I THESS. 1
Nov 23, 2014
I Thessalonians 1
INTRODUCTION TO THESSALONIANS
The book of Thessalonians does not contain the beautiful phrases defining the life of a Christian, which one finds in other books the Apostle Paul has written. However, the circumstances surrounding Paul’s preaching in Thessalonica are of tremendous historical importance. It is obvious that he never intended to go there, but God, through His Holy Spirit, prevented Paul from going to the places he intended, and by a vision in the night, called him to head for Macedonia. The account of this is found in Acts 16:6-10.
Barclay points out that Alexander the Great must have been in Paul’s thoughts, for Alexander proclaimed that he had been sent by God “to unite, to pacify and to reconcile the whole world”. Paul was to project an empire for Christ where there was neither Jew nor Greek, barbarian nor Scythian, bond nor free. So, as Paul came into this area, he was introducing the Gospel not just to Europe but to the whole world.
When Paul came to Thessalonica, he came to a great city which at one time was a rival of Constantinople as capital of the world. The main street of this city was a part of the highway that linked Rome to the east. It was a rich and powerful city. Bringing the Gospel of Christ to Thessalonica was making Christianity a world religion.
In Acts 17 we have the account of Paul’s visit to Thessalonica. He found a synagogue of the Jews and went there, as he always did, and preached to them for three Sabbaths. Many Jews, Greeks and devout women believed, but the Jews who did not believe gathered a mob
and would have taken Paul had the brethren not smuggled him out of the city by night. He went to Berea where he later proclaimed them more noble than the people of Thessalonica because they searched the scriptures daily to see whether these things were so.
Paul was so concerned about the work in Thessalonica that he sent Timothy back to give him a report. The report was good, but there was a worrisome note. Paul’s preaching of the return of Christ, which even the Apostles seemed to think would be in their own lifetime, had caused a problem. Barclay describes it as an unhealthy situation in which many had stopped working, abandoned all ordinary pursuits and with a kind of hysterical expectancy were awaiting the Second Coming of Christ. They were worried about those who had died before the Second Coming arrived.
In addition to this there was great confusion. There were some who had dropped into serious immorality, the church was divided, there were some who slandered Paul, saying he preached for what he could get out of it. Both books of Thessalonians were written to clear up the unhealthy situation in Thessalonica.