We begin 1 Thessalonians today so I thought a little background would be in order. This book is positioned almost at the end of the series of Paul’s letters in the New Testament. Because of that, most people don’t realize that 1 Thessalonians is actually the first of the New Testament letters that he wrote. It was written by Paul around 52 or 53 A.D. Thessalonica was approximately 100 miles north of Athens and 50 miles west of Philippi. It was a Roman colony right in the “center” of the empire and was the leading city of Macedonia. Due to the hot springs found in the area, the city was first named Therma, but Cassander, who was one of the four generals who divided up Alexander the Great’s empire upon his death, renamed it Thessalonica in memory of his wife who had been a half-sister of Alexander. Today the city is known as Salonika.
Paul established a church in Thessalonica on his second missionary journey and this church was viewed as a “model” church. By the way, much of what we refer to as Macedonia is modern day Greece. As we read a while back, Barnabas did not join Paul for his second missionary journey due to their disagreement over Mark. Barnabas went his way with Mark while Paul went on with Silas and later picked up Luke and Timothy along the way. Now Paul had tried to go a couple of different directions to spread the Gospel but was prevented by the Holy Spirit from doing so. Eventually he had a vision that led him to Philippi where he established a church. Then, as we learned in Acts 17, he went to Thessalonica; this was around 50 A.D. Paul went first to the synagogue for three Sabbath days where he reasoned with the congregation from the Scriptures.
As a result of preaching the Gospel and revealing Jesus as the Messiah, a number of Jews, many Greeks, and a number of prominent women accepted Christ and the church was formed. Now when the Gospel is effectively preached opposition will arise and some of the Jews in Thessalonica became jealous and formed a mob to start a riot in the city. They ran to the house where Paul and Silas had been staying and not finding them they dragged their host Jason and some other Christians before the city officials complaining that “these men who have turned the world upside down have come here also”. Paul and Silas had to slip away from Thessalonica to Berea.
As you can imagine Paul was worried about this new church with no one to guide them so later he sent Timothy to do so. Later Timothy caught up with Paul and gave him a good report about their progress. Pleased, Paul wrote them 1 Thessalonians from Corinth.
Maturing in Christ is a challenge in the best of times. Maturing under persecution without the guidance of mature Christians is almost impossible and yet this little church did just that. Do you know what that means? It means that even if you don’t have the best of situations or mature believers to guide you God has given you His Holy Spirit to help you along the way. You can mature in Christ if you will only trust and obey God. If you will listen to His Holy Spirit, and do as He bids you, you will mature in Christ. Enjoy today’s passage.