1 Thessalonians 1:1…
When Paul came to Thessalonica he must have been a sight to see.
Having been beaten and bloodied with stripes and imprisonment at Philippi, Paul and Silas appeared on the scene and began to preach in the synagogue, as was their usual custom.
Thessalonica at that time was a major city along the trade route from Rome to the east, about 200,000 in population.
Though the church Paul founded there was primarily gentile, there were many Jews in the city as a result of the first diaspora. Paul first sought to reach those Jews who had settled there.
So here was this very battle-scarred little man, sent to them by Christ to preach the gospel, accompanied by another very battle-scarred companion. Having been rescued from the prison at Philippi by God, these were not men to be trifled with. Paul and Silas had a certainty about what they were doing, only recently enhanced greatly by how God had employed an earthquake at Philippi to affect their release from wrongful imprisonment, as well as the salvation of all those of the jailer’s house. It had been incredible.
But he was not long in the synagogue. For just three Sabbaths Paul had the opportunity to reason with them. Some, but apparently not many of the Jews were persuaded. But Luke informs us in Acts 17 a great multitude of devout Greeks, (perhaps Herodian Jews,) and many prominent women were persuaded to place their faith in Christ for salvation.
And so, in just a few brief weeks yet another church had been founded. Its impact spread far and wide immediately. The unbelieving Jews incited a riot to stop Paul’s ministry and drive him out of the city.
A very pertinent and infamous accusation was loudly made against Paul and his companions: “These men who have turned the world upside down have come here too.”
It seems the entire region of Macedonia had been affected by the gospel in such a short period of time it had become like a runaway wildfire, and the unbelieving Jews attempted to make certain that firey gospel would be immediately quenched. But while they succeeded in driving Paul and Silas out of the city, all they accomplished was spreading that same fire of the gospel message of Jesus Christ throughout all of Greece. (Paul headed next to Athens, and then to Corinth. He was never silenced by outrage expressed toward himself.)
After such a brief stint at Thessalonica, Paul felt the need to continue his instruction to this church he had just planted. And so, beginning a pattern he would follow through the remaining years of his ministry life, Paul wrote back to this church to provide further instruction and encouragement. It is believed his letter to this church was the first of his epistles to a church, and exists as the earliest of his preserved writings.