“When Paul and his companions had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where there was a Jewish synagogue. 2 As was his custom, Paul went into the synagogue, and on three Sabbath days he reasoned with them from the Scriptures, 3 explaining and proving that the Messiah had to suffer and rise from the dead. ‘This Jesus I am proclaiming to you is the Messiah,’ he said. 4 Some of the Jews were persuaded and joined Paul and Silas, as did a large number of God-fearing Greeks and quite a few prominent women.” NIV UK
Thessalonica was the capital of the province of Macedonia (see 16:9, 10). Today this city is called Salonika, and it is still one of the main cities in northern Greece. Although, as we shall see, Paul had to get out of town fast, a healthy church was planted as a result of his ministry, and it was to this newly established congregation that Paul wrote 1 and 2 Thessalonians. Verses 1-9 here provide important background information for when you read those two epistles.
Note two points from today’s reading:
There are good habits to form (2): ‘’As his custom was…’’ It is a good discipline to regularly attend public worship, whether you feel like it or not. Paul’s habit, when he turned up in a new town, was to head for the synagogue and start communicating with Jews first (Romans 1:16).
There are good reasons to believe (2,3). Dale Rhoton wrote a book entitled ‘The logic of faith’. Paul, as a converted Jew, knew that there were excellent Biblical reasons to believe in Jesus as Messiah. He had ‘seen the light’ and he was red-hot keen to spread that light around. Don’t you wish you could have heard just one of those synagogue sermons? Each one, I imagine, would be a master class in how to present the case for Christ to Jewish people. Whether we are talking to Jews or Gentiles, the truth is that there are very good reasons to believe, and we need to make sure we are ready to give answers to any who may pump us for more information.
Well, there was a great response, not just among the Jews, but also from the Gentile community (4) Among those ‘’Greeks’’ were Aristarchus and Secundus, who are mentioned in Acts 20:4. There was a big breakthrough, but ‘revival’ on such a scale does not come without a price tag. A storm was brewing.