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you is the Christ.”a The result of this preaching was that "some of them believed and consorted with Paul and Silas; and of the devout Greeks a great multitude, and of the chief women not a few." Here we find Paul pursuing his usual custom and preaching the gospel to the Jews first and proving its great facts by an appeal to their sacred Scriptures. Paul here preached Christ Jesus to the people. Now, to preach Christ Jesus was to preach Him in His whole official character, as Prophet, Priest, and King—as Prophet to teach, as Priest to atone, and as King to reign. In preaching Christ he preached more than faith, for we are informed that they believed and joined themselves to Paul and Silas. When it is said that Moses is “ preached, being read in the synagogues every sabbath day,”
we understand that the law of Moses or the Jewish religion was preached. When Christ was preached by His ambassadors the whole system of which He was the Author and Finisher was preached. There is therefore no implication here when it is said that those present “believed and consorted with or joined themselves,” that they joined on different terms from others, or without becoming obedient to the faith. That we are correct in this conclusion is amply demonstrated by the much fuller information given by Paul himself in his two epistles to this church.
While the Galatians and the Philippians were the first peoples visited by Paul to whom he thereafter wrote, yet to the Thessalonians belongs the honor of
o Acts xv. 21.
a Acts xvii. 2, 3
receiving the first epistle written by the inspired apostle. The first and second epistles to the Thessalonians were written during the second missionary journey of Paul. These were written about the close of the year A.D. 52, or the beginning of A.D. 53, from Corinth. These are not only the first epistles of Paul, but if not the first, they are among the very earliest written records of Christianity. These epistles should be read in connection with the brief history here given by Luke. We will therefore call attention to the more ample testimony given in them in regard to the preaching and reception of the gospel at Thessalonica. In the opening of both these epistles those addressed are spoken of as “In God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”a Twice reference is made to their reception of the gospel,“Our gospel camne not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Spirit.”ð "He called you by our gospel to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.”. Paul
“Ye became followers of us and of the Lord.”d They are said to have“ received the word ... and turned to God from idols."e That from them "sounded out the word of
e the Lord.' And Paul says, “Pray for us that the word of the Lord may have free course and be glorified even as it is with you.”] Three times he tells them of having spoken the gospel of God to them. “We were bold in God to speak unto you the gospel of God.” “We were willing to have imparted unto 1 Thess. i. 1; 2 Thess. i. 1.
D Thess. i. 5. C2 Thess. ii. 14. di Thess. i. 6.
e i Thess. i. 6, 9. fi Thess. i. 8. 2 Thess. iii. 1.
1 Thess. ï. 2.
you not the gospel of God only, but also our own souls.” “We preach unto you the gospel of God.”b They are addressed as being in the kingdom. "Walk worthy of God, who hath called you into his kingdom and glory.”c Again, “that ye may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God for which you also suffer.”d And, finally, they were said to have received the gift of the Holy Spirit. Therefore, he "that rejecteth, rejecteth not man but God who giveth his Holy Spirit unto you."e These
passages show most clearly that the Christians at Thessalonica complied with all the terms of pardon before appointed. They were said to have “turned to the Lord," "to be in Christ,” and Paul teaches plainly how persons came into Christ. “Know ye not that all we who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death." We are told that they were “called by the gospel,” and the gospel is declared to be “the power of God unto salvation." Again, that they became followers of Paul and the Lord. To follow the Lord was to follow Him in His appointed way. We have called attention to His appointments. Again, we are informed, “that they received the word.” That, “the word of the Lord soundeth out from them.” “That the gospel of God was preached to them.” “The word of the Lord,” and “the gospel of God” embraced the whole system of pardon of salvation through Christ as already shown. Again, from the a 1 Thess. ii. 8.
1 Thess. ii. 9.
c 1 Thess. ii. 12. d 2 Thess. i. 5.
Thess. iv. 8.
f Rom. vi. 3.
statement of the Jews, as given by Luke, we learn that Paul, in preaching, preached the kingship of Jesus, for they charged him with saying, “There is another king, one Jesus.”a This accords with Paul's own statement to the church when he exhorts them to "Walk worthy of God who hath called you into his kingdom and glory.” Now, as these persons were in the kingdom they must have been baptized in order to obtain citizenship, or else they came in contrary to the expressed teaching of Christ, for He said, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, except a man be born of water, and of the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” Thus we find that the ordinance of baptism which Jesus submitted to and commanded to be obeyed in order to citizenship in the kingdom of God, was necessarily enjoined here. Finally, these persons were said to have received the gift of the Holy Spirit. '
It would not be important to dwell on these plain matters of fact were it not also a plain matter of fact that the positive commands of God, the teaching of His inspired apostles, and the example of all the cases of pardon thus far given are either designedly or ignorantly disregarded, in most cases of modern conversion. But few preachers anywhere give the Scriptural answer to the question,“What must I do to be saved ?” or even refer inquirers for information to the history of the many specific cases of pardon given under Christ. a Acts xvii. 7.
6 John iii. 5.
OPPOSITION TO PAUL
Paul Opposed by Both Jews and Judaizers. The Gospel and the
Bereans. Paul Arrives at Athens. Preaches in the Synagogue.
From the history of the Thessalonians, as given by Luke and Paul, we have the following facts: That Paul preached Jesus to them, that some of the Jews believed and a great multitude of devout Greeks, that they turned to God or repented. These facts are positively stated. And that they were baptized is just as evident, because they were addressed as being "in Christ,” and “in the kingdom of God," and baptism is required before entering either. It is also stated that they had received the gift of the Holy Spirit. Thus, having submitted to the law of pardon required of all, they were addressed as brethren and exhorted to “rejoice evermore” and “pray without ceasing.” Only two members of this Aourishing church are spoken of by name: these are Aristarchus and Secundus—they evidently became traveling companions of Paul. The last named is only mentioned once by Luke. Aristarchus wa arrested by a mob in Ephesus. He journeyed with Paul to Rome and Paul spoke of him while there as a fellow laborer and "fellow prisoner.”
a Col. iv. 10.