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The Uproar in Thessalonica


After Paul and Silas had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where there was a synagogue of the Jews. 2And Paul went in, as was his custom, and on three sabbath days argued with them from the scriptures, 3explaining and proving that it was necessary for the Messiah to suffer and to rise from the dead, and saying, “This is the Messiah, Jesus whom I am proclaiming to you.” 4Some of them were persuaded and joined Paul and Silas, as did a great many of the devout Greeks and not a few of the leading women. 5But the Jews became jealous, and with the help of some ruffians in the marketplaces they formed a mob and set the city in an uproar. While they were searching for Paul and Silas to bring them out to the assembly, they attacked Jason’s house. 6When they could not find them, they dragged Jason and some believers before the city authorities, shouting, “These people who have been turning the world upside down have come here also, 7and Jason has entertained them as guests. They are all acting contrary to the decrees of the emperor, saying that there is another king named Jesus.” 8The people and the city officials were disturbed when they heard this, 9and after they had taken bail from Jason and the others, they let them go.

Paul and Silas in Beroea

10 That very night the believers sent Paul and Silas off to Beroea; and when they arrived, they went to the Jewish synagogue. 11These Jews were more receptive than those in Thessalonica, for they welcomed the message very eagerly and examined the scriptures every day to see whether these things were so. 12Many of them therefore believed, including not a few Greek women and men of high standing. 13But when the Jews of Thessalonica learned that the word of God had been proclaimed by Paul in Beroea as well, they came there too, to stir up and incite the crowds. 14Then the believers immediately sent Paul away to the coast, but Silas and Timothy remained behind. 15Those who conducted Paul brought him as far as Athens; and after receiving instructions to have Silas and Timothy join him as soon as possible, they left him.

Paul in Athens

16 While Paul was waiting for them in Athens, he was deeply distressed to see that the city was full of idols. 17So he argued in the synagogue with the Jews and the devout persons, and also in the marketplace every day with those who happened to be there. 18Also some Epicurean and Stoic philosophers debated with him. Some said, “What does this babbler want to say?” Others said, “He seems to be a proclaimer of foreign divinities.” (This was because he was telling the good news about Jesus and the resurrection.) 19So they took him and brought him to the Areopagus and asked him, “May we know what this new teaching is that you are presenting? 20It sounds rather strange to us, so we would like to know what it means.” 21Now all the Athenians and the foreigners living there would spend their time in nothing but telling or hearing something new.

22 Then Paul stood in front of the Areopagus and said, “Athenians, I see how extremely religious you are in every way. 23For as I went through the city and looked carefully at the objects of your worship, I found among them an altar with the inscription, ‘To an unknown god.’ What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you. 24The God who made the world and everything in it, he who is Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in shrines made by human hands, 25nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mortals life and breath and all things. 26From one ancestor he made all nations to inhabit the whole earth, and he allotted the times of their existence and the boundaries of the places where they would live, 27so that they would search for God and perhaps grope for him and find him—though indeed he is not far from each one of us. 28For ‘In him we live and move and have our being’; as even some of your own poets have said,

‘For we too are his offspring.’

29 Since we are God’s offspring, we ought not to think that the deity is like gold, or silver, or stone, an image formed by the art and imagination of mortals. 30While God has overlooked the times of human ignorance, now he commands all people everywhere to repent, 31because he has fixed a day on which he will have the world judged in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed, and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.”

32 When they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some scoffed; but others said, “We will hear you again about this.” 33At that point Paul left them. 34But some of them joined him and became believers, including Dionysius the Areopagite and a woman named Damaris, and others with them.

1. They came to Thessalonica. We know not why Paul attempted nothing at Amphipolis and Appollonia, which were, notwithstanding, famous cities, as appeareth by Pliny; save only because he followed the Spirit of God as his guide; and took occasion by the present matter, as occasion he did also essay to do some good there, but because it was without any good success, therefore Luke passeth over it. And whereas being beaten at Philippos, [Philippi,] and scarce escaping out of great danger, he preached Christ at Thessalonica, it appeareth thereby how courageous he was to keep the course of his calling, and how bold he was ever now and then to enter into new dangers.

This so invincible fortitude of mind, and such patient enduring of the cross, do sufficiently declare, that Paul labored not after the manner of men, but that he was furnished with the heavenly power of the Spirit. And this was all so wonderful patience in him, in that, entering in unto the Jews, whose unbridled frowardness he had so often tried, [experienced,] he proceedeth to procure their salvation. But because he knew that Christ was given to the Jews for salvation, and that he himself was made an apostle upon this condition, that he should preach repentance and faith, first to the Jews and then to the Gentiles, committing the success of his labor to the Lord, he obeyeth his commandment, (though he had no great hope to do good.) He seemed before to have taken his last farewell of the Jews, when he said, It was behoveful that the kingdom of God should be first preached to you; but because ye receive it not, behold we turn to the Gentiles; but that harder sentence must be restrained to that company who had wickedly rejected the gospel when it was offered unto them, and made themselves unworthy [of] the grace of God. And toward the nation itself Paul ceaseth not to do his embassage; by which example we are taught, that we ought to make so great account of the calling of God, that no unthankfulness of men may be able to hinder us, but that we proceed to be careful for their salvation, so long as the Lord appointeth us to be their ministers. And it is to be though that even now there were some who on the first Sabbath refused sound doctrine, but their frowardness 241241     “Pravitas,” depravity, perverseness. did not hinder him, but that he came again upon other Sabbaths.

2. He disputed. Luke setteth down first what was the sum of the disputation; to wit, that Jesus, the son of Mary, is Christ, who was promised in times past in the law and the prophets, who, by the sacrifice of his death, did make satisfaction for the sins of the world, and brought righteousness and life by his resurrection; secondly, how he proved that which he taught. Let us handle this second member first. Luke saith that he disputed out of the Scriptures; therefore the proofs of faith must be fet from [sought at] the mouth of God alone. If we dispute about matters which concern men, then let human reasons take place; but in the doctrine of faith, the authority of God alone must reign, and upon it must we depend.

All men confess that this is true, that we must stay ourselves upon God alone; yet there be but a few which hear him speak in the Scriptures. But and if that maxim take place among us, 242242     “Valet inter nos,” is held good among us. that the Scripture cometh of God, the rule either of teaching or of learning ought to be taken nowhere else. Whereby it doth also appear with what devilish fury the Papists are driven, when they deny that there can any certainty be gathered out of the Scriptures; and, therefore, they hold that we must stand to the decrees of men. For I demand of them whether Paul did observe a right order in disputing or no? at least, let them blush for shame, that the Word of the Lord was more reverenced in an unbelieving nation than it is at this day among them. The Jews admit Paul, and suffer him when he disputeth out of the Scriptures; the Pope and all his count it a mere mock when the Scripture is cited; as if God did speak doubtfully there, and did with vain boughts 243243     “Ambagibus,” ambiguities. mock men. Hereunto is added, that there is at this day much more light in the Scriptures, and the truth of God shineth there more clearly than in the law and the prophets. For in the gospel, Christ, who is the Son of righteousness, doth shed out his beam with perfect brightness upon us; for which cause the blasphemy of the Papists is the more intolerable, whilst that they will make the Word of God as yet uncertain. But let us know, as faith can be grounded nowhere else than in the Word of the Lord, so we must only stand to the testimony thereof in all controversies.

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