At the time of
Paulís second (A.D. 49-52) and third (A.D. 53-57) missionary journeys which
was when he visited the Thessalonians, it was a part of Macedonia, that is
now Greece. Itís on the bay of the Aegean Sea, and it lies about 70 miles
WSW of the city of Philippi, also a major city where Paul established the
church. In some Bible versions, at the end of the last verse of this letter,
it says that it was written from Athens. Now, in case you didnít know, Paul
was imprisoned in A.D. 58 and sent to Rome in A.D. 60, so this letter was
written before he was in prison.
Just so you get a better idea of the time period of Paul's visit to
Thessalonica, I'll remind you of a story that happened shortly before
Paul, Silas, and Timothy went to Thessalonica the first time. They were in
Philippi, where there was a servant girl who was a fortune teller. She
followed Paul and the others for days crying out, These men are the servants
of God, sent to show us how to be saved. This disturbed Paul. As you can
imagine, in a place where people worshipped idols, this kind of introduction
wouldnít be accepted very easily. Itís no different than today. Most people
whose souls are lost arenít gonna believe just because you walk up to them
and say ďJesus loves youĒ. The way that Jesus enters into each personís
heart is different, and Paul knew that this wasnít the way to lead lost
souls home. So, Paul commanded the evil spirit to leave the girl, which in
turn halted the profits of from her fortune telling to her masters. In
anger, they apprehended Paul and the others, whipped them and threw them
into prison. But at midnight, they sang praises to God and an earthquake
shook the prison. Youíll have to go back to
16:25-40 to find out the rest of the story, but Iíll tell you this much,
the one who watched over the jail ended up being converted by Paul.
YOU ARE WITNESSES OF THESE
THINGS LESSON WITH YOU ARE WITNESSES OF THESE THINGS
Letís continue now
with Paulís letter. You know that our visit to you wasnít useless. Even
after what we went through and how we were treated shamefully, as you know,
in Philippi, we were still confident in our God to preach the Gospel to you
even though many were against us. Our teaching wasnít to mislead, nor of
uncleanness, nor in dishonesty, but as we were approved by God, to be put in
trust with the Gospel, and thatís how we speak, not to please men, but
rather to please God, who judges our hearts.
We never used
flattering words as you know, or a disguise for greed, God is our witness.
We never looked for the praise of men, neither from you, or even of others,
when we may have been a cost to you, as the Apostles of Christ. But we were
gentle (meek) among you, like a nurse who cherishes her children, so, being
fond of you, we were willing to share with you not only the Gospel of God,
but also our own souls, because you were dear to us.
You remember our
work and suffering, our laboring night and day because we wouldnít tolerate
being an expense to any of you, and we preached to you the Gospel of God.
You are witnesses, and God knows how holily and justly and unblameably we
behaved ourselves among you who believe.
As you know,
we urged and comforted and directed every one of you, as a father does his
children, so that you would walk worthy of God, who has called you to His
kingdom and glory. For this reason also we thank God without ceasing,
because, when you received the Word of God which you heard from us, you
received it not as the word of men, but as it is in TRUTH, the Word of God,
which completely works also in you that believe.
followers of the churches of God which in Judśa
are in Christ Jesus, because you have also suffered similar things of your
own countrymen, even as they have of the Jewish people, who both killed the
Lord Jesus, and their own prophets, and have persecuted us; and they donít
please God, and are contrary to all men, forbidding us to speak to the
Gentiles that they might be saved, to fill up their sins always, for the
wrath is come upon them to the uttermost.
But we, being away
from you for a short time in presence, but not absent in heart, tried even harder
to visit you, with great intent. We wanted to come to you once
and again; but Satan hindered us. For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of
rejoicing? Isnít it to see you in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at
His coming, because you are our glory and joy.
YOU ARE WITNESSES OF THESE THINGS INFORMATION WITH YOU ARE
WITNESSES OF THESE THINGS MEANING
What a tremendous
compliment. How would you like to hear that from a chosen servant of God,
like Paul, that what he wishes for most of all, is to see you in the
presence of Christ at His coming? Iíd have to bet that he prayed that for
every one of us, when he spent his moments alone with God. Why ... That
could make a person sit up straighter just thinking of it, a spiritual giant
like Paul, praying for you. He is the epitome of selflessness. If heís not
in the top few of your favorite heroes list, you might ought to revise your
list. In fact, maybe he is the reason why you find it honorable to study
Godís Word every day. Maybe a little return prayer is in order, huh? A
little, God bless the soul of Paul the Apostle, added to your prayer list
may just release a little miracle in your day today ... Who knows? Just a
Anxious to find
out what Paul has to say to the Thessalonians next? Youíll find it right
here, in the next Daily Bread. Come on back and share as we continue our
study of the New Testament. God Bless.