Of the MANY lessons to learn from Acts 17, here are two important ones: First we see a vivid contrast in the response between the Jewish community in Thessalonica and the Jews at Berea, when they heard the gospel (vv. 5-11). The Jews of Thessalonica did not welcome Paul’s message, and responded by causing a riot and assaulting Jason and other Jews who did become Christians. In Berea, however, the members of the synagogue responded to the words of Paul and Silas by comparing them with the (old testament) scriptures to see if they agreed with what they already recognized as God’s word. The lesson WE should learn is to always “search the scriptures” when confronted with any religious teaching, to determine whether or not it is true!
The second point to note in Acts 17 comes from Paul’s statement in verse 30; “Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent….” The Holy Spirit’s words here are important because they show that no person is exempt from accountability before God! Every person who lives in the era of the gospel (i.e., in our day) must answer to God for their actions and their obedience (or disobedience) to the gospel of Jesus Christ. Just as Peter had declared in Acts 4:12 that there is no “alternative track” for salvation through someone other than Jesus (such as Mohammed, Buddha, etc.), so Paul says very plainly (vs. 31) that we will all be judged by Jesus (the “man whom he has ordained”). This agrees exactly with Romans 14:12 and 2 Corinthians 5:10, as well as with the Lord’s own words in Matthew 16:27 and 25:31-33.
The experience of Aquila and Priscilla with Apollos (Acts 18:24-28) shows that we must not fall into the denominational world’s snare of reasoning that “so-and-so is ‘pretty close’ to the truth, so I’ll just overlook a ‘minor’ difference in our doctrines for the sake of unity.” While Aquila and Priscilla did not interrupt Apollos while he speaking, they did speak to him privately, specifically to correct and complete his knowledge (and thus his preaching) about the Christ. Genuine Christian unity rests only on the truth of God’s word!
When Paul arrived at Ephesus in Acts 19:1-5, he also encountered men (perhaps disciples of Apollos) whose knowledge of the gospel was “imperfect.” Because their knowledge was incomplete, their response to the Lord had been inaccurate, and resulted in incomplete obedience – they had not been baptized into Christ, even though they had been baptized (with John’s baptism, vs. 3). Many people in a similar situation (those immersed according a denominational doctrine) object that “I’ve already been baptized, so I’m already a Christian,” but these men did not object or hesitate. Verse 5 tells us that they were immediately baptized “in the name of (on the authority of) the Lord Jesus.” Instead of arguing that their previous baptism was “valid,” these men acted promptly to insure perfect obedience to the Lord’s command.
Acts 20:7 presents the most direct, succinct statement in the new testament about “when” Christians are to gather for worship. Though some people contend that “the day doesn’t matter, all that ‘counts’ is our intention,” in verse 6 we learn that Paul waited at Troas for seven days in order to meet with the brethren there when they gathered for worship. If there were no other verse in the new testament that specified worship on the “first day of the week,” we would be no less obligated to meet for worship each Sunday than if there were one hundred verses which all specified “every Sunday!” How many times must God say something before we are obligated to obey? Only once!