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Acts 17:1-15

Context
Paul and Silas at Thessalonica

17:1 After they traveled through 1  Amphipolis 2  and Apollonia, 3  they came to Thessalonica, 4  where there was a Jewish synagogue. 5  17:2 Paul went to the Jews in the synagogue, 6  as he customarily did, and on three Sabbath days he addressed 7  them from the scriptures, 17:3 explaining and demonstrating 8  that the Christ 9  had to suffer and to rise from the dead, 10  saying, 11  “This Jesus I am proclaiming to you is the Christ.” 12  17:4 Some of them were persuaded 13  and joined Paul and Silas, along with a large group 14  of God-fearing Greeks 15  and quite a few 16  prominent women. 17:5 But the Jews became jealous, 17  and gathering together some worthless men from the rabble in the marketplace, 18  they formed a mob 19  and set the city in an uproar. 20  They attacked Jason’s house, 21  trying to find Paul and Silas 22  to bring them out to the assembly. 23  17:6 When they did not find them, they dragged 24  Jason and some of the brothers before the city officials, 25  screaming, “These people who have stirred up trouble 26  throughout the world 27  have come here too, 17:7 and 28  Jason has welcomed them as guests! They 29  are all acting against Caesar’s 30  decrees, saying there is another king named 31  Jesus!” 32  17:8 They caused confusion among 33  the crowd and the city officials 34  who heard these things. 17:9 After 35  the city officials 36  had received bail 37  from Jason and the others, they released them.

Paul and Silas at Berea

17:10 The brothers sent Paul and Silas off to Berea 38  at once, during the night. When they arrived, 39  they went to the Jewish synagogue. 40  17:11 These Jews 41  were more open-minded 42  than those in Thessalonica, 43  for they eagerly 44  received 45  the message, examining 46  the scriptures carefully every day 47  to see if these things were so. 17:12 Therefore many of them believed, along with quite a few 48  prominent 49  Greek women and men. 17:13 But when the Jews from Thessalonica 50  heard that Paul had also proclaimed the word of God 51  in Berea, 52  they came there too, inciting 53  and disturbing 54  the crowds. 17:14 Then the brothers sent Paul away to the coast 55  at once, but Silas and Timothy remained in Berea. 56  17:15 Those who accompanied Paul escorted him as far as Athens, 57  and after receiving an order for Silas and Timothy to come to him as soon as possible, they left. 58 

1 tn BDAG 250 s.v. διοδεύω 1 has “go, travel through” for this verse.

2 sn Amphipolis. The capital city of the southeastern district of Macedonia (BDAG 55 s.v. ᾿Αμφίπολις). It was a military post. From Philippi this was about 33 mi (53 km).

3 sn Apollonia was a city in Macedonia about 27 mi (43 km) west southwest of Amphipolis.

4 sn Thessalonica (modern Salonica) was a city in Macedonia about 33 mi (53 km) west of Apollonia. It was the capital of Macedonia. The road they traveled over was called the Via Egnatia. It is likely they rode horses, given their condition in Philippi. The implication of v. 1 is that the two previously mentioned cities lacked a synagogue.

map For location see JP1 C1; JP2 C1; JP3 C1; JP4 C1.

5 sn See the note on synagogue in 6:9.

6 tn Grk “he went in to them”; the referent (the Jews in the synagogue) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

7 tn Although the word διελέξατο (dielexato; from διαλέγομαι, dialegomai) is frequently translated “reasoned,” “disputed,” or “argued,” this sense comes from its classical meaning where it was used of philosophical disputation, including the Socratic method of questions and answers. However, there does not seem to be contextual evidence for this kind of debate in Acts 17:2. As G. Schrenk (TDNT 2:94-95) points out, “What is at issue is the address which any qualified member of a synagogue might give.” Other examples of this may be found in the NT in Matt 4:23 and Mark 1:21.

8 tn BDAG 772 s.v. παρατίθημι 2.b has “demonstrate, point out” here.

9 tn Or “Messiah”; both “Christ” (Greek) and “Messiah” (Hebrew and Aramaic) mean “one who has been anointed.”

sn See the note on Christ in 2:31.

10 sn The Christ had to suffer and to rise from the dead. These two points (suffering and resurrection) would have been among the more controversial aspects of Paul’s messianic preaching. The term translated “had to” (δεῖ, dei) shows how divine design and scripture corresponded here.

11 tn The Greek words used here (καὶ ὅτι, kai {oti, “and that”) mark the switch from indirect to direct discourse. Contemporary English requires the use of an introductory verb of speaking or saying to make this transition.

12 tn Or “Messiah”; both “Christ” (Greek) and “Messiah” (Hebrew and Aramaic) mean “one who has been anointed.”

sn See the note on Christ in 2:31. The identification of the Messiah with Jesus indicates Paul was proclaiming the fulfillment of messianic promise.

13 tn Or “convinced.”

14 tn Or “a large crowd.”

15 tn Or “of devout Greeks,” but this is practically a technical term for the category called God-fearers, Gentiles who worshiped the God of Israel and in many cases kept the Mosaic law, but did not take the final step of circumcision necessary to become a proselyte to Judaism. See further K. G. Kuhn, TDNT 6:732-34, 743-44. Luke frequently mentions such people (Acts 13:43, 50; 16:14; 17:17; 18:7).

16 tn Grk “not a few”; this use of negation could be misleading to the modern English reader, however, and so has been translated as “quite a few” (which is the actual meaning of the expression).

17 tn Grk “becoming jealous.” The participle ζηλώσαντες (zhlwsante") has been translated as a finite verb due to requirements of contemporary English style. So elsewhere in Acts (5:17; 7:9; 13:45).

18 tn Literally ἀγοραῖος (agoraio") refers to the crowd in the marketplace, although BDAG 14-15 s.v. ἀγοραῖος 1 gives the meaning, by extension, as “rabble.” Such a description is certainly appropriate in this context. L&N 15.127 translates the phrase “worthless men from the streets.”

19 tn On this term, which is a NT hapax legomenon, see BDAG 745 s.v. ὀχλοποιέω.

20 tn BDAG 458 s.v. θορυβέω 1 has “set the city in an uproar, start a riot in the city” for the meaning of ἐθορύβουν (eqoruboun) in this verse.

21 sn The attack took place at Jason’s house because this was probably the location of the new house church.

22 tn Grk “them”; the referents (Paul and Silas) have been specified in the translation for clarity.

23 tn BDAG 223 s.v. δῆμος 2 has “in a Hellenistic city, a convocation of citizens called together for the purpose of transacting official business, popular assembly προάγειν εἰς τὸν δ. Ac 17:5.”

24 tn See BDAG 977-78 s.v. σύρω on this verb. It was used in everyday speech of dragging in fish by a net, or dragging away someone’s (presumably) dead body (Paul in Acts 14:19).

25 tn L&N 37.93 defines πολιτάρχης (politarch") as “a public official responsible for administrative matters within a town or city and a member of the ruling council of such a political unit – ‘city official’” (see also BDAG 845 s.v.).

26 tn Or “rebellion.” BDAG 72 s.v. ἀναστατόω has “disturb, trouble, upset,” but in light of the references in the following verse to political insurrection, “stirred up rebellion” would also be appropriate.

27 tn Or “the empire.” This was a way of referring to the Roman empire (BDAG 699 s.v. οἰκουμένη 2.b).

sn Throughout the world. Note how some of those present had knowledge of what had happened elsewhere. Word about Paul and his companions and their message was spreading.

28 tn Grk “whom.” Because of the awkwardness in English of having two relative clauses follow one another (“who have stirred up trouble…whom Jason has welcomed”) the relative pronoun here (“whom”) has been replaced by the conjunction “and,” creating a clause that is grammatically coordinate but logically subordinate in the translation.

29 tn Grk “and they.” Because of the length of the Greek sentence, the conjunction καί (kai) has not been translated here. Instead a new English sentence is begun.

30 tn Or “the emperor’s” (“Caesar” is a title for the Roman emperor).

31 tn The word “named” is not in the Greek text, but is supplied for clarity.

32 sn Acting…saying…Jesus. The charges are serious, involving sedition (Luke 23:2). If the political charges were true, Rome would have to react.

33 tn Grk “They troubled the crowd and the city officials”; but this could be understood to mean “they bothered” or “they annoyed.” In reality the Jewish instigators managed to instill doubt and confusion into both the mob and the officials by their false charges of treason. Verse 8 suggests the charges raised again Paul, Silas, Jason, and the others were false.

34 tn L&N 37.93 defines πολιτάρχης (politarch") as “a public official responsible for administrative matters within a town or city and a member of the ruling council of such a political unit – ‘city official.’”

35 tn Grk “And after.” Because of the difference between Greek style, which often begins sentences or clauses with “and,” and English style, which generally does not, καί (kai) has not been translated here.

36 tn Grk “they”; the referent (the city officials) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

37 tn That is, “a payment” or “a pledge of security” (BDAG 472 s.v. ἱκανός 1) for which “bail” is the most common contemporary English equivalent.

38 sn Berea (alternate spelling in NRSV Beroea; Greek Beroia) was a very old city in Macedonia on the river Astraeus about 45 mi (75 km) west of Thessalonica.

map For location see JP1 C1; JP2 C1; JP3 C1; JP4 C1.

39 tn Grk “who arriving there, went to.” Because of the length and complexity of the Greek sentence, the relative pronoun (οἵτινες, Joitine") has been left untranslated and a new English sentence begun. The participle παραγενόμενοι (paragenomenoi) has been taken temporally.

40 sn See the note on synagogue in 6:9.

41 tn Grk “These”; the referent (the Jews in the synagogue at Berea) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

42 tn Or “more willing to learn.” L&N 27.48 and BDAG 404 s.v. εὐγενής 2 both use the term “open-minded” here. The point is that they were more receptive to Paul’s message.

43 sn Thessalonica was a city in Macedonia (modern Salonica).

map For location see JP1 C1; JP2 C1; JP3 C1; JP4 C1.

44 tn Or “willingly,” “readily”; Grk “with all eagerness.”

45 tn Grk “who received.” Here the relative pronoun (“who”) has been translated as a pronoun (“they”) preceded by a semicolon, which is less awkward in contemporary English than a relative clause at this point.

46 tn This verb (BDAG 66 s.v. ἀνακρίνω 1) refers to careful examination.

47 tn BDAG 437 s.v. ἡμέρα 2.c has “every day” for this phrase in this verse.

48 tn Grk “not a few”; this use of negation could be misleading to the modern English reader, however, and so has been translated as “quite a few” (which is the actual meaning of the expression).

49 tn Or “respected.”

50 sn Thessalonica was a city in Macedonia (modern Salonica).

51 tn Grk “that the word of God had also been proclaimed by Paul.” This passive construction has been converted to an active one in the translation for stylistic reasons.

52 sn Berea (alternate spelling in NRSV Beroea; Greek Beroia) was a very old city in Macedonia on the river Astraeus about 45 mi (75 km) from Thessalonica.

53 tn BDAG 911 s.v. σαλεύω 2 has “incite” for σαλεύοντες (saleuonte") in Acts 17:13.

sn Inciting. Ironically, it was the Jews who were disturbing the peace, not the Christians.

54 tn Or “stirring up” (BDAG 990-91 s.v. ταράσσω 2). The point is the agitation of the crowds.

55 tn Grk “to the sea.” Here ἕως ἐπὶ τὴν θάλασσαν ({ew" epi thn qalassan) must mean “to the edge of the sea,” that is, “to the coast.” Since there is no mention of Paul taking a ship to Athens, he presumably traveled overland. The journey would have been about 340 mi (550 km).

56 tn Grk “remained there”; the referent (Berea) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

57 map For location see JP1 C2; JP2 C2; JP3 C2; JP4 C2.

58 sn They left. See 1 Thess 3:1-2, which shows they went from here to Thessalonica.



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