“Like Talking to a Brick Wall”
- Okay deaf…Here is another metaphor that the hearing people use. You may hear it said many times of hearing people…”Talking to Joe Blow is like talking to a brick wall.”
- What does that mean? It means that Joe blow is stubborn and doesn’t want to understand what you are saying or Joe blow doesn’t want to do what you are asking him to do.
- If you talk to a brick wall, you get no results, no feedback, no response, and etc. No matter how much you talk to the brick wall, you still will never win the argument, or get the brick wall to understand what you are saying.
- With all that said, we can see Paul talking to people (brick walls) in this chapter that are stubborn, ignorant, and self willed.
I. Paul Preaches at Thessalonica
A) Starting toward Thessalonica
- Look at Acts 17:1…Now when they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where was a synagogue of the Jews:
- Just to give you an idea of where Paul was at…
- In Philippi (Macedonia) He and Silas were jailed and released. (Ch. 16)
- Amphipolis was 30 miles from Philippi. (Ch. 17:1)
- Apollonia was another 30 miles from Amphipolis.
- Thessalonica was another 40 miles beyond Apollonia.
- The narrative here in these verses suggest that the apostles only stayed overnight in Amphipolis and Apollonia as they trekked on to Thessalonica.
- The big city of Thessalonica was the capitol of Macedonia exceeding a population of 200,000 people in that day.
- Why did Paul mention the fact of Thessalonica having a synagogue of the Jews there? Because there were no synagogues in the other two cities.
- You should also remember that Paul’s ambition to preach Jesus to people was “…to the Jew first.”
B) Preaching at Thessalonica
- Look at Acts 17:2…And Paul, as his manner was, went in unto them, and three sabbath days reasoned with them out of the scriptures.
- Let us examine this verse in sequence…
- “And Paul, as his manner was,” Meaning that this was what Paul normally did when he came to a synagogue.
- “…went in unto them,” He went to the authorities (elders) of the church for their permission to preach and teach. Now I would presume that he may have acquired his allowance to speak in synagogues across the country by referring to his father being a leader in the synagogue at Jerusalem. This kind of opened the door for Paul to preach Jesus Christ.
- “…and three sabbath days” This part of the verse tells us how long Paul was ministering publically. Three weeks at least. However, Paul’s actual time spent there in Thessalonica was more like 4-6 months.
- “… reasoned with them out of the scriptures.” As I have expressed many times… If you cannot back up what you live, preach, and teach with the word of God, keep your mouth shut. Note the verse said that Paul “…reasoned with them.” Luke acquired this terminology from the LORD (God) in Isaiah 1:18… Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD:”
What scriptures did Paul use? What scriptures did Paul have access to? How about Genesis 3:15, Psalms 22, Isaiah 53, Daniel 9:26, Zechariah 12:10 and 13:7 to name a few.
- Now let us look at what Paul’s sermon was about in Acts 17:3…Opening and alleging, that Christ must needs have suffered, and risen again from the dead; and that this Jesus, whom I preach unto you, is Christ.
- Let us look at the words that describe Paul’s preaching…
- Opening – explain or unfold (revealing). In other words, Paul explained the scriptures (O.T.) in their true sense.
- Alleging – to demonstrate with visuals, or very descriptive speech and maintaining that what he said was the truth.
- Paul opens and alleges “…that Christ must needs have suffered, and risen again from the dead;” In other words, Paul shows them the necessity of Christ having to suffer the cross for all of humanity. Paul further explains the necessity for the belief in the resurrection from the dead.
- Lastly, in verse 3 “…and that this Jesus, whom I preach unto you, is Christ.”
- Paul preaches to them and tries to convince them that the Messiah and Christ that they (Israel/Jews) have been waiting for is Jesus/Jeshua.
- How do you think Paul tried to convince them? What scripture did he show?
- Micah 5:2 –Born in Bethlehem
- Genesis 45:2 – of the tribe of Judah
- Isaiah 11:1, 10 – He was a descendant of Jesse, of the Royal line of David
- Daniel 9:24 – 27 – He came at the time predicted
- Isaiah 53 – His character, work, appearance and etc. all described of the prophet.
- I am sure Paul moved to the N.T. describing His miracles, works, character and etc
C) Some of them believed
- Remember now, Paul has delivered a message 3 weeks in a row and very probable that he daily ministered in the Temple at Thessalonica.
- You and I both know that you can sometimes talk to people until you are blue in the face and they still do not believe what you say or what you saw.
- People believe what they want to believe. People do what they want to do. This is the “fall” of mankind. It started with Adam and Eve doing what they wanted to do (eat the forbidden fruit) and not what God commanded them to do.
- Look at Acts 17:4…And some of them believed, and consorted with Paul and Silas; and of the devout Greeks a great multitude, and of the chief women not a few.
- We see here that “some believed.” To believe is to jump right in the fire. To believe is to “consort.”
- To “consort” means that they united themselves with Paul, Silas, and Timothy and became disciples. The Greek word has the meaning more like those who are partakers in an inheritance.
- In this case, the inheritance is Jesus Christ and His Kingdom.
- The ones that really gave Paul, Silas, and Timothy credibility were the “…the devout Greeks a great multitude, and of the chief women not a few.”
- “The devout Greeks” were Gentiles who had changed their religious beliefs to that of the Jews who worshipped God. They had lived a moral life and refused to worship idols. They may also not have received circumcision.
- “…of the chief women” are the same mentioned in Acts 13:50 described as “honorable women.” These may have been those who were fine examples for the younger ladies to follow and also may have taught and led the ladies prayer groups outside the synagogues. THEY WERE NOT PREACHERS! These ladies were called “chief women” by Luke (the writer of Acts) because they were huge aides to the apostle’s needs (such as food, clothing, etc).
D) Some of them did not believe
- Let us now look into Acts 17:5…But the Jews which believed not, moved with envy, took unto them certain lewd fellows of the baser sort, and gathered a company, and set all the city on an uproar, and assaulted the house of Jason, and sought to bring them out to the people.
- The brick wall is going up now when Luke writes… “…the Jews which believed not.” Paul preached for 3 weeks and still they didn’t believe anything he said. The disciples were preaching to a brick wall.
- Look at the description of these people that Luke notices…
- “…moved with envy,” Remember what we have been taught? Jealousy is not a sin but rather a protective response that God has given mankind. Remember God said Himself that He is a jealous God?
But “envy” is a sin. It is not the same as jealous. Many people are ignorant to that fact.
Now then, we see that these disbelievers were “moved with envy…” meaning that, their influence on the people were not as strong as before. By the way, this is the same envy that the Pharisees and scribes had with Christ that caused the people to shout “Crucify him.”
- “… took unto them certain lewd fellows of the baser sort,” What are “lewd fellows” and of what kind of people are “the baser sort?” The “lewd fellows” are wicked men, schemers that seek money that requires little work. These men were of the “baser sort” meaning that they were dwellers of the market place. They were lazy, always standing idle in the market place acting like they want to work. These people were easy to flip their personalities and beliefs according to its popularity of the majority.
E) The assault on Jason’s house
- Now look further into verse 5 “…and gathered a company, and set all the city on an uproar, and assaulted the house of Jason, and sought to bring them out to the people.”
- So we see here that they (those who were trouble makers and disagreed with the apostle’s doctrines) “…gathered a company” (a large group of these lewd baser fellows).
- What is Satan’s goal? Destroy anything that pertains to or belongs to God. God is in the “remodeling” business and Satan is in the “destruction” business.
- What is Satan doing in verse 5? Satan is trying to destroy the church.
- How is he doing that? By using God’s people (or claim to be God’s people) to “…set all the city on an uproar,”
- What did Luke mean by saying that the city was in an “uproar?” It means that all the people of the city (the worshippers of God) of Thessalonica were upset at all the slander being made against the apostles who were peaceful and more importantly chosen of God to preach the word.
- The uproar was more than likely against Jason who was a relative of Paul (as mentioned in his epistle Romans 16:21) who allowed these apostles to stay with him in his house.
- This group we must understand was “a mob.” A mob is a lawless and disorderly crowd.
- It reminds me of the westerns I enjoy watching, when a person does something wrong and the accuser gathers a “lynching party.” They have blood and revenge in their eyes gather gathering a rope to make a hangman’s noose and set out to lynch (hang) the first person they believe to be guilty without a trial.
- Now look at the later part of verse 5c “…and assaulted the house of Jason, and sought to bring them out to the people.”
- Please understand that when the Bible writers wrote the term “the house” it typically meant the people in the house or the relatives of the person described or accused. It does not mean that they were attacking the house (building itself) that Jacob owned.
- The last part of the verse backs up that statement “…and sought to bring them out to the people.”
- After the lynch mob was gathered, they went to go find the men responsible for getting all the city in an uproar over their doctrines taught in the Synagogue and then one of their own citizens were harboring these fugitives.
- Now they go to the citizen of the city of Thessalonica called Jason to get the accused out of his house.
- Look now into Acts 17:6…And when they found them not, they drew Jason and certain brethren unto the rulers of the city, crying, These that have turned the world upside down are come hither also;
- When the “lynch mob” couldn’t find the apostles “…when they found them not,” They grabbed Jason who harbored the apostles.
- They take Jason and “…certain brethren (some of the other relatives and friends in the house with Jason) now to unto the rulers of the city,” Who are these guys? These were judges or magistrates of the city of Thessalonica. More than like a friend or relative of one of the leaders in the lynch mob.
- Here is what Satan loves to do…blow things way out of proportion.
- Look at the later part of verse 6 “…crying, These that have turned the world upside down are come hither also;”
- In verse 5 Luke penned that “…all the city” was in an uproar. Now in verse 6 we see the henchmen claiming “…that have turned the world upside down.”
- I have seen many people do the same thing when they get excited. The story gets bigger, the threat becomes larger, the innocent become guilty, the thief is now a killer. Satan loves to twist, change, and mutilate the truth into a lie especially by making something bigger than it really is.
- The assault on Jason’s house goes further in verse 7) Whom Jason hath received: and these all do contrary to the decrees of Caesar, saying that there is another king, one
- The henchmen now accuse all the relatives and friends of Jason going against the laws of Caesar (Emperor of Rome).
- What was the law they were breaking? Rebellion against the Roman Emperor.
- This was the same accusation against Christ in Luke 23:1…And the whole multitude of them arose, and led him unto Pilate. 2) And they began to accuse him, saying, We found this fellow perverting the nation, and forbidding to give tribute to Caesar, saying that he himself is Christ a King.
- Again we see Satan stretching the truth saying that Jesus “…perverted the nation” There were many of the nation that followed Jesus.
- Now look back at Acts 17:8… And they troubled the people and the rulers of the city, when they heard these things.
- Do you realize that this verse means that the Holy Spirit of God got these rulers under conviction because it reminded them of Jesus’ trial. The same of Herod in Matthew 2:3.
- Now look at Acts 17:9…And when they had taken security of Jason, and of the other, they let them go.
- When the rulers “…had taken security” means that Jason and his house had given the rulers enough information to release the charges on the apostles.
II. Brick Walls Are Hard to Remove
A) Ministering at Berea
- As most construction workers will attest to, brick walls are difficult to move.
- The “brick wall” I am talking about are the minds of the “Jews at Thessalonica” who run the apostles out of town with their doctrines of Jesus Christ.
- There are many people who do not change their mind easily, especially those who are negative minded anyway. So were the Jews at Thessalonica.
- The sad thing is that these negative minded people only hear what they want to hear, and the truth never becomes a part of their resolve.
B) A great reception
- Let us look at Acts 17:10…And the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Berea: who coming thither went into the synagogue of the Jews.
- Here we continue Paul’s account at Thessalonica from the house of Jason (Paul’s cousin) and see where the family of Jason sent the apostles away to Berea.
- The later part of the verse says that they went into Berea’s “…synagogue of the Jews.”
- You remember that this was customary of Paul (A Jew) to preach “…to the Jews first” upon each entrance to a city where they were led by the Holy Spirit to preach Jesus Christ and His gospel.
- Look at verse 11) These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.
- Here we see in verse 11 that these Jews were more receptive than those in Thessalonica. How?
- “…were more noble” – The word “noble” here means …fair minded, generous, or liberal (in their feelings).
- “They received the word with all readiness of mind” – They did not reject the preaching of the word and they considered it worthy of examination.
- “…and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so” – This is highly important in a believer’s life. Always search the scriptures. DO NOT take other people’s opinion on anything Godly. Search the scriptures on matters pertaining to the Kingdom of God. This is Jesus’ exact words in John 5:39…Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.
- The Jews in Thessalonica did not search the scriptures. Therefore they responded as anyone who does not search the scriptures…with indignation, with anger, with envy, with the heart of Satan against the sons of God.
- The Jews of Berea were true men of God in that they searched the scriptures to see if what Paul was preaching was the truth.
- Lastly, on this verse we notice that they searched the scriptures “daily.”
- This means that they did not only search the scriptures on the Sabbath day as was their normal routine, but rather every day of the week until they were satisfied in their heart which led them to “believe” the words of Jesus Christ expressed of Paul.
- Note now those who believed in verse 12) Therefore many of them believed; also of honourable women which were Greeks, and of men, not a few.
- After the Jewish leaders were satisfied, they gave their support with the parish (members) of the Berean synagogue of what Paul was preaching.
- The church there were Jews with honorable Greek men and women.
- These “…honourable women which were Greeks, and of men,” are considered to be converted heathens (Idol worshipers).
C) Here come the “Brick-heads”
- Now look at the account in Acts 17:13…But when the Jews of Thessalonica had knowledge that the word of God was preached of Paul at Berea, they came thither also, and stirred up the people.
- Gossip spreads like a wild fire doesn’t it. When Luke writes “…when the Jews of Thessalonica had knowledge,” that means when the gossip arrived upon their ears.
- Now, in my mind I’m thinking…spreading the word of God was okay with the Jews of Thessalonica except that this particular “word of God” being spread by Paul about Jesus Christ being the Son of God and the long awaited Messiah was not accepted.
- Do you see what the Jews of Thessalonica did? They “…stirred up the people.” No one but Satan is guiding this attack on the apostle Paul.
- The brick-headed Jews were out to snuff out the gospel fires of Paul that was to lay the foundation of the church of Jesus Christ.
- I further believe that Paul was a Billy Sunday style preacher that pounded the pulpit, pointed his finger, and stomped on the ground while preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ.
- Why do I think that? Because everywhere Paul went he was asked to leave, stoned or thrown in jail.
- Look at what these same brick-headed Jews allowed in verse 14) And then immediately the brethren sent away Paul to go as it were to the sea: but Silas and Timotheus abode there still.
- The Thessalonica Sanhedrin wanted to get Paul out of the way, but it was okay for Silas and Timothy were okay to stay. Go figure huh.
- The reason Timothy and Silas were left there in Berea were to continue to water the seeds that Paul planted“I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase. 7) So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase. (I Corinthians 3:6, 7)
- There is a lot of work involved in getting a work for the Lord started. It requires dedicated people willing to sacrifice time, and resources to accomplish what God has ordained.
III. More Brick Walls in Athens
A) Paul summoned to Athens
- Look at Acts 17:15… And they that conducted Paul brought him unto Athens: and receiving a commandment unto Silas and Timotheus for to come to him with all speed, they departed.
- Paul is asked to go to Athens to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ to them. It is not clear as to why, but Paul later realizes that Silas and Timothy are need to help him (Paul) in the ministry there.
B) The Philosophers at Athens
- Look at verse 16…Now while Paul waited for them at Athens, his spirit was stirred in him, when he saw the city wholly given to idolatry.
- Want us to particularly note that Luke writes Paul’s heart. It should also be our heart as well.
- Luke writes that Paul’s “spirit was stirred in him.” What does that mean? I believe that it means he became convicted to do something about this atrocious action by the citizens of Athens who were worshipping idols in every way shape and form.
- We should also be upset at our country allowing Muslims, Buddists, and others to worship their Gods here when our country was founded on the religious liberties of God.
- Like I said before… Paul was a hot head. He was trying to get these “brick-heads” to see the light.
- Paul takes action here in verse 17…Therefore disputed he (Paul) in the synagogue with the Jews, and with the devout persons, and in the market daily with them that met with him.
- This was not a meeting that took place for several hours, but rather several days. Luke writes that Paul “disputed” with the Jews, and devout persons.
- Note where the dispute took place…in the synagogue. We need to understand that this should not be done under normal circumstances. We are not to argue or fight or create any kind of disturbance in God’s house.
- Why was Paul doing it? Because these were people using a synagogue meant for worship to God, and they were worshipping idols.
- It was like Jesus getting riled up in the temple with those who were selling and making huge prophets turning God’s house of prayer into a den of thieves.
- I believe that today we have the same issues and must be careful what we call “worship.” As I have made it understood on several occasions that there are many churches now that have 45 minutes of “worship and praise (song service)” and 15 minutes of bible reading. Sad, isn’t it.
- Now look at Acts 17:18…Then certain philosophers of the Epicureans, and of the Stoicks, encountered him. And some said, What will this babbler say? other some, He seemeth to be a setter forth of strange gods: because he preached unto them Jesus, and the resurrection.
- Look at these two groups of philosophers (person who believes in basic theory or logic) called Epicureans and Stoicks…
- Epicureans – These philosophers believed that God existed but denied His creation of the world and all there in. Their main doctrine was that pleasure was the main goal in life. They further believed that if you practice being a good person it will give you passionate pleasure. They also believed that when a person died, the body and soul disintegrated.
- Stoicks – Their doctrines were that God created the universe and that all things were fixed by fate. These people believed that their life’s goal was to reach a place of indifference (lack of concern, interest, or feelings) to pleasure or pain.
- These two groups were like the Pharisees who prided themselves in their own righteousness.
- These philosophers called Paul a “babbler.” The word “babble” means to talk foolishly, or talk too much. It also takes on the meaning of talking without depth.
- In other words… these philosophers believed that Paul made up his own philosophy of Jesus and God and the world’s creation and etc. They took everything Paul said and twisted it to sound ridiculous.
- The Greek word for “babbler” means base fellow, which means “one who collects seeds.”This meaning was applied by the Greeks to the poor people who collected the scattered grain in the fields after harvest, or to gleaners and also to the poor, who obtained a precarious subsistence around the markets and in the streets. It also applied to birds that may have picked up the scattered seeds of grain on the ground.
- In other words, these philosophers thought that Paul just picked up bits and pieces of history and information and made up his own theories of how the world was created and God, and the universe.
- Note the later part of verse 18… other some, He seemeth to be a setter forth of strange gods: because he preached unto them Jesus, and the resurrection.
- “…a setter forth of strange gods:” meaning that they believed Paul was introducing to the philosophers a God that was strange to them.
- The “KEY” word here is “strange.” This means that they had never heard of the God that Paul was preaching. They never heard the gospel of Jesus Christ.
- This was foreign to them. This means they were in a lost condition doomed for hell.
- Now look at verse Acts 17:19…And they took him, and brought him unto Areopagus, saying, May we know what this new doctrine, whereof thou speakest, is? 20) For thou bringest certain strange things to our ears: we would know therefore what these things mean.
- So now, these philosophers take Paul to Areopagus (a court named for the hill on which it once met.)
- Please understand that Paul was not being tried for a crime here but rather asked to defend his teachings.
- As Luke writes here Acts, what Paul was preaching was strange to the ears of these philosophers and their followers. Satan has people blinded to the truth until someone like Paul brings the truth to their deaf ears and blind eyes.
- For us to understand this meeting Luke writes down the reason for their meetings in verse 21) (For all the Athenians and strangers which were there spent their time in nothing else, but either to tell, or to hear some new thing.)
- There reason for getting together wasn’t worship to a god or the God of Abraham. It wasn’t for anything else except… to tell of a popular idea, philosophy or belief and also to sit and listen to someone tell of such.
C) New mortar for the bricks
- When a bricklayer runs out of mortar (type of cement) to finish laying his course of bricks, he then summons his apprentice to go a get some new mortar mixed up so that he can finish his work.
- Paul brings a new message and rebuke to these “brick heads” of Athens.
- Note now Acts 17: 22…Then Paul stood in the midst of Mars’ hill, and said, Ye men of Athens, I perceive that in all things ye are too superstitious.
- “too superstitious.” The word “superstition” means any belief or attitude, based on fear or ignorance that does not go along with popular laws of science and society.
EXAMPLE: A person is superstitious by putting on certain clothes on a certain day to achieve certain results. As a sports athlete may wear certain blue socks while playing in a game thinking that it will help him become a better player that helps his team win. (Not true)
EXAMPLE: Picking up a penny from off the ground with the head of the President Lincoln facing up will bring you good luck. (Not True)
- Paul was exposing their stupidity, or as Paul would say… their ignorance.
- These people were guilty of what Paul later says in… Ephesians 4:14…That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;
- I really don’t know if these philosophers were trying to deceive any one deliberately, but the fact may be that they were just ignorant (unlearned).
- Now look back to Acts 17, as Paul explains his boldness in calling them superstitious in verse 23) For as I passed by, and beheld your devotions (objects of worship, idols), I found an altar with this inscription, TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you.
- I believe what they had was an altar with no idol in front of it, possibly just an empty wall so that they could pray to the “UNKNOWN GOD” which is the one that they believed to be the creator of all things.
- They had become so involved with their other gods that had no time to check out the God that was unknown to them. This unknown God was the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. He was the God of Paul and the apostles.
- This is why Paul said “…Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you.” In other words Paul is saying… “This unknown God that you worship and know nothing about is the God I am going to explain to you.”
D) Paul explains THE UNKNOWN GOD
- CREATOR OF ALL – Now look into Acts 17:24…God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands;
- In verse 24, Paul is explaining to these “brick heads” that God (the unknown to them) is the one who made all trees, dirt, water, mountains, rocks, people, animals, clouds, air… everything.
- LORD – Notice that Paul mentions the fact that God is “…Lord of heaven and earth,” meaning that this unknown God has control and complete ownership of all things.
- DOES NOT LIVE IN TEMPLES – “…dwelleth not in temples made with hands;”
- This part of the verse really upsets the mortar cart of these brick heads. Paul is telling them that you cannot confine God to a temple. God is everywhere (omnipresent).
- Verse 25) Neither is worshipped with men’s hands, as though he needed anything, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things;
- Paul is preaching to these “UNKNOWN GOD” worshipers that there is nothing that we can give to God for his nourishment or filling of His stomach.
- These worshipers of idols and other gods offered daily fruits and vegetables and ect. For their gods to consume as food and nourishment. The Hindoos especially today still believe that the things that they offer their gods are consumed by them.
- Paul again brings up an attribute of God in that “…he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things;” meaning that He is the giver of “life.” Which brings to mind Jesus (God in the flesh) words in John 14:6 “…I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.”
- It is also quite possible that the apostle Paul was making reference to Genesis 2:7 …And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul. Or Job 12:10…In whose hand is the soul of every living thing, and the breath of all mankind.”
- Paul was merely trying to emphasize to these people that God does not need anything from man to sustain His life.
- Now back to Acts 17: 26…And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation;
- When the Paul mentions the fact that God “…hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth” he means that we all have one father, we are all of one family. Yes, we have different skin color, race, origin, language, and features, but we are all of one parent.
- Paul may have thought of Malachi 2:10…Have we not all one father? hath not one God created us? why do we deal treacherously every man against his brother, by profaning the covenant of our fathers?
- Many people also forget that God “…hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation;” In other words… God has already determined (made up His mind, decided) where these people would live (Black in Africa, and the white in the northern regions, and the savage in the west.)
E) The duty of God’s creation
- Acts 17:27…That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us:
- In verse 27, Paul explains the “duty” of every person that God created is…
- “That they should seek the Lord,” God has placed man in different parts of the word in order for them to “seek Him.”
- “…if haply they might feel after him,” Generally speaking, people have tendencies of touching and feeling for something that they believe in. After His death , burial and resurrection, Christ Himself said to the apostles… “Why are ye troubled? and why do thoughts arise in your hearts? 39) Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have. (Luke 24:38-39) our sin nature does not allow us to believe in things we cannot see. But God asks us to have “faith” by believing in Him of whom we cannot see.
- “… and find him,” This is the most precious part of salvation in Christ Jesus…finding Him. Many seek Jesus but do not find Him because they are seeking something that they can feel of, touch or see. Christ can be felt in the heart and soul of every man, woman, boy or girl.
- The duty of man is to “seek” Him and “seek” the lost (who cannot see Him).
- Why should we “seek Him?” Paul answers that in Acts 17:28) For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring.
- The fact was that these people believed in the words of their popular Greek poet named Epimenides who believed that the UNKNOWN GOD was the very reason man lived, moved and existed.
- Now look into Acts 17:29… Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man’s device.
- Here in verse 29, Paul is showing these Greek brick heads that since we are the offspring of God created in His image as Moses wrote in Genesis, why are we not also made of gold, silver or stone as they suggest?
- Now look at verse 30) And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men everywhere to repent:
- Do you remember what I told you the words “God winked at” mean? It means that “God overlooked” their ignorance (no knowledge of). These people did not know about God and sought for Him in the wrong way.
- It is as we studied back in Acts 14:16…Who in times past suffered all nations to walk in their own ways. God overlooked (winked at) the nations of people who walked in their own ways and not the ways of God.
- But now that Paul is making them aware of God and His Son Jesus Christ, they are without excuse.
- Paul later in verse 30 advises them of the command of God to every man… “…to repent.”
- WHY REPENT? Paul tells them in verse 31) Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead.
- Paul is talking about…
- God (the creator) “…he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness”
- Jesus Christ… “…by that man (Jesus) whom he (God) hath ordained;”
- The rest of the verse 31… whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead. Meaning that God raised Jesus Christ from the dead to assure everyone that believes in Jesus Christ will also be raised from the dead.
- All of Paul’s preaching here is to show to ignorant (unlearned) people that God is the creator of all things, has given to us life, breath, and happiness if we maintain a walk with Him in holiness which proves our “belief” in Him.
F) New bricks on the wall
- The Greeks are in this lesson referred to as “Bricks or brick heads” because they would not receive the words of Paul and the other apostles that accompanied him.
- Let us look at some, and others… in verse 32) And when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked: and others said, We will hear thee again of this matter.
- Know this that Greek philosophy did not believe in the resurrection of the body.
- Note two kinds of people in the group of Greeks that Paul was trying to convince that Jesus had risen from the dead…
- Some mocked – These that mocked (made fun of) are those who quickly discredited Paul’s belief or teachings. They didn’t even consider the fact that he was right.
- Others said – These were a group of people that was at least considering to debate the point or teachings of Paul.
G) Some were not brick headed
- The fact was and is today, that when the gospel is preached no matter who it is, there will be three kinds of people in the audience…
- Those who mock
- Those who wish to debate your belief
- and those who believe by faith
- Let us look now to the later in verse 33) So Paul departed from among them. 34) Howbeit certain men clave unto him, and believed: among the which was Dionysius the Areopagite, and a woman named Damaris, and others with them.
- We see that after most of the Greeks there discredited Paul’s belief and knowledge of God and His Christ, Paul left the city. Paul learned this of Jesus and his apostles. When you go to preach the gospel to a certain group of people and they do not appear to be receptive…leave. Do not waste time on people who wish not to follow Jesus but choose to stick to their own ways.
- There will be those like the ones in verse 34 “…certain men clave unto him, and believed:”
- “clave unto him” meaning that they stayed with him and did not doubt a word. They stuck to Paul’s teachings.
- “believed” meaning that they did whatever Paul advised them of, or Christ demanded of His disciples (followers).
- In all my years of preaching and teaching I still struggle with those who choose not to believe.
- We need to realize that we are in a different world today where the word of God is becoming like the days here in Acts… mocked at, debated, and few who believe.
- This is why talking to some are like talking to a brick wall.