The persecution of the new Christians by both Jews and Gentiles was severely felt by the Thessalonians. The persecutors were determined to wipe out the new religion. The Thessalonian Jews had chased Paul out of town because of his preaching and even pursued him to the city of Berea to silence him. Many times, Paul had to resort to some radical methods to escape with his life. Paul explained in 2 Corinthians 11:32-33 that The Jews of Damascus had the local governor and his garrison on their side: “In Damascus the governor, under Aretas the king, was guarding the city of the Damascenes with a garrison, desiring to arrest me; but I was let down in a basket through a window in the wall, and escaped from his hands.” When Paul escaped Thessalonica, it was like his escape from Damascus. They had to sneak him out of the city. The believers that Paul left behind had to face the persecution on their own, and they fared honorably. Paul commended them for their steadfast faith in the face of persecution. He told them how they were an inspiration to those in all the churches. Then he reminded them of the kingdom that awaited them because of the resurrection of the dead. The persecution that they were undergoing just firmly established their place in God’s kingdom. In 2 Thessalonians 1:5, Paul tells them, “This is evidence of the righteous judgment of God, that you may be considered worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are also suffering.”

We often pray “Thy Kingdom Come” in our regular prayers. When God’s will is done on earth as it is in heaven, we’ll see all the trials, sufferings, and hardships of this life fade into the distant past. Those who do the persecuting will face justice, and those persecuted for their faith will receive commendations. It’s not that the believers make themselves “worthy.” It’s that they will be “considered” worthy.  Anyone who studies early church history knows of the depth of persecution that took place against Christians.  Persecution wasn’t something that “some” of them experienced. It was part & parcel of the new life. All 12 of the Apostles were martyred for their faith – some unspeakably. Foxe’s book of martyrs makes excellent but gruesome reading for those interested in learning more about persecution in the early church. The Thessalonians were introduced to persecution very early in their Christian lives. Most born-again Christians know something about it.

Bob Wilkins says, “If you’re like me, your first inclination is to think you rarely ever suffer for the kingdom. No one is throwing us in jail and beating us for our faith. Compared to the apostles and the early Christians, or people in other countries around the world today, we may feel we don’t suffer at all. Yet that isn’t true if we are spiritually minded believers. Have you ever received odd looks from people when you tell them that you are a born-again Christian? Maybe you’ve even received verbal jabs like, ‘Not another holy roller,’ or, ‘Oh, you’re a Jesus freak, huh?’ You may shrug off the looks or the remarks, but they do indeed hurt, and they are persecution.”[1] I once offered the opening prayer at the Nebraska Senate. Earnie Chambers spent the next hour ridiculing it and belittling my faith. I truly felt persecuted at that moment. The hardest part for me was that none of the other senators in the room defended me or my prayer. I truly felt alone in that room of legislators. There were no lacerations from the whip. There were no bruises from stones. There were no abrasions from the club. Yet, I felt whipped, beaten, and clubbed emotionally and spiritually.