This morning, I am in the third week of a sermon series through 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. Over the past two weeks, we looked at the message that Paul brought to the Corinthians as well as his relationship with them. The message, which he calls “our gospel,” is that Jesus Christ died for our sins, as God made a way for us to be restored to a right relationship with Him, to be saved from eternal separation from Him, and to have eternal life. God is the initiator of our faith: He chose us, He gave us spiritual life by giving us His Holy Spirit, and is the power for our ongoing spiritual growth. Our role is to respond to his offer by repenting – turning from our idols, the things of this world that we trust in for our salvation and comfort and joy - and turn in faith and trust to Jesus. And last week we looked at God’s vision for the church, that we would be a place where people are genuinely concerned about the welfare of each other, and where discipleship happens, as we follow people worthy of imitation and live lives worthy of imitation.
This morning, we are going to read 1 Thessalonians 2:1-20. The context of this passage, as you may remember from week 1, is that Paul and his companions were driven out of town by a mob of angry Jews who found his message about Jesus being Lord to be blasphemous. And 2-3 years later, Paul had not been able to return to Thessalonica. In the meantime, all kinds of slanderous accusations had been leveled against Paul by his opponents, and he takes the time in this section of the letter to address those accusations and assure them of his integrity and his devotion to them.