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The Scriptorium

Reasoning, Explaining, and Demonstrating

It takes all three to get some saved. Acts 17.1-4

Savior and King (1)

Pray Psalm 149.1, 2.
Praise the LORD!
Sing to the LORD a new song,
And His praise in the assembly of saints.
Let Israel rejoice in their Maker;
Let the children of Zion be joyful in their King.

Sing Psalm 149.1, 2.
(Toulon: I Greet Thee Who My Sure Redeemer Art)
Sing to the Lord a glorious song and new!
Praise Him you people, to Whom praise is due!
Let us rejoice, let us be glad in Him
Who has created us and cleansed our sin.

Read and meditate on Acts 17.1-4.

1. What did Paul do in the synagogue?

2. How did the people respond?


Paul and his team moved on to the west and south, stopping in Thessalonica. Because a Jewish community was there, they resorted to the synagogue (v. 1). Even though he had turned to the Gentiles as his primary mission field, Paul never gave up on the Jews.

We note Paul’s patient and deliberate approach: reasoning, explaining, demonstrating from the Scriptures – the Old Testament – for three Sabbaths, and we can imagine, during the weeks between those Sabbaths (vv. 2, 3). Evangelism is about communicating, and communicating involves all the tools and methods of reason and human relations. And evangelism is about Jesus, and why He must be received as the Messiah of God (v. 3).

We also note that Paul’s arguing from the Old Testament Scriptures was persuasive, not merely to Jews, but to devout Greeks and high-born women. The Word of God is living and powerful. We must always keep it in the forefront of our witness for the Lord.

In his account, Luke seems to focus especially on the cities to which Paul would later write epistles – Philippi, Thessalonica, Corinth, Ephesus. Luke would have had the advantage both of Paul’s companionship and his writings in putting his history together in a way that would complement Paul’s ministry.

The ongoing work of Christ goes on, as more people hear the Good News, and more people believe. Is there a pattern here? One we should be seeking to emulate in our own Personal Mission Fields, and in our churches and communities?

Treasures Old and New: Matthew 13.52; Psalm 119.162
Explaining and demonstrating. Paul did this in Thessalonica and all the other places he went. He was emulating the way Jesus explained and demonstrated all the Scripture pertaining to Himself, after His resurrection.

Luke wrote about how Jesus conversed with the two disciples on the road to Emmaus: As they were on their way home, discussing everything that had happened “Jesus Himself drew near and went with them” (Lk. 24.15). They didn’t realize that it was Jesus Who had joined their journey. So, when He asked what they were talking about, they were almost impolitely astonished that He appeared unaware of the events.  “Are You the only stranger in Jerusalem, and have You not known the things which happened there is these days?” (Lk. 24.18) They surely could’ve toned that down a bit; but they go on to tell Him about the crucifixion and the disappearance of the buried Body of Jesus saying, “Him they did not see” (Lk. 24.24).

Then the demonstrating and explaining starts with a rejoinder that mirrors their astonishment with Him: “Then He said to them, ‘O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! Ought not the Christ to have suffered these things and to enter into His glory?” (Lk. 24.25, 26)

Now He has their full attention. “And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.” (Lk. 24.27) After Jesus had left them, they said to one another, “Did not our heart burn within us while He talked with us on the road, and while He opened the Scriptures to us?” (Lk. 24.32)

And that is exactly what we are called to do in our Personal Mission Field. As Moses told the children of Israel: “And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates” (Deut. 6.6-9). We are commanded to do it; knowing that the results are always up to the Holy Spirit.

Explaining and demonstrating. As we are going. Wherever, whatever, whenever, however, and with whomever. “Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching” (2 Tim. 4.2).

As Luke taught us: do it just like Jesus and Paul did.

For reflection
1. Reasoning, explaining, demonstrating. How would you define each of these words?

2. How do these words help you understand what you should be doing in your Personal Mission Field?

3. Will everyone you talk with be persuaded? Will “some” (v. 4)? What should you do for those who are persuaded?

He made both things known from the Scriptures at the same time, that the Christ had to suffer and to rise and that this suffering and resurrection pertained to none other than Jesus of Nazareth. The Venerable Bede (672-735), Commentary on the Acts of the Apostles 17.3

Pray Psalm 149.3-9.
Rejoice in the salvation of the Lord, and prepare in prayer for the ongoing work the Lord will do in and through you today. Pray for an opportunity to talk with someone about the Gospel and to encourage a fellow believer.

Sing Psalm 149.3-9.
(Toulon: I Greet Thee Who My Sure Redeemer Art)
Praise Him with dance, with tambourine and lyre!
To be so praised is God’s one great desire.
Lord, beautify Your holy ones with grace;
show us the mercy of Your saving face.

Sing to the Lord, exult with great delight!
Sing on your beds with joy to God by night!
Sing praise and take His Word into your hand;
publish His grace and wrath in every land!

T. M. and Susie Moore

You can listen to a summary of last week’s Scriptorium study by going to our website,, and clicking theScriptorium tab for last Sunday. You can download any or all the studies in this series on Acts by clicking here.

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Except as indicated, all Scriptures are taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. For sources of all quotations, see the weekly PDF of this study. All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalter (Williston: Waxed Tablet Publications, 2006), available by clicking here.

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in the Champlain Valley of Vermont.
Books by T. M. Moore

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