Our next studies will take us through 3 of Paul’s letters, 1 and 2 Thessalonians and Philippians. First, I want to give you a little background as to Paul’s 2nd missionary journey which led him and his companions through various adventures and eventually to Thessalonica. We find these stories in the Book of Acts.
Acts was written by Luke, the Greek physician and historian. It’s a continuation of his gospel telling how the church spread and grew after Jesus’ resurrection. I like Luke. Being a history buff myself, I appreciate Luke’s explanations of what happened. Through the book of Acts, you’ll note that at one point, Luke goes from telling the story as an reporter in the 3rd person (they) to the first person (us). That’s because he joined Paul in his final journeys.
You can read about the first part of Paul’s trip where he meets Timothy, who’s half Jew and half Greek, and Lydia, the seller of purple cloth in Acts 16:1-40. After their adventure in prison with the earthquake, they — Paul and Silas — spent the night at Lydia’s house, then left. We pick up their adventure in Acts 17…
Paul and Silas then traveled through the towns of Amphipolis and Apollonia and came to Thessalonica, where there was a Jewish synagogue. 2 As was Paul’s custom, he went to the synagogue service, and for three Sabbaths in a row he used the Scriptures to reason with the people. 3 He explained the prophecies and proved that the Messiah must suffer and rise from the dead. He said, “This Jesus I’m telling you about is the Messiah.” 4 Some of the Jews who listened were persuaded and joined Paul and Silas, along with many God-fearing Greek men and quite a few prominent women.
5 But some of the Jews were jealous, so they gathered some troublemakers from the marketplace to form a mob and start a riot. They attacked the home of Jason, searching for Paul and Silas so they could drag them out to the crowd. 6 Not finding them there, they dragged out Jason and some of the other believers instead and took them before the city council. “Paul and Silas have caused trouble all over the world,” they shouted, “and now they are here disturbing our city, too. 7 And Jason has welcomed them into his home. They are all guilty of treason against Caesar, for they profess allegiance to another king, named Jesus.”
8 The people of the city, as well as the city council, were thrown into turmoil by these reports. 9 So the officials forced Jason and the other believers to post bond, and then they released them.
Paul and Silas in Berea
10 That very night the believers sent Paul and Silas to Berea. When they arrived there, they went to the Jewish synagogue. 11 And the people of Berea were more open-minded than those in Thessalonica, and they listened eagerly to Paul’s message. They searched the Scriptures day after day to see if Paul and Silas were teaching the truth. 12 As a result, many Jews believed, as did many of the prominent Greek women and men.
13 But when some Jews in Thessalonica learned that Paul was preaching the word of God in Berea, they went there and stirred up trouble. 14 The believers acted at once, sending Paul on to the coast, while Silas and Timothy remained behind. 15 Those escorting Paul went with him all the way to Athens; then they returned to Berea with instructions for Silas and Timothy to hurry and join him.Acts 17:1-15 NLT (bold emphasis mine)
Seek the Truth
Verse 11 is very important: “They searched the Scriptures day after day to see if Paul and Silas were teaching the truth.“
We have a problem in today’s world where we can’t believe everything we see in the news and online. We have to be like the Bereans! Seek the truth! Don’t believe everything you hear or read! Research the source. Search for other sources. I don’t even trust Google! Use Duck Duck Go. Be wise! Be smart!
You can read about Paul’s adventure with the Greeks in Athens in Acts 17:16-34. We continue in Acts 18…
From Athens to Corinth
Then Paul left Athens and went to Corinth. 2 There he became acquainted with a Jew named Aquila, born in Pontus, who had recently arrived from Italy with his wife, Priscilla. They had left Italy when Claudius Caesar deported all Jews from Rome. 3 Paul lived and worked with them, for they were tentmakers just as he was.
4 Each Sabbath found Paul at the synagogue, trying to convince the Jews and Greeks alike. 5 And after Silas and Timothy came down from Macedonia, Paul spent all his time preaching the word. He testified to the Jews that Jesus was the Messiah. 6 But when they opposed and insulted him, Paul shook the dust from his clothes and said, “Your blood is upon your own heads—I am innocent. From now on I will go preach to the Gentiles.”
7 Then he left and went to the home of Titius Justus, a Gentile who worshiped God and lived next door to the synagogue. 8 Crispus, the leader of the synagogue, and everyone in his household believed in the Lord. Many others in Corinth also heard Paul, became believers, and were baptized.
9 One night the Lord spoke to Paul in a vision and told him, “Don’t be afraid! Speak out! Don’t be silent! 10 For I am with you, and no one will attack and harm you, for many people in this city belong to me.” 11 So Paul stayed there for the next year and a half, teaching the word of God.
12 But when Gallio became governor of Achaia, some Jews rose up together against Paul and brought him before the governor for judgment. 13 They accused Paul of “persuading people to worship God in ways that are contrary to our law.”
14 But just as Paul started to make his defense, Gallio turned to Paul’s accusers and said, “Listen, you Jews, if this were a case involving some wrongdoing or a serious crime, I would have a reason to accept your case. 15 But since it is merely a question of words and names and your Jewish law, take care of it yourselves. I refuse to judge such matters.” 16 And he threw them out of the courtroom.
17 The crowd then grabbed Sosthenes, the leader of the synagogue, and beat him right there in the courtroom. But Gallio paid no attention.Acts 18:1-17 NLT
History Repeats Itself
This background to Paul’s letters to the Thessalonians is important for you to understand where Paul was coming from and what he was dealing with. What’s interesting is that this was happening around 48 or 49 AD and it could be describing today!
In my next few posts, we’ll be studying what Paul wrote to the Thessalonians regarding the return of Jesus Christ to this world. When we look around today, we can be convinced that we are living in the Last Days and Jesus’ return is imminent. However, if they were waiting for Jesus’ return back in 48 AD, why hasn’t He returned already? Is He coming at all?
There are many Bible prophecy preachers out there today and there are many thoughts as to WHEN the rapture will happen. We’ll be covering that. Subscribe so you don’t miss out.
All in all, what’s important is having Jesus in your heart when He does come back. Go ahead! Invite Jesus into your heart! You’ve got nothing to lose!
Soli Deo Gloria — To God Alone Be the Glory!