Acts 17: Turning the World Upside Down

These are the people who are turning the world upside down! (17:6)

What an incredible thing to have people say about you, especially as Christians, especially knowing that upside down is really right side up!  What do such people talk about along their revolutionary way?

They’re saying that there is another king, Jesus! (17:7)

The kingship of Jesus was foundational to the message of the gospel from its beginning.  If you want to shake up a society, preach that Jesus is King.

This was Philippi, the main city in a highly patriotic Greco-Roman colony.  Many of the residents in Macedonia were former members of the military.  The city Philippi and the region Macedonia were named after Philip of Macedon, the father of Greek conqueror Alexander the Great.  There is only one king in this city: Caesar.  He is Lord and King, and to suggest otherwise is seditious.

Later in this chapter we see the same thing happening in Athens.  Paul walks into this thoroughly, conscientiously idolatrous city and says to the Athenians: your religiosity is “ignorance” (17:23).  There is an invisible God over all of these idols, from whom all life comes.  This God had even conquered death through a man named Jesus (17:31).  The intelligentsia of Athens heard this message and called it “ridiculous” (17:32).

I am not sure we have perfect equivalents to this.  Maybe it is like walking into the Republican Convention with a “Jesus for President” sign.  Better yet, it is like Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, on the day of Prince William’s coronation turning crown in hand to the front altar of Westminster Abbey and saying Jesus is the only real king.  It is telling Bill Gates that Jesus is the real CEO of this company.  It is telling Stephen Hawking, because of our King Jesus whom he rejects, we understand truth better than he.  It is telling the licentious celebrity culture of Hollywood and the materialistic advertisers of Madison Avenue that we can find greater fulfillment in a man named Jesus.  Seditious, ridiculous.

Actually, much more personally, it is like saying to our own hearts “there is another king, Jesus.  You won’t get your own way.  Your agendas and orders are not the final word here.  There is a better answer than following your own desires.  You are not the center of the universe.

Yeah, that’ll turn our worlds upside down.

What stood out to you in this chapter?  

Categories: Acts | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

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10 thoughts on “Acts 17: Turning the World Upside Down

  1. Eddy Efaw

    What stood out to me is now your blog post above. Well said brother! You’ve gathered up that chapter, connected the dots in a creative way and then brought the meaning into my world. Thank You. Jesus is King. May I place him on the throne of my time, entertainment, and bank account today and every day.

  2. David Jackson

    I am blown away by the idea that this great God actually wants us to “seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us” (v 27). What kind of God cares about me?

    • You are so right! One of my favorite verses of all! One reach from us, and He is right there. What a great thought to start the day!

  3. Chris Dahlberg

    Really well said Jason! I expect that I will ‘borrow’ these words along the way…

    Our camp last year that centered on Both…And… as in both savior and King has centered my mind on the kingship and of course, Acts reinforces how vital it is to declare and live in that Kingship, the one above all. Camp hit me and this post hits me. Thanks!

  4. Eddy Efaw

    Just read the following in the intro to Philip Yancey’s book called “What Good Is God?”

    “When I went to New York to discuss this manuscript with the publisher, on a lark I bought tickets to see Aretha Franklin perform at Radio City Music Hall. The climax of the concert came as she rendered the gospel song, “One Night with the King.” Spending time in the King’s court could change your course forever, she sang, and then paused to let the words sink in. With renewed breath she belted out the strong promise that a night – or even a moment – in the presence of the King can change everything. Such and encounter leaves no on the same.”

  5. Trent Williamson

    WOW! That is really all I can say about your thoughts today – very well said! In addition to “WOW” – I would also have to say “YIKES” – because I don’t know that I can honestly answer that Jesus is my only King – In fact I know that I can’t!

    The implications of this reality should also shape everything that we do as a Christian school – Lord please help us to keep you and you alone on the throne as our only KING!

  6. Melanie

    From The Message: “[He made it so that] we could seek after God, and not just grope around in the dark but actually FIND him. He doesn’t play hide and seek with us. He’s not remote; he’s NEAR. We live and move in him and can’t get away from him!”

    Paul said to the Athenians that God is not far from any of us. “Us”—the people there, the pagans, the skeptics, the cynics, the believers, the seekers—all. That’s what stands out to me. Whether I am feeling close to God or not at any particular time, he is not far from me. What a comfort!

  7. I love this chapter. There is so much in it that is so interesting and pertinent. One short phrase stood out to me today more than others because of the scary sound of it all: “He open up the texts so they understood what they’d been reading all their lives.” How horrible that one could read the Bible all of their lives and miss the point! What am I missing? I don’t think I am missing big points, but that is the point of this passage — it can be missed, even after a lifetime.

  8. I am struck by how the original listeners in Thessalonica heard Paul speaking a political message: “They’re traitors to Caesar, teaching that there is another king named Jesus” (17:7). There is a probably if people can hear the gospel of Jesus today and it not confront our political views. I am tired of the whole don’t mix faith and politics bit. Jesus did it. Paul did it. The prophets of old did it. Yes, it is hard to do it right. But not doing it is a cop out. The real gospel confronts all parts of life. The gospel is a political message as well as a spiritual one.

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