Wednesday: Paul, the “Street Preacher”
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Image © Jeff Preston from GoodSalt.com

The first-century Greco-Roman context experienced a proliferation of popular philosophers who, in public forums, sought to influence individuals and groups-similar to what street preachers might do today. These philosophers believed that people had an inner capacity to change their lives (a form of conversion). Philosophers would use public speech and private conversation in order, they … [Click to read more …]

Tuesday: The Gospel as a Point of Contact
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Image © Standard Publishing from GoodSalt.com

Given what we learned yesterday, it is not difficult to see why-when the gospel came to Thessalonica-many non-Jews of the city responded positively. Whether or not Paul was aware of the Cabirus cult before arriving in the city, his Messianic approach in the synagogue resonated with the unique spiritual longings of the local pagans. When … [Click to read more …]

Monday: A Pagan Response to Rome
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Image © Krieg Barrie from GoodSalt.com

The pagan response to the powerlessness many Thessalonians felt was a spiritual movement scholars call the Cabirus cult. The cult was grounded in a man named Cabirus who spoke up for the disenfranchised and was eventually murdered by his two brothers. He was buried along with symbols of royalty, and the cult came to treat … [Click to read more …]

Sunday: The Romans Arrive in Thessalonica
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Image © Erik Stenbakken from GoodSalt.com

Read John 11:48-50. How were the political and religious decisions regarding the ministry of Jesus impacted by the arrival of the Romans in first-century Palestine and Jerusalem? Think through the logic expressed here. In what frightening ways does it make sense? In the context of a civil war among the Greek city-states, the Thessalonians invited the … [Click to read more …]

Sabbath: Thessalonica in Paul’s Day
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Read for This Week’s Study: John 11:48-50, 1 John 2:15-17, 1 Cor. 9:19-27, John 3:3-8, 1 Cor. 16:19. Memory Text: “Though I am free and belong to no man, I make myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible” (1 Corinthians 9:19, NIV). Key Thought: A short study of the context of ancient Thessalonica demonstrates that Paul’s approach to the … [Click to read more …]

Further Study: Preserving Relationships
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“If we would humble ourselves before God, and be kind and courteous and tenderhearted and pitiful(emphasis supplied), there would be one hundred conversions to the truth where now there is only one. But, though professing to be converted, we carry around with us a bundle of self that we regard as altogether too precious to be … [Click to read more …]

Inside Story: Lighthouse on an Island
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Laura and Paulo live in town on the island of Madeira in the Mediterranean Sea. Paolo had once been an Adventist, but he had stopped attending church before he married. However he often read from Acts of the Apostles, a book he treasured. One day an Adventist pastor visited them. Laura and Paulo were pleased, … [Click to read more …]

Thursday: Paul Reveals His Heart
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Image © Standard Publishing from GoodSalt.com

Read 1 Thessalonians 2:17-3:10. What does this passage tell us about Paul’s emotional attachment and relationship to these believers? What can we learn from it regarding how we should relate with those to whom we minister? Paul’s depth of thought and confrontational tone (see, for example, Gal. 1:6, 7; 3:1-4; 4:9-11) sometimes make him appear dismissive of feelings and personal relationships. But … [Click to read more …]

Wednesday: Arrival in Corinth
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Image © Standard Publishing from GoodSalt.com

Acts 18:1-18 contains two major intersections with secular history. The first is the expulsion of the Jews from Rome during the reign of Claudius (Acts 18:2). Information from extra-biblical sources locates this event in A.D. 49. The other major intersection is the mention of the proconsul Gallio (Acts 18:12). Because proconsuls in Corinth were appointed … [Click to read more …]

Tuesday: Interlude in Athens
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According to Acts 17:14-16, Silas and Timothy stayed in Berea while Paul was escorted to Athens. Paul instructed his escorts to have Silas and Timothy join him in Athens, but there is no mention of their doing so. On the other hand, in 1 Thessalonians 3:1, 2, we learn that Paul sent Timothy back to … [Click to read more …]