A Summer Series: 1 Thessalonians
Let me ask you a question: If you visited a new city with no established church how long would you expect it to be until there was an established church there? What sort of timeframe would you place on this – days? weeks? months? a year? a couple of years?
This was the question with which we began our summer preaching series based on the letter of 1 Thessalonians. And when we opened the book of 1 Thessalonians we found that it starts with a surprise.
Paul had visited the city of Thessalonica with his companions Silas and Timothy and spent three Sabbaths (i.e. three weeks) preaching in the synagogue before spending a bit longer continuing to preach the gospel until a mob had formed and chased them out of the city. You can read about this in Acts 17:1-9. Paul moved on from Thessalonica to Berea and then Athens before arriving at Corinth some months later. From here, once Timothy had reported back about how the Thessalonian church was getting on, Paul wrote 1 Thessalonians.
And the surprise? Paul opened the letter by addressing them as ‘the church of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ’. After just a short period of proclaiming the gospel God has established a church worthy of His name! The church truly was a work of God!
In short, 1 Thessalonians was a letter written to a young church facing persecution. They were trying to figure out what it meant to be a church which proclaims the gospel in oppressive circumstances and when worldly influences push in on every side.
As we looked through the letter we were struck with the way that Paul wrote to them with such love and tenderness. He urged them to stay close to Jesus in spite of the suffering they are experiencing. In fact, one of the most striking aspects of the letter is its deeply personal and intimate language.
But this is no light-weight memoir.
Instead Paul deals with some major themes, including:
– the nature and focus of the gospel, Podcast link
– how to handle persecution and suffering, Podcast link
– what true love looks like, Podcast link
– sanctification and the call to holiness, Podcast link
– the return of Jesus, Podcast link
– how to live as a church empowered by the Holy Spirit. Podcast link
The preaching series touches on each of these themes. But also, it is encouraging to read about a first century church prepared to boldly set an example in imitating Jesus (see Thessalonians 1:6,7) and demonstrating a culture of courage, family, honour, authenticity, and passion.
Why not read the letter and listen to the sermons along with us and see what God highlights to you?