Tomorrow we’ll look at the Lost City of…
1 Thessalonians 1
Salutation and Thanksgiving
1 Paul, and Silvanus, and Timotheus, unto the church of the Thessalonians which is in God the Father and in the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.
2 We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers;
3 Remembering without ceasing your work of faith, and labor of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the sight of God and our Father;
4 Knowing, brethren beloved, your election of God.
5 For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance; as ye know what manner of men we were among you for your sake.
6 And ye became followers of us, and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Ghost:
7 So that ye were ensamples to all that believe in Macedonia and Achaia.
8 For from you sounded out the word of the Lord not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place your faith to God-ward is spread abroad; so that we need not to speak anything.
9 For they themselves shew of us what manner of entering in we had unto you, and how ye turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God;
10 And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come.
The city of Thessalonica was founded in 315 B.C. at the head of the Thermaic Gulf on the Aegean Sea. Thessalonica was a military and commercial port that became the capital of the Macedonian province in 146 B.C.
Paul wrote letters to churches in at least two Macedonian cities, Thessalonica and Philippi. Thessalonica became a free city in 42 B.C. as a reward for assisting Mark Antony and Octavian (later called Augustus) in a military engagement with Brutus and Cassius, the leading assassins of Julius Caesar, at the battle of Philippi.
As a port city located on the Via Egnatia, a road that ran through the major cities of Macedonia, Thessalonica became a major center for trade and the arts. It had both a large Roman and a sizable Jewish population.
Paul’s first letter to the Thessalonian believers hints that the Christians there suffered persecution from their own countrymen. Whether this persecution came primarily at the hands of Jews or Gentiles in the region is uncertain.
Archaeological and historical records indicate the presence of temples to Roman gods and various oriental cults. Inscriptions discovered in the city also give evidence of Jewish settlements there during the Roman period.
Because an active, modern city (Thessaloniki) exists on the site, little remains of the ancient city (or is available for excavation). The Arch of Galerius commemorates a Roman victory over the Persians, dating to the late 3rd century A.D., but only one section of the original remains.
A Roman forum has been unearthed, but it may have been in use no earlier than the 2nd century A.D. Archaeologists are aware, however, that a 1st century A.D. arch, called the Vandar Arch, once existed in Thessaloniki.
It was torn down in 1867, but an inscription from the arch is now on display in the British Museum. It mentions officials called politarches, a Greek word Luke used to designate the Thessalonian officials.
Since no previous usage of this word had been found in Greek literature, scholars had once wondered whether Luke’s usage of the term was an error.
In light of this controversy, the location of the inscription proved to be a significant step in illustrating the precision of Luke’s account; a fair number of occurrences of this otherwise elusive word in inscriptions from the general area have since been documented.