Now when they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where there was a synagogue of the Jews. 2 And Paul went in, as was his custom, and on three Sabbath days he reasoned with them from the Scriptures, 3 explaining and proving that it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead, and saying, “This Jesus, whom I proclaim to you, is the Christ.” 4 And some of them were persuaded and joined Paul and Silas, as did a great many of the devout Greeks and not a few of the leading women. 5 But the Jews were jealous, and taking some wicked men of the rabble, they formed a mob, set the city in an uproar, and attacked the house of Jason, seeking to bring them out to the crowd. 6 And when they could not find them, they dragged Jason and some of the brothers before the city authorities, shouting, “These men who have turned the world upside down have come here also, 7 and Jason has received them, and they are all acting against the decrees of Caesar, saying that there is another king, Jesus.” 8 And the people and the city authorities were disturbed when they heard these things. 9 And when they had taken money as security from Jason and the rest, they let them go. – Acts 17:1-9
In Acts 17, Paul and Silas enter into Thessalonica. In the synagogue, Paul not only preaches the death and resurrection of Christ, the text says he “reasoned with them from the Scriptures.” (verse 2). What does it mean to reason from the Scriptures?
As always, context is key. What was Paul trying to prove? He was trying to show how the Christ, the Messiah, needed to suffer and die for sin. The crucifixion was anything but a loss for Christ, it was planned long ago. Before the foundation of the earth (Revelation 13:8) it was always God’s plan for the Son to sacrifice Himself for sin. But, Paul used the Scriptures, the Old Testament at that time, to show this truth. Like Jesus on the Road to Emmaus, he used the entirety of the known Scriptures to show the purpose and plan of Christ.
To say that Paul reasoned from Scripture is to say that Paul knew the Scriptures on such a level that he, like a workman that is not ashamed, was able to go beyond a mere surface level of Scripture and point men to the deeper, fuller understanding of the Bible as a whole. He knew how to fit the individual pieces into the larger puzzle to show the whole picture.
How do we use the Word of God? Do we pull pieces here and there? Do we see Scripture as something that points to Christ or something that is merely meant to reinforce our preconceived ideas or even just something to make me feel better, an encouraging thought for the day? Paul used the Scripture in such a way as to show the importance of Jesus and the Gospel. See Christ in Scripture and point others to Him!
One final note on this passage, notice the response to Scriptural message of Jesus. Not everyone was thrilled. Some were offended. Verse 6 says, “But the Jews were jealous, and taking some wicked men of the rabble, they formed a mob, set the city in an uproar, and attacked the house of Jason, seeking to bring them out to the crowd.” When the Word is properly preached, the result may not be revival but rejection. You can do everything right and still be rejected this by this world.
Remember, men do not reject God merely because they have an intellectual objection or had a bad experience with bad Christians. Ultimately men reject God because their sinful hearts are darkened. Men reject God because they are depraved. The natural man does not accept that which is spiritually discerned.
So, my encouragement then is to keep on faithfully preaching the Word. A lack of results or rejection of the message does not necessarily mean you are at fault or that your message needs to change. If you are faithfully expositing the text, teaching sound doctrine and using that to point men to Jesus and his gospel, keep on preaching!