Now when they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where was a synagogue of the Jews:…
I. REASONING FROM THE SCRIPTURES. From the change in the personal pronouns, and from 1 Thessalonians 3:6, it is evident that Luke and Timothy remained at Philippi to comfort and strengthen the new converts in the faith. Let us look at —
1. Paul's journey (ver. 1). Their road lay through a region rich in historic associations. The birthplace of Aristotle and the tomb of Euripides were close to their route. At one point, Xerxes had offered to the river Strymon a sacrifice of white horses, and had buried alive nine youths and maidens. At another they had in view the peaks of Ossa and Pelion, often pointed to with trembling superstition as the home of the gods. But the Christian heroism of Paul has done more to make the land live in the memory than all of its connection with famous classical names.
2. Paul's custom (ver. 2). At Thessalonica he acted as though at Philippi he had received no treatment except that which was kind and encouraging. Paul counted his converts more than he did his stripes. All the effect was to make him "wax bold" in his God. "This one thing I do," was Paul's motto.
3. Paul's reasoning (ver. 3). After the crucifixion, the Saviour showed from the Scriptures that His sufferings and death were just what had been foretold. How did Paul show that it behoved Christ to suffer? Some of the passages must have been Psalm 22 and 69 and Isaiah 53. Possibly he may have used the argument to be found in Hebrews 8-10. To a candid mind, the argument is convincing.
4. Paul's success.
(1) With the Jews. Some became convinced that their conception of the Messiah has been wrong. They gave up their notion of a splendid temporal king to accept the lowly one of Nazareth and of Calvary. When anyone becomes a follower of the Saviour, he immediately begins to "consort" with those who are of the same faith. He will be found with them in all Christian efforts.
(2) With the Greeks. Those who had become worshippers of the true God were far more ready than the Jews. They did not have to give up the wrong conception of centuries.
II. REJECTING THE SCRIPTURES.
1. The assault (ver. 5).
(1) The cause. The Jews were jealous when they saw women of rank joining the new way. They saw their own influence being undermined.
(2) The attack. Envy is a base passion, and does not hesitate to use base means. It was the same sort of crowd that now in a city can easily be gathered to smash in the windows of a mission church and maltreat its minister.
(3) The arrest (ver. 6). If they could not have the principals, they would have their abettors.
(4) The complaint. What a testimony they incidentally bore to the work of Paul and Silas! The world had been wrong side up since sin had entered the garden of Eden, and now they were engaged in turning it once more right side up.
(5) The result (ver. 9). Shadowy as was the support for the complaint, the accusers succeeded in troubling the multitude and the rulers. But, as at Philippi, the action came too late to be of any avail. The Church already was planted, and the Epistles to the Thessalonians show how deeply it had taken root.
III. SEARCHING THE SCRIPTURES. At first it seems hard that the missionaries so soon should have been driven away. But that was God's way for the wider and more expeditious spreading of the gospel.
1. Preaching the Word (ver. 10). Scourged in Philippi, and nearly mobbed in Thessalonica, but just as ready to preach the Word in Beroea.
2. Searching the Word (ver. 11). At Beroea the missionaries had a glimpse of sunshine. Here they found the Jews ready to receive the truth, but not without investigation. They took hold of the matter with zeal and thoroughness. The result was that many of them believed, not only Jews, but Greeks of rank and position.
3. Persecuted for the Word (ver. 13). We see in this illustrations of —
(1) The intensity of the hatred of those who oppose the gospel.
(2) The way in which God continually is using His enemies. They thought that they were stamping out the gospel, whereas they only were spreading it.
(M. C. Hazard.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Now when they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where was a synagogue of the Jews: