“They came to Thessalonica, where was a synagogue of the Jews: And Paul, as his manner was, went in unto them, and . . . reasoned with them out of the scriptures, opening and alleging, that Christ must needs have suffered, and risen again from the dead; and that this Jesus, whom I preach unto you, is Christ” (Acts 17:1-3). Leaders of the synagogue at Thessalonica had probably conducted quiet meetings for years, undisturbed. They diligently taught Scripture and seemed very holy in outward appearance.
Then Paul, the troublemaker, came on the scene and in just three weeks of preaching the kingship of Jesus, he turned that whole area of Thessalonica upside down. He knew from experience that only a few devout ones would listen to Christ’s demanding word and that the majority would not give up their hard-shelled religious traditions. He also knew they would be filled with envy and hate toward anything that disturbed their way of doing things. Paul declared that the preaching of his gospel caused contention: “We were bold in our God to speak unto you the gospel of God with much contention [opposition]” (1 Thessalonians 2:2).
What caused this violent opposition? Paul and Silas were not loud or provocative nor were they robbing churches.
Later, in a letter to those in Thessalonica who went on with the Lord, Paul wrote, “For our exhortation was not of deceit, nor of uncleanness, nor in guile . . . not as pleasing men, but God, which trieth our hearts. For neither at any time used we flattering words, as ye know, nor a cloak of covetousness; God is witness. . . . But we were gentle among you, even as a nurse cherisheth her children . . . we were willing to have imparted unto you, not the gospel of God only, but also our own souls, because you were dear unto us” (1 Thessalonians 2:3-8). These religious people who for years had acted so demure and God-loving were now enraged. They became an angry mob, assaulting the house of Jason and troubling the people and rulers of the city (see Acts 17). The cause of all this contention was this one uncompromising word: “There is another king . . . Jesus” (Acts 17:7).
SI Moderator - Greg Gordon