Acts 17:1-9 – Paul and Silas Preach in Thessalonica


Acts 17:1-9


Paul and Silas visit Thessalonica, where they encounter opposition to their preaching.


This passage describes Paul and Silas visiting Thessalonica for the first time. Thessalonica was located, with Philippi, on the Egnatian Way, a major east-west travel and trade route. Thessalonica was the center of the Roman government in the province of Macedonia.

The narrative in Acts and Paul’s letter of 1 Thessalonians differ somewhat in the details of the Thessalonian mission. Acts describes the missionaries persuading and facing hostility from Jewish audiences in the city, while 1 Thessalonians remembers Paul, Silas (Silvanus), and Timothy working with Gentile audiences (though see the polemical text in 1 Thessalonians 2:14‒16, regarded as a later addition by some scholars). The “devout Greeks” that Acts mentions in 17:4 are Gentiles who attend the Jewish synagogue. Such people would not normally be characterized as having “turned to God from idols” (1 Thessalonians 1:9).

Those who oppose Paul and his associates accuse them of “turning the world upside down” (Acts 17:6). Though exaggerated, this charge ironically acknowledges the world-transforming effects of the Christ-centered gospel.