Teaching Notes are Bible studies we taught before GraceLife Ministries began publishing articles online in 1995. Some were presented as sermons, others as group studies.
Our hope is that these older studies will be a blessing to you in your life and ministry. Please use them in any way God leads you.
These teaching notes are from a series of studies about 1 Thessalonians.
[These notes are from a study from more than 45 years ago.]
Silvanus and Timotheus were traveling companions of Paul. Silvanus (also known as Silas) began traveling with Paul after the Jerusalem Council. He is named among the “chief men among the brethren” (Acts 15:22). His job was to be a witness to the decisions of the Council (Acts 15:27). Silas had the spiritual gift of prophecy (Acts 15:32). Rather than return to Jerusalem with the other Jewish believers, Silas chose to stay with Paul and the Gentiles in Antioch (Acts 15:34). A fierce argument between Paul and Barnabas thrust Silas into the position of becoming Paul’s primary companion on future missionary trips (Acts 15:36-41).
Timotheus, also known as Timothy, became a Christian during Paul’s first missionary trip to Lystra (Acts 14). Paul loved Timothy very much. Paul called Timothy his “son” and “child” in the Lord (1 Corinthians 4:17; 1 Timothy 1:2; 2 Timothy 1:2). Timothy’s mother and grandmother were Jews, but his father was a Gentile (Acts 16:1; 1 Timothy 1:5). Mixed marriages were common following the Jewish dispersions (Jews dispersed to live in countries other than Israel).
Paul and Silas asked Timothy (believed to be in his late teens or early 20s at the time) to join them as they traveled preaching the Gospel of the grace of God (Acts 16:1-3). Their travels eventually brought them to Thessalonica (Acts 17:1).
Thessalonica is located on the northwest corner of the Aegean Sea. It was one of the chief cities of Macedonia. It had a busy harbor and was on a primary trade route. Now known as “Saolika,” it remains a prosperous community made up of more than 200-thousand Greeks, Jews, Turks and Europeans. It is situated about 200 miles north of Athens, Greece, and 30 miles south of Yugoslavia.
Paul began his public ministry in Thessalonica at the Jewish synagogue in approximately 50 AD. It was his custom to seek out monotheistic Jews and Gentiles who would have the Old Testament as their point of faith and practice. Paul reasoned with the Jews for three consecutive Sabbath days, preaching that Jesus Christ died and rose again just as the Old Testament Scriptures said He would. Paul proclaimed that Jesus was the Christ … the Messiah. Some of the Jews believed Paul. Many of the worshipping Trees and leading women followed Paul (Acts 17:1-4).
As you can imagine, the popularity of Paul’s message made the unbelieving Jews very jealous. They were losing important members of their congregation to an outsider with a “radical” message. So, the leaders of the synagogue went to the marketplace and found some rather seedy people to do their dirty work. It was against Old Testament Law for Jews to have any contact with Gentile vermin, but jealousy leads to wicked plans.
This evil crowd broke into the house of Jason. They were looking for Paul and Silas. (Timothy’s name is not mentioned. It may have been that Timothy was not with Paul and Silas in Thessalonica, but it is more probable that Timothy was seen as a boy and not one of the primary preachers of this new Gospel. There is no indication that Timothy left Paul and and Silas before the trip to Thessalonica only to join them later at another town.) The crowd literally dragged Jason and other Christians before the politarchs … rulers of Thessalonica. The rabble rousers made a political charge against Jason and the others that they had committed treason against the emperor of Rome by pledging allegiance to another king — King Jesus. The charge was serious, but the proof slim. The politarchs fined Jason and the others and let them go. It may be that part of the agreement with the Politarchs was to send Paul and Silas out of town immediately. It may have been the only way to allow the new assembly of believers to live in peace. Paul and Silas moved on to Berea (Acts 17:5-13).
Paul went alone to Athens. Silas apparently continued the ministry in Berea while Timothy stayed in Thessalonica to help the new church. Though the politarchs may have ruled against Paul and Silas returning to Thessalonica, the rulers apparently laid no such charge against Timothy (Acts 17:14-34; 1 Thessalonians 3:1-3).
What happened after Paul left Thessalonica? We will find out in the next part of our special series.
[Thank you for reading these teaching notes from more than 45 years ago. My prayer is they will be a blessing to you and your life and ministry.]