Summary: Paul really loved the church of Thessalonica, this young church was doing many things right this sermon looks at a few of them.
What A Church…
INTRO: I have been focusing on the book of 1 Thessalonians in my daily study for the past few months and I am continually amazed at the depth and the richness of this book. One of the things that I love about this book of the Bible is that it is in many ways a practical guide for the church and for Christian living. So over the next few months we are going to be breaking this book down and looking at it in a systematic way.
I want to encourage you to bring your Bibles every week to church because you are going to want to underline things and make notes in your Bible's as we go through this book. You might even want to invest in a Bible that has room in the margins for you to write and study out of. We have a few of those in the back at the CD Table if you would like to purchase one.
The other thing I want to encourage you to do is read the book of 1 Thessalonians this week. Spend sometime in it so that when we gather each week to worship you will be familiar with the text and ready to dive in and really get a lot out of these messages.
So that we can accurately and more fully understand the content of this book we first need to get a little bit of background information. In the coming weeks we will build on this basic knowledge when more background and history is needed but for today the basics are all that are necessary.
Authorship: Paul is identified as the author in the first verse and in chapter 2:18 his authorship is widely accepted. Some think that the book was not authored by Paul but we are not going to spend anytime examining their reasons because I find them to have little merit.
Date: As with most letters in the Bible it is hard to pin point a specific date however we do know it was written around 51 A.D. This is important because this makes this letter one of the first letters that Paul ever wrote that became part of the Bible. Some believe it is the first others place the book of Galatians as the first letter Paul wrote.
Context: (Show MAP). Several months ago we talked about the 4 Great things that are needed when it comes to evangelism. During that sermon I showed you this same map so you may remember some of the context.
If you will remember Paul originally had his heart set on going up north to Bithynia (Acts 16:7). But instead the Spirit of God sent them into Macedonia. There first stop in Macedonia was up here in Philippi. We know about Paul's ministry to this church from His letter to them called Philippians. The had a successful ministry in Philippi but it was not an easy ministry.
Acts 16:22-24 The crowd joined in the attack against Paul and Silas, and the magistrates ordered them to be stripped and beaten. 23 After they had been severely flogged, they were thrown into prison, and the jailer was commanded to guard them carefully. 24 Upon receiving such orders, he put them in the inner cell and fastened their feet in the stocks.
And he even recounts this in his letter to the Thessalonians when he says.
1 Thessalonians 2:2 We had previously suffered and been insulted in Philippi, as you know, but with the help of our God we dared to tell you his gospel in spite of strong opposition.
We don't know how long Paul and the others stayed with the Thessalonians but we do know it was a considerable amount of time. They were there long enough to get a church up and running for one. We also know that he received at least two gifts from the church in Philippi that was over 100 miles away during his stay (Phil 4:16). And we know that Paul found work and held down a steady job while he ministered to the Thessalonians (1Th 2:9; 2Th 3:8). Thessalonica was a city of about 200,000 people at this time and that provided Paul some cover and time to do a great deal of ministry. But eventually he was run out of town.
He made his way to Berea which was about fifty miles away and he ministered there for about seven weeks before he was forced to leave because the enemies of God in Thessalonica came and stirred up trouble for Paul and the others in Berea.
From Berea he went to Athens where he spent a short amount of time (Acts 17:16-34). From there he went to Corinth where he spent almost 2 full years doing ministry in that city. It is during his time in Corinth that Paul sends Timothy to check on the church in Thessalonica. Paul really did not know what to expect, because they had to leave town in a hurry and to be honest this was a very corrupt and spiritually deprived city. But When Timothy gets back the report he brings to Paul is so encouraging Paul is overwhelmed with joy and excitement and at this he pens the letter we know of today as 1 Thessalonians to this young church.