So close, yet so far

Way In

Paul had a torrid time in and around Thessalonica (Acts 17:1–15). He preached the gospel in the synagogue and saw a large number of converts. But after about three weeks the persecution started: a handful of jealous Jews formed a mob, which started a riot and ended with Paul and Silas running away by night, forced to leave the believers to fend for themselves.

The Church had an explosive start. It’s a miracle it survived, which helps explain the depth of Paul’s love for them. He warned them of persecution, but I doubt even he expected it to come so quickly. The circumstances caused Paul to lay bare in these letters his pastoral heart: a twin commitment to God’s Word and God’s people.

They had responded quickly to the gospel but their faith wasn’t shallow: it was genuine and life-changing. The adversity they faced from the beginning produced in them such love for one another that Paul can’t stop talking about it. The tone of these letters suggests Paul wished he could have spent longer with them.

Look out for how Paul urges them to keep doing ‘more and more’ what they are already doing, to continue in what they’ve started. For Paul, the Christian life means learning to walk in a way that pleases God and is worthy of his call. It means growing in holiness. The Thessalonians had made a good start in difficult circumstances – but would they keep walking?