Paul’s same old routine involved entering a city and making a beeline for the synagogue (v.1). But he didn’t pass over Amphipolis and Apollonia because God told him He hadn’t chosen any of those people to be saved. His new routine was to target big cities and let the gospel radiate out from them to small towns like those, and it worked (cf. IThes.1:8).
But why did he go to synagogues if he was “the apostle of the Gentiles” (Rom.11:13)? It was to provoke them to get saved (v.14) by magnifying his office to the Gentiles. “Emulation” is a form of jealousy that makes you want to emulate someone, and “emulate” means to want to equal or excel you at what you’re doing. Paul was doing the Jews’ job of reaching the Gentiles, and magnifying his office would make them want to get saved and join him in reaching the Gentiles. Some did, and became his equals, his fellows (Col.4:10,11). Saved Jews will excel Paul at reaching the Gentiles in the kingdom (Rom.11:12; Isa.11:9). In the meantime, God’s Word says that the best way to reach the Jews is by magnifying Paul’s apostleship to the Gentiles, as we do.
Paul was only in Thessalonica 3 sabbath days (Acts 17:2), or 14 days total, but the Philippians sent him money there “once and again” (Phil.4:15,16)—and they only had one messenger to do it (Phil.2:25-30). How’d you like to walk 400 miles in 14 days? Paul says to hold Christians like that “in reputation.”
Paul preached boldly in Thessalonica, even though it got him beaten and imprisoned in Philippi (IThes.2:2). It took bold-ness to do that because Jews didn’t want to believe their messiah was crucified (ICor.1:23). Crucifixion was the death of crooks, not Christs. This proves that Jews like Abraham and David weren’t saved by believing Christ would someday die for their sins, as some say (cf.Gal.3:8). There were verses that said Christ would die, but Jews preferred the verses that said He would make their enemies die (cf.Lu.1:68-75). Paul proved Jesus was Israel’s Christ (Acts 17:3) by quoting verses like Genesis 49:10, Micah 5:2, and Isaiah 35:4-6.
When “some” Jews believed, but “a great multitude” of Gentiles believed (Acts 17:4), that’s a picture of how the Body of Christ is made up of both, but this is a primarily Gentile dispensation.
“Envy” (17:5) is another form of jealousy, the bad kind (cf. Acts13:44,45). “Lewd” means lustful, and “base” means low, like the base of something is the lowest part. Envy in the heart of a few men ended with a city in an uproar, so don’t let it get so much as a toehold in your life (cf.Mt.27:17,18).
They assaulted “the house of Jason” because they thought Paul was staying with family (cf.Rom.16:21), but he wasn’t (Acts 17:6). They were right/ Paul was turning the world upside-down, but Adam had turned it upside down, so turning it upside-down again would turn it right side up. Paul did it with grace, but after the age of grace ends at the Rapture, the gloves are coming off, and God will turn the world upside-down with wrath. He’ll start with Israel, because they should have known better (IIKi.21:12-15; IPet.4:17). But after that, He’ll turn the whole world upside-down in judgment (Isa. 24:1,19). For now, He wants it turned upside down with grace, and not with angry petitions and protest marches.
If the charge of doing things contrary to Caesar sounds familiar, it’s because that’s what they charged the Lord with (Lu.23:1,2). If the reaction Paul got sounds familiar (Acts 17:8,9), it’s because that’s the reaction the Lord got (John 19:12). I Thessalonians 4:13-17 indicates that some of the believing Thessalonian Jews were killed. That’s why Paul chose that church to talk to them about how the dead in Christ will precede the living at the Rapture (IThes.4:13-17). The dead in Christ in Thessalonica hadn’t died of malaria, they died of persecution.
A video of this sermon is available on YouTube: “Paul’s Same Old Routine” Acts 17:1-9