These five years were a vital stage in the spread of Christianity, and they have much to teach us:
v A key moment: as the Gospel reaches Europe for the first time, and so would eventually come to Britain and even Sussex!
v A key strategy: as Paul establishes bases in the major cities of Athens (the intellectual capital), in Corinth (the commercial capital) and Ephesus (the religious capital). From here the gospel would spread out into the surrounding areas.
v A key lesson: we’ll see the way in which Paul had to work out how the Gospel could cross cultural boundaries, reaching folk who knew little or nothing about the scriptures or what God had done for his people.
We too live at a time when many people know little of the background to the good news about Jesus, so these events will challenge us to think about how we can effectively share our faith and bring the Kingdom of God to a post-Christian generation. At Thessalonica Paul and his team were accused of ‘turning the world upside down’ (Acts 17.6); could that accusation be made against us, I wonder?