Saturday, March 29, 2014

Paul in Berea - 50 photos and explanations

Paul has a vision, "Come over and help us!"
The vision Paul had of a man in Macedonia calling him to come to Europe became a life changing event. The next day, Paul and his companions secured a place in a ship, sailing from Alexandria Troas, (in present day Turkey), to Philippi, in Macedonia, Greece.

Read here

The third congregation initiated by Paul was in the city of Berea. The location was the local synagogue. (The physical area of that ancient synagogue is now an empty space, honoring the 900 Jews taken from the Jewish community and sent to their deaths by Nazis in 1942.)

Paul explained  Jesus Christ, the Jewish Messiah. His listeners didn't reject his words just because they were surprised at the unusual message. Instead, they sought to understand, and only when they had fully taken in both the message and its implications would they give a final judgement.

Sign outside old Synagogue destroyed in 1942 by Nazis
A wonderful phrase describes these early converts to the Lord Jesus Christ. "They were noble", that is, they gathered eagerly to listen,  discussed the message and then accepted, in spite of the consequences, which meant persecution for being part of  "The Way". They realized that if the Messiah had come, their entire approach to life would change.

 "Digging deeper" into the significance of Berea, which is an hour west of Thessalonica, shows its historical importance. Philip, the father of Alexander the Great, had built his palace there (very close by). You can visit it every day of the week, except for Mondays.

Mount Olympus in Greece, "home of the gods"
The Persian invasion of Greece (490's - 480's BC) was still "fresh" in the minds of the people of Greece in 335 BC. For 150 years, the Persians had dominated in what is today Turkey. Alexander the Great, one of the world's greatest generals, left his homeland in Berea with 50,000 soldiers in 332 BC, determined to take on the Persians.

Alexander, who's Olympus Mountain was "the home of the gods", took his Greek beliefs with him and changed history.Alexander fought the Persian army twice, won both times, and left a lasting legacy of Greek culture, language and thought on the Eastern Mediterranean.

His troops made it as far as Afghanistan, leaving his name in area called Kandahar, (Afghani way of saying Alexander). When Alexander died, his kingdom was divided into four, forming the backdrop to the wars between the Old Testament and the New Testament.

Paul and Silas, exhausted after having been beaten in Philippi, arrived in Berea in weakness, not strength. Their message is still proclaimed in Berea, and in every country around the world.


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