Luke writes of Paul’s coming to Macedonia in five short verses in Acts 16: 6-10.
6 They went through the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia. 7 When they had come opposite Mysia, they attempted to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them; 8 so, passing by Mysia, they went down to Troas. 9 During the night Paul had a vision: there stood a man of Macedonia pleading with him and saying, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” 10 When he had seen the vision, we immediately tried to cross over to Macedonia, being convinced that God had called us to proclaim the good news to them.
The significance of Paul’s arrival did not express itself in the few words written by Luke in Acts. This would be the first time the Gospel came to Europe. Alexander had believed that he had been sent by God to unite the whole world. This whole area was still very much enamored with and still had memories of Alexander. I am sure this fact was not missed by Paul; it is not unreasonable to think that Paul also saw it as much more than a country or continent but as a new world ready for Christ. There is a lot more to this journey of Paul to Thessalonica but for this week we will go to 1st Thessalonians 5: 1-28, or simply the 5th Chapter. Just a short bit of history here to set us on the right path. The New Testament book known as 1 Thessalonians is one of the earliest of Paul’s letters. A bit of history before we continue. The city of Thessalonia is in northern Greece. Its location was excellent being situated along a highway linking east and west. We know that Paul had sent Timothy back to Thessalonia to continue the word and report back later as to the state of the believers there. Timothy reported back and Paul was pleased at the generally good report. It was at that time that Paul wrote this letter we know as 1st Thessaloians. You may of course want to read the whole chapter for context but for now I will be sharing vv. 12-28 with you.
One thing about this letter is that expresses Paul pleasure with the people there and the progress of the church. Chapter five gives details about Christ’s return and some of that famous Pauline advice.
We ask you, brothers, to give due recognition to those who labour among you and to those who preside over you in the Lord and admonish you, and to hold them very highly in love because of the work that they are doing.
Paul starts in v. 12 got to lay out some good advice, he does so in a very ordered way and each one could apply to the church today. First Paul encourages the people to respect their leaders. It is not the title, the office held or position within the Christian community that Paul is alluding too, it is simply the task, the service being given that is the badge of honor and requires their respect. We know in this day that the Spirit cannot be present in a community of hate. You must live at peace with one another. It would be far better to leave a congregation if you are unhappy there, for their peace and your own.(added jk) Paul is very thorough in being sure to mention those who need special care. This next bit of advice is not all that clear until we understand the meaning of lazy in this context. It was originally applied to a soldier who had left the ranks. In this context it means we are to warn the quitters. In every Christian community there are those that are fearful, not secure in their faith and there are those whose faith is strong and they should step up and assist those who are falling away. We must hold on to the weak and provide them a place of refuge as they grow in the faith. We as the Church should work to strengthen the bonds of fellowship and that will require patience. We must seek the better good for all people. There is also the New Testament thought that there should, be no “eye for and eye’ because in the end we will be victorious by seeking to forgive and do good to that person.
In vv. 16-18 Paul writes to what makes the church real and genuine. There is a joy, the church is a happy place to be. The people are excited, true Christianity is not depressing. Prayer is an important part of the church. Prayer is a powerful thing when we come together in Jesus’ name and it is made even more so when we pray as individuals. There is always something to be thankful for. A thankful church is a strong witness for the blessings of our Lord. There is a warning in vv. 19-20 concerning spiritual gifts. We can compare the Prophets of Paul’s day to the modern preachers of today, they bring the message of God to the people. Paul here is saying, if the people have something to say, then let them say it.
In these last few verses Paul puts down the first and most important duty of Christians. The teachings of Christ must be the standard they adhere to and by which they judge the actions of themselves and others. They must hold themselves above evil and strive to keep themselves apart from it. They must keep on doing the right thing, they must follow the way. The Church must be a light among the darkness, having the God given power to win others to Christ.
1 Thessalonians 5:23–28
May the God of peace himself consecrate you through and through; and may your spirit and soul and body be kept complete so that you will be blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. You can rely on him who calls you – and he will do this very thing. Brothers, pray for us.
Greet all the brothers with a holy kiss. I adjure you by the Lord that this letter should be read to all the brothers.
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.
“Brothers, pray for us”… Paul believed in the power of prayer and that no man was so great that he did not need the prayers of others.
Life is Good