Summary: Examines Paul’s ministry in Thessalonica
Paul In Thessalonica
Primary Purpose: To examine the teaching of Paul and his ministry.
After leaving the church in Philippi under the care of Dr. Luke and others, Paul and his companions travel on to the largest city in Macedonia Thessalonica. This first verse covers a quick voyage of about 100 miles on foot for the apostle. Thessalonica is named after one of Alexander the Great’s sisters and was a important trade city—a port city. Thessalonica is one of the wealthiest and most influential cities in Macedonia. In this city we will see Paul reaching for the first time some of the prominent members of that community. Thessalonica was a free, self-governing city of about 200,000 in population.
Paul speaks of his ministry in this church as a tender and important one to him. He says he was like a mother with her children to them (1 Thess 2:7; 11-12). Paul was a tentmaker at this time (1 Thess 2:9; 3:7-12). Paul also spoke of strong opposition in Thessalonica. (1 Thess 2:2). Soon after he left this town he probably sent Timothy back to see how the Christians were doing there. In 1 Thess 3:6, we see that Timothy had arrived back in Corinth to give a good report to Paul. He told Paul that the church here was strong despite opposite and had much faith and love. He says of their witness that they faith has become well known everywhere. (1 Thess 1:8). Here we see Paul follow his custom of going first to the synagogue for three Sabbaths in a row. We see that Paul was teaching that
1. Jesus was the Messiah the Jews had been waiting for. He is the Christ. V.3 He may have pointed to the fact that Mary and Joseph were of the family of David. He may have pointed out that Jesus was born according to the time set forth in Daniel 9:25. He may have pointed out that the rejection of the Jews was also foreseen in Scripture in Isaiah 53.
2. Jesus suffering fulfilled Scriptures. Beforehand, the Jews would not have linked suffering with the Messiah, he was a king not a suffering servant such as stated in Isaiah 53. Other Scriptures that Paul may have referred to are:
a. Ps 22:6-8 that refer to the Messiah being mocked and insulted.
b. Ps 69:21- that Jesus would be given gall and vinegar to drink on the cross
c. Zec 12:10- that Jesus’ side would be pierced.
d. Ps 22:18 That the soliders would cast lots for his clothes
e. Ps 34:20 That not a bone of his would be broken
f. Zec 11:12- he may have mentioned that Zechariah foretold that the Messiah would be betrayed for 30 pieces of silver just like Judas betrayed Jesus.
3. Jesus would rise from the dead v.3 This is also contray to what was expected of the Jewish Messiah. He did all of this with Old Testament Scriptures. Ps 16:10 says “Because you will not abandon me to the grave, nor will you let your Holy One see decay” it is quoted in Matthew 16:21
The results of this ministry are largely the same as in other places. The fruit that Paul reaps is greatest among the God fearing Greeks. Only a few Jews are converted. They cannot accept a suffering servant as their king it is so contrary to what they have been taught. They become wrathful in their jealousy. They seek to harm Jason for supporting Paul. Their anger causes Paul and his companions to leave.