Tuesday May 23, 2023

Acts 17:2

Tuesday, 23 May 2023


Then Paul, as his custom was, went in to them, and for three Sabbaths reasoned with them from the Scriptures, Acts 17:2


The previous verse noted that Paul and Silas had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia and had arrived at Thessalonica, noting that there was a synagogue of the Jews there. Now, the narrative continues with, “Then Paul, as his custom was.”


Rather, the verb is a perfect participle. Though a little clunky, it more rightly reads, “And Paul, as customized.” He was habitual in this regard, always following the same pattern which was that he “went in to them.”


As seen elsewhere, such as in Acts 13 and 14, Paul made it his habit to go into the synagogue of whatever city he traveled to. Being a rabbi, he would be respected for his training and sought after concerning his knowledge. This is no different than visiting pastors in churches today. They may be tested to check their doctrine, asked specific questions about various matters, and even asked to say a word at times. As for Paul in Thessalonica, it next says, “and for three Sabbaths reasoned with them.”


Paul’s reasoning would be concerning Christ Jesus. He certainly took the time to carefully show all the key details concerning what the ministry of the Messiah would be. The word translated as “reasoned” is dialegomai. It comes from dia, through, and legó, to say. According to HELPS Word Studies, it “is the process of giving and receiving information with someone to reach deeper understanding – a "going back-and-forth" of thoughts and ideas so people can better know the Lord (His word, will).”


As for these reasonings, it was just not something made up in his own head or that was passed down from other rabbis as tradition. Rather, he reasoned with them “from the Scriptures.” As Scripture is inspired by God, it is the ultimate source for people to know the Lord. Many of the things prophesied about the Messiah can only be clearly understood after the coming of Jesus. Even today, those who reject Jesus cannot clearly understand what is being conveyed concerning the role of the Messiah.


Thus, one may carefully reason from Scripture, aligning what it says with what Jesus has done. In this type of exchange of thoughts, if a person is willing to accept what is presented, there will be the illumination of Scripture so that it is properly understood. This is what Paul strove to do over those three Sabbaths at the synagogue in Thessalonica.


Life application: Paul took his time and reasoned from the Scriptures in order to bring understanding to those he spoke with. One cannot reasonably reason from Scriptures if those Scriptures are manipulated. It is the job of a translator to do what? Yes, you in the third row. Correct! The job of a translator is to translate.


In the case of the verb of this verse, often translated as “his custom was,” which is a noun and a verb, a verbal form was used to get a clearer sense, “And Paul, as customized.” The meaning here is not that much different and anyone would get the sense of what was being said from either translation. However, can you see any marked and purposeful change between these versions of Acts 17:2 -

According to his usual practice, Sha’ul went in; and on three Shabbats he gave them drashes from the Tanakh, (CJB)


And as he did bekvius (regularly), Rav Sha’ul joined their minyan, and on shloshah Shabbatot, he gave them drashot from the Kitvei HaKodesh, (OJB)

And according to his practice, Sha’ul went in unto them, and for three Shabbathoth was reasoning with them from the Scriptures. (Hallelujah Scriptures)


Then Paul, as his custom was, went in to them, and for three Sabbaths reasoned with them from the Scriptures,


Some of the differences are the use of Jewish wording to convey the same idea, making it simpler for a Jewish person to understand. That is an acceptable way of making something more understandable for a target audience. Obviously, if a person was never Jewish, it would be pointless to try to learn all new terminology just to understand what the Bible is saying.


However, in all three of these Jewish Bibles, there is a purposeful manipulation of the name Paul. As noted above by the person in the third row, the job of a translator is to translate, not manipulate. Paul’s Hebrew name, Saul, is stated 21 times in Acts 1-12. In those same chapters, the name Paul is never stated. However, in Acts 13-28, the name Paul is mentioned 132 times, whereas Saul is mentioned twice and only as an explanation of past events.


There is a reason for this that is completely obliterated by these manipulated Bibles. To change the name Paul to Saul as they have done is to change Scripture. As noted above, one cannot reasonably reason from Scriptures if those Scriptures are manipulated. God has revealed the redemptive narrative in His word. This includes the renaming of Saul to Paul.


When people with a set and perverse agenda purposefully twist what He has presented, it undermines the very intent of what God has put forth. The changing of Paul’s name is not an irrelevant issue. It is a key and central point of doctrine when rightly studied and understood. Further, combining a study of the uses of Peter’s name in relation to Paul’s name gives an even deeper understanding of what God is presenting. These things can no longer be rightly understood, studied, and discussed when the Scriptures have been so thoroughly distorted.


Don’t get caught up in the “Hebrew Hype” that all things Jewish are better than what has been presented for the past two thousand years. God has given us His word. When it is translated, the translator is to translate, not manipulate. Pay heed to this. Study to show yourself approved. And don’t get sidetracked by those who purposefully try to sway you away from what is proper.


Heavenly Father, Your word is far too precious to be marginalized, twisted, manipulated, trifled with, or distorted. Keep us from unsound translations of it and keep us from unsound teachers of it. May we carefully and tenderly consider this precious and sacred word all our days. Amen.

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