We have the opportunity to hear from Paul again in 1 Thessalonians. As we have been reading along, it amazes me as to how many different audiences, followers and non-believers Paul tried to touch in his preaching and his writings. A few posts ago, I wrote about how meek Paul was in person yet Bold in his writings. We have another chance to see Paul in action. Here, he is on his second missionary journey and faced opposition right away from Jews and Gentiles, yet still managed to teach the young people to stand firm in their faith.
As background, Thessalonica was the capital of Macedonia. Thessalonica was a seaport along a trade route between Rome and Asia Minor. A wide variety of religions and cultures existed and the believers were struggling to survive under the pressures of others in the community, including stoning and other forms of torture. These young believers were taught by Paul to be tough, to stand firm in their faith. This introduction does not sound that much different than living in today’s world. People are persecuted for their beliefs and yet they stand firm. We are all standing firm in our faith, living through many different and difficult circumstances.
As we begin to read 1 Thessalonians, we see Paul’s message being one of encouragement, comfort and strength for the church. Paul wants us to be filled with the Holy Spirit. He props up his group, reminding them of the second coming of Christ.
1 Thessalonians 5:23
Now may the God of peace make you holy in every way, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless until our Lord Jesus Christ comes again.
As we read on, Paul left earlier than planned due to the duress of being there. Eventually, he could stand it no long and sent Timothy back to check in and to continue bolstering the believers. While no apostle or leader was present, the believers bonded together and kept their faith. They were one in community of Christ. Paul went on to encourage them to continue their grow in their faith through his letters. He also presented them with something to look forward to in the future: the second coming of Christ.
I look forward to reading these messages as this book already appears to relevant to us every day.