Summary: This is an exposition of 1 Thessalonians 1.
I had a great conversation with my 4 year old son, Kasen, this week. He was noticing all of the cars parked at the neighbors house next door. Everyone was dressed up and he wondered why. I explained to him that our neighbor...an old man died. I told him that’s what happens to all of us someday. He just starred out the window...I could tell that he was thinking pretty hard. To be honest, I was sort of hoping the conversation was done. Of course it wasn’t. No parent gets off that easy! Eventually the inevitable happened and he asked me if I was going to die someday too! I said yes, and he went back to thinking...he’s a processor! That’s when he turned and said something that about made me fall out of my chair. He said, "Well, that’s why we have God!!!"
The simplicity of a child’s mind is unbelievable. So dad now joined his son in thinking...
Is it really that simple? Could this kid be smarter than me? It’s a sad day for a parent when you realize that answer is ’yes’! Jesus loved kids. In Mark 10:15 Jesus Himself urged us to have faith like a child. Jesus...God...Creator...the ultimate theologian tells us of something very basic. Simple even. That elementary faith that my 4 year old son has is greater than mine most of the time.
Welcome Whitehouse, Internet as we start this series about a church that persevered and grew in their faith against all odds.
Faith is a popular word. It made George Michael a lot of money. We talk of faith a lot in churches. What does it look like when a church is truly growing in their faith together? Paul talks of such a church in 1 Thessalonians. For the next 5 weeks we are going to be studying the church in Thessalonica...their hardships, their ability to persevere, and their unwavering faith in God amidst seemingly impossible circumstances.
This is widely regarded as Paul’s very first writing, and quite possibly the oldest Christian writing of the New Testament! It was written around 50 AD, on Paul’s second missionary journey. Much of the NT is written by Paul while on these missionary journeys.
Pauls journey took him some 100 miles on foot to Thessalonica. Thessalonica was founded in 316 BC and was named after one of the sisters of Alexander the Great. It was a busy and important town with a mixed population of Romans Greeks and Jews.
Thessalonica linked Rome with the whole region to the North of the Aegean Sea. It was a big deal.
I think Paul saw the value of starting a church on such a well-traveled interstate like Thessalonica! Paul was strategic! While there, Paul preached both outside and inside the local synagogue. We learn while at Thessalonica, Paul received financial assistance form the church at Philippi according to Phillipians 4:16. Churches were starting to network all their assets, this idea started even back then!
This idea of giving to a local church and in turn, having them give back to the community and to the world is very much a biblical one. The Jewish religious authorities were getting their feathers ruffled by Paul. You have to understand...Paul was a little behind the eight ball. He was not one of the original disciples and the Jewish leaders knew this. They couldn’t understand how this ’one time Christian killer’ could be used by God. They didn’t understand grace did they?
The Jewish leaders started stirring up trouble for Paul. Paul was proclaiming another King...Jesus...not Caesar. This obviously made them very nervous! As they feared the Roman government and probably feared for their own lives. They feared the Romans more than they feared God!
Paul had to leave Thessalonica quickly, much to his own dismay. He didn’t like leaving behind such a young church with brand new believers. Paul continued on his journey preaching of Jesus, but his heart weighed heavily for the church in Thessalonica! Satan himself was trying to hold Paul back from getting back to Thessalonica (ch 2:18). These Christians there must have been special!
Eventually Timothy caught back up with Paul and gave him news of the Thessalonican church.
Thessalonica was a pagan land, they didn’t have much knowledge of the True God there, and Paul knew they were probably disbanded and disheartened by all of the adversity surrounding them....persecution... I’m sure Paul didn’t expect much, Christianity was so new...these believers were just babies in the faith, to say the least!
In the winter of AD 52 Paul wrote a letter to the Thessalonican church, following Timothy’s report that they were not only existing as a church, but thriving in their faith!!!! Paul must have been completely floored!!!! So he jumps on his pen and starts writing.