Week 44: Standing firm through suffering because of hope in Jesus’ return

Even though we do not read much about Paul’s ministry in Thessalonica, there is enough information given us in Acts 17 to help set the context for Paul’s relationship with the Thessalonians. Here is a quick recap:

  • Paul spent three sabbaths in the Jewish synagogue reasoning with them from the scriptures. This lets us know he was there anywhere from a fortnight to possibly a month.
  • The central message that Paul was trying to get across to the Jews was about Christ’s suffering and resurrection – the key message of the gospel.
  • The people who believed in Paul’s message were “some Jews”, a lot of “God fearing Greeks” and “quite a few prominent women”. This leads me to believe that despite spending a lot of time in the synagogue, there were a lot more Jews who did not believe in comparison to the some who believed in the message.
  • The Jews who did not believe in the message did not just stand by quietly. They stirred up trouble by raising a mob and looking to persecute Paul and Silas. When they could not find the leaders, they persecuted the other believers instead.
  • The trouble makers garnered the support of the Roman officials by filing charges that the believers were worshipping a king other than Caesar.
  • Because of all the turmoil, Paul and Silas had to leave town silently in the middle of night. No time for any final words of hope and comfort to strengthen  the new believers….they just had to leave haphazardly.

I am sure that the above circumstances under which Paul had to leave the Thessalonians caused much sadness and worry for the sake of the believers and the young emerging church there. And so the first letter that Paul writes to them is mostly to follow-up and tie up some loose ends. And we find out from the first three chapters, based on the report that Paul got from Timothy, the church was doing much better than what Paul had anticipated. Hallelujah! Praise God. Paul is happy too. However Paul goes on to re-establish some foundational teachings about Christ and His return to help the believers stand firm against any false teachings that may be coming against them.

All is well that ends well, right? Well, not quite. Soon after Paul sent his first letter to the Thessalonian church, he finds out about more trouble brewing and he follows up with a second letter to help set more things straight. First he finds encouragement in the growing of faith amidst persecution and suffering. Paul acknowledges that it has not been an easy ride for them having to constantly face persecution from the other non believing Jews. Then he gets right down to business and addresses the false teaching that had been propagated regarding the return of Christ. He reminds them of his teachings and exhorts them to stand firm. Then just before Paul moves on to give his final admonishment against idleness, he transitions with a request for prayer once again reminding them of Christ’s perseverance.

Overall these letters reveal a very heartwarming and yet fatherly heart that Paul has towards this special group of people who have endured so much suffering for the sake of the gospel and who to persevere in their calling to follow Jesus.

Weekly Summary

Paul encourages the Thessalonians in their suffering reiterating the Gospel truth to challenge them to remain steadfast in their faith as they await Christ’s return.

Weekly Reading Plan

And now here is the weekly plan for you to read through these 2 heartfelt letters from Paul to the Thessalonians.

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Don’t forget to use the template I shared previously to help you on this journey. Also, check out my resources page where I explain this template a little more.

Digging Deeper

If you want to dig deeper here are some of my suggestions:

  • Use the above schedule to read through all of the text
  • Read Acts 17 again to understand the contextual background
  • Optional (if you want to really read through the Bible in a year): Read Psalm 128-131.

And that is it for week 44!

Happy Bible Learning!

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