Reflection for OS30, Sunday, October 25 2020Epistle reading: 1Thessalonians 2.1-8 - The importance

Reflection for OS30, Sunday, October 25 2020

Epistle reading: 1Thessalonians 2.1-8 - The importance of preaching

1Thess is Paul’s earliest extant letter. It was written from Corinth in 50AD. Paul had spent 3-4 months in Thessalonica and in the previous year had founded a new church in that city. Paul had then moved on to Athens and from there to Corinth where he had written back to Thessalonica to encourage the congregation and answer some questions they had about the Parousia or second coming. The passage for this week focuses on Paul’s philosophy of preaching and his values apply to today’s church as much as to the first century church.

Paul seems to head for the big cities and makes contact with people of substance who would be able to provide space and other resources necessary for church life. Thessalonica is at the apex of the Thermaic Gulf and provides a very safe anchorage. It is also on the Egnation Way, the ancient road from east to west. The travellers passing through the city would have the opportunity to hear the gospel. The city itself had a population of about eighty thousand in the 1C AD. Thessaloniki as it is now called is the third largest city in present day Greece.

After his experience with the authorities at Philippi, Paul has to be bold to preach to the Thessalonians – preaching requires courage. There must be no deception or immorality, or guile. We are entrusted with the gospel message and the delivery must reflect the message. We ask ourselves whether our message is pleasing to God, not to people. There is to be no flattery – always a danger for the preacher. Paul has the authority to be firm but prefers to be gentle and nourish his children ‘as a nurse nourishes her own children’.

We are all called in our personal context to preach the gospel. Our delivery must reflect the message. Church membership provides the opportunity to understand the gospel message, just as accuracy is important for the formal preacher. Our personal lives must also reflect our message – avoid deception and immorality. Be gentle rather than authoritarian. A good touchstone is to ask whether our behaviour and manner are pleasing to God. Paul reminds us that we are entrusted with the gospel so that we can pass it on appropriately.

Rev Dr Calum Gilmour

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