Fifty Days of Prayer | Day 29

Praying for Church Planting through the Book of Acts

The Gospel is a message about Jesus as King and his coming Kingdom. Jesus said that "no man can serve two masters" (Matt 6:24). This is why Paul received opposition when he left Philippi for Thessalonica. As he always did, his first stop was in the synagogue. Over the course of three weeks he taught about how Jesus fulfilled the Old Testament through his life, death, and resurrection and that he was the long-awaited Messiah (17:2-3). The already diverse church continue to grow in number and diversity as "many of the devout Greeks and not a few of the leading women" (17:4) came to faith in Christ. Jealousy would prompt the Jews to start a riot against Paul. They accused them before the city authorities of being "men who have turned the world upside down" (17:6). The message of Christ and his Kingdom was viewed as a threat to the kingdom of Caesar. Despite their persecution of Christians, the Kingdom of God continued to advance against the kingdom of this world. So we pray that the message of the crucified king would turn our city upside down as many hear and believe.

Fearing for their safety the believers in Thessalonica sent Paul and Silas East to Berea. Once again Paul would begin his ministry in the synagogue. Though, this time, their reception was quite different. The Jews in Berea "were more noble than those in Thessalonica" (17:11a). Rather than opposing the message "they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so" (17:11b). Once again the church grew in number and diversity as Jews, women, and Greeks came to faith in Christ. But, their time in Berea would be cut short as the Thessalonican Jews would make the trip to Berea in order to stir up another riot against Paul and Silas (17:13). So Paul left by ship for Athens. So we pray for opportunity to share the word with those in our apartment community and neighborhood and that they would receive it with eagerness.

Now when they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where there was a synagogue of the Jews. And Paul went in, as was his custom, and on three Sabbath days he reasoned with them from the Scriptures, explaining and proving that it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead, and saying, “This Jesus, whom I proclaim to you, is the Christ.” And some of them were persuaded and joined Paul and Silas, as did a great many of the devout Greeks and not a few of the leading women. But the Jews were jealous, and taking some wicked men of the rabble, they formed a mob, set the city in an uproar, and attacked the house of Jason, seeking to bring them out to the crowd. And when they could not find them, they dragged Jason and some of the brothers before the city authorities, shouting, “These men who have turned the world upside down have come here also, and Jason has received them, and they are all acting against the decrees of Caesar, saying that there is another king, Jesus.” And the people and the city authorities were disturbed when they heard these things. And when they had taken money as security from Jason and the rest, they let them go.

The brothers immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea, and when they arrived they went into the Jewish synagogue. Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so. Many of them therefore believed, with not a few Greek women of high standing as well as men. 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. Then the brothers immediately sent Paul off on his way to the sea, but Silas and Timothy remained there. Those who conducted Paul brought him as far as Athens, and after receiving a command for Silas and Timothy to come to him as soon as possible, they departed.
— Acts 17:1-15