1 Thessalonians 1 Commentary Verses 4-7

We’ll be continuing in our study of the book of 1 Thessalonians. And so, I’d like to ask you to turn to 1 Thessalonians 1. And we’ll be studying verses 4-7.

…In our first message in this book, we saw that the church in Thessalonica was still standing firm despite afflictions – and we learned the reasons why. They were in God and in Christ. And within that relationship they had the grace and peace they needed to withstand suffering – just like we do.

Then we saw Paul and Silas and Timothy engage in three actions that prompted them to give thanks for these genuine believers. They prayed for the Thessalonians. They remembered their good works. …

And so in this message we’re going to explore the third action that Paul and Silas and Timothy would engage in which would prompt them to give thanks for these genuine believers.

So, let’s read about that.

1 Thessalonians 1:4–7 AV 1873

4 knowing, brethren beloved, your election of God.

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.

6 And ye became followers of us, and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Ghost:

7 so that ye were ensamples to all that believe in Macedonia and Achaia.

So, in this passage we’re going to see four evidences that encouraged Paul and Silas and Timothy that the Thessalonian believers were chosen by God.

1.   The gospel came to them with spiritual power and effectiveness.

2.   The messengers of that gospel experienced success among them.

3.   They imitated godly examples by their joyful reception of the word in spite of their difficult trials.

4.   That imitation led to them becoming examples for others to follow.

So, let’s discover these four evidences of a person’s being chosen by God in this passage.

1 Thessalonians 1 Commentary Verse 4

First though, Paul is going to address these folks in very warm and personal terms in verse 4 as he states what he knows about them.

1 Thessalonians 1:4 AV 1873

4 knowing, brethren beloved, your election of God.

In the Greek text, the word order of verse 4 would render this phrase as follows: “knowing, brethren beloved by God, the election of you all.

1 Thessalonians 1 Commentary – Your election

And the big word in this verse is of course election.

What does that word refer to?

•     In the context of Jesus saving Saul of Tarsus, Paul is described as a “chosen vessel” (Acts 9:15). God chose Saul to save him and to use him to glorify himself.

•     It’s this election that caused God to treat the schemer Jacob differently than he treated the godless Esau (Romans 9:11). The key in that case seems to be that in salvation, God does according to his purpose and not as a response to the works of men.

•     It’s this election that causes God to not totally cast away his people Israel – in that he keeps saving a limited number of them through the ages (Romans 11:5). Paul calls these believers among the majority of the unbelieving Jews a “remnant according to the election of grace.

•     And it’s this election – as Paul calls these Jewish believers – rather than the Jews who are seeking to be justified by their works – that receive justification from God (Romans 11:7).

•     And yet, God still has a plan for even those unbelieving Jews – who are enemies of the gospel right now – but some day will be beloved “as touching the election.” (Romans 11:28).

So that’s Paul in relation to election. That’s the believing and unbelieving Jews regarding this concept of election. What about us?

•     We’re told that we ought to examine our lives in order “to make [our] calling and election sure” (2 Peter 1:10). 

•     It’s not that you and I can make our standing with God any better than it is the moment we trust Christ. But we need to examine ourselves and make sure that we actually have indeed trusted Christ.

In light of that admonition from Peter, let me ask if you are sure about your calling and election. Do you see evidences of God calling and choosing and saving you?

1 Thessalonians 1 Commentary – Knowing

Because in the case of the Thessalonian believers, at the very least Paul was convinced of their election. He knew that they had been chosen by God.

•     Just like Paul knew that trials bring endurance (Romans 5:3)…

•     Just like he knew that Christ was raised from the dead (Romans 6:9)…

•     Just like we are to know that our labor is not in vain in the Lord (1 Corinthians 15:58)…

•     Just like we know that our bodies will be raised up by Jesus (2 Corinthians 4:14)

Just like all of that was known, Paul knew that the Thessalonians were elect – the were chosen – they were saved.

And this knowledge led Paul and Silas and Timothy to gives thanks for the Thessalonians.

Does this knowledge of God’s having chosen your fellow-believers lead you to give thanks to God for them? Or does it lead to arguments and divisions with those very people?

1 Thessalonians 1 Commentary – Brethren

Well, because Paul was so convinced of the salvation of these Thessalonians, he called them brethren.

We are brothers and sisters in a spiritual sense. This should call to mind all the closeness and warmth and love that the best possible human siblings could have for one another.

And spiritually, we really are related as siblings – all of us who trust Christ.

•     We have the same Father – God. Jesus calls God “my Father and your Father” (John 20:17).

And we all share the same preeminent brother – Jesus Christ (Romans 8:29).

•     He’s not ashamed to call us “brethren” (Hebrews 2:11).

•     Jesus said that the one who does the will of his father is Jesus’ brother (Matthew 12:50).

•     He called the disciples his brothers (John 20:17).

•     So, if you trust Christ you are amazingly in something of a sibling relationship with him and with his people.

And this is what Paul recognized of those Thessalonian believers. They were spiritual brothers and sisters of his. And that’s all a part of their being chosen by God. Which is one reason he gave thanks for them.

1 Thessalonians 1 Commentary – Beloved … of God

And Paul places one more label on these believers. He wants to remind them that they are beloved … of God.

God loves you.

•     We know that very broadly “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son” for the sins of the world (John 3:16).

•     But more particularly, the Son of God – Jesus Christ – loved you and gave himself for you (Galatians 2:20).

•     He is rich in mercy and great in love toward you (Ephesians 2:4).

•     Jesus loved us and gave himself for us as a sacrifice to God (Ephesians 5:2).

•     It’s this love that led God to give us everlasting comfort and good hope through grace (2 Thessalonians 2:16).

•     And we always need to keep in mind – especially in relation to this concept of election – that the way things began with you and God was not that you loved him. But rather – he loved you – and sent his Son to die for you (1 John 4:10).

So, the Thessalonian believers were loved by God. They were also brothers and sisters in the spiritual realm. And Paul knew that they had been chosen by God based upon these wonderful realities – and more that we’ll see in the ensuing verses.

And if you’ve been saved by placing all your faith in Jesus Christ, then this is the wonderful reality for you as well.

1 Thessalonians 1 Summary Verse 5

OK, so how can you be so sure that God has chosen or elected you to these things?

That’s where Paul is headed in verses 5-7 now as he explains four evidences of these people being elect or chosen by God.

There’s a good deal of God’s electing of individuals that we can’t see. No one can really look at a person before the Lord saves him and say – “You know, I think that one is elect.” Rather, after God actually saves that person is when you can see the evidences in his life.

And Paul gives us four of these that we can look for in the lives of our fellow-believers and ultimately give thanks to God for them.

So, the first evidence that someone has been chosen by God is found in verse 5.

1 Thessalonians 1:5 AV 1873

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.

So, the first evidence that God has chosen you is that the gospel came to you with spiritual power and effectiveness. It was your reception of the gospel.

1 Thessalonians 1 Commentary – Our Gospel

Paul calls it “our gospel.”

•     In Romans 2:16 he calls it “my gospel” – which is a message that in part foretells that God will judge the secrets of men on the judgement day.

•     It’s a message that’s openly proclaimed by all believers. And yet, it’s somehow actually hidden from those who are lost (2 Corinthians 4:3).

•     It’s this message that God uses to call us to salvation and that results in our obtaining the glory of Jesus Christ (2 Thessalonians 2:14).

So, what exactly is the message of the gospel?

•     It’s good news about Jesus Christ (Mark 1).

•     It’s the power of God to save you (Romans 1:16).

•     And the basic kernel message of the gospel is (1 Corinthians 15:1-8):

•     That Christ died for our sins like the Scripture foretold he would…

•     That he was then buried

•     And that he rose again from the dead on the third day like the Scripture said he would.

•     And Christ really literally rose from the dead in his body – because he was seen by numerous individuals afterwards.

The proper response to this message is ultimately faith and repentance – that you would recognize your utter sinfulness and embrace Jesus Christ with all your heart.

And then – news this good can’t be hidden. If you really believe the gospel, you will proclaim it to others. Jesus commanded his disciples to go into all the word and proclaim this good news to every creature (Mark 16:15).

So, it’s this wonderful gospel that Paul and Silas and Timothy preached to these Thessalonians.

…Well, how was that message received by the Thessalonians?

1 Thessalonians 1 Commentary – Not … in Word Only

There’s of course a way in which the Gospel comes to every person who hears it. And that’s “in word.”

You open your mouth and verbally communicate the gospel to someone else.

And I know that the gospel has come to every one of us in this way. You’ve heard it – just a moment ago.

But Paul says that while the gospel did come to the Thessalonians in word – in that the gospel was proclaimed and the Thessalonians heard it with their ears – that’s not the only way in which it came to them.

1 Thessalonians 1 Commentary – But Also in Power

The gospel also came to the Thessalonians in power.

•     “The kingdom of God is not in word, but in power” according to 1 Corinthians 4:20.

•     Paul didn’t want the faith of those to whom he proclaimed the gospel to be based and founded and relying on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God (1 Corinthians 2:5).

•     The gospel is powerful. It is God’s power to save you from your sins (Romans 1).

•     And it’s this power by which we are kept by God through faith unto salvation that’s ready to be finally revealed in its complete fullness in the last time (1 Peter 1:5).

And while the gospel has come to each one of us in word, I do wonder if it’s come in power to all of us.

Have you been gripped with the claims of the gospel on your life? Has God done powerful work in you through the gospel?

The Thessalonians heard the gospel. But there was also a power that attended that hearing.

1 Thessalonians 1 Commentary – And in the Holy Ghost

And that powerful gospel that the Thessalonians heard also came in the Holy Spirit.

•     In all four gospels in our New Testaments, we’re reminded of the reality that while John the Baptist immersed people in water, there was someone coming after him who would immerse in – or with – the Holy Spirit (Matthew 3:11; Mark 1:8; Luke 3:16; John 1:33).

•     And this promised baptism in the Holy Spirit was fulfilled on the day of Pentecost for the disciples of Jesus when the tongues of fire rested on each one of them.

•     This baptizing in the Holy Spirit subsequently happened to the Gentile Cornelius and his household as they believed the gospel that Peter preached to them (Acts 11:15-16).

•     And so it’s in the Holy Spirit alone that a person can truly claim that Jesus is the Lord (1 Corinthians 12:3).

In other words, you and I are so sinful, that it takes the third person of the Trinity – the Holy Spirit – “falling upon us” as we hear the gospel in order to influence us to yield to the good news about Jesus Christ.

It’s not just that you hear a powerful oration laying out the gospel – though that’s critical. But you need the Holy Spirit himself involved in the process if anyone’s going to get saved.

So, the Thessalonians heard the gospel. It came to them in power. And it came to them in the Holy Spirit.

1 Thessalonians 1 Commentary – And in Much Assurance

And the result of all of that was that these people responded with much assurance.

The Thessalonians weren’t timid and halting in their faith in Christ. They were fully assured of the truth that is in Jesus.

•     This full assurance yields riches in your life. And it comes from knowing Christ better and more deeply – from mining the treasures of wisdom and knowledge that are in him (Colossians 2:1-3).

•     This full assurance leads you away from spiritual laziness and toward a perseverance in serving God and his people to the end (Hebrews 6:10-12).

•     It’s with this full assurance that God wants us to draw near to him – because we have confidence – not in ourselves, but – in our great High Priest – Jesus Christ (Hebrews 10:19-22).

This is how the word of God came to the Thessalonians. They weren’t wondering if it was true and never came to a verdict. They didn’t receive the gospel and then kind of pull back and doubt that it was really true.

They were fully persuaded. They had great confidence in the gospel message and in the one who is proclaimed in the gospel – Jesus Christ.

And this is what God wants for you. He wants you to have much assurance in his word. It’s wholly trustworthy. All his promises are true. Trust his word.


Evidence #1: The gospel came to you with spiritual power and effectiveness.

The Thessalonians did. They heard the word of God. It came to them in power. It came to them with the Holy Spirit’s convincing. And that powerful convincing led them to be fully assured of the truth of that message.

This is the first evidence that you’ve been chosen by God. It’s how you received his word and how you receive it now.

So, can you characterize your reception of God’s word this way? You’re not just hearing it – but it’s powerful in your heart? You can tell that the Holy Spirit was and is active as you heard and continue to hear it? And now you are absolutely assured that what God has written he is able also to perform?

That’s God’s will for you. And if that has happened and is happening in your life, it’s a great encouragement that you have indeed been graciously chosen by God.

1 Thessalonians 1 Commentary – as ye know what manner of men we were among you for your sake.

So, the first evidence of a person’s election is the way in which he receives God’s word.

The second evidence that someone has been chosen by God is found toward the end of verse 5.

If you’re elect, then God actually has to send someone to you who opens his mouth and communicates the gospel to you.

And the ministry of this person or these people was commendable and it was received by you. The messengers of the gospel experienced success among you.

1 Thessalonians 1 Commentary – As Ye Know

This mention of the Thessalonians knowing the kind of people Paul and Silas were is related to how Paul started this section in verse 4 where he spoke of what Paul and Silas knew concerning these Thessalonians – that they were truly elect of or chosen by God.

So, just like those who proclaim the gospel to people can tell with some level of certainty whether their audience has been chosen by God through these evidences that we’re studying – so too the audience who receives the message can tell if those proclaiming the message are themselves genuine in what they’re saying and who they are.

1 Thessalonians 1 Commentary – What Manner of Men We Were

The Thessalonians knew and could testify to what kind of people Paul and Silas were.

This word rendered here as “what manner” several times refers to something of an extraordinary quality.

•     The Great Tribulation that’s going to come before Christ returns is described like this (Matthew 24:21; Mark 13:19). It’s not just any old tribulation – it is The Great Tribulation.

•     When Christ was transfigured on the mountain, this word described the exceedingly bright quality of his clothing (Mark 9:3). No launderer in the world could make his clothing that white.

And there’s one sense in which – when we give the gospel to people, we recognize that we ourselves are nothing. And if God doesn’t help us, we will only get in the way of people receiving the good news about Jesus Christ.

And yet, when God is in it – when he has some people that he’s determined to save – and he’s determined to do it through you – he can do this with us. He can make us exceptional in certain ways as we proclaim the saving truth about Jesus.

And the kind of exceptionalism that Paul has in mind is not that he was given the voice of an angel or that he gave an oration, the style of which itself captivated the audience.

But rather, the exceptional quality of Paul and Silas had to do with their character – toward God and toward those believers in Thessalonica.

Paul points out later in this letter:

•     His willingness to suffer for the sake of these people hearing the gospel (1 Thessalonians 2:2).

•     His boldness with them despite the opposition all around him (1 Thessalonians 2:2).

•     Paul wasn’t intentionally wrong in what he said. He wasn’t impure in his motives. He didn’t seek to deceive these people (1 Thessalonians 2:3).

•     Neither did Paul and Silas seek to please people. They sought first to please God (1 Thessalonians 2:4).

•     They didn’t flatter. There was no greed in their hearts – they weren’t after the Thessalonians’ money (1 Thessalonians 2:5).

•     They give the picture of the affection of a nursing mother in terms of how they treated the Thessalonians (1 Thessalonians 2:7).

And he goes on in chapter 2, but we’ll stop there. Because I think we can recognize from those considerations just how exceptional Paul and Silas proved to be among the Thessalonians concerning their blameless character.

There are religious hucksters today – just as there were in AD 51-52 when this letter was written. There are so-called ministries and so-called ministers whose main purpose is to get your money. They will use you to achieve their selfish purposes.

That’s not how a gospel minister is to behave. As we give the gospel to others, we need to prove ourselves to be exceptional in our motives and in our methods and in our morals.

1 Thessalonians 1 Commentary – among you for your sake

And this exceptional ministry of Paul and Silas – that the Thessalonians themselves could remember – was done among [them] for [their] sake. Or, in a mechanical translation of the Greek – “in you all, for/because of you all”.

1 Thessalonians 1 Commentary – Among You

Paul and Silas’ ministry was among those Thessalonian believers. They were with the people. They were among them.

They were like the shepherd who cares for his sheep – not from some remote mountain overlooking them. But rather he’s walking among those sheep. In the mud and the grass and experiencing everything those sheep are experiencing.

That’s the nature of Paul’s ministry with them. He was with them, among them, suffering with them, rejoicing with them.

And this is what each of us needs to do if we’re going to truly minister to anyone. We need to be among them. We need to get our hands dirty, so-to-speak.

1 Thessalonians 1 Commentary – For Your Sake

And we need to minster to people ultimately for God’s sake. And yet, under that main motivation, we are also serving people for their sake.

The idea is that our service is not for ourselves. We’re not serving to make a name for ourselves or to benefit ourselves in some carnal way.

We are serving others with their best interests at heart.

Evidence #2: The messengers of the gospel experienced success among you.

So, this is the second evidence that Paul and Silas and Timothy had that indicated that God  indeed chose these folks in Thessalonica.

Their ministry was attended by some special help from the Lord to the extent that these messengers themselves were exceptional in the eyes of those whom they served.

So, the message was successful. The messengers were successful.

1 Thessalonians 1 Summary Verse 6

And the third evidence that someone has been chosen by God is given to us in verse 6.

1 Thessalonians 1:6 AV 1873

6 And ye became followers of us, and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Ghost:

The Thessalonians imitated godly examples by their joyful reception of the word in spite of their difficult trials.

1 Thessalonians 1 Commentary – And ye became followers of us, and of the Lord

The word followers can also be translated as imitators. These Thessalonian believers became imitators of Paul and Silas. They followed their example.

It’s not a bad thing to follow or to imitate others – as long as the one you’re imitating is worthy of that following.

To follow someone or something is a craze in our current Social Media landscape. And most of the individuals and organizations that urge us all to Follow them are not worthy of that following.

On the other hand, there are certain individuals who are indeed worthy of that kind of following in the Bible.

•     Paul told the church in Corinth two times to be imitators/followers of him (1 Corinthians 4:16). He clarified that they should follow him – even as he follows Christ (1 Corinthians 11:1). We’re not to follow people because we like their mannerisms or their wit or whatever. We are to follow those people who themselves are following or imitating or patterning themselves after Jesus Christ.

•     You are urged in Ephesians 5:1 to follow or imitate God as the dear children of him that you are.

•     Later in this book, Paul tells the Thessalonians that they became imitators of the churches in Judea that were holding-up under persecution (1 Thessalonians 2:14).

•     And then we’re also told to follow or imitate those Old Testament saints who patiently waited for God’s promises to come to pass in their lives and in the world (Hebrews 6:12).

So, this is one more evidence that you were chosen by God. You seek to imitate the godly examples around you. You used to follow the examples set by ungodly men and movements. But now that Christ has saved you, your desire is to be ultimately like him – and like others who imitate him.

1 Thessalonians 1 Commentary – Having Received the Word

Well, how did the Thessalonians imitate and follow Paul and Silas and even the Lord himself?

They received the word.

•     As the gospel spread from Jerusalem to Samaria to the uttermost parts of the earth – we see those to whom the gospel spread receiving that message.

•     The Samaritans received the word. They heard the gospel and welcomed it and believed in Christ through the message of the gospel (Acts 8:14).

•     After that, the Gentiles received the word (Acts 11:1).

•     These Thessalonian believers received the word, of course. But their fellow citizens by-and-large didn’t. And so, when Paul and Silas were chased out of that city and went to Berea, they were greatly encouraged that the general religious populace there received the word with all readiness of mind and they searched the Scriptures daily to see if what Paul was saying was biblical (Acts 17:11).

•     Paul – later in this book – thanks God that when these Thessalonian believers heard the gospel, they didn’t just consider it some words spoken by mere humans. They actually received the word as it truly is – as the word of God (1 Thessalonians 2:13).

•     This word – if you receive it – the gospel, in particular, is able to save your souls (James 1:21).

•     But be cautioned that some people receive the word – even with joy! But when trials come and truly following Christ starts to get difficult, they fall away (Luke 8:13).

So, the Thessalonian believers followed Paul and Silas and the Lord Jesus in that they received the word. They heard and believed the gospel. This is exactly what Paul and Silas did as well. It’s what Jesus wanted for these people and what he wants for you.

1 Thessalonians 1 Commentary – In Much Affliction

And the Thessalonian believers’ reception of the word was attended by two realities or circumstances.

First, the believers in Thessalonica received the word in much affliction.

•     After Paul was stoned – to death, I believe – in Lystra, he rose up – again, perhaps he was resurrected in some way by the Lord. And he immediately went back into the surrounding cities. And what this man who had just been stoned to death – or at least to the point where the ones doing the stoning of him thought he was dead – his message was this – “through much tribulation we must enter into the kingdom of heaven” (Acts 14:19-22).

•     It was with much affliction and anguish of heart that Paul wrote to the sinning Corinthian church concerning their numerous acts of faithlessness to the Lord. And his desire by doing this was that they would know the love that he had for them (2 Corinthians 2:4).

•     Paul later on spoke to that same church in Corinth about the believers in Macedonia – which is north of Corinth and was also the region in which Thessalonica was located. And he told the Corinthian church that these believers in Macedonia were extremely generous in sending a gift to Paul to help him continue to minister. And they did this even though they were experiencing a great trial of affliction. Paul also says that those believers were generous with him even out of their “deep poverty”. And yet, they were rich in their generosity (2 Corinthians 8:1-6).

Paul experienced this much affliction. Every believer in some way or another does. And these Thessalonians were no exception. They received the word even despite this great affliction. They imitated Paul and Silas and the Lord in this way.

And you might think that this sounds pretty miserable. Great affliction? What can help a person to endure that??

1 Thessalonians 1 Commentary – With Joy of the Holy Ghost

Well, here’s a pretty critical component that accompanied the Thessalonians’ imitation of godly examples. They received the word with joy of the Holy Spirit.

•     The disciples in Pisidian Antioch had this kind of joy. Paul proclaimed the gospel to them, which they then believed. And then he was driven out of their region. But despite the hardships, they were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit (Acts 13:51).

•     This is a component of what the kingdom of heaven is. Not food and drink – but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit (Romans 14:17).

•     And the Thessalonians’ joy could be said to be “of the Holy Spirit” because joy is one aspect of the fruit which the Holy Spirit works in the life of the believer. “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy” (Galatians 5:22).

Evidence #3: You imitate godly examples by your joyful reception of the word in spite of your difficult trials.

The Thessalonians believers became imitators and followers of Paul and Silas and the Lord. They did this by receiving the word. And their reception of the word was marked both negatively and naturally by great affliction – but also positively and supernaturally by joy of the Holy Spirit. And this was one more evidence to Paul and Silas and Timothy that these folks in Thessalonica truly were chosen by God.

Do you have marks of this in your life? Did you receive and believe the gospel – even though you knew it would cost you something – cost you everything, even? Did you come to the place where you were willing to count everything as loss for the sake of knowing Christ? Do you remember what it was like when you first believed Christ alone to save you from your sin? Remember the joy? Maybe you don’t. Maybe it happened a while ago. You were a child, perhaps. But do you have something of that joy residing in you today?

If so, be encouraged that this is yet another evidence in your life that God truly chose you. You – out of all the billions of people in this world! He chose you. What grace!

So, God’s message and messengers have been successful in your life. You have come to imitate and follow godly examples.

1 Thessalonians 1 Summary Verse 7

And the fourth and final evidence given in this passage that someone was chosen by God is revealed in verse 7.

1 Thessalonians 1:7 AV 1873

7 so that ye were ensamples to all that believe in Macedonia and Achaia.

So, the imitation of godly examples – which we just saw – led to the Thessalonians becoming examples for others to follow.

1 Thessalonians 1 Commentary – So That Ye Were Ensamples

The Thessalonian believers became examples in their joyful reception of the word even in the midst of their great afflictions.

They became a type. A pattern to follow. That’s what that word “ensamples” means.

•     Like the examples we have in the Old Testament – both good and bad – to follow or to avoid (1 Corinthians 10:6).

•     Or how Paul and his fellow believers served as an example for the Philippians to follow (Philippians 3:7).

•     Or like Timothy was to be for his people in Ephesus. He was to be an example for them in his speech, his lifestyle, his love, his spirit, his faith, and his purity (1 Timothy 4:12). Those were all to be patterns for the believers in Ephesus to follow.

•     And pastors are set to be this for us. They are to be examples to the flock (1 Peter 5:3). So, watch our pastors – and follow their example. Pattern your life after every good and godly thing you see in and hear from them. Get to know them well enough – and listen to them closely enough – that you can indeed see and hear these things in them.

So, these Thessalonian believers became examples – not just to a local assembly of believers.

1 Thessalonians 1 Commentary – To All That Believe in Macedonia and Achaia

They became examples to all the believers in these two regions of Macedonia and Achaia.

[S] Let me just remind you of the placement of these two regions.

•     Italy is on the west. Turkey is on the east. Greece is in the center.

•     Macedonia is the northern part of Greece. Achaia is the southern area.

•     Macedonia contained cities like Philippi, Thessalonica, and Berea. Achaia contained cities like Corinth and Athens.

Paul is claiming that the believers in Thessalonica became examples to the Christians – the truly born-again believers – all over these two regions.

That’s remarkable in a day in which communication was done solely by word or letter. Those words or letters had to be conveyed on foot typically for numerous miles which would have taken days to get from one place to another.

But this is what’s possible when God chooses you. Your life of faith and integrity – in spite of opposition and difficulties – can become an encouraging example to other believers. And there’s no telling how far that can spread.

And of course, we need to be careful to not do our good works for the purpose of being seen by people. That must not be our motivation.

But on the other hand, Jesus himself commanded us that we would do our good works in the sight of people – so that they would see those good works and glorify your Father in heaven. That’s the motivation – God’s glory and magnification in the sight of all people.

And that was surely the motivation of the Thessalonians – that others would see their good works and glorify God – not themselves.

1 Thessalonians 1 Commentary – Four Evidences

So, these were the four evidences that encouraged Paul and Silas and Timothy that the Thessalonian believers had been chosen by God:

1.   The gospel came to them with spiritual power and effectiveness.

2.   The messengers of that gospel experienced success among them.

3.   They imitated godly examples by their joyful reception of the word in spite of their difficult trials.

4.   That imitation led to them becoming examples for others to follow.

Now, next time, Lord-willing, we’ll see more details about how these Thessalonians became examples to other Christians in their surrounding regions.

But for now, do you see some of these evidences in your own life that God in fact chose you? If so, it should fuel your gratitude to God. Many are called but few are chosen. It’s nearly unbelievable that he would choose little old sinful you! Give thanks to God for this reality.

And give thanks to God for this reality in the lives of other believers. That’s what Paul does here in this passage. Remember that he started this passage with his giving thanks for these genuine believers.

…But if you don’t recognize any of these evidences, I would say that’s cause for some concern. Maybe you’ve ignored the gospel. You’ve been unimpressed with those who have tried to give you the gospel. Perhaps you have no desire whatsoever to imitate godly examples. In fact you go the opposite way! And maybe your life isn’t worth imitating by other believers.

If all of that is the case, I close by urging you to hear and respond to the word of the Lord in Isaiah 55:6-7:

Isaiah 55:6–7 AV 1873

6 Seek ye the Lord while he may be found, Call ye upon him while he is near: 7 Let the wicked forsake his way, And the unrighteous man his thoughts: And let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him; And to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.

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