Trouble in Thessalonica
1After Paul and his friends had travelled through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they went on to Thessalonica. A Jewish meeting place was in that city. 2So as usual, Paul went there to worship, and on three Sabbaths he spoke to the people. He used the Scriptures 3to show them that the Messiah had to suffer, but that he would rise from death. Paul also told them that Jesus is the Messiah he was preaching about. 4Some of them believed what Paul had said, and they became followers with Paul and Silas. Some Gentiles#17.4 Gentiles: See the note at 14.1. and many important women also believed the message.
5The Jewish leaders were jealous and got some worthless louts who hung around the market place to start a riot in the city. They wanted to drag Paul and Silas out to the mob, and so they went straight to Jason's home. 6But when they did not find them there, they dragged out Jason and some of the Lord's followers. They took them to the city authorities and shouted, “Paul and Silas have been upsetting things everywhere. Now they have come here, 7and Jason has welcomed them into his home. All of them break the laws of the Roman Emperor by claiming that someone named Jesus is king.”
8The officials and the people were upset when they heard this. 9So they made Jason and the other followers pay bail before letting them go.
People in Berea welcome the message
10That same night the Lord's followers sent Paul and Silas on to Berea, and after they arrived, they went to the Jewish meeting place. 11The people in Berea were much nicer than those in Thessalonica, and they gladly accepted the message. Day after day they studied the Scriptures to see if these things were true. 12Many of them put their faith in the Lord, including some important Greek women and several men.
13When the Jewish leaders in Thessalonica heard that Paul had been preaching God's message in Berea, they went there and caused trouble by turning the crowds against Paul.
14Straight away the followers sent Paul down to the coast, but Silas and Timothy stayed in Berea. 15Some men went with Paul as far as Athens, and then returned with instructions for Silas and Timothy to join him as soon as possible.
Paul in Athens
16While Paul was waiting in Athens, he was upset to see all the idols in the city. 17He went to the Jewish meeting place to speak to the Jews and to anyone who worshipped with them. Day after day he also spoke to everyone he met in the market. 18Some of them were Epicureans#17.18 Epicureans: People who followed the teaching of a man named Epicurus, who taught that happiness should be the main goal in life. and some were Stoics,#17.18 Stoics: Followers of a man named Zeno, who taught that people should learn self-control and be guided by their consciences. and they started arguing with him.
People were asking, “What is this know-all trying to say?”
Some even said, “Paul must be preaching about foreign gods! That's what he means when he talks about Jesus and about people rising from death.”#17.18 people rising from death: Or “a goddess named ‘Rising from Death’.”
19They brought Paul before a council called the Areopagus, and said, “Tell us what your new teaching is all about. 20We have heard you say some strange things, and we want to know what you mean.”
21More than anything else the people of Athens and the foreigners living there loved to hear and to talk about anything new. 22So Paul stood up in front of the council and said:
People of Athens, I see that you are very religious. 23As I was going through your city and looking at the things you worship, I found an altar with the words, “To an Unknown God.” You worship this God, but you don't really know him. So I want to tell you about him. 24#1 King 8.27; Isa 42.5; Acts 7.48.This God made the world and everything in it. He is Lord of heaven and earth, and he doesn't live in temples built by human hands. 25He doesn't need help from anyone. He gives life, breath, and everything else to all people. 26From one person God made all nations who live on earth, and he decided when and where every nation would be.
27God has done all this, so that we will look for him and reach out and find him. He isn't far from any of us, 28and he gives us the power to live, to move, and to be who we are. “We are his children,” just as some of your poets have said.
29Since we are God's children, we must not think that he is like an idol made out of gold or silver or stone. He isn't like anything that humans have thought up and made. 30In the past, God forgave all this because people did not know what they were doing. But now he says that everyone everywhere must turn to him. 31He has set a day when he will judge the world's people with fairness. And he has chosen the man Jesus to do the judging for him. God has given proof of this to all of us by raising Jesus from death.
32As soon as the people heard Paul say that a man had been raised from death, some of them started laughing. Others said, “We will hear you talk about this some other time.” 33When Paul left the council meeting, 34some of the men put their faith in the Lord and went with Paul. One of them was a council member named Dionysius. A woman named Damaris and several others also put their faith in the Lord.