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 … [Click to read more …]

03: Thessalonica in Paul’s Day – Thought Starters
Joyce Griffith

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“Mom! Dad! Where’s everybody?” Ariston let his sandals clack against the hard surface of the walkway as he dashed through the Thessalonian house where he lived with his family. “Over here!” His mother called from the corner of the house where she was mixing dough for flat bread. “What is so urgent?” “Can I go see … [Click to read more …]

Thursday: Home Churches
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Read Romans 16:5; 1 Corinthians 16:19; Colossians 4:15; and Philemon 1, 2. What do all these texts have in common? In the Roman world there were two main types of residences. There was the domus, a large, single-family home built around a courtyard, typical of the wealthy. Such a home could provide a meeting place for 30-100 people. The other type … [Click to read more …]

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 …]

03: Thessalonica in Paul’s Day – Teaching Plan
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Key Thought : Presenting the gospel in a way that meets the needs of others requires a solid grasp of the Word and an understanding of the needs of those we wish to reach. [Teaching plan for “Thessalonica in Paul’s Day” July 16.2012] 1. Have a volunteer read John 11:48-50. A. Ask class members to … [Click to read more …]

Tuesday: The Gospel as a Point of Contact
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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 …]