Now Paul and Silas traveled through the towns of Amphipolis and Apollonia and came to Thessalonica, where there was a Jewish synagogue.
As was Paul's custom, he went to the synagogue service, and for three Sabbaths in a row he interpreted the Scriptures to the people.
He was explaining and proving the prophecies about the sufferings of the Messiah and his rising from the dead. He said, "This Jesus I'm telling you about is the Messiah."
Some who listened were persuaded and became converts, including a large number of godly Greek men and also many important women of the city. a5
But the Jewish leaders were jealous, so they gathered some worthless fellows from the streets to form a mob and start a riot. They attacked the home of Jason, searching for Paul and Silas so they could drag them out to the crowd. b6
Not finding them there, they dragged out Jason and some of the other believers c instead and took them before the city council. "Paul and Silas have turned the rest of the world upside down, and now they are here disturbing our city," they shouted.
"And Jason has let them into his home. They are all guilty of treason against Caesar, for they profess allegiance to another king, Jesus."
The people of the city, as well as the city officials, were thrown into turmoil by these reports.
But the officials released Jason and the other believers after they had posted bail.
That very night the believers sent Paul and Silas to Berea. When they arrived there, they went to the synagogue.
And the people of Berea were more open-minded than those in Thessalonica, and they listened eagerly to Paul's message. They searched the Scriptures day after day to check up on Paul and Silas, to see if they were really teaching the truth.
As a result, many Jews believed, as did some of the prominent Greek women and many men.
But when some Jews in Thessalonica learned that Paul was preaching the word of God in Berea, they went there and stirred up trouble.
The believers acted at once, sending Paul on to the coast, while Silas and Timothy remained behind.
Those escorting Paul went with him to Athens; then they returned to Berea with a message for Silas and Timothy to hurry and join him.
While Paul was waiting for them in Athens, he was deeply troubled by all the idols he saw everywhere in the city.
He went to the synagogue to debate with the Jews and the God-fearing Gentiles, and he spoke daily in the public square to all who happened to be there.
He also had a debate with some of the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers. When he told them about Jesus and his resurrection, they said, "This babbler has picked up some strange ideas." Others said, "He's pushing some foreign religion."
Then they took him to the Council of Philosophers. d "Come and tell us more about this new religion," they said.
"You are saying some rather startling things, and we want to know what it's all about."
(It should be explained that all the Athenians as well as the foreigners in Athens seemed to spend all their time discussing the latest ideas.)
So Paul, standing before the Council, e addressed them as follows: "Men of Athens, I notice that you are very religious,
for as I was walking along I saw your many altars. And one of them had this inscription on it -- 'To an Unknown God.' You have been worshiping him without knowing who he is, and now I wish to tell you about him.
"He is the God who made the world and everything in it. Since he is Lord of heaven and earth, he doesn't live in man-made temples,
and human hands can't serve his needs -- for he has no needs. He himself gives life and breath to everything, and he satisfies every need there is.
From one man he created all the nations throughout the whole earth. He decided beforehand which should rise and fall, and he determined their boundaries.
"His purpose in all of this was that the nations should seek after God and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him -- though he is not far from any one of us.
For in him we live and move and exist. As one of your own poets says, 'We are his offspring.'
And since this is true, we shouldn't think of God as an idol designed by craftsmen from gold or silver or stone.
God overlooked people's former ignorance about these things, but now he commands everyone everywhere to turn away from idols and turn to him. f31
For he has set a day for judging the world with justice by the man he has appointed, and he proved to everyone who this is by raising him from the dead."
When they heard Paul speak of the resurrection of a person who had been dead, some laughed, but others said, "We want to hear more about this later."
That ended Paul's discussion with them,
but some joined him and became believers. Among them were Dionysius, a member of the Council, g a woman named Damaris, and others.
Scripture quotations marked NLT are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright 1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved. (New Living Translation - The Bible Online)