ImmerseMessiah NLT - Page 123

T H E N E W B E L I E V E R S I N T H E S S A L O N I C A (a city in the northern part of
Greece) needed both encouragement and guidance. Paul had brought
them the Good News about Jesus, and they had joyfully embraced it.
(This is described in the book of Acts.) But there were critical gaps in
their understanding of what it meant to follow Jesus.
Some of the Thessalonians had stopped working for a living, probably based on the assumption that Jesus would return soon. Others
were despondent because they were afraid that loved ones who had
died before Jesus’ return had missed their share in the Kingdom. Still
others were anxious about all the details related to when and how Jesus
would come back.
The believers also hadn’t made a complete transition to their new
way of living in Christ. Some in the community still indulged in ­sexual
immorality and even adultery, and some were undermining Paul’s
author­ity by questioning his motives. Along with this, the Thessalonian
believers were facing renewed persecution, tempting some to fall away
from their faith.
The Thessalonian community still needed the teaching and leadership
of someone like Paul, but he was no longer with them. As described
in Acts, the Jewish leaders in Thessalonica reacted angrily when Paul
brought the Good News about Jesus to the Gentiles. They set events
in motion that jeopardized the safety of Paul and Silas, making it impossible for them to stay in the city. Paul later sent his co-worker Timothy
to find out how the believers were doing and to report back to him.
It may have turned out for the best that Paul was forced to move on
from Thessalonica, and from other cities too. The kind of opposition
he faced in those cities forced him to find a new way to guide the communities he had started. Since he couldn’t remain with them in person,
he developed a pattern of teaching them through letters and messengers even as he started new communities of Jesus followers elsewhere.
These letters were later gathered together and became a major portion
of the New Testament. They have given God’s people through the centuries an essential window for viewing and understanding the message
and meaning of early Christianity.

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