Now when they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where was a synagogue of the Jews:…
These verses would supply us with other material for thought. They present to us:
1. Christian workers patiently and conscientiously proceeding with their mission (vers. 1, 2).
2. Christian advocates employing the weapon which was prepared for their use (ver. 3).
3. Christian laborers reaping a blessed spiritual harvest (ver. 4).
4. Faithful followers of the Lord partaking of his sufferings (vers. 5-9). But we rather find here -
I. A GREAT PROPHECY FULFILLLED. "Alleging that Christ must needs have suffered," etc. (ver. 3); i.e. must needs have so done in order that the Scriptures (ver. 2) might be fulfilled (see Luke 24:26, 46). The death of the Messiah was the realization of
(1) the predictions contained in the Jewish sacrifices (the sin offerings and trespass offerings, and notably the offering of the goat on the great Day of Atonement; the Passover lamb, etc.); and of
(2) such predictions in word as those contained in the fifty-third chapter of Isaiah. The Law must have remained fatally incomplete and prophecy unfulfilled if the Christ had not suffered as Jesus of Nazareth did suffer, if he had not died the death which he underwent. In the crucified Nazarene the greatest of all prophecies had been fulfilled.
II. AN UNCONSCIOUS PROPHECY TO BE FULFILLED. The language of the complainants (ver. 6) was unintentionally prophetic. They indeed stated, hyperbolically, as something already accomplished, that which the ambassadors of Christ are engaged in doing. But they indicated, truly and graphically, what the gospel of his grace is doing - it is turning the world upside down. We may put the facts thus to our minds:
1. When Christ came evil was everywhere uppermost. The reigning forces of the world at the time of the Incarnation were "not of the Father, but of the world." Within the one favored and enlightened nation were hypocrisy, superficiality, bigotry and unbrotherliness, spiritual delusion; without that circle were superstition, ignorance, atheism, vice, cruelty - all the abominations into which a corrupt heathenism had sunk. Language will not tell the enormity of the world's condition. Nothing would be of any avail but a radical revolution, the overturning of all existing thoughts, habits, methods, institutions - turning the world upside down, bringing to the dust of humiliation everything that was on the throne of honor.
2. The gospel of Jesus Christ is destined to overturn it.
(1) It has adequate means for so doing - Divine truth, the aid of the Divine Spirit, a Divine institution (the Christian Church).
(2) It has the true method, a spiritual one; its weapons of warfare are not carnal, but spiritual, and therefore mighty to pull down strongholds (2 Corinthians 10:4). It wins by teaching, persuading, leavening, renewing; acting upon the life through the mind, the heart, the will - through the whole spiritual nature. This is the one conquering course, the one method which really and permanently subdues.
(3) It has the assurance of success; both in the promise of a Divine Lord, and in the history of its own triumphs. It is turning the world upside down. In many districts "the idols are utterly abolished;" many "islands are waiting for his Law;" hoary systems of idolatry and iniquity are pierced through and through with the shafts of truth, and promise to fall prone as Dagon before the ark of God; the vices of civilized lands are being successfully assailed; the kingdom of error and of evil is disappearing, and the kingdom of Christ is coming. The triumphs of this last missionary century are a distinct assurance that iniquity shall be cast down and righteousness be exalted. - C.
Parallel VersesKJV: Now when they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where was a synagogue of the Jews: