“Now when they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where there was a synagogue of the Jews. 2 And Paul went in, as was his custom, and on three Sabbath days he reasoned with them from the Scriptures, 3 explaining and proving that it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead, and saying, “This Jesus, whom I proclaim to you, is the Christ.” (Acts 17:1–3)
Notice that as Luke begins recording the events in the Apostle Paul’s ministry in Thessalonica, the author again uses the third personal pronoun “they.” Apparently, Luke has left the team for unknown and unspecified reasons. However, Paul, Silas and Timothy continue the Second Missionary journey (Acts 17:4, 10, 14-15).
The three missionaries’ travel through the cities of Amphipolis and Apollonia, apparently without stopping. They proceed to Thessalonica, the capital of Macedonia.
Luke records that there was a Jewish synagogue in Thessalonica. Perhaps the preceding two cities did not have synagogues and Paul wanted to continue his practice of preaching first to the Jews.
The text seems to support this perspective in that Paul spent three weeks reasoning with the Jews from the Scriptures. The Scriptures Paul reasoned from would have been the Old Testament. He continued to explain and to prove that Jesus’ substitutionary atonement on the cross on behalf of sinners, and subsequent bodily resurrection, was absolutely necessary for the sinner’s justification. Paul indicated that the Old Testament Messiah was none other than Jesus of Nazareth.
Dr. R. C. Sproul writes that, “The Pauline Epistles suggest that Paul stayed in Thessalonica longer than three or four weeks (including the workdays before, between, and following three successive Sabbaths). According to Philippians 4:16, the church at Philippi sent him aid at least twice, and the Thessalonian Epistles indicate that Paul had been able to give extensive doctrinal instruction to the Christians there.”
What will be the result of such faithful labor? We will examine both the positive, and the negative, reactions to Paul’s, Silas’ and Timothy’s ministry when next we meet. It should not surprise us that the Gospel results in both great affirmation and great condemnation.
Soli deo Gloria!