Monday: Paul’s Preaching Strategy
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What does Acts 17:1-3 tell us about the where, the when, and the how of Paul’s preaching strategy in Thessalonica?

Image © Lars Justinen from GoodSalt.com


Although 1 Thessalonians was among Paul’s earliest letters, both his theology and missionary strategy were well developed by the time he arrived in Thessalonica.

The first step in Paul’s missionary strategy was to attend the local synagogue on the Sabbath. This was natural because the Sabbath was a good time to reach Jews in large numbers. However, more than just a missionary strategy was at work here. Paul would have taken time for prayer and worship on the Sabbath even if no Jews or no synagogue was available (see Acts 16:13).

It was not uncommon in those days for Jews to invite synagogue visitors to speak, especially if they had lived in Jerusalem, as Paul and Silas had. The congregation would have been eager to hear news of Jewish life in other places. They also would also have been interested in any new ideas the visitors had discovered from their study of the Scriptures. So, Paul’s strategy was a natural fit with the synagogue environment.

The second step in Paul’s strategy was to preach directly from their common Scriptures, the Old Testament. He also began with a topic of great interest to the Jews of the time, the Messiah (“the Christ” is the Greek equivalent of “the Messiah” in the Hebrew; see Acts 17:3). Using texts from the Old Testament, Paul demonstrated that the Messiah would first have to suffer before He would obtain the glory with which the Jews were familiar. In other words, the popular, glorious version of the Messiah’s mission was only part of the picture. When the Messiah would first appear, He would be a suffering servant rather than a royal conqueror.

Third, having established a fresh picture of the Messiah in their minds, Paul went on to tell the story of Jesus. He explained how Jesus’ life conformed to the pattern of the Bible prophecy that he had just shared with them. No doubt he added stories about his own previous doubts and opposition and also spoke of the convincing power of his personal encounter with the exalted Christ. According to Luke (Luke 24:25-27, 44-46), Paul’s preaching strategy in Thessalonica followed the same pattern that Jesus had used with His disciples after the resurrection.

Notice that Paul sought to reach people where they were, using that with which they were familiar. Why is this strategy so important? Think about those whom you want to reach. How can you learn to start where they are and not where you are?

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Monday: Paul’s Preaching Strategy — 10 Comments

  1. Paul's strategy is so efficient because if you reached out to where people are, you would know what they believe in and their cultures. in this you will know what they are familiar with hence use relevant examples and teachings they are more familiar with. you know it is also true that it is difficult to preach the gospel to someone you have no idea on what they believe in, you might miss out on them as you may misfire their culture, norms and belief. So, let us know what to talk about, to whom, when and where - it is a powerful strategy.

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    • Thanks for the excellent comments, for they assist in building bridges in witnessing.

      To find a friend you have to be one.

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  2. I am compelled to say one thing . Evangelism and witnessing is well spread when I identify the needs of people so that I let them know about the care my saviour has for them.
    I conquer with the writer on how Paul did it . I loom forward to combine evengelism and witnessing skills and Paul's strategy to propel the gospel to the level that may be granted to me.

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  3. Wao it is true, the fact that we must reach people where they are, and is happening to me, my husband is not of the church, and I must teach him from the beginning, from what is relevant to him, and of the things he has questions. Trying to be patient, and letting the Holy Spirit do His work in him!!

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    • The wonderful truth about winning family members, or anyone for that matter, to the lord is that he desires to see them in his kingdom more than we do! He declares that if we would lift him up he will draw them to himself... My praise report regarding this is that showing unconditional love opens the door of their heart to us, and melts away the wall blocking the Holy Spirit from speaking to them on knowing a loving savior in the pardon and forgiveness of their sinful past. God bless us as we partner with him in seeking the lost in our families, and strengthen our faith!

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  4. Share this with a friend and we both agree this is an excellent addition to our studies. Thank you

    Laure :)

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  5. WOW Paul's strategy is the way. Let us reach out in places where we may have influences around...i.e. office where we work, or at home where our family members are yet to give their hearts to the Lord...start from little Jerusalem first that is our home...Amen.

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  6. Paul's strategy is the same as Jesus strategy. Go out and meet the people, seeking to fulfill their needs. This is in sharp contrast to much of the Adventist discussion that we hear that tends to be aggressively defensive. Endless discussions on origins, and the nature or Christ have little relevance to the unchurched. I have great admiration for the work of some of our young folk in working with the disadvantaged, providing lifestyle education, and building community self-help programs. Such a strategy provides opportunities to share why we are like we are.

    In our society today many people are currently fascinated with social networking. I am well aware of the issues and challenges of this media, but at the same time recognise that interaction in this environment provides an opportunity to meet people, particularly young people where they are. I wonder how Jesus and Paul would use Facebook, to care for and share with their friends.

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  7. I see this lesson as an introduction to the quarters lesson. I would recommend that teachers point out the Christian's view of God becoming man in contrast to how the pagans viewed God. I attended a memorial service last week and the way that the preacher treated 1 Thess 4:15,16 reminded me how unique our message really is. When I first accepted Jesus it was hard for me to deal with questions about death, the second advent and fundamental Christianity's belief of a secret rapture. I also see it being important to introduce Paul the apostle and his theological and educational background.

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  8. At present we are conducting an evangelistic series in our church and I just like how the evangelist presents Jesus to the people. Too often I hear preachers bringing doctrines and what the church stands for early in these meetings. I believe the most important thing is to let people really learn who Jesus is and then it becomes easier for them to understand and want to obey Him. We can learn a lot from Paul's strategy; meeting the people where they are to take them where they need to go.

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