1 Now when they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where there was a synagogue of the Jews. 2 Then Paul, as his custom was, went in to them, and for three Sabbaths reasoned with them from the Scriptures, 3 explaining and demonstrating that the Christ had to suffer and rise again from the dead, and saying, “This Jesus whom I preach to you is the Christ.” 4 And some of them were persuaded; and a great multitude of the devout Greeks, and not a few of the leading women, joined Paul and Silas.
The gospel team traveled 100 miles southwestward from Philippi to Thessalonica, a chief center in Greece. This city was the administrative center for the entire province of Macedonia and a commercial city. It was a free Roman city. Thessalonica ultimately became the base for reaching Macedonia and Greece with the gospel.
In Acts 17:1-15, Paul and Silas again received opposition for preaching the gospel. Paul’s strategic choice of this city led to its becoming a center for spreading the gospel to other parts of the Roman world (1 Th 1:7-8). As a seaport, Thessalonica provided both sea and land routes to other areas of the world.
Now when they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia,
Paul and Silas crossed over to Thessalonica from Philippi through Amphipolis and Apollonia, a trip of about 100 miles. Amphipolis was 30 miles southwest of Philippi, situated near the Black Sea. From Amphipolis, the team traveled to Apollonia, 30 miles away.
they came to Thessalonica, where there was a synagogue of the Jews.
The team came to Thessalonica, a city of about 200,000. It was the seat of all government for Macedonia. As a free city, Thessalonica had local autonomy. Paul began at this point to work from major cities of the Roman empire.
The first place of ministry the team went to in Thessalonica was the synagogue. The Jews had a biblical background for the coming Messiah.
Then Paul, as his custom was, went in to them, and for three Sabbaths reasoned [teaching and discourse] with them from the Scriptures,
Paul “reasoned” with the Jews about the gospel in the synagogue on the Sabbath. He evidently did not preach but reasoned by teaching and discoursing with them, which may have included dialog. They spent three successive Sabbaths in the synagogue speaking from the Scriptures. That was the Jewish phase of their ministry to Thessalonica.
The team moved from ministry to the Jews to ministry to the Gentiles after the three Sabbaths (1 Th 1:9).
explaining [opening] and demonstrating [persuading] that the Christ had to suffer and rise again from the dead, and saying,
The Greek word for “explaining” means to open. Paul opened the Word and explained Messianic prophecies from it. While “explaining” the Word, Paul demonstrated that Christ had to suffer and die, then rise from the dead.
Paul explained and demonstrated or proved that Christ was the Messiah and that He was to suffer and rise again (Lu 24:31). Paul’s method to the Jews was to expound Scripture. The words “explaining and demonstrating” indicate that Paul’s preaching to the Jews was expositional, establishing that Jesus was the Messiah from the Old Testament. He used Scripture in his ministry.
Paul’s purpose in speaking of a suffering Messiah was to allay Jews of the Messiah being a victorious conqueror. In God’s economy, it was necessary for Him to suffer, die, and rise again.
“This Jesus whom I preach [announce] to you is the Christ.”
Paul explicitly identified Jesus with the Messiah. “Christ” means Messiah.
And some of them were persuaded; and a great multitude of the devout Greeks, and not a few of the leading women, joined Paul and Silas.
Some Jews, devout Greeks, and influential women believed the message about Jesus as the Messiah. “Leading women” were prominent women of distinction. Paul later describes the result of his ministry in the city in 1 Thessalonians 1:9. Aristarchus (Col 4:10) and Secundus were converted at this time (Acts 20:4). Most who became believers during that time in Thessalonica were Gentiles.
Leaders who pass through many problems in ministry yet take on the next challenge are people of courage.
Christian leaders who have the passion to present the gospel are people of courage (Ro 9:1-3; 10:1). A minister who seeks to protect himself above everything will not become effective in the work of Christ. Leaders with high priority never become defeated by circumstances they face in ministry. Nothing daunts them, whether critics in the congregation or from outside the assembly. This kind of courage does not come from the self but from trust in a God who sovereignly works. People can trust a God like that.