The church of Thessalonica was made up of people who were consistent in their work of faith, labor of love, and steadfastness of hope, so much so that their reputation spread well beyond the borders of their city. They lived out their conviction without compromise.
The city itself was not an easy place to be a Jesus follower. Acts 17:1-9 describes the trouble that Paul got into at Thessalonica. He taught in the synagogue, as was his custom, and people believed. There were also converts to Judaism who believed. Men and women both turned to Christ, and then people in the community started believing.
Sounds great, right? Not so fast. Thessalonica was a port city with a multi-ethnic, multi-cultural, multi-religious population. Archaeologists estimate the city housed temples to more than 25 Roman and Greek gods (israelmyglory.org). Being a port city, it was fairly wealthy, educated, and above all, tolerant. A religion that claimed Jesus was the only way to God was NOT welcome. Anti-Christian mobs forced Paul and Timothy out of town and threw church leaders into prison.
A wealthy, pluralistic society does not appreciate claims of Truth, particularly when those claims are reasonable ones based on evidence. Christianity is tolerated as long as it stays inside the church building. It is not generally welcomed in a secular or pluralistic culture.
The Thessalonians are examples of how to live in an unfriendly culture without compromise. They lived in relationships, caring for the needy, joyfully serving others while keeping their eyes on the eternal. Their lived out lives preached more convincingly than words, and as their reputations spread, so did the Church.
Bos, Carole “Map Depicting Thessalonica” AwesomeStories.com. Oct 07, 2013. Feb 06, 2020.
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