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ACTS - In the Triumphal Procession of Christ
Studies in the Acts of the Apostles
PART 2 - Reports About Preaching Among the Gentiles and the Foundation of Churches From Antioch to Rome - Through the Ministry of Paul the Apostle, Commissioned by the Holy Spirit (Acts 13 - 28)
C - The Second Missionary Journey (Acts 15:36 - 18:22)

5. The Founding of the Church in Thessalonica (Acts 17:1-9)

ACTS 17:1-9
1 Now when they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where there was a Jewish synagogue. 2 Paul, as was his custom, went in to them, and for three Sabbath days 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 proclaim to you, is the Christ.” 4 Some of them were persuaded, and joined Paul and Silas, of the devout Greeks a great multitude, and not a few of the chief women. 5 But the unpersuaded Jews took along some wicked men from the marketplace, and gathering a crowd, set the city in an uproar. Assaulting the house of Jason, they sought to bring them out to the people. 6 When they didn’t find them, they dragged Jason and certain brothers before the rulers of the city, crying, “These who have turned the world upside down have come here also, 7 whom Jason has received. These all act contrary to the decrees of Caesar, saying that there is another king, Jesus!” 8 The multitude and the rulers of the city were troubled when they heard these things. 9 When they had taken security from Jason and the rest, they let them go.

The city of Thessalonica is a strategic, commercial metropolis, even today. It is 150 kilometers from Philippi, with a population of more than 500,000. When Paul arrived at Thessalonica he first went to the synagogue of the Jews, for it was there he met those who loved and sought the one God. These, also, were the ones who listened to his message. Judaism had officially been permitted by the authorities, even while no other new religion was permitted. For three Sabbaths Paul, the legal expert of Jerusalem, showed that the divine Christ had not come to be a brilliant king, or to overpower the world with His heavenly power. He had come to be rejected, to suffer for a time, to die in shame and to rise from the dead, so that men could be reconciled to God and have their repentant hearts renewed.

This thought was both new and strange to the Jews, who were expecting a political, powerful Christ. Thus they did not recognize the meek Lamb of God. Paul explained to his hearers that Jesus of Nazareth had come as the embodied love of God. Multitudes had raced to Him to hear His words and see His healings, great works, and wonders. Therefore, the members of the Jewish high council had become jealous of him. They rejected His divinity, cruelly persecuted Him, and condemned Him wrongfully. Finally, He was crucified by the Romans. His death, however, was the only sacrifice that could satisfy God´s holy justice, atone for our offenses, and wipe away our iniquities. Paul first showed the necessity of Christ’s death by referring to the books of the Old Testament. Second, he emphasized his competence as an eyewitness. He had received visions and direct inspiration from the living Christ, in order that the world might be turned upside down by his gospel.

Some of the Jews believed in the gospel of salvation. They accepted the divinity of Christ Jesus, and submitted to the message of Paul the apostle. Also, many of the devout Greeks came to believe with a stronger faith. They were impressed by Paul´s explanation of the Law, and openly joined themselves to the apostle and Silas. Many respected women, as well, accepted the gospel of temperance, truth, and holiness. They opened themselves to the Spirit of the holy Christ, and continued in His effectual salvation. Thus a lively church arose in the city of Thessalonica, where Paul, Silas, and Timothy continued steadfastly teaching the believers.

Read the First Epistle of Paul, the apostle, to the Thessalonians (verses 1 and 2) and you will quickly recognize the abundant kindness, power, and enthusiasm that worked in the apostles of Christ. Did you know that this first Epistle to the Thessalonians, written in the Greek language, is the oldest part of the New Testament, older than any of the gospels? You may discover in it Paul’s method of preaching during the first stages of his struggles. You will, as well, see the content of his gospel, which later opened the doors to cities and peoples everywhere. Read this epistle carefully, for in so doing you will understand the Book of the Acts of the Apostles more clearly.

Just as the high council of the Jews envied Jesus, so the Jews at Thessalonica envied Paul. All the Geek members of rank who had been coming to their synagogue turned to Paul. The life of the apostolic witness had been blameless, and his teaching in accordance with the Law. Thus they could not complain against him. Therefore, they looked to stir up a mob among those living in the streets and back alleys. They bribed men of low character and induced them to begin rioting. The mob began inciting the whole city. They hoped to provoke public opinion against the Christians.

The multitudes went to the stately house of Jason, a respectable, wealthy man, who had entertained Paul and Silas. The apostles were, however, not there at the time of the attack and demonstration. Thus the multitudes entered into the rooms of the house and began searching every corner and wardrobe. When they did not find any trace of them, they seized Jason and some of the brothers and dragged them before the city authorities. They began complaining against Jesus’ heresies. Amazingly, they used the same inflammatory words that the high council of the Jews had uttered before Pilot at Christ’s trial, approximately twenty years earlier in Jerusalem. They claimed that Paul and Barnabas were proclaiming Jesus to be the great king, in order that all peoples might be submitted to him. Such a development would entail the end of the Roman Empire. This complaint was serious, and it shook the innermost being of the Roman Empire. The Jews had distorted the truth about Jesus, the spiritual King. They had made Him, who was meek and humble, into a dangerous rebel, who was acting against all people.

Christ is, in fact, the King of kings and Lord of lords. He sits at the right hand of the Father, with whom He lives and reigns over the worlds. His power is not of this earth. It is not built on guns, taxes, and violence. Instead, the method of His ruling is founded upon the fruit of the Holy Spirit, who establishes God´s spiritual kingdom in the hearts of those who submit to their Lord. Unbelievers themselves bring about corruption, and turn the beautiful world into a dunghill, a place of massacre, a big prison, and a nightmare.

The prudent among the rulers of the city understood the reason for the disturbance. Out of fear the Romans might trouble them because of the agitation, they mollified the multitudes, and made Jason pay a considerable amount of money to be released. He, in turn, clarified to them that the Christian design was not at all political. Instead, every believer would prefer to die like his Christ rather than practice violence or injustice. The kingdom of Jesus is spiritual, and only appears at the second coming of Christ in glory, after which time the worlds will pass away. Knowing that Paul had no political design whatsoever, Jason assured them that they would depart out of the city at once.

The issue of Jesus’ kingship has moved many peoples, kings, Caesars and popes in the history of the church. Paul often preached Christ crucified. His successors, however, frequently sought a mighty Caesar, one who would dominate the whole world. Many have forgotten that the kingdom of Christ is not of this world, and that it is only built upon broken and repentant hearts. In fact, Christ does not call all the world´s Caesars, generals, and leaders to turn from their haughtiness and pride and embrace humility, contentment, and mercy. The religion of Christ is not founded on the sword or revolutions, but only on the word of salvation and the power of love. Nevertheless, when Christ comes He will defeat all powers that are contrary to God. There will then be no more death, sorrow, or temptation to sin. This new creation, in the glory of God the Father, is the true kingdom of God.

PRAYER: O Lord Jesus Christ, You are the great King, and You possess my heart and my money. We dedicate ourselves to You, and ask You to grant us wisdom, that we may serve You faithfully. Call many into Your kingdom, that they may live forever.


  1. How is Jesus Christ the King of kings and Lord of lords?


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