Temple Baptist Church - 3-29-2015
1 Thessalonians 1:1-3
A. As we begin preaching through the Book of 1 Thessalonians, I want to give a little background to show what had previously transpired in Acts 17:1-14.
1. Act 17:1 Now when they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where was a synagogue of the Jews:
a) “Now when they” shows the pattern of biblical missions that is many times disregarded in our day. The Lord sent His disciples out two by two and, in the Book of Acts, we find that pattern continued. There are many advantages to missionaries not going alone to establish churches but I will name only a couple:
1) Personal accountability! Mark 6:7 And he called unto him the twelve, and began to send them forth by two and two; and gave them power over unclean spirits; (It helps the missionary to stay “straight” and focused on the work. One of the great problems faced today is a lack of biblical accountability. It is also good for protection of both reputation and person!)
Acts 13:2-4 As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them. (3) And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them away. (4) So they, being sent forth by the Holy Ghost, departed unto Seleucia; and from thence they sailed to Cyprus.
2) Encouragement! Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labour. (10) For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: but woe to him that is alone when he falleth; for he hath not another to help him up. (11) Again, if two lie together, then they have heat: but how can one be warm alone? (12) And if one prevail against him, two shall withstand him; and a threefold cord is not quickly broken. (Two can lift each other up when down and a three-fold cord is not easily broken so a two-fold cord is much stronger than one. Many missionaries or missionary families become discouraged when they start a local church and, for long periods of time, only preach to and fellowship with their own families. This is important to both the missionary and his family.)
b) “Passed through … came to.” Paul established churches where there was no foundation laid by another missionary. He spent most his time in the “regions beyond” in his church planting efforts.
Romans 15:20 Yea, so have I strived to preach the gospel, not where Christ was named, lest I should build upon another man's foundation:
c) Historical Background of Thessalonica - Thessalonica was located at the intersection of two major Roman roads, one leading from Italy eastward (Ignatia Way) and the other from the Danube to the Aegean. Thessalonica’s location and use as a port made it a prominent city. In 168 BC it became the capital of the second district of Macedonia and later it was made the capital and major port of the whole Roman province of Macedonia (146 BC). In 42 BC, after the battle at Philippi, Thessalonica was made a free city. Today the modern city of Thessaloniki is the second most important city of Greece and home to a million inhabitants.
d) Paul went to the city of Thessalonica (estimated 200,000 in population during this time and preached there for a period of 3-4 weeks. The majority of these people were Greeks but there was a rather large population of Jews and, therefore Jewish proselytes who were also Greeks.
e) Missionaries normally concentrate, in the beginning of their ministry to a particular nation, on large concentrations of population. They do this for a couple of reasons: a) To reach as many people as possible in the shortest time b) To establish a good, solid, biblical, local church from which to reach out to the surrounding areas.
2. Acts 17:2 And Paul, as his manner was, went in unto them, and three sabbath days reasoned with them out of the scriptures,
a) Paul followed the direction of the Scriptures “to the Jew first” and reasoned with them from the Scriptures. The most effective way to offset false teaching is not with human reasoning but with the Word of God. For three consecutive weeks, he faithfully taught them God’s Word.
b) This was the beginning of the church plant as missionaries today often use Bible studies in homes of people then invite them to assemble in the church plant.
3. Acts 17:3-4 Opening and alleging, that Christ must needs have suffered, and risen again from the dead; and that this Jesus, whom I preach unto you, is Christ. (4) And some of them believed, and consorted with Paul and Silas; and of the devout Greeks a great multitude, and of the chief women not a few.
a) As Paul preached the gospel to these Jews and Jewish proselytes, some of the Jews believed and “consorted” with him while a “great multitude” of the devout Greeks believed along with many of the chief women. These precious people were called under the ministry of the word by the grace of God, out of darkness into marvelous light.
b) The main message of the missionary is the gospel. How they begin depends upon the biblical knowledge of the people. If they have never believe in God or heard the name of Jesus Christ, one will need to lay a biblical foundation for faith.
4. Acts 17:5 But the Jews which believed not, moved with envy, took unto them certain lewd fellows of the baser sort, and gathered a company, and set all the city on an uproar, and assaulted the house of Jason, and sought to bring them out to the people.
a) Thus, the unbelieving Jews were moved to envy because of the multitude of converts, brought in unsaved, wicked men who caused the entire city to be in an uproar against Paul because Thessalonica was a free city under the Roman Caesar and the preaching of another King could take away their free status. The people took a believer named Jason into custody along with others because Paul was hidden away.
b) The missionary needs to be ready for the opposition to the preached Word the will follow. Satan and his cohorts will try to malign or withstand the truth. Often, those who have been won to Christ will suffer for the gospel’s sake.
5. Acts 17:6-10 And when they found them not, they drew Jason and certain brethren unto the rulers of the city, crying, These that have turned the world upside down are come hither also; (7) Whom Jason hath received: and these all do contrary to the decrees of Caesar, saying that there is another king, one Jesus. (8) And they troubled the people and the rulers of the city, when they heard these things. (9) And when they had taken security of Jason, and of the other, they let them go. (10) And the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Berea: who coming thither went into the synagogue of the Jews.
a) Jason was “bailed out” and he and others sent Paul and Silas by night unto Berea. Paul began preaching and reasoning in the synagogue of the Jews and once again won many to Christ. The Jews of Thessalonica came and stirred up the people of Berea. Paul was sent away leaving Silas and Timotheus to minister there.
b) There are many reasons for missionaries to change fields and I leave that between them and the Lord. Most churches would have dropped the support of the Apostle Paul because he spent a lot of time in jail and changed locations often.
6. Acts 17:11-12 These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so. (12) Therefore many of them believed; also of honourable women which were Greeks, and of men, not a few.
a) Evidently, a strong local church was birthed through Paul’s preaching that remained in spite of strong persecution from the Jews. They were surrounded with a culture of heathenism and gross immorality. This led to enormous temptation to return to their old ways and significant persecution if they refused to recant their faith in Christ.
b) God honored both the efforts to preach the gospel and the willingness of the people to suffer for Christ’s sake. Biblical local churches have always paid a price for their existence but multitudes have come to Christ because of persecution and men/women who were willing to pay the price for souls.
7. Acts 17:3-14 But when the Jews of Thessalonica had knowledge that the word of God was preached of Paul at Berea, they came thither also, and stirred up the people. (14) And then immediately the brethren sent away Paul to go as it were to the sea: but Silas and Timotheus abode there still.
a) The persecutors followed Paul to Berea and continued to turn the hearts of the lost against him. But, God continue to protect and honor Paul’s faithfulness to the gospel.
b) Paul left Silas and Timotheus, faithful men of God, in Thessalonica to oversee the work and see to it that the church continued to be doctrinally correct and strong.
B. Paul is now writing to the church at Thessalonica in these two little epistles to answer some questions that had arisen in Paul’s absence. There is not mention of the name of the pastor but the church was strong according to 1 Thessalonians 1:3.
C. The theme and purpose of the epistle is summarized in following areas of the epistle.
1. First of all, we find the thankfulness of God’s man for the people. Paul expresses his thankfulness for what God was doing in the lives of the Thessalonians (1:2-3). Through the strong persecution from without, they were doing a great work for the glory of God and souls.
2. Paul defends himself against a campaign to slander his ministry (2:1-12). Everywhere Paul went, there were those who maligned and demonized God’s man. This is one of the most effective attacks upon the local churches.
3. Paul tries to encourage them to stand fast against persecution and pressure to revert to their former pagan life-styles (3:2-3; 4:1-12). Satan would love to see the demise of local churches and the return of God’s people to their old lifestyles. I see people who once served the Lord here at Temple staying home instead of being faithful to the local church.
4. Paul answers a doctrinal question pertaining to the fate of Christians who had died in Christ (4:1-13). There was a lack of understanding concerning those who died in Christ and rapture of the body of Christ at His appearing.
5. Paul gives a clear presentation of the “Day of the Lord” (5:1-11). Many today are still confused about the end time and judgment of God.
6. Paul deals with certain problems that had developed in their corporate life as a church (5:12-13; 19-20). People need a good understanding of the purpose, ministries, and inner workings of the local church.
7. Two major themes arise in the study and reading of 1 and 2 Thessalonians:
a. The first theme is the return of the Lord Jesus Christ. This is a subject found at the close of every chapter. Concerning Christ’s return there is a two-fold emphasis of both a confident expectation along with the call to live in readiness in the light of His imminent coming.
b. The second theme revolves around the ministry of the local church and its life in the world. In this the Apostle balances the prophetic with the practical. As in other places, the doctrine of the return of Christ for the church is a truth that should transform how we live as individuals and as a corporate body of God’s people.