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   “But the Jews…began dragging Jason (a Jew)…before the authorities (not Jews) shouting ‘these men’ (3 Jews) who have upset the world (both Jews and non-Jews) have come here¹…and they all act contrary to the decrees of Caesar (not a Jew) saying that there is another king…’ “

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    This is from a selectively edited passage in the Bible:  Acts 17:5-7. Anytime a person does this to a Bible passage, a person–who stops to consider it–should not forget to examine the context to see if the editor is not unfairly distorting the text itself. In this case, the intention is to illustrate the intense difficulties and confusion of the early Christian church in presenting the Gospel that many of today’s Christians take for granted.

   In short, the Apostle Paul along with Silas and Timothy (“the 3 Jews”) were trying to reasonably share the recent history of the life of Jesus (a Jew, and the “another king” above) and included that this Jesus was the long-promised Jewish Messiah and had died and risen again from the dead².

   This was significantly connected to the religion of the Jews…and the God-fearing “Greeks” that seemed accepted by the Jews³, especially the ones living somewhat far away from Jerusalem.

   This led to jealousy from established Jewish leaders, intense interest of the interested Greeks, and a tangle of expectations and new responsibilities.

   “Outsiders” were presented with new hope, new opportunity, and joy.

   Those with social advantages and power were terrified for many reasons.

   This presented the perfect environment for misunderstanding, rioting, and social unrest.

   And this was what followed sharing the Good News that the evangelists brought.

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   ¹ Thessalonica (in now what we call Turkey)

   ² Sensational news “back then” did not enjoy the instant communication we now take for granted.

   ³ Almost always there were non-Jews “hanging around” the Jewish synagogues, seemingly aware that the Jews were on to something that was True and mattered–something that they did not have. In many ways the coming of Jesus opened the door much wider to the possibilities of encountering God, living better lives now and gaining salvation in the hereafter. For whatever reasons, this “opening to a larger world” seemed to be according to God’s purpose.