What does Acts 17:15 mean?
ESV: 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.
NIV: Those who escorted Paul brought him to Athens and then left with instructions for Silas and Timothy to join him as soon as possible.
NASB: Now those who escorted Paul brought him as far as Athens; and receiving a command for Silas and Timothy to come to him as soon as possible, they left.
CSB: Those who escorted Paul brought him as far as Athens, and after receiving instructions for Silas and Timothy to come to him as quickly as possible, they departed.
NLT: Those escorting Paul went with him all the way to Athens; then they returned to Berea with instructions for Silas and Timothy to hurry and join him.
KJV: And they that conducted Paul brought him unto Athens: and receiving a commandment unto Silas and Timotheus for to come to him with all speed, they departed.
NKJV: So those who conducted Paul brought him to Athens; and receiving a command for Silas and Timothy to come to him with all speed, they departed.
Verse Commentary:
Paul is used to being run out of town (Acts 13:50–51; 14:5–6, 19–20; 16:35; 17:10). What's new for him is having a large enough team to delegate responsibilities when that happens. He already left Luke in Philippi, as evidenced by the change in pronouns from "we" to "they" (Acts 17:1). Now, escaping the Thessalonians by running to Athens, Paul leaves Timothy and Silas behind in Berea.

In Athens, Paul will bring a "new teaching" (Acts 17:19) to the Stoics and Epicureans. The philosophers will invite him to speak at the Areopagus to fulfill their desire for novel ideas (Acts 17:21).

Paul will tailor his message to his audience, using poetry to introduce the Jewish God as the Creator of all. The Athenians follow along until Paul mentions God raised His appointed One from the dead; the philosophers don't believe anything survives after death, so resurrection sounds rather primitive (Acts 17:22–32).

Meanwhile, Paul changes his mind about Timothy and Silas joining him. He sends Timothy back to check on the church in Thessalonica (1 Thessalonians 3:1–2, 6) and apparently Silas either stays in Berea or goes somewhere else in Macedonia. They don't catch up with Paul again until he has been in Corinth for some time (Acts 18:5).

The traditional understanding of this verse is that Paul took a ship down the eastern coast of Macedonia and Greece. Another reading of the text suggests the church in Berea pretended to take Paul to the harbor but once the Thessalonians were tricked, walked him to Athens.
Verse Context:
Acts 17:10–15 introduces a church which becomes an example for all of Christianity: the Bereans. The jealous Jews of Thessalonica have driven Paul and Silas out of town by threatening the church members. Not willing to face more persecution than necessary, the church send the two to Berea. When the evangelists explain how Jesus fulfills the Old Testament prophecies about the Messiah, the Bereans respond with a form of cautious skepticism. They study those prophecies, checking Paul's message for accuracy, and find he's right. Unfortunately, the Jews from Thessalonica follow and cause such problems that the new Berean church sends Paul away to Athens.
Chapter Summary:
Acts 17 describes how Paul's ministry travels down the coast of Greece. In Thessalonica, some Jews and God-fearing Gentiles believe while other Jews start a riot (Acts 17:1–9). The Bereans study the veracity of Paul's statements—until the Thessalonian Jews arrive and threaten to start another riot (Acts 17:10–15). Paul flees to Athens where the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers accept Paul's argument when he uses Greek poets to introduce God as the creator of the world, but lose interest when he mentions the resurrection from the dead (Acts 17:16–34).
Chapter Context:
Acts 17 continues Paul and Silas' travels out of Macedonia and on to Greece. The two have been through modern-day Asia minor where they picked up Timothy in Lystra and Luke in Troas (Acts 16:1–10). They have established a strong church in Philippi but were forced to leave after being falsely imprisoned (Acts 16:11–40). They now skip down the coast to Thessalonica, Berea, and Athens. From here, they will spend a considerable amount of time in Corinth before heading back to Judea and Syrian Antioch (Acts 18:1–22).
Book Summary:
The summary of the book of Acts is provided in Jesus' words in Acts 1:8: ''But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.'' In Acts 2:1–13, the Christ-followers receive the Holy Spirit. Acts 2:14—7:60 describes the rapid growth of the church in Jerusalem. Chapters 8—12 find Jewish persecution inadvertently spreading the gospel throughout Judea and Samaria. And in chapters 13—28, Paul and his companions spread the good news throughout the Roman Empire.
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