So when we could stand it no longer… We sent Timothy. 1 Thessalonians 3:1, 2 (NIV)
Paul’s ministry in Thessalonica was fruitful, but there was great opposition. The Jews were jealous, “so they rounded up some bad characters from the marketplace, formed a mob and started a riot in the city” (Acts 17:5). Things got ugly as the mob rushed into Jason’s house looking for Paul and Silas. Unable to find them, the crowd “dragged Jason and some other believers before the city officials” (Acts 17:6).
The city officials had a riot on their hands. The crowd accused the Christians of causing trouble all over the world (Acts 17:6-7). Later that night, the believers secretly sent Paul and Silas away to Berea, and they were not allowed to return to Thessalonica (Acts 17:10).
When Paul looks back on what happened, he writes in a letter to them, “Our gospel came to you not simply with words but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and with deep conviction” (1 Thess. 1:5). He recognizes that “in spite of severe suffering, you welcomed the message with the joy given by the Holy Spirit” (1:6).
But Paul longs to go back to see them. He says it felt like he was “torn away” (2:17). He writes, “For we wanted to come to you—certainly I, Paul, did, again and again—but Satan stopped us” (2:18). Unable to return, what does he do? He sends his apprentice, Timothy.
Timothy is in his early twenties. He has been Paul’s apprentice for just a few months. He has been keeping a low profile and observing Paul. Now he gets his first assignment. Paul gave Timothy greater trust and responsibility because he was a hard worker, an effective encourager, and a joyful intercessor. You will learn more about Timothy’s qualities in the days ahead.
How did God use opposition and limitation to further the work of the gospel in Paul and Timothy’s story? How has God used them in yours?