A THESSALONICA WAY OF EVANGELISM
21st CENTURY APPLICATION
There is an important lesson to learn here. We are a very media-conscious generation. We know the power of the mass media on the public mind. Consequently, we want to use the media in evangelism. By print and tape, by audio and video cassettes, by radio and television and even iPod we would like to saturate the world with the good news. And rightly so. In principle nobody should debate with this ambition. We should connect the gospel to every modern medium of communication which is open to us.
Nevertheless there is another way, which (if we must compare them) is still more effective. It requires no complicated electronic gadgetry; it is very simple. It is neither organized nor computerized; it is instinctive. And it is not expensive; it costs precisely nothing. We might call it ‘holy chat’. It is the delighted spreading from person to person the influence which the good news is having on people. "Have you heard what has happened to so and so?" Did you know that such and such a person has come to believe in God and has been completely transformed? Something extraordinary is going on in Thessalonica: a new society is coming into being, with new appreciations and standards, characterized by faith, love and hope."
The result of such free advertising was enormous. "So that we need not to speak any thing, for they themselves show of us what manner of entering in(1529) we had unto you." (8b-9a). Better, ‘‘we do not need to explain to other people about it: other people tell us...’’ (JB). Not only were the media excessive; the missionaries felt superfluous also! For the message was spreading without them, and everybody seemed to know it already. The"manner of entering" (is a pres. tense) indicates a continuous and repeated action. Travelers from many parts of the world (Roman Empire) met Paul in Corinth and they would immediately begin to tell what they had heard in Thessalonica. They already knew that Paul had entered into the city and established a church.
Please understand, I think the apostle Paul may be forgiven for a little harmless exaggeration. He did not mean literally that he was no longer necessary. At least he did not resign, or apply for indefinite furlough. No. He carried on preaching the gospel, but especially where Christ was not known (Rom.15:20). For we take his point: the gospel news was advancing spontaneously.
- A decisive split with idols,
- A dynaic service of God, and
- A dedicated staying for Christ.
These three steps are summed up in the verbs ‘‘you turned...to serve...and to wait...’’. Indeed, this succinct threefold statement has suggested to several commentators that Paul was making use of an already existing formula.
The Thessalonian believers had made a complete and total change in their lives and worship. Others saw in the Thessalonian believers, serving a living and true (real, genuine) God. AMEN.
Sort of like when Jonah arrived in Nineveh they already knew all about Jonah and were ready to believe his message.
Drafted by Charles E. Whisnant 01 16 07 Proof Checked by Charity Whisnant 01 17 07