Sermons by the Monday Club
Now when they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where was a synagogue of the Jews:…
I. THE MANNER OF A PRIMITIVE PREACHER (ver. 2). What was the matter? On Sabbath days he entered the synagogue. In his last letter to these Thessalonians, he reminds them that he did not make himself chargeable to them (2 Thessalonians 2:9). So on weekdays he was earning his living — improving, no doubt, every opportunity for conversation with such as came in his way; but the Sabbath brought him leisure, and gave him an audience. How did he use these Sabbath opportunities? He "reasoned" with the people. The Christian's faith should not be blind. It has its true home in both the intellect and the heart. The Church of today, and of all days, needs the help of thinking men, ready to give to every man that asketh a reason for the hope that is in them. Whence did Paul draw his arguments? "Out of the Scriptures"; because most of those he addressed were either Jews or proselytes, and accepted the Old Testament. It does not follow that in every case we should start just where he did. At Lystra and Athens he came in contact with heathen, who neither knew nor cared for the Jewish Scriptures. With them Paul himself began with the book of nature. Thus we learn how necessary it is to find some common ground on which we and those we would convince can stand together.
II. A GOOD SIGN OF TRUE FAITH IN A CHRISTIAN CONVERT (ver. 4). Nothing could be more natural nor wise. Loving the same objects, cherishing the same hopes, why should they not delight in each other's company? Those who are of one heart and aim need no precept to bring them together. Each is to the other as a magnet and a support. A common religious faith may be expected to lift above minor differences, and draw men into a common fold. In many things the educated and unlearned, the rich and poor, greatly differ in their tastes. But when Christ enters the heart, you see them forgetting differences and becoming a single spiritual family. Michael Faraday came to be honoured as "a prince in the aristocracy of intellect." And yet he never lost his interest in a little group of obscure Christians. These believers at Thessalonica consorted with Paul and Silas also for spiritual support and safety. For both these reasons we expect to see modern converts seeking membership in the Church. This is a good sign, and a good rule.
III. THE TOO COMMON SPIRIT AND ARTS OF OPPOSERS OF THE GOSPEL. The Jews saw that Paul's teaching and influence were undermining theirs. Whether the teaching was true and the influence good they did not consider. Very few keep in mind how malignant envy can be. It was for envy that the Jews delivered Jesus to be crucified, and that Joseph was sold into bondage. Then note the arts of these opposers of the apostle. They took to themselves "vile fellows of the rabble" — loungers, boys and men without occupation or sense of responsibility — and set them on. There are always ready tools of unscrupulous leaders. Just here is the greatest peril which now menaces society. Against them all good citizens should provide a safeguard, by pushing forward Christian work. In self-defence, if for no higher reason, we need to carry it to the homes and haunts and hearts of the lowest and worst.
IV. A MARKED EFFECT ALWAYS TO BE EXPECTED FROM SUCCESSFUL GOSPEL WORK (ver. 6). The words were meant in a bad sense. But unwittingly they tittered a great truth; paid the very highest possible compliment to the gospel. The faithful utterance of the gospel does produce strife, and our Saviour predicted that it would; for the simple reason that men are neither willing to submit to its claims nor to suffer others to do it. The gospel was meant to turn the world upside down; for in the world there is much that needs to be overturned. It is to the praise of the gospel that it tends to effect this. Before it vice slinks away; virtue lifts up its head; joy supplants sorrow; society is purer and safer; heaven begins here and now. Old things pass away; more and more all things become new.
(Sermons by the Monday Club.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Now when they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where was a synagogue of the Jews: