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. [...]

03: Thessalonica in Paul’s Day – Thought Starters
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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.

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“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 Paul?” Ariston was breathing hard. He crossed his legs and held out his hands to his mother as he sat [...]

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 of residence was the insula, with shops and workplaces on the ground floor facing the street and apartments (flats) on the floors above. This was the primary [...]

Wednesday: Paul, the “Street Preacher”
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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.

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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 hoped, to produce change in their students. They sought to create in their listeners doubts regarding their current ideas and [...]

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 share a short thought on what the main idea of this text is.
B. How does the current political situation in your community affect the work of [...]

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.

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When the gospel came to Thessalonica, the working classes of the city were ready for it, and they responded in large [...]

Monday: A Pagan Response to Rome
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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 him as a martyred hero.

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The lower classes believed that Cabirus had exhibited miraculous powers while alive. They also believed [...]

Sunday: The Romans Arrive in Thessalonica
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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?

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In the context of a civil war among the Greek city-states, the Thessalonians invited the Romans to take over their city and protect it from local enemies around 168 b.c. The Romans rewarded Thessalonica for [...]

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 citizens of Thessalonica was unique and carefully crafted.

The primary focus of this lesson will be a summary of what history, literature, and archaeology tells us about Thessalonica.

This [...]