This Weeks Word

1 Thessalonians 3:1…
The great challenge to following Christ is the challenge believers face following Christ.
From Corinth, Paul looks back and revels in the report of how well this church is doing facing up to the great opposition all the enemies of the church have brought and are bringing against them.
Paul had spent such a brief time with this church. In only three weeks he had preached the gospel in the synagogue and instilled as much of God’s Word into the hearts of those willing to listen as he possibly could. The problem for Paul and the believers at Thessalonica was a usual one. Not all chose to believe, and those who chose not to believe wanted to put an end to the newfound faith in those who did.
They drove Paul out of town and arrested the head of the household he was staying in.
Upon hearing of the success of Paul’s following ministry at Berea, they came there and attempted the same sort of upset. From there, Paul traveled alone to Athens, Having dispatched Silas to Macedonia, and having sent Timothy back to Thessalonica to follow up.
Once Paul had settled in Corinth, about 380 miles to the south, he was eventually rejoined by Timothy and Silas. We can be certain his concern for the church at Thessalonica was very great, given all the opposition he had personally faced from the particularly belligerent group of Jews there who refused to believe in Christ.
How were the believers doing? Had they fallen away? Had they become embittered toward Paul for all the grief they had experienced from the unbelieving Jews?
These would have been very real concerns, lest he would not have given Timothy over to this mission. The very fact he sent Timothy to determine how it had gone was a great sacrifice for Paul, and it indicates how concerned he was.
But how grateful Paul was upon hearing Timothy’s good report upon his return to Paul at Corinth! The seed of faith had not been snatched away. It was in fact growing and flourishing. They were not embittered toward Paul at all, and in fact were expressing their love for both Paul and his ministry. Praise God!
This expression of love for Paul from this church reported by Timothy became the impetus for this letter – which was the very first letter Paul wrote to a church. And now their expression of love and continuance in the faith implanted in their hearts by Jesus Christ became a great comfort and encouragement to Paul in the midst of the present difficulties he was experiencing in Corinth.
Their faith in Christ was genuine. It had already been proven through great testing and difficulty from those seeking to destroy it. It would not be snatched away. We can only imagine how inspiring their faith was to Paul – and this letter is tangible proof of how inspired he was to continue, and how strengthened he was in his own faith in the continued transforming power of Christ, even in his absence.
Pastor Bill