Day 1

Paul’s Ministry to Thessalonica

from the 1 & 2 Thessalonians reading plan

Acts 16:1-40, Acts 17:1-9

BY Amanda Bible Williams

Today’s Reading: You’ll notice the Scripture reading for today is longer than the others. These chapters from the book of Acts provide context for our study of 1 & 2 Thessalonians.

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 across the country. 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 in one truth: “This Jesus I am proclaiming to you is the Messiah” (Acts 17:3). 

Post Comments (85)

85 thoughts on "Paul’s Ministry to Thessalonica"

  1. Paula Strong says:

    I have 4 children and had hoped for big fun family times like this, but the boys have fallen away from the Lord and my family is not the happy family it once was. Praying we can have a happy large family gathering some day.

  2. Misty Portland says:

    Thankful for Gods Word this morning

  3. Tre'Shonda Sheffey says:

    Thank you for this context. I’ve read Acts many times but this was such a great reminder about trusting God when leading others to Christ. Paul was genuinely concerned about others being saved and not staying in a place of persecution. Last thing, I was curious to read the part about Paul being fed up with the woman (fortune teller) who continued to tell the community what Paul and Thomas were doing, and rebuked the evil spirit. Now as I pay closer attention I realize why he did it because she wasn’t operating with the right intentions rather than in the flesh (with greed).

  4. Angela Gee says:

    I noticed that too and made me giggle

  5. Kelsea Baumgarten says:

    Susan, agree so much! My grandmother was one of seven (and I also am one of seven). We are now 14 strong and it not only reminded me of our summers with my grandmother, but also the relationship my siblings and I have. What a better person I am because of these relationships. Warm tears for sure!

  6. Alexis Mendibles says:


  7. Debbie McIntire says:

    I noticed that, too, lol! Love your follow up thoughts on this, Hannah!

  8. Hannah McConnell says:

    Anyone else amused by the fact that Paul was annoyed and then simply cast out a spirit? Interesting combination of being in the flesh but functioning in the spirit. I think it shows great confidence in the HS working through him.

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