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. Tori GraceByers says:

    Paul is such a fun/challenging man to study in the scriptures. You really get a picture of total faith, even when things look like they couldn’t get any worse. Paul’s faith inspires me every time I read about him.

  2. Amanda Henderson says:

    Not dependent? 4:12. How does that look in America? I know some of you aren’t in America so maybe where you are too. But either way, to not be dependent on anyone….does that mean not be dependent on “outsiders” or people within the church body too. That doesn’t make sense. How can that even happen. Are we supposed to be living like the Amish (admirable people but not always theological sound).

  3. Amanda Henderson says:

    Gabi Love, thank you. Preach verses proclaim clears it up a bit.

  4. Robin NHendrich says:

    I think my favorite part of this passage today is how You see Paul’s faith in action. He went where the Holy Spirit led him and didn’t continue trying to push through a door the Holy Spirit shut. He saw where the Holy Spirit wanted him instead!

  5. Briana Nguyen says:

    Amanda God calls us all to be the hands and feet of His ministry. He has equipped us all with gifts that are to be used for His Glory. When we begin to see jobs other than ministry apart of proclaiming the gospel we start having a split world view of secularism and sacred. When God calls of us the opposite. He calls us to make everything sacred.

    1. Amanda Henderson says:

      I see that. I am still confused on what is mean to “make a living.” We can’t all get paid for that (in money or resources). So what does it mean?

  6. Amanda Henderson says:

    So I have a question from day 3. 1 Corinthians 9:14. Don’t we all preach the gospel. I read some posts about how Paul uses every humans encounter to proclaim Jesus as the messiah and I agree that that is great and something we should do, but than how does this verse fit in. Are we not to have another way of living? Or making income?

    1. Melanie says:

      I think the context of this verse was that Paul was receiving criticism for relying on the generosity of the church to have his basic needs met. At this point he had no other source of income and if not for others sharing with him, he would have been homeless and hungry, which some took exception to. He is not saying that life is for everyone, but for those who are called to preach the gospel full time. For the rest of us, we make sharing the gospel a part of our daily lives, while still making a living in our chosen field. Does that make sense? Anyone with better knowledge/insight, please share!

    2. Gabi Love says:

      1 Corinthians 9:14 “In the same way, the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should receive their living from the gospel.” Yes, some are called to preach for a living but the key word of the passage to me is “living” from the gospel. The living word of God is our sustenance for our spirit just as water is to the flesh. Those who believe in the Word and are obedient to His word are proclaiming the gospel daily, in their homes, neighborhood, and workplaces. John 4:14 reads, “but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst, but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water sprinting up to eternal life”.

  7. Chelsea Adkins says:

    I was inspired by how Paul just used every human encounter to proclaim Jesus as the Messiah. Like every day evangelism on-the-go. He wasn’t with a missionary company (CMS for example) it was just him actively listening to Gods Spirit. In the areas God has placed us and the people he intentionally allows us to encounter, we should use that was an opportunity to proclaim Christ. I know my friend last week was doing her grocery shopping and she ended up walking away with the number of her check out lady to catch up for coffee and talk about Jesus.

  8. Jennifer Lindholm says:

    I have a random question about Acts 16:6. It says the Holy Spirit forbid them from spreading the Gospel in Asia. I currently live in South Asia. This culture is hard because it’s mainly Hindu and Buddhist, in fact, most of our struggles have been trying to find a church family to connect to, Christians are just so few here. Does anyone have any info about why the Holy Spirit forbade them? And is this possibly a reason why Christianity seems to be mostly absent in this part of the world?

    1. Julia says:

      I think the Holy Spirit forbade them from going to Asia at that specific time because He had a different plan in mind, but they did spread the gospel to parts of Asia at other times. The Bible also says in Revelation 7:9 that people from every nation and tribe will be before God’s throne. And God is still sending missionaries to those areas now.

    2. Allyson Morton says:

      i was wondering about this also

    3. Amanda Henderson says:

      I wouldn’t say that THAT plays into why there are fewer Christians in your area because later in scripture (I’ll try and find it), God does sent people there.

    4. Jessie Chatigny says:

      Here’s a non-Biblical but experience-based guess: sometimes I’ve felt the Spirit moving me “away” from something but in retrospect he had always been moving me TOWARD something. It’s a hard verse to read as someone who is now doing the hard work, so similar to Paul’s in Corinth and Thessolonica, but I think he was called to Greece just as you were called to South Asia and not Siberia or Rwanda. Thank you for the work that you are doing! I pray that your heart would be encouraged and the people in your life would be blessed by the Spirit in you.

    5. Jessie Chatigny says:

      There are also some really good replies to a similar question asked earlier (all the way down)

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