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Apostle Paul planted many Churches in Turkey and Greece. Among the Churches he planted, he spent considerable time in Ephesus (Turkey) and paid a lot of attention to solving problems in the Church of the Corinthians (Greece). The one that Paul planted that he thought was exemplary were the Thessalonians.
The book of Acts Chapter 17 tells the story of Paul and Silas at Thessaloniki. Paul and Silas preached to the Jews and to the Greeks who were there. Seeing the success of the efforts of Paul and Silas, some of the Jews were upset, they attacked the Church and were looking to harm Paul and Silas. The two missionaries had to leave Thessaloniki for Berea. In spite of this opposition, the Church thrived.
Paul had high praise for them in 1 Thessalonians 1:2-5 (The Message Bible): “Every time we think of you, we thank God for you. Day and night you’re in our prayers as we call to mind your work of faith, your labor of love, and your patience [endurance] of hope in following our Master, Jesus Christ… It is clear to us, friends, that God not only loves you very much but also has put his hand on you for something special. When the Message we preached came to you, it wasn’t just words. Something happened in you. The Holy Spirit put steel in your convictions.”
The Thessalonians had strong faith, love for one another, endurance built on hope in Jesus, and convictions of steel. While many of the early Churches were weak, like Corinth (Greece), Ephesus and Galatia (Turkey), the Thessalonians were strong. This explains why we don’t see Paul writing much to them about how to behave, instead he answers their questions about the ressurrection and the antichrist.
In the face of opposition and persecution, the Thessalonians remained a faithful, loving, and hopeful Church. How do we compare in our different parts of the world today? Are we angry and bitter because our faith is mocked by some, opposed by others, and persecuted in many places around the world?
May our October study of Thessalonians give us new hope, Amen!