Acts 17:1-15 – The Gospel – Warp It or Examine It
Diving Deeper Lesson Outline for Acts 17:1-15
Paul preached the Gospel message to both the Thessalonians and the Bereans.
The title is drawn from a comparison of the responses of the Thessalonian Jews with that of the Berean Jews.
1) PAUL EXPLAINS (OPENS) THE MESSAGE
Explaining (open) in verse 3 is the same word that appears in:
And looking up to heaven, he sighed and said to him, “Ephphatha,” that is, “Be opened.” And his ears were opened…
Jesus healed the deaf man, gave him ears to hear and the words to speak.
They said to each other, “Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures”
Jesus explained the Scriptures on the road to Emmaus.
Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures…
Jesus explained to the disciples how the Christ should suffer and then rise from the dead.
God opened Lydia’s heart to receive the Gospel.
We can look back to Acts 13 to get a very good idea of the message Paul OPENED.
Old Testament Gospel Message – Recap of Chapter 13 – Jesus Is:
In Isaiah 8:14 Jesus is a “rock of stumbling”.
In Isaiah 53:3 we see the Messiah as the rejected man of sorrows.
In Romans 11:7-8 Paul quotes Isaiah 29:10 in relation to Israel’s rejection of Jesus.
In Zechariah 12:1-14 we learn that the people of Jerusalem will mourn over the Messiah they pierced.
And by inference, a pierced Messiah is a rejected Messiah
THE PROMISED OFFSPRING
In Genesis 12:7 we find the promise; “To your offspring I will give this land.”
In Genesis 22:16-18 we get an elaboration of the promise in relation to obedience to God’s voice.
(As opposed to a position of offspring based on birth, as we will see.)
In Genesis 28:14-15 we get even more on the promise.
It is not a reference to Jesus’ physical birth, but to his resurrection.
In 2 Samuel 7:14, we see the association of the Messiah with Sonship, and Sonship in the Davidic line.
In Psalm 2:7, written by David, we see again the association of Messiah and Sonship.
Paul, knowing the truth, rightly associates this Psalm with the Sonship of of Jesus Christ to God the Father.
In Psalm 89:27, we see the Sonship and Kingly associations in Messianic prophecy.
Diaphthora – Translated as “corruption” or “decay” means destruction to the body through decay or decomposition after death. In the OT, it refers to the “pit” meaning the grave or a “pit of corruption” meaning a grave filled with a decaying body (a mass of organic, putrid liquid).
Paul, in Acts 13:36-37, contrasts David fulfilling his purpose, dying and then seeing corruption, with Jesus, “whom God raised up did not see corruption.”
Paul also says again the God raised Jesus from the dead.
Paul mentions Jesus’ resurrection from the dead and his not seeing corruption 4 times each these 8 verses.
1 Kings 2:10 states the obvious concerning David, to which Paul alludes in Acts 13:34.
From Psalm 16:10, however, Paul tells us that the Holy One will not see corruption.
So if David died and saw corruption, Jesus, by His resurrection, is the one to whom the Psalm refers not David.
And this again is a reminder that because of this, Jesus is the fulfillment of prophecy and he has “the holy and sure blessings of David”, as quoted from Isaiah by Paul.
Range of Sin:
– In 1 Kings 8:46, Solomon tells us “there is no one who does not sin.”
Thoroughness of Sin:
– Job 25:4 asks how a man can be right before God and how can a man born of the flesh be pure (child of promise/flesh).
The heart is ground zero for Sin:
– In 1 Samuel 16:7, we see that “the Lord looks at the heart”.
– In Psalm 95:10 God frames the sin problem has a heart problem, “people who go astray in their heart.”
– Isaiah 44:20 speaks of a “deluded heart.”
– Jeremiah 7:24 speaks of “the stubbornness of their evil hearts.”
– Ezekiel 20:16 speaks of a disobedience that is rooted in a heart that strays.
The heart can be victorious over Sin:
– Proverbs 4:23 shows that from the heart flows “the springs of life.”
– Moses tells us in Deuteronomy 10:16 that the heart requires a circumcision.
God provides the victory over Sin:
– Psalm 79:9 cries out to God for atonement and salvation.
– And in Psalm 85:2 we see that God does forgive and cover sin.
– Isaiah 6:6-7 illustrates, again, that God forgives and atones.
– Isaiah 43:25 reveals that not only does God cover the sin but He does it for his sake!
What is the Law:
The Law (nomos) generally refers to the first five books of the Bible written by Moses (Torah or Pentateuch) – Matthew 11:13; Luke 24:44; John 1:45; Acts 28:23.
The most well known part of the Law is, of course, The 10 Commandments.
The Law and Freedom:
In Galatians 5:3-4, Paul says if you embrace freedom under the law, you are obligated to keep the whole law – to be perfect.
The problem is, however, that Hebrews 7:19 reveals the sad truth that the law makes nothing perfect.
As a matter of fact, disobedience of the Law is death; Proverbs 19:16 (NASB) says, “He who keeps the commandment keeps his soul, but he who is careless of conduct will die.”
Galatians 3:10-12 echoes this in that it says that no one is justified before God by the law.
And without justification, you face God’s judgment and wrath.
This is what Paul means when he says “from which you could not be freed from the Law of Moses”.
Paul is telling us that using the Law/works as a means of salvation brings death not freedom.
2) THE OPPOSITION WARP THE MESSAGE
Warp Message with a ME Agenda:
Verse 5 – …the Jews were jealous…
The implications of Paul’s message are not the message.
However, an unbelieving Jew that just lost a number of fellow Jews to this Jesus Message can do 2 things:
1) Respond like the Berean Jews, which we will examine shortly.
2) Make it all about themselves. Dwell on the implications and not the message.
Verse 5 makes clear which way these men went.
Instead of considering the historical and Scriptural truth of Paul’s message, they made it all about themselves.
They became jealous because many joined Paul and Silas.
Paul’s message was not about jealousy or how many followers one has.
So we see that if you focus on yourself instead of the message, the truth of the message is warped by the implications it has on your life.
The message is warped because the implications become the message.
POI – Jesus faced the exact same response during His ministry.
And they began to accuse him, saying, “We found this man misleading our nation and forbidding us to give tribute to Caesar, and saying that he himself is Christ, a king.
Warp Message with a YOU Agenda:
Verse 6 – …turned the world upside down…
Verse 7 – …acting against the decrees of Cesar, saying there is another king, Jesus.
Verse 8 – And the people and the city authorities were disturbed when they heard these things.
Again, the implications of Paul’s message are not the message.
Paul’s Message is unchanging; the implications vary based on culture and peoples’ conditions.
Implications are the collision of these 2 realities with the message.
Paul’s message was not political, though it could have political implications.
Thessalonica was a “free city” run by the Politarchos in step with Roman law.
The unbelieving Jews wanted Thessalonica to believe that the Jesus of Paul’s message was a king in a political sense.
This was to stir up fear and hatred of Paul, Silas and the new converts.
The freedom Thessalonica enjoyed would be in jeopardy if King Cesar had a competitor and so this is how the message preached by Paul was portrayed.
This is why, in Verse 8, the people and authorities were TARASSO – disturbed, troubled, stirred up, agitated and terrified.
And this TARASSO is why, in Verse 6, their world was turned upside down.
So we see that if you make the implications of a message challenge the status quo of somebody, you can trouble the listener and bring him to action on your behalf.
And often, to get the implications you desire, like the Jews, you have to warp and manipulate the message.
POI – TARASSO is same word used in the following 2 examples:
“Since we have heard that some persons have gone out from us and troubled you with words, unsettling your minds, although we gave them no instructions…”
Here, troubled is the same root word used to describe the work of the Judaizers in Antioch.
“When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him…”
Here, troubled is also same root word.
It is used to describe King Herod’s reaction to the birth of Jesus.
3) THE NOBLE EXAMINE THE MESSAGE
Leonardo Da Vinci
“The noblest of pleasures is the joy of understanding.”
Verse 11 – …these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.
The word noble refers to open-mindedness.
Open-mindedness here is a willingness to search out the truth without regard for ones self and the implications of the truth or message to ones self.
It is not tolerating sin.
The Berean Jews were not afraid of getting to the truth.
They examined the Scriptures and did so with an eagerness or readiness of mind.
And this examining involved questioning, discerning and judging.
It is a picture of examining evidence in a court room.
However, one caveat in this examination is that without the noble, open-mind of a Berean, a mind free from the threat of self-implication, the Scripture would all seem folly.
1 Corinthians 2:14
The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.
So, we see that when we free ourselves from concern over how a message will affect us personally and simply confirm its truth and act on that truth, we grow.
We become spiritually discerning.
POI – Responsibility to examine and search Scripture and the quality of our life if we do not.
Isaiah 8:19-22 – (A section on how to fear God. This is just before a prophecy on the birth of Christ.)
And when they say to you, “Inquire of the mediums and the necromancers who chirp and mutter,” should not a people inquire of their God? Should they inquire of the dead on behalf of the living? 20 To the teaching and to the testimony! If they will not speak according to this word, it is because they have no dawn. 21 They will pass through the land, greatly distressed and hungry. And when they are hungry, they will be enraged and will speak contemptuously against their king and their God, and turn their faces upward. 22 And they will look to the earth, but behold, distress and darkness, the gloom of anguish. And they will be thrust into thick darkness.
One reason why your walk may not be as fulfilling as it should be is that you do not inquire of the teaching and testimony of God – Scripture – as much as you should.
Seek and read from book of Lord
This is a pretty clear exhortation!
When you hear a message or exhortation in Church, how are you most likely to react?
Evaluate it based on its implications on your current circumstances.
Or is your inclination to first search the Scriptures to discover if it is true or not and then seek to apply it to your life, without regard for its implications?
Which of these 2 is more in line with the BU Principals?
How have you ever warped or manipulated a message to make it all about you or those you wish to rally to your side?
If I were to suggest we make the Deacons all about service, and elect 5 Elders based purely on the direction of the Word of God, how would you respond?
If I were to suggest we bring women back to this class, how would you respond?
Just because the implications of a message appear to impact you negatively, that does not necessarily mean that the message is not true and should not be followed!
The only way to know if a message is true is to SEARCH THE SCRIPTURES, not evaluate its implications.
If Scripture is not clear on the subject, the implications to doctrine then must be considered to evaluate the messages authenticity.
But to do so discerningly, we must surrender our self-interest!
Again, which BU Principals does this line up with?