The good news reaches the crossroads of culture and lifestyle.
In Part three of Acts the gospel goes from Asia to Europe, impacting the great cities and trading ports of Empire.
Take the challenge to work through the Book of Acts over thirty-five days. The notes will inform, and set you thinking. They are easy to read in under twenty minutes and include colour photographs, and a section for further reflection or discussion. Ideal for those who want to be prepared to read the Bible with first-time readers. At the end there is a section on words and their meaning, as well as who’s who in Acts.
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Hi, and welcome to episode 28 of trainingforliferedeemed. I'm your host, Dan, and as always, I'm here with my father, David Jackson. Today, we are into Acts chapter 17 through to 19. We're looking at Paul moving on in his missionary journey, heading into Athens and learning about how God's going to be using him throughout this phase. Now Dad, as Paul gets to Athens and he's hanging around waiting for the others to join him, cause he split off from his missionary team, he gets this overwhelming urge to really reach out to the people there.David:
Yeah, yeah, yeah. You've got to, I've been to Athens. It's it's an amazing place. You've got to go. Oh , and by the way, if you go, if you haven't gone to get the notes for this series on Acts , just let me put a plug in there. We've put our photographs in there. So go and have a look at Athens and Ephesus and Corinth. The photos are in the notes. Athens is an extraordinary place to visit, right at the top of the peak, you have this massive temple to the Greek gods and that overlooks everything below. And what's ironic is that immediately below this massive temple is a big lumpy looking rock. They call the Areopagus and on that rock and around that area, the Greek philosophers met and this all goes back to a fellow called Socrates and Socrates was executed for being an atheist. He invented the philosophy. That's been the basis of all of European culture for the last 2000 years. We still struggle with Socrates Plato and Aristotle. So Paul is going to the heart, the cultural heart of the Roman empire. And this is the centre where we talk about Jerusalem and Athens. Jerusalem is where the scriptures God's word sort of goes out to the world. Athens is the place from which what we would call secular philosophy goes out to the rest of the world and Paul's going to engage these people. So he stops off with the synagogue People does his usual thing there. And then he's wandering through the marketplace, looking at all these gods and these statues and gods and shrines they're everywhere. And if you walk through Europe today, you'll still find shrines and little places to pray and pilgrimage centres all over the place, very similar, but he just looks at it and you can hear it, feel his heart, how sad for these people to be stuck in worshiping blocks of stone that are useless. And here I am on my own, the only person in the city as it were, who can tell them the truth He's in the marketplace and people are having conversations and he's telling them the story and the philosophers pick up the story. And so the next thing you know, the rabbi from Jerusalem is at the university of Athens, sitting down with all the professorial staff while they pick his brain. And you're talking about gospel opportunities it's not bad. Yeah,Dan:
Yeah. And these people, they like to just cumulate knowledge and engage in any kind of philosophy, philosophical debate.David:
Oh , we used to crack jokes about, you know , our ideal career would be to be a professional student.Dan:
Like you pretty much live that out. I think God's been good. It's all right. Well Paul does his thing in Athens and you know , all the stuff that happens there. And then we're moving on now to Corinth where in Corinth Paul is going to come across Aquila and Priscilla and yeah , he's going to have this tent making session and yeah , we're going to see a great impact. And these Priscilla and Aquila are going to appear multiple times in Paul's letters as we continue to learn about the gospel and what's happening with it.David:
Yeah . Paul , you're going from Paul standing before all the professors at the university that read thinkers and scholars of the world and his next stop is a Roman sea port . That's the crossroads of shipping for the whole Mediterranean. And if you've got to stop and think for a minute in the 19th century, this is Shanghai and the 20th century, we're thinking of Hong Kong and Singapore. And when you think about these kinds of maritime bases, your first thought is every god in the world is traveling through this place with every superstition and every ship owner . And every sailor, they've all come from different cultures and countries. They're bringing their beliefs and their gods, but Hey, wait a minute. We've got sailors in port. You've also got brothels and every kind of immorality in town and drunkenness and raging. So you've gone from this super dignified university in Athens and suddenly, you know, you're walking among the brothels and the sailors and the , all the con artists in the world and their gods in Corinth. And it just so happens that the year before Claudius has kicked all the Jews out of Rome and we find out not in the new Testament, but we find out elsewhere that it's because the Jews in Rome were rioting about the Christ. So Paul hasn't got to Rome yet, but the gospel has, because it's gone through all these sailors and tradies and traders and the gospels like this virus, it's, it's reached places long before somebody like Paul can turn up. And the people who were kicked out of Rome include Aquila and Priscilla, and there they are waiting for Paul to arrive.Dan:
Yeah . They've become quite a good help for him, I think, and support him a lot in his missionary journey in general. Yep . Paul's going to move on from Corinth and head off to Ephesus. Why is Ephesus important? Why do we need to go there?David:
I think we Underestimate Ephesus, going to Ephesus. I would liken to go into New York. It's it's this, it's this huge city we were in Ephesus , having a wander through the place, looking at some of the most amazing , excavations and the Turks. Let me tell you, the Turks are the best archaeologists for preserving the site and looking after it. So they don't leave it open to the weather, like some other European archaeologists. So here we are i n Ephesus and we're, we're standing there and we're looking at the end of the excavation and the face of this wall of dirt that they haven't dug up yet. And we're chatting to the archaeologist. And he says t hat at the current rate of excavation, it will take 300 years to finish the city. It's like excavating Canberra with a toothbrush. We have no idea what's there, but it's massive. And the architecture i s amazing and the gods are all there. Of course, what I didn't realize even then, but I do now is Ephesus became the centre for the gospel to go right through the Lycus river valley and effectively through that whole part of Turkey, it becomes this massive, it's a trading centre it's linked to Roman roads. And the gospel virus is just going to run wild out of Ephesus. And when Paul gets there, it runs wild in Ephesus. All these people are getting converted. And the guys who were making all the little lucky charms are going out of business, it's affecting the economy of a city like New York.Dan:
Yeah . It's a big change to be happening in one city. And for them to care enough, to the point where they see that they're losing business and they're going to go broke. If they don't do something about it.David:
There's a little video of thing on the Billy Graham crusade in Melbourne and Sydney back in 1959 and people mock Billy Graham. And they give him a hard time. But so many people went to hear him. And so many people got converted. And a couple of the culture shocks that came out of that was the pubs in Sydney were complaining that the bar was empty for months after the Billy Graham crusade and the police at the Kings cross police station and Kings cross is the red light centre of Sydney , back in the, it was, you know, the players, All the crime gangs w ere t he, the night shift at Kings Cross police station w ere playing cards all night because they had nothing to do because the impact of the gospel cut the crime rate down to something minimal. And you look at Ephesus and here the guys that are making lucky charms go out of business, and now there's going to be this massive riot in Ephesus to try and get the magistrate, to get rid of those Christians. And the magistrate says you're breaking the law fellows. And if you don't go home, the Romans will not. Will cancel our free city status and we're all going to suffer. So just everybody go home, it'll be fine. You know, and you look at the power of the gospel to change a culture. It's really exciting stuff.Dan:
Well, thanks. It's definitely very clear that the gospel can change a culture and it can really have a massive impact on any aspect. I think of what's going on here as , as we've watched it expand and the different areas that are getting targeted, I guess, through the Holy Spirit, leading Paul and his mission and the changes that are happening are phenomenal. So that brings us to the end of episode, 28. If you'd like to go a bit deeper with this study, please head over to trainingforliferedeemed.com/28. And you'll be able to grab the study notes for this episode. And if you enjoyed the episode, we would love for you to leave a review. And of course, make sure that you subscribe and come back next week for the laugh or you'll come back on Friday, come back on Friday. This is what happens when you do weekly ones and then do them three in a week, come back and Friday for episode 29, where we're going to be looking at Acts 19 through to 21. And looking at once again a little bit closer at Ephesus , the farewells and as Paul starts to head back to Jerusalem, I hope you will join us then