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13 - Paul at Thessalonica -The Itineraries Of Paul

Topic: logospedia
Format: Mp3
Publication Date: 1976-1977

Walter J. Cummins graduated from the Power for Abundant Class in 1962.  

He received his Bachelor of Science degree in Education from Ohio State University in 1968 and his Master of Education degree in Secondary School Administration in 1978 from Wright State University.

He was ordained to the Christian by The Way International in 1968. He has studied at The Way International under Victor Paul Wierwille and K.C.Pillai. In addition to his teaching responsibilities, he was director of the Research department of the Way International  and served as assistant to the president. 

Paul at Thessalonica
Thessalonica can be pronounced either Thĕs-să-lă-nī'-că or Thĕs-să-lō'-nĭ-că. Today it’s called Salonica. They had crossed over from Troas in Asia to Neapolis by boat then went up to Philippi. This is in the area of Macedonia. Philippi was one of the chief cities of that part of Macedonia. Macedonia is divided into four parts and Philippi is the chief city of one of the four parts. They left Philippi and are going to go down through Amphipolis and Apollonia and then on to Thessalonica which is on the coast.
Acts 17:1: Now when they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where was a synagogue of the Jews:
Amphipolis and Apollonia are just two cities between Philippi and Thessalonica. Amphipolis and Apollonia along with Philippi and Thessalonica are on the Egnatian Way. Philippi is really off of it a little bit because it passes through Neapolis. The terminus of the Egnatian Way is in Neapolis. I saw a map, whether it was at this time or later I don’t know, where this road goes all the way over to what’s later known as Byzantium. It goes from Apollonia which is on the coast of Macedonia on the side toward Italy, through Thessalonica, Amphipolis, through Neapolis which is right near Philippi and then it continues on over to Byzantium which is later called Constantinople after Constantine. The Egnatian Way was one of the main military roads which connected Rome with the East. Paul travelled down this Egnatian Way.
“synagogue of the Jews” – this is many times Paul’s starting place because that was a place he was acquainted with. He knew that when he went tin there he was a guest from Jerusalem and they would be apt to ask him to share a little bit about what’s going on at the Jewish headquarters.
The Egnatian Way passes through Thessalonica so that tells you it’s going to be a pretty busy town as far as trade is concerned, east and west. But it was also on the main road that went from the Aegean Sea to the Danube River. So it’s a crossroad for that road and the Egnatian Way. This was a main trade center of the Roman world. It was the principle metropolis of all of Macedonia; the chief city of the whole of Macedonia. It’s been very important in a lot of historical things not only before Christ but down through the ages. There’s a lot in literature about Thessalonica.
The other two chief trade centers for this area around the Aegean Sea are Ephesus and Corinth. Paul hit all three of them, Thessalonica, Ephesus and Corinth. Those are the three major trade centers around the Aegean Sea. If this is such an important center, you can see why some of the things are written and why Paul went to a city such as this: because the Word is going to reach the ears of not only the Thessalonians but a lot of people that pass through there. Philippi was a military settlement. There were a lot of
people that passed through there. It’s the same way with Antioch in Syria. Antioch was the third largest city in the Roman Empire. The first largest was Rome. The second largest was Alexandria in Egypt and the third largest was Antioch
These were very important centers. Ephesus which he’ll get to later, Corinth, all these are very important centers where there’s a lot of traffic passing through. There were a lot of people, not only the inhabitants of the land, the citizens, but the people from other areas passing through.
I Thessalonians 1:6-8: And ye became followers of us, and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Ghost.
So that ye were ensamples to all that believe in Macedonia and Achaia.
For from you sounded out the word of the Lord not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place your faith to God-ward is spread abroad; so that we need not to speak any thing.
Do you see why? Because of the people that went through Thessalonica; they heard those who believed there and then they took it on to other lands.
The Mithraic cult was the greatest opposition to Christianity, according to the historians, of all the Pagan cults. That’s the one where the men would dig a pit and sit in it naked and all the blood from the goat would come in and they would bath in it and drink it and so on. That’s how they got reborn. This presented some opposition according to some historians because that was one way of getting reborn whereas Christianity had another way. The thing about that was it was religious and it was based on works. When you can do works, it builds up you ego. So a lot of people would rather go with that than with Christianity; to accept God’s grace. There were a lot of areas in Italy where that cult flourished where they had a lot of centers. They had a lot in Macedonia, some in Africa, a few in Asia.
Thessalonica was one of the major trade centers and you can see how the Word was not only spread throughout Macedonia and Achaia. Achaia is another word for Greece. They not only heard it in Macedonia and Achaia because of the Thessalonians and their believing but it sounded out also in every place. Those tradesmen who would come through there and they would carry that Word over into other communities. How do you think the Word got to Rome? Somebody carried it back there. Paul never started there like in Galatia. He started the ball rolling in the Galatia area. It’s the same way now in Macedonia. He’s starting the work rolling. But in Rome they heard about it some other way. Another place they heard about it before Paul got there was Ephesus. Remember Apollos was there. See how this thing spread out as people carried it.
Acts 17:1: Now when they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where was a synagogue of the Jews:
“they” - this is Paul, Silas and Timothy. What happened to Luke? He must have stayed at Philippi. The “we” section is gone. The “we” section was from Troas up to Philippi and now we no longer have “we” but we have “they.” Luke perhaps stayed there at Philippi.
Acts 17:2: And Paul, as his manner was, went in unto them, and three sabbath days reasoned with them out of the scriptures,
“unto them” – who? The Jews in the synagogue. That’s where he started when he had the opportunity. It doesn’t mention a synagogue or any Jews in Philippi. It was a heavy military center. It mentions the guys that got all upset because their prediction business sort of quit on them. Where did he start at Philippi? Down by the riverside where prayer was wont to be made. He didn’t start in the synagogue there because they did their prayer down by the river.
“out of the scriptures” – outside of the scriptures. – NO – the words “out of” are “out from” or “from.” The word is apo. It wasn’t that he was outside of the scriptures. It was that he was going to the scriptures and reasoning with them from the scriptures.
“his manner” – is his method or that which was customary to him. It may not necessarily be the custom of the land but something that he was accustom to doing. On the other hand it could be a custom of the land; something that was popular. This word is used four times.
This is where at the feast of the Passover Pilate was before the people and Jesus was before him.
Matthew 27:15-16: Now at that feast the governor was wont to release unto the people a prisoner, whom they would.
And they had then a notable prisoner, called Barabbas.
“wont” – that’s the word. His custom was. It doesn’t mean it was a custom like an Orientalism or a mannerism but he was just used to doing that. He did it every year. He got accustom to doing it. It became a general practise; an unwritten law so-to-speak. He didn’t have to do it but he had made a practise of doing it. Every year at this feast he’d release some prisoner to them. Every year he’d do them a favor just to appease them and release to them a prisoner. He wanted to release Jesus but they wanted Barabbas. That was his custom.
Mark 10:1: And he [Jesus] arose from thence, and cometh into the coasts of Judaea by the farther side of Jordan: and the people resort unto him again; and, as he was wont, he taught them again.
“wont” - Whenever the people gathered around, his custom to teach them. He’d just become accustom to doing that. Every time somebody gathered around he’d just teach them. He was ready to teach. That’s the way we ought to be. You’re always ready with the Word. Why shouldn’t every situation be that way? It’s either giving or receiving. You’ve got to be doing both. Either you’re learning something or sharing something or just “piddling.”
Whatever situation you’re in, be there learning or sharing. See, it’s not a custom like tradition but it’s just something that you’re used to doing. It’s customary for you to do that. It’s a habit.
Luke 4:16: And he [Jesus] came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up: and, as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and stood up for to read.
“custom” – It was his custom. He was used to doing that; to go into the synagogue and read the scriptures. It sort of gave him an “in” when he really started with his ministry here. He had become accustom to doing that; to being the scripture reader.
Acts 17:2: And Paul, as his manner was, went in unto them, and three sabbath days reasoned with them out of the scriptures,
This was not a custom like a custom of the land necessarily but Paul was used to doing this. This was the place he’d generally start out; the synagogue. That’s a place he was acquainted with; he knew he could get in there, knew they’d let him say a few words, at least to begin with and then sometimes not so later on. It was his custom to do this. That’s what his manner was. Judeans and proselytes, Gentile converts would be there.
“sabbath days” – is one Greek word – sabbaths. The word “sabbath” can also be weeks. Which it is, I don’t know. He either reasoned with them three sabbaths or he reasoned with them three weeks. At any rate it was a three week period but I’m sure that he did more teaching than just on Saturday, knowing Paul.
“the scriptures” – the scriptures that Paul had to work with were Old Testament scriptures. No New Testament scriptures had been written as far as I know unless it would have been some of the general epistles. He did have that letter that had been written from the Jerusalem council. He had that information. But for the most part he had to reason with them out of the Old Testament scriptures and that’s the thing that all the Judeans would respect. All those in the synagogue would respect the Jewish Old
Testament. He reasoned with them out of those scriptures just like he did when he taught in Acts 13.
Acts 17:3: Opening and alleging, that Christ must needs have suffered, and risen again from the dead; and that this Jesus, whom I preach unto you, is Christ.
“Opening” – dianoigō – it means; to open thoroughly – dia means; through. It’s like a thorough opening, not just “open a little bit” but a thorough opening. It’s used in Luke.
Luke 2:23: (As it is written in the law of the Lord, Every male that openeth [dianoigō] the womb shall be called holy to the Lord;)
When a child is born the womb is opened quite a bit more than normal. It’s a thorough opening. Not just a little bit but a thorough opening. It’s used in Mark 7.
Mark 7:32-35: And they bring unto him one that was deaf, and had an impediment in his speech; and they beseech him to put his hand upon him.
And he took him aside from the multitude, and put his fingers into his ears, and he spit, and touched his tongue;
And looking up to heaven, he sighed, and saith unto him, Ephphatha, that is, Be opened [dianoigō- thoroughly opened].
And straightway his ears were opened, and the string of his tongue was loosed, and he spake plain.
Luke 24:28-32: And they drew nigh unto the village, whither they went: and he made as though he would have gone further.
But they constrained him, saying, Abide with us: for it is toward evening, and the day is far spent. And he went in to tarry with them.
And it came to pass, as he sat at meat with them, he took bread, and blessed it, and brake, and gave to them.
And their eyes were opened [dianoigō- thoroughly opened], and they knew him; and he vanished out of their sight.
And they said one to another, Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened [dianoigō- thoroughly opened] to us the scriptures?
He opened up their understanding that they could understand the scriptures, not just half-way but he opened up thoroughly.
Luke 24:27: And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.
Luke 24:45: Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures,
“Then opened he their understanding” – or – Then their understanding opened - dianoigō- opened thoroughly. This is where he’s talking to them about what happened. He’s with the eleven and their understanding opened, that they might understand the scriptures. Finally things began to fit like a hand in a glove.
Acts 17:3: Opening and alleging, that Christ must needs have suffered, and risen again from the dead; and that this Jesus, whom I preach unto you, is Christ.
When he reasoned with them from the scriptures, he opened it thoroughly to their understanding. When you teach the Word, don’t just read a verse and then talk about something else like a magazine or newspaper. That doesn’t open the scriptures to their understanding or open their understanding to the scriptures.
When you teach the Word, you open it thoroughly. You teach it so that there is not one question left. When you teach the four crucified, what do you do? Do you just read them the different records in the Gospels and say, “Isn’t that something? Look how they fit together. Have fun working it.” No, you teach it until you know that every angle has been covered that everybody there has gotten it. The principle of teaching: tell them what you’re going to tell them; tell them; tell them what you told them.
That means you can take a topic like the book of Thessalonians and teach the whole thing in 20 minutes. No, if you’re going to cover every angle you’ll be doing well to take a chapter and cover it in 45 minutes or a half hour at the least. By every angle, I don’t mean like you do in a meeting like this. I’m talking about when you’ve got the general public there. You don’t hit all the under cover angles like we do in the Corps. But you hit it so that everyone can understand it; that the Word is thoroughly opened. That’s that word dianoigō.
“alleging” – now “allege” to my mind means; to make a statement or a claim not based on proof but, “Well that’s what I allege. That’s what I claim.” That’s not it. It’s more of a proving. The Greek word is – paratithēmi – tithēmi means; to put – para is usually “beside” or “forth” something of that nature – to put forth, or to set before; to prove, in
that essence. If you set something before somebody, it’s in the essence of proving it. It’s not just an allegation. It’s not a claim. It’s more like a proof. It’s used in:
Luke 10:8: And into whatsoever city ye enter, and they receive you, eat such things as are set before you:
Acts 16:34: And when he had brought them into his house, he set meat before them, and rejoiced, believing in God with all his house.
I Corinthians 10:27: If any of them that believe not bid you to a feast, and ye be disposed to go; whatsoever is set before you, eat, asking no question for conscience sake.
It’s used other places but in those three places it’s used of food that is set before someone that you can eat it. I prepare all this food and then I set it before you. Does that fill your stomach? No. What fills your stomach? You’ve got to eat it. You’ve got to do that. You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink. I can lay the food before you but I can’t make you eat it. That’s what he did. He didn’t go up to those people and grab them by the neck and say, “BELIEVE IT.” He just set it before them, “You want to believe it? Do you want power for abundant living? Do you want the greatest life there is? Do you want peace? Do you want joy? Do you want love? Eat it. If you don’t want it then don’t eat it.”
In reasoning from the scriptures, he first opened it thoroughly to their understanding. Then after he had covered every angle, opening it thoroughly, he set it before them and said, “Eat, if you want.” When you teach God’s Word, you open the scriptures thoroughly to their understanding; cover every angle. Ten you lay it before them; “Do you want to eat? Would you like to be a part of it?” That’s the two things he did in reasoning from the scriptures with them. It’s used in:
I Timothy 1:18: This charge I commit unto thee, son Timothy, according to the prophecies which went before on thee, that thou by them mightest war a good warfare;
II Timothy 2:2: And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.
“commit” – to set before; let them eat. Here, you set it before faithful men not unfaithful men.
Opening thoroughly and setting before them the Word as he reasoned with them from the scriptures.
Acts 17:3: Opening and alleging, that Christ must needs have suffered, and risen again from the dead; and that this Jesus, whom I preach unto you, is Christ.
“risen again from the dead” – he hits the resurrection. He opens that thing thoroughly, the resurrection. That’s what you’ve got to believe to be born again. Then he sets it before them.
All teaching in this respect is; there’s this opening of the Word covering every angle and there’s the setting before the people, like Paul did at Thessalonica.
Acts 17:4: And some of them believed, and consorted with Paul and Silas; and of the devout [religious or upper] Greeks a great multitude, and of the chief [high ranking political or social] women not a few.
When Paul taught the Word it wasn’t just for common people or it wasn’t just for the middle class or it wasn’t just for the upper class. It reached all kinds of people; for everybody and anybody, even some of the chief women of the city; those that maybe their husbands could pull a few strings in the government there or maybe they could.
Acts 17:5: But the Jews which believed not, moved with envy, took unto them certain lewd fellows of the baser sort, and gathered a company, and set all the city on an uproar, and assaulted the house of Jason, and sought to bring them out to the people.
“lewd fellows” – evil men
“of the baser sort” – from the market place. They were men who hung around the marketplace. They were the hoodlums so-to-speak. They were the gang. They hung around the streets just waiting for something to do; waiting for someone to come and hire them if that’s available. These Jews hired them.
“company” – crowd – a mob is what it was. They got a mob together with these fellows.
“all” – not in the critical Greek texts. They set the city on an uproar. This mob started a riot to get their attention. The Jews, where are they? Are they in the mob? No, they just hired it to be done. When you see some of these things happen; what’s behind it? Who’s paying the bill? Who’s pushing or promoting it? It’s like this was written today. It might as well of been, the same thing happening today.
“assaulted” – or attacked
“sought to bring them out to the people” – sought to bring who out to the people? Paul and Silas. That sort of tells you where Paul and Silas must have abode.
Acts 17:6: And when they found them not, they drew Jason and certain brethren unto the rulers of the city, crying, These that have turned the world upside down are come hither also;
“drew” – dragged
“certain brethren” – if they can’t get at you, they’ll pick on your friends
“the rulers of the city” – the Greek word is politarchēs – polis means city, archēs is chief or the beginning. The chief of the city; they were the rulers of the city. It’s like the mayor or the town council, in this case a city council because this was a good size city.
First of all, when they turned the world upside down that means they turned it right side up because it’s upside down to begin with. When they turn it upside down, that makes it right side up when they teach the Word.
Secondly, these men have heard of the Word moving in other areas before. They said, “Those that turned the world upside down. They’ve been going all over the place. We’ve read about it in our Thessalonica Times. We’ve heard about it on WWTHES, the radio station. We’ve heard about it on television. We’ve heard what they’re doing all over the world; turning the place upside down.” That tells you word was getting out and they didn’t have television, radio and newspapers like we’ve got them today but they had heard.
Acts 17:7: Whom Jason hath received: and these all do contrary to the decrees of Caesar, saying that there is another king, one Jesus.
This was their accusation.
Acts 17:8: And they troubled the people and the rulers of the city, when they heard these things.
“the rulers of the city” – politarchēs
Acts 17:9-10: And when they had taken security [bail] of Jason, and of the other, they let them go.
And the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Berea: who coming thither went into the synagogue of the Jews.
How did they send them away? By night, that’s a great key. They weren’t being deceiving in their work but the principle was; this was the best way out of that situation because if they’d caught Paul and Silas, who knows what would have happened? They were the ones that had come into the city. There may be a time when you’ll have to go out at night or under cover. So what? Paul and Silas just held forth the Word no matter what the people said, no matter what the Jews who were filled with envy did. They hired the evil men of the marketplace. They did all these things but they still held forth the Word. When the pressure got on here in this case, the revelation was “get out under cover.” The important thing was they still stayed faithful to the Word.
There might be a time in some of these situations, where the revelation is, “sneak out.” Jesus did it; got lost in the crowd. You be ready. Don’t think you can always just stand there and yak when they’ve got stones in their fists or when they’ve got a gun in their hand. There may be a time when revelation is, “go out the back window.” I’m not saying to pray for it, ok. I’m just saying, be wise as serpents and harmless as doves. Sometimes you just stay there and you just speak the Word. Other times may be, “Don’t go to the house where you’re staying.” You’re ready for anything.
According to one of Bullinger’s notes, a number of these rulers of the city are recorded on one of the arches spanning one of their streets today and among those names are Sosipater, Secundus and Gaius.
Acts 20:4: And there accompanied him into Asia Sopater of Berea; and of the Thessalonians, Aristarchus and Secundus; and Gaius of Derbe, and Timotheus; and of Asia, Tychicus and Trophimus.
Secundus was also the name of one of the rulers of the city. Whether it was that one or not, I don’t know but I know he got into some of the chief people of that city, some of the heads, some of the influential ones and even more so when he gets down to Berea. We’ll see that later.
Acts 19:29: And the whole city was filled with confusion: and having caught Gaius and Aristarchus, men of Macedonia, Paul's companions in travel, they rushed with one accord into the theatre.
It’s possible but we don’t really know on that one. But I know that Paul not only ministered to janitors. He ministered to college presidents and senators. He also makes the statement, “Not many noble are called.”
I Corinthians 1:26: For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called:
“not many noble” – but a few – some of the chief women. Other places it talks about the chief men of the city that believe.
So, we’re out to reach anybody and everybody. When a doctor believes, praise the Lord. But, do you know something? When anybody believes, praise the Lord. God’s going to watch over these situations as long as we stay faithful to the Word and believe. No matter how heavy it seems sense-knowledge wise, He’ll take care of it. Trust in the Lord and He’ll give you the desires of your heart and maybe a few other things.
Psalm 37:3-4: Trust in the LORD, and do good; so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed.
Delight thyself also in the LORD: and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.