Online Bible Commentary
God Honors Hard Work
Acts 17:10 Then the brethren immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea. When they arrived, they went into the synagogue of the Jews. 11 These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so. 12 Therefore many of them believed, and also not a few of the Greeks, prominent women as well as men. 13 But when the Jews from Thessalonica learned that the word of God was preached by Paul at Berea, they came there also and stirred up the crowds. 14 Then immediately the brethren sent Paul away, to go to the sea; but both Silas and Timothy remained there. 15 So those who conducted Paul brought him to Athens; and receiving a command for Silas and Timothy to come to him with all speed, they departed. (NKJV)
The time is about A.D. 50. Paul is on his second missionary journey. Paul and Silas began the journey from their home church in Antioch, Syria. They visited churches in Southern Galatia that they had started during Paul and Barnabas’ first missionary journey. In Lystra Timothy joined them from his home church there.
The three missionaries continued westward, traveling through Asia but not being called to minister there. They were joined in Troas, Asia by Luke and sailed to Europe.
In Europe they ministered in Philippi, Macedonia where Paul and Silas were imprisoned overnight. Timothy and Luke remained in Philippi while Paul and Silas were asked to leave by the authorities. The two missionaries then traveled to Thessalonica where the Jews stirred up a mob and tried to have them arrested.
In this passage we see that some of the disciples that Paul and Silas made in Thessalonica “sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea” for their safety (v. 10a). Berea was about fifty miles west of Thessalonica.
Paul and Silas immediately went to work, heading to the synagogue (v. 10b). After the persecution they had encountered in Philippi and Thessalonica, Berea was a refreshing change. God was opening doors for them.
The Jews in the synagogue were open to accepting the gospel and many of them believed including Greeks and some prominent women and men in the city (vv. 11a &12). “They received the word with all readiness” (v. 11b). They “searched the scriptures daily”, excited to learn more (v. 11c). This had to have been very fulfilling for the missionaries.
However, then the Jews from Thessalonica caught up with the missionaries, and again they “stirred up the crowds” against them (v. 13). By this time Timothy had joined back up with Paul and Silas.
Apparently Paul was the central figure carrying out the ministry and the mob was focused on him. So the new disciples in Berea had to send Paul away, for his safety (v. 14). This time they sent him far away.
The new disciples from Berea accompanied Paul to Athens, Greece some 200 miles south by boat (v. 15a). When it was time for the disciples to return to Berea, Paul sent word with them to ask Silas and Timothy to immediately join him in Athens (v. 15b).
This passage was a microcosm of Paul’s missionary journeys. He had lots of successes mixed in with lots of persecution. The missionaries always seemed to be looking over their shoulders, trying to outrun their detractors.
Of course the detractors always appeared to be the hard core Jews along with some Gentiles who had converted to Judaism. This was the nature of spreading the gospel. It was not easy.
However, God honored their efforts. Conversions were happening along every stop. Groups of believers were sprouting up and God was adding to their numbers. Churches were being started.
God always honors our efforts. Whether it is working hard at your job or studying hard at school He always honors our efforts. Life may not be easy, but if you work hard God will honor your efforts.