From Philippi to Thessalonica
Acts 17:1 (October AD 49)
(1) Leaving Philippi, Paul and his mission partners traveled about 35 miles (56 km) to Amphipolis, another 30 miles (48 km) to Apologia, and then another 35 miles (56 km) to the city of Thessalonica (the capital city and the seat of the Roman proconsul of the Roman province of Macedonia), where there was a Jewish synagogue.
Acts 17:2-9 (October-December AD 49)
(2) As was his regular practice, Paul went into the synagogue, and on three Sabbath days he reasoned with the people from God’s word (Old Testament), (3) explaining and proving that the Messiah (Christ) had to suffer and rise from the dead. He said, “This Jesus I am proclaiming to you is the Messiah (Christ).”
(4) Some of the Jews believed and joined Paul and Silas, as did a large number of God-fearing Greeks and quite a few prominent women. (5) But other Jews became very jealous, so they gathered together some bad men in the public market, formed a mob, and started a riot in the city.
They invaded Jason’s house looking for Paul and Silas, so that they could bring them out to the violent crowd. (6) But they were not there, so they dragged Jason and some other believers before the city officials, shouting, “These men who have caused trouble all over the world have now come to our city, (7) and Jason has welcomed them into his home. They are all going against the Roman Emperor’s (Caesar’s) decrees, claiming that there is another king named Jesus.“
(8) When they heard this, the crowd and the city officials were thrown into total chaos. (9) Then they made Jason and the others pay their bond and let them go.
From Thessalonica to Berea
Acts 17:10 (December AD 49)
(10) As soon as it was night, the believers sent Paul and Silas away. They left Thessalonica and traveled about 50 miles (80 km) to the city of Berea (in modern Veria, Greece).
Acts 17:10-13 (December-January AD 49-50)
(10) When Paul and his mission partners arrived in Berea, they went to the Jewish synagogue. (11) Now the Berean Jews were of higher character than those in Thessalonica, because they received the message of Jesus with great eagerness and studied God’s word (Old Testament) every day to see if what Paul said was true. (12) As a result, many Jews believed, as did a number of prominent Greek women and many Greek men.
(13) But when the Jews in Thessalonica heard that Paul was proclaiming God’s word at Berea, some of them traveled there, agitating and stirring up the crowds against him.
From Berea to Athens
Acts 17:14-15 (January AD 50)
(14) The Berean believers immediately sent Paul to the Aegean coast, but Silas and Timothy stayed in Berea. (15) Those who accompanied Paul took him to the city of Athens in the Roman province of Achaia (around 150 miles/241 km). When they left to return to Berea, Paul told them to tell Silas and Timothy to join him in Athens as soon as possible.
Acts 17:16-34 (January-February AD 50)
(16) While Paul was waiting for Silas and Timothy to come to Athens, his spirit was very disturbed within him when he saw that the city was full of idols.
(17) So he reasoned in the synagogue with both Jews and God-fearing Greeks, as well as daily in the public market with those who happened to be there. (18) A group of Epicurean and Stoic philosophers began to debate with Paul. Some of them asked one another, “What is this babbler talking about?” Others said, “He seems to be promoting foreign gods.” They said this because Paul was proclaiming the good news (gospel) about Jesus and the resurrection.
(19) Then the philosophers took Paul to a meeting of the Aeropagus council (which served in Athens as the overseer of morals and religion, and visiting speakers. Areopagus, or Mars Hill, is a prominent rock outcropping located northwest of the Acropolis). They said to him, “We want to know more about this new teaching you are talking about. (20) You are saying some strange ideas, and we would like to know what they mean.” (21) For all the people of Athens and the foreigners who lived there enjoyed spending their free time doing nothing but talking about and listening to new ideas.
(22) Paul then stood up in the meeting of the Aeropagus council and said, “Men of Athens! I see that in every way you are very religious people. (23) For as I walked around your city and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with the inscription: TO AN UNKNOWN GOD (to the god who cannot be known). Since you are ignorant of the very god you worship—I am going to tell you who this unknown god is.
(24) “The God who created the universe and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands. (25) Nor is he served by human hands, as if he needed anything from us. Rather, he gives all people life and breath and everything else. (26) From one man (Adam) he made all the nations, so that they would live throughout the whole earth; and he set the appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. (27) God did this so that the nations would seek him and reach out for him and find him—although he is not far from any one of us. (28) ‘For in God we live and move and have our being.’ And even some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’ (Humans were created in the image of God; see Genesis 1:27).
(29) “Therefore since we are God’s offspring, we should not think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone—an image made by human design and skill. (30) In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he calls on all people everywhere to repent. (31) For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man Jesus he has appointed. He has given proof of this to everyone by raising Jesus from the dead.” (32) When they heard about the resurrection of the dead, some hecklers made fun of Paul, but others said, “We want to hear your teaching again.”
(33) Then Paul left the council, (34) and some of the people believed and became followers of Paul. Among them was Dionysius—a member of the Aeropagus council—and a woman named Damaris, and a number of other people.