Acts 17:1-15 NKJV
17 Now when they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where there was a synagogue of the Jews. 2 Then Paul, as his custom was, went in to them, and for three Sabbaths reasoned with them from the Scriptures, 3 explaining and demonstrating that the Christ had to suffer and rise again from the dead, and saying, “This Jesus whom I preach to you is the Christ.” 4 And some of them were persuaded; and a great multitude of the devout Greeks, and not a few of the leading women, joined Paul and Silas.
5 But the Jews who were not persuaded, becoming envious, took some of the evil men from the marketplace, and gathering a mob, set all the city in an uproar and attacked the house of Jason, and sought to bring them out to the people. 6 But when they did not find them, they dragged Jason and some brethren to the rulers of the city, crying out, “These who have turned the world upside down have come here too. 7 Jason has harbored them, and these are all acting contrary to the decrees of Caesar, saying there is another king—Jesus.” 8 And they troubled the crowd and the rulers of the city when they heard these things. 9 So when they had taken security from Jason and the rest, they let them go.
10 Then the brethren immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea. When they arrived, they went into the synagogue of the Jews. 11 These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so. 12 Therefore many of them believed, and also not a few of the Greeks, prominent women as well as men. 13 But when the Jews from Thessalonica learned that the word of God was preached by Paul at Berea, they came there also and stirred up the crowds. 14 Then immediately the brethren sent Paul away, to go to the sea; but both Silas and Timothy remained there. 15 So those who conducted Paul brought him to Athens; and receiving a command for Silas and Timothy to come to him with all speed, they departed.
When he reaches Athens in the second half of Acts 17, Paul will preach to the pagan Gentiles, compelling them to come in “from the highways and hedges” (Lk. 14:23) to the supper of Christ purchased for all men by making atonement for the world’s sins. But in today’s reading, we see Paul in Thessalonica and Berea following his usually practice of going first to the Jews and to the Greeks who had already converted to Judaism. They were the invited guests from among God’s Old Testament people. Now Paul is sent to tell them the good news, to show them from their own Scriptures how the Christ had to suffer, die, and rise again, and then to explain how all the prophecies pointed to Jesus. In other words, Paul is the messenger sent to tell the invited guests, “Come, for all things are now ready!” (Lk. 14:17).
But like the invited guests in Sunday’s Gospel who refused the invitation, many of the Jews Paul encountered also refused to come to the supper, just as most of them rejected Jesus Himself. And just as they persecuted Jesus, so they persecuted the Lord’s messengers who were sent to bring them the good news.
Still, some believed and came to God’s supper. By the Holy Spirit’s enlightenment, the believers in Thessalonica not only became firmly convinced that Jesus was the Christ, but they also weathered the persecutions they faced and helped protect God’s messengers. The godly in Berea did the same, adding that wonderful example of searching the Scriptures to verify the message Paul was bringing to them.
Let us give thanks to God that, in spite of all obstacles, He causes His Gospel to reach the elect in every nation, calling us all away from the human cultures we grew up in so that we may enter His supper of salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.
Let us pray: O Lord, we give You thanks for sending Your Word to us, that we, too, may join with all the saints of the past and present who have believed Your Gospel and tasted the supper of Your goodness in Christ. Amen.