Faithlife Sermons

Intense Opposition in Thessalonica

1 Thessalonians   •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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We will see an example of the intense and varied opposition to the evidence of Scripture.

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Introduction

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
We take these things for granted.
Modern people struggle to understand why anyone would care what other people do, say, or think.
We forget this is a luxury not the norm for the world.
Very early in his ministry, during the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said to his disciples: “μακάριοί ἐστε ὅταν ὀνειδίσωσιν ὑμᾶς καὶ διώξωσιν καὶ εἴπωσιν πᾶν πονηρὸν καθʼ ὑμῶν [ψευδόμενοι] ἕνεκεν ἐμοῦ.” (Mt. 5:11).
John 15:18-25 esp. Jn. 15:18 and 15:20
Acts records both the presentation of the Gospel and the reaction to it wherever it is preached.
Last week we saw Paul engaged in discussions in Thessalonica.
Now, in light of the response he had, we will see how things turned against him and the new believers quickly.
Opposition is not always noble and not always from the same people.
Luke likes to focus on responses.

The Jews End the Discussion

Luke makes a direct association between those who converted (Acts 17:4) and the abrupt turn in the situation.
Luke makes two main claims in Acts 17:5.
The Jews were agitating or troubling the city specifically causing a riot or uproar. This has three circumstances around it that establish the conditions of agitation:
The Jews were jealous.
They welcomed (recruited?) evil men of the agora, a term referring to idle loafers or men with nothing better to do than hang out in the marketplace and cause trouble.
They formed a crowd (here Luke means a mob).
They were seeking Paul and Silas (the referent of “them”).
They did this having stood at Jason’s house.
The goal was to lead them unto the “demos.”
As a free city, Thessalonica was allowed its own assembly of citizens.
They could meet on matters legislative and judicial to decide local issues.
The mob sought legal recourse against Paul and Silas.

The Focus Turns to Jason and Certain Brethren.

Luke is very clear that the initial intention of the crowd was to bring Paul and Silas before the assembly of citizens.
He is also clear they did not find Paul and Silas.
So, they moved to “Plan B” namely, those they did have.
They dragged Jason and some brothers to the chief magistrates of the city.
These were men responsible for administrative matters who would have been members of the legislative councils/assemblies as well.
The charges now become very interesting because they make claims about Paul and Silas as well as Jason and the brothers.
Paul and Silas are characterized as “these who are inciting rebellion in the world.”
They are “present here,” the mob says.
Jason is then said to have welcomed and treated as guests those who are inciting rebellion.
“All these are practicing against the decrees of Caesar”
“Claiming another as king, namely, Jesus.
Practicing against Caesar’s degrees could refer to:
Defying the loyalty oath to Caesar.
Treason (although the response does not seem proportionate to this claim)
The assemblage of political, non-ancient, voluntary associations.
The Jews agitate the crowd and the politarchs with these things.
The politarchs have Jason and the rest pay the satis accipere.
This is the Greek equivalent of a Latin, legal phrase referring to the creditor who is satisfied with the security offered by the debtor (see Harkin’s article (p. 45) for references.
According to Sherwin-White, Jason “is giving security for the good behavior of his guests.”
The other possibility, according to Harkin, is Jason and the brothers were assuring the magistrates asserting they would not form an unauthorized gathering again.
They also, then, were paying a fine for forming an unauthorized group or association.
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