In our study of 1 Thessalonians chapter one, we look at the letter that Paul wrote to the "church" that he started in Thessalonica. We see how they not only accepted the Lord Jesus Christ but put that faith into action and impacted the whole region of Macedonia.
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Thessalonica, a city in modern Greece, was a Roman colony and adopted much of the Roman culture. This epistle (letter) was written to the "church" that was started when Paul visited there in Acts 17. Paul was ran out of town after a few weeks as the Jewish leaders became jealous of what God was doing through Paul. Later, Paul sent Timothy back to Thessalonica to check to see how the believers were doing and he was able to report that they were putting their faith into action.
Paul, Silas and Timothy, To the church of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace and peace to you.
It is interesting to note here that Paul lets them know that this letter is not just from him but also from Silas and Timothy. Paul was never out for credit in anything as he just wanted to build up the kingdom and bring glory to God. That is a very good example for us to follow as well.
We always thank God for all of you, mentioning you in our prayers.
Paul encourages them with the fact that they continually pray for the believers there. It may seem insignificant to many of us but Paul understood the power of prayer and especially the need to pray for our fellow Christians.
We continually remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.
This verse simply describes the model group of believers. Because of their faith in Jesus Christ, they work to tell others of Jesus. Their labor in that work is out of love for Jesus and those they serve. Finally, they continue to work for the Lord because of their hope that Jesus is coming back.
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.
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.
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.
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,
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.
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).