This morning I am beginning a new sermon series through the New Testament book known as 1 Thessalonians, which was a letter written by a leader in the early church named Paul to a church in Thessalonica that he had been instrumental in starting around the year 49 AD.
If you’re unfamiliar with the Bible, there is the Old and New Testament. The New Testament begins with the birth of Jesus, and contains four gospels – Matthew, Mark, Luke & John – which tell the story of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection. After that is Acts, which was written by Luke as a sequel to his gospel, and tells the story from Jesus’ ascension to heaven to the spread of Christianity and the rise of the early church. One of the most prominent figures is Paul, who was a Jewish religious leader named Saul who was miraculously converted by Jesus and then went around preaching the gospel of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection and starting churches. The rest of the New Testament consists of letters, many by Paul, that outline the significance of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection and deal with issues that arose in the various churches. The New Testament ends with Revelation, a very different kind of book about what is going on spiritually behind the scenes of our every day life.
Before we dive into the letter, I want us to read about Paul’s experience in Thessalonica in Acts 17:1-10:
Acts 17:1-10 - When they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where there was a Jewish synagogue. 2 As his custom was, Paul went into the synagogue, and on three Sabbath days he reasoned with them from the Scriptures, 3 explaining and proving that the Christ had to suffer and rise from the dead. "This Jesus I am proclaiming to you is the Christ," he said. 4 Some of the Jews were persuaded and joined Paul and Silas, as did a large number of God-fearing Greeks and not a few prominent women. 5 But the Jews were jealous; so they rounded up some bad characters from the marketplace, formed a mob and started a riot in the city. They rushed to Jason's house in search of Paul and Silas in order to bring them out to the crowd. 6 But when they did not find them, they dragged Jason and some other brothers before the city officials, shouting: "These men who have caused trouble all over the world have now come here, 7 and Jason has welcomed them into his house. They are all defying Caesar's decrees, saying that there is another king, one called Jesus." 8 When they heard this, the crowd and the city officials were thrown into turmoil. 9 Then they made Jason and the others post bond and let them go. 10 As soon as it was night, the brothers sent Paul and Silas away to Berea.