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Monday, June 4, 2012

Paul in Thessalonica

Paul preached and taught in Thessalonica on his second missionary journey.  Thessalonia is in Macedonia. He followed his normal custom which was to begin in the Synagogue, and he explain how the life and death of Jesus fulfilled the prophesies concerning the Messiah.  He found some willing listeners there; then he preached also to the pagans who worshiped idols. Again, he found many willing listeners, but eventually the trouble makers, jealous Jews and ruffians,  drug some of the new believer into the street and beat them including Jason, the man who had provided a place for Paul's party to stay.

It seems that Paul was most happy and secure in explaining to Jews that Jesus fulfilled the Old Testament Jewish scriptures that prophesied the Messiah.  Paul was a Jew and  Pharisee so he was knowledgeable and cognizant of the Jewish dedication to the scriptures.  For him it was a natural progression, but he did not neglect the pagans who had no such history and tradition.  Some of the troublemakers who followed Paul were Jews who insisted that they must become a Jew and obey the Jewish laws and be circumcised to be accepted as Christians.  Paul stood fast on the Christian doctrine that it was the blood of Jesus that saved men from sin, not the Jewish law nor the character of their work.
Remains of the ancient marketplace in Thessalonica

In addition to his knowledge of the Jewish scriptures, Paul was also a skilled rhetorician and skillful in explaining and presenting the Gospel.  He seemed to be the lightning rod that attracted the attacks of the troublemakers.Eventually the difficulties became so intense that Paul left and went to Athens, leaving Timothy in Thessalonica to support and encourage the new believers.  Paul had success there, and there was a growing and vibrant body of believers developing.  He loved them and he did not want to leave them without a leader.   Timothy went to Athens to share the news of their growth with Paul.  Paul wrote the first letter to the Thessalonians and sent it by Timothy on his return.  It is full of expressions of love and encouragement.  He used metaphors that revealed how tender and caring he was toward them.  

Read the story of Paul in Thessalonica in Acts 17 and 1 and 2 Thessalonians
The modern city of Thessalonica is thriving and vital with many Christian  Churches.

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