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5 But the Jews who were not persuaded, becoming envious, took some of the evil men from the marketplace, and gathering a mob, set all the city in an uproar and attacked the house of Jason, and sought to bring them out to the people. 6 But when they did not find them, they dragged Jason and some brethren to the rulers of the city, crying out, “These who have turned the world upside down have come here too. 7 Jason has harbored them, and these are all acting contrary to the decrees of Caesar, saying there is another king—Jesus.” 8 And they troubled the crowd and the rulers of the city when they heard these things. 9 So when they had taken security from Jason and the rest, they let them go.

 

The Jews incited a mob against Paul and Silas. While looking for Paul and Silas, the mob seized Jason, who had given hospitality to the gospel team.

17:5

But the Jews who were not persuaded, becoming envious,

In verse 4, many people became believers, but in verse 5 and following, we have the crowd that reacted to the team’s message. “Envious” indicates that the Jews thought Paul and Silas undermined their understanding of the Old Testament.

took some of the evil men from the marketplace, and gathering a mob,

The Jews gathered a group from the riffraff of the marketplace to incite opposition against the gospel team. This group was a mob, not a formal gathering. The intent was to persecute the team via irrational actions, not by formal charges.

set all the city in an uproar and attacked the house of Jason, and sought to bring them [those lodging with Jason] out to the people.

The mob caused an uproar in the city. They attacked a local citizen of Thessalonica named Jason, the host of Paul and Silas. They sought the gospel team in Jason’s house but found only Jason there.

17:6

But when they did not find them, they dragged Jason and some brethren to the rulers [the politarchs] of the city,

The mob did not find the team at Jason’s house, so they dragged him to the rulers of the city.

crying out, “These who have turned the world upside down have come here too.

The mob accused Paul and Silas of disturbing the peace in the city and even the Roman world. The charges against the team were for high treason and social upheaval.

17:7

Jason has harbored them, and these are all acting contrary to the decrees of Caesar, saying there is another king—Jesus.”

The mob added another accusation against the gospel team—that they had acted contrary to the decrees of Caesar in claiming that there was another king than Caesar, an accusation of treason against the state. The word “another” in Greek means another of a different kind. Jesus was a different kind of king than Caesar.

17:8

And they troubled the crowd and the rulers of the city when they heard these things.

The leaders of the city became troubled by the accusations of the mob.

17:9

So when they had taken security from Jason and the rest, they let them go.

The city officials released Jason and other believers upon bail but banned them from the city.

PRINCIPLE:

Christianity is revolutionary, not reactionary; it is redemptive, not reformative.

APPLICATION:

When Paul and Barnabas came to Thessalonica with their light and heavy gospel artillery, they did not try to reform the people to whom they came. They came with a positive and constructive message; it was a mission of redemption from sin. They did not try to reform the social structures of the societies they ministered to. Biblically, reformation is not possible without first the redemption of the soul. Their weapon of choice was the revolutionary message of the gospel, the death and resurrection of Christ. People change from the inside out and not the reverse. No amount of religious perfume spread on people will change their essential nature; that takes a fundamental change in the soul. Putting a mantle of religion on people is like putting new wine in old bottles (Mt 23:25-27). Regeneration changes the heart and nature.

The principle of the previous paragraph is also true with politics. The government cannot fundamentally change people. All they can do is oppress and control. Socialism and communism oppressed untold millions of people to change society. The core of Christianity carries the dignity of the individual, not the state.

Paul later reflected on his experience in Thessalonica in 1 Thessalonians 2:17-18. Ministry always has a price; it is not an easy profession. It appears that everywhere the gospel team went, they first had success with the gospel, and then city officials opposed them. It happened in Philippi, Thessalonica, Athens, and Corinth.

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