Notes on Acts 17,18

Acts 17‑18  •  5 min. read  •  grade level: 5
As Paul preached the resurrection, some mocked; others said, We will hear thee again. It is solemn that after that wondrous address to that worldly-wise people, they should mock, or say they would hear him again. But as far as we know, they never did hear him again. Of course, any time may be the last time. They would not have minded how long they argued, but those who did not mock turned away—“Howbeit certain men clave unto him.”
One has no hope at all, save in the Holy Spirit. What could be hoped for when Paul preached with nothing carnal to back it up? But when we bring God in, it is all right. The church of God is on earth, those who by the Spirit have been baptized into one body; who have received the good tidings of salvation.
Paul was here preparing the way for what came after. The scriptures were the great safeguard. What might adversaries not have brought in but for the scriptures? They had the scriptures, and could prove all things from the scriptures; the Lord Himself said, “Search the scriptures.” It is a great blessing to us in this land that we have the scriptures, and can compare everything with it.
Chapter 27:28. “He testified that Jesus was the Christ.” All this affects us as much as it did them. Are the blessed truths of the gospel as a pleasant tale or a pleasant song passed by? It may not have been the opposing or the blaspheming, but insensibly many a one goes on hardening his heart. All the blessed truths of the gospel are talked about as a pleasant tale, and then they go about their employments as light as ever; and so pass by the only remedy for their souls. They may talk about the progress of religion, &c, but that is only passing by the remedy.
Paul boldly asserted that the One they had rejected was the Lord of glory. They had cast Him out. Israel had rejected Him, their Messiah. They crucified Him in whom all their hopes were bound up. “They opposed and blasphemed;” and, as we read this, it has not the point and bearing it might well have.
A Christian is a person who has not a will of his own, that belongs to the old man. I know it crops up, but the more we give ourselves to the word of God and prayer, the more we shall find it out. We want to make plenty of room for the things of God. Our little mind is soon full, we want a vacant space, as it were, to treasure up the things of God.
Distinctness of separation from all that is dubious and doubtful is very necessary, If those here (ver. 7) had gone and mixed, how confusing it would have been. I can only worship with those who are alive from the dead, and who are acting out in their worship that which is according to the scriptures. There was separation here, and then the blessing comes. These Jews (chap. 18) were in a heathen land, and far from the temple; but they kept to the worship of the one God, and read the scriptures.
The truth for us is always the truth in advance. A few years ago, I remember a clergyman who was hooted and expelled for preaching the simple gospel of justification by faith. What was once peculiar has now become common. And when a truth becomes popular, the offense of the cross has ceased; but if we get beyond the line of the world, then there comes persecution. The truth is held by unconverted people in a worldly way.
We get here the planting of the church at Corinth (ver. 11); eighteen months Paul was there, and no one could set on him. Paul preached, the hearers believed and were baptized. Paul, then, was teaching them; but they had no New Testament scriptures. They had the Old Testament and Paul’s teaching, and there was large blessing and miraculous power. But that power was not the chief thing: but the grace of God that bringeth salvation was converting lascivious people, and a case of immorality was not allowed inside. The religion of the place was immorality; but they had got “he that hath this hope in him purifieth himself even as he is pure,” Paul did not teach them eighteen months without their having the hope of the glory, and the speedy coming of the Lord. (1 Cor. 1:1010Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment. (1 Corinthians 1:10).) “I beseech, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ”—consecrating the name of Jesus, adding, Lord, Christ, Everything short of the level of Christ is too low. We are always cast down to think how little we have attained, but if we have purpose of heart we endeavor to walk according to Him. An action has the same importance if done with the thought of His coming, whether He comes or not. The power of the coming of the Lord upon the walk is, that every single thing should be done with reference to that coming. And we are always brought to the confession of loss, by allowing things which are not according to Christ. All were to speak the same thing, that there be no divisions. There were contentions, not schisms. If anything approaches to contention, how pleasant to drop it at once. Paul does not go into particulars about it, he drops the mantle over it; but he speaks out. Evil begins in contentions and strife, and the apostle warns of it.
What a comfort we do not want the wisdom of words. What we want is the gospel. All the news from God is good news.
He will not tolerate evil, and He has fixed the standard so high that our ambition is to be Christly, that is, Christ-like. And, while we are humbled at the distance that we walk after Christ, let us encourage one another.
G. J.