What does Acts 17:2 mean?
ESV: And Paul went in, as was his custom, and on three Sabbath days he reasoned with them from the Scriptures,
NIV: As was his custom, Paul went into the synagogue, and on three Sabbath days he reasoned with them from the Scriptures,
NASB: And according to Paul’s custom, he visited them, and for three Sabbaths reasoned with them from the Scriptures,
CSB: As usual, Paul went into the synagogue, and on three Sabbath days reasoned with them from the Scriptures,
NLT: As was Paul’s custom, he went to the synagogue service, and for three Sabbaths in a row he used the Scriptures to reason with the people.
KJV: And Paul, as his manner was, went in unto them, and three sabbath days reasoned with them out of the scriptures,
Verse Commentary:
Paul, Silas, and Timothy are in Thessalonica on the northwest coast of the Aegean Sea in Macedonia. When Paul comes to a new city, he typically first preaches at a synagogue (Acts 13:5; 14:1; 18:4). Because Jesus is the Jewish Messiah and Christianity is a natural progression of Judaism, the Jews and devout Gentiles in the synagogue will have the historical context to understand who Jesus is and what He came to do. Synagogues also have a tradition of inviting well-educated visitors to speak at their weekly meetings. Paul is as qualified as any Jew would wish to be (Philippians 3:4–5).

We only have a handful of Paul's messages in the book of Acts. Although he tailors his message to his audience, it's reasonable to expect his messages in synagogues are similar. Paul's message before the synagogue in Thessalonica shows how the Jewish Scriptures prophesy that the Messiah must die and rise again (Acts 17:3). Likely, he repeats much of the speech he gave to the Pisidian Antiochenes (Acts 13:16–41). There, he showed how David's assurance that God would not let His Holy One see corruption (Psalm 16:10) meant the Holy One would die but rise again. This, he implied, did not apply to David but to the Messiah—much like Peter reasoned in Acts 2:25–32.

After Thessalonica and Berea, Paul will use quotes from Greek poets to explain to Athenian philosophers how the Creator God calls for repentance (Acts 17:22–31). Before Felix, he sneaks in the gospel with his legal defense (Acts 24:10–21). In front of Agrippa and Bernice, who know Judaism, he gives a detailed witness of Jesus' work in his life (Acts 26).
Verse Context:
Acts 17:1–9 relates that Paul, Silas, and Timothy traveled to Thessalonica, having left Luke in Philippi. As usual, they start in the synagogue, showing how the prophecies of the Jewish Scriptures say the Messiah must die and rise from the dead. And as usual some of the Jews and many of the Gentiles believe them, while other Jews reject their message. For the first time, however, Paul's antagonists can't find him or his team, so they attack several converts. The new church protects Paul, Silas, and Timothy and sends them southwest to Berea.
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.
Accessed 4/13/2024 8:28:46 AM
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