1 Thessalonians 1:1-10 - EXEGESIS
CONTEXT: Thessalonica was (and still is) an important seaport about 185 miles (300 km) north of Athens. In Paul's day, the region in which Thessalonica was located was known as Macedonia. Today, it is northern Greece. In return for its support of Augustus, the Romans made Thessalonica a free city in 43 B.C.
Paul, Silas, and Timothy visited Thessalonica on Paul's Second Missionary Journey (NOTE: Silas is his name in the book of Acts, written by Luke. In Paul's writings, he is known as Silvanus). Paul and Silas had been in Philippi, but were imprisoned there on the complaint of the owner of a slave girl from whom Paul had exorcised a demon. An earthquake freed them that night, but they remained in the jail until the following morning. Learning that they were Roman citizens, the magistrates apologized, freed them, and asked them to leave Philippi (Acts 16).
They then went to Thessalonica, where on three successive Sabbaths they attended the synagogue and presented their case for Jesus as the Messiah. They made a number of converts, primarily among devout Greeks (Acts 17:4)-Gentiles sympathetic to Judaism, but who had not yet become full-fledged Jewish proselytes.
Jewish leaders, unhappy about these conversions, complained to the authorities that Paul and Silas were claiming that there was a king named Jesus (Acts 17:7). As a result of the ensuing conflict, Paul and Silas left for Berea (Acts 17:10). Jewish leaders from Thessalonica followed them to Berea, "agitating the multitudes" (Acts 17:13). Silas and Timothy stayed temporarily in Berea, while Paul went to Athens (Acts 17:14). Paul sent word to Silas and Timothy to rejoin him, which they did (Acts 17:15).
Paul then went to Corinth, where he stayed for a considerable time (Acts 18). Silas and Timothy rejoined him there (Acts 18:5). It was there, after opposition by Jewish leaders, that Paul said, "Your blood be on your own heads! I am clean. From now on, I will go to the Gentiles!" (Acts 18:6).
Paul sent Timothy to assist the church at Thessalonica (1 Thessalonians 3:2). Timothy brought back a good report (3:6ff.), but expressed concern about their understanding of the status of "those who have fallen asleep in Jesus" (1 Thessalonians 4:14).
1 THESSALONIANS 1:1. FROM PAUL, SILVANUS, AND TIMOTHY
1 Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy, To the church of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace to you and peace.
"Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy" (v. 1a). Given this introduction and the fact that the first person plural is so often used in this letter (such as 1:2 "We always give thanks.... our prayers" etc.), scholars believe that Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy collaborated on this letter, with Paul as the lead author. They probably wrote it in 49 or 50 A.D.
"to the assembly (Greek: ekklesia) of the Thessalonians" (v. 1b). The Greek word ekklesia(assembly or church) is comprised of two words, ek (out) and kalein (to call)-so it means "to call out." The Septuagint (the Greek version of the Old Testament) uses the word ekklesia to translate the Hebrew word qahal, which is used to mean the congregation of Israel-the chosen people of God.
"in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ" (v. 1b). Paul more often says "in Christ" (1 Corinthians 15:22; 2 Corinthians 5:19) or "in Christ Jesus" (Romans 6:11; 1 Corinthians 1:2; Galatians 3:28; 1 Timothy 1:14). Being "in Christ" involves an all-encompassing relationship with Christ Jesus-a relationship that has saving power. The addition of "God the Father" broadens the vision.
"Grace (Greek: charis) to you and peace (Greek: eirene) from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ" (v. 1d). This is a blessing that Paul often confers in his salutations (Romans 1:7; 1 Corinthians 1:3; 2 Corinthians 1:2; Galatians 1:3; Philippians 1:2; Colossians 1:2; 2 Thessalonians 1:2; 1 Timothy 1:2; 2 Timothy 1:2; Titus 1:4; Philemon 1:3)
1 THESSALONIANS 1:2-3. WE GIVE THANKS FOR ALL OF YOU
2 We always give thanks to God for all of you, making mention of you in our prayers; 3 constantly keeping in mind your work of faith and labor of love and perseverance of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ in the presence of our God and Father,
"We always give thanks to God for all of you, mentioning you in our prayers" (v. 2). It has not been long since Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy founded the church in Thessalonica (2:17; see Acts 17), so their memories of the Thessalonian Christians are fresh. The Thessalonian church includes some who are misbehaving (Greek: ataktos-disorderly or unruly), and Paul encourages the church to admonish them (5:14)-but he includes everyone in his thanksgiving and prayers-even those unruly ones (see also 2:13; 3:9-10). Pastors today would do well to emulate that-to include everyone, even the unruly ones, in their thanksgiving and prayers.
"remembering without ceasing your work of faith and labor of love and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, before our God and Father" (v. 3 WEB). Being in any sort of ministry brings with it a number of frustrations, but those are offset in substantial measure when the pastor sees a young person grow up to be a person of deep faith-or a person turning from a destructive course to a redemptive faith-or when the pastor just reminisces about the day-by-day acting out of faith by ordinary members of the congregation.
That's what is happening here. Timothy has visited Thessalonica to check on the Christians there, and has brought back a good report (3:6ff). That has caused Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy to remember some of the positive things that they have seen in these Thessalonian Christians:
1 THESSALONIANS 1:4-5. GOOD NEWS CAME TO YOU IN POWER
4 knowing, brothers and sisters, beloved by God, His choice of you; 5 for our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction; just as you know what kind of men we proved to be among you for your sakes.
"We know, brothers loved (Greek: agapao) by God, that you are chosen" (Greek: ekloge) (v. 4). This verse assures the Thessalonian Christians that they are:
"and that our Good News (Greek: euangelion) came to you not in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Spirit, and with much assurance" (Greek: plerophoria) (v. 5a WEB). The Greek word euangelion combines the words eu (good) and angelos (angel or messenger) and means "good news"-the Good News of a salvation made possible by the grace of God-by the gift of his Son on the cross. Euagellion is often translated "Gospel"-a word that comes from the Old English "god spel," which means "good news."
"with much assurance" (plerophoria). The Greek word plerophoria conveys the idea of certainty-assurance-conviction-confidence. The Holy Spirit has conveyed the Good News of salvation through Christ to these Thessalonian Christians in such a way that they could feel certain of the ground on which they stood.
"You know what kind of men we showed ourselves to be among you for your sake" (v. 5b). Paul and his colleagues had preached an authentic word in Thessalonica-a reliable word. They had been intent on pleasing God rather than the people to whom they were preaching (2:4). They used no words of flattery to manipulate their hearers (2:5). They sought no human-dispensed glory (2:6). They worked to support themselves so that they might not impose a financial burden on the people to whom they were preaching (2:9). The Thessalonian Christians had seen this. They had experienced the integrity of Paul and his colleagues-their unselfishness-their agape love. All of those things contributed to their confidence that Paul and his colleagues were telling the truth-that they were serving God rather than promoting some sort of private agenda.
1 THESSALONIANS 1:6-7. YOU BECAME AN EXAMPLE
6 You also became imitators of us and of the Lord, having received the word during great affliction with the joy of the Holy Spirit, 7 so that you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and Achaia.
"You became imitators of us, and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction" (v. 6a). Having seen the authenticity of Paul and his colleagues (see the comments above on v. 5), the new Christians in Thessalonica responded by imitating them. As they did so, they were also imitating the Lord. The Thessalonian Christians had suffered just as Christ had suffered-and just as Paul and his colleagues had suffered in the furtherance of their preaching ministry.
"with joy of the Holy Spirit" (v. 6b). These Thessalonian Christians experienced joy in spite of their troubles. Before they had known Christ, they could look forward only to an uncertain future. Now they live in the assurance that the Holy Spirit-God's Spirit-dwells in them, guiding and strengthening them. Furthermore, they live in the conviction that Christ's death and resurrection have guaranteed their own salvation. Those things make it possible for them to be joyful in the midst of lives that are often difficult (see also 5:16-"Rejoice always!").
"so that you became an example (Greek: typos) to all who believe in Macedonia and in Achaia" (v. 7 WEB). Greeks used the word typos to refer to the mark or impression made by striking something with a patterned image. As a tentmaker, Paul would have worked primarily with leather-and leather lends itself to stamped images. However, a stamped image would need to be clear and accurate to be of value.
Paul tells the Thessalonian Christians that they have provided a faithful example (typos)-a witness with far-reaching impact.
1 THESSALONIANS 1:8. FROM YOU THE WORD OF THE LORD HAS BEEN DECLARED
For the word of the Lord has sounded forth from you, not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but in every place the news of your faith toward God has gone out, so that we have no need to say anything.
"For from you the word of the Lord (Greek: tou kuriou) has been declared, not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place your faith toward God has gone out" (v. 8a). "The word of the Lord" could mean "the word of God the Father" or "the word of Christ" or both. In the New Testament, it most often appears to mean "the word of Christ"-but the ambiguity may be intentional.
These Thessalonians have not only received the word of the Lord, but have also declared it-preached it-disseminated it. As noted above, their faithful witness has spread widely-from Macedonia to Achaia-from north to south-and to every place where the witness of their faith has touched.
"so that we need not to say anything" (v. 8b). This is hyperbole-exaggeration for effect-overstatement to make a point. Paul and his colleagues are busily preaching and writing on an ongoing basis, and they know the value of their words (Romans 10:15-17). But they also know the importance of encouraging the faithful Christians in Thessalonica to continue being faithful, so they include this bit of over-the-top praise.
1 THESSALONIANS 1:9-10. YOU TURNED FROM IDOLS TO A LIVING GOD
9 For they themselves report about us as to the kind of reception we had with you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve a living and true God, 10 and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, that is, Jesus who rescues us from the wrath to come.
"For they themselves report concerning us what kind of a reception we had from you" (v. 9a). Who are "they"? They would be those from Macedonia, Achaia, and elsewhere who have been positively influenced by the example of the Thessalonian Christians.
"and how you turned to God from idols, to serve a living and true God" (v. 9b). This is key! The Thessalonian Christians had turned from the worship of idols-inanimate, dead idols-to the worship of the living God. They had moved from the worship of that which is counterfeit to that which is real. People had noticed the difference in their lives, and were favorably impressed. The proclamation of the Gospel was enhanced by their witness.
"and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom (the true God) raised from the dead-Jesus, who delivers us from the wrath to come" (v. 10). The early Christian community eagerly awaited Christ's Second Coming. Paul had obviously included this emphasis in his earlier preaching in Thessalonica, and he will emphasize it again in this letter (5:2-6).
1 Thessalonians 1:1-10 - COMMENTARY
There is, in my opinion, no doubt at all that the letter to the Thessalonians was written by Paul. Thessalonica was a seaport city. It was located in the Macedonian area. This might have been the largest city in Macedonia. The seaport made it a large city. Thessalonica was a mixture of Greeks and Romans. Many Jewish merchants headquartered here.
In Thessalonica, Paul's main subject to the people was the resurrection of Jesus Christ and His second coming. Paul was the founder of the church in Thessalonica. It was on his second journey that Paul founded the church. There was not as much resistance from the Jews here, as in some of the other areas. Let me say there was much persecution here, but not from Judaizers in the church.
It is believed that this is the first of the letters of Paul to be written. It is also believed that Paul wrote this from Corinth. It was written somewhere around 50 A.D. Give or take a year or two.
1 Thessalonians 1:1 "Paul, and Silvanus, and Timotheus, unto the church of the Thessalonians [which is] in God the Father and [in] the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace [be] unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ."
"Silvanus", a companion of Paul on the second missionary journey (Acts 15-18), later a writer for Peter (1 Peter 5:12), also called Silas.
'Paul, and Silvanus, and Timothy": Paul's salutation takes the form of an everyday letter of the Hellenistic world. The names Silas (Silvanus"), and Timothy (Timotheus), are their names in Latin. Silas and Timothy are mentioned not as coauthors but as a courtesy since they were Paul's companions while he was in Thessalonica.
"Timothy" was Paul's most notable disciple (Phil. 2:17-23), who traveled on the second and third missionary journeys and stayed near Paul during his first Roman imprisonment (Phil. 1:1; Col.1:1; Philemon 1). Later he served in Ephesus (1 Tim. 1:3), and spend some time in prison (Heb. 13:23).
Paul's first letter to Timothy, while he was ministering in the church at Ephesus, instructed him regarding life in the church (1 Tim. 3:15). In his second letter, Paul called Timothy to be strong (2 Tim. 2:1), and faithfully preach as he faced death and was about to turn his ministry over to Timothy (2 Tim. 4:1-8).
"God the Father and in the Lord Jesus Christ": Since Paul's initial converts were Jewish, he made it unmistakably clear that this "church", was not a Jewish assembly, but rather one which gathered in the name of Jesus, the Son of God (Acts 17:2-3). Who is both Lord God and Messiah. This emphasis on the equality between God and the Lord Jesus is a part of the introduction in all Paul's epistles (1 John 2:23).
Silas had taken the place of Barnabas on Paul's second missionary journey (Acts 15:22-18:15). Timothy had joined them at Lystra, his hometown (Acts 16:1-3), and had also just recently visited the Thessalonians at Paul's request (3:2).
"The Church": Greek ekklesia ("assembly"): Since Jesus used this term (Matt. 16:18), it had become a technical term among the early believers for a local group of baptized Christians.
In the New Testament, the word never refers to a building, and in its technical sense is carefully distinguished from Israel as designating those who are "in the Father and in the Lord Jesus Christ."
While local churches are implied, the more normative sense of the term may also signify all believers in Christ (Acts 8:3; 9:31; 1 Cor. 12:28; 15:9; Eph. 1:22-23; Col. 1:18).
This is a typical Pauline greeting to these people he loved so well. In Corinthians, Paul was defending his right to lead them and he reminded them that he was an apostle, called of God. He does not call himself that here, because he knows these people already believe that he was called of God to do this work. He feels that no explanation of who he is will be necessary.
Silvanus is the same person as Silas. We know that Paul had high regard for him. They had been imprisoned together for the gospel of Jesus. Of course, Timotheus is Timothy. It was not unusual for them to be with Paul. Timothy was an understudy of Paul. It seems that both Timothy and Silas had helped Paul in the founding of the church at Thessalonica.
Paul is very proud of this church. He feels they are grounded in the Truth of the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. We have mentioned in other lessons that there is a message in the name "Lord Jesus Christ". Jesus means Jehovah Savior, Christ means Messiah, the Anointed One.
To call Him Lord means that you have turned your will over to Him. Paul wishes unmerited favor for them (grace). If they know the King of Peace (Jesus Christ), they have perfect peace. Grace and peace are free blessings poured out on mankind by the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
1 Thessalonians 1:2 "We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers;"
"Our prayers": Paul and his companions prayed frequently for the entire flock and 3 of those prayers are offered in this letter (1:2-3; 3:11-13; 5:23-24).
Paul never stopped being concerned about the churches that he had begun. He prayed for them regularly. Paul had very little to reprimand them for, he gave thanks to God for them.
1 Thessalonians 1:3 "Remembering without ceasing your work of faith, and labor of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the sight of God and our Father;"
"Your work of faith": refers to the Thessalonians' conversion when they "turned to God from idols" (verse 9).
The 3-fold combination of faith, hope and love is a Pauline favorite (5:8; 1 Cor. 13-13; Col. 1:4-5). Paul refers here to the fulfillment of ministry duties which resulted from these three spiritual attitudes (verses 9-10).
"Labor of love": concerns their practice of serving the "living and true God" (verse 9), and the "Patience" (i.e., perseverance). "Of hope", has to do with their steadfastly waiting "for His Son from heaven" (verse 10).
It appears from the praise that Paul has for the church at Thessalonica, that he is very pleased with their faithfulness to Christianity. We see the main things that are important in the faithful Christian in, faith, hope and love.
1 Corinthians 13:13 "And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these [is] charity."
Charity, here is agape, which means God's kind of love. These three, faith, hope and love sum up a Christian. We have faith in Jesus, love His people as he would, and have hope of our resurrection in Him.
1 Thessalonians 1:4 "Knowing, brethren beloved, your election of God."
"Knowing ... your election": Paul's conviction of the genuineness of his readers' conversion was based on subjective and objective factors.
The church is commonly called "the elect" (Rom. 8:33; Col., 3:12; 2 Tim. 2:10; Titus 1:1). In salvation, the initiating will is God's, not man's (John 1:13; Acts 13:46-48; Rom. 9:15-16; 1 Cor. 1:30; Col. 1:13; 2 Thess. 2:13; 2 Peter 1:1-2).
Man's will participates in response to God's promptings as Paul makes clear when he says the Thessalonians received the Word (verse 6), and they turned to God from idols (verse 9). These two responses describe faith and repentance, which God repeatedly calls sinners to do throughout Scripture (Acts 20-21).
The former relates to his own assurance of the gospel, the propriety of his Christian life, and to the effectiveness of his ministry produced by the Spirit's power (verse 5). The objective factor concerns the Thessalonians' becoming followers of Christ (verse 6), being examples to other believers (verse 7), and their gospel witness (verse 8).
Because of the faith, love, and hope in the previous verse, God has predestined us to the election of sonship in Him. We had to activate our will and have the faith, love and hope. He elected us to be His because of our decision. Paul says here, there is no question about it, you belong to God.
1 Thessalonians 1:5 "For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance; as ye know what manner of men we were among you for your sake."
"Our Gospel": Paul called his message "our gospel," because it was for him and all sinners to believer and especially for him to preach. He knew it did not originate with him, but was divinely authored; thus, he also called it "the gospel of God" (2:2, 9; Rom. 1:1). Because the person who made forgiveness possible is the Lord Jesus, he also referred to it as "the gospel of Christ" (3:2).
"Word only" It had to come in word (Rom. 10-13-17), and not word only, but in Holy Spirit power (1 Cor. 2:4-5), and in confidence (Isa. 55:11).
What manner of men": The quality of the message was confirmed by the character of the lives of the preachers. Paul's exemplary life served as an open book for all men to read, establishing the credibility of the power and grace of God essential to making the message of redemption believable to sinners.
Greek, euaggelion ("Good News"), is a technical term for the Christian message, stated succinctly (in 1 Corinthians 15:1-4).
Paul was not a man of just words, but of deeds as well. His deeds proved to all that he truly believed the words he brought to them. Paul's power to heal, his power to preach, and his power to endure persecution came from the power of the Holy Ghost within him.
Paul is assured that he does not have to explain who he is or what he stands for to these people. They believe in the work of Paul. The "we" in this indicates that Timothy and Silas are known of them also.
1 Thessalonians 1:6 "And ye became followers of us, and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Ghost:"
"Followers": means "imitators." (See also 1 Cor. 4:16; 11:1). The Thessalonians had become third generation mimics of Christ. Christ is the first; Paul is the second; and the Thessalonians are the third (1 Cor. 4:16; 11:1).
"Joy of the Holy Ghost": (Rom. 14:17). Joy in the midst of suffering, evidenced the reality of their salvation, which included the indwelling Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 3:16; 6:19). It is a joy inspired by the Holy Spirit.
"Received": (Greek dechomai) means to "receive in a respectful, obedient, and favorable way."
Paul does not mean that these people became Paulites. They were Christians. They followed Paul because he showed them the way to follow Christ. We know from the book of Acts that Paul was so persecuted here by the Jews, that Paul had to depart.
This was not Jews, in the church. They were Jews who did not believe in Christ. They were not Judaizers. It is so strange that the greatest growth in the church is in time of persecution. The joy, they experienced then, was not experienced because of things that happened around them, but the opposite. This joy was from within, despite the persecutions around them.
1 Thessalonians 1:7 "So that ye were examples to all that believe in Macedonia and Achaia."
"Example" The Greek word "tupos", was used to describe a seal that marked wax or a stamp that minted coins. Having become imitators of Christ (verse 6a), the readers were moral examples themselves (leaving their mark on others), that others could emulate. And the Thessalonians were fine examples in joyfully receiving the gospel amidst persecution (Verse 6b), and in sharing their faith with others (verse 8).
This is just saying that this church was doing so well that the other churches could look to them as an example of how the church was to function.
1 Thessalonians 1:8 "For from you sounded out the word of the Lord not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place your faith to God-ward is spread abroad; so that we need not to speak any thing."
The Greek word "execheo", translated "sounded out," means to "ring out." The Thessalonians' faith in Jesus resounded everywhere abroad. The idea is to reverberate. Wherever the Thessalonians went, the gospel given by the word of the Lord was heard. It resulted in a local outreach to Thessalonica, a national outreach to Macedonia and Achaia, and an international outreach to regions beyond.
Paul is saying here, that their good works speak for them wherever it is known of them. It seems that the gospel had spread from this city to other cities. We do not know whether people off the ships in the harbor came to church and carried the good news of their faith in God to other areas or whether they sent ministers forth with the gospel of Jesus Christ.
"We need not to speak anything": Though it may appear that this church developed such a testimony in only 3 Sabbaths of preaching (Acts 17:2), spanning as little as 15 days. It is better to understand that Paul preached 3 Sabbaths in the synagogue before he had to relocate elsewhere in the city.
In all likelihood, Paul spent months not weeks, which account for:
(1) The two collections he received from Philippi (Phil. 4:16);
(2) The time he worked night and day (2:9; 2 Thess. 3:8); and
(3) The depth of pastoral care evidenced in the letter (2:7-8, 11).
We do know that the verse above speaks of a spreading of the Word of God by these Thessalonians to other places, some quite far away. Paul, is just saying, it is a well-known fact of how you are spreading the true Word of God.
He also says, it was not necessary for him to carry the good news about them. The good news of their faith and work in God had spoken for itself.
1 Thessalonians 1:9 "For they themselves shew of us what manner of entering in we had unto you, and how ye turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God;"
"Ye turned": (Greek epistrepho) describes their "conversion", which is both positive (to God), and negative (from idols). This word describes what the bible elsewhere calls repentance (Matt. 3:1-2; 4:17; Acts 2:38; 3:19; 5:31; 20:21). Salvation involves a person's turning from sin and trusting in false gods to Christ.
"Serve": (Greek douleuo, "to perform the duties of a bondslave"): A bondslave was a person who had been sold to another, thus becoming his personal property. Socially this was a very undesirable condition; but spiritually being God's servant was a privilege. Such was the readers' relation to the Lord. Those converted to Christ abandoned the worship of dead idols to become willing slaves to the living God.
Not only does Paul not have to tell the other churches about Thessalonica, but the people in the other churches are telling Paul. This had been a society of idol worshippers, but when the Truth was presented to them, they had turned from idol worship, to the worship of the One True God.
We had spoken earlier in this lesson how Paul had been empowered by the Holy Ghost. It seems that this church at Thessalonica had been filled with this same power. These people were bearing fruit for Jesus, because they were filled with the Holy Spirit and power. They were living and ministering to others through the power of the Holy Ghost.
1 Thessalonians 1:10 "And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, [even] Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come."
"To wait": signifies waiting with expectation, looking ahead in faith, to the fulfillment of Christ's promises to return to the saints.
This is a recurring theme in the Thessalonian letters (3:13; 4:15-17; 5:8, 23; 2 Thess. 3:6-13; Acts 1:11; 2 Tim. 4:8; Titus 2:11-13). These passages indicate the immanency of the deliverance; it was something Paul felt could happen in their lifetime.
"Wrath to come": (5:9; Rev. 6:16), refers to the time of the Great Tribulation (spoken of by Christ, Matt. 24:21), from which the saints of the church will be delivered. This can mean to evacuate out of a current distress (Rom. 7:24; Col. 1:13), or to exempt from entering a distress (John 12:27; 2 Cor. 1:10).
The wrath can refer either to God's temporal wrath to come on the earth (Rev. 6:16-17; 19:15), or to God's eternal wrath (John 3:36; Rom. 5:9-10).
(1 Thessalonians 5:9), develops the same idea. The emphasis in both passages on Christ's work of salvation from sin favors this being understood as the deliverance from the eternal wrath of God in hell because of salvation.
Paul felt that the coming of the Lord was very near. Of course, it was for him, because none of us live much beyond one hundred years old. It is near for each of us, whether we are part of those physical dead who rise first, or whether we are those living who will be changed in the twinkling of an eye. We shall rise, because He arose.
Our hope is of the resurrection in Him (Jesus). Notice, we are delivered from the wrath to come, not the tribulation to come. The wrath of God occurs the last three and one half years of the great tribulation period. When the wrath of God falls on this earth at the end of the Gentile age, we Christians will be standing around the throne of God in heaven.
Revelation 7:14 "And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb."
The tribulation was going on, but we are taken out of it. The wrath falls on the unbelievers.
Ephesians 5:6 "Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience."
Noah was not delivered from the flood; he was delivered in the flood. We are not delivered from tribulation, but in the tribulation. We are saved completely from the wrath of God.
Romans 5:9 "Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him."
The Son from heaven, of course, is Jesus Christ our Lord. Notice, that Paul brings up the fact that Jesus was raised from the dead. This letter is about the hope of the resurrection that Christians have because Jesus arose, and the second coming of Christ. Jesus is the Resurrection and the Life.
EW: 1 Thessalonians 1 - Receivers and Responders
A. Greeting and thanksgiving.
1. (1 Thess. 1:1) Paul greets the Thessalonian Christians.
Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy, To the church of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
a. Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy: Paul was an amazing man and apostle of God, but he usually did not work all by himself. Whenever he could, Paul worked with a team. Here Paul mentioned the men he worked with.
b. To the church of the Thessalonians: Paul himself founded the church in Thessalonica on his second missionary journey (Acts 17:1-9). He was only in the city a short time because he was forced out by enemies of the Gospel. Yet the church of the Thessalonians continued alive and active. Though Paul had to suddenly leave this young church, his deep concern for them prompted this letter.
c. Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: Paul brought this customary greeting to the Thessalonian Christians, hailing them in the grace and peace of God the Father.
2. (1 Thess 1:2) Paul's gratitude to God.
We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers,
a. We give thanks to God always for you all: When Paul thought of the Christians in Thessalonica, his heart filled with gratitude. Paul started the church there in less than ideal circumstances, being run out of town after only three weekends with them (Acts 17:1-10). Yet the church was strong and full of life. Paul knew that this work was beyond him and his abilities and that it was the work of God.
b. Making mention of you in our prayers: When Paul prayed for people and churches, it wasn't necessarily a long time of intercession. He often simply made mention of a church or a person in prayer (Romans 1:9, Ephesians 1:16, Philemon 1:4).
3. (1 Thess. 1:3-4) Why Paul gave thanks to God for the Thessalonian Christians.
Remembering without ceasing your work of faith, labor of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ in the sight of our God and Father, knowing, beloved brethren, your election by God.
a. Remembering without ceasing your work of faith: There were things about the Christians in Thessalonica that Paul simply could not forget. He always remembered them. What he remembered about them, made him thankful.
b. Your work of faith, labor of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ: Despite the problems, Paul was so grateful to God for the Thessalonians because there was an undeniable work of the Holy Spirit and a marvelous change in their lives. The three great Christian virtues were evident among them: faith, love, and hope. "Here for the first time, chronologically, in Paul's writings we have this famous triad: faith, love, hope. But Paul's stress is not on these virtues alone, but rather upon what they produce." (Hiebert)
c. Knowing, beloved brethren, your election by God: Paul reminded them that God loved them (beloved) and that He chose them (election). The two go together. When we love someone, we naturally choose them.
B. The cause and effect of the changes in the lives of the Thessalonians.
1. (1 Thess. 1:5) The gospel caused the changes in the Thessalonian Christians.
For our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Spirit and in much assurance, as you know what kind of men we were among you for your sake.
a. For our gospel did not come to you in word only: The gospel is not a matter of mere words. In modern culture there is an overflow of information or entertainment that often only amounts to mere words. Yet the Gospel is more than words, it also has power. Literally, Paul wrote "became to you - proved to be, in its approach to you." (Alford)
b. Also in power: The message of Jesus Christ has power. It has power for miracles; power for wonderful signs from God; and best of all, it has the power to change minds, hearts, and lives.
c. And in the Holy Spirit: It is a message by the Holy Spirit, a living Person, who works within the hearts of the hearers, to convict, to comfort, and to instruct. If the preacher only speaks, then it is a matter of word only, but when the Holy Spirit works through the Word, a great spiritual work is accomplished.
d. And in much assurance: It is a message given in much assurance. This describes the preacher who really believes what he preaches. There is no substitute for that assurance, and if a preacher doesn't have it, he should stay out of the pulpit.
2. (1 Thess. 1:6) The Thessalonians responded to the gospel by becoming followers.
And you became followers of us and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Spirit,
a. And you became followers of us and of the Lord: The Thessalonians stopped following other things but followed after Paul and the Lord. Paul says that it was a good thing for them to follow him, and he wasn't shy about saying "follow me" because he knew where he was going.
b. Having received the word in much affliction: The Thessalonian Christians distinguished themselves because they received the Word, even in much affliction. The message they heard came with adversity; yet they received it, and Paul thanked God because of it.
c. With joy of the Holy Spirit: When the Thessalonian Christians faced the affliction from receiving the Word, they didn't just face it with a resigned fatalism. They faced it with joy of the Holy Spirit.
3. (1 Thess. 1:7) The Thessalonians responded to the Gospel by becoming examples.
So that you became examples to all in Macedonia and Achaia who believe.
a. So that you became examples: First, Paul was an example to the Thessalonian Christians. Then they became examples to others. This is exactly how the work of God should happen.
b. To all in Macedonia and Achaia: The Christians in Macedonia and Achaia needed examples, and the Thessalonians supplied that need. This was true even though they had only been followers of Jesus a short time. As Christians, we always need others who will show us how to follow Jesus Christ, beyond the need of hearing about how to follow Him.
4. (1 Thess. 1:8-10) The Thessalonians responded by sounding forth the Word of the Lord.
For from you the word of the Lord has sounded forth, not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place. Your faith toward God has gone out, so that we do not need to say anything. For they themselves declare concerning us what manner of entry we had to you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, even Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come.
a. From you the word of the Lord has sounded forth: This was part of the good example that the Thessalonian Christians provided. "Sounded forth "means "a loud ringing sound, as of a trumpet blast." The good work the Lord did among the Thessalonians became known all over the region, and everyone talked about the changes.
b. Your faith toward God has gone out, so that we do not need to say anything: Paul said, "You Thessalonian Christians are sounding forth the Word of the Lord so effectively that you are putting me out of business! We do not need to say anything!"
c. How you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for His Son from heaven: When the Thessalonians received the Word of God from Paul, they responded to it by leaving their idols, and they gave themselves to serve the living and true God. Their reception of the Word and their faith in God was shown as true because they did something with the Word of God.
d. Even Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come: Paul pointed to the essence of salvation in saying Jesus delivers us from the wrath to come. We are saved from something, and that something is the righteous wrath of a holy God.