Thursday, 25 May 2023
And some of them were persuaded; and a great multitude of the devout Greeks, and not a few of the leading women, joined Paul and Silas. Acts 17:4
A more literal rendering than that of the NKJV needs to be used – “And some of them were persuaded and joined themselves to Paul and to Silas, along with a great multitude of the worshiping Greeks, and not a few of the leading women” (CG).
Paul has been in the synagogue at Thessalonica for three Sabbaths discussing the matter concerning Israel’s Messiah. He has just said, “This Jesus whom I preach to you is the Christ.” With that, it now notes, “And some of them were persuaded.”
Some translations say, “believed,” but this is not the word pisteuo found in verses such as John 3:16. Rather, this word, peithó, means to urge or to persuade. It is the root of the word pistis, or faith. They were persuaded, having faith that what they were told was true. Even if the meaning is that they believed, it is based on Paul’s teaching and urging. In this, they were persuaded, “and joined themselves to Paul and to Silas.”
It is a word found only here in Scripture, proskléroó. It signifies to assign by lot, to associate with, or to follow as a disciple. The basis of the word is kléroó, to assign by lot. Hence, it is to share common lot with another.
They have accepted the message that Jesus is the Christ and have thrown their lot in with those who proclaim Him. This has been referring to the Jews in the synagogue. However, they are not the only ones who have been so persuaded. It next notes, “along with a great multitude of the worshiping Greeks.”
Calling them “worshiping Greeks,” means that they were proselytes to some degree or another. They had already accepted that the God proclaimed in the Jewish Scriptures was the true God and had worshiped Him as such. However, they have now been convinced, right from those same Scriptures, that Jesus is the fulfillment of them. He, in fact, is the promised Messiah. As a note of the universality of the message, it next says, “and not a few of the leading women.”
These would be influential women who were probably connected with ranking families within the community. They may have been proselytes, or they may have been the wives of some of the proselytes who came and they wanted to identify with their husbands. The main point is that the women were not excluded from this fellowship and these women were influential in their circles. Thus, they would become a means of attracting others as they developed in their own faith.
Of the status of women in Macedonia, the Pulpit Commentary says –
“Popular prejudice, and the verdict of Grecian wisdom in its best age, asserted her natural inferiority. The Athenian law provided that everything which a man might do by the counsel or request of a woman should be null in law. She was little better than a slave. To educate her was to advertise her as a harlot. Her companions were principally children and slaves. In Macedonia, however, monuments were erected to women by public bodies; and records of male proper names are found, in Macedonian inscriptions, formed on the mother's name instead of on the father's. Macedonian women were permitted to hold property, and were treated as mistresses of the house.”
Life application: In 1 Thessalonians 1:9, Paul says to those in the congregation, “...how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God.” This would obviously be people other than those who were mentioned in Acts 17:4. What can be inferred is that Paul and Silas talked to others throughout the week. Their soul-focus (pun intended) was not just on those at the synagogue, but it extended to pagans as well.
Though it was Paul’s practice to teach at the synagogue, it was also his passion to speak about Jesus to anyone at any time. It is a good lesson for us all. Our interactions with others regarding Jesus do not have to be limited to our time at church. Rather, we should be ready and willing to interact with people at all times. When the opportunity arises, let us open our mouths and speak!
Lord God, may we never withhold the precious, saving message of Jesus. Rather, give us the boldness to always tell others about His goodness. May You be glorified in our willingness to share the gospel often and with zeal. Be with us as we do! Amen.