Summary: Many situations can make us feel alone and outnumbered. Paul shows us what to do in a situation like that.
Alone and Outnumbered -- What Should I Do?
Sermon by Rick Crandall
McClendon Baptist Church - Aug. 22, 2007
*Tonight Paul is alone in Athens, and he has some things to teach us about being alone. But before we read Acts 17:15-21, let’s remember why Paul was alone in Athens. First it was for his safety. The trouble in Acts 17 started in Thessalonica. We see that in vs. 4-6:
4. And some of [the Jews] were persuaded; and a great multitude of the devout Greeks, and not a few of the leading women, joined Paul and Silas.
5. But the Jews who were not persuaded, becoming envious, took some of the evil men from the marketplace, and gathering a mob, set all the city in an uproar and attacked the house of Jason, and sought to bring them out to the people.
6. But when they did not find them, they dragged Jason and some brethren to the rulers of the city, crying out, “These who have turned the world upside down have come here too.”
*Next the trouble followed them to Berea, as we see in vs. 10-14:
10. Then the brethren immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea. When they arrived, they went into the synagogue of the Jews.
11. These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so.
12. Therefore many of them believed, and also not a few of the Greeks, prominent women as well as men.
13. But when the Jews from Thessalonica learned that the word of God was preached by Paul at Berea, they came there also and stirred up the crowds.
14. Then immediately the brethren sent Paul away, to go to the sea; but both Silas and Timothy remained there.
*Paul spent time alone in Athens for his safety -- But also because of his love and concern for the church they started in Thessalonica. Luke did not tell us this, but Paul later did when he wrote his first letter to the church at Thessalonica. Listen to what he said in 1 Thess 2:17-3:2...
1 Thess 2:17-20
But we, brethren, having been taken away from you for a short time in presence, not in heart, endeavored more eagerly to see your face with great desire. Therefore we wanted to come to you even I, Paul, time and again but Satan hindered us. For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Is it not even you in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at His coming? For you are our glory and joy.
1 Thess 3:1-2
Therefore, when we could no longer endure it, we thought it good to be left in Athens alone, and sent Timothy, our brother and minister of God, and our fellow laborer in the gospel of Christ, to establish you and encourage you concerning your faith.
*This could have been a second time Paul was alone in Athens, and Silas may have been with him, but whether it was for his temporary safety or out of his love for the church -- Paul was basically alone. Let’s see what he did in vs. 15-21...
15. So those who conducted Paul brought him to Athens; and receiving a command for Silas and Timothy to come to him with all speed, they departed.
16. Now while Paul waited for them at Athens, his spirit was provoked within him when he saw that the city was given over to idols.
17. Therefore he reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and with the Gentile worshipers, and in the marketplace daily with those who happened to be there.
18. Then certain Epicurean and Stoic philosophers encountered him. And some said, "What does this babbler want to say?’’ Others said, "He seems to be a proclaimer of foreign gods,’’ because he preached to them Jesus and the resurrection.
19. And they took him and brought him to the Areopagus, saying, "May we know what this new doctrine is of which you speak?
20. "For you are bringing some strange things to our ears. Therefore we want to know what these things mean.’’
21. For all the Athenians and the foreigners who were there spent their time in nothing else but either to tell or to hear some new thing.
*Most of us have had the experience of being cut off from someone we love. Many times it’s by death, sometimes it’s by divorce -- But all kinds of experiences can cause us to feel isolated and alone.
*The Empty Nest is another good example. There is a luncheon group of older moms in New York that goes by the name, “It Wouldn’t Hurt You to Call Me Once in a While Club.” (1)