministry, where he embarked on his second missionary journey. Prior to Paul's and Silas' arrival, Luke describes their hardships in Philippi, where they endured beatings and imprisonment. It is after their journey to Thessalonica, where Paul and Silas receive fertile ground for the gospel in Berea.
ContextI have been moved by a movie to a point of tears. When someone dies, I cry. When someone overcomes adversity, I cry. When someone is depicted lonely or abused, I cry. I cry. I also have heard speakers that motivated me to change. For instance, I listened to a preacher speak about faith. At the end of his series, he requested that each person evaluated the sin in their lives in association with his or her faith. Initially, I did not want to accept the challenge, because I knew that it would require me to change. Eventually, I did change and received tremendous blessings from it.
The Thessalonians had similar experiences, when Paul presented the gospel to them. They initially experienced emotion (joy, curiosity, discomfort, forethought) and had to decide to embrace change that fostered a new life. Acts 17: 1 – 3 describes Paul and Silas giving evidence about Jesus being the Christ. The term, giving evidence means "to give someone something in trust", "to entrust". In ancient Greek, Jewish sphere, and ancient Roman, the term is used to describe a legal device or object to be entrusted to another's keeping for a specific period. The object should be kept free, unused, and undamaged until restored to the owner. Therefore, the trustworthiness of the trustee was the most important. When Paul uses this term with the Thessalonians, he proclaims Jesus but presents him to the Jews as someone to be entrusted and kept. Jesus should be kept free, unused, and undamaged. Therefore, Paul's charge to the Thessalonians challenges them to evaluate the validity of Jesus Christ and become trustworthy recipients.
PurposePaul filled with the intent to argue that Jesus as the Messiah sets forth by attempting to open the minds of those listening. In verse 2, Luke identifies Paul's custom of entering Jewish synagogues to reason with them. This custom parallels to Luke 4:16 of Jesus' custom of entering the synagogue on the Sabbath. Therefore, Paul possesses disciple qualities and follows the example of his rabbi, Jesus. In the addition, Paul's expectation in proclaiming Christ is for the Jews to be trustworthy recipients. Paul did find trustworthy recipients from some Jews, Greeks, and prominent Jewish women. These recipients made the single decision to believe the gospel as well as join Paul and Silas. The remainder of the Jewish people who heard the message responds in envy to the point of rioting and dragging Jason out of his home. Their response of envy parallels to Acts 7:9 when Stephen recants the story of Joseph being sold into Egypt by his brothers. Therefore, the Jews who do not believe possess the same form of disdain and willingness to harm Paul and Silas. Their actions occur from their jealousy of Paul's and Silas' success in proclaiming the gospel. Their continuous actions to cause harm ends, when they receive a pledge that Paul and Silas will depart. In essence, their actions signify the removal of the gospel from their presence.
ApplicationPreviously, I noted my decision to embrace a challenging message about faith and change my behavior accordingly. Most people have similar stories, where they must decide to take action for growth. Like the Thessalonians, we also possess a similar choice as noted by those who heard Paul's and Silas' message. This choice is to believe that Jesus is the Messiah and thereby be saved or deny this truth. Receiving Jesus as the Messiah implies Jesus being entrusted by the recipient. Therefore, for those who believe and accept Jesus, examine if you keep Jesus free, unused, and undamaged in your lives. Jesus being entrusted to believers in this fashion also demonstrates believers' trustworthiness, which is contrary to those who do not believe. Those who do not believe may possess unsettledness as they attempt to remove the gospel from their presence. However, the call for today's Christians encompasses making the single decision to believe the gospel and becoming trustworthy recipients.