This is getting to be the theme of Paul’s life! Everywhere he goes things go well for a little while then the Jews get jealous and run him off. Today Paul and Silas visit Thessalonica. This is the beginnings of the church that Paul will write the letters titled I and II Thessalonians. We can say we met them when…
Thessalonica was big enough to have a substantial Jewish community. And as usually accompanies a large Jewish population, there was a synagogue where Paul and Silas started their visit.
Did you notice that it took them three weeks to convince the people of the truth? They were allowed to speak in the synagogue each week. That to me is interesting. Were the Jews who didn’t believe letting Paul have the floor out of courtesy to a traveling disciple? Were they willing to entertain his ideas until they saw how popular they became with the people? Why did they keep quiet for three weeks?
I would hazard a guess that Paul and Silas were teaching in the streets too. I doubt everything was left to the Sabbaths. But that at least was where it started. We know that they got a fair amount of people from the synagogue but was that all? How many people did they reach in the streets?
The Jews, once again, have to devise a plot to stop God’s word being spread. This time they used “some wicked men of the rabble” and formed a mob. Anyone who watches the news lately understands “mob mentality” and how things can quickly get out of hand when a mob forms.
This mob attacks the home where Paul and Silas used to be staying. I wonder how Paul and Silas knew to get out of town in time. Poor Jason and the others in his home didn’t have that option. But they never gave up Paul and Silas’ whereabouts.
It is interesting that this mob kept it together enough to bring Jason to the authorities instead of settling the matter with him physically themselves. When they took him to the authorities they tried using the same argument they used against Jesus; claiming a conflict of kings. It wasn’t any truer then than it was when Jesus was brought before Pilate.
When I read this story the first thing that came to my mind was the Roman colosseums and feeding Christians to the lions. Jason and the others didn’t have to face that fate, at least not that day. Instead they were able to post bail and go home. I wonder what they had to promise, besides money, in return for their freedom. I don’t believe they would ever promise not to share the gospel as a condition of their release.
This group was the foundation of the new church in town. And like with any good seed that has been planted, they grew! Satan couldn’t stop them even if he did get Paul run out of town.
Father God, NOTHING stops Your work. Thank You for the faithful people who continued on in the work even in the face of adversity and death threats. Thank You for raising up people to help keep the gospel going after Paul and Silas left. Thank You that they were able to still write letters of instruction, encouragement and even correction. Thank You that I can still learn from those letters today, more than 2,000 years later.