Stones-3 Athens From Philippi to Patmos STONES OF GOD’S WITNESS: ATHENS – KNOWING THE TRUE GOD
SLIDE # 1: STONES OF GOD’S WITNESS SLIDE # 2: REAL PLACES, REAL PEOPLE, REAL PROBLEMS SLIDE # 3: MAIN STREET CHRISTIANITY
In the market1 place of every city there stood a milestone giving the distance from Rome. In the market of “Rome the eternal” there stood a golden milestone, erected by Augustus, which described the capital city as the heart of this giant, pulsating organism of peoples. o Between Alexandria and Asia Minor there was a daily shipping connection (Ramsay, Letters to the Seven Churches, 18, 435). o According to Pliny one traveled from Spain to Ostia, the port of Rome, in four days, and in two days from Africa. o The tomb inscription is known of a Phrygian merchant who not less than 72 times made the journey from Hierapolis, near Colosse in Asia Minor, to Rome, over 1,250 miles.
Without this notable world traffic the swift advance of early Christianity would have been inconceivable. Sea traffic was specially important to them, for early Christian gospel work was specially important to them, for early Christian gospel work was in great measure a labor in harbor cities, and especially so with Paul. “In the main the world of the apostle is to be sought where the sea wind blows.” One need only think of Paul’s sojourns in the ports of Caesarea, Troas, Ephesus, Athens, Corinth, and Rome.
Yet the land connections also were of the utmost importance. Even the most remote and isolated lands were opened up through roads and bridges. Already at that time a nearly complete network of well-built highways, protected by walls and fortresses, spread itself over the whole empire. “All roads lead to Rome.” On these imperial and main roads the messengers of the gospel later traveled, bringing to the world the joyful news of the Redeemer who had appeared. Some estimate Paul alone journeyed by land and water a total of more than 15,000 miles.
SLIDE # 4-6: MAPS SLIDE # 7: HOW GOD LEADS
1 Quoted from Erich Sauer
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SLIDE # 8-10: MAPS SLIDE # 11-15: STONES OF GOD’S WITNESS SLIDE # 16 – ATHENS
SLIDE # 20: Paul wants to teach nurturing by example and to help the saints to be firmly grounded or anchored. The Apostle gives us a slice out of his very personal life and shows us his activities while on standby – what he did while he was WAITING. Have you ever thought of how valuable those unplanned times of unexpected waiting can become? -Its when someone doesn’t show up for the appointment times. -When your car isn’t repaired by when you were told. – It’s those layovers at airport times. – Sometimes its a Hospital and doctor’s waiting rooms times. – It’s waiting to get picked up at work or school times. – Just plain old waiting time that Paul models the best use of.
Now let’s set the scene. In I Th. 2:17 it says Paul was bereft awhile, then in 3:1, he was left at Athens alone. So as we start this section remember, Paul left Thessalonica, and was at Athens alone.
SLIDE # 21: Turn to Acts 17 and lets see the big picture of I Thessalonians and Acts. • v. 1 Came to Thessalonica. • v. 10 Sent away amid problems • v. 16 Paul waiting • v. 17-34 Paul ministering • 18:1 goes to Corinth
SLIDE # 22: Now back to I Thessalonians.
The setting is, Paul is WAITING at Athens – He MINISTERS – Done – goes to Corinth.
This passage 2:17-3:10 is his testimony to them of what a spiritual giant does and what we should emulate… seven pursuits of godly men and women in their spare time.
Paul directs his heart and mind toward his ministry to these saints… Things he did while waiting and out of their presence.
What a blessed endeavor to model in our lives… use those spare time thoughts for God!
REMEMBER, WE ARE READING THEIR LETTER!
Here we go…v. 17 has the first of 7:
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SLIDE # 23 is HABIT # 1: PAUL REMEMBERS THAT HE IS IN GOD’S FAMILY v.17 o The saints were his closest family o Orphaned is a strong word, “bereft” Out of sight did not mean out of mind. o Paul said v.7. He was like a mom and v. 11 a Dad – so they were family and he had a great desire to see them. Christian togetherness the most often prayer request in the N. T. o So, #1 Paul says – In my in-between times I think of you, my beloved family. Most get depressed. Paul got uplifted. Alone when God takes all away so he closes.
SLIDE # 24 is HABIT # 2: PAUL REMEMBERS THAT HE IS ON A SPIRITUAL BATTLEFIELD v.18 o Paul describes Satan’s tactic as thwarting believers. EGKOPTEIN is a military word for a roadblock placed to stop an army in march; also, it is an athletic word “to cut someone off in a race setting”.
LESSON ONE. Paul was aware of Satan’s activity: 1. 1 Thessalonians 3:5 For this reason, when I could no longer endure it, I sent to know your faith, lest by some means the tempter had tempted you, and our labor might be in vain. (NKJV) 2. 2 Thessalonians 3:3 But the Lord is faithful, who will establish you and guard [you] from the evil one. (NKJV) 3. 2 Corinthians 4:4 whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them. (NKJV) 4. Ephesians 2:2 in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, (NKJV) So, Paul was aware of Satan’s devices, but –
LESSON TWO. Paul didn’t blame everything on the Devil! Paul saw divine hindrances as well as diabolical. Acts 16:6-7 Now when they had gone through Phrygia and the region of Galatia, they were forbidden by the Holy Spirit to preach the word in Asia. 7 After they had come to Mysia, they tried to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit did not permit them. (NKJV) o Paul was prevented from ministry in Asia and Bythinia. o Hindrances to your well-intentioned plans are sometimes divine and other times Satan’s! o Paul now focuses on his third pursuit in his spare time in v. 19-20. o Paul says  I think of you as my beloved family.  I think of you as involved in spiritual warfare and 
HABIT # 3: PAUL REMEMBERS THAT HE IS ONLY HERE FOR HEAVEN’S SAKE v.19-20. .
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o Did you hear that? Paul didn’t look at them as they were — but like they will be. Paul said you are: 1. My hope – that’s your anticipation 2. My joy – that’s fulfillment 3. My Crown – that’s final victory o Paul looked at life and death and saw ultimate joyous victory in the well done of God on a life poured into others. He measured life and estimated its worth by the only things you can take with you – others! Think about that. Dan 12:1-2, “turneth many”. Quickly now. Paul’s 4th pursuit
HABIT # 4: PAUL REMEMBERS THAT HE IS ONLY HERE FOR OTHERS 3:1-8. He saw they: o Needed encouragement [1-2] 1. Paul “stretched” to the limit in heart 2. He must encourage his chosen o Needed enlightenment [3-4] 1. They must realize affliction comes with the gospel 2. They also must see Paul inherited a legacy of suffering kingdom. KEIMAI = immovable, unchangeable divine appointment. 3. “Affliction” no accident, but a very necessary part of man’s life. I Pet. 5:6-9 o Needed endurance [5-8] 1. To resist the tempter v. 5. 2. In their living testimonies v. 6. 3. In their growing faith v. 7. 4. In their firm stand. v. 8. 5. So Paul focused on definite needs and did something about it!
HABIT # 5: PAUL REMEMBERS THAT HE IS TO ALWAYS BE THANKFUL 3:9. He saw God’s hand in saving them o He saw God’s image implanted o He saw their worth because of that o He saw his account with God blessed by them o What are the last two?
HABIT # 6: PAUL REMEMBERS THAT HE IS TO ALWAYS BE PRAYERFUL 3:10a What kind? Most earnestly [NAS] exceedingly [AV] o It’s huperekperrisson I Th. 5:13 Very highly – strong adverb. o Paul meant business – he knew God asked us to pray to accomplish His will and glory and he did it earnestly!
HABIT # 6: PAUL REMEMBERS THAT HE IS TO ALWAYS BE HOPEFUL 3:10b One last desire that fills my heart for you… I WANT TO SEE YOU COMPLETE o I expect God to finish the job of equipping/mending you!
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o Render complete KARTARTIOZO equipping, mend nets Matthew. 4:21; Gal. 5:1 Restore; Hebrews 10:5 prepared; Hebrews. 11:3 Framed – supply what’s missing. o Lacking HUSTEREMA come/left behind – despite all great achievements still needed to press on to mark, vital to start with praise, continue with need… o None of us have arrived, we all are following after Christ to be what He wants… Don’t fall behind, be all He wants you to be by His power. o Well Paul – what do you do in your spare time? I practice this love for you that makes me have: 1. FAMILY THOUGHTS 2:17 Warm thoughts of you as my family 2. BATTLE FIELD THOUGHTS 2:18 Memories that we are in spiritual battle 3. HEAVEN THOUGHTS 2:19-20 Great anticipation for your homecoming 4. THOUGHTS OF YOUR NEEDS 3:1-8 Concern to meet your needs 5. THOUGHTS OF THANKSGIVING 3:9 Thanks to God for you 6. THOUGHTS OF SUPPORT 3:10a Earnest times of prayer for you 7. THOUGHTS OF MATURITY 3:10b Expectations for your growing in maturity! That’s Paul’s example to them! Let’s heed this word and pursue these things today!