Sometimes when I read Scripture, I process my reading and the end result is some clear, developed
thinking… much more often, it’s more like bullet points and questions in my head that I want to get back
to later! So here are some bullet points that came to my mind while reading through Acts 17-18 this
- Paul often started in the synagogues when trying to reach a city for Christ. What would that
look like today in our culture? What might be the “synagogue” Paul would have chosen if he
- The Jews accused the Christians of having “turned the world upside down” (Acts 17:6). Do
Christians today live counter-culturally in a way that the same might be said? Obviously we live
in an increasingly “post-Christian” world and at the time of Acts the Gospel was first spreading.
But would we ever be accused of having “turned the world upside down”? As I process this, I
think the answer is yes and no.
- The Jews in Thessalonica followed Paul and his team to Berea and caused trouble there
too—the world hates the message of the Gospel. Repeat: the world hates the message of the
Gospel; we should never be surprised when the Christian perspective is attacked. But Paul kept
preaching, he didn’t waste time trying to fight political battles to prevent spiritual wars. He kept
the Gospel the main thing. Always.
- Acts 17:22ff—Paul ends up going to the Areopagus (or Mars’ Hill) to preach. That was a place
where many would go to discuss philosophies, new views, etc. Is there somewhere like that
today that allows for engagement? Is it the internet, social media? Where might we go to
engage people who are already thinking about “deep” things?
- Acts 18:9, the Lord tells Paul, “Do not be afraid, but go on speaking and do not be silent, for I am
with you, and no one will attack you to harm you, for I have many in this city who are my
people.” Even the apostle Paul needed reassurance from the Lord. The Lord is the One already
at work and when we do Gospel ministry, we are simply entering the work He’s both prepared
and laid out. If we keep this in mind, we would have courage to keep pressing on, even when
appearances are bleak.
- In Acts 18 and beyond, we see Paul return to places he had already gone to “strengthen” the
disciples. He knows that people need encouragement and to be regularly sharpened. What
would Paul do when he visited? Preach, teach, probably listen to and answer questions… and
I’m sure he’d pray with them and for them. These are things we should be doing regularly in the
church too. Do we ever consider how we might “strengthen” each other? Reminds me of
Hebrews 10:24, “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works.”
As you can tell, these are not all connected or well thought out. The hope is that I will meditate on some
of these thoughts the rest of the day or week. In fact, I should not expect to read the living Word and
have a complete picture instantly. This is the way the Lord speaks to us and fills us. And throughout our days, we think, meditate, and apply what we’re reading or receiving. If you read and don’t come away
with great clarity, don’t be discouraged. Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly… and you will find
that, when the moment is right, it will be a light unto your path.