Obstacles that Hinder the Work

We all know what sins are, but let me focus for a moment on hindrances. Hindrances are those things that may not be sins, but still keep you from living a life totally surrendered to God. Imagine you are at a track meet, and they’re lining up for the 100 meter dash. Everyth … More


Not wanting to cause further trouble for Jason and the other Christians, Paul and Silas left Thessalonica by night and traveled southwest to Berea (v. 10), about 45 miles away. One might have expected Paul to switch up his tactics in Berea, but as usual they went right to the synagogue. Paul realized that despite the chance of persecution there was also a chance of finding a believing remnant. They found a group of people who were keenly interested in studying the Old Testament (v. 11), and many of them believed, notably including a group of Greek women of high standing and men as well (v. 12). Once again, the unbelieving Jews from Thessalonica heard that Paul and Silas were ministering in Berea, and they came to stir up the people (v. 13). As before, Paul had to leave town quietly to avoid more trouble for the Christians. This time the believers in Berea outsmarted the enemy by placing Paul on a ship headed for Athens (v. 14). Timothy and Silas stayed behind to strengthen the new converts. 

Paul arrived in Athens, the intellectual capital of the ancient world, and the center of idolatry, education, and philosophy. Paul’s spirit was provoked within him, seeing the state of the city. “The city was wholly given to idolatry” (v. 16), and people spent their time telling or hearing “some new thing” (v. 21). Athens illustrates to what great heights of achievement man can ascend and still be ignorant of God. It also illustrates what knowledge amounts to apart from divine revelation. The two main philosophies of that time were the Epicureans and the Stoics. The Epicureans were materialistic atheists whose main goal in life was pleasure. The Stoics were the exact opposite, being very religious and emphasizing personal discipline. The Epicureans said, “Enjoy life,” and the Stoics said, “Endure life.” Paul’s preaching soon gained the interest of the people, and they invited him to come speak at the Areopagus (Mars Hill) (vv. 19-20). 


When I’m facing a crisis in ministry, like the one Paul faced in Thessalonica, I need to remind myself that the Lord is faithful. There might be a Berea or an Athens just ahead. 

Acts 17:10-21 (English Standard Version)

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