By Not Known
The Church at Thessalonica had been an eye-witness to Paul’s sufferings. He and Silas had arrived at the city from Philippi where they had been mobbed by the crowds, stripped naked, flogged in public, thrown into prison and their feet fasten in the stocks. The Philippians magistrates had not even bother to put them on trial nor check whether they were Roman citizens! (1Th 2:2 cf. Acts 16: 19-40). Then at Thessalonica, they were again mobbed and had to escape to Berea by night (cf. Acts 17:5- 10). All these happen because they were faithfully preaching the Gospel despite great opposition.
So the very words that flowed from Paul’s pen were not empty boast. They were backed up by the witness of what the Apostle had done with his life transparent and open before God and men (1 Th 2:3- 12). Paul’s ministry had been public – there was nothing whatever for him to hide, nothing for him to be ashamed of, nothing for him to be afraid of.
Paul also saw himself (and his co-labourers) amongst the Thessalonian Christians, gentle like a nurse (tophos) caring for her little children. He loved them and was even willing to give up his life for them. He toiled night and day with his tent-making, so as not be burden them financially, even though he had every right to do so (7-9)
In the words of John Chrysostom as he puts himself in Paul’s place in his homily on the Thessalonian Epistles:
It is true that I preached the Gospel to you in obedience to a commandment from God; but I love you with so great a love that I would be ready to die for you. That is the perfect model of sincere, genuine love. A Christian who loves his neighbour should be inspired by these sentiments. He should not wait to be asked to give up his life for his brother, rathere he should offer himself.
Thus Paul’s opening words (1:5) in the Epistle that the Gospel comes “not simply with words, but also with power, … and with deep conviction” was not so much a reference to “signs and wonders” but more to a transparent and open life filled with sacrificial love. May this challenge us to walk worthy of God.