Acts 17: Read the Bible
Acts 17 has become one of the hallmark chapters for apologists everywhere. I really could point to three different things in this chapter that demonstrate Paul’s interactions. We’re going to start with only two of them however because everyone writes about Paul in Athens.
Act 17:1 Now when they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where was a synagogue of the Jews:
Act 17:2 And Paul, as his manner was, went in unto them, and three sabbath days reasoned with them out of the scriptures,
Act 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.
Act 17:4 And some of them believed, and consorted with Paul and Silas; and of the devout Greeks a great multitude, and of the chief women not a few.
Some people believed here. We obviously do not have a hard number, but after the Jewish people created trouble and drove Paul out, he went to Berea to try again.
Act 17:10 And the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Berea: who coming thither went into the synagogue of the Jews.
Act 17:11 These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.
Act 17:12 Therefore many of them believed; also of honourable women which were Greeks, and of men, not a few.
Many people believed here. Again, I wish we had hard numbers to go by, but at the very least it seems to be the case that more people in Berea believed than believed in Thessalonica. However, it seems like something else happened in Berea. The people actually did their homework to find out if Paul was being honest. We don’t know the content of everything that Paul said, but this is the type of situation where it seems like they made sure that he had his Old Testament prophecies in a row. They didn’t assume right away that he was right or wrong. They went to the Scriptures and saw that the prophecies were there that Paul claimed Jesus was the fulfillment of.
I think this has tremendous application for us today. We live in a very biblically illiterate culture, and there are many misconceptions about what the Bible says. I feel like one of the best ways to do apologetics is to get people into the book itself. “Oh, you think there are contradictions that make you unable to believe in the Bible? Let’s look at some of them.” “Oh, there’s no way that Jesus could have fulfilled all of this prophecies? Let’s read them.”
There is no point in attacking or defending a straw man. In a biblically illiterate society, it helps to get people back to the text itself. It is something we can both read and both talk about. It seems that that is what happened in Berea. Paul had people who knew the text, and it seems that they were convinced.