Troubles in Thessalonica

The Gospel Stirs Up Troubles and Triumphs

Acts 17:1-15

September 4, 2022

Pastor Craig Ledbetter

Bible Baptist Church, Ballincollig, Cork, Ireland


I.     Background (Acts 17:1)


A.   Acts 17:1  Now when they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they [PAUL, SILAS, TIMOTHY and LUKE] came to Thessalonica, where was a synagogue of the Jews:

B.   These Gospel missionaries, Paul, Silas, Timothy and Luke, are moving on from Philippi

C.   Into a bigger city, called Thessalonica

D.   They were constantly facing different languages, different cultures, different customs

E.    But ALL people have one need

F.    To know God through Jesus Christ


1.    Not through idolatry, or philosophy, or religious ceremonies

2.    But through the belief in the glorious Gospel truth about Jesus Christ!


G.   Paul Follows a set pattern of Gospel work – “as his manner was


1.    Start with the Jews first – talk to them, tell them the Messiah has come

2.    Open the Scriptures, and open people’s minds with reasoning (as we shall see)

3.    See where it ends up – not always favourable, and sometimes very aggressive against the Gospel, but sometimes many would believe!

4.    Paul is showing us to just DO what you are supposed to do, and trust the Lord with the results


II.   Message


A.   Reasoning From the Scriptures (Acts 17:2,3)


1.    Acts 17:2,3 And Paul, as his manner was, went in unto them, and three sabbath days reasoned with them out of the scriptures, Opening and alleging, that Christ must needs have suffered, and risen again from the dead; and that this Jesus, whom I preach unto you, is Christ.

2.    Paul Reasoned with People


a.     Just like God does… Isaiah 1:18 Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.

b.    Made Opening arguments, and counter-arguments

c.     Alleging - To declare; to affirm; to assert; to pronounce, with assurance; to state a fact

d.    He caused people to think, reason and analyze – this is where modern science came from


3.    Paul spoke like people’s lives were at stake – spoke like in a courtroom


a.     Didn’t command people to believe

b.    But line by line Paul convinced them of the truths of Scripture and the facts about Jesus of Nazareth


4.    He set out to Prove Four Facts:


a.     That the Messiah HAD to suffer and die. Every Jew expected the Messiah to ONLY be a conquering Saviour, but had not noticed the suffering part:


1)    Psalm 22:1,6-8,14-18 – this is David writing down what the Messiah would say…


a)    Psalm 22:1  My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? why art thou so far from helping me, and from the words of my roaring?

b)    Psalm 22:6-8  But I am a worm, and no man; a reproach of men, and despised of the people. All they that see me laugh me to scorn: they shoot out the lip, they shake the head, saying, He trusted on the LORD that he would deliver him: let him deliver him, seeing he delighted in him. [SPOKEN BY PHARISEES]

c)    Psalm 22:14 -18 I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint: my heart is like wax; it is melted in the midst of my bowels. My strength is dried up like a potsherd; and my tongue cleaveth to my jaws; and thou hast brought me into the dust of death. For dogs have compassed me: the assembly of the wicked have inclosed me: they pierced my hands and my feet. I may tell all my bones: they look and stare upon me. They part my garments among them, and cast lots upon my vesture.


2)    Isaiah 53:2-7  - Again, this is prophesying about the Messiah’s life, and death!


a)    Isaiah 53:2  For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him.

b)    Isaiah 53:3  He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

c)    Isaiah 53:4  Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.

d)    Isaiah 53:5  But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.

e)    Isaiah 53:6  All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.

f)     Isaiah 53:7  He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth.


b.    That he would Rise again from the Dead (Psalm 16:10)  For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.

c.     That Jesus of Nazareth fulfilled all the requirements of being the promised Messiah of God – Jesus had proved that He had lived perfectly righteous according to the Law, and fulfilled all the prophecies that pointed to Him

d.    And that Jesus can save anybody – Jew or Gentile, religious or atheist

e.     THAT is the Gospel – the good news!


5.    And he did it all from the words of Scripture – literal meanings, not made up meanings


a.     He used the Old Testament Scriptures and prophecies – because the New Testament was only being written at the time

b.    He used plain talk – “plainness of speech”, not religious mumbo-jumbo

c.     Didn’t sugar-coat anything he read out from this Book!

d.    Because the Scriptures are sufficient – even just the Old Testament Scriptures

e.     By-the-way, Paul was teaching nothing new – just pointing out Scriptures they had ignored and neglected to read and believe! Just like today!


1)    Every Jew I have ever witnessed to was ignorant of Isaiah 53 and Psalm 22

2)    Most every Catholic I have ever witnessed to was completely ignorant of the 2nd Commandment that says we cannot make any graven image to bow down to, and they are ignorant of Jesus’ own words about being born again!

3)    We Christians do not teach and preach anything new – just unknown to people today!


6.    Paul did this constantly, everywhere he went


a.     Acts 17:17  Therefore disputed he in the synagogue with the Jews, and with the devout persons, and in the market daily with them that met with him.

b.    Acts 18:4  And he reasoned in the synagogue every sabbath, and persuaded the Jews and the Greeks.

c.     Acts 18:19  And he came to Ephesus, and left them there: but he himself entered into the synagogue, and reasoned with the Jews.

d.    Why aren’t WE doing the same?

e.     Preaching is… Persuading, discussing, debating, reasoning with the audience


1)    It is what we all USED to do, years ago, before social media made everything think they were so smart!

2)    Preaching is not demanding someone agrees, but that they examine the evidences for Christ, and for God, for Creation instead of evolution, and for morality


f.     Just make sure you have listened to, and discussed and debated and heard what the Scripture says instead of what professor so-and-so says!


1)    There are a million different “voices” out there

2)    Listen to God for a while… pick up your Bible and read Matthew thru Revelation

3)    Because we are talking about YOUR SOUL and the only way to have your sins forgiven, and have a real relationship with God


B.   The Results of Preaching These Words (Acts 17:4)


1.    The people had to choose a side!


a.     Acts 17:4,5  And some of them believed, and consorted with Paul and Silas; and of the devout Greeks a great multitude, and of the chief women not a few. But the Jews which believed not, moved with envy…

b.    Preaching this Book is never passive – where people just take it in, with no effect!

c.     It demands a decision every time it is heard!

d.    Jesus said in Matthew 10:35-38  Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. And a man's foes shall be they of his own household. He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me.

e.     Often, that is why people stop coming to church – because they stop making decisions! They don’t want to choose against the world, and against their own wants.


2.    The Church of the Thessalonians was born (1Thessalonians 1:1,9-10)


a.     Acts 17:4  And some of them believed, and consorted with Paul and Silas; and of the devout Greeks a great multitude, and of the chief women not a few.

b.    Not because of Paul, or Silas, but because of the Scriptures being obeyed


1)    The Bible needs someone to open it, expound, explain and drive it into every heart

2)    1Corinthians 2:1-5  And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling. And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man's wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.

3)    Personalities poison the power of preaching – we need to just speak up and preach!


c.     This was the church of the Thessalonians… NOT the church of Rome, or of Jerusalem, but a local, Bible believing church full of people who loved Jesus and His words!


1)    1Thessalonians 1:1  Paul, and Silvanus [SILAS], and Timotheus, unto the church of the Thessalonians which is in God the Father and in the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.

2)    1Thessalonians 1:9,10  For they themselves shew of us what manner of entering in we had unto you, and how ye turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God; And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come.


3.    A Divided Community (Acts 17:4,5)


a.     Acts 17:4,5  And some of them believed, and consorted with Paul and Silas; and of the devout Greeks a great multitude, and of the chief women not a few. But the Jews which believed not, moved with envy, took unto them certain lewd fellows of the baser sort, and gathered a company, and set all the city on an uproar, and assaulted the house of Jason, and sought to bring them out to the people.

b.    SOME of the Jews believed Jesus to be their Messiah and Saviour and Lord

c.     And some didn’t!


1)    Remember, for a Jew to walk away from his/her faith was costly (same with many Catholics), so not many Jews in Thessalonica believed the Gospel, but some did

2)    And notice they CONSORTED, clung to Paul and Silas – they loved asking questions and learning about the Messiah they missed, and the Bible they never learned!


d.    MANY devout Greeks and chief, powerful women believed the Gospel as well

e.     But Thessalonica became a war zone – two cultures now – we are different


1)    The Jews who refused to accept Jesus as their Saviour and Messiah…

2)    Turned the city into a war zone!

3)    It was NOT the Christians that created havoc – it was angry religionists!

4)    We seek to live peaceably, freely as strangers and pilgrims


C.   Accusations (Acts 17:5-9)


1.    Acts 17:6-8  And when they found them not, they drew Jason and certain brethren unto the rulers of the city, crying, These that have turned the world upside down are come hither also; Whom Jason hath received: and these all do contrary to the decrees of Caesar, saying that there is another king, one Jesus. And they troubled the people and the rulers of the city, when they heard these things. And when they had taken security of Jason, and of the other, they let them go.

2.    What Were Christians Guilty Of (Should Be Guilty Of)?


a.     Believing the Scriptures are true, and above all other authorities


1)    Acts 24:14  But this I confess unto thee, that after the way which they call heresy, so worship I the God of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the law and in the prophets

2)    If you don’t believe these words, you are missing all the prophecies coming together for the end times!

3)    Jesus never questioned any of the Old Testament – taught every word as true

4)    So should we


b.    Believing in Jesus Christ as the ONLY Messiah and Saviour of mankind


1)    John 14:6  Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.

2)    We make no excuses for this – there is no Allah, or saving power in Buddha, or Krishna – only Jesus!


c.     Of “consorting” together – gathering closely together “And some of them believed, and consorted with Paul and Silas


1)    Too few people actually consort anymore – it means to hang with, assemble, fervently associate with as family – unashamed of being with the brethren!

2)    It is a drunkard’s nature, to go to a pub or an off-license as often as possible

3)    AND, it is a Christian’s nature to be in church as often as possible too!

4)    We gather – Sunday mornings at 11, and men at 6pm, and then again on Wed at 7


d.    Upsetting the status-quo – the culture of the day – the course of this world


1)    Acts 17:6  And when they found them not, they drew Jason and certain brethren unto the rulers of the city, crying, These that have turned the world upside down are come hither also

2)    We don’t riot – although we get mad enough to WANT to – after all the perversion that the government is pushing into classrooms

3)    But when we preach, debate & reason with people at the grass-roots, it upsets things!


a)    We vote differently than RTE says to

b)    We speak differently than everyone around us

c)    We call out sin, and the abuses of power of people

d)    We speak up when men and women make themselves gods, and use power wrongly and twist society into a cesspool of perversion for their own pleasure!

e)    We expose religious hustlers and liars – we have been doing this long before the internet


4)    This HAS to happen folks – Light does not let darkness remain in power

5)    Cultures cannot just stay the same after the Gospel is preached


a)    Cannibals cannot stay cannibals, and Head-hunters cannot stay head-hunters

b)    Addicts cannot just stay addicted to drink and drugs and gambling

c)    Not when the Gospel is preached!


e.     Changing People


1)    We are NOT interested changing genders, careers or where people shop for groceries

2)    We seek to change people FROM vice to virtue – FROM sinner to saint

3)    From serving idols to serving the living God

4)    From drunkards to godly husbands and wives

5)    From rebels to servants

6)    From a wasted life, addicted to welfare and government programs, to a life lived for others, and for God!


f.     Teaching things contrary to the laws of Caesar – laws of the land that are against God


1)    We preach submission to ANOTHER King besides the government – King Jesus

2)    Not just as Saviour - But as LORD!

3)    Jesus came not as a competitor to Caesar, but as the Saviour of Caesar, because He is greater than Caesar, and was going to judge Caesar one day!


3.    Now, ALL of those things – if we do them – really upset the powers that be!


D.   Noble Bereans (Acts 17:10-12) - I like these Bereans


1.    Acts 17:10-12  And the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Berea: who coming thither went into the synagogue of the Jews. 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. Therefore many of them believed; also of honourable women which were Greeks, and of men, not a few.

2.    The threats against Paul were real, so they sent him to another town, called Berea

3.    Paul went right back into a synagogue to talk with the Jews

4.    And he found them… Much more “noble” than the Thessalonians


a.     Reasonable, open minded, willing to listen

b.    Receptive to the Scriptures – not to Paul’s persuasiveness, but to the scriptures

c.     With a Readiness of mind – curious, interested, hungry for TRUTH, not feelings

d.    They were already Re-Searching the Scriptures daily – checking and verifying everything Paul said – what everyone said and taught


5.    Remember, these are LOST men and women! Yet they were reading and studying the Scriptures

6.    How much more should WE BELIEVERS be like these Bereans?


a.     Reasonable, open minded, willing to listen to the Bible over what the world is saying

b.    Receptive to the Scriptures – whatever it says, we will do, trusting God

c.     Curious, interested, hungry for truth, not feelings

d.    Searching and RE-searching the Scriptures daily – checking and verifying everything that is said, by ME, and especially by what people say on youtube!


7.    MANY Jews were converted and believed the Gospel here

8.    As well as many of the honourable Greek men and women

9.    And so, another church was started!


E.    On to Athens (Acts 17:13-15)


1.    Persecution Drive The Gospel Fowrad (Acts 17:13,14)


a.     It actually drove the Gospel further and further! Christians did not hide and stay home

b.    Acts 17:13,14  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. And then immediately the brethren sent away Paul to go as it were to the sea: but Silas and Timotheus abode there still.

c.     Paul and Silas and Timothy and Luke were threatened again!

d.    So, the Christians sent Paul away for his own safety

e.     But Paul never played it safe – he headed into the belly of the beast – ATHENS!


2.    Now on to the big city of Athens! (Acts 17:15)  And they that conducted Paul brought him unto Athens:

3.    Paul needs his team (Acts 17:15)  …and receiving a commandment unto Silas and Timotheus for to come to him with all speed, they departed.


a.     Paul knew he needed Silas and Timothy and Luke with him

b.    The Gospel ministry is NOT for individuals – it is for groups of believers, who work together, supporting one another, and doing the hard stuff, together


III.     Conclusion


A.   Paul shows us to just do what you are supposed to do, and trust the Lord with the results. Speaking Gospel truth; Handing out Gospel tracts; Inviting people to church to hear the Gospel

B.   Reason From the Scriptures


1.    Start and end with the Scriptures – they are the truth

2.    So, persuade, discuss, debate, reason with all people – atheists, agnostics, drunkards, educated and ignorant, proud, and broken – explain to them…


a.     That the Messiah HAD to suffer and die… for their sinfulness

b.    He would Rise again from the Dead three days later, in victory over sin and death

c.     And that Jesus of Nazareth fulfilled all the requirements of being the promised Messiah of God – there are hundreds of Scriptures proving this

d.    Our job is to persuade everyone that He alone is worthy of following and believing in!

e.     Better than following Garth Brooks, Boris Johnson, Joe Biden, Donald Trump, Madonna, Richard Dawkins, Stephen Hawkins, Neil De Grasse, Dr Faucci, Craig Ledbetter, or Pope John Paul the 99th!


C.   There are Wonderful Results When These Words Are Preached and believed


1.    Churches grow - “consorting” together – gathering closely together “And some of them believed, and consorted with Paul and Silas

2.    The status-quo gets upset – the culture of the day – the course of this world – gets turned upside down!

3.    People are changed for the better – saved and sanctified, not perfect, but striving to be!

4.    A different culture is established – a Christ-like culture, influencing the darknesses


D.   Let’s Get People Like the Bereans


1.    Receptive to the Scriptures – not to Paul’s persuasiveness

2.    Readiness of mind – curious, interested, hungry

3.    Searching the Scriptures daily – checking and verifying everything Paul said


E.   What about you? Are You Saved? Are you growing, changing, maturing, or backsliding?