Friday, 5 September 2014

Message in the first Epistle of Paul to the Thessalonians

Thessalonica was a city in Macedonia , or what we now call Greece. Paul traveled to Thessalonica after being released from prison in Philippi (Ac 16:40-17:1). Thessalonica was the second major city where Paul ministered after having the vision of a man calling him over into Macedonia (Ac 16:9).

Paul had a relatively brief ministry in Thessalonica because persecution drove him from the city; but the Word of God did make an impact, and a church was established. This letter to the church at Thessalonica gives us great insight into Paul's ministry and its effect in that city.

In 1Th 1:5, Paul mentioned that his preaching came to the Thessalonians in power and in the Holy Ghost. This is comparable to what Paul said in 1Co 2:1-5 and 4:20, and it is speaking of the miraculous manifestations of the Holy Spirit. No doubt one of the reasons Paul made such an impact in such a short time was that the Holy Spirit was working through him with signs and wonders.

Those who believed Paul's message became like him (1Th 1:6), so much so that they "sounded out the word of the Lord not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place your faith to God-ward is spread abroad" (1Th 1:8). These were committed believers.

Paul had such an impact that he was driven from the city by persecution from the religious Jews (Ac 17:5-10). After leaving Thessalonica, Paul and his company went to Berea, which was about forty miles west along the Roman road called the Egnatian Way. However, the Jews who had persecuted him in Thessalonica came to Berea and caused the Berean Jews to expel Paul from their city also.

Paul went south to Athens, but left Timothy and Silas in Berea. When Paul reached Athens, he soon sent for Timothy and Silas to join him (Ac 17:15). Paul was so concerned for the Thessalonians' welfare that he sent Timothy back to check on them (1Th 3:5). Timothy joined Paul again in Corinth with good news about the Thessalonians' faith and their love for Paul (1Th 3:6). This was what led Paul to write the letter of 1 Thessalonians.

In this letter, he encouraged the Thessalonians to persevere in light of their many persecutions. He also wrote to correct various errors that had crept into the church. In addition, this letter contains one of the clearest teachings concerning the resurrection of the saints who have already died and the "catching up" of the believers who are still alive (1Th 4:13-18).

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