But when they did not find them, they dragged Jason and some other believers before the city officials, shouting: “These men who have caused trouble all over the world have now come here, and Jason has welcomed them into his house. They are all defying Caesar’s decrees, saying that there is another king, one called Jesus.”
Paul was quite the troublemaker. He stirred up crowds nearly everywhere he went and often found himself run out of town. In several places, formal charges were brought against him. And his visit to Thessalonica was no different. Within just a few weeks of his arrival, he made enemies who started a riot and made accusations against Paul and some other believers before the city officials.
These charges were quite serious. They were accused of causing trouble all over the world. And more significantly, they were charged with sedition, claiming that Jesus was king rather than Caesar. This was a crime that the Romans took very seriously.
And there was some truth to these charges. They did proclaim Jesus as Lord, a title also used for Caesar. And they were announcing the kingdom of heaven—where Jesus sat on the throne as king.
But the kingdom that Paul and the other believers proclaimed was not in competition with the Roman empire. Nor was Jesus as king a threat to Caesar. Instead, they advocated submission to the secular authorities of their day. Apart from abandoning the Roman gods to worship Jesus, they were to be model law-abiding citizens of Rome.
What was true then is just as true for us today. As believers, we have citizenship in two kingdoms, one spiritual and one physical. Our first allegiance is to King Jesus and his kingdom. And then to whatever secular authorities we find ourselves under.
But I wonder. If, like the believers in Thessalonica, we were charged with advocating another king, Jesus, would there be sufficient evidence to convict us? Or would the charges have to be dismissed due to a lack of evidence?