Paul and Silas set out on a long and difficult missionary journey around AD 49-52. This journey was the second missionary trip for Paul. After receiving their commendation from the Jerusalem Council, Paul and Silas left Jerusalem and traveled north through Syria and Cilicia. In the town of Lystra in Cilicia, they met a young disciple named Timothy .
“The brothers at Lystra and Iconium spoke well of him. Paul wanted to take him along on the journey, so he circumcised him because of the Jews who lived in that area, for they all knew that his father was a Greek. As they traveled from town to town, they delivered the decisions reached by the apostles and elders in Jerusalem for the people to obey. So the churches were strengthened in the faith and grew daily in numbers.” Acts 16:2-5 NIV
The trio left Lystra and continued on their journey through Phrygia and Galatia to Troas. In Troas, they boarded a boat and sailed across the Agean Sea to Neapolis. Paul, Silas and Timothy continued their journey onward to the Roman colony of Philippi.
“On the Sabbath we went outside the city gate to the river, where we expected to find a place of prayer. We sat down and began to speak to the women who had gathered there. One of those listening was a woman named Lydia,… who was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to respond to Paul’s message. When she and the members of her household were baptized, she invited us to her home.” Acts 16:13-15a NIV
After enduring imprisonment in Philippi, Paul, Silas, and Timothy resumed their journey traveling approximately 100 miles to Thessalonica to share the gospel message of Jesus Christ.
“Some of the Jews were persuaded and joined Paul and Silas, as did a large number of God-fearing Greeks and not a few prominent women.” Acts 17:4 NIV
The stay was brief in Thessalonica and they left after three weeks following a riot and the seizure of Jason, a fellow believer, and traveled fifty miles at night to Berea. (Acts 17:1-10) Some time during the remainder of the journey, Paul, along with Silas and Timothy, penned the first letter to the Thessalonian church. Scholarship suggests a date of AD 51 for the first epistle.
Week 1 Recap
On Day 1, we learned about the composition of the church at Thessalonica and about the brief, but important, visit of Paul, Silas, and Timothy. Beth Moore also encouraged us as we began our journey through the scripture together.
Our lesson for Day 2 centered around 1 Thessalonians 1:3. In this verse, the trio recalled three specific traits of the church at Thessalonica: their work of faith, their labor of love, and their endurance of hope in the Lord Jesus Christ. This young church of converts needed encouragement because of the strong persecution they were enduring. We were also asked to recall a particularly difficult season in our lives and to reflect on a good memory formed because of the support and company of others through that season.
In Day 3, we studied 1 Thessalonians 1:5.
“For our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power, in the Holy Spirit, and with much assurance.” 1 Thessalonians 1:5
We were to describe the way the Holy Spirit bears witness within us; how we experience the Spirit’s presence. We also looked at how the Holy Spirit can manifest among believers. We then compared and contrasted the properties of wind and the working of the Holy Spirit.
The lesson on Day 4 highlighted how the Thessalonians served as models and examples to all believers by their faith and endurance with joy through severe suffering. They imitated the lives of Paul, Silas, and Timothy, who imitated the life of the Lord and had modeled for the church how to walk with Jesus Christ. Beth Moore suggested that we also consider if we have ever served as an example prior to imitating the way of faith.
On Day 5, we concluded our lessons as we studied the conversion of the congregation at Thessalonica. Their faith couldn’t be contained. The word of the Lord had to be shared and they looked outward and proclaimed the message of the Lord like the blast of a trumpet.
Questions to Ponder
- How has the company of others helped me through a difficult situation in life? How can I be an encouragement to others going through difficulty?
- Have I ever been encouraged by how someone lived out their faith? What actions did they do that were inspiring?
- How do I know when the Holy Spirit is at work in my life?
- When I first became a Christian, whom did I imitate as a model of faith?
- When was the last time I shared the gospel of Jesus Christ with someone? If they received Christ, are they still walking faithfully?
We’re off to a great start! Please begin Week 2 lessons.