Acts 17; Acts 18; Acts 19

1 Paul and Silas traveled through the cities of Amphipolis and Apollonia and came to the city of Thessalonica, where there was a synagogue. 2 As usual, Paul went into the synagogue. On three consecutive days of worship, he had discussions about Scripture with the synagogue members. 3 He explained and showed them that the Messiah had to suffer, die, and come back to life, and that Jesus, the person he talked about, was this Messiah. 4 Some of the Jews were persuaded to join Paul and Silas, especially a large group of Greeks who had converted to Judaism and the wives of many prominent men. 5 Then the Jews became jealous. They took some low-class characters who hung around the public square, formed a mob, and started a riot in the city. They attacked Jason's home and searched it for Paul and Silas in order to bring them out to the crowd. 6 When they didn't find Paul and Silas, they dragged Jason and some other believers in front of the city officials. They shouted, "Those men who have made trouble all over the world are now here in Thessalonica, 7 and Jason has welcomed them as his guests. All of them oppose the emperor's decrees by saying that there is another king, whose name is Jesus." 8 The crowd and the officials were upset when they heard this. 9 But after they had made Jason and the others post bond, they let them go. 10 Immediately when night came, the believers sent Paul and Silas to the city of Berea. When Paul and Silas arrived in the city of Berea, they entered the synagogue. 11 The people of Berea were more open-minded than the people of Thessalonica. They were very willing to receive God's message, and every day they carefully examined the Scriptures to see if what Paul said was true. 12 Many of them became believers, and quite a number of them were prominent Greek men and women. 13 But when the Jews in Thessalonica found out that Paul was also spreading God's word in Berea, they went there to upset and confuse the people. 14 The believers immediately sent Paul to the seacoast, but Silas and Timothy stayed in Berea. 15 The men who escorted Paul took him all the way to the city of Athens. When the men left Athens, they took instructions back to Silas and Timothy to join Paul as soon as possible. 16 While Paul was waiting for Silas and Timothy in Athens, he saw that the city had statues of false gods everywhere. This upset him. 17 He held discussions in the synagogue with Jews and converts to Judaism. He also held discussions every day in the public square with anyone who happened to be there. 18 Some Epicurean and Stoic philosophers had discussions with him. Some asked, "What is this babbling fool trying to say?" Others said, "He seems to be speaking about foreign gods." The philosophers said these things because Paul was telling the Good News about Jesus and saying that people would come back to life. 19 Then they brought Paul to the city court, the Areopagus, and asked, "Could you tell us these new ideas that you're teaching? 20 Some of the things you say sound strange to us. So we would like to know what they mean." 21 Everyone who lived in Athens looked for opportunities to tell or hear something new and unusual. 22 Paul stood in the middle of the court and said, "Men of Athens, I see that you are very religious. 23 As I was going through your city and looking closely at the objects you worship, I noticed an altar with this written on it: 'To an unknown god.' I'm telling you about the unknown god you worship. 24 The God who made the universe and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth. He doesn't live in shrines made by humans, 25 and he isn't served by humans as if he needed anything. He gives everyone life, breath, and everything they have. 26 From one man he has made every nation of humanity to live all over the earth. He has given them the seasons of the year and the boundaries within which to live. 27 He has done this so that they would look for God, somehow reach for him, and find him. In fact, he is never far from any one of us. 28 Certainly, we live, move, and exist because of him. As some of your poets have said, 'We are God's children.' 29 So if we are God's children, we shouldn't think that the divine being is like an image made from gold, silver, or stone, an image that is the product of human imagination and skill. 30 "God overlooked the times when people didn't know any better. But now he commands everyone everywhere to turn to him and change the way they think and act. 31 He has set a day when he is going to judge the world with justice, and he will use a man he has appointed to do this. God has given proof to everyone that he will do this by bringing that man back to life." 32 When the people of the court heard that a person had come back to life, some began joking about it, while others said, "We'll hear you talk about this some other time." 33 With this response, Paul left the court. 34 Some men joined him and became believers. With them were Dionysius, who was a member of the court, and a woman named Damaris, and some other people.
1 After this, Paul left Athens and went to the city of Corinth. 2 In Corinth he met a Jewish man named Aquila and his wife Priscilla. Aquila had been born in Pontus, and they had recently come from Italy because Claudius had ordered all Jews to leave Rome. Paul went to visit them, 3 and because they made tents for a living as he did, he stayed with them and they worked together. 4 On every day of worship, Paul would discuss [Scripture] in the synagogue. He tried to win over Jews and Greeks who had converted to Judaism. 5 But when Silas and Timothy arrived from Macedonia, Paul devoted all his time to teaching the word of God. He assured the Jews that Jesus is the Messiah. 6 But they opposed him and insulted him. So Paul shook the dust from his clothes and told them, "You're responsible for your own death. I'm innocent. From now on I'm going to people who are not Jewish." 7 Then he left the synagogue and went to the home of a man named Titius Justus, who was a convert to Judaism. His house was next door to the synagogue. 8 The synagogue leader Crispus and his whole family believed in the Lord. Many Corinthians who heard Paul believed and were baptized. 9 One night the Lord said to Paul in a vision, "Don't be afraid to speak out! Don't be silent! 10 I'm with you. No one will attack you or harm you. I have many people in this city." 11 Paul lived in Corinth for a year and a half and taught the word of God to them. 12 While Gallio was governor of Greece, the Jews had one thought in mind. They attacked Paul and brought him to court. 13 They said, "This man is persuading people to worship God in ways that are against Moses' Teachings." 14 Paul was about to answer when Gallio said to the Jews, "If there were some kind of misdemeanor or crime involved, reason would demand that I put up with you Jews. 15 But since you're disputing words, names, and your own teachings, you'll have to take care of that yourselves. I don't want to be a judge who gets involved in those things." 16 So Gallio had them forced out of his court. 17 Then all [the governor's officers] took Sosthenes, the synagogue leader, and beat him in front of the court. But Gallio couldn't have cared less. 18 After staying in Corinth quite a while longer, Paul left [for Ephesus]. Priscilla and Aquila went with him. In the city of Cenchrea, Aquila had his hair cut, since he had taken a vow. From Cenchrea they took a boat headed for Syria 19 and arrived in the city of Ephesus, where Paul left Priscilla and Aquila. Paul went into the synagogue and had a discussion with the Jews. 20 The Jews asked him to stay longer, but he refused. 21 As he left, he told them, "I'll come back to visit you if God wants me to." Paul took a boat from Ephesus 22 and arrived in the city of Caesarea. He went [to Jerusalem], greeted the church, and went back to the city of Antioch. 23 After spending some time in Antioch, Paul went through the regions of Galatia and Phrygia, where he strengthened [the faith of] all the disciples. 24 A Jew named Apollos, who had been born in Alexandria, arrived in the city of Ephesus. He was an eloquent speaker and knew how to use the Scriptures in a powerful way. 25 He had been instructed in the Lord's way and spoke enthusiastically. He accurately taught about Jesus but knew only about the baptism John performed. 26 He began to speak boldly in the synagogue. When Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him [home] with them and explained God's way to him more accurately. 27 When Apollos wanted to travel to Greece, the believers [in Ephesus] encouraged him. They wrote to the disciples in Greece to tell them to welcome him. When he arrived in Greece, God's kindness enabled him to help the believers a great deal. 28 In public Apollos helped them by clearly showing from the Scriptures that Jesus is the Messiah and that the Jews were wrong.
1 While Apollos was in Corinth, Paul traveled through the interior provinces to get to the city of Ephesus. He met some disciples in Ephesus 2 and asked them, "Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you became believers?" They answered him, "No, we've never even heard of the Holy Spirit." 3 Paul asked them, "What kind of baptism did you have?" They answered, "John's baptism." 4 Paul said, "John's baptism was a baptism of repentance. John told people to believe in Jesus, who was coming later." 5 After they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 6 When Paul placed his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came to them, and they began to talk in other languages and to speak what God had revealed. 7 About twelve men were in the group. 8 For three months Paul would go into the synagogue and speak boldly. He had discussions with people to convince them about the kingdom of God. 9 But when some people became stubborn, refused to believe, and had nothing good to say in front of the crowd about the way [of Christ], he left them. He took his disciples and held daily discussions in the lecture hall of Tyrannus. 10 This continued for two years so that all the Jews and Greeks who lived in the province of Asia heard the word of the Lord. 11 God worked unusual miracles through Paul. 12 People would take handkerchiefs and aprons that had touched Paul's skin to those who were sick. Their sicknesses would be cured, and evil spirits would leave them. 13 Some Jews used to travel from place to place and force evil spirits out of people. They tried to use the name of the Lord Jesus to force evil spirits out of those who were possessed. These Jews would say, "I order you [to come out] in the name of Jesus, whom Paul talks about." 14 Seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, were doing this. 15 But the evil spirit answered them, "I know Jesus, and I'm acquainted with Paul, but who are you?" 16 Then the man possessed by the evil spirit attacked them. He beat them up so badly that they ran out of that house naked and wounded. 17 All the Jews and Greeks living in the city of Ephesus heard about this. All of them were filled with awe for the name of the Lord Jesus and began to speak very highly about it. 18 Many believers openly admitted their involvement with magical spells and told all the details. 19 Many of those who were involved in the occult gathered their books and burned them in front of everyone. They added up the cost of these books and found that they were worth 50,000 silver coins. 20 In this powerful way the word of the Lord was spreading and gaining strength. 21 After all these things had happened, Paul decided to go to Jerusalem by traveling through Macedonia and Greece. He said, "After I have been there, I must see Rome." 22 So he sent two of his helpers, Timothy and Erastus, to Macedonia, while he stayed longer in the province of Asia. 23 During that time a serious disturbance concerning the way [of Christ] broke out in the city of Ephesus. 24 Demetrius, a silversmith, was in the business of making silver models of the temple of Artemis. His business brought a huge profit for the men who worked for him. 25 He called a meeting of his workers and others who did similar work. Demetrius said, "Men, you know that we're earning a good income from this business, 26 and you see and hear what this man Paul has done. He has won over a large crowd that follows him not only in Ephesus but also throughout the province of Asia. He tells people that gods made by humans are not gods. 27 There's a danger that people will discredit our line of work, and there's a danger that people will think that the temple of the great goddess Artemis is nothing. Then she whom all Asia and the rest of the world worship will be robbed of her glory." 28 When Demetrius' workers and the others heard this, they became furious and began shouting, "Artemis of the Ephesians is great!" 29 The confusion spread throughout the city, and the people had one thought in mind as they rushed into the theater. They grabbed Gaius and Aristarchus, the Macedonians who traveled with Paul, and they dragged the two men into the theater with them. 30 Paul wanted to go into the crowd, but his disciples wouldn't let him. 31 Even some officials who were from the province of Asia and who were Paul's friends sent messengers to urge him not to risk going into the theater. 32 Some people shouted one thing while others shouted something else. The crowd was confused. Most of the people didn't even know why they had come together. 33 Some people concluded that Alexander was the cause, so the Jews pushed him to the front. Alexander motioned with his hand to quiet the people because he wanted to defend himself in front of them. 34 But when they recognized that Alexander was a Jew, everyone started to shout in unison, "Artemis of the Ephesians is great!" They kept doing this for about two hours. 35 The city clerk finally quieted the crowd. Then he said, "Citizens of Ephesus, everyone knows that this city of the Ephesians is the keeper of the temple of the great Artemis. Everyone knows that Ephesus is the keeper of the statue that fell down from Zeus. 36 No one can deny this. So you have to be quiet and not do anything foolish. 37 The men you brought here don't rob temples or insult our goddess. 38 If Demetrius and the men who work for him have a legal complaint against anyone, we have special days and officials to hold court. That's where they should bring charges against each other. 39 If you want anything else, you must settle the matter in a legal assembly. 40 At this moment we run the risk of being accused of rioting today for no reason. We won't be able to explain this mob." 41 After saying this, he dismissed the assembly.
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