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1. Why I Want to Study the Thessalonian Epistles (Acts 16 and 17)

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When I was a college student, I was preparing to become a school teacher. That meant taking a number of education courses. The first day of class the professor handed out blank cards and asked each student to write out his reasons for taking the class and what they expected to gain from it. I wrote a wonderful, flowery piece and turned it in. But my conscience got the best of me, and so I went in to see the professor and fess up. My conversation went something like this:

“Dr. Smith,2 I wasn’t entirely honest in what I wrote on my card. The only reason I’m taking this class is because I was told I had to in order to become a teacher. I don’t really expect to gain much of anything.”

I think one could safely say that my expectations for that class were extremely low, and my motivation for taking it was lacking as well. (For your information, the class barely met my expectations.)

Now it is time for me to make yet another confession regarding my expectations for the saints at Thessalonica. As I read the account of the birth of the church in Thessalonica in the Book of Acts, I find that my expectations for that church are really low. There were a number of Thessalonians who came to faith through Paul’s ministry in the synagogue – some (which I take to mean “a few”) Jews, a large number of God-fearing Gentiles, and a number of prominent women (Acts 17:4). But Paul’s ministry came to an abrupt halt, thanks to unbelieving Jews and Gentile thugs for hire (17:5-9). From that point on in Acts, little is said of Thessalonica, and so it would seem to the one reading Acts that this church just sort of falls out of sight and out of mind. How could one leave Acts with high hopes for the Thessalonians?

There is another reason why one’s expectations for the Thessalonian saints might be low, and that is because of the way Luke (the author of Acts) commends the saints at Berea, the city to which Paul retreated after being driven out of Thessalonica. Listen to how Luke speaks highly of the Bereans:

10 The brothers sent Paul and Silas off to Berea at once, during the night. When they arrived, they went to the Jewish synagogue. 11 These Jews were more open-minded [noble-minded, NASB] than those in Thessalonica, for they eagerly received the message, examining the scriptures carefully every day to see if these things were so. 12 Therefore many of them believed, along with quite a few prominent Greek women and men (Acts 17:10-12, emphasis mine).

Okay, be honest, which of these two places would you expect to produce a thriving church whose witness was so powerful that word of it reached far and wide? Would you not assume it would be Berea? How many times have you heard the Bereans commended (and rightly so) for their devotion to the Holy Scriptures and for their diligence in testing Paul’s synagogue teaching by the Word of God? And yet we do not find 1 and 2 Bereans in our New Testaments, though we do find 1 and 2 Thessalonians. One of the goals of this message will be to try to discern why the church at Thessalonica is so highly commended by Paul, when the New Testament is virtually silent regarding the church at Berea.3 What made the difference between these two groups of believers?

My Approach in This Message

My plan in this introductory message is to trace the history of the birth of the churches at Thessalonica and Berea as recorded in the Book of Acts. In this message, I intend to compare Luke’s account in Acts 17 with what Paul has to say in his writings to the Thessalonians. There are a number of details that Luke chose not to include in his account, and we will want to discern what they were and why they were omitted. What I want to do is compare what Luke tells us about the church in Thessalonica with what he says about the way the gospel was received in Berea. Then I want to seek some insight into why the church at Thessalonica did so well (according to Paul’s assessment in 1 and 2 Thessalonians), while the church at Berea simply drops out of sight in the New Testament. I am hoping that this will help us establish some expectations regarding our study of these two epistles. I am also hopeful that this lesson will motivate you – as it has me – to enthusiastically enter into this study of the Thessalonian epistles.

The Birth of the Church at Thessalonica
Acts 17:1-15

1 After they traveled through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where there was a Jewish synagogue. 2 Paul went to the Jews in the synagogue, as he customarily did, and on three Sabbath days he addressed them from the scriptures, 3 explaining and demonstrating that the Christ had to suffer and to rise from the dead, saying, “This Jesus I am proclaiming to you is the Christ.” 4 Some of them were persuaded and joined Paul and Silas, along with a large group of God-fearing Greeks and quite a few prominent women. 5 But the Jews became jealous, and gathering together some worthless men from the rabble in the marketplace, they formed a mob and set the city in an uproar. They attacked Jason’s house, trying to find Paul and Silas to bring them out to the assembly. 6 When they did not find them, they dragged Jason and some of the brothers before the city officials, screaming, “These people who have stirred up trouble throughout the world have come here too, 7 and Jason has welcomed them as guests! They are all acting against Caesar’s decrees, saying there is another king named Jesus!” 8 They caused confusion among the crowd and the city officials who heard these things. 9 After the city officials had received bail from Jason and the others, they released them.

10 The brothers sent Paul and Silas off to Berea at once, during the night. When they arrived, they went to the Jewish synagogue. 11 These Jews were more open-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they eagerly received the message, examining the scriptures carefully every day to see if these things were so. 12 Therefore many of them believed, along with quite a few prominent Greek women and men. 13 But when the Jews from Thessalonica heard that Paul had also proclaimed the word of God in Berea, they came there too, inciting and disturbing the crowds. 14 Then the brothers sent Paul away to the coast at once, but Silas and Timothy remained in Berea. 15 Those who accompanied Paul escorted him as far as Athens, and after receiving an order for Silas and Timothy to come to him as soon as possible, they left (Acts 17:1-15).4

Paul’s First Missionary Journey 5

The story begins much earlier in Acts than chapter 17. In Acts 13, we read that the church at Antioch sent out Barnabas and Saul as missionaries, as directed by the Holy Spirit. In this first missionary journey, Barnabas and Saul commenced their journey at Syrian Antioch, then proclaimed Christ in Cyprus, and from there traveled to Perga (where John Mark abandoned them and returned to Jerusalem – Acts 13:35), and then to Pisidian Antioch, where Paul preached at the synagogue (see Acts 13:16-41). From there, Paul and Barnabas went on to Iconium where Paul again preached in the synagogue, with many believing in Jesus (Acts 14:1-5). When the opposition made it impossible to remain, they traveled to Lystra, where Paul healed the man lame from birth, resulting in the attempt of the people of the city to worship Paul and Barnabas as two of the gods they worshipped. With great difficulty, the crowds were persuaded to cease worshipping them, and then Jews from Antioch and Iconium arrived and succeeded in stirring up the crowds. Paul was stoned and dragged out of the city, and presumed to be dead, but when the disciples gathered around him, Paul arose6 and went into the city, and the next day moved on to Derbe (Acts 14:19-20). From Derbe, Paul and Barnabas turn back, virtually retracing their steps (with some exceptions) to Antioch, visiting the churches they had established on their return.

Upon their return, Paul and Barnabas were confronted by Judaisers who insisted that in order to be saved, Gentiles must not only trust in the saving work of Jesus Christ, but they must also be circumcised and keep the Law of Moses. This precipitated a debate which was settled by the Jerusalem Council (see Acts 15:1-29). The decision was that Gentiles were not required to keep the law, something that the Jews had been unable to do. A letter was written to the church at Antioch and also to the churches which had been established by Paul and Barnabas on the first missionary journey. Paul and Barnabas would need to retrace their steps, visiting those churches that they had planted on their first missionary journey.

Paul’s Second Missionary Journey (Part 1)

The rub came when Barnabas was insistent that they should take John Mark along on this visit. Paul strongly opposed doing so, and as a result, Paul and Barnabas went their separate ways. Barnabas took John Mark with him to Cyprus, where they would visit the churches established there. Paul chose Silas (known as Silvanus in 1 and 2 Thessalonians) to go with him, and he also added Timothy when they reached Lystra (the city where Paul had been stoned and left for dead). Timothy had already proven himself faithful in this dangerous place and was well spoken of by the believers there who knew him well.

Paul’s Second Missionary Journey (Part 2)

Since Barnabas and John Mark were returning to Cyprus, Paul changed his route, going by land to Derbe, and then retracing his steps to Lystra, Iconium, and Pisidian Antioch. The question was, “Where should they go now?” Should they return to Antioch, breaking no new ground, or should they press on to new ground? They considered going southwest to Asia Minor, but the Holy Spirit in some way forbade them from doing so (Acts 16:6). They attempted to go north to Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus did not permit them to do this (Acts 16:7). So they went northwest to Troas, a port city on the Aegean Sea. The big question was, “Where do we go from here?” The answer came in the night when Paul received his “Macedonian Vision” (Acts 16:9).

Paul, Silas, Timothy, and (it would seem) Luke travel by sea from Troas to the Macedonian port city of Neapolis, and from there they make their way ten miles or so to Philippi, located on the main thoroughfare linking Rome to Constantinople. At Philippi, there appears to have been no synagogue, but Paul and his companions did find a small group of women, among them was Lydia, a God-fearer who had gathered with other women for prayer. God opened her heart, and she and her household believed and were baptized (Acts 16:13-14). She persuaded Paul and his colleagues to stay at her home. When Paul cast a demon out of a young fortune-teller, her owners became furious. They falsely accused Paul and Silas, who were dragged before the authorities, summarily beaten, and then imprisoned, all contrary to the law, for Paul was a Roman citizen. A great earthquake resulted in the salvation of the jailer and his family. When the authorities sent word that Paul and Silas were to be released, Paul refused to go quietly. I believe he did so for the sake of the church he would leave behind, and so that he would be free to return to Philippi as he saw fit. When the authorities publicly demonstrated their error to Paul’s satisfaction, Paul visited with the believers and then set out to the west on the Egnatian Way.

Passing through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, the capital of the province of Macedonia, some 100 miles from Philippi. Paul spoke at the synagogue there for three Sabbaths, proclaiming Jesus as the Promised Messiah. Luke tells us that some Jews were persuaded, and that a good many God-fearing Gentiles were converted as well, among whom were some very influential women. I suspect that it is this last seemingly off-hand comment that may have provoked the unbelieving Jews to react, convincing (bribing?) a number of “lewd men of the baser sort” (I love the way the King James Version translated this) to create a disturbance that would involve the civil authorities. The fabricated charge was that these Jews were revolutionaries, having come to town only to cause trouble. Providentially, none of the missionary team was there at the home of Jason when the mob converged on the place. Jason had to post bond, and Paul and Silas were sent off in the dark of night to Berea.7

Berea seems like a breath of fresh air. It was some 50 miles southwest of Thessalonica. Since it was not located along the Egnatian Way, it was more of an out-of-the-way, sleepy town, and seemingly just the kind of refuge that Paul and the others needed after the trauma they had experienced at Thessalonica. There was a significantly different reception to Paul’s preaching at the synagogue there in Berea. Luke tells us that these folks were more “noble-minded than those in Thessalonica.” They seemed eager to search the Scriptures and to test Paul’s teaching with the Word of God. Rather than the few (“some”) Jews who believed Paul’s message in Thessalonica, “many” of the Jews in Berea believed, along with a good number of prominent Greek men and women (Acts 17:12).

Things seemed to be going well for Paul and the others until the unbelieving Thessalonian Jews received word that Paul and his associates were well received in Berea. Once again, the crowds were stirred up, and it was pretty easy to see that this was destined to become a re-run of their experience in Thessalonica. Paul was quickly sent out of town, though Silas and Timothy remained behind. (Obviously, Paul was the “lightening rod” who attracted the strongest opposition.) Paul was escorted as far as Athens, where he waited for Silas and Timothy to join him. From the verses that follow in Acts 17, we know that while in Athens, Paul preached in the synagogue on the Sabbath and daily in the market place (Acts 17:17).

What Can We Learn From Luke’s Account in Acts 17?

First of all we can see why it was wise not to take John Mark along on this missionary journey. Some may have felt that Paul was unnecessarily harsh in refusing to allow John Mark to accompany them on their second missionary journey. Neither Paul nor Barnabas (nor anyone else) knew what lay ahead, but Paul was certainly right to expect that there would be opposition like that which they experienced on their first missionary journey. John Mark bailed out even before the worst of the persecution (Paul’s stoning) on the first missionary journey. The second journey was hardly any easier. Mark would need to demonstrate his endurance in the midst of persecution before Paul would give him a second chance to make a dangerous trip with him.

On the other hand, Barnabas was not wrong to desire to restore Mark to faithfulness and to fruitful ministry. We know from Paul’s words later on that Barnabas was used of God to restore Mark to faithfulness and fruitfulness.8 In the light of subsequent Scripture, we can see that the disagreement between Paul and Barnabas was divinely used to create two missionary teams, with each serving its proper role in God’s plan to spread the gospel.

Second, we can see why Paul would encourage some Christians to remain single. Being reminded of the difficulties of missionary life for Paul, Barnabas, Silas, and Timothy, it is fairly easy to understand why Paul would encourage some who are single to remain that way in order to serve God more effectively.9 Can you imagine what Paul’s ministry would have been like if he had attempted to take a wife and children with him on his missionary journeys? Staying single (as we assume Paul did10) allowed Paul to live dangerously, boldly proclaiming the gospel in hostile situations, knowing that only he (and not his family) would suffer the consequences. Those who contemplate “front-line” service in dangerous parts of the world (and perhaps others) need to take Paul’s words about remaining single into consideration. (I speak as a married man, and as one who would also maintain that being married also facilitates certain ministries that singleness does not.)

Third, we gain insight into God’s way of guiding His servants. I love the words of John Stott and others related to God’s guidance in Acts 16:

A. T. Pierson in his The Acts of the Holy Spirit drew attention to what he called ‘the double guidance of the apostle and his companions’, namely, ‘on the one hand prohibition and restraint, on the other permission and constraint.’ They are forbidden in one direction, invited in another; one way the Spirit says “go not”; the other he calls “Come.” Pierson went on to give some later examples from the history of missions of this same ‘double guidance’: Livingstone tried to go to China, but God sent him to Africa instead. Before him, Carey planned to go to Polynesia in the South Seas, but God guided him to India. Judson went to India first, but was driven on to Burma. We too in our day, Pierson concluded, ‘need to trust him for guidance and rejoice equally in his restraints and constraints.’11

Fourth, from Luke we see the failure of Israel to turn to God as a nation, and thus the commencement of the “times of the Gentiles.” We come to understand Luke’s purpose in writing Acts, both in what he includes and also in what he excludes from his account. There are a number of important details omitted in Acts that Paul supplies for his readers in 1 and 2 Thessalonians. Luke’s purpose in writing Acts (and in ending when and where he did) was to show that Israel as a nation had not repented and trusted in Jesus as their Messiah, even though there was ample evidence to prove that He was who He claimed to be. The closing words of Acts in chapter 28 indicate that Israel has had its opportunity to repent and believe in Jesus; now the times of the Gentiles has come (see Luke 21:24; Romans 11:25).

Fifth, we see two of Paul’s methods of evangelizing the lost. Acts 17 (not unlike Acts 13) gives us a rather clear picture of what Paul’s ministry to the Jews looked like. He went to the synagogue “as was his custom” and demonstrated how Jesus fulfilled the Old Testament prophecies pertaining to the coming of Messiah. But just a few verses later, we also are given insight into Paul’s method of evangelizing Gentiles.

I would find at least two areas of application here. The first is that one cannot use a single method to communicate the gospel to different kinds of people and to different cultures. We see this in the Gospels as well, for our Lord presented the gospel very differently to Nicodemus in John 3 than He did to the woman at the well in John 4.

One simplified approach to presenting Christ is not enough. But having said this, we should also observe that Paul did have certain approaches which he seemed to use again and again. Paul preached at the synagogues “as was his custom.” In other words, he had a fairly carefully defined gospel presentation to the Jews that he used over and over, from synagogue to synagogue. I would suspect (though we have less evidence to prove this) that Paul also had a fairly standard gospel presentation for Gentiles. Paul was prepared with several gospel presentations. I suspect that we are not as well prepared as Paul, and yet we should be:

But set Christ apart as Lord in your hearts and always be ready to give an answer to anyone who asks about the hope you possess (1 Peter 3:15).

I believe that we would do better at giving to those in need if we had money and resources set aside for this purpose. Likewise, I believe that we would be better at evangelism if we had several presentations of the gospel prepared and “on tap” for use at any moment.

Sixth, we gain insight into the opposition of unbelievers. Notice how a pattern of resistance to the gospel is beginning to appear, whether it be by unbelieving Gentiles or by unbelieving Jews. The accusation was that the gospel messengers were somewhat typical Jews, who had revolution in their blood.

20 When they had brought them before the magistrates, they said, “These men are throwing our city into confusion. They are Jews 21 and are advocating customs that are not lawful for us to accept or practice, since we are Romans” (Acts 16:20-21).

6 When they did not find them, they dragged Jason and some of the brothers before the city officials, screaming, “These people who have stirred up trouble throughout the world have come here too, 7 and Jason has welcomed them as guests! They are all acting against Caesar’s decrees, saying there is another king named Jesus!” (Acts 17:6-7)12

I love the way God silenced this argument (at least for a period of time) in Acts 18:

12 Now while Gallio was proconsul of Achaia, the Jews attacked Paul together and brought him before the judgment seat, 13 saying, “This man is persuading people to worship God in a way contrary to the law!” 14 But just as Paul was about to speak, Gallio said to the Jews, “If it were a matter of some crime or serious piece of villainy, I would have been justified in accepting the complaint of you Jews, 15 but since it concerns points of disagreement about words and names and your own law, settle it yourselves. I will not be a judge of these things!” 16 Then he had them forced away from the judgment seat. 17 So they all seized Sosthenes, the president of the synagogue, and began to beat him in front of the judgment seat. Yet none of these things were of any concern to Gallio. 18 Paul, after staying many more days in Corinth, said farewell to the brothers and sailed away to Syria accompanied by Priscilla and Aquila. He had his hair cut off at Cenchrea because he had made a vow (Acts 18:12-18).

Gallio could see through this trumped up charge. The messengers of the gospel were considered Jews by Gallio and not as illegal revolutionaries. Thus, they had the right to proclaim their beliefs, under the protection of Rome.

I believe that the church in America will soon see a significant increase in opposition to our faith and to our freedom to practice and proclaim it. Just today, I heard that some Christians were arrested because they sought to share their faith with Muslims who were attending a Muslim conference, and who were willing to hear what they had to say. I believe that very soon (perhaps it has already begun) we will find that unbelievers in America will charge Christians with being anti-American and that the practice of our faith will be represented as a crime. What we see taking place at Thessalonica looks a lot like what we are beginning to see in America.

What Are the Unique Contributions of the Thessalonian Epistles?

I believe that every book of the Bible makes one or more unique contributions to the Word of God and that discerning what these contributions are will prove to be the key to understanding the message of that book. Let’s seek to identify some of the outstanding contributions of the Thessalonian epistles to the teaching of the Bible.

The Book of 1 Thessalonians begins with three chapters describing how they came to faith and how this changed their lives and affected others.13 Other epistles, like Romans, Ephesians, and Colossians, begin with a doctrinal foundation, which serve as the basis for the applications which follow in subsequent chapters. How do we explain Paul basing the application of 1 Thessalonians 4 and 5 on the experiences of chapters 1-3? We will discuss this in the next lesson.

In 1 Thessalonians, we find Paul repeatedly referring to things which the Thessalonians already knew.14 More than ten times, we find some reference to recalling what they already knew. From this we are informed that even though Paul was in Thessalonica for a relatively short time, he must have taught them a good deal of truth (doctrine). Thus, we dare not assume from Luke’s brief account that everything that we need to know about Paul’s ministry at Thessalonica can be learned from Luke. Much, indeed most, of what we need to know about Thessalonica must be learned from Paul’s words in his epistles to the Thessalonians.

The Thessalonian epistles, perhaps more than any other Pauline epistles, reveal the depth of Paul’s love and affection for the saints – these saints in particular. If we would desire to know and to imitate the heart of Paul, we dare not neglect the study of the Thessalonian epistles.

The Thessalonian epistles focus on three major areas of application: sanctified sex (1 Thessalonians 4:3-8), no sponging (hard work – 1 Thessalonians 2:9; 2 Thessalonians 3), and the second coming (1 Thessalonians 4:13—5:11; 2 Thessalonians 1 and 2). These topics are as relevant and necessary as they were in Paul’s day.

What Do I Expect From this Study in Thessalonians?

I expect to learn to better proclaim the gospel to the lost by studying Paul’s methods of evangelism (as described both in Acts 17 and in 1 and 2 Thessalonians). I see that Paul had developed a gospel presentation for Jews, knowledgeable in the Old Testament Scriptures, and another for raw pagans, who knew nothing of the Lord Jesus Christ. I need to better understand Paul’s gospel message and his methods of presenting it. I will gain much insight from a study of Paul’s Thessalonian epistles.

I expect to learn important lessons on what loving leadership looks like from this study. Paul was a great leader, and he was a great lover of people. Loving leadership is rare, even in Christian circles. It is found in abundance in these epistles. Paul’s leadership was both tough and tender. Too often we are either one or the other, but Paul’s leadership was both. Our study may challenge some of us to toughen up, while it may serve to tenderize others. Let it be so.

I believe that Paul’s teaching and example has much to teach us about missions. Many are those who seek to learn and to communicate Paul’s theology. Not so many are interested in imitating Paul with regard to his missionary methods. While Paul defends full-time service as biblical (1 Corinthians 9), Paul himself often set this right aside for the sake of the gospel. I believe that Paul’s ministry to the Thessalonians illustrates the value of “tentmaking” ministry. There is much to learn about effective missionary methods in Paul’s Thessalonian epistles.

A study of the Thessalonian epistles will teach us of the power of the gospel in the midst of persecution and opposition. The odds seem to be against the church in Thessalonica. These new Christians were deprived of Paul’s presence and preaching. They were being persecuted for their faith. And yet this church was thriving in the midst of their difficulties; indeed, they were rejoicing in the midst of persecution. A study of these Thessalonians epistles should encourage us by demonstrating the power of God in times of persecution.

And Now For the Question that Has Troubled Me

So, the question remains: “Why are there two epistles to the Thessalonians, and no epistle(s) to the Bereans?” Why is the church at Thessalonica – a church with so many hindrances and difficulties – so highly praised by Paul when we hear almost nothing of the church at Berea, even though they seemed to have all the advantages on their side?

One has to be careful here. Just because there are no epistles written to the Berean saints doesn’t mean that they were insignificant. But one still has to marvel when reading 1 and 2 Thessalonians because Luke’s account would seem to predispose the reader to expect great things from the Bereans, rather than the Thessalonians. No doubt we would like to be able to identify just what it was that Paul or the Thessalonians did right to bring about the success of this church. No doubt some would like to find the key in terms of the right demographics. Neither Luke nor Paul gives us any help in seeking the answer to our question through this approach.

Then it suddenly hit me as I was reading through chapter 1 of 1 Thessalonians: It isn’t about Paul or the Bereans, or the Thessalonians; it is about God. God took the most weak, vulnerable, and “unlikely to succeed” church and made it a thriving church which had an impact for the gospel far beyond its city limits. And God apparently chose not to do the same with the church at Berea, as commendable as some saints were.

The answer to my question can be found in 1 Corinthians 1:

26 Think about the circumstances of your call, brothers and sisters. Not many were wise by human standards, not many were powerful, not many were born to a privileged position. 27 But God chose what the world thinks foolish to shame the wise, and God chose what the world thinks weak to shame the strong. 28 God chose what is low and despised in the world, what is regarded as nothing, to set aside what is regarded as something, 29 so that no one can boast in his presence. 30 He is the reason you have a relationship with Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification and redemption, 31 so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord” (1 Corinthians 1:26-31).

In 1 Thessalonians 1, Paul starts with divine election. The saints at Thessalonica (like everywhere else) were saved because they were chosen of God. And the sovereignty of God is the reason why Paul could be so confident about the future of this church. God finishes what He starts. Paul’s confidence regarding the church at Thessalonica is rooted in his confidence in God, from whom and through whom, and unto whom are all things (Romans 11:36). God chose the weak and unlikely saints at Thessalonica (when viewed from a human perspective) to become a healthy, vibrant church. He did this so that when they miraculously succeeded, it would be Him (God) who received the glory and not men (even Paul).

How encouraging this should be for us, because we, too, are not the wise, powerful, and well-born of this world. Our confidence is not in ourselves, but in the God who chose us for salvation, and who will sanctify us and bring us into His kingdom. Reading about God’s miraculous work in the Thessalonians will encourage us regarding His work in us. That, my friend, is ample reason to study these marvelous epistles.

1 Copyright © 2010 by Robert L. Deffinbaugh. This is the edited manuscript of Lesson 1 in the series Paul’s Epistles to the Thessalonians, prepared by Robert L. Deffinbaugh on June 6, 2010. Anyone is at liberty to use this lesson for educational purposes only, with or without credit.

2 Honestly, I can’t remember the professor’s name.

3 This assumes that there actually was a church at Berea, an assumption that might be debated.

4 Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are from the NET Bible. The NEW ENGLISH TRANSLATION, also known as THE NET BIBLE, is a completely new translation of the Bible, not a revision or an update of a previous English version. It was completed by more than twenty biblical scholars who worked directly from the best currently available Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek texts. The translation project originally started as an attempt to provide an electronic version of a modern translation for electronic distribution over the Internet and on CD (compact disk). Anyone anywhere in the world with an Internet connection will be able to use and print out the NET Bible without cost for personal study. In addition, anyone who wants to share the Bible with others can print unlimited copies and give them away free to others. It is available on the Internet at:

5 The map above is downloaded from the on-line ESV Bible, accessible to legitimate owners (like me) of the nicely done ESV Study Bible.

6 It seems that most translations prefer to render this “rose up” or something similar. My old 1973 NASB renders it “arose,” which certainly leaves room for Him rising from death. This is the verb used in the Gospels to speak of our Lord’s “rising” from the dead.

7 It would appear that Luke remained at Philippi, and nothing is said about Timothy leaving Thessalonica with Paul and Silas, although we are told that Timothy was with them in Berea because he remained in Berea when Paul and Silas left (Acts 17:14).

8 See 2 Timothy 4:11.

9 See 1 Corinthians 7:6-7, 25-35.

10 See 1 Corinthians 9:4-6.

11 A. T. Pierson, pp. 120-122, as cited by John R. W. Stott, The Message of Acts (Downers Grove, Illinois: Inter-Varsity Press, 1990), p. 261.

12 The same charge would likely have been leveled against Paul, Silas, and Timothy at Berea, had they not left town before things got that far.

13 See Gordon D. Fee, The First and Second Letters to the Thessalonians (Grand Rapids, Michigan, 2009), p. 7.

14 Fee, p. 7.

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