Summary: Being a successful witness will take preparation.
Preparation Is Everything
Text: Acts 17:1-9
1. Illustration: Several centuries ago, a Japanese emperor commissioned an artist to paint a bird. A number of months passed, then several years, and still no painting was brought to the palace. Finally the emperor became so exasperated that he went to the artist's home to demand an explanation. Instead of making excuses, the artist placed a blank canvas on the easel. In less than an hour, he completed a painting that was to become a brilliant masterpiece. When the emperor asked the reason for the delay, the artist showed him armloads of drawings of feathers, wings, heads, and feet. Then he explained that all of this research and study had been necessary before he could complete the painting.
2. To accomplish anything of importance in this life it is going to take preparation.
F. It all takes preparation to succeed.
3. This is especially true in our spiritual lives. It will take preparation to...
4. Let's stand together as we read Acts 17:1-9.
Proposition: Being a successful witness will take preparation.
Transition: Are you...
I. Preparing To Witness (1-4).
A. He Used The Scriptures
1. Paul is living proof of the need to prepare yourself to witness to others.
2. Luke begins this chapter with "Paul and Silas then traveled through the towns of Amphipolis and Apollonia and came to Thessalonica, where there was a Jewish synagogue."
A. After Paul, Silas, and Timothy left Philippi, they proceeded westward on the Via Egnatia.
B. The next two towns of any size, each about a day's journey apart, apparently had no Jewish synagogue; and so they pushed on to Thessalonica (one hundred miles from Philippi), "where there was a Jewish synagogue."
C. Thessalonica was one of the wealthiest and most influential cities in Macedonia, with a population of over 200,000.
D. This is the first city where Paul’s teachings attracted a large group of socially prominent citizens.
E. The most important Roman highway (the Egnatian Way)—extending from Rome all the way to the Orient—went through Thessalonica.
F. This highway, along with the city’s thriving seaport, made Thessalonica one of the wealthiest and most flourishing trade centers in the Roman Empire.
G. Recognized as a free city, Thessalonica was allowed self-rule and was exempted from most of the restrictions placed by Rome on other cities in the Empire.
H. With its international flavor, however, came many pagan religions and cultural influences that challenged the faith of the young Christians there.(Barton 533).
3. Here is where we see Paul's preparation. In vv. 2-3 it says, "As was Paul’s custom, he went to the synagogue service, and for three Sabbaths in a row he used the Scriptures to reason with the people. He explained the prophecies and proved that the Messiah must suffer and rise from the dead. He said, “This Jesus I’m telling you about is the Messiah.”
A. Again Luke draws attention to Paul's "custom" of going to the Jew first and taking advantage of their background and of the opportunity given by the synagogue to teach.
B. For three successive Sabbaths, Paul "reasoned with them," undoubtedly following the same pattern as in Pisidian Antioch (Acts 13:16-41).
C. As always he opened with Scriptures that prophesied the Messiah, explaining them fully.
D. That is, he set them out in such a way that they clearly showed it was God's divine purpose for the Messiah to "suffer and rise from the dead."
E. As in Antioch also, he showed that none of these prophecies could apply to anyone but Jesus.
F. Therefore, "this Jesus" truly is "the Christ," the Messiah, God's anointed Prophet, Priest, and King (Horton, 291).
G. Now let me ask you, how could Paul do this without preparation?
H. Paul could use the Scriptures to tell these people about Jesus as the Messiah if he had not studied the Scriptures?
I. I would contend with you that Paul put in the time in the Scriptures, so that he could use them to minister to others.
4. Then look at the results, "Some of the Jews who listened were persuaded and joined Paul and Silas, along with many God-fearing Greek men and quite a few prominent women."
A. The result of the ministry of Paul and Silas was the conversion of several Jews and God-fearers
Fernando, NIV Application Commentary, 458).
B. It is obvious that after the three weeks preaching in the synagogue, Paul and Silas continued to preach and teach in the city, probably in Jason's house (v. 5).
C. First and 2 Thessalonians show that Paul covered all the great truths of the gospel.
D. However, both letters show the Thessalonians were loving, self-sacrificing people who suffered persecution and stood true, but the death of some believers brought questions about the Rapture and about the Second Coming (Horton, 292)