Acts 17:1-9 A three-week revival brings trouble. In Thessalonica, Paul led both Jews and Greeks to Christ (Acts 17:1-4). As usual, however, some Jews stirred up trouble, accusing the apostles of turning "the world upside down" and defying Roman law.
Acts 17:10-15 Berean Bible students. Paul and Silas left Thessalonica by night for Berea, where they found the people more interested in the Scriptures than those in Thessalonica. Once again Paul's stay was cut short because of trouble with the Jews. Leaving Berea, he headed for Athens.
Acts 17:16-21 The preacher and the philosophers. After a lively encounter with Epicurean and Stoic philosophers in Athens, Paul was invited to discuss Jesus and his resurrection at their public forum, called the Areopagus or "Mars' hill" (Acts 17:22, KJV). The followers of Epicurus (341-270 b.c.) believed that while God existed, he had no interest in humankind, and the main purpose of life was pleasure. The Stoics believed God was the world's soul, and life's goal was to rise above all things, showing no emotional response to either pain or pleasure. Both groups took a dim view of Paul's theology, calling him a "babbler" (Greek spermologos, Acts 17:18, which described birds making their nests).
Acts 17:22-34 Paul's message from Mars Hill. Paul began his address to the philosophers by mentioning all the altars he had seen in Athens, each bearing the name of a different false deity. Recalling one altar dedicated "To an Unknown God," he presented to them the true God, Creator and Controller of all things, final Judge of all humanity, and Redeemer of all who would repent (Acts 17:22-31). When Paul climaxed his sermon by telling of Christ's resurrection, some of his hearers believed, others mocked, and some weren't persuaded but still had an open mind (Acts 17:32-34).