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 the 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 hay 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.

7 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
    here.

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  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!

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  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.

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    • 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.

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  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.

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  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.

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