Intro. Having left Phillipi under strained conditions they came to Thesalonica. Later Paul would write to them about it:
But even after that we had suffered before, and were shamefully entreated, as ye know, at Philippi, we were bold in our God to speak unto you the gospel of God with much contention.
Now when they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where was a synagogue of the Jews:
A. The great Roman road known as the Egnatian Way went from the Adriatic Sea to Rome and passed through Thessalonica, thus, it was an important city, the gateway to the East or West.
B. Amphipolis was 33 miles from Philippi. It was another 30 miles from there to Apollonia, and 37 miles further to Thessalonica, thus a hike of 100 miles.
C. Nothing is said concerning ministry in Amphipolis or Apollonia. There were possibly no Jewish synagogues in these cities, and Paul's method of operation was to always go to the Jew first.
1. A few weeks ago we explained the reason for this.
2. A Jew had a basic knowledge of the scriptures and a hope for the Messiah. All they needed was to discover that Jesus was the Messiah, and they were ready to go out and witness.
3. The Gentiles were steeped in the worship of the many gods of the Greeks and Romans, so that to them the true and living God was unknown.
4. Note how Paul began his witness in Athens to the Greek philosophers.
Then Paul stood in the midst of Mars' Hill, and said, [Ye] men of Athens, I perceive that in all things ye are very religious.
For as I passed by, and beheld your devotions, I found an altar with this inscription, TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Whom therefore you ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you.
God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwells not in temples made with hands;
Neither is worshipped with men's hands, as though he needed any thing, seeing he gives to all life, and breath, and all things;
And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation;
That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us:
For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring.
Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man's device.
And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commands all men every where to repent:
Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by [that] man whom he hath ordained; whereof] he hath given assurance unto all [men], in that he hath raised him from the dead.
D. In Thessalonica they found a synagogue.
II. PAUL, ACCORDING TO HIS CUSTOM, WENT TO THE SYNAGOGUE FOR THREE SABBATH DAYS AND REASONED WITH THEM OUT OF THE SCRIPTURES.
A. To believe that Jesus is the Jewish Messiah is most reasonable.
1. When you look at the prophecies of the Old Testament it becomes quite obvious that no one else has or could fulfill all of the predictions concerning the Messiah.
2. To see the prophecies of His being despised and rejected, by the leaders, His being cut off from the land of the living, and rising again from the dead, a person would have to be blind not to see it.
3. And that is exactly the case.
For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles be come in.
4. This is true of all who reject Jesus Christ.
But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost:
In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.
5. If you are listening tonight and do not believe that Jesus is the Son of God, the promised Messiah, it is because your eyes have been blinded by Satan.
6. Paul was teaching them right out of their own scriptures.
B. He was from their scriptures alleging that the Messiah had to die and rise again, and that the Jesus that He was telling them about was the Messiah.
1. To the Corinthians, Paul wrote;
Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand;
By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain.
For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;
And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:
III. THE RESULT OF THE PREACHING, SOME OF THEM BELIEVED.
A. Jesus told the disciples that the seed, which was the word of God, fell of different types of soil.
1. It is impractical to believe that everyone who hears the gospel will believe.
2. There are many who just do not want to believe.
3. They are enjoying their sinful lifestyle and have no desire to change.
4. The book of Hebrews tells us:
For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard [it].
B. Note the various responses to the gospel.
1. A great multitude of devout Greeks and many of the chief women believed.
2. But the Jews that believed not, moved with envy, gathered together some men of the baser sort who started an uprising and created an uproar in the city, and they assaulted the house of Jason.
a. They were probably staying at the house of Jason.
b. Evidently, they had heard of the uprising and by the time the crowd had arrived they were long gone.
3. So the mob grabbed hold of Jason and some of the other brethren that were there and brought them to the magistrates.
4. Their complaint was, "These who have turned the world upside down have come here."
5. It would have been more accurate to say, "These who have turned the world rightside up."
6. Since Adam's sin, the world is and has been upside down.
7. The charge against Jason was that he had received them.
8. They accused Paul and his company of teaching things that were contrary to Caesar, that there was another king, even Jesus.
9. In the Roman persecution of the church, this was the basic charge against the Christians, that they were guilty of insurrection against Rome because they acknowledged Jesus as Lord rather than Caesar. Many of them could escape execution by just saying Caesar is Lord. By the thousands they refused to do so and were summarily executed.
10. On hearing these charges, the people and the rulers of the city were troubled.
11. Jason was ordered to post bail and was released.
12. Paul and Silas were sent away under the cover of night and went on to Berea.
IV. THE AMAZING THING TO ME IS THE AMOUNT OF TEACHING AND THE SUBJECTS THAT PAUL COVERED IN JUST THREE WEEKS THERE IN THESSALONICA.
For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance; as ye know what manner of men we were among you for your sake.
A. It would seem that the purpose of his first epistle was to correct a misconception that had developed from his teaching on the coming kingdom of God.
1. Some of the people had died, and Jesus had not as yet returned to set up His kingdom on earth.
2. They were grieving because they thought that because they had died before His return, they had lost the opportunity to live in the kingdom age on the earth.
3. So in that three weeks Paul taught on the return of Jesus in glory to reign over the earth.
4. He also warned them about the man of sin, the false Christ. In his second letter he said:
Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things?