Paul travels to Thessalonica, Berea, and Athens to spread the Good News - some were listening without hearing.
After the experience in Philippi, Paul and his companions traveled to Thessalonica. Later when Paul wrote to the Thessalonians, he reminded them of his difficulties in Philippi. “We had previously suffered and been insulted in Philippi as you know, but with the help of our God we dared to tell you His gospel in spite of strong opposition.” (I Thessalonians 2: 2) Looking on a map, it may seem that Thessalonica is way off the beaten path, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Thessalonica was a coastal city, and the crossroad of two major Roman roads. This city was an ideal place to encourage the spread of Christianity. “The Lord’s message rang out from you not only in Macedonia and Achaia – your faith in God has become known everywhere…” (I Thessalonians 1: 8) We could fill many blogs talking about Paul’s teachings in Thessalonica, and maybe someday we will, but for now, let me simply direct you to I Thessalonians 5: 12-22. In this short passage Paul gives us fifteen pieces of encouraging advice on how we as Christians should live.
Paul had great success in Thessalonica, which caused some Jewish leaders to become very jealous, so Paul was persuaded to leave the city and traveled to nearby Berea. Consider how reasonable the Bereans were. “Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.” (Acts 17: 11) From Berea, Paul traveled to Athens. Athens was a center of idolatry and philosophical discussion. They even had an altar with an inscription ‘to an unknown god.’ They had so many gods they were afraid they might leave one out and offend him. Archeologists have discovered other such monuments built by both Greeks and Romans. In the third century, Philostratus wrote that Athens was a place “where even unknown divinities have altars erected to them.” Paul was able to speak to the people at the Areopagus. (Acts 17: 22) The Areopagus was an ancient Athenian institution that existed a century before Paul’s time. It was a political body that regulated manners and morals as well as providing a platform for visiting lecturers. In Paul’s day, the region was under Roman control, so we don’t really know how much authority the Areopagus had at that time. While Paul was able to teach the Good News, the Athenians were listening without hearing. “All the Athenians and the foreigners who lived there spent their time doing nothing but talking about and listening to the latest ideas.” (Acts 17: 21) I bet this was terribly frustrating for Paul, confirmed here in Athens was something Paul already knew. “For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know Him…” (I Corinthians 1: 21) From Athens, Paul travels to Corinth.
(Part 5, next blog)
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Originally from Erie, Pennsylvania, Dan is a graduate of Otterbein College (now University). He graduated with a degree in education. From time to time Dan still substitute teaches. His interest in history led him to investigate the historical accuracy of the Bible. This, in turn, led to a full investigation of Apologetics.