I. AND THE BRETHREN IMMEDIATELY SENT AWAY PAUL AND SILAS BY NIGHT UNTO BEREA: WHO COMING [THITHER] WENT INTO THE SYNAGOGUE OF THE JEWS.
A. The early persecution of the church was instigated by the Jews.
1. In Jerusalem the church was teaching that Jesus had risen from the dead and that the miracles that were wrought were proof of His resurrection.
Being grieved that they taught the people, and preached through Jesus the resurrection from the dead.
a. The ruling party of the Jews at that time were the Saducees who did not believe in the resurrection.
b. Thus, the teaching of the resurrection came against their dogma.
2. Later the Jews were incensed that Paul taught that God had granted salvation to the Gentiles by faith apart from the Law.
3. This was a doctrine that upset many of the Jews in the church who had come to believe that Jesus was the Messiah.
B. So we see that in Thessalonica that the Jews were the ones that led in the uprising against Paul and his company.
C. Later in history, the Roman government will lead in the persecution of the church.
D. The true church will always be hated by the world.
And ye shall be hated of all [men] for my name's sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved.
If the world hates you, ye know that it hated me before [it hated] you.
If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.
E. Jesus said, "In this world you will have tribulation."
1. This is far different from the great tribulation.
2. Different in the source.
a. The tribulation of the church originates with Satan and those who are devoted to him.
b. The Great Tribulation originates with God, its His judgment and wrath on a Christ-rejecting world.
F. Paul and Silas were secreted out of the city of Thessalonica under the cover of darkness, and they continue their Westward journey to Berea, which was 60 miles away.
G. Again according to Paul's custom they went to the synagogue.
II. Act 17:11
: 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.
A. Some people reject the truth without even examining it.
1. It is sort of the mentality of, "Don't confuse me with facts, for my mind is made up."
2. Luke is telling us that those in Berea had open minds to examine to see if what they were being told was truth.
3. Paul, no doubt, was again opening and alleging that according to the scriptures, that the Messiah had to be rejected and suffer death, but rise again.
: And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for [his] only [son], and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for [his] firstborn.
Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he [is] just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass.
I gave my back to the smiters, and my cheeks to them that plucked off the hair: I hid not my face from shame and spitting.
b. They searched the scriptures to see if that is what scriptures actually said.
B. As a result, many believed.
1. I am not surprised that many believed when they were willing to search the scriptures.
2. Those who do not believe are usually those who are so prejudiced that they are unwilling to look at the evidence.
3. Or those who are too lazy to examine the evidence.
III. Act 17:12
: THEREFORE MANY OF THEM BELIEVED; ALSO OF HONOURABLE WOMEN WHICH WERE GREEKS, AND OF MEN, NOT A FEW.
A. Again we see how that the same truth, as it is being declared, has mixed results.
B. Many believed. Some of them prominent women of the city who were Greeks, and many men.
IV. Act 17:13
: 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.
A. These Jews in Thessalonica were so opposed to Paul and his teaching that when news comes to them that Paul is teaching in the synagogue of Berea, they take a 60-mile journey to stir up the people against him.
1. This would be like you hearing of something being taught in Murrieta, and you being so upset that you decide to walk down there to stop the teaching.
2. They accomplished their purpose and stirred up some of the people.
B. The result was that they sent Paul away to go, as it were, to the sea.
1. He had the appearance of leaving the country.
2. Thus far he has had a pretty rough time in bringing the gospel to Europe.
a. In Philippi he was beaten and put in jail.
b. He escaped from Thessalonica under the cover of darkness.
c. In Berea he was hurried out of town under the pretense of heading toward the sea.
3. When David Livingstone was asked where he was prepared to go, he answered, "Anywhere as long as it is forward."
4. Silas and Timothy remained there in Berea.
a. It is possible that they felt that the new believers were not yet well enough established in the truth.
b. Paul seemed to be the chief target of the dissenters. So with him gone, things usually cooled down.
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.
C. There were probably a group of men that went with him for his own protection.
1. Many times Paul's life was in jeopardy from the Jews.
2. In Damascus there were forty Jews who had taken a vow to kill him.
3. They were attempting to kill him in the temple precincts when he was rescued by the Roman guard.
4. Again in Jerusalem there were several Jews that plotted to kill him.
5. Contrast their hatred of him with his love for them.
For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh:
Brethren, my heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved.
D. Athens was about 170 miles from Berea.
1. When Paul arrived the men who came with him returned to Berea with a message to Timothy and Silas to come to him with all speed.