Timothy Brookins: The Thessalonians Were Not Paul’s “Summer Buddies”

Timothy A. Brookins, First and Second Thessalonians, Paideia Commentaries on the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2021), 78.

It is difficult to appreciate just how significant an inconvenience the problem of geographical distance was for Paul. Now it is possible to reach Thessalonica from Athens in just a matter of hours by car and in less than an hour by aircraft. By dialing a number, hammering out an email, or clicking out a text message, one can contact loved ones in other cities, states, or continents within a matter of seconds. Amid the recent COVID-19 pandemic, when much of the world has had to observe “social distancing,” the spatial distance is still easily overcome remotely, thanks to the convenience of modern technology.

If we could imagine what life would be like without any of these conveniences, we would better understand the anxiety that Paul felt when he was suddenly separated from his beloved church during a perilous crisis and then blocked from returning, leaving him ignorant of their circumstances for many weeks. What is remarkable is that he continued to care. We can neglect to visit or forget to call friends and family even though contacting them is now easier than ever. The more mobile we have become, the more easily we have learned to let go of old friendships. It is a true testament to his love for the church that Paul fought for his relationship with the Thessalonians against immense logistical hindrances. They were not his summer buddies; they were his brothers and sisters in Christ.

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