"For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you, because our gospel came to you not simply with words, but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and with deep conviction. You know how we lived among you for your sake." NIV translation
You can almost feel how thankful Paul is as he talks of the fact that the Thessalonian believers were putting their faith into action. He is confident in their salvation because of the evidence of their works.
"You became imitators of us and of the Lord; in spite of severe suffering, you welcomed the message with the joy given by the Holy Spirit." NIV translation
Paul is quite happy that these believers have stood strong in the face of persecution. They accepted the message of salvation even though it meant suffering and they did so joyfully. They knew upfront that it was not going to be easy to follow Jesus but they chose to do so anyway.
Do you have a story of standing strong in spite of suffering? If so, you can share it with us and help to build up the body of Christ.
"And so you became a model to all the believers in Macedonia and Achaia. The Lord's message rang out from you not only in Macedonia and Achaia - your faith in God has become known everywhere. Therefore we do not need to say anything about it," NIV translation
This group of believers could have easily hunkered down in the face of persecution but instead they put their faith into action. By doing so, they not only reached their local area but all of the region and in fact the whole world as even now we read of their faith and are strengthened. Persecution is simply an opportunity to let the Lord's message ring out just as the Thessalonians did! As they imitated Paul's boldness in sharing the gospel, they became a model for others to follow and that same thing can be true of our lives as well.
"for they themselves report what kind of reception you gave us. They tell 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 - Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath." NIV translation
The Thessalonian believers are known for the fruit they produced for the kingdom. Paul is telling us here that everyone in the area knows the testimony of how there were saved and put that faith in action. He closes here with the same theme that he opened the chapter with and that is faith (how they turned): love (how they served); and hope (how they wait for Jesus' return).