Acts 17 – Who was Jason?

After Paul spends some time in Thessalonica, including three Sabbaths teaching in the local synagogue, The Jews stir up trouble, form a mob and rush to Jason’s house in order to bring Paul and Silas before the city officials. When they do not find Paul and Silas, they drag Jason before the officials and make their accusations against Paul, pointing out that “Jason welcomed them.” Jason posted bond and was released (Acts 17:5-8).

Jason suddenly appears in the story in Acts 17 as Paul’s host in Thessalonica. Jason is a common Greek name and it is possible some Jews used it as a rough equivalent to Joshua. One of the rival high priests prior to the Maccabean Revolt was named Jason. This is usually explained as an example of Hellenization, rather than using the Hebrew name Joshua, he uses a Greek equivalent, Jason. It is impossible to know if the Jason in Acts 17 is Greek or Jewish simply from his name.

Since he hosts Paul, Silas, and Timothy in his home, commentaries often assume he was prosperous. But this may not be the case. In Acts 18:3 Paul stayed and worked with Aquila and Priscilla. As tent-makers they may have rented a workshop and lived in rooms attached to the workshop. Jason’s situation may have been better in Thessalonica; if he was a craftsmen with several storerooms he could have hosted several people in his home. For an illustration of the range of homes for early Christians, see Peter Oakes, Reading Romans in Pompeii (Fortress 2009).

On the other hand, Jason was able to post bond not only for himself but also for Paul and Silas (17:9). In the oft-quoted opinion of A. N. SherwinWhite, “What is happening to Jason is clear enough: he is giving security for the good behaviour of his guests, and hence hastens to dispatch Paul and Silas out of the way to Beroea, where the jurisdiction of the magistrates of Thessalonica was not valid” (Roman Society and Roman Law in the New Testament (Oxford, 1963], 63). Although we have no clue how much was required, that he could make any sort of payment is an indication he had some wealth.

I would also suggest Luke may be drawing a parallel between Lydia in Philippi and Jason in Thessalonica. Both respond to the Gospel and host Paul’s ministry team in their homes. Luke often uses pairs of similar stories, one featuring a female and the other featuring a male. For example, in Acts 9:32-43 Peter heals Aeneas and raises Tabitha from the dead. Perhaps Luke gives us two examples of relatively wealthy patrons who host Paul in their homes and continue to host the church after Paul leaves the city.

Is Jason the same person Paul mentions in Romans 16:21? He refers to a Jason along with Sopater “my kinsmen.” The noun συγγενής can refer to a relative, but this can be as broad as saying “fellow Jew” (Keener, 3:2550). It is likely Romans was written from Corinth during the three months Paul stayed in Corinth in Acts 20:2-3. In 20:4 Luke indicates Paul was accompanied by Sopater of Berea and Aristarchus and Secundus from Thessalonica. Although this is possible, but since Luke is ready to identify a relative of Paul in Acts 23:16, it is more likely this Jason is not a relative of Paul. He is likely a Jew or God-fearing Gentle who heard Paul’s preaching in the synagogue and was among those who joined Paul and Silas (17:4).

That Paul and Silas are forced out of Thessalonica leaving Jason with a financial burden is an issue which likely haunted Paul. One of the main themes of 1 Thessalonians dealing with the charge Paul was a huckster who came to Thessalonica for personal gain and left Jason in financial and legal danger.

16 thoughts on “Acts 17 – Who was Jason?

  1. Jason was almost certainly a Jew, since the name was about 16 times more common among Jews than among the general population (which included Jews!).
    In my recent Tyndale Bulletin paper I argue that hosts of churches were given new names and that Aristarchus was the new name given to Jason. This explains why we read Aristarchus in Acts 20:4, where we would expect to see Jason, and why we read Jason in Rom 16:21, where we would expect to see Aristarchus, and it also explains why Jason was with Paul when he wrote Romans. You can find the article

  2. Jason was a man that suddenly comes up in Acts 17 who hosts Paul while he is in Thessalonica. I believe that he had to have been a man who also was zealous for the Lord because he was willing to put himself at risk to host Paul and his companions despite so many opposing him and claiming that he was “not following Caesars laws” as well as “troublemakers” I think that God raises people up to be help those who are in need and uses people to be an encouragement to others. Paul and his companions being disliked and traveling all over found encouragement from people like Jason who were believers as well willing to open their homes and take them in even when their neighbors opposed them for it. I believe that Jason is indeed the same person mentioned in Romans 16:21 because Jason was one of the followers who were active and wanted to be apart of sharing in Paul’s ministry as we see he did in Thessalonica. What an incredible example we can see in his life as one who encourages and hosts despite the rejection of those who live near. We need to truly take this as a challenge to be more open to inviting people in to our homes and encouraging them no matter who opposes them!

  3. Jason is a man of the Lord. A man chasing God’s heart. A man zealous for God. Jason was a man that was eager and willing to put himself out there and risk his life for the Gospel. Jason was a encouragement to take the leap of faith and he was an example of leadership. We all need encouragement and leadership in our lives, especially when we are walking in the unknown and are walking in the darkness, we need someone to bring us back to the light and direct us. We all need someone is active and willing to assist at any moment of time, dropping everything to help the ones in need. No matter who is being rejected and no matter who comes to you, always have a willing heart for the ones in need and always come with hands and arms open. Like our God does for us.

    • I agree Miranda! Jason was a man for God and in the end, a financial burden was left. But Jason was faithful and took a leap of faith. I think that we all can take from that example and jump into the darkness because as Christians, we do hold light and we do hold truth. Many hunger for it without even knowing it.

  4. Jason is a follower of God who listened to God when he was told to take in Paul and his companions. He did not know that it would lead him to having a financial burden but he did it anyway. I think there is some truth in the fact that Paul may be drawing parallels between Lydia and Jason. Both of them are followers of God who take in Paul and his company when they come into their respective cities. They can both teach us a lesson in hospitality. As people in the church we are called to be hospitable and to welcome people into our houses no matter what may happen. Jason definitely shows how to do this because he took in Paul and his company not even knowing that it would cost him. I believe that Jason in Acts is the same person as Jason in Romans. Jason is such an encouragement because he shows us how to help people even without knowing the outcome. This is such a hard concept for us in this time because we are so used to thinking negatively about people. However, Jason just opened up his home and welcomed everyone in.

  5. There is a debate about whether Jason was Gentile or Jew. There is strong evidence to suggest either is the case. There seems to be an intentional parallel between Lydia and Jason, which would suggest that he is another Gentile person who accept Paul into his home (Long). He was very hospitable towards Paul and Silas, allowing them to reside in is home during the time they were visiting Thessalonica (Acts 17:7). He was open to their visit and to the message of God, similar to the way Lydia accepted Paul and God. Also, the wording in the Bible seems to suggest that Jason was hosting church within his home. Acts 17:6 says that “Jason and some brothers” were dragged from their home. This implies that there were brothers in Christ in the home with Jason. In addition to that, Paul used Jason’s home as a platform for his ministry to the Gentiles in Thessalonica (Jipp 92). It is interesting to note that people choose to be in Jason’s home to hear the message of God, rather than the synagogue. He hosted church in his own home, making it a safe place for people to encounter God. Therefore, regardless of whether Jason was Gentile or Jew, he did amazing things to aid in the ministry of Paul. The parallel between him and Lydia suggests to me that he was a Gentile who was receptive of God and Paul, but I think that it is important to focus on the part he played in Paul’s ministry rather than if he was a Gentile or Jewish.

  6. Jason was someone who got brought up in Acts 17. Jason was a host to Paul and Silas as they were in Thessalonica, but Jason ended up getting the brutal end of things with the Jews that were jealous. I do not think that Jason has any correlation with Paul other than he is a guy that is confident in the Lord. Jason was willing to host Paul, putting himself at risk for having someone who was just proclaimed as “the men who turned the world upside down” and “acting against the decrees of Caesar” stay with him. That shows me that Jason had a heart for the Lord.

    Jason is a good example of being a light in a dark time. Paul, at this point, has been mocked, rejected, chased down, etc. If I were in his shoes, I know I would be exhausted and discouraged. Jason, by stepping up, was an encouragement to Paul. Jason showed that one person believing in Jesus is worth being mocked and rejected. Jason is not a well known person in the book of Acts, but he shows a lot of character traits that show that he is zealous for the Lord.

  7. Jason was someone who was either Greek or Jewish who hosted Paul and his missionary team in Thessalonica. He was most likely wealthy as he was able to host Paul and his missionary team and post their bonds after being brought before the Roman council. “I would suggest Luke may be drawing a parallel between Lydia in Philippi and Jason in Thessalonica” (Long). Both of these people were also probably zealous for the Lord as they were willing to risk a lot when they hosted Paul and his missionary team.

  8. Jason is first mentioned in Acts 17:5-9, where we read that Paul and Silas traveled to Thessalonica to preach the gospel. They stayed at the house of a man named Jason, who is described as a “believer.” It is likely that Jason was a Jewish Christian, as Thessalonica had a large Jewish community. Jason’s home became the center of opposition against Paul and Silas’ preaching. When some Jews who were hostile to the gospel message saw that many people were turning to Christ, they became jealous and sought to harm the missionaries. While we do not know much else about Jason from the biblical account, his actions in this story speak volumes about his character. He opened his home to Paul and Silas, risking his own safety in order to provide them with a place to stay. When he and his fellow believers were arrested, he did not deny his faith or compromise his beliefs. Instead, he stood firm and endured persecution for the sake of Christ.

  9. Similar to the story of Lydia in Acts 16, Jason is a wealthier individual who was able to help out Paul by hosting him in his home. The practice of hospitality is highly important to God and in biblical times this looked like opening your home up to travelers, but it wasn’t something that was easily doable. It required sacrifice and discipline. It is unknown whether or not Jason is Jewish or Greek but what we do know is that he was a Jew or a God-fearing Gentile. His actions and hospitality allowed him to stick out and for Paul and the other missionaries with him Jason was a blessing. In Paul’s journey the people that were willing to open their home up like this were unique. Not only was Paul able to preach with them about the good news, he was building relationships with them. Paul was also able to reach a deeper personal level among those who hosted them because they were able to spend extra time together. In these relation building times Paul was disciplining in a way where he was making disciples. It is most likely that after Paul left, those who he had stayed with would then use their homes as a new meeting place to preach the gospel. It wasn’t an uncommon thing for people to meet in homes and share about Jesus and what he had done on the cross for us. Because Jason was willing to let the people into his home, he then was able to build a relationship and learn more about who Jesus was.

  10. Back in the ancient world, knowing the name of someone revealed a decent amount of information about that person and we see this portrayed many times in Scripture. Parents would name their children after a certain characteristic they noticed about the child. For example, Jacob and Esau (Genesis 25:24-26). Also, they would use a name that is somehow attached to a personal experience with God. We see this occurrence in 1 Samuel when Hannah desires a child, so when she prays to the Lord and He hears her prayer, and answers her request, she dedicates Samuel to God and named him after that personal experience with God. We also see in the book of Daniel that he and his friends all had to convert to Babylonian names in order to be blended with the culture, and it might have been the same case in this situation, as mentioned in the article. Jason could have been a different form of the Hebrew name Joshua (Long). I personally hold to the view that Jason was somewhat wealthy because he had lodging and welcomed the disciples in to stay and then also he was able to post bond for Paul, Silas, and himself which is telling that he had a decent amount of money to do that.

  11. It is mentioned that Jason could have been a craftsman with several storerooms. This is important to know because that is how he was able to host several people in his home like Paul, Silas, and Timothy. While staying at Jason’s in Thessalonica Paul was helping Aquilla and Percilla. “In Acts 18:3 Paul stayed and worked with Aquila and Priscilla. As tent-makers, they may have rented a workshop and lived in rooms attached to the workshop” (Long). One thing that I thought was pretty interesting while reading this blog is that Jason posted bond for him and his guests Paul and Silas. So Jason was known for not only giving his guest a place to stay but also keeping them guarded and safe. Jason was a man of the Lord. You can tell this by his heart and his actions he does. Jason was willing to go out of his way to help others so that the gospel could be spread. Jason took a big leap of faith when he listened to God and hosted Paul and the other people and he did this even though he didn’t know what would happen to him, which was a financial burden I believe. Jason shows that you should trust in the Lord if he calls you to do something. He is a great leader because he followed Christ without knowing the consequences, a great leader will always do what’s right despite the consequences that might come.

  12. I found the connection Long draws between Jason in Thessalonica and Lydia in Philippi an interesting parallel. They share many similarities, while also being distinct enough in their stories that I would not have made the connection on my own. I find the literary side of these parallels interesting. According to Long, using pairs of stories with men and women was something Luke did often, an example being Aeneas and Tabitha being healed by Peter. Despite the differences between Jason and Lydia, there are many similarities. While Lydia converts to Christianity after hearing Paul’s message, Jason appears to already be a believer even before interacting with Paul. And, just like Lydia, Jason eagerly welcomed Paul and his fellow ministry team into his home.
    I find it interesting that Jason was living at peace amongst the Jews until Paul came along, igniting the Jews jealously. Only then do they turn on Jason for receiving Paul and other believers into his home. Because Jason acted on his beliefs, the Jews had an issue with him. I also find it interesting in Acts 17:6, the Jews describe Paul’s men as men who have “turned the world upside down.” Polhill (2008) asserts how little they knew of what they said, because truly they were changing the course of history through the movement of Christ. Once Jason posted bond, only then did the Jews calm down and let them go. Then, Paul and his men left. It makes me wonder what happened to Jason afterward. He didn’t go with Paul, so how did the Jews treat him after that incident?

  13. It is interesting to read how Jason was treated by the Jewish people for welcoming Paul and Silas into his home. At this point in time, it is difficult to understand why Jason is relevant and what he truly meant to Paul and Silas’s teachings in Thessalonica. I found it very interesting on how the name Jason is the Greek meaning for the Jewish name of Joshua, I did not know that and I believe this is a cool fact to gain the knowledge of. I was told that Jason was believed to be more on the richer end of society because he was able to post his own bail as well and Paul and Silas’s. Personally, I believe that Jason’s hospitality of Paul and Silas was the work of a good man treating the Lord’s missionaries with decency and respect. This same thing had happened to Paul before, I believe it was in Acts 16, and she also proceeded to give Paul the hospitality of a good individual by letting him reside at her home while Paul was on his mission journey. I do not believe that this is an indicator for anything more in depth, just the fact that there were some good people during the time when the book of Acts took place, not everyone hated Paul and others who shared the gospel of the Lord. All in all, I believe this is showing the kindness that Christian’s in today’s society are supposed to have and treat everyone with kindness and respect because that is what happened to Paul when many people despised him because of his preachings and teachings.

  14. I choose this blog post because when I read Act 17 I had the same question. I am not extremely familiar with Bible stories as I am still learning more every day. When I read Acts 17 my first thought was, “Jason? Who is Jason.” I had not heard that name in the Bible yet. Incidentally, I was curious on who this person was, and why he was mentioned. Even though he is a small character, I think there is a lot to learn from him. Jason clearly had the financial ability to bail not only himself out, but Paul and Silas out too. This makes me think of our callings as Christians. We are all called to spread the gospel and worship God. However, we all have different specific callings. While some are called to the mission’s field like Paul, others are called to help in other ways such as finances. While Paul and Silas may feel bad, they left Jason with a mess, perhaps Jason felt like he made a difference. Maybe he felt he was able to truly make a difference and help spread the gospel.

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