Day 1

Paul’s Ministry in Thessalonica

from the 1 & 2 Thessalonians reading plan


Acts 16:1-40, Acts 17:1-34, Acts 18:1-5

BY Amanda Bible Williams

Scripture Reading: Acts 16:1-40, Acts 17:1-34, Acts 18:1-5

Editor’s note:
The Scripture reading for today is longer than the others and comes from the book of Acts. These chapters in Acts provide context for our study of 1 and 2 Thessalonians, and give us a foundation for understanding the Apostle Paul’s relationship with this church.

My grandmother had five siblings, and by the time I came along, the six had married to become twelve. I grew up around their vegetable and flower gardens, in their kitchens that smelled of soup beans and cornbread. I listened to them tell stories late into the night, sat by as they played cards amid uproarious laughter, even stood outside in my pajamas after dark as they howled old songs by the light of the moon.

I rarely think of one of them without thinking of all of them. In my mind they were a set—always connected. That’s not to say they were always together over the years. They saw wars and endured moves and raised children in different states. But when life separated them, they built bridges with letters. They wrote letters home from overseas, sent postcards when they traveled, mailed handwritten pages of updates from one address to the other.  Even now that only two of the twelve remain, they write letters to us, their family. They keep us connected still.

Letters encourage in a way email never will. They speak to a part of the soul that social media comments can’t quite reach. When I read the letters from the Apostle Paul to the church at Thessalonica, I hear the earnestness of words written by hand and carried on foot. I hear a weary pastor, a brother in the faith, longing to see his congregation—his family.

Today’s Scripture reading gives us context for our study of the letters of 1 and 2 Thessalonians. Acts 16 and 17 tell how Paul visited Thessalonica on his second missionary journey—a journey that included many other cities and countless trials along the way. The apostle faithfully preached the gospel to anyone in earshot, and they ran him out of nearly every town he dared enter. But Paul’s work was not in vain because the Holy Spirit was at work. Families of faith formed along his route—one of them in Thessalonica.

Paul’s letters to the Thessalonian believers are like so many of his other letters, filled with instruction on how to live the Christian life. But these letters do more than clarify theology; they are filled to the brim with affection and encouragement for the men and women whose belief in and hunger for the gospel encouraged him, their teacher. Paul wrote to build up his Thessalonian faith family, not with empty platitudes, but with a hope rooted one truth: “This Jesus I am proclaiming to you is the Messiah” (Acts 17:3).

As you walk through 1 and 2 Thessalonians in the coming weeks, read with a heart for the present and an eye to the future. We are here on this earth for a time, connected as sisters and brothers in the faith. But we are only here for a time. The greatest encouragement we have to offer one another is the hope of Christ.

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Post Comments (105)

105 thoughts on "Paul’s Ministry in Thessalonica"

  1. Allison Roberts says:

    One thing that really stood out to me in this reading was that Paul was ridiculed when he spoke of the resurrection of Christ. It just goes to show that Christians are going to be persecuted or laughed at no matter what year we are in! I see so many comments along the lines of “the Bible is just a fairy tale”, etc., so I just imagine that Paul heard the same things we do today.

  2. Anastacia Alvarez says:

    This definitely shows that even though there were so many people who tried to run Paul out … he could have easily been discouraged or upset but amist all the negative it was worth the few who took Christ into their life and that is what was important

  3. Julia Reed says:

    We just studied Acts 16 in my women’s group at church. Paul had one mission- getting others to Christ. And he was okay with throwing out some of the ceremonial law to achieve that goal, but only if his choices were routed in love. Faith is our foundation, Love is our motivation ❤️

    1. Jennifer Smith says:

      I so love that last sentence ♥️

  4. Audrey Gonzalez says:

    Stood out to me how Paul went where God sent him no matter the reception he received. It wasn’t always easy but he immediately followed and acted in faith. I’m convicted to be more in tune to listen to the Lord’s direction on a daily basis.

  5. Brooke Swanson says:

    I was struck by Acts 17:27

    “God did this so that they would seek Him and perhaps reach out for and find Him, though He is not far from anyone.”

    Just in awe of the situations that brought me to God and the beautiful light that comes from the darkest situations. All a part of His design. All a part of his specific plan for each and every one of us.

    1. Julie Waldvogel says:

      Amen! This stood out to me as well!

  6. Lorrie Postnikoff says:

    Paul was in Athens “before the council”, also known as Mars Hill (beside the Acropolis). Interesting to note that the surface of Mars Hill is stone. It has become incredibly smooth from the winds of time, so smooth that it makes it difficult to stand on. I was there just a few years ago and I still saw all the references to the idols and false gods, all around it. All are crumbling and decaying, truly they are ruins! But the one true God who Paul spoke of, remains the same yesterday, today and forever!

  7. Sarah Jannusch says:

    So excited to start this new study! I had three takeaways from this first reading and I wanted to challenge y’all to think of how you’d answer!
    1. Where is your missionary journey?
    2. Are you devoted to sharing the gospel?
    3. Do you seek your direction from the Holy Spirit?

    1. Lindsey Abercrombie says:

      Thank you for these wonderful thoughts! ❤️❤️❤️

    2. Dana Melvard says:

      I love your questions!! I have my answers-and the challenges they promote!! Thank you!

    3. Leslie Shier says:

      These are great! Thanks for the thought provoking questions.

    4. Stephanie Cooke says:

      I just downloaded this app and it’s so interesting that this is the current community study. I suddenly had a desire brew in my heart over two years ago to track the world. And at the most inconvenient time. We had just started a new business when this happened. Poured tends of thousands into it. I have NEVER wanted to travel nor get on a plane. I’ve never flown in my life. Suddenly my fear of flying was gone and I had such an urge to see the world and other cultures. So I started working toward building a business that would allow us to work remotely. In the last several months missions has stirred up inside of me and I’ve come across different opportunities. I’m wondering if God placed this desire within me to travel and now that we are getting closer if he is leading me in the direction of using our time abroad to further the kingdom. It all started as a desire to see the world, spend more time as a family, get out of the rat race. Now I’m starting to feel led in a different direction or I’m starting to feel a different purpose. How timely to come across this study.

  8. Tina says:

    I enjoyed today’s reading. In my book my notes reflect that often people contemplated Paul’s preaching and followed it up with questions, communication , and exchange. Sometimes at church I want to ask my pastor questions about what was preached for greater understanding. Often there is no time as second service starts. I look forward to using study time to gain understanding.

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