It is clear from the book of Acts (chapter 17); that the birth of the Thessalonians’ church was not a piece of cake, the apostle encountered rejection and persecution, and this is due to the jealous Jews .The power of the Jews in that city was in a sort like their power today in the field of Media (in USA), as we read they stirred up the crowds against the apostles, they even caused Paul and his fellow workers to flee to Berea. It is certainly clear that this church was born “persecuted” and linked with afflictions, and from the first letter to the Thessalonians; we can notice easily that the church in Thessalonica suffered mainly from their countrymen, and not from the Jews (1Thess. 2: 14) as the apostle had suffered before, but we can understand from the context of Acts 17 that they (the Jews) were the first cause of this persecution (Acts 17:8). Any way this persecution seems to be continuing – as far as we know- to the day Paul sent them his second letter (nearly by the year 51-52 A.D.) which I would like in this article to explore the first seven verses of it.
By exploring the precious opening text of the epistle; I learned a great lesson which I like to share, first I would ask you to stop now and read the first seven verses of the letter then follow with me….well, according to these verses; Paul seems to see that the growing faith, love to each other, and patience of this church in the midst of all the trials and suffering they are facing is a subject which caused him to speak proudly of them among other churches, but how and why this can be? To answer let us flee to Paul’s own words in (1Cor. 3: 13-14) it says: ” Now if any man builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each man’s work will become evident; for the day will show it because it is [to be ]revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each man’s work. If any man’s work which he has built on it remains, he will receive a reward. If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.” (1 Cor. 3: 12-15). We can understand in the light of the previous verses that Paul sees his apostolic ministry of founding the church of Thessalonica as being revealed with the fire of these persecution and trials which they are suffering from; for their growth in faith and love is evidence of the genuineness of his ministry and of the divine approval of it. For this same reason Paul is thanking God all the time for the Thessalonians. The apostle is also pointing out that this case (the Thessalonians’ situation or case) is in itself an evidence of the justice of God; an evidence of His right choice that they deserve His precious grace; so they will be trialed to be fit for the Kingdom of God.
That is not all of what we get from here for it must be clear that we would have responded differently than the respond of the apostle, and this is due to the different glasses by which we see facts. Most of us would have appreciated the patience of the church in the midst of sufferings, but with a deep concern, and concentration on the suffering and persecution as a central issue which had to be solved divinely or humanely, we cannot see any traces of the justice of God in that case, while on the other hand the apostle seems to concentrate more on the advancing church and its patience, while understanding the suffering as a tool in which God uses to sculpt his dear and beloved church in order to be fit for the nature of the kingdom, he also at the last verse is reminding them that God will accomplish His complete justice at the second coming of Christ, therefore Paul had fully understood the justice of God in this case. So if you are persecuted or your church is facing tribulations the Thessalonians’ case here is written to inspire and encourage you to see and understand your case as Paul had seen and understood, and not as most modern childish Christians like myself often understand.