Commentary on Acts 17.8-9

By Bob Myhan

8And they troubled the crowd and the rulers of the city when they heard these things. 9So when they had taken security from Jason and the rest, they let them go.

It should be remembered that this is not the first time Paul was in physical danger from preaching the gospel. The first place he is said to have preached is Damascus, Syria.

Now after many days were past, the Jews plotted to kill him. But their plot became known to Saul. And they watched the gates day and night, to kill him. Then the disciples took him by night and let him down through the wall in a large basket. (Acts 9.23-25)

In Damascus the governor, under Aretas the king, was guarding the city of the Damascenes with a garrison, desiring to arrest me; but I was let down in a basket through a window in the wall, and escaped from his hands. (2 Cor. 11.32-33)

When he left Damascus, he returned to Jerusalem after a four-year absence. And the first thing he had to do was pass muster. Then, there was another threat.

And when Saul had come to Jerusalem, he tried to join the disciples; but they were all afraid of him, and did not believe that he was a disciple. But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles. And he declared to them how he had seen the Lord on the road, and that He had spoken to him, and how he had preached boldly at Damascus in the name of Jesus. So he was with them at Jerusalem, coming in and going out. And he spoke boldly in the name of the Lord Jesus and disputed against the Hellenists, but they attempted to kill him. When the brethren found out, they brought him down to Caesarea and sent him out to Tarsus. (Acts 9.26-30)

On his first missionary journey he was stoned and left for dead by the Jews in Pisidian Antioch and low class individuals from Iconium.

Then Jews from Antioch and Iconium came there; and having persuaded the multitudes, they stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, supposing him to be dead. However, when the disciples gathered around him, he rose up and went into the city. And the next day he departed with Barnabas to Derbe. And when they had preached the gospel to that city and made many disciples, they returned to Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch, strengthening the souls of the disciples, exhorting them to continue in the faith, and saying, "We must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God." (Acts 14.19-22)

In Philippi, the first European province to be evangelized, he and Silas were beaten and thrown in prison unjustly.

Then the multitude rose up together against them; and the magistrates tore off their clothes and commanded them to be beaten with rods. And when they had laid many stripes on them, they threw them into prison, commanding the jailer to keep them securely. Having received such a charge, he put them into the inner prison and fastened their feet in the stocks. (Acts 16.22-24)

Not having found Paul and Silas, the envious Jews assaulted the house of Jason and dragged him before the city’s rulers to demand either that he be punished for his role or perhaps that he produce the men who had supposedly “turned the world upside down.” The crowd and the rulers were troubled because they did not want the wrath of Rome to come down on them for what a few sojourners had done. The charge of treason and/or sedition, though baseless, was serious. Some kind of security was taken from Jason and the other brethren and “let them go.” Scholars are not agreed on the nature or purpose of this security. It could have been some sort of monetary bond to assure that they would show up for their “day in court” or it could have been simply a promise to deliver the trouble makers or to convince them to cease and desist their seditious, treasonous acts and/or to leave the city before Roman authorities might arrive. Luke does not tell us how much time has passed since the three Sabbath days in the synagogue.

It is no small wonder, then, that Paul would later write, in the first of his two epistles to the church at Thessalonica, the following.

And you became followers of us and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Spirit, so that you became examples to all in Macedonia and Achaia who believe.... For you yourselves know, brethren, that our coming to you was not in vain. But even after we had suffered before and were spitefully treated at Philippi, as you know, we were bold in our God to speak to you the gospel of God in much conflict. (1.6-7; 2.1-2)

(To be continued)

A Study of the Holy Spirit (Part 37)

By Bob Myhan

Agapé love envelops, motivates, unites and restrains Christians. It envelops us in that it is the atmosphere within which we walk. We are to “walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma.” (Eph. 5:2; Col. 3:14) It motivates us in that all we do is to “be done with love.” (1 Cor. 16:14; Gal. 5:6) It unites us in that we “is with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” (Eph. 4:1-3; Psalm 133; Col. 2:2). And it restrains us in that “through love [we] serve one another” and do not “bite and devour one another.” (Gal. 5:13-15).

Agapé love is the accent of truth.

Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." (John 8:32).

Paul wrote,

“Have I therefore become your enemy because I tell you the truth?” (Gal. 4:16) “...but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head--Christ” (Eph. 4:15)

Agapé love is the ground of appeal.

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16)

John wrote, “By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren…. We love Him because He first loved us.” (1 John 3:16; 1 John 4:19; see also Matt. 5:43-48; Philemon 7; Romans 15:30). 

Agapé love is the motive of evangelism. Jesus said,

"O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing! (Matt. 23:37)

And the apostle Paul wrote,

Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ's behalf, be reconciled to God. (2 Cor. 5:20).

Do people describe you the way Paul describes love? Does it envelop you, motivate you, restrain you, and unite you with other Christians? Does it operate in your life as the accent of truth, the ground of appeal, and the motive of evangelism? No one cares how much you know, until they know how much you care!

(To be continued)