Paul’s Work in Thessalonica

Text: Acts 17:1-10; 1 Thessalonians 2:1-13

When Paul came to Thessalonica, he likely did not remain there long before being forced to leave. Despite the brief time period and the difficulties that existed, he did a good work there. In this lesson we will focus on what Paul says about his stay in Thessalonica. It reminds preachers of the importance of their work. It also reminds all Christians of the need to accept only what is true & how to determine what is true.

The Background

  • After Paul was released from prison in Philippi, he came to Thessalonica
  • He spent three Sabbaths preaching in the synagogue (Acts 17:1-3)
  • Some Jews were persuaded along with many others (Acts 17:4)
  • The Jews became jealous, formed a mob, and tried to arrest Paul (Acts 17:5)
  • Paul was forced to leave under cover of darkness (Acts 17:10)
  • Even after leaving, the Jews of Thessalonica tried to stop Paul’s work (Acts 17:13)
  • Despite all of this, Paul did good in Thessalonica – the Thessalonian brethren did good to accept & obey the gospel

His Coming Was Not in Vain

  • Paul was forced to leave quickly (Acts 17:10), and the disciples had to remain in a hostile environment (Acts 17:6-8) – it might be tempting to think that it would have been better for Paul to have gone elsewhere in the first place
  • But Paul said his coming was “not in vain” (1 Thessalonians 2:1) – despite the sufferings & opposition (1 Thessalonians 2:2)
  • Paul was preaching God’s word – so his efforts would not be in vain (Isaiah 55:11), regardless of the problems

He Did Not Preach the Wrong Message

  • Not error (1 Thessalonians 2:3) – in harmony with the message handed down from above (Galatians 1:8-9)
  • Not impurity (1 Thessalonians 2:3) – promoted righteousness & morality (Titus 2:11-12)
  • Not deceit (1 Thessalonians 2:3) – he was not a wolf in sheep’s clothing (Matthew 7:15; 2 Corinthians 11:13-15)
  • He was approved of God (1 Thessalonians 2:4) – God was witness to his character (1 Thessalonians 2:5,10); he had nothing to hide (Hebrews 4:13)

He Did Not Have Evil Motives

  • Not to please men (1 Thessalonians 2:4) – one cannot please God & men (Galatians 1:10)
  • Not with flattering speech (1 Thessalonians 2:5) – tactic of false teachers to make people more receptive (Romans 16:17-18)
  • Not with greed (1 Thessalonians 2:5) – a preacher has a right to be paid (1 Corinthians 9:14), but this was not Paul’s motivation (1 Thessalonians 2:9; Philippians 4:15-17)
  • Not seeking the glory of men (1 Thessalonians 2:6) – no reward if he was (Matthew 6:2,5)

His Genuine Concern for Them

  • He used the illustration of a nursing mother who cares for her child (1 Thessalonians 2:7-8)
  • He was willing to sacrifice for them – he put their needs ahead of his own

They Were Witnesses of Him

  • Of his labor & hardship (1 Thessalonians 2:9) – had a right to refrain from work (1 Corinthians 9:6), but was a example (2 Thessalonians 3:8-9)
  • Of his blameless behavior (1 Thessalonians 2:10) – he did not act hypocritically (1 Thessalonians 4:7 – Paul lived this way)
  • Of his efforts to encourage them (1 Thessalonians 2:11-12) – not to follow Paul, but to follow God

Paul’s Reason to Thank God

  • Paul thanked God for the reception he received from the brethren in Thessalonica (1 Thessalonians 2:13) – they recognized that his words were from God & accepted them for that reason
  • We want to always lead people to Christ (2 Corinthians 4:5)

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