The Playbook: Acts 17:13-15
“13) But when the Jews of Thessalonica found out that the word of God had been proclaimed by Paul in Berea also, they came there as well, agitating and stirring up the crowds. 14) Then immediately the brethren sent Paul out to go as far as the sea; and Silas and Timothy remained there. 15) 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.” Acts‬ ‭17‬:‭13‬-‭15‬ ‭
Some people have an aversion to the gospel and will do anything to stop it from spreading. Why is that? The most basic answer is that Jesus Christ and the gospel changes people.
It changes beliefs. It changes morals. It changes character. It changes values. It changes entertainment. It changes priorities. When enough people embrace Jesus Christ and the gospel, it radically changes culture.
The world, the flesh and the devil are opposed to godliness. They view it as oppressive, judgmental and restrictive of fun and pleasure. The Bible calls it freedom from sinful bondage. The values of the world and the values of God are in opposition to one another.
Those who embrace the world oppose Jesus Christ and the gospel. But have you noticed the most vicious opposition often comes from the religious sector? It was the religious people who crucified Jesus. It was religious people who were persecuting Paul and his team. Religious people are often the most difficult to reach with the gospel. Why is that?
Religion can become a false god! It can be blind and dogmatic. It demands total allegiance. Religion can spread death rather than life. There are many religions, but only one true gospel. Even humanism, atheism and evolution take on the fervor and dogma of religion. Whatever becomes “god” in your life becomes your religion and you will defend it against all opposing viewpoints.
It might be wise to ask yourself; “Who or what is my religion?” Everyone has one! Everyone has a core belief system that shapes their value system and world view. Everyone has a “god” they will fight to defend. This is why Jesus Christ and the gospel changes people. He wants to sit on the throne in our lives. Some people will take extreme measures to oppose Him.
Saul was formerly one of these people. He understood his opposition very well. He wrote the playbook for the persecution of Jesus Christ and the gospel, but he failed to plan for one detail.
Jesus is God. He needs no zealots to defend Him. It was the resurrected Christ that confronted Saul on the road to Damascus. He easily won the battle.
Paul could move on from Berea because they were in good hands. Jesus and the power of the Holy Spirit have ways of reaching people that mere religion does not. Paul was at peace leaving the converts and their opponents to wrestle directly with Jesus Christ. This became his new playbook!
Daily Bible Commentary By Terry Baxter: Cofounder of GoServ Global