Pastor's Pen

“But when the Jews from Thessalonica learned that the word of God was proclaimed by Paul at Berea also, they came there too, agitating and stirring up the crowds.” - Acts 17:13

Following their departure from Philippi, Paul and his companions arrived in Thessalonica. Paul, as was his custom, proceeded directly to the synagogue, where he preached for three consecutive Sabbaths, expounding upon passages from the Old Testament to demonstrate to both Jews and devout worshippers of God that Jesus fulfilled the prophecies of the awaited Messiah. Consequently, a number of Jews and a considerable portion of God-fearing individuals embraced Christianity.

Nevertheless, most of the Jewish community spurned the message of the Gospel. They enlisted local troublemakers, referred to as "sons of Belial" in the Old Testament, and incited a riot. Their aim was to apprehend Paul, but they only managed to seize Jason, a recent convert, and brought him before the authorities. They falsely accused Jason of causing disturbance in the city, yet the officials merely required him to provide bail. Under the cover of darkness, Paul and Silas were clandestinely escorted out of the city and directed towards Berea (Acts 17:1–9).

The Bereans, as mentioned in Acts 17:11, demonstrated a commendable character surpassing that of the Thessalonians. They eagerly welcomed Paul and not only listened to his teachings but diligently examined the Old Testament scriptures daily, not confining their study to just the Sabbaths, to verify the validity of his message. In contrast to Thessalonica, a significant number of Jews along with numerous God-fearing individuals embraced the belief, emphasizing a widespread acceptance rather than a limited few.

The Jews in Thessalonica, mirroring the conduct of Saul prior to his transformation into Paul, dispatched a delegation to Berea with the intent of sowing discord. While Silas and Timothy remained in Berea, the Bereans escorted Paul to Athens (Acts 17:10–15).

During the period between a.d. 30–70, the primary adversaries of the Christian church were not the Romans but the Jews. It's crucial to consider two aspects of this. Firstly, the opposition from the Jews during this era parallels the resistance encountered from both liberal factions and staunch adherents of traditional orthodoxy whenever there's a resurgence of Christianity. They disdain the fervor, dedication, and righteousness exhibited by those experiencing revival. They spurn the call to repentance and become vehement adversaries of the revival. This pattern has recurred throughout church history and will likely repeat itself.

Secondly, the obliteration of Jerusalem in a.d. 70 marked the conclusion of the generation of Jews that opposed the early Christian community. Subsequently, we should view Jews from that period onward simply as one of the many mission fields to be engaged with.

The Jews opposed the early Christians for analogous reasons to Rome's opposition to the Reformers, and the resistance faced by uncompromising evangelicals from compromised liberals today. It remains a perennial truth that the most formidable adversaries of the authentic church often emerge from within its own ranks. Therefore, it is imperative to seek fortitude in confronting all adversaries of the Gospel through prayer.