Further Study: Thessalonica in Paul’s Day
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“Providence had directed the movements of nations, and the tide of human impulse and influence, until the world was ripe for the coming of the Deliverer. . .

“At this time the systems of heathenism were losing their hold upon the people. Men were weary of pageant and fable. They longed for a religion that could satisfy the heart.”-Ellen G. White, The Desire of Ages, p. 32.

“Outside of the Jewish nation there were men who foretold the appearance of a divine instructor. These men were seeking for truth, and to them the Spirit of Inspiration was imparted. One after another, like stars in the darkened heavens, such teachers had arisen. Their words of prophecy had kindled hope in the hearts of thousands of the Gentile world.”-Page 33.

“When Paul first visited Corinth, he found himself among a people who were suspicious of the motives of strangers. The Greeks on the seacoast were keen traders. So long had they trained themselves in sharp business practices, that they had come to believe that gain was godliness, and that to make money, whether by fair means or foul, was commendable. Paul was acquainted with their characteristics, and he would give them no occasion for saying that he preached the gospel in order to enrich himself. . . . He would seek to remove all occasion for misrepresentation, that the force of his message might not be lost.”-Ellen G. White, Gospel Workers, pp. 234, 235.

Discussion Questions:

  1. What do you think Ellen White meant when she wrote (above) that the “Spirit of Inspiration” was imparted to Gentile teachers? To what degree is God at work in the world of ideas outside the Christian context? Can a person be saved if they have never heard the name of Jesus? If so, on what basis?
  2. In what contexts would a private home or apartment be an effective location for a church in today’s world? Are designated church buildings always the best way to do church? Why, or why not?
  3. How can your church learn to better adapt its outreach to the local community? That is, why must we always remember that what might work in one area might not in another?

Summary: The biblical accounts of Paul’s missionary activity are set in the context of ancient Rome. As we see Paul wrestling with everyday issues, we can learn how to better apply the principles and lessons that God placed in Scripture for us today. In 1 and 2 Thessalonians, Paul was guiding ancient urban Christians through challenging times.

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Further Study: Thessalonica in Paul’s Day — 6 Comments

  1. Concerning the quote in the lesson from Ellen White, "Providence had directed the movements of nations, and the tide of human impulse and influence, until the world was ripe for the coming of the Deliverer" I would like to ask to what extent we should take this, how should we interpret what she says? Certainly there are times when God pushes things. Prime examples of this are Jonah and Balaam and in the Holy Spirit refusing to allow Paul access into Asia (Acts 16:6) not to say anything about battles such as Gideon's 300 or the one involving Jehoshaphat (2 Chron 20).

    But then what are we to do with this text, "Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty" (2 Cor 3:17 NKJV)? Besides, if God exercises full control over human affairs then why did the angel say what he did to Daniel, "But the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me twenty-one days; and behold, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, for I had been left alone there with the kings of Persia" (Dan. 10:13 NKJV)? Couldn't the angel simply have said "Do it" and wouldn't it have been done? Is it possible that God can direct the affairs of humans without resorting to autocratic control?

    This whole thing opens up a whole multitude of questions concerning God's character in the controversy with Satan. I suppose we could just throw up our hands and say that that it is something we can't know or shouldn't know in the same way that some people feel that Revelation is a book of mysteries that no one can understand and therefore they make no attempt to understand it. There are things that I believe we can't understand because of our finite, warped mind but when it comes to God's character I feel that there is enough in the Bible for us to get a reasonably good idea of what the truth is.

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    • This is what I got out of this week's lesson:

      Without understanding the background of what Paul says in his letters, reading them is like jumping in the middle of a conversation when you don't know what is being discussed. One person can say something that may be addressing a particular issue within that discussion but out of that context it might seem to be dealing with something quite different.

      Context is extremely important if we are to understand the principles in the Bible. For instance, something I am sure we will be getting into later on this quarter is this text, "For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus" (1 Thess 4:14 NKJV). Now we could ask if Jesus is bringing the righteous saints with Him at his second advent doesn't that mean that they were with Him in Heaven? And doesn't that mean that when we die we go directly to Heaven or to hell in the case of the wicked? We could certainly interpret it that way if we take it out of the context of the rest of the Bible and don't bother with the Greek meaning of the words.

      If we ignore context then we have just put blinders on and have committed our selves to tunnel vision.

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  2. God has always had people that were willing to not only talk to Him, but wait to listen to what He had to say.....
    Guess, when one is worn out with chasing bubbles he or she will be willing to work together with God. As history repeats itself, it must have been just the right time for God to send us Jesus.... The wise men were ready and they weren't Israelites. According to Romans 2 Gentiles that have the law of God written in their conscience,even when they are not aware of it, will be able to work together with God... There are people here and there that will do what is right, because it is right. I don't think that is coercing matters. It is God's patience and goodness! In His foreknowledge He knows how long He has to wait, but it will not change His goal: serving us till He has won us over;...or we have cut ourselves off from His grace.

    An interesting point is the see-saw principle in Paul's dealing with people that thought that becoming rich was evidence of godliness. He, kind of, went to the opposite, working hard to sustain not only himself but also others : ) Similarly Jesus called the poor blessed.....How about we believe that and would give more generously to support outreach?

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  3. Sometimes we adventist think that we have full access to enter heaven, but there are other people we call the gentiles who God uses to do his work. As we have seen that the spirit of God was bestowed in some gentiles. We have to re-establish our relationship with God our provider. Let's focus on how we can receive our salvation. Thank you..

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  4. I do not subscribe to the insinuation that Seventh day Adventists feel that they are the only ones who got access to Heaven. To the contrary, Seventh day Adventists attempt to the refer to themselves as Bible students but there seems to be some exaggeration on the part of the church members. We should sincerely go back to the teaching of the Word of God and refrain from the idea of liberal, conservative or moderate because God remains the same from the ages past, therefore His word should not have interpretations based on our emotions.

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