The Light of Christ Journey

Encouraging people on their journey with Christ

Who were the Thessalonians? They were part of a church that was born in persecution. Thessalonica was located in what is now central Greece. It was a major sea port on the Aegean Sea and located on a main Roman road, the Egnatian Way. Thus, it was a major trade center in the area. While there was a significant Jewish population, most were Gentiles who worshipped idols.

The Thessalonians and Paul

Paul first visited Thessalonica on his second missionary trip (Act 17:1-10). He and Silas had been forced to leave Philippi and traveled down the Egnatian Way to Thessalonica. There, Paul first preached in the Jewish synagogue. But this lasted only three weeks before the Jews asked him to leave.

Then Paul and Silas moved to Jason’s house to continue evangelizing the Gentiles. Paul seems to have supported himself with tentmaking (1 Thes. 2:9; 2 Thes. 3:8) while teaching. The jealous Jews eventually encouraged mob action against Paul. This forced Paul to leave earlier than he would have liked.

The team went to Berea, where a mob from Thessalonica came and forced Paul to leave. The believers sent Paul to Athens alone. Eventually, Silas and Timothy joined Paul. Paul was so concerned for the welfare of the new church in Thessalonica that he sent Timothy back to check on them.

Surviving Persecution

Timothy caught up with Paul in Corinth. He had encouraging news: despite persecution, the church was thriving. They had questions for Paul since his teaching had been cut short. Paul wrote a letter from Corinth to Thessalonica to encourage them and answer several theological questions. Paul continued to teach and pastor from a distance.

Paul’s letter is preserved for us today, and we continue to learn from it. Paul commended them for staying faithful but urged them to continue to grow. The same is still true for us today. If we are not growing in faith, we tend to fall away. Paul ends his letter with a prayer. 1 Thessalonians 5: 23 Now may the God of peace make you holy in every way, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless until our Lord Jesus Christ comes again. 24 God will make this happen, for he who calls you is faithful.[1]

As we look to God, we too can mature in faith in Christ Jesus, who will keep us until He returns or takes us to heaven. We can live in a counter-cultural, holy way that responds to hostility with love. This is because the Holy Spirit empowers us, and we have hope for the future.

Who are the Thessalonians? To learn more, listen here:

[1] Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. 

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