Acts 17:5-8; 10-13
5 But the Jews became jealous, and they brought together some scoundrels from the marketplace, formed a mob, and started a riot in the city. Attacking Jason’s house, they searched for them to bring them out to the public assembly. 6 When they did not find them, they dragged Jason and some of the brothers before the city officials, shouting, “These men who have turned the world upside down have come here too, 7 and Jason has received them as guests! They are all acting contrary to Caesar’s decrees, saying that there is another king—Jesus!” 8 The Jews stirred up the crowd and the city officials who heard these things.
10 As soon as it was night, the brothers sent Paul and Silas off to Berea. On arrival, they went into the synagogue of the Jews. 11 The people here were more open-minded than those in Thessalonica, since they welcomed the message with eagerness and examined the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so. 12 Consequently, many of them believed, including a number of the prominent Greek women as well as men. 13 But when the Jews from Thessalonica found out that God’s message had been proclaimed by Paul at Berea, they came there too, agitating and disturbing the crowds.
Our society has appeared to master the phrase, “It’s all about me.” After reading this passage, I was struck mostly by the fruits of the flesh as demonstrated in the form of jealousy, hatred, pride, and rebellion. Not only do we see an overt demonstration of rebuking the truth, we see an all out war to destroy those who were transformed and called to speak the truth according to God’s command.
I do not want us to overlook the evil properties in the “simple” word – jealously. Acts 17:5 clearly states, “But the Jews became jealous, and they brought together some scoundrels from the marketplace, formed a mob, and started a riot in the city.” The dark truth behind such a common word remains worldly and not of Christ.
Jealousy was not afraid to be mentioned but ‘he’ rarely travels alone. He was flanked by a rather stout support system in pride, rebellion, resentment, hatred, and death. You see, the unbelievers could have simply rejected the gospel and moved on with their lives. Yet, this is not what we read. Not only did they reject God’s message and messengers, the evil rulers and principalities of this dark world easily influenced these “religious followers” to destroy any word of Christ through riots and mobs. The fruits of the flesh were so strong that these influenced souls were persuaded to follow Paul and Silas to Berea once they heard of many coming to Christ. This my friends, is what one would call a purposeful intent to destroy.
I am afraid to say that we continue to experience this today. Even more, I am saddened to say that many whom we call religious followers are the very ones inciting rebellion of the truth. This masquerades in the form of legalism and traditionalism. We may not see spiritual riots in the rural streets of America (yet) as we note in this passage; however, we see the work of the evil one in similar ways. There remains a war across the various denominations as outlined by the evil rulers of this world. We continue to argue over hermeneutics all while the lost remain lost. Jesus continues to says, “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.” (Revelation 3:20)
I pray that we do not miss the truth! First and foremost, “Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.” (Colossians 3:2) Ask God to unveil your eyes to your fleshly fruits and strip them away. May we all unite as believers to the true gospel of Christ and draw others to Him. “12 There is one body, but it has many parts. But all its many parts make up one body. It is the same with Christ. 13 We were all baptized by one Holy Spirit. And so we are formed into one body. It didn’t matter whether we were Jews or Gentiles, slaves or free people. We were all given the same Spirit to drink. 14 So the body is not made up of just one part. It has many parts.” (1 Corinthians 12:12-14)
Outside of this spiritual revelation, I am always giving God the glory for the victories in Christ. No matter how much the evil rulers and principalities tried to destroy God’s message, Acts 17:12 says, “Many of them believed, including a number of the prominent Greek women as well as men.” Genesis 50:20 says, “20 You planned evil against me; God planned it for good to bring about the present result—the survival of many people.” Praise God that He is the ultimate winner – He is victorious, holds the keys, and reigns supreme.
Question: Do you find yourself inciting “religious riots” or drawing others to Christ?