OPPOSITION AND A GREAT COMPLIMENT (ACTS 17:5-9). One might think that money like at Philippi would be at the root of Paul’s trouble in Thessalonica. The Jews might have envisioned a loss of financial support from the wealthy women who had converted to Christ. But envy was the issue, not money! Paul’s success infuriated the Jews for they looked on these very Gentiles as their converts and Paul was stealing them. It was for this very reason the Jews crucified Jesus. Pilate knew it was out of envy that they had handed Jesus over to him (Matthew 27:19).
The tactics the Jews used against Paul were bottom of the barrel. First, they aroused people who were street thugs. Second, they had dragged Jason and some other brothers before the magistrates and charged the Christian preachers with preaching political insurrection and rebellion—a charge, which they knew, was a lie. Their shouts were an echo of the chief priests in Jerusalem eighteen years earlier:
“Take him away! Take him away! Crucify him!” “Shall I crucify your king?” Pilate asked. “We have no king but Caesar,” the chief priests answered (John 19:15).
By this time, the missionaries had a reputation. So their third tactic is an accusation, they literally shouted:
The ones who have turned the inhabited world upside down also have arrived here.
In other words, these men are disrupting society. That is one of the greatest compliments ever paid to Christianity. The Jews recognized Christianity as an effective, powerful movement and knew it challenged Judaism and paganism. When Christianity takes hold it revolutionizes both the life of the individual and the life of society.
Satan is determined to keep the world in his dominion of darkness, and whenever, he does turmoil results. The missionaries did not lack courage and conviction; it was more advantageous to move on than to stay and fight. As soon as it was night, the brothers sent Paul and Silas away to Berea. Timothy may have already gone to Berea, which was sixty miles away.