Commentary on "The Gospel Comes to Thessalonica"
Day 3: Monday, July 2, 2012 - Paul's Preaching Strategy
The Quarterly lesson asserts that Paul’s preaching strategy was well established at this time and consistently followed the following pattern:
1. Attend the local synagogue on the Sabbath.
2. Preach directly from the Old Testament Scriptures concerning the Messiah.
3. Then tell the story of Jesus and how he fulfilled prophecy.
Here, in his own words, is Paul’s own statement concerning his 'preaching strategy’:
And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God. (1 Cor. 2:1-5 ESV)
The statement in the Quarterly that Paul’s “theology and missionary strategy were well developed by the time he arrived in Thessalonica” does not stand up to a close examination of what is recorded in Scripture. While his core theology would never change, how he presented the gospel and who he primarily directed his preaching certainly changed and developed by the time he arrived in the City of Corinth. In his travels from Philippi, through Thessalonica and Athens and on down to Corinth we have recorded a series of events that reshaped his entire subsequent ministry.
For this I was appointed a preacher and an apostle (I am telling the truth, I am not lying), a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth. (1 Tim. 2:7 ESV)
This is what we learn of Paul’s preaching when Silas and Timothy met up with him in Corinth:
When Silas and Timothy arrived from Macedonia, Paul was occupied with the word, testifying to the Jews that the Christ was Jesus. And when they opposed and reviled him, he shook out his garments and said to them, “Your blood be on your own heads! I am innocent. From now on I will go to the Gentiles.” And he left there and went to the house of a man named Titius Justus, a worshiper of God. His house was next door to the synagogue. Crispus, the ruler of the synagogue, believed in the Lord, together with his entire household. And many of the Corinthians hearing Paul believed and were baptized. (Acts 18:5-8 ESV)
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