Sabbatical 2017

Sabbatical 2017
Arc de Triumph

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Chronological Reading Plan for Nov 25, Acts 17

The reading for today is Acts 17. The readings for tomorrow are 1 & 2 Thes, all chapters.

Amid the struggles with the church's growing legalism and a self-serving attitude, we see Paul flee toward Athens when some unbelieving Jews in Thessalonica get so upset at his teaching that they chase him out of town. They follow him to Berea to cause more trouble. Their anger at him shows the Jews exhibit a total lack of grace, so much so that they are reduced to chasing Paul around Macedonia, causing problems for him.

In Athens, we see the Greeks at the Aereopagus (Mars Hill) exhibit the three possible reactions to the gospel; some reject it, some want to debate it further and some (a few) accept and believe.

Notice that Luke is very careful to mention leading women who become believers, as he did so. One of the recurring themes of Luke's writings is the role of women in the formation of the new church.

Also notice that as Paul is persecuted and mistreated, God uses his trials to expand the teaching of the gospel. Everywhere Paul is chased, he preaches and people believe.

Here is what the town center looks like in Thessalonica today:

This is the square at Berea from which Paul is said to have preached:

Here is an ancient synagogue whose foundation goes back to the 1st century. It is quite likely that Paul taught in this synagogue:
The Areopagus sits just below the summit of the Acropolis in Athens. Here's the view looking down upon this exceptionally large rock also known as Mars Hill. In Paul's time, there were townhouses built on the top of the rock:

Steps have been carved into the Areopagus from long before the 1st Century. The top of the rock is very windy but just below it, there is a natural amphitheater where the Greeks would gather to listen to lectures given from the elevated position the steps provided. This is where Paul would have delivered his sermon to the Greeks in Acts 17:

The Parthenon sits atop the Acropolis, overlooking the Areopagus:

The events in Macedonia and Greece are dramatic examples of how God uses oppression from unbelievers and the evil works of those who oppose Christ to grow and strengthen His church and the proclamation of the gospel. God has promised ot use all things for the good of those who believe and for His glory (Rom 8:28). We see that promise played out in Acts 17. It gives us confidence that it will play out in our lives as well.

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