Script for the July 11th episode of the “Enjoying the Bible” podcast.
Welcome to the July 11th episode of the “Enjoying the Bible” podcast. I’m Matt Ellis, and I’m the pastor of the First Baptist Church in Polk City, Florida.
Today’s reading is Psalm 1-3 and Acts 17, but we will focus only on the New Testament in this podcast.
If you have questions about anything in the Old Testament or New Testament reading assignment, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I may answer it on the next podcast.
Even though I’m not commenting on the Old Testament readings, I want to share a few thoughts about the book of Psalms. I’ll try to do this as we begin each Old Testament book.
First, the book of Psalms had more than one author. A group of men wrote it over a period of at least 400 years. David wrote quite a few of the psalms. But other authors include Moses, Solomon, Asaph, the sons of Korah, and others.
Second, while theological books like Romans and Ephesians primarily aim at the mind, the book of Psalms is aimed at the heart. So be careful about drawing theological claims from the book. Each thing it says is true, but it is written in the language of the heart.
Third, the book of Psalms taught me a great deal about how to pray. It taught me to be honest with what is happening inside me. The Lord already knows. So an honest relationship with Him means that I share what’s really on my heart. Certainly, when there are doubts or even emotions like anger, we should eventually get to a good place. After all, we will never express things like disappointment or anger at the Lord when we are perfected in Heaven. We only feel those things in our present messed-up lives. So, we can express those sentiments to the Lord but be careful to get to a good place where you are thanking Him and praising Him.
Finally, one of the resources I have enjoyed reading throughout the years is Charles Spurgeon’s book, “Treasury of David.” As a pastor of a church in London in the 1800s, he saw truth not merely as facts but as devotional material that should be aimed at the heart. Charles Spurgeon’s writings aren’t for everyone, but you might want to check them out.
In verse 1, we read that Paul and Silas left Philippi and made their way through a couple of cities before arriving at Thessalonica. It would have been about a 100-mile trip from Philippi with about 30-35 miles between each city along the way. Also, these cities were in present-day Greece.
In verses 2-3, we read that Paul reasoned in the Thessalonica synagogues for 3 Sabbath days. He reasoned from the Old Testament Scriptures proving that it was necessary for Jesus to “suffer and rise from the dead.” He pointed to Jesus as the long-awaited Messiah. Paul’s message was logical, biblical, and persuasive.
We are told in verse 4 that many became believers, including Greeks (Gentiles), and this included “a number of leading women.” So the Gospel was proving itself to be effective in various nations around the world. The Gospel wasn’t intended for just one people group. It was for all nations to hear and respond to.
In verse 5, Luke writes that some jealous Jews formed a mob with some wicked men and started a riot. They attacked Jason’s house. They may have thought that Paul and Silas were staying at his house.
Luke wanted to continue highlighting the Jewish animosity toward the Gospel. While some believed, many were causing various degrees of persecution. Luke was justifying Paul’s determination that he would spend less time with the Jews and more time with the Gentiles.
One of my many favorite verses of the Bible is found in this story:
Acts 17:6-7 (CSB): “When they did not find them, they dragged Jason and some of the brothers before the city officials, shouting, ‘These men who have turned the world upside down have come here too, and Jason has welcomed them. They are all acting contrary to Caesar’s decrees, saying that there is another king—Jesus.’”
The crowd accused Paul and Silas of turning the world upside down. What a wonderful statement! The Gospel is powerful unto salvation. That is ultimately how change happens in communities and nations.
But we also read that this crowd incriminated Jason by saying that he had given them a place to stay. They also claimed that pronouncing that Jesus is king was to denounce Caesar’s kingship.
According to verses 8-9, they seem to have taken money from Jason. He would only get it back if Paul and Silas didn’t cause any more trouble in their city.
In verse 10, Paul and Silas were sent away under cover of darkness. Berea was located about 45 miles southwest of Thessalonica. Once there, we see that they went to the synagogue to speak first to the Jews.
Then, we come to one of my favorite Bible verses!
Acts 17:11 (CSB): “The people here were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, since they received the word with eagerness and examined the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.”
I love this verse! Nobility in the Christian life, according to Luke, is defined by one’s handling of God’s Word to determine truth (regardless of who is doing the talking). How wonderful would it be to cultivate an atmosphere in a church where people are not taking anyone’s words, even their pastor’s sermons, at face value? How wonderful if the church folks searched the Scripture to ensure that their pastor or whoever else was speaking the truth?
One of the frustrations I have experienced as a pastor is when I am discussing a matter with a church member, and it becomes clear that they are appealing to the way they always believed rather than appealing to the Scripture. It has been sorely disappointing to me that some of those who hold so tightly to their convictions could not back it up with Scripture if they tried.
So don’t be like that. Instead, spend much time in God’s Word. Lower your guard when studying your Bible so that you are open to the Holy Spirit’s leading when He points out something in your beliefs or actions that is not in conformity to God’s Word.
Friend, we’re either people of the Word or we are not. So let’s be noblemen and noblewomen like the Christians in Berea who recognized the Bible as their final authority and searched it to make sure that what Paul was saying was true.
In verse 12, we see that many people again trusted in Jesus, including many prominent Greek women. I’m not quite sure why the reference to “prominent women” trusting in Jesus was mentioned twice in this chapter, but it’s there for a reason.
In verse 13, we read that just as on the first missionary journey, the Jews from the previous cities heard where Paul was and caused trouble for him there. The Jews from Thessalonica heard that Paul was in Berea, so they came and stirred the crowds up against Paul and Silas.
In verses 14-15, Paul was sent away to the coast and arrived at Athens. Silas and Timothy were to join him as soon as possible.
In verse 16, we read that Paul was distressed over all of the idols in the city of Athens. He was waiting for Timothy and Silas to arrive, but he couldn’t wait any longer to speak about Jesus in such an idolatrous culture.
In verse 17, Paul started reasoning with the Jews in the synagogue and with Jews and Gentiles in the marketplace every day. He spoke the Gospel in the “church services” and on the street corners. Paul was so excited about Jesus that he just couldn’t keep quiet.
In Jerusalem, the Pharisees were those who looked down their self-righteous noses at Christians who proclaimed the Gospel. In Athens, it was the pagan “elite” who did so.
Acts 17:18 (CSB): “Some of the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers also debated with him. Some said, ‘What is this ignorant show-off trying to say?’ Others replied, ‘He seems to be a preacher of foreign deities’ — because he was telling the good news about Jesus and the resurrection.”
So, in verses 19-21, the Athens philosophers took Paul to the Areopagus so that he might speak to them. Everyone who has ever looked at pictures of Athens is very familiar with the Acropolis. It’s the well-known site made of ancient, majestic columns from a structure that sat high atop the ancient city of Athens. The Areopagus, where Paul was taken, was northwest of the Acropolis and was the second-highest site in Athens. It’s the place where philosophers gathered to listen to and debate various ideas.
Paul began his speech by acknowledging the religious culture of Athens. He also took something in their culture as a transition point to talk about Jesus.
Acts 17:22-23 (CSB): “Paul stood in the middle of the Areopagus and said, ‘People of Athens! I see that you are extremely religious in every respect. For as I was passing through and observing the objects of your worship, I even found an altar on which was inscribed, “To an Unknown God.” Therefore, what you worship in ignorance, this I proclaim to you.’”
In verses 24-25, Paul pointed to God’s supremacy over the world because it was His creation. He said that the Lord also didn’t dwell in shrines and didn’t need anything from people. Actually, people are reliant upon Him for life and breath.
Then, in verses 26-27, he spoke about how the God of Heaven created all of the nationalities from one man and determined each nation’s appointed times and boundaries. Further, the Lord was so intimately involved in the affairs of the world so that people would seek Him.
Acts 17:27 (CSB): “He did this so that they might seek God, and perhaps they might reach out and find him, though he is not far from each one of us.”
In verses 28-29, Paul said that God is the one who gives us the ability to move and have life. Paul even pointed to one of Athen’s poets as saying something similar. People are God’s creation, so people should not make God from their own creation (gold, silver, or stone objects). The God of Heaven is so much bigger than anything mankind could create in the form of an idol, so we shouldn’t even try.
In verses 30-31, Paul got to the action step to receive the Gospel. Further, he brought up a point that spoke to the urgency of getting right with God.
Acts 17:30-31 (CSB): “Therefore, having overlooked the times of ignorance, God now commands all people everywhere to repent, because he has set a day when he is going to judge the world in righteousness by the man he has appointed. He has provided proof of this to everyone by raising him from the dead.”
These verses simply point out that God did not bring immediate judgment upon the world in previous times because they were rejecting general revelation. But now that the Gospel was being proclaimed in the world (particular revelation), God had set a day upon which Jesus was going to judge the world. Therefore, people had better repent and get right with God.
In verse 32, after the crowd heard Paul speak about how Jesus rose from the dead and how people are going to rise from the dead and be judged, some ridiculed him. Others were intrigued and wanted to hear more at a later date.
But as this chapter ends with verses 33-34, we read that some of the folks gave their lives to Jesus. We shouldn’t assume that the Gospel proclamation will always yield the fruit of new believers. In Jesus’ parable in Matthew 13, we read that some soils (hearts) are not prepared to receive the Gospel seed. So, we merely cast the Gospel seed far and wide and rest in the Lord’s providence. He’s the One that will cause it to bear the fruit of repentance and enable those He is working on to trust in the Lord Jesus.
Lord Jesus, thank You for providing examples in Scripture of men and women who shared the Gospel. Your Holy Spirit is using these stories to lead us to be even more intentional about sharing the greatest news that mankind has ever heard.
We are also reminded that a Gospel presentation doesn’t always bring about new converts. Some will believe, but others will delay, and still others will resist. So help us, Lord, to simply be faithful to casting the Gospel seed as we encounter people.
We pray this in Jesus’ Name, Amen.
I hope today’s episode has helped you to understand and enjoy God’s Word so that you can apply it in the power of the Holy Spirit.
If looking over the script for this podcast would be beneficial to you, hop on over to my website at mattsmusings.net. I will provide a link in this episode’s show notes.
The “Enjoying the Bible” podcast is a ministry of the First Baptist Church in Polk City, Florida. Check us out at fbcpolkcity.com. See you next time!