Acts 17:6

Another memorial. Nowadays, they defund these guys.

Saturday, 27 May 2023

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. Acts 17:6

Note: You can listen to today’s commentary courtesy of our friends at “Bible in Ten” podcast. (Click Here to listen).

You can also read this commentary, with music, courtesy of our friends at “Discern the Bible” on YouTube. (Click Here to listen), or at Rumble (Click Here to listen).

In the previous verse, a mob had set the city in an uproar and attacked Jason’s house, seeking to bring Paul and Silas out to the people. However, it now says, “But when they did not find them.”

Paul and Silas were probably out instructing others or evangelizing at the time. This did not pacify the mob though. Instead, “they dragged Jason and some brethren.”

It is the same word used by Luke in Acts 8:3 –

“As for Saul, he made havoc of the church, entering every house, and dragging off men and women, committing them to prison.”

The men were forcibly taken and hauled off. Fortunately, the crowd was not in such a heated rage as to kill them. However, they did drag them “to the rulers of the city.”

This is a marvelous set of words that confirm Luke’s careful attention to the details of the surrounding situation. Luke uses the word politarchés. Of this, Vincent’s Word Studies says –

“Another illustration of Luke’s accuracy. Note that the magistrates are called by a different name from those at Philippi. Thessalonica was not a colony, but a free city…, and was governed by its own rulers, whose titles accordingly did not follow those of Roman magistrates. The word occurs only here and Acts 17:8, and has been found in an inscription on an arch at Thessalonica, where the names of the seven politarchs are mentioned. The arch is thought by antiquarians to have been standing in Paul’s time.”

Other scholars place the dating of this arch to the time of Vespasian, a few years after the time of Paul’s visit to Thessalonica. Either way, the accuracy of Luke concerning the title is incontrovertible.

Next, once the men were dragged before these city rulers, it says they were “crying out, ‘These who have turned the world upside down have come here too.’”

Another new word in Scripture, anastatoó, is seen here. HELPS Word Studies identifies its root as anistémi, to raise or rise up. Hence, it would signify turning something over, from up to down. It is obviously a complete exaggeration, except as any Jew would be aware. The incident at Philippi was only three Sabbaths earlier, and the city leaders would not have been the ones to convey the events to those in Thessalonica as they were in the wrong and would want them forgotten.

Thus, if any word had gotten to the city, it would have been because of some Jewish person recognizing them from some other synagogue or even from a visit to Israel. The previous verse clearly places the blame for the incitement on the Jews. And so, it is most likely that they alone fabricated the matter. It may be that Paul and Silas had told them they had been persecuted during their various travels. Once the message about Jesus was rejected by them, they could have turned around and bitten at the missionaries like rabid dogs.

Life application: The message of the good news about Jesus is a simple and direct matter. Man has sin, God sent His Son into the world to pay our sin debt, and if a person believes that, he will be forgiven. In this act of forgiveness, a new birth occurs. Life is bestowed and reconciliation is realized.

What is it about this simple offering of love by God that is so offensive to the world? Man has a problem, God offers to resolve it without any strings attached, and all the person needs to do is believe. It seems generous and gracious enough that if someone didn’t believe, he would just tell the person speaking to him, “Yes, that’s great. Thank you for telling me. Your words are kind and generous, but I just don’t believe what you say.”

That would be a normal and understandable note of rejection. However, the world bizarrely doesn’t just provide a “No thanks.” Rather, Christians have been killed and persecuted constantly since the coming of Jesus. It is almost incomprehensible. If someone was dying of thirst and another person offered water to save his life, you would not expect that person to fight against the offer and even kill the one with the water. And yet, that would be comparable to the attitude of people in relation to hearing and rejecting the gospel.

The reason for this is sin. Man does not want to acknowledge that he is a sinful being. Further, when confronted with sin, man does not want to admit that he can do nothing about his sinful state. It means that his life, his destiny, and his relationship with God are totally out of his hands. This is unpalatable to people. Unless they can come to the end of themselves and admit that they stand condemned without Jesus, a feeling of enmity will always exist. The more boastful and proud a person is, the more likely he is to hate the message of Jesus.

Obviously, there are other lesser reasons for people to despise the gospel. They may already have their own god or gods. Being told that those gods are not gods can be a real problem. But even something like that ultimately goes back to the sin issue. It is good to understand this. If you are ever faced with such enmity because of your faith, you at least will have a sense of why.

Be prepared to defend your faith but also be prepared to receive grief for doing so. It is to be expected. Sin is a strong master.

Glorious God, we know that You have done all that is necessary to bring us back to Yourself. Thank You for Jesus who has made this possible. We are grateful for the life You have granted to us because of His work. May we be willing to share this message with all people, even if it means we may face persecution in the process. Help us in this, O God. Amen.