March 1 - 1 Thessalonians 1:1-3

Friday, March 1, 2013

March 1 - 1 Thessalonians 1:1-3

Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy, To the church of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace to you and peace. 

We give thanks to God always for all of you, constantly mentioning you in our prayers, remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.

Can you imagine living in a city that can trace its founding back to 315 b.c.?  Thessaloniki is the second largest city in Greece and the capital of central Macedonia.  One of the difficult things for historians is that because the city is so vibrant, there is little opportunity for archaeological excavation.

There was a large Jewish community with a synagogue when Paul wrote these letters and he attended there frequently with his friends.   In Acts 17:2-3 we read that it was his custom to spend time there discussing the Scriptures.

Paul’s preaching, however, didn't go over too well and some of the Jews who were furious at Paul declaring Jesus to be the Messiah, gathered up some ‘bad characters’ to start a riot. They used Caesar’s decree that there was only to be one king to incite the people against Paul and hi preaching regarding Jesus.  They rushed the home of Jason and arrested any who were associated with Paul.  The believers spirited Paul out in the middle of the night and the young church was now separated from its leader. (Acts 17:1-10).

Timothy brought a report to Paul regarding this church and it was quite encouraging.  Paul was concerned that since he left in such a hurry, they might feel discouraged or even disillusioned, but what he found from Timothy was that they were spreading the good news of Jesus Christ.  In this letter, he answers some questions that have arisen regarding the time he spent there and his hurried departure. He also deals with some ethical questions the church seemed to have missed in growing as Christians. We will also see that some believed the imminent return of Jesus was a good reason for them to continue working, so they became a burden to their friends and family.

While we find many moral teachings in Paul’s letters, we must always remember that he is writing very personal things to people he loves and knows well.  When he writes that he is constantly mentioning them in his prayers, they are assured that he means it and cares about them deeply.