Though the Thessalonians faced tireless persecution Jason, Aristarchus and others could be encouraged by Christ’s coming physical supremacy. Though suffering is part of the kingdom of God persecutors cannot permanently fine shelter in the shadows. The jealous mobsters who find joy inflicting harm and injury to those following Jesus will be identified and judged. God is just and will ultimately repay with appropriate affliction. I find the description of Jesus in Thessalonians staggering and intimidating. The Lord Jesus and his mighty angels will be revealed from heaven in an all consuming flaming fire. I’m intimidated by the fact they don’t just make a showing for people to give their oooo ahhhh they are inflicting vengeance and destruction on those with no knowledge of God and fail to obey the gospel of Jesus.
Throughout the Bible where God appeared with fire it was often in covenants or judgment. While judging Sodom and Gomorrah God used sulfur and fire, when preparing to lead the Jewish people from Egypt he used thunder, hail and fire to inflict judgment, when the priests needed to cleanse items the book of Leviticus indicates they used fire to destroy unclean items and purify utensils, Nadab and Abihu suffered fatal judgment by fire, the Jews endured judgment from God in numbers through fire, and on and on. I guess my list shouldn’t be exhaustive, but I get the point. God uses fire during encounters with people either to make a covenant or to destroy. In the case of the Thessalonians they can be encouraged that God is not a pushover for persecutors. He will heap eternal punishment on the lives ignoring His Kingdom.
The persecution hasn’t stopped with the followers of Christ in Thessalonica. It still persists and more can be found at Voice of the Martyrs, Christian Persecution Magazine, Persecution International Christian Concern.