A Church’s Witness

MEMORY VERSE: “We give thanks to God … remembering … your work of faith, and labor of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.” —I Thessalonians 1:2,3


THE church at Thessalonica was one of the first on European sail. Paul went to Thessalonica on the occasion of his first visit to Europe and, as was his custom, he went to the synagogue to present the truth first to the Jews. The account of this experience is given to us in Acts 17:3-9. The theme of the apostle’s message was to prove to the Jews, by the Scriptures, that Messiah must first suffer and rise again from the dead before he came into his glory. Many believed, and the infant church at Thessalonica was founded.

Soon, however, “the Jews which believed not, moved with envy … set all the city on an uproar, and assaulted the house of Jason.” (Acts 17:5) Jason was brought before a magistrate, who required a bond of him to insure no further trouble. To avoid further embarrassment to his friends the apostle moved on to Berea.

It was the circumstances under which the apostle left Thessalonica that prevented him from returning for some time, and probably occasioned the remark that “we would have come unto you, … once and again, but Satan hindered us.”—I Thess. 2:18

The infant church at Thessalonica, born in much tribulation and apparently having but a short period of time with the Apostle Paul, learned well the primary commission of the church during the Gospel Age. This commission is to witness to the Gospel. The responsibility of witnessing to the Gospel is not only that of the church as a body, but it originates with each individual member of the church.

In the very familiar passage of Scripture, Isaiah 61:1,2, the prophecy states of Jesus, “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me; because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn.”

It was Jesus’ faithfulness in preaching the Gospel as a witness, under very difficult and trying circumstances, that brought on his trials and eventually death on Golgotha’s cross. These experiences were necessary for Jesus that he might be tried and tested beyond any question of a doubt. The Apostle Paul in Hebrews 5:8,9 states, “Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; and being made perfect, he became the Author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him.”

Jesus’ promise to his footstep followers is that they too will suffer as they endeavor to carry out their commission to witness to the Gospel, and serve the interests of the Heavenly Father. Jesus said to his disciples, “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.”—Matt. 16:24

The brethren at Thessalonica must have benefited greatly by the example of the Apostle Paul in this respect. He had just come from Philippi, where he had experienced persecution because of his witnessing there, and then had the experience at Thessalonica; but in spite of this he states, “For our Gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Spirit, and in much assurance; as ye know what manner of men we were among you for your sake. And ye became followers of us, and of the Lord, having received the Word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Spirit.”—I Thess. 1:5,6

With this example of faithfulness set before them, the brethren of Thessalonica were inspired with zeal for service in the Lord’s vineyard. They knew from experience that their activity would bring difficulties and trials, but they were undaunted in their efforts, and because of this they were blessed by the Lord.

Their desire to serve individually must have also motivated them to co-operate as a group, realizing that the united effort of the group directed toward the one goal of witnessing to the Gospel would make their effort more effective. Therefore, as a church, they co-operated in sending forth capable brethren to bear witness to the Gospel in many lands, moving the great Apostle Paul to say, “Your faith to Godward is spread abroad; so that we need not to speak anything.”

Dawn Bible Students Association
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