1 Thessalonians 2 Commentary Verses 13-16

Please join me in 1 Thessalonians 2:13-16.

In this passage the outline of the material is fairly simple. The main idea that we’re going to see is a contrast of 2 different responses to God’s truth. Verses 13 and 14 have the first response – which can be summarized in one word as faith. And then verses 15 and 16 will give us the second response – which is rejection.

So, in this passage, it’s belief versus rejection of God’s truth. And the illustration given involves the Thessalonian believers and the churches in Judea who had received God’s truth and their Messiah versus the unbelieving Jews who persisted and still persist in their rejection of God’s truth and their Messiah.

So, let’s read 1 Thessalonians 2:13-16 together and then explore this passage tonight.

1 Thessalonians 2:13–16 AV 1873

13 For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe.

14 For ye, brethren, became followers of the churches of God which in Judea are in Christ Jesus: for ye also have suffered like things of your own countrymen, even as they have of the Jews:

15 who both killed the Lord Jesus, and their own prophets, and have persecuted us; and they please not God, and are contrary to all men:

16 forbidding us to speak to the Gentiles that they might be saved, to fill up their sins alway: for the wrath is come upon them to the uttermost.

So, we begin in verse 13 where we see faith as a response to God’s truth.

1 Thessalonians 2 Commentary Verse 13

1 Thessalonians 2:13 AV 1873

13 For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe.

First of all, we see Paul thanking God a second time for these believers in Thessalonica.

1 Thessalonians 2 Commentary For this cause also thank we God ‍‍without ceasing


For this cause also thank we God ‍‍without ceasing

13 Καὶ διὰ τοῦτο καὶ ἡμεῖς εὐχαριστοῦμεν τῷ θεῷ ἀδιαλείπτως,


And if you’ve been paying close attention, you know that Paul already gave thanks for these believers in this letter. He did that back in 1 Thessalonians 1:2.

This is actually the only letter of Paul’s where – in the introduction – he thanks God for the believers to whom he’s writing twice (Romans 1:8; 1 Corinthians 1:4; Philippians 1:3; Colossians 1:3; Philemon 1:4).

So, we can see how exceedingly pleased Paul and Silas and Timothy were with what God was doing in the lives of these Thessalonian believers.

And back in Paul’s first expression of thanksgiving in 1 Thessalonians 1:2 his reasons for giving thanks for them included what he and Silas could remember concerning genuine outward signs that these believers had been chosen by God.

And the nature of the thanksgiving here in chapter 2 is similar. Paul thanks God a second time for these believers …

1 Thessalonians 2 Commentary because, when ye received the word of God ‍‍which ye heard of us…

because, when ye received the word of God ‍‍which ye heard of us

ὅτι παραλαβόντες λόγον ἀκοῆς παρʼ ἡμῶν τοῦ θεοῦ


And we’ll get to what the Thessalonians did when they received the word of God from Paul and Silas in just a little bit.

But we need to note the Thessalonians’ response to God’s truth.

1 Thessalonians 2 Commentary …the word…which ye heard of us…

They heard the word of God from Paul and Silas.

And of course, you remember from Acts 17 that this word of God that Paul and Silas were preaching was focused on Jesus being the promised Messiah – the one whom the Old Testament foretold as needing to suffer and rise from the dead. There was surely a lot more that Paul and Silas said to them, but that was the central idea behind whatever else they communicated to those Thessalonians.

1 Thessalonians 2 Commentary …when ye received…

And the Thessalonians’ response to that truth was to “receive” it.

•           This word describes what an engaged man does with his espoused wife on their wedding day (Matthew 1:24). He receives and joyfully welcomes her as his wife.

•           It’s how Jesus speaks of bringing us believers one day to himself where he is (John 14:3). He will receive us to himself.

•           This is also the word used when John the Evangelist says that Jesus came to his own things when he came in the flesh to this earth – and yet his own people – the Jews – did not receive him (John 1:11).

•           This word is also used of people accepting and welcoming the gospel in 1 Corinthians 15:1,3 and Galatians 1:9.

So, Paul and Silas came to Thessalonica bearing and proclaiming God’s message of salvation through Jesus Christ to these people. And when the message came, the Thessalonians – to whom Paul is now writing – gave it a patient hearing. They received it. They warmly welcomed it.

And when the Thessalonians did that, something else occurred…

1 Thessalonians 2 Commentary ye received it ‍‍not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God

ye received it ‍‍not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God

ἐδέξασθε οὐ λόγον ἀνθρώπων ἀλλὰ καθὼς ἀληθῶς ἐστὶν λόγον θεοῦ,

1 Thessalonians 2 Commentary ye received it…

And even though this word “received” in English is the same as we saw earlier in this verse, it’s actually a different Greek word. Though the meaning seems to be roughly equivalent. But there’s probably a progression in view. You welcomed it and then you believed it. You received it – and then you really received it!

The Thessalonians started off by receiving God’s truth in that they gave it a hearing. But then they really received that truth by believing and embracing it with their whole heart.

Now, Paul had already mentioned in the first chapter of this letter (in verse 5) how the Thessalonians became imitators of Paul and Silas in that they received the word. And they did it in the midst of a lot of opposition and affliction from their neighbors – but they did it with Holy-Spirit joy.

And the Thessalonians weren’t like the rocky soil in Jesus’s parable of the seeds and the soils. Remember that the rocky soil is represented as immediately taking in and receiving the “seed” of God’s word and it even does so with joy – as the Thessalonians did. But when that soil – that human heart – faces opposition and affliction and trials for Jesus’ sake, it falls away. It apostatizes.

But that’s not how the Thessalonians responded to God’s truth. They received it. They had great joy over it. They were even afflicted because of it. … And they stood fast.

Why?

1 Thessalonians 2 Commentary …not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God

Because, Paul says, they had a certain mindset about this word. They received this word in a certain manner.

The Thessalonians didn’t receive this word as if it were just a mere word from mortal men – like a self-help book. They received the word from Paul and Silas as if it were a message straight from God himself. Because that’s exactly what it was and still is.

And this word proves itself to be God’s word based – at least in part – on it’s impact on the lives of those who hear and receive it as such…

1 Thessalonians 2 Commentary which effectually worketh also in you that believe

which effectually worketh also in you that believe

ὃς καὶ ἐνεργεῖται ἐν ὑμῖν τοῖς πιστεύουσιν

1 Thessalonians 2 Commentary which…


Now, there’s a little ambiguity as to what exactly our word translated here as “which” is referring to. It could be referring to God’s word. Or it could be referring directly to God himself. Does God’s word do the work or does God himself do the work in believers?

Of course, in either case, ultimately it’s God who’s working – and he’s working in the lives of believers through his word to you.

1 Thessalonians 2 Commentary …effectually worketh…

And what a blessing this reality is of God working in you through his word. Because it hasn’t always been that way for you.

There was a time in your life when you were what the Bible describes as being “in the flesh”. And when that was the case, God’s law aroused your sinful desires to bear fruit for death in your life (Romans 7:5). God’s word wasn’t working. Sin was!

There’s even now a spirit in this world that works in the children of disobedience – the ones that you were among at one point in your life. And for this reason you were a child of wrath – one who had wrath rightly coming to him for all the times that you were fulfilling the lusts of your flesh and mind. But we know how that story ends – “But God…”  He was rich in mercy toward you. He loved you. And he made you alive together with Christ and saved you (Ephesians 2:2-5).

And so now, God works in you the willingness and ability to do what pleases him (Philippians 2:13). There’s a power from God now in you that works in you (Ephesians 3:20). Any work that you do for the Lord, you can be certain it’s energized by him (Colossians 1:29). The Holy Spirit himself gives you gifts with which he works through you in order to serve your fellow-Christians (1 Corinthians 12:6,11).

And we see in this passage in 1 Thessalonians 2:13 that God uses his word to work in us. This is one way in which God proves to you that the Bible is truly his word.

What other book can you pick up, believe it, and have it change you so radically and in such holy and pure ways? There’s nothing like it. Because there’s no other book breathed-out by God that does spiritual work in those who believe it.

If I pick up a book on US History and I even believe what the author claims, I might be wiser for it. I might be better able to place our nation in the context of world history. Maybe I’ll have some added facts in my mind which will help me evaluate where our nation is in terms of where we’ve been in the past. But it’s not going to change my life. It’s not going to grow and develop me into a more mature believer.

Only God’s word – the Bible – does that.

1 Thessalonians 2 Commentary … in you that believe

But you have to believe it in order for it to do work in your life. Paul says that this work occurs “in you that believe”. It’s crucial that you initially believe God’s word – and keep on believing it. And if you do, it will do a work in you – God will do a work in you.

[S] But the opposite is true and is stated in Hebrews 4:2…

Hebrews 4:2 AV 1873

2 For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it.

The disobedient ancient Israelites had good news proclaimed to them. So do we. But this church is filled with lives that have been impacted and changed and saved as a result of that word. While those ancient Israelites perished.

What makes the difference? You believe God’s word. They didn’t. They doubted and rebelled and refused God’s word to them.

Because of unbelief they were broken-off like dead branches. But you stand by faith (Romans 11:20).

So, we’ve seen in verse 13 a few positive responses to God’s truth modeled for us: receiving that truth and believing it.

And then in verse 14, we’re going to see more positive responses to God’s truth.

1 Thessalonians 2 Commentary Verse 14

1 Thessalonians 2:14 AV 1873

14 For ye, brethren, became followers of the churches of God which in Judea are in Christ Jesus: for ye also have suffered like things of your own countrymen, even as they have of the Jews:

And actually, Paul is now in verse 14 going to point to one tell-tale sign that the believers in Thessalonica – to whom he’s writing – are not like those disobedient ancient Israelites that we just considered in Hebrews 4:2. No, these Thessalonians were true believers in whose lives God’s word is truly working.

How could Paul tell that?

1 Thessalonians 2 Commentary For ye, brethren, ‍‍became followers of ‍‍the churches of God which in Judea are in Christ Jesus

For ye, brethren, ‍‍became followers of ‍‍the churches of God which in Judea are in Christ Jesus

14 ὑμεῖς γὰρ μιμηταὶ ἐγενήθητε, ἀδελφοί, τῶν ἐκκλησιῶν τοῦ θεοῦ τῶν οὐσῶν ἐν τῇ Ἰουδαίᾳ ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ,

1 Thessalonians 2 Commentary For ye, brethren, ‍‍became followers…


This matter of following or imitating other true believers is perhaps a little strange to our way of thinking as American Christians. It seems that in our current American culture, a great premium is placed on being “different” – which could be a good thing or a bad thing, depending on how you define that.

And it’s not that Paul is calling for everyone to look and act identically. But there’s something special about being able to look at dynamics in your spiritual life and to compare them to what’s happening in the lives of other believers – and you see encouraging similarities.

1 Thessalonians 2 Commentary … followers of ‍‍the churches of God which in Judea are in Christ Jesus

In the Thessalonians’ case, they shared similar spiritual dynamics with the churches in Judea – which at the time of this writing would have been composed mostly of believing Jews. So, a predominantly Gentile church in Greece/Macedonia was sharing in common deep spiritual experiences with churches that are predominantly Jewish. Jew and Gentile united. That’s amazing.

And this isn’t the main thrust of our passage, but I think it would be unhelpful to pass by this teaching in this passage here and not sort of apply it to our nation’s current racial tensions and the ideas being put out there in terms of what’s going to fix us.

Will reparations help heal racial tensions in our country? Paying people for the past mistreatment of their ancestors? Will other forms of government subsidies be genuinely helpful? What about punishing those who are viewed as being in the majority for their supposed implicit racism? Are these things going to help unite and heal a country which is struggling with racial tensions?

I’m doubtful – primarily due to the fact that the Scripture and God himself says nothing along these lines. What God holds out as the only hope of reconciling man to himself – and man to his fellow man – is a complete and life-transforming trust in the Savior of all men and women and races and cultures – Jesus Christ.

The believing Gentile Thessalonians found unity with the believing Jews and they were both fully trusting Christ alone to be sufficient to save them from their sins and give them new life. Only in Christ is there true reconciliation and harmony – with both God and man – even with those who are different than you in whatever ways.

So, the Thessalonians had come to imitate the believing Jews. And this proved that the Thessalonians were – of course – believing – like Paul said back at the very end of verse 13.

So, what does Paul say now in this passage that demonstrates that the Thessalonians were truly imitating genuine believers – in this case – in the churches of Judea?

1 Thessalonians 2 Commentary for ‍‍ye also have suffered like things of your own countrymen, ‍‍even as they have of the Jews

for ‍‍ye also have suffered like things of your own countrymen, ‍‍even as they have of the Jews

ὅτι τὰ αὐτὰ ἐπάθετε καὶ ὑμεῖς ὑπὸ τῶν ἰδίων συμφυλετῶν καθὼς καὶ αὐτοὶ ὑπὸ τῶν Ἰουδαίων 


The suffering of these Thessalonian believers is hinted at in Acts 17:1-9 where we have the account of the founding of this church in Thessalonica

But their suffering is even more explicitly described in Paul’s second letter to this church in 2 Thessalonians 1:3-7. There, we’re told that these believers were enduring persecutions and tribulations. They were suffering for the kingdom of God. They were being troubled by their fellow-countrymen, as Paul says here.

And that’s just how the believing Jews in Judea were treated by the unbelieving Jews who rejected their Messiah.

And this similarity in how believers tend to be treated by their lost peers is a sign of genuine faith on the part of both the imitators and the ones being imitated.

For some of us, trusting Christ has caused divisions in your broader family and has led to some perhaps-lighter forms of persecution. Maybe old friends you once associated with now want nothing to do with you.

I think we all certainly feel like this society is really turning against those who trust Christ and unashamedly hold to the truth of Scripture. A recent study revealed that 44% of Americans feel that religious liberty threatens their own rights [https://www.deseret.com/indepth/2021/3/4/22308010/religious-freedom-public-relations-crisis-came-at-bad-moment-equality-act-lgbtq-rights-branding]. Take that in. Nearly half of this country – your neighbors and fellow-citizens – is thinking that constitutional protections put in place to prevent the persecution of Christians like you – and those of other religions – threaten their rights. It’s a very short walk from this point to full-blown outright persecution of Christians with this kind of attitude prevalent among the populace.

And you know what? We still ought to pray for our leaders. We still ought to vote. We still ought to be involved in the American system of government as much as you sense God wants you to be.

But ultimately, this is OK. To the extent that God would have you to suffer for Christ’s name, you are to count yourself blessed. Whatever suffering and persecution you face for Christ’s sake will only show that you are a genuine believer. And isn’t that what ultimately matters? Not comfort in the here and now – but assurance of eternal bliss hereafter.

As you suffer for Christ, you will join the ranks of those in the so-called “Hall of Faith” in Hebrews 11 – some of whom – as unbelievable as this sounds – they even rejected release from torture so “that they might obtain a better resurrection” (Hebrews 11:35).

You will join the ranks of the majority of your brothers and sisters in Christ who – all over the world right at this very moment – face persecution and violence for their allegiance to Christ.

We ought to keep praying that God would allow us to live peaceful and quiet lives as Paul urges us to do in his letter to Timothy. But at the same time, if and when persecution does come, don’t be shocked. And don’t fall away. This could be one way that God wants to prove to you and to your fellow-believers and to the world that you truly believe and belong to Jesus Christ – who himself suffered and was persecuted – for your sake.

So, verse 14 has revealed a few more positive responses to God’s truth in your life. You’ve received and believed God’s message such that you’re willing to suffer for it if need be – just like all your fellow believers.

So, with that, now we’re on to the negative responses to God’s truth in verses 15 and 16.

1 Thessalonians 2 Commentary Verse 15

1 Thessalonians 2:15 AV 1873

15 who both killed the Lord Jesus, and their own prophets, and have persecuted us; and they please not God, and are contrary to all men:

It’s the matter of the unbelieving Jews killing those messengers whom God sent to them with his truth that Paul now turns his attention to in verse 15.

1 Thessalonians 2 Commentary who both killed the Lord Jesus, and ‍‍their own prophets

who both killed the Lord Jesus, and ‍‍their own prophets

15 τῶν καὶ τὸν κύριον ἀποκτεινάντων Ἰησοῦν καὶ τοὺς προφήτας


Now, I do want to say – at the outset of this two-verse section here – that violent Anti-Semitism does not please God. The Jews as a people have been persecuted throughout the centuries. And we condemn that kind of treatment of anyone – and certainly of God’s chosen people, the Jews.

And so, for anyone to read what we’re about to read concerning some very unflattering realities regarding the Jews who have not received their Messiah – and to use these very plain realities in order to oppress or harm or kill Jews – would be and is completely wrong.

The Apostle Paul himself loved his fellow-countrymen, the Jews – even the ones who were trying to kill him. He wanted them to be saved and he worked tirelessly to bring them the gospel.

But at the same time, that desire for their good didn’t lead him to lie concerning their utterly hard hearts and wicked ways.

1 Thessalonians 2 Commentary who … killed the Lord Jesus …

And so, Paul begins speaking of those wicked ways by stating that the unbelieving Jews killed the Lord Jesus.

Now, they certainly weren’t alone in this. The Romans participated as well. And to the extent that each one of us is a sinner in need of Jesus’ dying for our sins, we too are to blame. And with great grief and gratitude, we own our part in our Savior’s death for us.

Nevertheless, it’s undeniable that the Jews handed Jesus over to the Romans to be killed. It’s undeniable Scripturally that the unbelieving Jews called for and demanded Jesus’ death. The unbelieving Jews – who were persecuting their fellow-Jews who received Jesus Christ – they did in fact kill Jesus.

1 Thessalonians 2 Commentary who … killed … their own prophets

And those Jews were just acting like their unbelieving ancestors – who killed the prophets.

•           Jesus – when he was on earth – addressed the city of Jerusalem as if it were a person and he lamented that it had been engaged in this activity of killing the prophets in days gone by (Matthew 23:37).

•           Jesus accused the ancestors of the Jews of his day of killing the prophets (Luke 11:47).

•           Stephen rhetorically asked the Jews – who were about to kill him – which of the prophets their ancestors did not kill (Acts 7:52). The answer – of course – is that for most of the history of God sending prophets to Israel, it wasn’t Gentiles who were killing the prophets. It was the Jews who killed their own.

•           But even back in the Old Testament, Elijah – himself a prophet – declared to the Lord that his contemporary Jewish compatriots had killed God’s prophets and that they were coming after him next (Romans 11:3)!

So, unbelieving Jews in times past – from the perspective of the writing of 1 Thessalonians – had killed the messengers that God had sent to them – Jesus and the prophets in the Old Testament.

But they of course didn’t stop there. The unbelieving Jews of Paul’s day continued to reject those who were sent to them by God with his truth…

1 Thessalonians 2 Commentary and have ‍‍persecuted us

and have ‍‍persecuted us

καὶ ἡμᾶς ἐκδιωξάντων,


And of course, most immediately in Paul’s mind concerning persecution that he and Silas endured would have been what happened to them in Thessalonica and Philippi. You recall that in the former case Paul and Silas were run out of town by a mob. And in the latter case they were arrested and beaten and imprisoned.

So, what was Paul’s mindset about this persecution? Was he bitter? Angry? Was he calling for revenge and pogroms (POH-grums) and violence against these persecuting Jews?

No.

•           Paul tells us – like Jesus did as well – to bless and not curse our persecutors (Romans 12:14).

•           Paul said that when he was persecuted he just endured it (1 Corinthians 4:12), being careful to remember that he wasn’t forsaken by God (2 Corinthians 4:9).

•           Despite persecution, Paul just kept preaching the cross and not moralism – not a salvation based on your works (Galatians 5:11).

•           And he just came to this settled determination that everyone who attempts to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution (2 Timothy 3:12).

So, that was Paul’s attitude toward the persecution he suffered. He didn’t take it personally. He patiently endured it and continued to do right for Christ’s sake to glorify God.

But the unbelieving Jews on the other hand had no such desire to glorify God…

1 Thessalonians 2 Commentary and ‍‍they please not God

and ‍‍they please not God

καὶ θεῷ μὴ ἀρεσκόντων,


And this is because of the truth that Paul states elsewhere – that those who are in the flesh – those who have not been saved – cannot please God (Romans 8:8).

But that wasn’t the case with Paul. He told the Thessalonians earlier in 1 Thessalonians 2:4 that because he was entrusted with the gospel, he sought to speak in a way that would please God.

But there was a time in the apostle Paul’s life where he thought that he was pleasing God – but in fact God wasn’t at all pleased. Jesus warned his disciples that there would be a time coming when those who killed Christians would think that they were serving God by doing so (John 16:2). And this is the reality that Paul related to King Agrippa concerning his life before Christ – that he was convinced that it was necessary to do many things hostile to the name of Jesus the Nazarene (Acts 26:9).

So, Paul had been there. He knew what it was like to feel that in order to please God he had to persecute Christ and Christians. How shocking – then – to discover that that was not at all the case. Paul came to understand that instead of doing God’s will, opposing Jesus Christ was supremely displeasing to the God he thought he was worshipping.

So, the unbelieving Jews – as much as they think they are – they are not pleasing to God. Their relationship to God is not good.

And neither is their relationship to their fellow-man…

1 Thessalonians 2 Commentary and ‍‍are contrary to all men

and ‍‍are contrary to all men

καὶ πᾶσιν ἀνθρώποις ἐναντίων, 

Picture getting into a sailboat and hoisting the sails to the wind hoping to go one direction – but the wind keeps pushing you back the opposite direction. That’s the way in which this word “contrary” is used in the New Testament.

Mankind – according to Paul and according to God himself speaking through him – is like that sailboat and the unbelieving Jews are like that contrary wind – holding them back from their intended destination.

But what is that destination that these unbelieving Jews were holding people back from?

We see the answer to that in verse 16.

1 Thessalonians 2 Commentary Verse 16

1 Thessalonians 2:16 AV 1873

16 forbidding us to speak to the Gentiles that they might be saved, to fill up their sins alway: for the wrath is come upon them to the uttermost.

Paul says that the unbelieving Jews were holding people back from being saved…

1 Thessalonians 2 Commentary forbidding us to speak to the Gentiles that they might be saved

forbidding us to speak to the Gentiles that they might be saved

16 κωλυόντων ἡμᾶς τοῖς ἔθνεσιν λαλῆσαι ἵνα σωθῶσιν,


Strangely enough – the first individuals in the New Testament who were said to have attempted to forbid others from coming to Christ … were Christ’s own disciples! In that case, they were trying to prevent Jesus from being burdened by having to deal with little kids. But Jesus told those disciples – don’t forbid the children from coming to me (Matthew 19:14).

And thankfully, the disciples listened and obeyed. But the unbelieving Jews don’t do that.

In fact, Jesus himself rebuked the experts in the Jewish religious law because – not only did they not receive Jesus’ word – but they actually hindered and tried to prevent those who were themselves receiving Christ’s word (Luke 11:52).

And we see numerous instances of this dynamic in the life of the Apostle Paul – where the unbelieving Jews are trying to prevent the Gentiles – the non-Jews – from hearing and receiving the message of the gospel. In fact, that very thing happened in Thessalonica as is recorded in Acts 17:1-9. You might recall that in that passage Paul and Silas preach Christ in the synagogue, several Jews were persuaded – but so were numerous Gentiles. And what happened as a result was that the unbelieving Jews were moved with envy and they formed a mob and sought to attack the believers in that city. The Thessalonian believers would have remembered this and had in mind how the unbelieving Jews tried to hinder them from trusting Jesus Christ.

Well, the result of this constant hindering of God’s messengers from giving his saving message to the Gentiles is described this way…

1 Thessalonians 2 Commentary to fill up their sins alway

to fill up their sins alway

εἰς τὸ ἀναπληρῶσαι αὐτῶν τὰς ἁμαρτίας πάντοτε.


Hindering people from hearing and believing the gospel results in filling up your sin always.

Paul portrays it as if there’s a quota of sin that needs to be met in order for something to occur.

So, what is it that will happen as people – and in this context, unbelieving Jews – fill up this quota of sin?…

1 Thessalonians 2 Commentary for ‍‍the wrath ‍‍is come upon them ‍‍to the uttermost

for ‍‍the wrath ‍‍is come upon them ‍‍to the uttermost

ἔφθασεν δὲ ἐπʼ αὐτοὺς ἡ ὀργὴ εἰς τέλος.


So, Paul is saying that wrath from God has come upon the unbelieving Jews to the end.

1 Thessalonians 2 Commentary wrath ‍‍is come upon them

Wrath is God’s settled anger as a response to unrepentant sin. The way that God reacts toward the unbelieving Jews – or any religious-but-lost person – is wrath.

In fact, John the Evangelist tells us that if anyone doesn’t believe Christ, wrath abides on him right now (John 3:36).

The wrath of God is revealed from heaven against those who suppress the truth – they know it, but they won’t submit to it – and they do so in unrighteousness (Romans 1:18).

1 Thessalonians 2 Commentary to the uttermost

And this wrath is “to the uttermost”. Or “to the end”. It will never stop. It’s constant. It’s abiding.

Until the unbelieving religious or irreligious person believes Jesus Christ, wrath has come and will finally come forever upon that individual – if he doesn’t repent and trust Jesus Christ to forgive his sins.

1 Thessalonians 2 Commentary Conclusion

So, all mankind is left with a choice in how we respond to God’s truth.

You’ve been presented with two very different responses to God’s truth and the results of each response.

You’ve seen the correct response. Positively, you’re to receive God’s truth, believe it, and even be willing to suffer for it.

Or, negatively, the response to God’s truth that you want to avoid and repent of if you see it in your heart to any degree includes rejecting that truth yourself and/or hindering others from receiving God’s truth.

May the Lord help us receive his truth and help others who are now rejecting it to follow our example.

1 Thessalonians 2 Commentary Verses 9-12

I’d like to jump right into our text for this evening. We’ll be studying 1 Thessalonians 2:9-12. So, please join me there.

We’re going to read this passage. Then we’ll discover the main message. And then we’ll get into the details.

1 Thessalonians 2:9–12 AV 1873

9 For ye remember, brethren, our labour and travail: for labouring night and day, because we would not be chargeable unto any of you, we preached unto you the gospel of God.

10 Ye are witnesses, and God also, how holily and justly and unblameably we behaved ourselves among you that believe:

11 as you know how we exhorted and comforted and charged every one of you, as a father doth his children,

12 that ye would walk worthy of God, who hath called you unto his kingdom and glory.

So, let’s get the overarching message of this passage together.

The driving emphasis of the whole text is found at the beginning of verse 12. “That ye would walk worthy of God”. Walking is a metaphor for your life. And describing that walk or that life as “worthy” is a way of saying that it’s pleasing to God.

Christians then are to be motivated to live your life in a way that pleases God.

[S] So, the thrust of the passage is: “Live Your Life for God”. You are to be preoccupied with pleasing God in this life. So, that’s the main message here.

And then the points of this message are found in how that emphasis of living for God impacts your life.

•           We’re going to see in verse 9 that living for God impacts Your Work-Ethic.

•           Verse 10 tells us that living for God impacts Your Character.

•           In verse 11 we’ll discover that it impacts Your Verbal Interactions.

•           And in verse 12 we’ll see that living for God impacts Your Outlook on Life.

So, let’s consider Living Your Life for God and the impacts of that in your life.

Tying 1 Thessalonians 2:9 to What We’ve Seen

First though, we need to consider how what we’re going to be studying tonight relates to what we’ve previously seen in this book.

There are two concepts that Paul has touched-on already – that are now going to be mentioned and kind of all tied together in verse 9.

The Gospel

First is the idea of Paul’s preaching the gospel to the Thessalonians.

•           Paul said in 1 Thessalonians 1:5 that this gospel came to the Thessalonians accompanied by power and with the Holy Spirit and with a great deal of assurance.

•           We heard that Paul and Silas came to Thessalonica after being beaten and mistreated in Philippi. And despite that, they were bold in their God to proclaim that same gospel – that earned them a beating in Philippi – to the folks in Thessalonica despite the fact that even in Thessalonica the apostles experienced a lot of opposition. (1 Thessalonians 2:2)

•           Paul and Silas were entrusted by God with this gospel (1 Thessalonians 2:4). And so they sought to please God in how they communicated it.

•           And the last word we had on this matter of the gospel was that Paul and Silas loved the Thessalonians so much that they were willing not only to give them this gospel – but to also give them their lives. (1 Thessalonians 2:8).

•           And that all ties in to what we’re going to consider in verse 9 where we’ll see that Paul and Silas preached the gospel to the Thessalonians while the apostles were also engaged in a great deal of work and labor.

So, that’s the first theme that finds some degree of climax in what we’re going to be studying tonight – the gospel.

Being Burdensome

The second theme that connects what we’ve already seen in this letter to what we’re going to see now is the matter of being a burden.

•           We heard in 1 Thessalonians 2:7 that Paul and Silas could have been a burden to the Thessalonians by asserting and demanding their legitimate rights as apostles. But they didn’t do that.

•           And then we’ll see tonight in verse 9 that the reason that Paul and Silas worked so much as they were giving the gospel to the Thessalonians was due to their desire to not be a burden – financial or otherwise – to these relatively new believers.

So, the gospel and Paul’s refusal to be a burden to these believers are the two themes that find kind of their culmination in verse 9. That’s how we enter this section of the letter from where we’ve been.

Verse 9

1 Thessalonians 2:9 AV 1873

9 For ye remember, brethren, our labour and travail: for labouring night and day, because we would not be chargeable unto any of you, we preached unto you the gospel of God.

So, let’s get into the details of verse 9.

In this verse, Paul is going to speak of a gospel ministry that is free of charge – no financial burden on those who receive it.

And in relation to Paul’s emphasis in this passage on Living Your Life for God, we see in verse 9 how this emphasis affects your Work Ethic.

For ye remember, brethren, ‍‍our labour and travail

First of all, in this verse, Paul reminds the Thessalonians of something they would have certainly remembered. He says:

For ye remember, brethren, ‍‍our labour and travail

9 Μνημονεύετε γάρ, ἀδελφοί, τὸν κόπον ἡμῶν καὶ τὸν μόχθον·

For ye remember

The Thessalonians remembered the work ethic of Paul and Silas – just like Paul and Silas remembered certain admirable actions of the Thessalonians back in 1 Thessalonians 1:3.

And in that passage, Paul and Silas were remembering the Thessalonians’ 1) work of faith, 2) labor of love, and 3) endurance of hope.

So, what are the Thessalonians remembering about Paul and Silas here in 1 Thessalonians 2:9?

Our labor

First of all, they remembered the labor of Paul and Silas.

This is referring to any work – physical or spiritual in nature. And the emphasis of this term seems to be on the aspect of exhaustion associated with such work.

The work that Paul and Silas were engaged in so that they could minister spiritually to these believers was exhausting to them. And he admits that it was like that.

And travail

And that word for exhausting work is coupled here with this other word travail.

This is a word whose associated ideas all have to do with difficulty.

So, Paul is saying here in verse 9 that the Thessalonians could remember that Paul and Silas had been engaged in difficult exhausting work among them.

Why this emphasis?

Now, why do you suppose that Paul is needing to remind the Thessalonians of his and Silas’ work ethic when he was among them?

I think the answer to that question is found not so much in this letter to the church in Thessalonica – but in the second letter.

In 2 Thessalonians 3:6 Paul has to tell those believers to withdraw from every brother who lives a disorderly life and doesn’t follow Paul’s instructions. And then he makes it clear that one area that he was aware of people violating this rule of walking orderly had to with a refusal on the part of some to work. And in that passage, Paul exhorts them the exact same way as he does here in 1 Thessalonians 2:9 – by giving them his own example.

With new believers – like the Thessalonians were – there are some things you need to address right away. And then there are other things you can maybe just ignore. But then there are other times when you might just put forward your own example to them – hoping they catch the hint – and knowing that eventually that thing might need to be directly addressed if they don’t pick up the clues that you’re sending from your own example.

I think that’s what we see Paul doing here.

So, Paul was aware that the Thessalonians – at least some of them – had a problem with working hard. And Paul’s response to them is in effect – “Look at me and Silas – and imitate us in our exhausting and difficult labor among you.

we preached unto you the gospel of God

Well, how did that exemplary work ethic manifest itself?

we preached unto you the gospel of God

ἐκηρύξαμεν εἰς ὑμᾶς τὸ εὐαγγέλιον τοῦ θεοῦ. 

Certainly – despite what some might think – preaching the gospel takes work and effort.

Paul even likens preaching the gospel to “running” in Galatians 2:2.  It takes hard work and endurance to do it right.

for ‍‍labouring ‍‍night and day

But Paul and Silas weren’t just ministering the word to the Thessalonians when they came to them – as difficult as that can be.

On top of word-based gospel ministry, Paul and Silas were also involved in hard physical work – as we’ve already seen – and which Paul sees fit to repeat here again in a different way. He says that they preached the gospel:

for ‍‍labouring ‍‍night and day

νυκτὸς καὶ ἡμέρας ἐργαζόμενοι

And again you get the sense of exhausting work here. Paul and Silas were working day and night.

So, in addition to proclaiming God’s truth to the Thessalonians, Paul and Silas were also working constantly and tirelessly with their hands.

because we would not ‍‍be chargeable unto any of you

But why all the tireless constant manual labor as Paul and Silas preached the gospel to the Thessalonians? Answer:

because we would not ‍‍be chargeable unto any of you

πρὸς τὸ μὴ ἐπιβαρῆσαί τινα ὑμῶν

So, the purpose of Paul and Silas’ constant work while they were with the Thessalonians was so that the apostles would not be excessively burdensome to those believers.

This gets back to what Paul said in 1 Thessalonians 2:6. The word translated back there as “burdensome” in our KJV is related to the word “chargeable” here in verse 9.

Paul and Silas would have been justified in demanding their right to be compensated for their spiritual work among the Thessalonians. They could have been a burden in that sense to that group of believers. But instead Paul and Silas were gentle with them.

And so, what we’re reminded of here is that Paul and Silas were working double-duty when they visited the Thessalonians. They were working in both the spiritual and physical realms. And they were working physically in order that they could minister spiritually.

Your Work Ethic

So, as you Live Your Life for God and urge others to do the same, it will impact your work ethic. The way that you work and the attitude that you bring with you to every endeavor that you undertake is a part of living for God.

And this doesn’t apply only to the work you do for a living. Living for God will show itself in how you work for God’s people – how you minister in this church – how you serve your family and friends.

Your work might be characterized as memorable, tireless, selfless, even gospel-fueled or gospel-focused – like Paul’s was.

And if your work ethic comes anything close to those ideals, that’s great reason to thank God for helping you Life You Life for Him.

So, we’ve seen the commendable work ethic of Paul and Silas.

Verse 10

1 Thessalonians 2:10 AV 1873

10 Ye are witnesses, and God also, how holily and justly and unblameably we behaved ourselves among you that believe:

And not only does Living Your Life for God impact your Work Ethic. It also impacts Your Character. That’s what we see in verse 10.

how ‍‍holily and ‍‍justly and ‍‍unblameably we behaved ourselves among you that believe

So, Paul now wants to highlight his character when he and Silas came to the Thessalonians. He remarks:

how ‍‍holily and ‍‍justly and ‍‍unblameably we behaved ourselves among you that believe

ὡς ὁσίως καὶ δικαίως καὶ ἀμέμπτως ὑμῖν τοῖς πιστεύουσιν ἐγενήθημεν

Paul and Silas were model Christians among the new Thessalonian believers.

how ‍‍holily … we behaved

Paul and Silas behaved in a holy manner.

That term is used to describe Jesus as well. And though ultimately only God is completely holy (Revelation 15:4) in his unmatched uniqueness as compared to everything that he’s created – believers who are being changed more and more into the image of his Son can be – and are – described as “holy”.

You are called to be unique for God’s sake in this world. You are called to be holy.

how ‍‍justly … we behaved

Paul and Silas also conducted themselves justly among the Thessalonians.

They were righteous among those believers. They fulfilled all their proper obligations. What would have been expected of them – they fulfilled.

And that can be your testimony as well before others – that you fulfill your reasonable obligations to others.

how ‍‍unblameably … we behaved

And Paul and Silas were blameless among the believers in Thessalonica.

They weren’t sinless. But no one could legitimately find a credible cause to accuse them of doing wrong.

Ye are witnesses, and ‍‍God also

And Paul was confident that both God and the Thessalonians would have been aware of their blameless, just, righteous character. He says:

Ye are witnesses, and ‍‍God also

10 ὑμεῖς μάρτυρες καὶ ὁ θεός,

Why the highlighting of character again?

But this is now just one more time that Paul has highlighted the personal character of himself and Silas in this short letter thus far.

And as I was studying through this, I wondered why Paul’s again saying basically something very similar to what he’s said at least a few times already in this short letter.

Back in 1 Thessalonians 1:5 and for a good deal of chapter 2, Paul already highlighted his character while he was with the Thessalonians.

Why? Why does Paul need to keep coming back to his character and putting it on display before the Thessalonians’ minds’ eyes?

I think that Paul – though he was very thankful for the spiritual development of these believers – he was seeing some need in their life in this area of character. Just like he saw needs in their lives regarding hard work, he also sees some characters flaws that are not quite godly.

We’re going to see in chapter 4 of this letter that Paul will need to exhort these genuine believers concerning their sexual purity.

There’s also a hint in chapter 4 – and much more stated in the second letter to the Thessalonians – that some of the believers in that city were prone to laziness – as we mentioned earlier.

So, in light of those character flaws in the Thessalonians, you can see why Paul keeps subtly bringing up the issue of his and Silas’ example of hard work and godly character.

Your Character

So, as you’re Living Your Life for God, this must impact Your Character.

You’ll want your character to be genuinely holy and righteous and blameless. You’re not perfect. You haven’t arrived. But you’re growing in the godliness of your godly. And you’ll be serving as an example to others as you remind them of the importance of living this life for God.

Verse 11

1 Thessalonians 2:11 AV 1873

11 as you know how we exhorted and comforted and charged every one of you, as a father doth his children,

So, as you Live Your Life for God, you’ll see that approach’s impact on Your Work-Ethic and Your Character. You’ll also see an impact on Your Verbal Interactions according to verse 11.

And let me show you how verse 10 flows into verse 11.

Similar to what the Thessalonians could testify-to concerning Paul and Silas’ character, they also knew very well the fatherly verbal communication of Paul and Silas that urged those believers to walk worthy of God’s glorious eternal call.

as you know

Paul says:

as you know

11 καθάπερ οἴδατε

So, just as the Thessalonians knew and could testify to Paul and Silas’ exemplary character, they also knew the following.

how we exhorted and ‍‍comforted and charged every one of you, ‍‍as a father doth his children

They knew:

how we exhorted and ‍‍comforted and charged every one of you, ‍‍as a father doth his children

ὡς ἕνα ἕκαστον ὑμῶν ὡς πατὴρ τέκνα ἑαυτοῦ  παρακαλοῦντες ὑμᾶς καὶ παραμυθούμενοι καὶ μαρτυρόμενοι,

So, Paul and Silas exercised something of a fatherly ministry among the Thessalonians.

In our last message in this letter we saw Paul comparing himself to a nursing mother.

And now in this passage he completes the parental metaphor and acknowledges that not only did he and Silas act as mothers – they also treated the Thessalonians as a father would address his children. In fact, that phrase “his/her children” appears in both of these passages – verse 7 and verse 11.

So, how does a father – literal or metaphorical – who’s living for God – verbally communicate with his children?

Paul mentions three aspects of his verbal communication with the Thessalonians. Just like his character in verse 10 was described with three words, so too in this verse he describes his verbal communication with three words.

We … Exhorted … Every One of You

First, Paul exhorted the Thessalonians.

This word has a range of meanings including comforting, beseeching, urging, and of course exhorting. It’s found 8 times in this letter alone.

•           Paul and Silas sent Timothy to comfort the Thessalonians concerning their faith (1 Thessalonians 3:2).

•           The faith of the Thessalonians comforted Paul and Silas when they heard the believers in that city were standing firm (1 Thessalonians 3:7).

•           But Paul and Silas and Timothy wanted to exhort those believers by this letter to live more and more in a manner that pleases God – especially in the area of sexual purity (1 Thessalonians 4:1).

•           And also in the area of love for one another (1 Thessalonians 4:10). Not that they weren’t loving one another. They were. But Paul just wanted them to do that more and more.

•           Paul and Silas and Timothy wanted the Thessalonians to comfort one another with their words concerning the rapture of the church (1 Thessalonians 4:18) and concerning the wonderful future reality of being with our Lord who loves us (1 Thessalonians 5:11).

•           And Paul and Silas and Timothy exhort the Thessalonians to warn the unruly, to comfort the feebleminded, to support the weak, and to be patient toward all men (1 Thessalonians 5:14).

So, Paul and Silas and Timothy were doing these things with the Thessalonians. They were exhorting and comforting them as a father would do with his children.

We … Comforted … Every One of You

Then Paul uses another word translated as comfort to describe his verbal communication with the Thessalonians.

This word is used concerning how we as Christians ought to treat a group of people known as “the feebleminded” (1 Thessalonians 5:14). That word actually describes individuals who are “discouraged”. They are literally “little of soul”. Their courage and inner strength are sapped. They want to quit.

What do folks who are discouraged need? According to the Scripture they need – this – comfort, which is what Paul was doing with these believers in Thessalonica.

This word also appears in the context of Mary grieving the death of her brother Lazarus in John 11. There were Jews from the area who came to comfort her concerning the loss of her brother.

And this is what a father does with his children. As they experience loss in whatever form and they’re discouraged and crestfallen, it’s the job of us fathers to comfort our children concerning their loss or pain or difficulty.

This is one more action that the Apostle Paul took with these believers in Thessalonica. As they experienced loss and discouragement he comforted them.

We … Charged … Every One of You

And lastly, Paul charged them.

This is the act of soberly warning and admonishing others concerning some serious truth. This word is translated elsewhere in the New Testament as “take to record”, “witness”, and “testify”.

And there are times as fathers where you need to do this with your children. You need to lay before them the reality that if they take a certain course of action, there will be certain consequences. Because God said there would be.

And that’s really where our certainty comes as we charge our children – or those whom we’re discipling – from God’s testimonies. And our job as fathers or mentors is to simply and with great assurance point our children and other to what God has said. Both what he wants of them – and what will happen if they follow him or if they reject him.

Paul says in Ephesians 4:17 that he testified to those believers in Ephesus that they need to stop living like lost people. You need to put off old sinful practices, renew your mind with the Scripture, and put on new righteous ways of living. For example, he says:

•           Instead of lying, speak truth.

•           Instead of sinful endless anger, get things resolved before the end of the day. Otherwise, the devil may get an opportunity in your life.

•           Instead of stealing, work to provide for others.

•           Instead of speaking in such a way that corrupts others, use your words to build others up.

•           Instead of being bitter and angry and at odds with everyone, be kind and compassionate and forgiving. Because God has taken the same approach with you in Christ.

This list from Ephesians 4 is just an example of how Paul surely would have charged the believers in Thessalonica like a father would do to his children.

Your Verbal Interactions

And so, as you Live Your Life for God, it will surely impact your Verbal Interactions.

•           There will be a new sobriety in your speech.

•           The content of that speech will oftentimes be focused on God and his word and his desire in the lives of your hearers.

•           Your verbal communication can take on a fatherly approach – even if you aren’t literally a father. The Apostle Paul wasn’t a literal father. But his speech came to be characterized by how a father speaks to his children – the firmness and directness and love.

•           You will take time to communicate individually to people – because every one of them is important in God’s sight.

And as you see these realities more and more present in your verbal communication with others, you will rejoice that God is doing this in you as you Live Your Life for Him.

Because Living Your Life for God will impact your Verbal Interactions with others.

Verse 12

1 Thessalonians 2:12 AV 1873

12 that ye would walk worthy of God, who hath called you unto his kingdom and glory.

And you know that you yourself have come to adopt this approach of Living Your Life for God when your work ethic, character, and speech all together lead others to adopt that same approach to living. Others catch Your Outlook on Life. That’s the last area mentioned here that’s impacted by living your life for God –  your outlook on life.

So, what was the purpose of Paul and Silas’ exhorting and comforting and charging those believers in Thessalonica?

that ye would walk worthy of God, ‍‍who hath called you unto ‍‍his kingdom and glory

Here it is:

12 that ye would walk worthy of God, ‍‍who hath called you unto ‍‍his kingdom and glory

εἰς τὸ περιπατεῖν ὑμᾶς ἀξίως τοῦ θεοῦ τοῦ καλοῦντος ὑμᾶς εἰς τὴν ἑαυτοῦ βασιλείαν καὶ δόξαν. 

walk worthy of God

All the verbal urging and comfort and encouragement was aimed at the Thessalonians’ “walking worthy”.

This is one of three times in the New Testament where Paul urges believers to walk worthy. He’s encouraging believers on to greater levels of living (indicated by the metaphor of “walking”) in such ways as please the Lord (described as “worthy”).

•           In Ephesians 4, Paul exhorts that you walk worthy of your calling. This is to include a great deal of humility in your heart. You’re to be lovingly patient with others. You’re to be peacefully unified. And all of that is to be done especially with other believers.

•           In Colossians 1, Paul reveals that he prayed for those believers in that city to be filled with the knowledge of God’s will in order that they would walk worthy of the Lord – that they would live lives that were pleasing to God. Paul prayed that the believers would be strengthened to endure and be patient with joy – and to be constantly thankful to God.

So, the purpose of Paul’s fatherly verbal and personal admonitions to believers was that they would live in such a way as would please the Lord.

Now, why is it important to please the Lord?

who hath called you

You need to remember that he has called you.

At the end of this letter, Paul prays that the Thessalonians would be completely sanctified (or “made holy”) and that they would be kept entirely blameless for the coming of Jesus Christ. And he adds – “He who calls you is trustworthy, and he will in fact do this.” God’s calling of you leads him to lead you to the end.

God is referred to as “him that calleth” in Romans 9:12 in the context of spiritual salvation. He’s referred to that way again in Galatians 5:8 with the extra emphasis of people trying to persuade believers away from that one who saved them spiritually.

So, God has called you to salvation. He’ll see you through to the end.

But Paul puts it in a unique way here in 1 Thessalonians 2.

unto ‍‍his kingdom and glory

Paul describes being saved from your sin as being called by God “unto his kingdom and glory”.

Called to God’s Kingdom

You have been called to God’s kingdom.

You and I are so used to the kingdoms of this world.

We don’t give our country this label, but in a sense you live in the “kingdom” of the United States of America. There’s a king – which in our case isn’t a single monarch, but rather three branches of government supposed to be guided by its founding document the Constitution. And this “king” rules over this kingdom.

But as you know, unfortunately, Satan rules here as well – as he does over every kingdom of the world.

[S] He actually says that he rules over all the kingdoms of the world in Luke 4:5-7:

Luke 4:5–7 AV 1873

5 And the devil, taking him up into a high mountain, shewed unto him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. 6 And the devil said unto him, All this power will I give thee, and the glory of them: for that is delivered unto me; and to whomsoever I will I give it. 7 If thou therefore wilt worship me, all shall be thine.

And Jesus doesn’t contradict or argue with him on this point.

Paul actually calls Satan “the god of this world” (2 Corinthians 4:4).

So, the point is that this world and its kingdoms have been in some ways handed over to Satan – presumably since Adam obeyed the devil in the garden and sinned – and by sinning, he plunged the entire human race into sin. And so, now this whole dominion is temporarily Satan’s by God’s wise allowance.

But the glorious reality is that there’s coming a day in which all of this – the world and all of its kingdoms – will be turned back to their rightful owner.

The triumphant message of the seventh angel in Revelation 11:15 will be fully realized – “The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever.

And that kingdom will last on this earth for 1,000 years. And after that time it will run on into and throughout eternity. God will finally rule – with no competition. Satan will be bound and then cast into the Lake of Fire forever. We will reign with God.

You probably didn’t fully understand this when you first trusted Christ. You maybe didn’t even know that you were being invited to a kingdom – or at least you wouldn’t have been able to describe it that precisely. But this was actually the message that Jesus started his earthly ministry by preaching. He said, “Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 3:2).

And it’s this kingdom to which God has called you.

Called to God’s Glory

Additionally and related to that reality – God has called you to his glory.

The Apostle Peter in 1 Peter 5:10 calls this glory to which we’re called – after a little suffering here on earth – “eternal”. We will be enjoying this glory forever.

It’s this glory that Jesus entered into after his suffering for us on this earth (Luke 24:26). And he has prepared you – as a vessel of mercy – for this coming glory (Romans 9:23).

[S] And Jesus wants you to experience this glory with him! He prayed to his father this way in John 17:24:

John 17:24 AV 1873

24 Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world.

So, you are called to eternal conscious bliss and joy and peace with the Savior who loved and loves you. You’re called to enjoy this glory in a kingdom prepared especially for you and all your fellow-believers. And you and I will enjoy this forever.

But until we get there, there’s some suffering to endure. And there’s a life to live here on earth for God.

Your Outlook on Life

And so, as you Live This Life for God, it will – it must – have an impact on your Outlook on Life.

You’re not just living for a pay check or a grade in school or for a spouse or for a job or a car or a home or your kids or friends. You are living for a future hope. You are motivated by something different than what motivates the world.

The light momentary affliction that you’re experiencing now is not worthy to be compared to the glory that’s going to be revealed in you.

You can endure misery and hardship and difficulty here because your very outlook on life has changed. You are looking through – and looking past – all of those hard things … and you’re looking to God’s kingdom and glory that he’s prepared for you! You of all people! Sinful, disappointing, failing you. But God loves you and Christ shed his blood for your sin so that you could share in his kingdom and glory.

When you live for God, it will radically impact and change your Outlook on Life.

Conclusion

So then, are you walking worthy of these realities? Are you living in light of the fact that this is what you’re called to? You’re not just an earth-dweller. You are bound for God’s glorious kingdom.

Since that’s the case, what do you need to lay aside (negatively) or be engaged in (positively) as a citizen of God’s glorious kingdom?

Just to recall what we’ve already studied, how’s your work ethic?

•           Is your labor for others something that anyone would be able to call to mind when they think of you?

•           Is there anyone in your life who has benefited from your hard work and selfless service for them?

And then how is your character?

•           Are you known to others as holy? Are you set apart for God and his service? Can others sense that in you – whether they admire or despise you for it?

•           Are you just – do you behave righteously? Do you fulfill your obligations to others? Do you make promises and keep them?

•           Are you unblameable? Can people find “handles” to grab onto in your life in order to accuse you of wrongdoing?

What about your verbal interactions with others?

•           Are you encouraging others to live their life for God?

•           Do you do this in a way that expresses both love and urgency?

And then – how’s your outlook on life?

•           Are you looking for God’s coming kingdom and glory?

•           Or have you kind of forgotten the end-game here?

If you’re able to answer positively any or all of these questions, praise the Lord – and as the apostle Paul says later in this letter – do what you’re doing still more and more. And even go so far as Paul did and exhort and comfort and charge others in your life toward this worthy walk with the Lord.

And if you don’t find the positive realities in your life, you now have before you a pattern in the apostle Paul that you can follow. You might additionally want to try to seek someone out who will do like the apostle did and urge you on to a worthy walk with the Lord.

Whatever the case, may the Lord help us live our life with a view to him. May we walk worthy.

1 Thessalonians 2 Commentary Verses 5-8

My sons have been engaged in shoveling driveways in our neighborhood this winter. And in a few cases, it seems that the person whom they’re trying to serve is almost doing them a favor. But a significant number of those whom the boys are trying to serve are very appreciative of the help.

And especially when its evident to me that my sons are serving others with right motives – that is, they’re not just trying to make money – but to really be a blessing to others – when that happens, not only are the people receiving the service pleased. I’m pleased, as well. I see what my boys are doing and I get an idea of the heart from which they’re doing it – and I am pleased.

Others are getting the service. But I am the one who is pleased.

And we see a similar situation going on in the lives of Paul and Silas and the Thessalonian believers to whom they were ministering.

So, please join me in 1 Thessalonians 2:4 to see this.

Because that is the verse that we left off with in our last message. It was there that Paul had stated how he spoke to these believers in Thessalonica. He spoke to them in such a way as to not please men primarily. His speaking was aimed at pleasing God.

And of course, the purpose of his speaking to these folks in Thessalonica was in order to do them a spiritual service. He was seeking to serve them spiritually with the gospel of Jesus Christ.

And so, what we’re going to see tonight is Paul continuing and expounding on this thought of God-Pleasing Spiritual Service to Others.

How do you know if your serving others in spiritual ways is pleasing to God? Paul gives us – I believe – 7 indications of God-pleasing spiritual service to others in 1 Thessalonians 2:5-8. So, let’s read that together.

1 Thessalonians 2:5–8 AV 1873

5 For neither at any time used we flattering words, as ye know, nor a cloke of covetousness; God is witness:

6 nor of men sought we glory, neither of you, nor yet of others, when we might have been burdensome, as the apostles of Christ.

7 But we were gentle among you, even as a nurse cherisheth her children:

8 so being affectionately desirous of you, we were willing to have imparted unto you, not the gospel of God only, but also our own souls, because ye were dear unto us.

So, we’ll begin by noting that the first indication that our spiritual service to others is pleasing to God is found in verse 5.

Verse 5

1 Thessalonians 2:5 AV 1873

5 For neither at any time used we flattering words, as ye know, nor a cloke of covetousness; God is witness:

And that is that our speech to them is genuine and honest. We’re not using flattering words with people as we seek to serve them.

For

And of course, this little word “for” indicates that Paul is looking back to something that he’s previously stated. And now he’s going to expound on it.

As we’ve already said, verses 5-8 explain the statement Paul made in verse 4 that he and Silas didn’t speak to the Thessalonians as if they were doing so to please men. They spoke in such a way as to please God first and foremost.

used we

And this little phrase is the main idea of verses 5 and 6. Our KJV renders this one Greek word as “used we”. And in the context that makes sense.

But this word actually refers – not to a state of doing – but to a state of being.

•           Paul later in this passage in verse 7 will say that he and Silas were (our word) gentle among the Thessalonian believers (1 Thessalonians 2:7). This was their character.

•           And then Paul states in verse 10 that he and Silas were just and blameless and holy among those believers. Again, this was their character. It was who they were.

So, Paul here in verse 5 is reminding the Thessalonians of what he and Silas were like when they were in their midst. What their character was.

Three Aspects of Apostolic Character

And then Paul reminds the Thessalonians of three aspects of his character – of his and Silas’ being – among them.

And these aspects are denoted in our passage by the words “neither” or “nor”. You see those two words used a total of 5 times in this verse and in verse 6.

neither … flattering words

So, here’s the first aspect of Paul and Silas’ character among the Thessalonians. They were not characterized by the use of “flattering words”.

And I’m going to show you from another passage in the New Testament what it looks like to use flattering words. And then we’ll see a contrast in how Paul himself was in the habit of speaking.

Flattering Words

In Acts 24 we have the account of Paul being held in prison in Herod’s palace in the city of Caesarea. Some unbelieving Jews come down from Jerusalem to accuse Paul before the governor Felix.

And this is how the prosecuting attorney for the unbelieving Jews starts:

Acts 24:2–4 AV 1873

2 And when he was called forth, Tertullus began to accuse him, saying, Seeing that by thee we enjoy great quietness, and that very worthy deeds are done unto this nation by thy providence,

3 we accept it always, and in all places, most noble Felix, with all thankfulness.

4 Notwithstanding, that I be not further tedious unto thee, I pray thee that thou wouldest hear us of thy clemency a few words.

And then after fawning over Felix, Tertullus goes on to accuse Paul of being a troublemaker and one who stirs up riots, etc.

Words That Are Not Flattering

Now, let’s compare that elaborate and flattering and flowery oration given by Tertullus to Paul’s simple introduction to his defense:

Acts 24:10 AV 1873

10 Then Paul, after that the governor had beckoned unto him to speak, answered, Forasmuch as I know that thou hast been of many years a judge unto this nation, I do the more cheerfully answer for myself:

Paul says that he’s assured that Felix is acquainted with the customs and history of the Jews. And then Paul goes on to make his defense.

But do you see the difference?

The first example with Tertullus is full of effuse praise for Felix in an attempt to win his favor.

Paul’s approach wasn’t unpleasant or combative. But neither was it an attempt to win over Felix with excessive praise for the man himself. And as you read on in that narrative, you get the distinct sense that Paul wasn’t trying to please the governor with the governor’s own greatness – Paul was trying to amaze Felix with God’s greatness and the greatness of the gospel.

And this lack of flattery wasn’t Paul’s approach only with government officials. He took this approach with everyone – including these folks in Thessalonica. And we should, too.

as ye know

And the Thessalonians could attest to this fact. They knew that this wasn’t Paul’s way of operating – by flattering people.

Genuine Honest Speech #1 Indication of God-Pleasing Spiritual Service to Others

So, when we give the gospel to people, we need to not be so concerned to impress them – especially with their own supposed wonderfulness. Because the gospel is primarily a humbling message – not one that puffs people up about themselves.

To proclaim the gospel to others while at the same time affirming how great and excellent they are is like mixing godly Christ-exalting words with sensual fleshly music. It’s confusing. The verbal message and what accompanies that message are in dissonance with one another.

When we communicate the gospel to people, let’s not attempt to impress them with themselves. Let’s impress them with God – his holiness and justice and love and forgiveness. Let’s not flatter people.

So, that’s the first indication given to us in this passage of what God-Pleasing Spiritual Service to Others looks like.

And we’ll move on to a second indication of this kind of service. And that’s a total lack of covetousness.

nor a cloke of covetousness

This also happens to be the second aspect of Paul and Silas’ character that they highlight for the Thessalonians. They didn’t speak to the Thessalonians pretending that they were there for spiritual purposes – but really in their hearts they just wanted money.

 The word cloke is translated elsewhere in the KJV as “pretense” or “show”.

•           According to Jesus, this pretense or show is what some hypocritical religious people make when they offer long prayers in front of others. Now, there’s nothing wrong with long prayers – if they’re genuine. But in the mind of some people, the longer the prayer – the better they look. The holier they appear. The more puffed-up they are. The more they despise others. And the less they know their own desperate need of Christ’s forgiveness (Mark 12:40; Luke 20:47).

•           And the main “problem” for these kinds of people who make pretense of their religious exercises … is that Jesus came to this world. And Jesus can see through hypocritical displays of religious devotion. He said that if he had not come and spoken to them, their sin would not have been revealed to them. But since he did come, they now have no cloke – our word here – for their sin (John 15:22). They can’t keep going on pretending like they have no sin.

•           Amazingly, some people actually use the gospel in this pretentious kind of way. They’re not sincere about it. They actually proclaim the truth about Jesus Christ – but they’re not genuine in their motives (Philippians 1:18).

And Paul says that he’s not doing that with the gospel. He wasn’t coming to the Thessalonians trying to hide anything.

But what might someone in his position be tempted to try to hide about his defective character? Paul mentions covetousness.

•           This sin resides in the human heart (Mark 7:22). It deceives us into thinking that the transient stuff of this life is all that there is to our existence (Luke 12:15). So get as much of it as you can! – is the idea.

•           Covetousness is a classic vice of people who don’t know Christ – who haven’t been saved or born-again by placing their faith in Jesus (Romans 1:29; Ephesians 4:19).

•           And because of this, this greedy covetousness needs to be far from those of us who know Christ (Ephesians 5:3). Because you are saints. You’re holy ones. This is not your life anymore.

•           You’re actually told to put this sin of covetousness and others to death in your life as a believer (Colossians 3:5).

•           And true believers need to be warned to avoid so-called Christian teachers who display this characteristic of covetousness in their lives (2 Peter 2:3,14).

And that’s why Paul mentions this here and reminds the Thessalonians that this was not one of his signature characteristics. He was not ministering among those believers in order to make a profit off of them – like some in fact do.

God is witness

And this time, it isn’t just the Thessalonians who are called to testify to the truth of Paul’s assertion – that his character lacked covetousness.

He did call on the Thessalonians to bear witness to the fact that he didn’t seek to impress them with themselves. He didn’t seek to flatter them.

But when it comes to the matter of his not using religion to secretly make money off of these folks, he’s able with a clear conscience to call God to be a witness to this reality.

at any time

And Paul can also say that he didn’t try to flatter and that he didn’t secretly desire money from the Thessalonians at any time. He never did this. Not once.

Total Lack of Covetousness #2 Indication of God-Pleasing Spiritual Service to Others

So, as you serve others, be careful not to do so out of covetousness.

Don’t do it for money. Don’t do it even for self-advancement in any form.

May the words of the hymn be true of your motivations as you serve others:

“I don’t ask for riches.

I don’t ask for fame.

I don’t ask that honor be heaped upon my name.”

And if this is your approach to serving others, you can be assured that it contributes to an overall service that pleases God.

Tying Verse 5 Back to Verse 4

So, to summarize verse 5 – and to tie it back to verse 4 – Paul’s refusal to flatter people corresponds to what he said about his speech at the end of verse 4. He spoke not as seeking to please people. Flattery would have been an attempt to please people. Paul says “I didn’t do it – ever.” And since people would have known whether he did this or not, he affirms this truth by calling them to testify to the truth of what he’s saying about never flattering them.

And then what we just heard about this “cloke of covetousness” and how Paul refused to harbor secret greed in his heart as he came to these people in Thessalonica – that also corresponds to what Paul said at the end of verse 4 about his speaking to the Thessalonians with the sole aim of pleasing God. God alone would have known the motives of Paul. And that’s why Paul called God – and not the Thessalonians – to be a witness to the reality of his claim.

So, a lack of flattery and covertousness are two aspects of God-pleasing apostolic Christian character. And they’re also two indications that your spiritual service to others pleases God.

Verse 6

1 Thessalonians 2:6 AV 1873

6 nor of men sought we glory, neither of you, nor yet of others, when we might have been burdensome, as the apostles of Christ.

Then we come to the third indication of spiritual service to others that pleases God. And that’s the matter of rejecting any sense that you are the star of the show. You ignore any impulse within yourself toward self-aggrandizement. You don’t seek glory for yourself.

nor of men sought we glory

And this is also the third and last aspect of Paul’s character that he mentions in this passage.

It’s the matter of seeking glory.

•           Jesus identifies seeking glory from other humans – rather than from God alone – as an obstacle to true faith (John 5:44).

•           And that’s illustrated in the gospel of John where there were numerous people who believed Jesus – even among the Sanhedrin – the ruling religious and civic body of the Jews. But they didn’t confess Jesus for fear that they would be banished from the synagogue. And here’s John’s summary of what was going on in their hearts – they loved the praise/glory of men more than the praise/glory of God (John 12:42-43).

•           Jesus said that speaking “from yourself” means that you’re seeking your own glory (John 7:18). And he didn’t do that. Instead, he spoke what his Father wanted him to say (John 8:50).

•           Jesus very plainly stated that during his time on earth in the flesh he did not receive honor/glory from men (John 5:41).

And so, Jesus and Paul are our examples in this. We need to seek glory and honor and praise – not from people – but from God alone.

That’s what you’re to be doing.

•           Not seeking popularity with your peers or from the social media internet mob.

•           Not seeking acceptance and respect among people in this community or in your profession at work.

•           And especially not doing these things if it means that you need to somehow sweep God under the rug. As if you need to kind of hide him in the closet of your life so that those from whom you’re seeking glory don’t discover God’s rightful claims on your life and – oh no! – they might stop praising you.

Now, if you’re serving the Lord, others might praise you. They might honor you – especially if they’re valuing your genuine faith in Christ and service to him and for his sake. But the point is that we shouldn’t seek this out. Our aim in life should not be to seek glory and praise and honor from people.

neither of you

Paul didn’t.

And he didn’t seek this glory from any person.

He didn’t seek it from the Thessalonians.

nor yet of others

And he didn’t seek this glory from anyone else with whom he came in contact.

Rejecting Self-Aggrandizement #3 Indication of God-Pleasing Spiritual Service to Others

It’s undeniable that as you attempt to serve others in a spiritual way, you’ll be tempted to seek to make yourself look good. You’ll covet people’s praise. You’ll want to be highly acclaimed and thought-of. You’ll want people to glorify you.

But why are you serving people in the first place? Isn’t it to glorify Christ in your life and theirs?

It’s got to be one or the other. You can’t serve others while seeking your own glory and at the same time seek to glorify Jesus. You need to make a choice.

And you know the right choice. We need to ignore and actively reject any thoughts of our own importance and we need to point the spotlight on Christ and his worthiness of glory and praise and worship.

when we might have been burdensome

Another indication that your service to others is pleasing to God is that it’s accompanied by a denial of your own supposed rights.

[Some Greek manuscripts and Bible versions put the rest of verse 6 into verse 7…]

So here’s the interesting thing. In some ways, Paul and Silas were due some amount of glory or honor by these Thessalonians and those others that Paul mentioned.

Paul says that he and Silas – to mechanically translate the text – “were able to be in heaviness”.

What does that mean?

This word burdensome in our text is the word from which we get the English terms “barometer” and “bariatric”. It has to do with the weight of something.

•           Your work throughout the day is a burden to you. It can feel like a heavy weight upon you (Matthew 20:12).

•           Trying to keep the Old Testament rules was a heavy burden that weighed people down (Acts 15:28). It was an obligation that everyone should be able to bear – if we were sinless. But since we’re all sinners, it’s impossible to carry.

And Paul could have been this way with the Thessalonians. He would have been in his right place to make certain demands of the Thessalonians that they might have tended to view as a weight or a burden.

Paul and Silas could have legitimately sought this kind of “glory” or honor from the believers in Thessalonica.

Why’s that? What would have made it right for Paul and Silas to receive a certain level of honor from the Thessalonians?

as the apostles of Christ

It’s this reality that Paul and Silas were apostles of Christ.

And there seems to be two ways in which this word “apostle” is used in the New Testament.

The Nature of Apostles: The Twelve

First, there were the 12 apostles.

•           Jesus called them originally and chose 12 of them. And that number included Judas Iscariot (Matthew 10:2; Luke 6:13). He was an apostle.

•           Then after he betrayed Jesus and subsequently killed himself, the 11 thought it was important to maintain that number of 12. And so, they prayed to God for direction in choosing a replacement. And they chose a man named Matthias to be the 12th apostle, replacing Judas (Acts 1:26).

•           These men served as witnesses to Jesus’ resurrection (Acts 4:33). They were given the ability to perform miracles that would testify to the veracity of that witness (Acts 2:43; 5:12).

•           Interestingly, near the very end of the Bible in Revelation 21:14 we’re told that the New Jerusalem will have foundation stones containing the names of the 12 apostles of the Lamb.

So, from the beginning of the New Testament all the way to the end, the reality of that number of 12 apostles seems to be important to God.

The Nature of Apostles: Those Who Are Sent

But then this word “apostle” can also be used to describe simply “one who is sent” – typically by God – to someone or to some place (John 13:16).

•           Barnabas is one such individual who’s pictured as not being one of the 12 (Acts 4:36-37; 9:27) but in another place he’s called an apostle (Acts 14:14).

•           The men who were sent to collect the offering from the Corinthians are described as the apostles of the church (2 Corinthians 8:23). And Paul’s not talking about the 12 who were stationed in Jerusalem. He’s just talking about some men who were sent from various churches to oversee that ministry.

•           A man named Epaphroditus is called the apostle of the church in Philippi (Philippians 2:25).

•           Actually, Jesus himself is called the apostle of our profession or confession of faith (Hebrews 3:1). He was sent to us from God.

•           And of course, Silas is implied here as being an apostle in our text when Paul says that he and Silas could have demanded some honor from the Thessalonians – because they (not just Paul) were apostles of Christ.

•           And then there’s Paul himself.

•           He wasn’t one of the twelve – but he’s described by Luke as an apostle (Acts 14:14).

•           Paul refers to himself as an apostle in 9 of his letters (Romans 1:1; 1 Corinthians 1:1; 2 Corinthians 1:1; Galatians 1:1; Ephesians 1:1; Colossians 1:1; 1 Timothy 1:1; 2 Timothy 1:1; Titus 1:1; ).

•           He was an apostle of the Gentiles – one who was specially sent to the non-Jews to give them the gospel (Romans 11:13).

•           In fact, in 1 Corinthians 15:7-9 Paul seems to indicate that he was of the same rank and authority and level of gifting as the 12 … and yet he recognizes that he was not of the 12.

•           He was like one “born out of due time” in terms of his apostleship – which is a term used of premature births. In other words, his apostleship was quite unusual and unexpected. It didn’t quite fit the mold.

•           And yet, Paul was indeed an apostle – which was evident by him being given the ability to perform the signs of an apostle among those to whom he ministered (2 Corinthians 12:12).

So, there were the 12 apostles who mostly seem to have remained in Jerusalem after Christ’s ascension. But there were also other men who were sent by God with the message of the gospel.

In fact, there were actually false apostles (2 Corinthians 11:5,13; 12:11). And the Ephesian church was commended for testing them and finding them to be such (Revelation 2:2). And I don’t think the test was as simple as seeing whether they were one of the 12. And that’s because we see in the New Testament that there were the 12 – but there were more as well who could be labeled as apostles. So, the early church needed to test them.

So, that’s the nature of apostles.

The Rights of Apostles

But why did Paul say that as apostles, he and Silas would have been justified in demanding some honor from the Thessalonians? What kind of honor did Paul have in mind?

First of all, we need to remember that being an apostle was a high calling. The importance of this gift in the early church was great.

•           The gift of apostle is the first spiritual gift mentioned in 1 Corinthians 12:28.

•           Paul calls the apostles the foundation of the church – with Jesus being the corner stone (Ephesians 2:20).

•           And that’s because the apostles were called to make known the previously-hidden reality of Christ (Ephesians 3:5).

•           The list of gifts that the risen and ascended Christ gave to his church begins with this gift of apostles (Ephesians 4:11).

So, apostles were preeminent in the early church and deserved the honor that came with that position.

And from that position of such a high calling, apostles would have been entitled by God to certain provisions from those to whom they ministered. Paul outlines this in 1 Corinthians 9.

•           Apostles had a right to financial support from those to whom they ministered.

•           And related to that, they also had a right not to work a full-time job in addition to their spiritual ministry.

So, what Paul is saying here in 1 Thessalonians 2:6 is that he and Silas could have even demanded that the Thessalonians do right and pay their way and provide the financial support that they needed. This might even indicate that the Thessalonians had not provided for Paul and Silas in this way.

Voluntary Denial of Your Rights #4 Indication of God-Pleasing Spiritual Service to Others

The point is that as we seek to serve others in spiritual ways, if our heart is to please God, then sometimes it’s going to mean that you don’t make full use of your rights.

For example, there are men who are called to be pastors. But the church to which they’re called can’t afford to financially support them fully. In some cases, these men work a second job. In certain ways this isn’t ideal. But neither is it a violation of Paul’s very own example here.

What do you feel like you’re entitled to? What are your rights?

Three meals a day? A good night’s sleep? A stress-free life? Being spoken to courteously and respectfully? Being loved by everyone?

But would you voluntarily lay down those rights if you were convinced that by doing so, you would be able to more effectively minister to others on a spiritual level?

Verse 7

1 Thessalonians 2:7 AV 1873

7 But we were gentle among you, even as a nurse cherisheth her children:

Well, that leads us to our next indication of spiritual service to others that’s also pleasing to God. And it has to do with our gentleness and care toward those to whom we’re ministering.

So – to hearken back to verse 6 – did Paul and Silas demand financial compensation from the believers in Thessalonica?

But

No, they didn’t.

We see this note of contrast here. Paul and Silas could have made demands on those people. But they didn’t.

we were gentle among you

Instead, Paul and Silas were gentle among the Thessalonians. They weren’t demanding their rights. They were – instead – gentle.

This gentleness is the attitude that should characterize every minister of the gospel (2 Timothy 2:24).

Our current social media culture – even among people whose views we would tend to share – loves brash, bold, in-your-face confrontations. We love put-downs and insults – as long as they serve our cause and give our side the upper hand. There’s an abundance of video clips claiming that the arguments contained therein will help you “own” the people on the other side of the argument. Or that in this particular video, the other side of the debate is “completely destroyed”!

And I’m all for thoughtful debate and advancing truth – and there is some of that still happening these days. But the manner in which we engage people on this level is commanded by Paul to be characterized as “gentle”. “The servant of the Lord must not strive – but be gentle unto all men.”

Gentleness might not win debates. It might not win elections. And that really doesn’t matter. Who’s ultimately in charge of who sits on the throne, so-to-speak? It’s God’s business. Plus, Christ’s church has not been called to go into all the world and “win debates/elections.” We’re called to preach the gospel to every creature.

Your gentleness might be mistaken for weakness from the other side. We just need to let them think what they want to think. You follow and obey Christ. And he’ll take care of everything else.

Paul and Silas didn’t demand their rights. They were instead gentle to those believers in Thessalonica.

But what did that look like? Certainly their gentleness was characterized as not demanding money from these new believers. But is there some sort of illustration that would help drive-home the point?

even as a nurse cherisheth her children: 

Here it is. Paul and Silas were like how a nursing mother cares for her infant.

How’s that for gentle? There’s a closeness pictured here. A slowness and intentionality about things. There’s an extreme care exercised toward the baby. The mother is keenly concerned for any little hiccup or discomfort that she can notice in her child. There’s a self-giving pictured in this illustration – self-sacrifice for the good of another.

And to tie this back to our text – what nursing mother is going to demand payment from her infant child? It doesn’t happen that way. And even 40 years after that mother cared for that child in that way, she’s still not demanding payment. It was a labor of selfless love.

And if the picture of the nursing mother doesn’t quite connect with you, then we can note that this word “cherish” here is used in the context of a husband’s relationship to his wife in Ephesians 5:29 to speak of how you care for your own body. No one hates his own flesh but instead he cherishes it. You care for it.

It’s not like anyone can truly have a complete disinterest in what happens to his body. If a fist is flying at your face, your natural tendency is going to be to duck or move or whatever. Because you care about your face and you care about the potential pain that fist is going to cause your body.

And so, this is how Paul and Silas were to the Thessalonian believers. They were careful with them. They were willing to sacrifice for them. They were gentle.

Careful Gentleness #5 Indication of God-Pleasing Spiritual Service to Others

So, this is one more indication that your service to others pleases God. As you minister to them spiritually, your approach is characterized by gentleness. You’re not pushy. You’re not harsh. You’re not impatient. You don’t give up when things get hard.

Even when the one whom you’re serving does the spiritual equivalent of spitting-up … you continue your gentle approach with that one.

Verse 8

1 Thessalonians 2:8 AV 1873

8 so being affectionately desirous of you, we were willing to have imparted unto you, not the gospel of God only, but also our own souls, because ye were dear unto us.

Now, this gentleness was fueled by Paul and Silas’ inward feelings toward these new believers.

so being affectionately desirous of you

Just like a nursing mother would desire to be with her baby, so too Paul and Silas desired to be with the Thessalonians.

Paul and Silas weren’t just “punching the clock” as they ministered to these people. They had a great desire to see them and be with them and serve them for Christ’s sake.

Affection & Longing #6 Indication of God-Pleasing Spiritual Service to Others

And all I want to point out here is that if you’re saying that you’re ministering to someone else on a spiritual level – and yet, you don’t actually want to be with that person or want to see him – then you might need to examine your heart and figure out why.

The apostolic model is far from just leaving a tract and running away. Leaving tracts is a good practice – but obviously you’re desiring a lot more than that for your spiritual service to others. Ideally, you get to the point where your hearts are even knit together with the person that you’re serving.

… And here’s the last indication of a spiritual service that is pleasing to God.

we were willing to have imparted unto you

This affectionate desire led Paul and Silas to be willing to give anything to these believers.

And it wasn’t a matter of mechanical duty. Rather, Paul and Silas were pleased to do this. That’s the meaning of that word “willing”. It’s the kind of attitude that God the Father had toward God the Son – Jesus Christ. He was well-pleased with him.

And so, Paul and Silas were pleased to give two things to the Thessalonians.

not the gospel of God only

First they were pleased to give the gospel of God to the Thessalonians.

But that wasn’t all they were pleased to give to these believers.

but also our own souls

Paul and Silas were also pleased to give even their own souls to them.

The word soul is translated elsewhere in our KJV as life. Paul and Silas were pleased to give their lives for the Thessalonian believers. Could you say that about anyone in your life?

It’s remarkable. Because the truth – as Paul states it in Romans 5:6-7 is that it’s a rare thing for someone to die for a righteous person. Perhaps someone would dare to die for a good person. But Christ died for the ungodly.

And now that Christ had indeed died for these Thessalonians – his servants Paul and Silas were willing to risk and lay down their lives for these believers.

In 1 John 3:16 we’re told that we know love by the fact that Jesus laid down his life for us. And that calls us to lay down our lives for our fellow-believers.

And this was the heart of Paul and Silas toward these believers.

So, Paul and Silas were happy to give the gospel – and even their own lives – to them.

because ye were dear unto us

And what caused Paul and Silas to have this mindset toward the Thessalonians was that those believers had become dear to them.

This is the adjectival form of the word “love”. So, they’re “loved ones”.

In the New Testament gospels, this word exclusively refers to what Jesus is to God the Father. God the Father loves Jesus. He is dear or beloved to the Father.

In Romans 16 which consists of numerous greetings to believers in Rome, Paul references 4 individuals as dear or beloved.

For all of the problems that existed in the Corinthian church, Paul was able to genuinely refer to them as beloved 4 times in 1 Corinthians and 2 times in 2 Corinthians.

And this is how Paul and Silas felt toward the Thessalonians.

Love-Fueled Sacrificial Sharing #7 Indication of God-Pleasing Spiritual Service to Others

And so, that’s the last indication of a spiritual service to others that pleases God. You’re willing to share – even when it’ll cost you something. And this sharing is fueled by love.

Conclusion

So, do you see any of these indications in your life that you’re serving others spiritually in a way that pleases God?

•           Is your speech genuine and honest as you attempt to serve others?

•           Do you totally lack covetousness of any kind in your heart as a motivation for this service?

•           Are you consciously rejecting any desires toward self-aggrandizement as you serve?

•           Are you in the practice of voluntarily denying the full use of your rights in order to serve better?

•           Is your approach to serving marked by a careful gentleness?

•           Do you possess and exhibit affection and even longing for the ones whom you serve?

•           And are you engaged in a sacrificial sharing that’s fueled by genuine love?

Do you find some or all of these realities at work in you as you reach out to others and try to serve them for God’s sake?

If so, rejoice! That’s God working in you his good pleasure – to help you serve others in a way that ultimately pleases him.

1 Thessalonians 2 Commentary Verses 1-4

1 Thessalonians 2 Commentary Verses 1-4: It wasn’t more than a few weeks into our marriage that my wife and I came to truly appreciate the importance of communication.

Because when you’re single, you know pretty well what you’re thinking – at least, most of the time!

But when all of a sudden you experience what the Bible describes as becoming “one flesh” with an individual whose brain you don’t physically share – you need to start talking!

And you need that talking to be effective.

Lori and I had at least one time of very ineffective communication on our honeymoon. We were in Nova Scotia, Canada and it was New Year’s Day. The owner of the cabin that we were staying at told us that the “Polar Bears” were going to be down at the lake that day.

…Well, that sounded pretty exciting to both of us. So we got in the car and started driving to the lake. Lori was expecting to see big white bears. I was expecting to see some crazy guys diving into the ice-cold water. …You can imagine the hilarity that ensued.

On the way to the lake I mused out loud that I thought it wouldn’t be healthy to be a “Polar Bear”. Lori looked at me like I was absolutely crazy and she asked why I would even think of such a silly thing.

Well, you can imagine her surprise when we got there and humans came out of the boat house instead of literal bears.

The communication was mighty ineffective that day. And it highlighted the importance of transmitting thoughts from my mind to the mind of someone else – and doing it effectively.

Effective Gospel Communication & Correct Motives and Methods of Gospel Communication

This effective communication was the desire of the apostle Paul. He wanted to communicate the gospel effectively wherever he preached it.

And so, tonight we’re going to see him reminisce on the effectiveness of his communication of the gospel to those people in the ancient city of Thessalonica.

So, let’s turn to 1 Thessalonians 2 to see that.

We’re going to be studying verses 1-4 of 1 Thessalonians 2 – where we’ll see truths concerning 1) effective gospel communication and 2) correct motives and methods behind our communication of gospel truths to others in our lives.

So, let’s read 1 Thessalonians 2:1-4 and then we’ll get into the details.

1 Thessalonians 2:1–4 AV 1873

1 For yourselves, brethren, know our entrance in unto you, that it was not in vain:

2 but even after that we had suffered before, and were shamefully entreated, as ye know, at Philippi, we were bold in our God to speak unto you the gospel of God with much contention.

3 For our exhortation was not of deceit, nor of uncleanness, nor in guile:

4 but as we were allowed of God to be put in trust with the gospel, even so we speak; not as pleasing men, but God, which trieth our hearts.

So, we’re going to see in these four verses Paul’s example to these Thessalonian believers – and to all believers throughout Church history.

He’s actually going to be reminding the Thessalonians once more of his “entrance in unto” them. And you might think that we’re heard about this already. And that’s because we have!

Paul back in 1 Thessalonians 1:9 mentions this entrance that he and Silas had with the Thessalonians. But in that verse, Paul was talking about the way that the Thessalonians had received Paul and Silas – and how that reception made those believers an example for other Christians of their time.

But the emphasis here in 1 Thessalonians 2:1 is not on the Thessalonians’ example – but of Paul and Silas’ example – in relation to their coming to the Thessalonians.

So, in chapter 1 we saw the example of how to receive gospel ministry. But now in chapter 2 – in the first two verses – we’ll see how to give gospel ministry.

Verses 1 and 2 of chapter two will show us how to communicate the gospel to others in a way that could be characterized as effective – the opposite of which is vanity or futility or worthlessness.

And then we’ll go on in verses 3 and 4 to see correct motivations and methods regarding proclaiming the gospel to others.

In other words, we’re going to be seeing the apostle Paul in verses 3 and 4 speaking about speaking – communicating the gospel effectively with the right motives and methods – in a biblical, apostolic, Pauline manner.

So, that’s what lies ahead of us.

Verse 1

1 Thessalonians 2:1 AV 1873

1 For yourselves, brethren, know our entrance in unto you, that it was not in vain:

So, first of all, in verse 1, we see that Paul wants to remind the Thessalonians of the time when he and Silas came to the Thessalonians and preached the gospel to them.

The Thessalonians could testify to the fact that Paul and Silas’ ministry among them was not empty or worthless.

For yourselves, brethren, know

Paul begins by saying that the Thessalonians themselves knew all about the effectiveness of the gospel ministry of these two men among them. It was evident to them. He wasn’t saying anything that they weren’t already very acquainted with.

And it’s interesting that Paul tells these believers 11 times in this one book something similar to this. He tells them that they should be aware of something already – they should know this or that. And from this fact I think we can gather the really personal nature of this book. Paul knew these believers well enough to know what they knew.

The Thessalonians knew about what kind of people Paul and Silas proved to be when they came to them. They knew about the attacks against Paul and Silas in Philippi. They knew the manner in which Paul and Silas spoke to them – and more.

our entrance in unto you

And so, what the Thessalonians knew in this situation was regarding Paul and Silas’ entrance in unto those believers. They could remember the time when Paul and Silas came to them and ministered the gospel to them.

And as we’ve said already, the Thessalonians gave Paul and Silas an exemplary reception.

But now, Paul wants to speak more about that time in their lives – but from the perspective of the example that Paul and Silas set in that situation.

We’ve heard about the exemplary reception of gospel communication. Now we’ll hear about the exemplary transmission or communication or proclamation of the gospel.

that it was not in vain

And what the Thessalonians themselves would have been able to call to mind was that this ministry of Paul and Silas was not in vain. It wasn’t empty. It wasn’t purposeless.

It’s not as though the Thessalonians were hoping for some spiritual help and direction – but Paul and Silas couldn’t deliver. No – it was effective.

So, how would you know if your approaching someone with the gospel was in vain? Not that the gospel itself is ever vain or empty or worthless. But the way that your audience responds to it can be. And in this passage we’re told that the way that you present the gospel can be in vain, as well.

How did Paul know that his verbal ministry of the gospel to those believers was – whatever the opposite of vain is – powerful, effective, transformative?

He’s going to answer that question in verse 2.

Verse 2

1 Thessalonians 2:2 AV 1873

2 but even after that we had suffered before, and were shamefully entreated, as ye know, at Philippi, we were bold in our God to speak unto you the gospel of God with much contention.

I’m not sure how you would be able to tell if your giving the gospel to someone was without impact or not. But for Paul, the indication was that he was able to speak with boldness to them. To him, that was the key to effective gospel ministry – bold speech.

And this bold speech was not a result of Paul having an extraordinary amount of self-confidence. No – he was bold in his God.

This boldness was amazing and a testimony to God’s help and grace, considering the way that Paul and Silas had just been treated in Philippi – which the Thessalonians also knew about.

Paul and Silas were bold to speak the gospel of God. And they did it in the midst of a lot of opposition/affliction.

we were bold in our God to speak unto you the gospel of God with much contention.

So, first, we have the necessary boldness of the gospel communicator.

Paul’s main idea in this verse is that he and Silas spoke boldly to these Thessalonians. Bold speech is a sign of a gospel ministry that isn’t in vain.

in our God

Their bold speech had its source in the Lord himself. Paul and Silas were bold – they say – “in our God”.

They weren’t self-confident. They were God-confident.

the gospel of God

And of course, the content of their bold speech was the gospel. This is the first of 3 references to the gospel in this chapter alone.

There are numerous topics which you could discuss with your friends and neighbors and co-workers. You could talk about the weather or about politics or about sports or about family. And there’s certainly a time to discuss any and all of those topics.

But unless the conversation comes around to the gospel, your attempted verbal ministry to them is not going to be reaching the ultimate biblical goal. As we engage people for the purpose of verbally ministering to them, we need the Lord to cause the subject of the gospel to come to the fore.

So, a successful productive verbal ministry is evidenced by a boldness, the source of which is God, and the content of which is the gospel.

with much contention

And then the last element Paul mentions of an effective verbal ministry is this matter of it being attended “with much contention”.

I think it’s clear that Paul isn’t saying that he was being contentious with the Thessalonians – though our English translation might lead you to believe that at fist glance.

This word contention is the Greek word αγων from which we get our English word agony. So, what was Paul experiencing that could be described as an agony for him as he was verbally ministering to the Thessalonians?

•           This word is used to describe suffering for Christ in the realm of having enemies who hate you simply for your faith in Jesus (Philippians 1:28-30).

•           This word describes the care that Paul had for believers – especially those whom he wasn’t able to personally visit. He felt this way about them and desired them to be comforted, unified, and full of the knowledge of God (Colossians 2:1-3).

•           This is what Paul called Timothy to do in his life – to contend the good contention or you know the phrase better as “fight the good fight” (1 Timothy 6:12). And then Paul himself at the end of his life could claim that he himself had done just that (2 Timothy 4:7).

•           This entire Christian life is described with this word when the author to the Hebrews urges us to run the race with endurance as we look to Jesus (Hebrews 12:1-2).

This word then describes struggle in the Christian life and our overcoming and prevailing through Christ.

So, Paul says that he spoke the gospel boldly to these Thessalonians with God’s help. And he did it with much care and concern and patience and endurance and self-sacrifice – just like Jesus did when he walked this earth.

but even after that we had suffered before, and were shamefully entreated, as ye know, at Philippi

And what’s all the more remarkable about this bold speech that marked Paul and Silas’ productive and effective time with the believers in Thessalonica is what had happened to Paul and Silas just prior to them coming to that city.

They suffered and were shamefully treated in Philippi before they came to Thessalonica.

This is referring to the events recorded in Acts 16. After Paul cast a demon out of a slave girl, her owners dragged him and Silas into the marketplace where the magistrates and the crowd ended up tearing the clothes off of Paul and Silas and beating them severely with rods. They were then thrown into prison with their feet put in the stocks.

This was shameful treatment. They suffered for their ministry previously.

And when you reach out to others and make attempts to serve them – and then your service is rebuffed or rejected in some way – your tendency is going to be to withdraw and not be willing to put yourself out again.

But that’s not how Paul and Silas responded to the previous rejection of their ministry. They were bold in their God.

So, what’s going to help you when your service is not appreciated by others? When you open your mouth and try to give the gospel to others – but they don’t want to hear it. And maybe they even turn on you. What will keep you going?

We’ve already seen it, but you need to be “bold in [your] God”. Even when you experience shameful treatment and various levels of suffering.

Paul says that the Thessalonians knew how he and Silas suffered in Philippi before coming to them and ministering to them. Paul and Silas served as an example for those Thessalonians to follow in this regard. And they’re a pattern for us to follow 2,000 years later.

So, to summarize what we’ve just seen – in verses 1 and 2 Paul starts to remind the Thessalonians of what they already knew. They knew all about the way that Paul and Silas came to them and proclaimed the gospel. It wasn’t an empty thing. Instead, Paul and Silas had boldness and spoke the gospel to these folks even after they had just experienced a great deal of suffering. Paul and Silas had a bold effective gospel ministry with these folks.

Verse 3

1 Thessalonians 2:3 AV 1873

3 For our exhortation was not of deceit, nor of uncleanness, nor in guile:

And now, in verses 3 and 4 we’re going to see Paul speaking more about his speaking to the Thessalonians.

Paul’s speech included exhortations to them. And those exhortations weren’t conducted with unworthy motives or methods.

In verse 3 Paul says, “For our exhortation was not…” and then he follows that with three motivations that were not present in his heart as he spoke to the Thessalonians.

And then verse 4 positively states how they did speak – when Paul says, “… even so we speak …”

So, verses 3 and 4 contain Paul’s describing how he spoke to the Thessalonians and why he spoke to them that way. It’s Paul’s motivations and methods for communicating the gospel to them the way he did.

For our exhortation

So, Paul first points to a specific aspect of his verbal ministry with the Thessalonians. And that’s the matter of his exhortation.

This word refers to encouragement, urging, begging, comforting, or beseeching – depending on the context. It describes words with a heart and burden behind them and containing motivation to act – with direction and guidance built in to them. That’s what exhortation is.

And Paul wanted to remind the Thessalonians of three ways in which he did not attempt to direct them. His words were intended to be directional. But not out of the following three flawed motives or methods.

was not of deceit

First, Paul didn’t exhort them from deceit. He didn’t attempt to deceive the Thessalonians. And he himself was not acting from a base of being self-deceived or in error.

The short New Testament letter of Jude gives us one motivation for a so-called minister to deceive himself and attempt to deceive others. He calls it the “error of Balaam” (Jude 1:11).

[S] As you might recall, Balaam was a prophet that the king of Moab hired to curse Israel as they were coming into the Promised Land. And at first Balaam seemed orthodox as he kept insisting on saying only what God wanted him to say. That’s a good thing! But later on, Balaam advised the king of Moab to lead the Israelites to sin through enticements to immorality. The Israelites took the bait which led to them committing both immorality and idolatry. And so, God had to punish them – which is exactly the result that the king of Moab wanted originally.

Balaam in public spoke only what God wanted him to say. But privately his counsel was very ungodly. And his motivation was money. Peter tells us that Balaam loved the wages of unrighteousness (2 Peter 2:15). That’s why he did what he did.

In other words, if you’re following “the error of Balaam”, you greatly desire money. And you’ll do whatever it takes to get it. You’ll even use religion – you’ll even use God’s word if it’ll just earn you a few bucks.

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Balaam_Rembrandt_01.JPG

[S] Recently our small groups at Maranatha have considered the story of Naaman the leprous army commander of Syria in the Old Testament. You know the story of this man who came to Israel so that the prophet Elisha could heal him of his skin condition. And Naaman was so thankful for that healing that he wanted to give the prophet money, which Elisha emphatically refused. He didn’t heal for money.

But Elisha had a servant – Gehazi – and he wanted that money. So, with deception, he went and secretly asked Naaman for the money that his master had intentionally turned down. And you know that the Lord gave that deceitful servant Naaman’s leprosy as a punishment for his deception and greed.

You don’t want to be found to be a Balaam or a Gehazi. When you speak the gospel and try to serve others for Christ’s sake, you must not have as your motivation or method deceit. Wherever that’s the case, confess it to the Lord and get honest with him and with those to whom you would minister.

nor of uncleanness

The second negative that Paul mentions concerning his speech is this matter of uncleanness.

•           Sometimes this can refer to something that’s generally unclean or dirty.

•           It can refer to the state of an area in which a dead body had decayed and all of the unpleasant realities associated with that.

•           But quite often this word refers to sexual immorality. It’s lumped in with words like adultery and fornication and lasciviousness (Galatians 5:19).

And this is probably the sense in which Paul is using this word here – sexual uncleanness.

And this was not a motivating factor for the Apostle Paul’s speaking to these Thessalonians. But the sad truth is that sometimes this can become the motivation behind people’s “ministry”.

Some of you may know the name Ravi Zacharias. I’ve from time to time enjoyed his cerebral and philosophical approach to matters of Christianity and apologetics. He passed away in May of 2020.

But recently, the board of Ravi Zacharias International Ministries released a thorough investigation of multiple allegations of abuse against the late preacher. And it’s with great sorrow in my own heart to say that Mr. Zacharias apparently did engage in adultery and sexual and spiritual abuse of women in massage parlors toward the end of his life. And what these women are claiming is that he used spiritual words to excuse his immoral behavior with them.

Brother and sisters, if such a man as Ravi Zacharias fell in this area, we also need to take heed. He was married for 48 years. He was in ministry for four decades. And he fell in this vital area.

God has put many of you in positions of leadership – both notable and perhaps obscure – official and unofficial. And you must never give in to this approach that Paul is condemning here. Do not attempt to speak to and exhort and direct people for your selfish pleasure. Don’t do it for uncleanness.

nor in guile

And the last way in which Paul did not speak to these Thessalonians had to do with guile.

This concept is closely related to the “deceit” that we’ve already spoken of. But if there’s a distinction, it seems that guile here would be referring to more of a secret subtle deception.

In our days, you have the likes of a Benny Hinn or a Kenneth Copeland or some other prosperity gospel preacher. And they’re just out in the open deceiving people. And it really seems like they’re hardly trying to conceal the deception. It’s so blatant and obvious.

But you also have subtle philosophies whose deceptions aren’t all that easy to catch at first glance.

[S] You have nice-looking clean-cut guys like this who are a part of a religious cult that speaks highly of Jesus on the surface. But when you get down to their real theology, they reject him as being “the Son of God” – with all of the ramifications of that Bible phrase.

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Mormon_missionaries.png

[S] I’ve had the sorrow of attending several Catholic funerals in these beautiful and ornate buildings with all sorts of depictions of Scriptural truths. I’d say that the great majority of what’s said in that kind of an occasion is actually true – taken apart from its broader context. But it’s the subtle things that are not said (like justification by faith alone in Christ alone) – or the glaring errors here and there that are mixed in with general truths (like purgatory or works-salvation) – that can be harder to detect.

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Basilica_of_the_National_Shrine_of_the_Immaculate_Conception_Main_church_with_Altar,_pews,_ceiling.jpg

This must not be our motivation as we speak the gospel into people’s lives. We must not harbor in our hearts a secret desire to deceive.

Paul didn’t. He did not deceive – openly or secretly. And he was not motivated by unclean sexual motivations.

Verse 4

1 Thessalonians 2:4 AV 1873

4 but as we were allowed of God to be put in trust with the gospel, even so we speak; not as pleasing men, but God, which trieth our hearts.

Instead, Paul and Silas’ exhortations to those believers were according to their great calling from God. God had entrusted the gospel to them in order for them to give it to others – like the Thessalonians. Paul and Silas were aware of their great responsibility concerning the gospel.

And because they were aware of their responsibility, they were not seeking to please men primarily with their speaking and exhortations. They were instead seeking to please God. Because ultimately, God knows everyone’s heart and Paul and Silas wanted their hearts – and their motives – to be approved by God just as he had approved of these two men to proclaim the gospel.

but … even so we speak

So, Paul and Silas weren’t communicating the gospel with wrong motives and methods. To the contrary, Paul says, “but… even so we speak”.

There’s first of all a contrast – Paul says, “but”. In contrast to the wrong motivations and methods of communicating spiritual truths to others, Paul is going to describe the right motivation. He’s going to describe his motivation to minister verbally.

And he says that he speaks “even so”. And that’s to say that he’s pointing back to something he’s said. He’s drawing a comparison. How does he speak? “Even so” – In this manner…

as we were allowed of God to be put in trust with the gospel

Paul spoke as one who was allowed of God to be put in trust with the gospel.

The preaching of the gospel was entrusted to Paul. God gave him the duty and responsibility to proclaim the message of Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection to all people – and especially to the Gentiles – to non-Jews.

And while we don’t have that same exact ministry entrusted to us in exactly all the same details, we do have our Great Commission from our Lord Jesus Christ.

Our Commission

Matthew 28:18–20 AV 1873

18 And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. 19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: 20 teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

This is what God has entrusted to you. Go. Disciple all nations. Baptize them. Teach them. Christ is with us.

Will you go? Maybe not overseas – but maybe to your next work assignment or to your kid’s soccer practice or to your family reunion or maybe across the street to go talk to your neighbor or to the store in town to see if God might cause you to cross paths with someone who needs the gospel. Will you go for Christ’s sake?

Are you engaged in disciple-making? At home? At school? At work? At church here?

We haven’t had any baptisms in a while in this church. Are we going to do that? Are there some whose next step of obedience to Christ involves that public testimony to their total faith in Jesus? Of their dying with him and being raised with him to a new life?

And are you teaching? I am right now! Hopefully you were aware of that fact. But are we being taught ourselves so that we may teach others?

Do you know Christ’s presence with you as you do these things?

You’ve been entrusted with the gospel. It’s a high calling.

And so, how in the world would we ever give in to those base motivations that Paul spoke of in verse 3? Open or secret deceit. Immoral uncleanness. No – that’s not how we speak. We speak as those who have been entrusted with an incredibly precious and powerful message from God himself.

we were allowed of God

So, how did Paul come to be entrusted with this gospel message?

He was “allowed of God” to be entrusted with that message.

But “allowed” in our modern English usage sounds so passive. And that’s not what Paul is really communicating. It’s not that God passively half-heartedly after a lot of coaxing and persuasion finally allowed Paul to preach the gospel.

The idea is that God approved Paul’s doing this. He put his stamp of approval on Paul’s gospel ministry. God examined Paul and tested him and saw fit to entrust this man with this ministry.

On the basis of the Great Commission that we just considered, you are approved by Jesus Christ. He’s the one with all power in heaven and on earth. And he has approved you to proclaim the good news that saves people from their sins.

And so, again, how could you ever resort to wicked and carnal motivations for speaking to others – ministering verbal truth to them? Your motivation is that God in heaven chose you to bear this message to whomever you come in contact with. Or at least that’s what your motivation should be!

So, that’s the positive side of this. How did Paul speak? How did he verbally minister to others – to the Thessalonians, in particular?

We already saw that negatively he did not operate on the basis of those three unworthy motivations or methods in verse 3…

Positively, Paul’s main motivation in the way he spoke was based on what he knew God had ordained for him – that he would be entrusted with proclaiming the gospel to others because God had approved him to do this.

But then Paul needs to swing back around to the negatives again.

not as pleasing men, but God

Because even as you’re speaking for Christ’s sake and with God’s full approval, there can be a temptation to do it wrong.

Our temptation can be to attempt to please men. That can become our focus.

When you’re talking to a neighbor about the gospel, is it hard for you to be honest about what the Bible teaches concerning the eternal torment of those who resolutely reject Jesus Christ in this life?

I’m sure anyone who teaches or preaches God’s word feels this pull to please people in our communication.

On a personal level, when I really sat down and looked at 1 Thessalonians after deciding to teach through it, it struck me that in my first few message I was going to have to say something about election. And the temptation was to fear what people might think about what I say about that doctrine. But I tried to say just what God has said about it – and you haven’t kicked me out yet!

And I know that we’re making our way to chapter 4 in this book where the matter of the Rapture is dealt with. And I know where our church officially stands on that topic, but maybe some folks here are not in agreement. I plan to take the same approach with that matter as I did with election. What has God said? Let’s figure that out together and agree with God on that matter and any others that arise.

…What if you think that someone you know is close to accepting Christ. And he asks you a question about his lifestyle and how that would need to change if he fully trusted Jesus? “If I trust Christ, will I have to give up X?” In that moment, you will be tempted to try to please that person. You’ll be tempted to cut corners and smooth-out rough edges to what it means to truly be a disciple of Christ.

So, this was not Paul’s approach. It’s not what he gave in to. His speech was not aimed at pleasing people.

To be sure, Paul wasn’t making it his goal to displease people! That’s not what he means here.

But rather, he made it his goal – when he spoke – to please God foremost and above all else.

There’s a southern saying that goes, “If momma ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.”

And, not to be irreverent at all – but that truth carries over to God. If God isn’t pleased, what’s the point? If God isn’t pleased, who cares what people think?

If your speaking is not aimed at pleasing God in heaven – God your Father – God the creator of men – even the men that you and I tend to fear – if your goal is not to please God in what you say, then what are you doing?

The people who are spiritually-minded aren’t going to be happy with your ministry. And the ones who want you to tickle their ears and say what they want to hear – they themselves won’t ultimately be pleased even.

We must make it our goal as we attempt to verbally minister to people to please God first and foremost.

God … trieth our hearts

And we do this because God tries our hearts.

Tries” is the same word that was translated “allowed” back at the beginning of this verse.

Who determines if your motives are pure? Who’s the one who is able to make judgement calls like that?

It’s God who alone can accurately judge our motives. He’s the one who tries our hearts – not the physical organ that pumps blood throughout our body – but that inward person of us that makes us who we truly are. The body is important and it certainly is a part of who we are. But beyond the shade of our skin color or the color of our hair and eyes or where and when and into which culture we were born, we all have this inner person with inner motives that influence what we do.

And as Paul tells the Corinthian church in 2 Corinthians 10:18, it’s not the person who commends himself who is approved. It’s the one whom the Lord commends who is ultimately approved by God.

God approves us to proclaim the gospel of his Son. And he tests and – we hope – approves our motives and methods in that verbal communication of gospel truth to others.

Conclusion

So, would you characterize your verbal ministry to others – your sharing of the gospel with them – as effective and bold? Or would you honestly have to say that your attempts to communicate the gospel to others have been vain or empty or ineffective?

Have boldness in your God and recognize and truly believe that he is able to give you all the boldness and effectiveness that you need to make known his gospel to others.

And what about the motives behind your communicating spiritual truths to others? Is your sole focus on pleasing God with that kind of service? Or are you motivated by deception and uncleanness? Are you motivated by the smile and approval of people?

Recognize that it’s God himself who has approved you to go and make disciples and teach. He’s with you. He judges your motives.

So, let’s look to him for help and grace as we attempt to verbally communicate the gospel to others all around us for his name’s sake.

1 Thessalonians 1 Summary

In the last two messages, we’ve explored the founding of the church in the ancient Greek city of Thessalonica.

And now finally, the moment we’ve all been waiting for! We’re actually starting into the book of 1 Thessalonians itself.

And I anticipate picking up the pace in the remaining messages. But for this message we’re going to be exploring 1 Thessalonians 1:1-4. So, let’s read that together before we get into the details.

1 Thessalonians 1:1–4 AV 1873

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.

2 We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers; 3 remembering without ceasing your work of faith, and labour of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the sight of God and our Father; 4 knowing, brethren beloved, your election of God.

Now, I feel the need to warn you that the beginning of this message is a lot of details and maps and background information – as you might expect from the first message studying through a book.

But when we get past the beginning of verse 1, I think that all of our hearts will be warmed with the message that God has for us there.

So – endure the first verse with me as we fill our minds with information about this book!

1 Thessalonians 1 Summary Verse 1

Because it’s in verse 1 that we see the common greeting that Paul gives in every one of his letters.

1 Thessalonians 1:1 AV 1873

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.

This is how ancient letters were formatted.

Our modern letters begin with the recipient and end with the author, typically. But in ancient Roman correspondence, the letter would begin first with the author and then the recipient and then some sort of greeting, that Paul customizes in order to include important theological realities.

1 Thessalonians 1 Summary Paul, and Silvanus, and Timotheus – Three Authors, One Writer

So, first, we’re given the authors of this letter – Paul, and Silvanus, and Timotheus.

Note that there are three authors given rather than one – even though Paul was probably the only one who physically wrote this letter.

And so, as we read through this letter, we need to keep in mind that although Paul is the one writing it, these two other brethren also share the sentiments that he’s communicating to this church.

And ultimately, because of the New Testament teaching that all Scripture is given by inspiration of God (2 Timothy 3:16), it’s actually God himself who’s speaking through the pen of the apostle Paul. And not just to this one local church in ancient Thessalonica – but to all of his people throughout the ages.

1 Thessalonians 1 Summary Paul / Saul

So, the first author mentioned is Paul.

[S] For several chapters of Acts, Paul is known by his given name of Saul. But it was apparently during his first missionary journey with Barnabas that he began being called Paul (Acts 13:9).

[https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/e/e1/Rembrandt_-_Apostle_Paul_-_WGA19120.jpg]

[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Rembrandt_-_Apostle_Paul_-_WGA19120.jpg]

And so, the two main names that we see throughout Acts chapters 13 and 14 and 15 are Paul and Barnabas. That is, until the end of Acts 15 where Paul and Barnabas part ways over a difference in one aspect of their philosophy of ministry (Acts 15:38).

1 Thessalonians 1 Summary Silas / Silvanus

And that’s where we see this man named Silas enter the picture (Acts 15:40). He’s referred to here in 1 Thessalonians 1:1 as Silvanus.

Apparently he’s like Paul who also went by “Saul” or Simon who also went by “Peter” or John/Mark – in that he has two names that he goes by. It could be that his Roman name is Silvanus and his Greek name is Silas or something like that, as well.

Now, just a little bit of background on Silas. Because the Thessalonian believers would have known the following about him as well.

We first see him mentioned in relation to the so-called Jerusalem Council that was convened over whether Gentile converts to Christ needed to be circumcised or not.

The church in Jerusalem ended up sending Silas with Paul and Barnabas back to Antioch with their decision. Silas is described as one of the “chief men among the brethren” in Jerusalem (Acts 15:22). He was also a prophet (Act 15:32) and a preacher (2 Corinthians 1:19).

As Silas was ministering in Antioch, Paul decided to take him on Paul’s second missionary journey (Acts 15:40). And on that journey, Silas was with Paul in Thessalonica (Acts 17:4).

And that’s at least what these believers would have known about this man named Silas.

1 Thessalonians 1 Summary Timothy

And then the last co-author of 1 Thessalonians is Timothy or Timotheus.

He’s listed as co-author with Paul of six of the New Testament epistles (2 Corinthians 1:1; Philippians 1:1; Colossians 1:1; 1 Thessalonians 1:1; 2 Thessalonians 1:1Philemon 1:1). And then of course we have an additional two letters in the New Testament where Timothy is not the co-author of the Apostle Paul – but rather he is the recipient of those letters (1 Timothy 1:2; 2 Timothy 1:2).

Timothy was picked up by the Apostle Paul and Silas almost immediately as they started Paul’s second missionary journey.

Now, Timothy was not mentioned in the record of the founding of this church is Thessalonica back in Acts 17. And yet, somehow these Thessalonian believers came to know him. And so, his name being mentioned wasn’t inappropriate. It’s not as if anyone in the church who received this letter would have said, “Who’s Timothy?!

[S] So, why was Timothy not mentioned in Acts 17?

I think what happened is that Timothy stayed behind in Philippi after Paul and Silas left there to visit Thessalonica. Then, once Paul and Silas had to leave Thessalonica, Timothy came behind them and ministered for a short while to those new believers in that city in Paul’s absence. And after that, all three of them ended up in Berea (Acts 17:14).

https://goo.gl/maps/eMuTZSimC1grkKtTA

And so, we have Paul and Silas and Timothy co-authoring this letter.

1 Thessalonians 1 Summary Where Was 1 Thessalonians Written?

Now, let’s talk about where this letter was likely written.

And to do this, we need to consider a brief timeline of the start of Paul’s second missionary journey.

[S] These three men – Paul, Silas, and Timothy – start where they find Timothy in Derbe/Lystra/Iconium (Acts 16:1).

https://goo.gl/maps/9fkrgvUYjxQJUmbY8

Then we’re told that they move on through various towns.

[S] They go through Phrygia and Galatia because the Holy Spirit wouldn’t allow them to go to Asia (Acts 16:6).

By the way, the Asia referenced in the New Testament is not what we think of as Asia. Today, when you talk about Asia you’re referring to the continent that contains China and Mongolia and Russia and Iran, etc. In Paul’s day, Asia was a relatively small area of southwestern modern-day Turkey that you can see from the map that Paul and Silas and Timothy skirt to the north.

And so this group goes through Mysia (Acts 16:7).

Then they arrive at Troas (Acts 16:8).  And it’s there where Paul gets the Macedonian call (Acts 16:9).

[S] So, these three men all go to the island of Samothrace, then to Neapolis (Acts 16:11), and then finally to Philippi (which is not on that map, but is just 10 miles west of Neapolis) (Acts 16:12).

It’s in Philippi where Paul casts out the demon from the servant girl. And then her masters apprehend only Paul and Silas – not Timothy (Acts 16:19). Only Paul and Silas end up in jail (Acts 16:25). And they apparently leave that city – just the two of them – Timothy stays behind.

Because next we see just Paul and Silas in Thessalonica (Acts 17:4).

[S] Then they’re run out of that city and they go to Berea (Acts 17:10). When the Thessalonian Jews discovered that Paul and Silas were in Berea, they came there too and ran them out again.

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After Timothy came to Berea, the Christians there send only Paul away to Athens, leaving Silas and Timothy in Berea (Acts 17:14). Paul sent a message for Silas and Timothy to meet him in Athens (Acts 17:15).

[S] And it seems that Silas and Timothy eventually came to Paul in Athens, but then they sent Timothy back to Thessalonica to see how the believers there were doing (1 Thessalonians 3:1-2).

1 Thessalonians 3:1–2 AV 1873

1 Wherefore when we could no longer forbear, we thought it good to be left at Athens alone; 2 and sent Timotheus, our brother, and minister of God, and our fellowlabourer in the gospel of Christ, to establish you, and to comfort you concerning your faith:

[S] So, after Paul preaches in Athens he and probably Silas go to Corinth (Acts 18:1). And finally Timothy catches up with Paul and Silas in Corinth (Acts 18:5). And so, they were all there together in Corinth for a year and a half.

https://goo.gl/maps/tq9JGaWET3jfK6oDA

And the point of all this is that that’s the first time that all three men have plenty of time to write a letter to the church in Thessalonica.

And so, this is likely where Paul and Silas and Timothy wrote this letter to the church in that city where they were so unceremoniously kicked out.

This letter was written from Corinth in all likelihood.

1 Thessalonians 1 Summary When Was 1 Thessalonians Written?

Alright, so now let’s talk about when 1 Thessalonians was written. And thankfully this answer takes a lot less explanation.

[S] According to Acts 18:12 while Paul and Silas and Timothy were in Corinth for over a year, this man named Gallio was the deputy or the proconsul of Achaia.

Acts 18:12 AV 1873

12 And when Gallio was the deputy of Achaia, the Jews made insurrection with one accord against Paul, and brought him to the judgment seat,

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lucius_Junius_Gallio_Annaeanus

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/1/1f/Delphes_Gallion.jpg

Archaeology tells us that Gallio was proconsul of Achaia from A.D. 51–52. This date is one of the firmly established dates in Acts. It’s established from what’s called the “Delphi Inscription” which was discovered in the late 1800s and is now housed in the French School of Archaeology in Athens, Greece. (W. Dittenberger, e.d., Sylloge Inscriptionum Graecarum 2.3 no. 8).

And so, it’s really likely that the letter of 1 Thessalonians is to be dated A.D. 51–52. This would make this book one of the earliest – if not the earliest – letter that Paul wrote that we have in the Bible.

So, to summarize what we’ve seen so far…

•     We have the authors of this letter – Paul, Silas, and Timothy.

•     We have the likely place this letter was written – Corinth.

•     We have a probable date range during which it was written – AD 51-52.

1 Thessalonians 1 Summary unto the church of the Thessalonians

And we’ve already pretty-much established this, but next we see the recipients of this letter.

It’s the church of the Thessalonians. And we saw how this church was started in Acts 17:1-9 already.

And it might be a few months or so after Paul and Silas left Thessalonica that they wrote this letter along with Timothy.

And amazingly the church still stands. Despite the persecution. Despite being deprived of their spiritual father and mentors – Paul and Silas. Jesus Christ has promised to build his church (Matthew 16:18) and that’s exactly what he did in Thessalonica. And he continued to build it – even in the absence of their human leadership and in the midst of persecution.

So, what does it take for a church to stand in this midst of such stress and turmoil? What has it taken for you to stand through all of the trials in your life?

Well, in the rest of verse 1, Paul gives us two two factors that are directly responsible for you and me and every genuine believer and every genuine church persevering to the end – despite hardships and trouble.

1 Thessalonians 1 Summary in God the Father and in the Lord Jesus Christ

The first factor that causes us to stand is that we are in God the Father and in the Lord Jesus Christ.

1 Thessalonians 1 Summary in God

Believers are in God.

Later on in this letter we’ll hear Paul recall his difficult time in Philippi (1 Thessalonians 2:2). But despite the beatings and the persecution and the threat to his very life – he says that he was bold to speak the truth to these Thessalonians. And he says that his boldness was in God.

God was the source of Paul’s boldness. God is the source of any strength we might have in the midst of difficulties and struggles.

Further, regarding believers being in God… The Apostle John says in 1 John 4:15-16 that the one who confesses Jesus as the Son of God has God dwelling in him. God indwells you if you’re a believer. That’s why your life has changed since trusting Christ.

But even more amazing – and much harder to understand – is what he goes on to say there. Not only does the believer have God living in him – but if you’re a believer, you are actually living in God.

The church of the Thessalonians might reside in that ancient city of Thessalonica. But Paul doesn’t say, “to the church in Thessalonica.” That’s not their ultimate dwelling place. It’s not their final abode. Their final abode and yours is God. You spiritually dwell in him.

1 Thessalonians 1 Summary the Father

And he’s not only God to us. He’s also our Father.

And part of God’s fatherhood toward us that keeps us standing in the mist of trials and difficulties is the truth that’s revealed in Jude 1:1 where Jude there says that we are sanctified or progressively made holy by or in God the Father.

And because of that, trials actually are the means by which God does this sanctifying work. He doesn’t intend to destroy us by sending hard things into our lives. Our Father actually intends to make us more holy – more like his Son.

1 Thessalonians 1 Summary and in the Lord Jesus Christ

And so, it’s that Son to which Paul now turns our attention.

Believers are in God the Father. And we’re also in the Lord Jesus Christ.

[S] The New Testament relates to us that in the Lord:

•     We are no longer living dark lives (Ephesians 5:8).

•     Children are able to obey their parents (Ephesians 6:1; Colossians 3:20).

•     We find strength to withstand the devil (Ephesians 6:10-11).

•     We are empowered to truly serve others (Ephesians 6:21; Colossians 4:7).

•     We find true joy (Philippians 3:1).

•     We can be harmonious with our fellow believers (Philippians 4:2).

•     Wives find the ability to submit to their imperfect husband (Colossians 3:18).

•     And as Paul says later on in this letter, in the Lord alone are we able to stand fast (1 Thessalonians 3:8; Philippians 4:1).

[S] Furthermore, in Jesus:

•     We are redeemed from sin (Romans 3:24).

•     We are alive unto God (Romans 6:11).

•     We have the gift of eternal life (Romans 6:23).

•     We are no longer under condemnation (Romans 8:1).

•     We are loved by God (Romans 8:39).

•     And we are able to love one another (1 Corinthians 16:24) because we are all one (Galatians 3:28).

•     You wouldn’t know it, but right now we are actually seated in heavenly places in Jesus (Ephesians 2:6).

•     And when the troubles of life start to overwhelm, God is able to keep our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:7) through whom he supplies all of our needs (Philippians 4:19).

So, we are – as the Thessalonian believers were – helped to stand in the midst of all of our struggles and trials because we are in God the Father and in the Lord Jesus Christ.

1 Thessalonians 1 Summary Grace be unto you, and peace

And since we are in God and in Jesus, we have this grace and peace to help us to withstand the difficulties in life.

[S] Paul is both praying that God would give the Thessalonians grace as well as stating that they already have this grace.

•     It’s this grace that enables us to serve the Lord in the ways that he has called us to serve (Acts 14:26).

•     It’s this grace that saves and justifies us (Acts 15:11; Romans 3:24).

•     By grace we are able to stand (Romans 5:2).

•     This grace abounds in our lives even when we fall and sin (Romans 6:1).

•     And it’s actually this grace that guarantees that sin doesn’t ultimately have dominion over us (Romans 6:14).

•     It’s also this grace by which we have received whatever gifts we have to serve one another (Romans 12:6).

So, you can see how having this grace initially helps us to stand for the Lord when life is hard – like it was for the Thessalonians – and how believers need more and more of this grace from God.

[S] Very similarly, we both already have – and yet need still more of – this peace from God.

•     Jesus himself gives us his peace which then enables our hearts to not be troubled even in trials and hardships (John 14:27).

•     It’s in Christ that we have this peace – though in the world we have tribulation (John 16:33).

•     Three times after Jesus rose from the dead and met with his disciples this was his message to them – “peace to you all” (John 20:19,21,26).

•     We enjoy this peace because we were justified by faith in Jesus (Romans 5:1).

•     As we believe the God of hope, he fills us with this peace (Romans 15:13).

•     And as we refuse to be anxious – but instead trust the Lord with gratitude – his peace keeps our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:7).

•     Paul then ends this letter of 1 Thessalonians with a prayer for these believers that the God of peace would sanctify us in every way (1 Thessalonians 5:23).

God gives grace and God gives peace because we are in God the Father and in the Lord Jesus Christ. These realities are what cause a church – and its individual believers – to stand in the midst of affliction and deprivation.

1 Thessalonians 1 Summary Verse 2

Now, this reality that God protects and strengthens his people in the ways that we have just rehearsed leads Paul to give thanks for these believers, starting in 1 Thessalonians 1:2.

And so, we’re now going to see in verses 2-4 three actions to prompt you to give thanks for fellow believers.

1 Thessalonians 1:2 AV 1873

2 We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers;

1 Thessalonians 1 Summary We give thanks to God

And we begin with the simple observation that it is right to give thanks for your fellow believers.

If you were honest with yourself, how much of your mindset concerning your fellow-believers could be characterized by thankfulness? In the past week, have you entertained thoughts of gratitude and thankfulness – simply for other genuine Christians?

On numerous occasions the Apostle Paul expressed a thankful heart for fellow believers (Acts 28:15; Romans 1:8; 16:4; 1 Corinthians 1:4; Ephesians 1:16; Philippians 1:3; Colossians 1:31 Thessalonians 2:13; 2 Thessalonians 1:3; 2:13; Philemon 4) He thanked God even for the troubled Corinthian church! Because although they were very troubled, they were still genuine believers!

And if Paul says later in this letter, “in every thing give thanks” (1 Thessalonians 5:18) then you know that it’s God’s will that you be thankful for your fellow-believers.

And of course, the thanksgiving needs to be directed to God.

Because he’s the one who has done all of the “heavy lifting.” He has saved both your fellow-believers and you. He is the one worthy of our offerings of praise and thanks for the genuine work that he has done – both in your heart and in the hearts of other Christians.

And he wants this from you. He wants to receive thanks. This is his will concerning you.

1 Thessalonians 1 Summary always for you all

And then, this thanksgiving is to be marked by universals. Maybe you could describe it as “profuse” or “lavish.”

Paul gave thanks always for these believers.

Now, of course, he’s not claiming that there wasn’t a second in his life wherein he wasn’t verbally thanking God for these folks. But he is saying that constantly he was engaged in this behavior of thanking God for them. It was his heart’s attitude. It was his default mode.

He gave thanks always for them.

And then Paul gave thanks – he says – “for all of you.”

His thanksgiving is not exclusive. He doesn’t pick and choose whom he is going to be thankful for based on some contrived motivation. If someone was a genuine believer, Paul was going to thank God for that one.

So, does this characterize your attitude toward other believers?

Maybe you recognize that it doesn’t – that you really do not thank the Lord very much at all for your fellow-Christians.

If that’s the case, then Paul is going to lay out his own approach to doing this in order to be a model for you. He is going to give you three actions that prompted him to give thanks to God for genuine fellow-believers in Christ.

1 Thessalonians 1 Summary making mention of you in our prayers

The first of these actions is simply to pray for them – to make mention of them in your prayers.

The word mention refers to memory. So, the first step in being thankful to God for your fellow-believers is to simply remember them.

Later in this letter we’ll see Paul say that Timothy had visited the Thessalonians and then returned to Paul. And when Timothy returned, he was able to relate to Paul and Silas that the Thessalonians, “had good remembrance of [them] always, desiring greatly to see [them]” (1 Thessalonians 3:6). The Thessalonians had fond memories of Paul and Silas.

When we’re apart from one another throughout the week, you can make it a practice to remember your fellow-believers. That’s simple enough.

And you do this remembering as you actually pray to God. Because Paul and Silas and Timothy are remembering these Thessalonian believers in “in [their] prayers.

So, making mention of your fellow believers as you pray to the Lord is one actions that will prompt you to give thanks to God for them.

1 Thessalonians 1 Summary Verse 3

We see the second action to prompt thankfulness for your fellow believers in verse 3.

1 Thessalonians 1:3 AV 1873

3 remembering without ceasing your work of faith, and labour of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the sight of God and our Father;

1 Thessalonians 1 Summary remembering

Again, we see the mental aspect involved in this process of thanking God for genuine Christians. Paul and Silas and Timothy were prompted to thank God for the Thessalonians as they were remembering – which is related to our word “mention” in the last verse.

And they are constantly engaged in this remembering. They’re doing it without ceasing.

And they are doing this remembering in the sight of God and our Father at the end of the verse. Again, they’re doing this in the realm of prayer.

So, what exactly are Paul and Silas and Timothy remembering about the Thessalonians? Three activities.

1 Thessalonians 1 Summary your work of faith

First, Paul remembered the Thessalonians’ work of faith.

[S] Now, often in the New Testament, faith and work are used as contrasting ways in which people seek to be saved.

•     Paul concludes in Romans 3:27-28 that you and I are justified – we’re declared righteous – by God on the basis of faith alone apart from the works of the law.

•     Paul recalled in Galatians 2:16 that there was a time he had to remind even the Apostle Peter that we are justified by faith apart from works of the law.

•     When we received the Spirit, it was by faith and not by the works of the law (Galatians 3:2).

•     When God has chosen to work miracles among his people, he does it through their faith rather than through the works of the law (Galatians 3:5).

•     When a person is saved, the foundation of that salvation is twofold – that person repents from dead works and has faith in God (Hebrews 6:1).

So, that’s all true. A person is not saved by works, but by faith in Christ.

[S] And yet, there is a work that is of faith.

•     In Revelation 2:19, Jesus commends the church in Thyatira for their works which are accompanied by their faith. These two concepts don’t have to be at odds with one another.

•     James says that faith without works is dead (James 2:14-24). If you say that you have faith but it’s not showing in your life that’s a serious problem.

•     Jesus wants our light to shine to other people so that they would see our good works and glorify God (Matthew 5:16).

[S] And that’s how the New Testament describes this kind of work – not the kind that’s an attempt to justify yourself with God. But that’s a response to your being justified. That kind of work is called “good.” It’s a good work – motivated by your faith.

•     Jesus Christ gave himself for us so that we would be engaged in these good works (Titus 2:14).

•     The Lord wants us constantly engaged in these good works which benefit others (Titus 3:8).

•     Engaging in this kind of work leads to fruitfulness in your life (Titus 3:14).

•     One purpose for us gathering together as we do as a church is to provoke one another unto these kinds of works (Hebrews 10:24).

And so, this is what Paul was remembering about these Thessalonian believers. They were engaged in deeds and actions that were motivated by their new faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. The Thessalonians were not trying to justify themselves through these works. Rather, they were engaged in these works because they had already been justified.

…Can you take a moment and think of one other believer in this assembly or elsewhere who is engaged in this kind of work? That’s what you ought to remember about that person. And that will motivate you to give thanks to God for that brother or sister.

1 Thessalonians 1 Summary and labour of love

Another action of the Thessalonians that fueled Paul’s thankfulness for them was that he remembered their labour of love.

•     Paul later in this letter reminds the Thessalonians of his own labor – by which he is referring to the fact that he literally physically worked when he was in Thessalonica so that he wouldn’t have to ask them to support him (1 Thessalonians 2:9).

•     Paul actually thought that this aspect of his ministry among them was so important that he reminded them again of his laboring with his hands in his second letter to this church (2 Thessalonians 3:8).

•     But he also uses this word in a metaphorical sense to speak of his spiritual labor among them (1 Thessalonians 3:5).

And so, I think that Paul is referring to both of these aspects in relation to the Thessalonian believers. They labored – both physically and spiritually.

And this labor was not motivated out of sheer duty. It wasn’t done grudgingly. It wasn’t executed with a desire for self-glorification.

The Thessalonians’ labor was motivated by their love.

•     This is how it works in families that are functioning according to God’s design. They labor for one another in love.

•     Some of you know what it’s like to have someone do something for you. And that action in itself might be very helpful to you. And yet, it was done in a way that indicates that the person is not doing it out of love.

•     As many of you know, I work in the Business Office at Maranatha. And we often have students come in with questions. And if we’re not thinking right, we can approach these questions as purely transactional. We take your money. We give you a receipt. We bid you farewell.

•     But that’s not the kind of approach we ought to take in ministry. And since life is ministry, it’s not the kind of approach we ought to take ever with anyone.

•     From the time we rise out of bed to the time we lay our head on our pillows, our labor needs to be motivated by genuine love.

This is the kind of labor that Paul remembered the Thessalonians being engaged in. And it caused his heart to well up with gratitude to God for these believers.

Again, I ask, can you think of anyone in this church or anywhere else who models this kind of labor that’s fueled by their love for others? Will you thank God for this person or these people?

1 Thessalonians 1 Summary and patience of hope

Then the third and last activity of these Thessalonian believers that prompted Paul to give thanks to God for them was their patience of hope.

Now, when you think of the English word patience you might get the idea of some hungry fellow waiting at the table a few minutes before lunch. But he’s not fussing. He’s not angry. He’s just calmly waiting patiently for his dear wife to bring him the delicious food that she made for him. He’s so patient.

You might get that idea! But that concept is actually described by another Greek word – not the one translated as patience in this passage.

[S] In this passage, this word refers to endurance or remaining under some pressure.

It’s what’s required of the athlete who has played his hardest for 90 minutes of a game and it’s just gone into overtime.

This endurance is something that you can’t purchase. It doesn’t come in a pill. Rather, the Bible describes how to obtain this character quality. And it’s not for the faint of heart.

•     We develop endurance as a result of tribulations or trials – difficult things (Romans 5:3).

•     We develop this endurance by waiting (Romans 8:25).

•     Endurance comes through affliction and suffering (2 Corinthians 1:6).

•     Paul says to this Thessalonian church in his second letter to them that this endurance comes through persecutions and tribulations (2 Thessalonians 1:4).

•     When your faith is tried – that’s when this attribute of endurance is worked in you (James 1:3).

•     When you think of this character quality, think of Job whose struggles are recorded for us in the Old Testament (James 5:11). Think of what he suffered. Think of how he suffered – not perfectly, not sinlessly, but he didn’t quit. He endured these hardships.

So, the difficult things you experience are all – no doubt – intended by God to work this quality in you.

But as you consider the list of realities that God puts into your life in order to work endurance in you, you might kind of despair.

•     Trials?

•     Waiting?

•     Affliction?

•     Suffering?

•     Persecutions?

•     Your faith being tested?

•     Job-like pain and anguish?

How can anyone actually endure these things?

[S] We can endure these things only because we have hope. We have confident expectation of good things to come for us. The Thessalonians’ patience or endurance was accompanied by hope.

In fact, endurance is the very path to hope. It works like this:

•     We glory in our trials – because we know that trials work endurance, and endurance works experience, and experience works hope in us (Romans 5:3-4).

•     God has given us the Old Testament with all of its examples and illustrations for us – at least in part – so that we would be comforted by what’s written in it and be encouraged to endure. And the ultimate goal of all of that is that we would have hope (Romans 15:4).

So, the Thessalonian believers had this endurance within them – an endurance brought about by their confident expectation – their hope – even and especially in the midst of their sufferings. And this caused Paul to give thanks to God for them.

…Can you identify anyone in this church who has been through sufferings? …If you can’t, you need to get to know us better.

In this assembly:

•     We have had people battle cancer and win for now.

•     We have dear folks with wayward children.

•     We have had surgeries.

•     We’ve suffered miscarriages.

•     There are unexplained illnesses.

•     We have some with strained relationships with family due to our trusting Christ.

•     We have experienced – mostly moderate forms of – persecution.

•     Some are honestly struggling with depression.

•     Some of us have lost spouses.

How do you see these people responding to these painful trials and afflictions? If they’re responding by enduring these hardships, then you and I owe God some thanks. Don’t we?

And how is it that these dear brethren are responding with endurance to the trials presented to them? We’ve mentioned that they have hope or confident expectation. But what is that hope founded upon?

1 Thessalonians 1 Summary in our Lord Jesus Christ

Our brethren – like the Thessalonian believers – have their confidence in Christ.

•     All believers have what Paul calls “the hope of glory” which is “Christ in [us]” (Colossians 1:27).

•     Paul identifies our hope to be none other than Jesus Christ (1 Timothy 1:1). He alone is our confidence.

•     His glorious future appearing is what Paul calls the “blessed hope” (Titus 2:13).

•     It is Jesus who is our living hope (1 Peter 1:3) which is in us and makes such a difference in us that some might wonder what the source of that inner hope of yours is (1 Peter 3:15).

When you have cancer, When your job is hard, When you lose a loved one, When the Lord has not yet given you a spouse, When you are undergoing serious medical issues, When home life is not peaceful, When finances are impossibly tight…

We confidently await Christ. We await his helping us in this life. And we await his future coming for us.

So, this is yet another prompt to give thanks to God for genuine believers. As we pray for these folks and remember these activities of theirs, we are prompted to give thanks to God for his help with all of these things.

1 Thessalonians 1 Summary Verse 4

And the last reality that Paul mentions that causes him to give thanks for the Thessalonian believers is the evident fact that God had chosen them.

1 Thessalonians 1:4 AV 1873

4 knowing, brethren beloved, your election of God.

Well, how exactly did Paul know that God had chosen the Thessalonian believers? …We’re going to have to discover that next time.

But for now, I would encourage us all to engage in these three actions through the rest of the week and let them prompt you to thank God for other genuine believers.

1.   Pray for them.

2.   As you do that, remember their work and labor and endurance.

3.   And look at their life to find evidences of their having been chosen by God.

And may all of that praying and remembering and knowing concerning your brethren lead you to give thanks to God for them.

1 Thessalonians 1:4-7

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 1:4

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 Summary 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 Summary 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 Summary 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 Summary 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 1:5

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 Summary 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 Summary 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 Summary 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 Summary 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 Summary 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.

https://digitalsongsandhymns.com/songs/5522#tab-lyrics

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 Summary 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 Summary 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 Summary 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 Summary 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 Summary 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 Summary 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 1:6

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 Summary 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 Summary 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 Summary 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 Summary 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 1:7

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 Summary 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 Summary 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 Summary 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.

1 Thessalonians 1:8-10

It’s hard to find good examples these days.

In times past, we may have looked to our civic leaders to be good examples for us. We may have been able to look at those in the sports world to serve as patterns to follow. Perhaps musicians and artists of yesteryear would have provided some types for us that we could follow.

But – with rare exceptions – I can hardly think of a single individual in any of these categories that I would point my children to as being sterling examples of how I would want them to turn out.

Politicians, athletes, artists – those whom the world holds up for our emulation – so many of them are not at all worthy of any imitation by the people of God.

And yet, patterning our lives after examples is important. In fact, God wants us to find and note examples after which we can pattern our lives.

And we don’t find those patterns in the world. We’re supposed to be able to find them in the church. Right here – among God’s people.

And so, I’d like to ask you to open your Bibles to 1 Thessalonians 1. Because in this first chapter of the book of 1 Thessalonians, we’re told how these believers in the church of Thessalonica were actually serving as examples and patterns for other believers to follow. And from them, we can see how our own lives ought to be examples for other believers to follow.

We’ll see this in verses 8-10.

So, let’s read 1 Thessalonians 1:8-10.

1 Thessalonians 1:8–10 AV 1873

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.

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,

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.

[S] So, we see in this passage 6 Aspects of Your Example to Other Believers:

1.   You’re communicating the gospel to others (Evangelism).

2.   You’re trusting in God in every circumstance (Faith).

3.   You have received and still do receive those who proclaim his word (Spiritual Receptiveness).

4.   You have a testimony of turning from sin to God (Repentance).

5.   You’re now engaged in serving God (Service).

6.   You’re actively waiting for Christ (Hope).

So, let’s see these in our text and see if they’re the case in your life.

1 Thessalonians 1:8 AV 1873

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.

So, one way that you and I can be examples to other believers is in our evangelism.

1 Thessalonians 1 Summary For … the word of the Lord … sounded out … 

This is how the Thessalonians become an example to those around them. They communicated the gospel to others. They first received the word (v. 6) and then they gave it out.

1 Thessalonians 1 Summary sounded out

This phrase “sounded out” is one Greek word. And it’s used only here in the New Testament.

But words related to it are translated as:

•     Instruct

•     Fame

•     Sound

•     Inform

•     Teach

So, you get the sense of what those ideas have in common. It’s an audible transmission from one person to another – or to many other people.

1 Thessalonians 1 Summary the word of the Lord

And what was verbally transmitted from the Thessalonians was the word of the Lord.

The word of the Lord is often synonymous with the gospel – the good news of Jesus Christ dying for your sins and being raised again (Acts 8:25).

And God expects certain responses to this good news:

•     It must be testified and preached (Acts 8:25) and taught (Acts 15:35) and spoken (Acts 16:32). It should be published widely (Acts 13:49).

•     Those to whom it comes are expected to give it a hearing (Acts 13:44).

•     This good news then ought to be glorified and believed by those who receive it (Acts 13:48).

•     We need to pray that it would “have free course” – that it would run unhindered everywhere it’s communicated (2 Thessalonians 3:1).

And this is indeed what happened to the word of the Lord in Thessalonica. It ran unhindered. It was glorified by being believed by these people.

And then they turned around and started to proclaim it to others. The word of the Lord sounded out to them… and then it sounded it from them to others.

1 Thessalonians 1 Summary from you

And that’s actually the emphasis of this sentence. From where has the word of the Lord sounded out? It has sounded out “from you”.

Those two words are placed at the beginning of this sentence in the Greek for emphasis.

How do you become an example for other believers to follow as a believer? This message of the gospel needs to come from you if you’re going to be a positive example to other believers.

Now, you wouldn’t know it in English, but this is the plural form of “you.” It’s “you all.”

And here’s why that’s important to note.

Who’s responsible for the word of the Lord sounding out from this church?

•     Is it our pastors’ responsibility? Well, yes.

•     But does the responsibility for communicating gospel truth to others all over the place fall squarely on the shoulders of our pastors alone? Absolutely not.

Paul doesn’t say here that the word of the Lord had sounded out from “your pastors.” He says it sounded out “from you all.”

Your Example to Other Believers #1: Evangelism

So, we have a joyful responsibility and duty to communicate the gospel to others in our community – our neighbors, our co-workers, our friends.

And to the extent that each of us accepts this wonderful privilege of communicating the gospel to others, we will be the examples to other believers that the Lord desires us to be.

The Thessalonians became examples to their fellow-believers in that they proclaimed the gospel.

1 Thessalonians 1 Summary not only in Macedonia and Achaia

Well, how far did that gospel proclamation reach?

The word of the Lord sounded out into these two regions of Macedonia and Achaia.

[S] Now, we’ve talked about these two regions before, but just to hammer home the facts – these are two regions in what’s now modern-day Greece.

Macedonia is to the north and Achaia is to the south.

Macedonia contained cities like Philippi, Thessalonica, and Berea.

Achaia contained cities like Corinth and Athens.

Now, in our modern day, a car ride from Thessalonica to Corinth would take about 6 hours. It’s 330 miles. If you were to take that route by foot it would take you days to get from Macedonia to Achaia.

The point is – that’s a pretty broad area for the Thessalonians to get the word of the Lord out to.

1 Thessalonians 1 Summary but also in every place your faith to God-ward is spread abroad

And yet, that’s not the widest area of distribution that Paul had in mind when it came to this matter of the Thessalonians’ sounding out the gospel.

It wasn’t limited to these two regions only – as far apart as they were.

Instead, the word of the Lord also sounded out from the Thessalonians all over the place.

1 Thessalonians 1 Summary your faith to God-ward

And the primary message that was being spread concerning these Thessalonian believers was their faith in God. Their believing was an example to the believers.

So, what kind of situations call for faith in the life of a believer?

In the New Testament gospels, it’s often situations of need and deprivation and extremity that call for faith in people’s lives.

A paralyzed servant in great anguish… a paralyzed friend… a woman whose medical condition couldn’t be helped by any doctor… people who were physically blind… a daughter who was possessed by a demon and suffering… problems as seemingly-large as a mountain… being out on a lake in a storm-tossed and sinking boat in the middle of the night… being sinned against by others… suffering from incurable leprosy… even direct satanic attacks… – all of these are situations which called for faith in those who were experiencing them.

And I don’t know how you think. You might sense that you need greater faith in life. But how do you obtain it?

God’s solution to the problem of you needing more faith may very well be to send you more trials. Because it’s in those trials mostly where your faith will be made evident – where you can actually exercise faith in God.

When everything’s easy, who needs to trust God? If you could be totally self-sufficient and have no need of anything, you probably wouldn’t know your utter need of God and his help and strength and grace.

And this is likely how the Thessalonians’ faith came to be known so widely. They were suffering persecution and hardships. And they held up under the pressure. They were enduring – by faith.

You just don’t know the impact your faith is going to have on other believers. Christians often thrive on news of their brethren showing great faith in the midst of their great difficulties. This is one benefit of reading the biographies of missionaries. We can read of the faith of ordinary folks like ourselves who simply trusted in our extraordinary God in the midst of their trials.

Very candidly, one of the reasons my family came to this church is because of what we heard concerning our pastor and his dealing with his wife’s death. No doubt, it’s an understatement to say that that was a tremendous trial for him and his dear children and for many of us in this church. But his faith through it all became known to us – and I think even to many believers around the country.

We need patterns in our life – of endurance and faith through trials. Because we all have trials and we all need help to know how to respond to them in a godly way.

The Thessalonians served as that example of trusting God in their hardships. And this is one way that they became an example for others to follow.

Your Example to Other Believers #2: Faith

So, one element that makes you – and our church – an example to other believers is the testimony of our trust in God.

Are there trials in your life that seem completely overwhelming? You’re not the first and you’re not alone. If you – by faith – follow God through those trials, he will use you as an example in the lives of those who are starving for spiritual examples.

1 Thessalonians 1 Summary so that we need not to speak any thing

And the result of the word of the Lord sounding out from the Thessalonians with the message of their faith in God – resulted in Paul not needing to say anything about them to others.

As Paul went along from city to city it may have been his desire to share what the Lord had done among the Thessalonians. But apparently as soon as he would start in to a discussion on that, those to whom he was speaking would stop him. “Oh, the Thessalonians? Yes, we’ve heard about their great faith in the midst of their great sufferings. Some of us actually came to faith in Christ through them sending some people here to give us the good news about Jesus. And how do you know them, Paul?

So, the message of how the Thessalonians received God’s word came back to the very messengers who initially proclaimed to them the word.

When we’re leading an exemplary life in Christ, we don’t need our spiritual leaders and mentors to advertise that. It’s obvious – not just to those who spend a lot of time with us and have a vested interest in our spiritual success – but to all sorts of people.

… So, the Thessalonians had become an example to other believers:

•     in that they were involved in evangelism – they were communicating the gospel message near and far.

•     And in that their faith in God through hardships was communicated along with that message.

1 Thessalonians 1:9 AV 1873

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,

Now, why did Paul and Silas and Timothy not need to say anything about the Thessalonian believers as they traveled around?

1 Thessalonians 1 Summary For they themselves shew of us

Because – as we saw – others were telling exactly what happened when Paul and Silas visited the Thessalonians.

That word “shew” communicates the ideas of declaring or reporting or simply telling.

Paul and Silas and Timothy didn’t need to say anything about the Thessalonians because actually those to whom they would like to declare or report or tell were already telling them!

But the declaring that these other believers would engage in wasn’t only about the Thessalonians themselves. They were reporting – Paul says – “of us” – that is, of Paul and Silas.

1 Thessalonians 1 Summary what manner of entering in we had unto you

And what these other believers were declaring or reporting concerning Paul and Silas related to how the Thessalonian believers received Paul and Silas.

You recall that one evidence that the Thessalonians had been chosen by God was their reception of God’s messengers. Well, by that reception and welcoming, they also became examples to other believers.

The Thessalonians received God’s messengers.

1 Thessalonians 1 Summary entering in

This word “entering in” which Paul and Silas had with the Thessalonians also describes Jesus’ coming into the world. It describes our entering into God’s presence as we pray. And it’s also used of our being taken from this life to be with the Lord forever.

Paul and Silas came into the midst of those Thessalonians as was recorded back in Acts 17:1-9. And when they did, they received a warm welcome with a lot of spiritual success.

Your Example to Other Believers #3: Spiritual Receptiveness

Your warm reception of God’s word through his messengers is a part of your noteworthy example to other believers. Obviously, if you had rejected the message or messengers of the gospel, you would have no example to even mention.

1 Thessalonians 1 Summary and how ye turned to God from idols

But what was this “entering in” of Paul and Silas actually like? What manner of entering in to them did Paul and Silas have?

The Thessalonians turned.

As our place on the globe emerges from night to day what’s really happening is that we’re turning from the darkness and to the light of the Sun.

And we see those same dynamics at work with the exemplary Thessalonians. They turned – not physically, but spiritually from one reality to another.

1 Thessalonians 1 Summary to God

They first of all turned to God.

This kind of turning of people to God was the mission of John the Baptist. He was sent to turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God. In the spirit and power of Elijah, he was to turn the hearts of parents to their children and vice versa.

This turning to God describes a person who recognizes he’s done wrong and wants to be forgiven his sins. It’s accompanied by a change of mind – or repentance. And faith is a key element in all of this happening.

This turning to God involves eyes, ears, and heart. It involves seeing, hearing, and understanding what God wants for you.

When this turning to God happens in your life, it’s like a veil is taken away and all of a sudden spiritual realities become clear to you.

1 Thessalonians 1 Summary from idols

But all of this requires and is attended by a turning from idols.

An idol is anything you ascribe more worth or value to than God himself. Anything you put in the place that God alone should rightly occupy in your life is an idol. It can be made of wood or stone or green paper or bits or bytes or even flesh. Idols can be food or drink or people or relationships or money or a literal carved sculpture that you bow down to.

In order to turn to God you must be willing to turn from these other things. Whatever is greater in your estimation than God – you must be willing to turn from that, or you will never even want to turn to God. And at the same time, you need to highly esteem and accurately estimate the true value of knowing God – or else you’ll have no reason to turn from those idols which are so valuable in your mind – while God is so worthless to you.

So, part of the message that was being proclaimed all over the place about the Thessalonians was this – that they turned to God and from idols.

Your Example to Other Believers #4: Repentance

And I trust that others would be able to say the same things about you – that you have turned your back on the worthless garbage that the world holds in such high regard. And that the God which this world is so casual about and really despises greatly – that you have come to fully embrace him!

If that’s your testimony and lifestyle, then you are an example to other believers.

1 Thessalonians 1 Summary to serve the living and true God

And there are two results that Paul mentions here that stem from your turning to God from idols. One is at the end of verse 9 and the other is at the beginning of verse 10.

1 Thessalonians 1 Summary to serve

First, one result of your turning to God is that you now serve him.

No one can really serve two masters. In other words, you can’t be employed full time at two different jobs at the same time – and successfully give yourself to both jobs. Similarly, you can’t serve God and material wealth – which is an idol for many. You have to choose. And you have chosen to serve God – to place his will and his desires above your own.

And that’s a pretty radical approach to life. Because naturally, everyone seeks to serve himself. Not others – and certainly not God.

1 Thessalonians 1 Summary the living and true God

But you serve God because you have come to experience that God is living and true. There’s a way in which even people of the world worship “God”. They might even claim to worship the God of the Bible. But they don’t know him as living and true. It’s just a formality for them. It’s part of their doing things in order to be accepted by God.

1 Thessalonians 1 Summary living

But you know him. He is living. Cash is not living. Wood and stone are not living. Even people – whom we might be tempted to idolize – they’re not living in the sense that God is. People derive life from God like the moon derives light from the Sun. If God doesn’t give life, we don’t have it. So, not even humans are living in the sense that God is. And because God alone is living, he alone deserves our service and worship – and our very life.

So, this God to whom you have turned and whom you now serve is living.

1 Thessalonians 1 Summary true

And he’s also true.

The essence of eternal life is to know this true God and his Son Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ himself is said to be the true God and eternal life.

Whatever mankind might choose to worship and value over God is all false. It’s all so powerless. It leaves you empty – because it itself is empty. It’s vanity.

But God is substantial. He’s real and lasting. He’s true.

Your Example to Other Believers #5: Service

So, is it your intention to serve God? Have you turned from idols to do this? Is it your conviction that God is living and true? This is all part of your example to other believers.

Imagine a professing believer who wants to be an example for others and yet, he’s still clinging to his idols. With his words, God is his life – but in practice sports (for example) is really what he’s living for. Because if it comes down to doing what he knows to be God’s will versus watching a game, he’s going to choose the latter all the time. What kind of example does that set for others who are watching him? What does that say about the value of God and of serving him? How valuable do others who see this man consider God to be – when God’s apparently not important enough to interupt this man’s pursuit of sports entertainment or whatever else it might be?

A game that lasts a few hours and the score of which hardly anyone will remember just a few weeks or months after it’s done – that’s more important than God?

That’s not the impression we want to give others. God is true and he’s living and it’s a great pleasure and joy to serve him.

So, the first result mentioned here of your turning to God is that you now serve him.

1 Thessalonians 1:10 AV 1873

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.

1 Thessalonians 1 Summary and to wait for his Son from heaven

The second result of your turning to God is that you now wait for his Son from heaven.

1 Thessalonians 1 Summary wait for

This word “wait for” is used only one time in the New Testament. So we need to look at the Greek version of the Old Testament for some help on what it means.

And in the Greek version of Job 7:2, this word is used of how a working man feels about his pay. And typically in ancient times it seems that a person would work for a day and at the end of that day he would received his wages. So, the end of the day comes and this man is looking for his payment. Or even longing for it. He’s in great need of this payment. He has worked long and hard hours to earn it. And he wants it.

And that should be our attitude concerning Jesus’ return. We want it. We are waiting for him expectantly. We know he’s coming. It’s just a matter of time. But – oh – how we want him to come soon!

1 Thessalonians 1 Summary from heaven

The New Testament is clear that Jesus – in his first coming – came from heaven to the earth.

And when he had been crucified and buried and raised from the dead, Jesus went back to heaven. Stephen saw him there as he was being stoned to death. Saul of Tarsus saw him there when he was on his way to persecute Christians in Damascus. Jesus is now there in God’s presence to intercede for us before God.

So, he’s there now. But there’s coming a time when he will return from heaven. Actually, there are two times that will happen.

After Jesus had been raised from the dead, he took his disciples to the Mount of Olives to the east of Jerusalem. And as they were watching, he was lifted up into heaven. Then two angels appeared to the disciples – and do you remember what they said to those men who were still gazing up into heaven? They said basically, why are you looking up? He’s going to come back in the same way that he went up. (Acts 1:10-11) In other words, Christ will be returning from heaven to this earth some day.

And we’re even given some expectation that when he does return he’s going to come down on the Mount of Olives from the very spot he had gone up (Zechariah 14:4).

And when Jesus returns, he’s pictured in Revelation 19 as coming from heaven on a white horse and the armies of heaven are following after him on their own white horses. And at that point he will destroy the enemies of his people the Jews and deliver the Jews who will receive him as their Messiah at that point.

So, that’s one future coming of Jesus from heaven.

But before all of that, he’s coming for his church in what’s called the Rapture, which we’ll study at the end of 1 Thessalonians 4. Jesus will descend from heaven, the dead in Christ will rise first, and then whoever among the believers in Christ who are still alive will be caught up together with those resurrected believers. We’ll meet in the clouds and be with the Lord forever.

And while this teaching of the Rapture tends to generate a lot of debate, Paul intended it to be used by his people to encourage and comfort one another (1 Thessalonians 4:18). So, whatever way you might interpret the events surrounding the rapture of the church, if the end result of your interpretation is not comfort and encouragement to believers, then you’re doing it wrong!

Your Example to Other Believers #6: Hopeful Waiting

So, your waiting for Jesus Christ from heaven is one unavoidable result of your turning to God from idols. You and I are not just waiting to die! We’re waiting for Christ from heaven.

The Scottish Baptist Alexander Maclaren is quoted as having said the following…

[S] “The primitive church thought more about the Second Coming of Jesus Christ than about death or about heaven. The early Christians were looking not for a cleft in the ground called a grave but for a cleavage in the sky called Glory. They were watching not for the undertaker but for the uppertaker.” — Alexander Maclaren (1826-1910)

And this was part of the Thessalonians’ example to their fellow-believers. They were looking for the blessed hope – the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior – Jesus Christ (Titus 2:13).

Is that what you’re looking for? Is he what you’re looking for? Are you waiting for Jesus as if you were a day-laborer greatly desiring – even feeling the intense need of – his wage at the end of a long hard work day?

Your confident looking for the return of Jesus is a part of your example to other believers.

1 Thessalonians 1 Summary whom he raised from the dead

So, Paul has been telling us what will happen concerning God’s Son, Jesus. He’s coming back!

And then Paul reminds us of what did happen concerning God’s Son, Jesus. He was raised from the dead.

Jesus foretold this event in his life before it even happened (Matthew 17:9). Jesus’ enemies even tried in vain to prevent his rising from the dead (Matthew 27:64). But ultimately God did it – he raised Jesus back to life after he had literally died (Matthew 28:7).

As the song says, we serve a risen Savior.

https://www.hymnal.net/en/hymn/h/503

The leaders of every historical religious movement share one thing in common. They’re all dead. But not Jesus Christ. He lives – and he will live forever.

It seems that every once in a while, the world gets real excited because some archaeologists find a bone box in Israel with the name “Jesus” on it. There were a lot of Jesus’ at that time – but the bones of our Jesus aren’t in a box. They’re in heaven inside of his resurrected body! He is risen from the dead!

This was the message that Paul and Silas preached to these Thessalonians which we saw back in Acts 17:1-9. They testified that the Old Testament portrayed it as a necessity that the Christ would suffer and rise from the dead. And they identified this rising Messiah to be none other than Jesus of Nazareth.

•     So, believers have turned to God from idols.

•     We have done that with the result that we now serve the living and true God and that we eagerly wait for his Son from heaven.

•     We believe that God raised his Son from the dead – because if he was still dead and his bones are in the grave, he’s not going to be coming from heaven. But he is alive and he is coming from heaven.

1 Thessalonians 1 Summary even Jesus

And the identity of this Son of God is Jesus. He is the risen Son of God.

The angel Gabriel declared Jesus to be the Son of God (Luke 1:32,35). Satan also identified him with this position (Matthew 4:3,6). Demons did, too (Matthew 8:29). As did his disciples (Matthew 14:33; 16:16). The Jewish High Priest and witnesses to his crucifixion mocked him about this claim (Matthew 26:63; 27:40,43). The centurion who witnessed his death claimed this about him (Matthew 27:54). And Jesus himself owned that title as the Son of God with his own lips (John 5:25; 10:36; 11:4). His resurrection itself declared him to be God’s Son (Romans 1:4).

1 Thessalonians 1 Summary which delivered us from the wrath to come

And this risen Son of God delivers us from the coming wrath.

1 Thessalonians 1 Summary from the wrath to come

God’s wrath is his settled, determined judgement on sin.

Wrath is an action that really only God can carry out properly. He says that vengeance is his – he will repay. So, we ought not take our own vengeance on others but let God deal with them (Romans 12:19). And then under God, he puts government in the position to exercise his wrath on evildoers on his behalf for now (Romans 13:4-5).

And so, even now, if a person doesn’t receive Christ’s free gift of salvation, God’s wrath abides on him (John 3:36). It’s revealed right now against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men (Romans 1:18). Ultimately, mankind’s current lack of trust in God is the source of all of his wrath toward them (Hebrews 3:11;4:3).

So, God’ wrath is a current thing.

But it’s especially a future reality. God’s wrath will come upon his unbelieving people – the Jews – in the last days (Luke 21:23; 1 Thessalonians 2:16). It will also come on hypocritical moralists who judge others for sins that they themselves commit (Romans 2:5). It will come on those who reject the truth and instead obey unrighteousness (Romans 2:8). Immorality, impurity, and greed are all things for which the wrath of God is going to come on the world (Ephesians 5:6; Colossians 3:6).

Apart from Christ, we have a tendency to dislike and take issue with this concept of God being wrathful. But, God’s wrath is completely justified and righteous (Romans 3:5). It’s only after a lot of patience that God finally demonstrates his wrath ultimately in someone’s life (Romans 9:22).

But God’s wrath will finally and justifiably fall on this world. The last book of our Bible – Revelation – tells of “the great day” of the wrath of Jesus (Revelation 6:16-17).

And so wrath is certainly something that God will unashamedly carry out. But it’s not that we could characterize him as being happy about it. God’s wrath is attended by grief in his heart concerning the hardness of the hearts of his human creatures (Mark 3:5).

So, that’s God’s wrath in everyone else’s life.

What about us?

For believers, we ourselves used to be children of wrath because we were engaged in fulfilling our lusts without any regard for God (Ephesians 2:3).

But, praise the Lord – there is a way to escape this wrath. Repentance is required in order to avoid this wrath (Matthew 3:7; Luke 3:7). And we saw already that if a person doesn’t receive Christ’s free gift of salvation, God’s wrath abides on him (John 3:36). But the opposite is true – when you received Christ, you no longer had God’s wrath abiding on you! And so, if you’re trusting Christ alone to save you, there’s no more wrath!

1 Thessalonians 1 Summary which delivered us

And that’s the key – Jesus is the key. Christ is the one who saves us from this wrath.

We are saved from God’s wrath through Jesus according to Romans 5:9.

God has not appointed us to wrath but to obtain salvation – by our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Thessalonians 5:9).

And that’s really the only way that you and I can be examples to other believers. This is the starting point. We need to be delivered from God’s wrath against our sins through trusting Christ alone.

[S] And from there we can move on to all these other aspects of being examples to other believers. We can evangelize. We can trust God in hard things. We can receive God’s messengers. We can truly turn to God from idols. We can serve God. And we can expectantly wait for Jesus’ return.

May the Lord help us all to be growing examples to other believers – who are in such desperate need of patterns of faithfulness in their lives.

1 Thessalonians 1 Summary Verses 8-10

1 Thessalonians 1 Summary Verses 8-10: It’s hard to find good examples these days.

In times past, we may have looked to our civic leaders to be good examples for us. We may have been able to look at those in the sports world to serve as patterns to follow. Perhaps musicians and artists of yesteryear would have provided some types for us that we could follow.

But – with rare exceptions – I can hardly think of a single individual in any of these categories that I would point my children to as being sterling examples of how I would want them to turn out.

Politicians, athletes, artists – those whom the world holds up for our emulation – so many of them are not at all worthy of any imitation by the people of God.

And yet, patterning our lives after examples is important. In fact, God wants us to find and note examples after which we can pattern our lives.

And we don’t find those patterns in the world. We’re supposed to be able to find them in the church. Right here – among God’s people.

And so, I’d like to ask you to open your Bibles to 1 Thessalonians 1. Because in this first chapter of the book of 1 Thessalonians, we’re told how these believers in the church of Thessalonica were actually serving as examples and patterns for other believers to follow. And from them, we can see how our own lives ought to be examples for other believers to follow.

We’ll see this in verses 8-10.

So, let’s read 1 Thessalonians 1:8-10.

1 Thessalonians 1:8–10 AV 1873

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.

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,

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.

[S] So, we see in this passage 6 Aspects of Your Example to Other Believers:

1.   You’re communicating the gospel to others (Evangelism).

2.   You’re trusting in God in every circumstance (Faith).

3.   You have received and still do receive those who proclaim his word (Spiritual Receptiveness).

4.   You have a testimony of turning from sin to God (Repentance).

5.   You’re now engaged in serving God (Service).

6.   You’re actively waiting for Christ (Hope).

So, let’s see these in our text and see if they’re the case in your life.

1 Thessalonians 1:8 AV 1873

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.

So, one way that you and I can be examples to other believers is in our evangelism.

1 Thessalonians 1 Summary For … the word of the Lord … sounded out … 

This is how the Thessalonians become an example to those around them. They communicated the gospel to others. They first received the word (v. 6) and then they gave it out.

1 Thessalonians 1 Summary sounded out

This phrase “sounded out” is one Greek word. And it’s used only here in the New Testament.

But words related to it are translated as:

•     Instruct

•     Fame

•     Sound

•     Inform

•     Teach

So, you get the sense of what those ideas have in common. It’s an audible transmission from one person to another – or to many other people.

1 Thessalonians 1 Summary the word of the Lord

And what was verbally transmitted from the Thessalonians was the word of the Lord.

The word of the Lord is often synonymous with the gospel – the good news of Jesus Christ dying for your sins and being raised again (Acts 8:25).

And God expects certain responses to this good news:

•     It must be testified and preached (Acts 8:25) and taught (Acts 15:35) and spoken (Acts 16:32). It should be published widely (Acts 13:49).

•     Those to whom it comes are expected to give it a hearing (Acts 13:44).

•     This good news then ought to be glorified and believed by those who receive it (Acts 13:48).

•     We need to pray that it would “have free course” – that it would run unhindered everywhere it’s communicated (2 Thessalonians 3:1).

And this is indeed what happened to the word of the Lord in Thessalonica. It ran unhindered. It was glorified by being believed by these people.

And then they turned around and started to proclaim it to others. The word of the Lord sounded out to them… and then it sounded it from them to others.

1 Thessalonians 1 Summary from you

And that’s actually the emphasis of this sentence. From where has the word of the Lord sounded out? It has sounded out “from you”.

Those two words are placed at the beginning of this sentence in the Greek for emphasis.

How do you become an example for other believers to follow as a believer? This message of the gospel needs to come from you if you’re going to be a positive example to other believers.

Now, you wouldn’t know it in English, but this is the plural form of “you.” It’s “you all.”

And here’s why that’s important to note.

Who’s responsible for the word of the Lord sounding out from this church?

•     Is it our pastors’ responsibility? Well, yes.

•     But does the responsibility for communicating gospel truth to others all over the place fall squarely on the shoulders of our pastors alone? Absolutely not.

Paul doesn’t say here that the word of the Lord had sounded out from “your pastors.” He says it sounded out “from you all.”

Your Example to Other Believers #1: Evangelism

So, we have a joyful responsibility and duty to communicate the gospel to others in our community – our neighbors, our co-workers, our friends.

And to the extent that each of us accepts this wonderful privilege of communicating the gospel to others, we will be the examples to other believers that the Lord desires us to be.

The Thessalonians became examples to their fellow-believers in that they proclaimed the gospel.

1 Thessalonians 1 Summary not only in Macedonia and Achaia

Well, how far did that gospel proclamation reach?

The word of the Lord sounded out into these two regions of Macedonia and Achaia.

[S] Now, we’ve talked about these two regions before, but just to hammer home the facts – these are two regions in what’s now modern-day Greece.

Macedonia is to the north and Achaia is to the south.

Macedonia contained cities like Philippi, Thessalonica, and Berea.

Achaia contained cities like Corinth and Athens.

Now, in our modern day, a car ride from Thessalonica to Corinth would take about 6 hours. It’s 330 miles. If you were to take that route by foot it would take you days to get from Macedonia to Achaia.

The point is – that’s a pretty broad area for the Thessalonians to get the word of the Lord out to.

1 Thessalonians 1 Summary but also in every place your faith to God-ward is spread abroad

And yet, that’s not the widest area of distribution that Paul had in mind when it came to this matter of the Thessalonians’ sounding out the gospel.

It wasn’t limited to these two regions only – as far apart as they were.

Instead, the word of the Lord also sounded out from the Thessalonians all over the place.

1 Thessalonians 1 Summary your faith to God-ward

And the primary message that was being spread concerning these Thessalonian believers was their faith in God. Their believing was an example to the believers.

So, what kind of situations call for faith in the life of a believer?

In the New Testament gospels, it’s often situations of need and deprivation and extremity that call for faith in people’s lives.

A paralyzed servant in great anguish… a paralyzed friend… a woman whose medical condition couldn’t be helped by any doctor… people who were physically blind… a daughter who was possessed by a demon and suffering… problems as seemingly-large as a mountain… being out on a lake in a storm-tossed and sinking boat in the middle of the night… being sinned against by others… suffering from incurable leprosy… even direct satanic attacks… – all of these are situations which called for faith in those who were experiencing them.

And I don’t know how you think. You might sense that you need greater faith in life. But how do you obtain it?

God’s solution to the problem of you needing more faith may very well be to send you more trials. Because it’s in those trials mostly where your faith will be made evident – where you can actually exercise faith in God.

When everything’s easy, who needs to trust God? If you could be totally self-sufficient and have no need of anything, you probably wouldn’t know your utter need of God and his help and strength and grace.

And this is likely how the Thessalonians’ faith came to be known so widely. They were suffering persecution and hardships. And they held up under the pressure. They were enduring – by faith.

You just don’t know the impact your faith is going to have on other believers. Christians often thrive on news of their brethren showing great faith in the midst of their great difficulties. This is one benefit of reading the biographies of missionaries. We can read of the faith of ordinary folks like ourselves who simply trusted in our extraordinary God in the midst of their trials.

Very candidly, one of the reasons my family came to this church is because of what we heard concerning our pastor and his dealing with his wife’s death. No doubt, it’s an understatement to say that that was a tremendous trial for him and his dear children and for many of us in this church. But his faith through it all became known to us – and I think even to many believers around the country.

We need patterns in our life – of endurance and faith through trials. Because we all have trials and we all need help to know how to respond to them in a godly way.

The Thessalonians served as that example of trusting God in their hardships. And this is one way that they became an example for others to follow.

Your Example to Other Believers #2: Faith

So, one element that makes you – and our church – an example to other believers is the testimony of our trust in God.

Are there trials in your life that seem completely overwhelming? You’re not the first and you’re not alone. If you – by faith – follow God through those trials, he will use you as an example in the lives of those who are starving for spiritual examples.

1 Thessalonians 1 Summary so that we need not to speak any thing

And the result of the word of the Lord sounding out from the Thessalonians with the message of their faith in God – resulted in Paul not needing to say anything about them to others.

As Paul went along from city to city it may have been his desire to share what the Lord had done among the Thessalonians. But apparently as soon as he would start in to a discussion on that, those to whom he was speaking would stop him. “Oh, the Thessalonians? Yes, we’ve heard about their great faith in the midst of their great sufferings. Some of us actually came to faith in Christ through them sending some people here to give us the good news about Jesus. And how do you know them, Paul?

So, the message of how the Thessalonians received God’s word came back to the very messengers who initially proclaimed to them the word.

When we’re leading an exemplary life in Christ, we don’t need our spiritual leaders and mentors to advertise that. It’s obvious – not just to those who spend a lot of time with us and have a vested interest in our spiritual success – but to all sorts of people.

… So, the Thessalonians had become an example to other believers:

•     in that they were involved in evangelism – they were communicating the gospel message near and far.

•     And in that their faith in God through hardships was communicated along with that message.

1 Thessalonians 1:9 AV 1873

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,

Now, why did Paul and Silas and Timothy not need to say anything about the Thessalonian believers as they traveled around?

1 Thessalonians 1 Summary For they themselves shew of us

Because – as we saw – others were telling exactly what happened when Paul and Silas visited the Thessalonians.

That word “shew” communicates the ideas of declaring or reporting or simply telling.

Paul and Silas and Timothy didn’t need to say anything about the Thessalonians because actually those to whom they would like to declare or report or tell were already telling them!

But the declaring that these other believers would engage in wasn’t only about the Thessalonians themselves. They were reporting – Paul says – “of us” – that is, of Paul and Silas.

1 Thessalonians 1 Summary what manner of entering in we had unto you

And what these other believers were declaring or reporting concerning Paul and Silas related to how the Thessalonian believers received Paul and Silas.

You recall that one evidence that the Thessalonians had been chosen by God was their reception of God’s messengers. Well, by that reception and welcoming, they also became examples to other believers.

The Thessalonians received God’s messengers.

1 Thessalonians 1 Summary entering in

This word “entering in” which Paul and Silas had with the Thessalonians also describes Jesus’ coming into the world. It describes our entering into God’s presence as we pray. And it’s also used of our being taken from this life to be with the Lord forever.

Paul and Silas came into the midst of those Thessalonians as was recorded back in Acts 17:1-9. And when they did, they received a warm welcome with a lot of spiritual success.

Your Example to Other Believers #3: Spiritual Receptiveness

Your warm reception of God’s word through his messengers is a part of your noteworthy example to other believers. Obviously, if you had rejected the message or messengers of the gospel, you would have no example to even mention.

1 Thessalonians 1 Summary and how ye turned to God from idols

But what was this “entering in” of Paul and Silas actually like? What manner of entering in to them did Paul and Silas have?

The Thessalonians turned.

As our place on the globe emerges from night to day what’s really happening is that we’re turning from the darkness and to the light of the Sun.

And we see those same dynamics at work with the exemplary Thessalonians. They turned – not physically, but spiritually from one reality to another.

1 Thessalonians 1 Summary to God

They first of all turned to God.

This kind of turning of people to God was the mission of John the Baptist. He was sent to turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God. In the spirit and power of Elijah, he was to turn the hearts of parents to their children and vice versa.

This turning to God describes a person who recognizes he’s done wrong and wants to be forgiven his sins. It’s accompanied by a change of mind – or repentance. And faith is a key element in all of this happening.

This turning to God involves eyes, ears, and heart. It involves seeing, hearing, and understanding what God wants for you.

When this turning to God happens in your life, it’s like a veil is taken away and all of a sudden spiritual realities become clear to you.

1 Thessalonians 1 Summary from idols

But all of this requires and is attended by a turning from idols.

An idol is anything you ascribe more worth or value to than God himself. Anything you put in the place that God alone should rightly occupy in your life is an idol. It can be made of wood or stone or green paper or bits or bytes or even flesh. Idols can be food or drink or people or relationships or money or a literal carved sculpture that you bow down to.

In order to turn to God you must be willing to turn from these other things. Whatever is greater in your estimation than God – you must be willing to turn from that, or you will never even want to turn to God. And at the same time, you need to highly esteem and accurately estimate the true value of knowing God – or else you’ll have no reason to turn from those idols which are so valuable in your mind – while God is so worthless to you.

So, part of the message that was being proclaimed all over the place about the Thessalonians was this – that they turned to God and from idols.

Your Example to Other Believers #4: Repentance

And I trust that others would be able to say the same things about you – that you have turned your back on the worthless garbage that the world holds in such high regard. And that the God which this world is so casual about and really despises greatly – that you have come to fully embrace him!

If that’s your testimony and lifestyle, then you are an example to other believers.

1 Thessalonians 1 Summary to serve the living and true God

And there are two results that Paul mentions here that stem from your turning to God from idols. One is at the end of verse 9 and the other is at the beginning of verse 10.

1 Thessalonians 1 Summary to serve

First, one result of your turning to God is that you now serve him.

No one can really serve two masters. In other words, you can’t be employed full time at two different jobs at the same time – and successfully give yourself to both jobs. Similarly, you can’t serve God and material wealth – which is an idol for many. You have to choose. And you have chosen to serve God – to place his will and his desires above your own.

And that’s a pretty radical approach to life. Because naturally, everyone seeks to serve himself. Not others – and certainly not God.

1 Thessalonians 1 Summary the living and true God

But you serve God because you have come to experience that God is living and true. There’s a way in which even people of the world worship “God”. They might even claim to worship the God of the Bible. But they don’t know him as living and true. It’s just a formality for them. It’s part of their doing things in order to be accepted by God.

1 Thessalonians 1 Summary living

But you know him. He is living. Cash is not living. Wood and stone are not living. Even people – whom we might be tempted to idolize – they’re not living in the sense that God is. People derive life from God like the moon derives light from the Sun. If God doesn’t give life, we don’t have it. So, not even humans are living in the sense that God is. And because God alone is living, he alone deserves our service and worship – and our very life.

So, this God to whom you have turned and whom you now serve is living.

1 Thessalonians 1 Summary true

And he’s also true.

The essence of eternal life is to know this true God and his Son Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ himself is said to be the true God and eternal life.

Whatever mankind might choose to worship and value over God is all false. It’s all so powerless. It leaves you empty – because it itself is empty. It’s vanity.

But God is substantial. He’s real and lasting. He’s true.

Your Example to Other Believers #5: Service

So, is it your intention to serve God? Have you turned from idols to do this? Is it your conviction that God is living and true? This is all part of your example to other believers.

Imagine a professing believer who wants to be an example for others and yet, he’s still clinging to his idols. With his words, God is his life – but in practice sports (for example) is really what he’s living for. Because if it comes down to doing what he knows to be God’s will versus watching a game, he’s going to choose the latter all the time. What kind of example does that set for others who are watching him? What does that say about the value of God and of serving him? How valuable do others who see this man consider God to be – when God’s apparently not important enough to interupt this man’s pursuit of sports entertainment or whatever else it might be?

A game that lasts a few hours and the score of which hardly anyone will remember just a few weeks or months after it’s done – that’s more important than God?

That’s not the impression we want to give others. God is true and he’s living and it’s a great pleasure and joy to serve him.

So, the first result mentioned here of your turning to God is that you now serve him.

1 Thessalonians 1:10 AV 1873

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.

1 Thessalonians 1 Summary and to wait for his Son from heaven

The second result of your turning to God is that you now wait for his Son from heaven.

1 Thessalonians 1 Summary wait for

This word “wait for” is used only one time in the New Testament. So we need to look at the Greek version of the Old Testament for some help on what it means.

And in the Greek version of Job 7:2, this word is used of how a working man feels about his pay. And typically in ancient times it seems that a person would work for a day and at the end of that day he would received his wages. So, the end of the day comes and this man is looking for his payment. Or even longing for it. He’s in great need of this payment. He has worked long and hard hours to earn it. And he wants it.

And that should be our attitude concerning Jesus’ return. We want it. We are waiting for him expectantly. We know he’s coming. It’s just a matter of time. But – oh – how we want him to come soon!

1 Thessalonians 1 Summary from heaven

The New Testament is clear that Jesus – in his first coming – came from heaven to the earth.

And when he had been crucified and buried and raised from the dead, Jesus went back to heaven. Stephen saw him there as he was being stoned to death. Saul of Tarsus saw him there when he was on his way to persecute Christians in Damascus. Jesus is now there in God’s presence to intercede for us before God.

So, he’s there now. But there’s coming a time when he will return from heaven. Actually, there are two times that will happen.

After Jesus had been raised from the dead, he took his disciples to the Mount of Olives to the east of Jerusalem. And as they were watching, he was lifted up into heaven. Then two angels appeared to the disciples – and do you remember what they said to those men who were still gazing up into heaven? They said basically, why are you looking up? He’s going to come back in the same way that he went up. (Acts 1:10-11) In other words, Christ will be returning from heaven to this earth some day.

And we’re even given some expectation that when he does return he’s going to come down on the Mount of Olives from the very spot he had gone up (Zechariah 14:4).

And when Jesus returns, he’s pictured in Revelation 19 as coming from heaven on a white horse and the armies of heaven are following after him on their own white horses. And at that point he will destroy the enemies of his people the Jews and deliver the Jews who will receive him as their Messiah at that point.

So, that’s one future coming of Jesus from heaven.

But before all of that, he’s coming for his church in what’s called the Rapture, which we’ll study at the end of 1 Thessalonians 4. Jesus will descend from heaven, the dead in Christ will rise first, and then whoever among the believers in Christ who are still alive will be caught up together with those resurrected believers. We’ll meet in the clouds and be with the Lord forever.

And while this teaching of the Rapture tends to generate a lot of debate, Paul intended it to be used by his people to encourage and comfort one another (1 Thessalonians 4:18). So, whatever way you might interpret the events surrounding the rapture of the church, if the end result of your interpretation is not comfort and encouragement to believers, then you’re doing it wrong!

Your Example to Other Believers #6: Hopeful Waiting

So, your waiting for Jesus Christ from heaven is one unavoidable result of your turning to God from idols. You and I are not just waiting to die! We’re waiting for Christ from heaven.

The Scottish Baptist Alexander Maclaren is quoted as having said the following…

[S] “The primitive church thought more about the Second Coming of Jesus Christ than about death or about heaven. The early Christians were looking not for a cleft in the ground called a grave but for a cleavage in the sky called Glory. They were watching not for the undertaker but for the uppertaker.” — Alexander Maclaren (1826-1910)

And this was part of the Thessalonians’ example to their fellow-believers. They were looking for the blessed hope – the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior – Jesus Christ (Titus 2:13).

Is that what you’re looking for? Is he what you’re looking for? Are you waiting for Jesus as if you were a day-laborer greatly desiring – even feeling the intense need of – his wage at the end of a long hard work day?

Your confident looking for the return of Jesus is a part of your example to other believers.

1 Thessalonians 1 Summary whom he raised from the dead

So, Paul has been telling us what will happen concerning God’s Son, Jesus. He’s coming back!

And then Paul reminds us of what did happen concerning God’s Son, Jesus. He was raised from the dead.

Jesus foretold this event in his life before it even happened (Matthew 17:9). Jesus’ enemies even tried in vain to prevent his rising from the dead (Matthew 27:64). But ultimately God did it – he raised Jesus back to life after he had literally died (Matthew 28:7).

As the song says, we serve a risen Savior.

https://www.hymnal.net/en/hymn/h/503

The leaders of every historical religious movement share one thing in common. They’re all dead. But not Jesus Christ. He lives – and he will live forever.

It seems that every once in a while, the world gets real excited because some archaeologists find a bone box in Israel with the name “Jesus” on it. There were a lot of Jesus’ at that time – but the bones of our Jesus aren’t in a box. They’re in heaven inside of his resurrected body! He is risen from the dead!

This was the message that Paul and Silas preached to these Thessalonians which we saw back in Acts 17:1-9. They testified that the Old Testament portrayed it as a necessity that the Christ would suffer and rise from the dead. And they identified this rising Messiah to be none other than Jesus of Nazareth.

•     So, believers have turned to God from idols.

•     We have done that with the result that we now serve the living and true God and that we eagerly wait for his Son from heaven.

•     We believe that God raised his Son from the dead – because if he was still dead and his bones are in the grave, he’s not going to be coming from heaven. But he is alive and he is coming from heaven.

1 Thessalonians 1 Summary even Jesus

And the identity of this Son of God is Jesus. He is the risen Son of God.

The angel Gabriel declared Jesus to be the Son of God (Luke 1:32,35). Satan also identified him with this position (Matthew 4:3,6). Demons did, too (Matthew 8:29). As did his disciples (Matthew 14:33; 16:16). The Jewish High Priest and witnesses to his crucifixion mocked him about this claim (Matthew 26:63; 27:40,43). The centurion who witnessed his death claimed this about him (Matthew 27:54). And Jesus himself owned that title as the Son of God with his own lips (John 5:25; 10:36; 11:4). His resurrection itself declared him to be God’s Son (Romans 1:4).

1 Thessalonians 1 Summary which delivered us from the wrath to come

And this risen Son of God delivers us from the coming wrath.

1 Thessalonians 1 Summary from the wrath to come

God’s wrath is his settled, determined judgement on sin.

Wrath is an action that really only God can carry out properly. He says that vengeance is his – he will repay. So, we ought not take our own vengeance on others but let God deal with them (Romans 12:19). And then under God, he puts government in the position to exercise his wrath on evildoers on his behalf for now (Romans 13:4-5).

And so, even now, if a person doesn’t receive Christ’s free gift of salvation, God’s wrath abides on him (John 3:36). It’s revealed right now against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men (Romans 1:18). Ultimately, mankind’s current lack of trust in God is the source of all of his wrath toward them (Hebrews 3:11;4:3).

So, God’ wrath is a current thing.

But it’s especially a future reality. God’s wrath will come upon his unbelieving people – the Jews – in the last days (Luke 21:23; 1 Thessalonians 2:16). It will also come on hypocritical moralists who judge others for sins that they themselves commit (Romans 2:5). It will come on those who reject the truth and instead obey unrighteousness (Romans 2:8). Immorality, impurity, and greed are all things for which the wrath of God is going to come on the world (Ephesians 5:6; Colossians 3:6).

Apart from Christ, we have a tendency to dislike and take issue with this concept of God being wrathful. But, God’s wrath is completely justified and righteous (Romans 3:5). It’s only after a lot of patience that God finally demonstrates his wrath ultimately in someone’s life (Romans 9:22).

But God’s wrath will finally and justifiably fall on this world. The last book of our Bible – Revelation – tells of “the great day” of the wrath of Jesus (Revelation 6:16-17).

And so wrath is certainly something that God will unashamedly carry out. But it’s not that we could characterize him as being happy about it. God’s wrath is attended by grief in his heart concerning the hardness of the hearts of his human creatures (Mark 3:5).

So, that’s God’s wrath in everyone else’s life.

What about us?

For believers, we ourselves used to be children of wrath because we were engaged in fulfilling our lusts without any regard for God (Ephesians 2:3).

But, praise the Lord – there is a way to escape this wrath. Repentance is required in order to avoid this wrath (Matthew 3:7; Luke 3:7). And we saw already that if a person doesn’t receive Christ’s free gift of salvation, God’s wrath abides on him (John 3:36). But the opposite is true – when you received Christ, you no longer had God’s wrath abiding on you! And so, if you’re trusting Christ alone to save you, there’s no more wrath!

1 Thessalonians 1 Summary which delivered us

And that’s the key – Jesus is the key. Christ is the one who saves us from this wrath.

We are saved from God’s wrath through Jesus according to Romans 5:9.

God has not appointed us to wrath but to obtain salvation – by our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Thessalonians 5:9).

And that’s really the only way that you and I can be examples to other believers. This is the starting point. We need to be delivered from God’s wrath against our sins through trusting Christ alone.

[S] And from there we can move on to all these other aspects of being examples to other believers. We can evangelize. We can trust God in hard things. We can receive God’s messengers. We can truly turn to God from idols. We can serve God. And we can expectantly wait for Jesus’ return.

May the Lord help us all to be growing examples to other believers – who are in such desperate need of patterns of faithfulness in their lives.

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.

https://digitalsongsandhymns.com/songs/5522#tab-lyrics

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.

1 Thessalonians 1 Summary Verses 1-4

In the last two messages, we’ve explored the founding of the church in the ancient Greek city of Thessalonica.

And now finally, the moment we’ve all been waiting for! We’re actually starting into the book of 1 Thessalonians itself.

And I anticipate picking up the pace in the remaining messages. But for this message we’re going to be exploring 1 Thessalonians 1:1-4. So, let’s read that together before we get into the details.

1 Thessalonians 1:1–4 AV 1873

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.

2 We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers; 3 remembering without ceasing your work of faith, and labour of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the sight of God and our Father; 4 knowing, brethren beloved, your election of God.

Now, I feel the need to warn you that the beginning of this message is a lot of details and maps and background information – as you might expect from the first message studying through a book.

But when we get past the beginning of verse 1, I think that all of our hearts will be warmed with the message that God has for us there.

So – endure the first verse with me as we fill our minds with information about this book!

1 Thessalonians 1 Summary Verse 1

Because it’s in verse 1 that we see the common greeting that Paul gives in every one of his letters.

1 Thessalonians 1:1 AV 1873

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.

This is how ancient letters were formatted.

Our modern letters begin with the recipient and end with the author, typically. But in ancient Roman correspondence, the letter would begin first with the author and then the recipient and then some sort of greeting, that Paul customizes in order to include important theological realities.

Paul, and Silvanus, and Timotheus – Three Authors, One Writer

So, first, we’re given the authors of this letter – Paul, and Silvanus, and Timotheus.

Note that there are three authors given rather than one – even though Paul was probably the only one who physically wrote this letter.

And so, as we read through this letter, we need to keep in mind that although Paul is the one writing it, these two other brethren also share the sentiments that he’s communicating to this church.

And ultimately, because of the New Testament teaching that all Scripture is given by inspiration of God (2 Timothy 3:16), it’s actually God himself who’s speaking through the pen of the apostle Paul. And not just to this one local church in ancient Thessalonica – but to all of his people throughout the ages.

Paul / Saul

So, the first author mentioned is Paul.

[S] For several chapters of Acts, Paul is known by his given name of Saul. But it was apparently during his first missionary journey with Barnabas that he began being called Paul (Acts 13:9).

[https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/e/e1/Rembrandt_-_Apostle_Paul_-_WGA19120.jpg]

[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Rembrandt_-_Apostle_Paul_-_WGA19120.jpg]

And so, the two main names that we see throughout Acts chapters 13 and 14 and 15 are Paul and Barnabas. That is, until the end of Acts 15 where Paul and Barnabas part ways over a difference in one aspect of their philosophy of ministry (Acts 15:38).

Silas / Silvanus

And that’s where we see this man named Silas enter the picture (Acts 15:40). He’s referred to here in 1 Thessalonians 1:1 as Silvanus.

Apparently he’s like Paul who also went by “Saul” or Simon who also went by “Peter” or John/Mark – in that he has two names that he goes by. It could be that his Roman name is Silvanus and his Greek name is Silas or something like that, as well.

Now, just a little bit of background on Silas. Because the Thessalonian believers would have known the following about him as well.

We first see him mentioned in relation to the so-called Jerusalem Council that was convened over whether Gentile converts to Christ needed to be circumcised or not.

The church in Jerusalem ended up sending Silas with Paul and Barnabas back to Antioch with their decision. Silas is described as one of the “chief men among the brethren” in Jerusalem (Acts 15:22). He was also a prophet (Act 15:32) and a preacher (2 Corinthians 1:19).

As Silas was ministering in Antioch, Paul decided to take him on Paul’s second missionary journey (Acts 15:40). And on that journey, Silas was with Paul in Thessalonica (Acts 17:4).

And that’s at least what these believers would have known about this man named Silas.

Timothy

And then the last co-author of 1 Thessalonians is Timothy or Timotheus.

He’s listed as co-author with Paul of six of the New Testament epistles (2 Corinthians 1:1; Philippians 1:1; Colossians 1:1; 1 Thessalonians 1:1; 2 Thessalonians 1:1Philemon 1:1). And then of course we have an additional two letters in the New Testament where Timothy is not the co-author of the Apostle Paul – but rather he is the recipient of those letters (1 Timothy 1:2; 2 Timothy 1:2).

Timothy was picked up by the Apostle Paul and Silas almost immediately as they started Paul’s second missionary journey.

Now, Timothy was not mentioned in the record of the founding of this church is Thessalonica back in Acts 17. And yet, somehow these Thessalonian believers came to know him. And so, his name being mentioned wasn’t inappropriate. It’s not as if anyone in the church who received this letter would have said, “Who’s Timothy?!

[S] So, why was Timothy not mentioned in Acts 17?

I think what happened is that Timothy stayed behind in Philippi after Paul and Silas left there to visit Thessalonica. Then, once Paul and Silas had to leave Thessalonica, Timothy came behind them and ministered for a short while to those new believers in that city in Paul’s absence. And after that, all three of them ended up in Berea (Acts 17:14).

https://goo.gl/maps/eMuTZSimC1grkKtTA

And so, we have Paul and Silas and Timothy co-authoring this letter.

Where Was 1 Thessalonians Written?

Now, let’s talk about where this letter was likely written.

And to do this, we need to consider a brief timeline of the start of Paul’s second missionary journey.

[S] These three men – Paul, Silas, and Timothy – start where they find Timothy in Derbe/Lystra/Iconium (Acts 16:1).

https://goo.gl/maps/9fkrgvUYjxQJUmbY8

Then we’re told that they move on through various towns.

[S] They go through Phrygia and Galatia because the Holy Spirit wouldn’t allow them to go to Asia (Acts 16:6).

By the way, the Asia referenced in the New Testament is not what we think of as Asia. Today, when you talk about Asia you’re referring to the continent that contains China and Mongolia and Russia and Iran, etc. In Paul’s day, Asia was a relatively small area of southwestern modern-day Turkey that you can see from the map that Paul and Silas and Timothy skirt to the north.

And so this group goes through Mysia (Acts 16:7).

Then they arrive at Troas (Acts 16:8).  And it’s there where Paul gets the Macedonian call (Acts 16:9).

[S] So, these three men all go to the island of Samothrace, then to Neapolis (Acts 16:11), and then finally to Philippi (which is not on that map, but is just 10 miles west of Neapolis) (Acts 16:12).

It’s in Philippi where Paul casts out the demon from the servant girl. And then her masters apprehend only Paul and Silas – not Timothy (Acts 16:19). Only Paul and Silas end up in jail (Acts 16:25). And they apparently leave that city – just the two of them – Timothy stays behind.

Because next we see just Paul and Silas in Thessalonica (Acts 17:4).

[S] Then they’re run out of that city and they go to Berea (Acts 17:10). When the Thessalonian Jews discovered that Paul and Silas were in Berea, they came there too and ran them out again.

https://goo.gl/maps/fAU84mZwgBpiT74X7

After Timothy came to Berea, the Christians there send only Paul away to Athens, leaving Silas and Timothy in Berea (Acts 17:14). Paul sent a message for Silas and Timothy to meet him in Athens (Acts 17:15).

[S] And it seems that Silas and Timothy eventually came to Paul in Athens, but then they sent Timothy back to Thessalonica to see how the believers there were doing (1 Thessalonians 3:1-2).

1 Thessalonians 3:1–2 AV 1873

1 Wherefore when we could no longer forbear, we thought it good to be left at Athens alone; 2 and sent Timotheus, our brother, and minister of God, and our fellowlabourer in the gospel of Christ, to establish you, and to comfort you concerning your faith:

[S] So, after Paul preaches in Athens he and probably Silas go to Corinth (Acts 18:1). And finally Timothy catches up with Paul and Silas in Corinth (Acts 18:5). And so, they were all there together in Corinth for a year and a half.

https://goo.gl/maps/tq9JGaWET3jfK6oDA

And the point of all this is that that’s the first time that all three men have plenty of time to write a letter to the church in Thessalonica.

And so, this is likely where Paul and Silas and Timothy wrote this letter to the church in that city where they were so unceremoniously kicked out.

This letter was written from Corinth in all likelihood.

When Was 1 Thessalonians Written?

Alright, so now let’s talk about when 1 Thessalonians was written. And thankfully this answer takes a lot less explanation.

[S] According to Acts 18:12 while Paul and Silas and Timothy were in Corinth for over a year, this man named Gallio was the deputy or the proconsul of Achaia.

Acts 18:12 AV 1873

12 And when Gallio was the deputy of Achaia, the Jews made insurrection with one accord against Paul, and brought him to the judgment seat,

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lucius_Junius_Gallio_Annaeanus

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/1/1f/Delphes_Gallion.jpg

Archaeology tells us that Gallio was proconsul of Achaia from A.D. 51–52. This date is one of the firmly established dates in Acts. It’s established from what’s called the “Delphi Inscription” which was discovered in the late 1800s and is now housed in the French School of Archaeology in Athens, Greece. (W. Dittenberger, e.d., Sylloge Inscriptionum Graecarum 2.3 no. 8).

And so, it’s really likely that the letter of 1 Thessalonians is to be dated A.D. 51–52. This would make this book one of the earliest – if not the earliest – letter that Paul wrote that we have in the Bible.

So, to summarize what we’ve seen so far…

•     We have the authors of this letter – Paul, Silas, and Timothy.

•     We have the likely place this letter was written – Corinth.

•     We have a probable date range during which it was written – AD 51-52.

unto the church of the Thessalonians

And we’ve already pretty-much established this, but next we see the recipients of this letter.

It’s the church of the Thessalonians. And we saw how this church was started in Acts 17:1-9 already.

And it might be a few months or so after Paul and Silas left Thessalonica that they wrote this letter along with Timothy.

And amazingly the church still stands. Despite the persecution. Despite being deprived of their spiritual father and mentors – Paul and Silas. Jesus Christ has promised to build his church (Matthew 16:18) and that’s exactly what he did in Thessalonica. And he continued to build it – even in the absence of their human leadership and in the midst of persecution.

So, what does it take for a church to stand in this midst of such stress and turmoil? What has it taken for you to stand through all of the trials in your life?

Well, in the rest of verse 1, Paul gives us two two factors that are directly responsible for you and me and every genuine believer and every genuine church persevering to the end – despite hardships and trouble.

in God the Father and in the Lord Jesus Christ

The first factor that causes us to stand is that we are in God the Father and in the Lord Jesus Christ.

in God

Believers are in God.

Later on in this letter we’ll hear Paul recall his difficult time in Philippi (1 Thessalonians 2:2). But despite the beatings and the persecution and the threat to his very life – he says that he was bold to speak the truth to these Thessalonians. And he says that his boldness was in God.

God was the source of Paul’s boldness. God is the source of any strength we might have in the midst of difficulties and struggles.

Further, regarding believers being in God… The Apostle John says in 1 John 4:15-16 that the one who confesses Jesus as the Son of God has God dwelling in him. God indwells you if you’re a believer. That’s why your life has changed since trusting Christ.

But even more amazing – and much harder to understand – is what he goes on to say there. Not only does the believer have God living in him – but if you’re a believer, you are actually living in God.

The church of the Thessalonians might reside in that ancient city of Thessalonica. But Paul doesn’t say, “to the church in Thessalonica.” That’s not their ultimate dwelling place. It’s not their final abode. Their final abode and yours is God. You spiritually dwell in him.

the Father

And he’s not only God to us. He’s also our Father.

And part of God’s fatherhood toward us that keeps us standing in the mist of trials and difficulties is the truth that’s revealed in Jude 1:1 where Jude there says that we are sanctified or progressively made holy by or in God the Father.

And because of that, trials actually are the means by which God does this sanctifying work. He doesn’t intend to destroy us by sending hard things into our lives. Our Father actually intends to make us more holy – more like his Son.

and in the Lord Jesus Christ

And so, it’s that Son to which Paul now turns our attention.

Believers are in God the Father. And we’re also in the Lord Jesus Christ.

[S] The New Testament relates to us that in the Lord:

•     We are no longer living dark lives (Ephesians 5:8).

•     Children are able to obey their parents (Ephesians 6:1; Colossians 3:20).

•     We find strength to withstand the devil (Ephesians 6:10-11).

•     We are empowered to truly serve others (Ephesians 6:21; Colossians 4:7).

•     We find true joy (Philippians 3:1).

•     We can be harmonious with our fellow believers (Philippians 4:2).

•     Wives find the ability to submit to their imperfect husband (Colossians 3:18).

•     And as Paul says later on in this letter, in the Lord alone are we able to stand fast (1 Thessalonians 3:8; Philippians 4:1).

[S] Furthermore, in Jesus:

•     We are redeemed from sin (Romans 3:24).

•     We are alive unto God (Romans 6:11).

•     We have the gift of eternal life (Romans 6:23).

•     We are no longer under condemnation (Romans 8:1).

•     We are loved by God (Romans 8:39).

•     And we are able to love one another (1 Corinthians 16:24) because we are all one (Galatians 3:28).

•     You wouldn’t know it, but right now we are actually seated in heavenly places in Jesus (Ephesians 2:6).

•     And when the troubles of life start to overwhelm, God is able to keep our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:7) through whom he supplies all of our needs (Philippians 4:19).

So, we are – as the Thessalonian believers were – helped to stand in the midst of all of our struggles and trials because we are in God the Father and in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Grace be unto you, and peace

And since we are in God and in Jesus, we have this grace and peace to help us to withstand the difficulties in life.

[S] Paul is both praying that God would give the Thessalonians grace as well as stating that they already have this grace.

•     It’s this grace that enables us to serve the Lord in the ways that he has called us to serve (Acts 14:26).

•     It’s this grace that saves and justifies us (Acts 15:11; Romans 3:24).

•     By grace we are able to stand (Romans 5:2).

•     This grace abounds in our lives even when we fall and sin (Romans 6:1).

•     And it’s actually this grace that guarantees that sin doesn’t ultimately have dominion over us (Romans 6:14).

•     It’s also this grace by which we have received whatever gifts we have to serve one another (Romans 12:6).

So, you can see how having this grace initially helps us to stand for the Lord when life is hard – like it was for the Thessalonians – and how believers need more and more of this grace from God.

[S] Very similarly, we both already have – and yet need still more of – this peace from God.

•     Jesus himself gives us his peace which then enables our hearts to not be troubled even in trials and hardships (John 14:27).

•     It’s in Christ that we have this peace – though in the world we have tribulation (John 16:33).

•     Three times after Jesus rose from the dead and met with his disciples this was his message to them – “peace to you all” (John 20:19,21,26).

•     We enjoy this peace because we were justified by faith in Jesus (Romans 5:1).

•     As we believe the God of hope, he fills us with this peace (Romans 15:13).

•     And as we refuse to be anxious – but instead trust the Lord with gratitude – his peace keeps our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:7).

•     Paul then ends this letter of 1 Thessalonians with a prayer for these believers that the God of peace would sanctify us in every way (1 Thessalonians 5:23).

God gives grace and God gives peace because we are in God the Father and in the Lord Jesus Christ. These realities are what cause a church – and its individual believers – to stand in the midst of affliction and deprivation.

1 Thessalonians 1 Summary Verse 2

Now, this reality that God protects and strengthens his people in the ways that we have just rehearsed leads Paul to give thanks for these believers, starting in 1 Thessalonians 1:2.

And so, we’re now going to see in verses 2-4 three actions to prompt you to give thanks for fellow believers.

1 Thessalonians 1:2 AV 1873

2 We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers;

We give thanks to God

And we begin with the simple observation that it is right to give thanks for your fellow believers.

If you were honest with yourself, how much of your mindset concerning your fellow-believers could be characterized by thankfulness? In the past week, have you entertained thoughts of gratitude and thankfulness – simply for other genuine Christians?

On numerous occasions the Apostle Paul expressed a thankful heart for fellow believers (Acts 28:15; Romans 1:8; 16:4; 1 Corinthians 1:4; Ephesians 1:16; Philippians 1:3; Colossians 1:31 Thessalonians 2:13; 2 Thessalonians 1:3; 2:13; Philemon 4) He thanked God even for the troubled Corinthian church! Because although they were very troubled, they were still genuine believers!

And if Paul says later in this letter, “in every thing give thanks” (1 Thessalonians 5:18) then you know that it’s God’s will that you be thankful for your fellow-believers.

And of course, the thanksgiving needs to be directed to God.

Because he’s the one who has done all of the “heavy lifting.” He has saved both your fellow-believers and you. He is the one worthy of our offerings of praise and thanks for the genuine work that he has done – both in your heart and in the hearts of other Christians.

And he wants this from you. He wants to receive thanks. This is his will concerning you.

always for you all

And then, this thanksgiving is to be marked by universals. Maybe you could describe it as “profuse” or “lavish.”

Paul gave thanks always for these believers.

Now, of course, he’s not claiming that there wasn’t a second in his life wherein he wasn’t verbally thanking God for these folks. But he is saying that constantly he was engaged in this behavior of thanking God for them. It was his heart’s attitude. It was his default mode.

He gave thanks always for them.

And then Paul gave thanks – he says – “for all of you.”

His thanksgiving is not exclusive. He doesn’t pick and choose whom he is going to be thankful for based on some contrived motivation. If someone was a genuine believer, Paul was going to thank God for that one.

So, does this characterize your attitude toward other believers?

Maybe you recognize that it doesn’t – that you really do not thank the Lord very much at all for your fellow-Christians.

If that’s the case, then Paul is going to lay out his own approach to doing this in order to be a model for you. He is going to give you three actions that prompted him to give thanks to God for genuine fellow-believers in Christ.

making mention of you in our prayers

The first of these actions is simply to pray for them – to make mention of them in your prayers.

The word mention refers to memory. So, the first step in being thankful to God for your fellow-believers is to simply remember them.

Later in this letter we’ll see Paul say that Timothy had visited the Thessalonians and then returned to Paul. And when Timothy returned, he was able to relate to Paul and Silas that the Thessalonians, “had good remembrance of [them] always, desiring greatly to see [them]” (1 Thessalonians 3:6). The Thessalonians had fond memories of Paul and Silas.

When we’re apart from one another throughout the week, you can make it a practice to remember your fellow-believers. That’s simple enough.

And you do this remembering as you actually pray to God. Because Paul and Silas and Timothy are remembering these Thessalonian believers in “in [their] prayers.

So, making mention of your fellow believers as you pray to the Lord is one actions that will prompt you to give thanks to God for them.

1 Thessalonians 1 Summary Verse 3

We see the second action to prompt thankfulness for your fellow believers in verse 3.

1 Thessalonians 1:3 AV 1873

3 remembering without ceasing your work of faith, and labour of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the sight of God and our Father;

remembering

Again, we see the mental aspect involved in this process of thanking God for genuine Christians. Paul and Silas and Timothy were prompted to thank God for the Thessalonians as they were remembering – which is related to our word “mention” in the last verse.

And they are constantly engaged in this remembering. They’re doing it without ceasing.

And they are doing this remembering in the sight of God and our Father at the end of the verse. Again, they’re doing this in the realm of prayer.

So, what exactly are Paul and Silas and Timothy remembering about the Thessalonians? Three activities.

your work of faith

First, Paul remembered the Thessalonians’ work of faith.

[S] Now, often in the New Testament, faith and work are used as contrasting ways in which people seek to be saved.

•     Paul concludes in Romans 3:27-28 that you and I are justified – we’re declared righteous – by God on the basis of faith alone apart from the works of the law.

•     Paul recalled in Galatians 2:16 that there was a time he had to remind even the Apostle Peter that we are justified by faith apart from works of the law.

•     When we received the Spirit, it was by faith and not by the works of the law (Galatians 3:2).

•     When God has chosen to work miracles among his people, he does it through their faith rather than through the works of the law (Galatians 3:5).

•     When a person is saved, the foundation of that salvation is twofold – that person repents from dead works and has faith in God (Hebrews 6:1).

So, that’s all true. A person is not saved by works, but by faith in Christ.

[S] And yet, there is a work that is of faith.

•     In Revelation 2:19, Jesus commends the church in Thyatira for their works which are accompanied by their faith. These two concepts don’t have to be at odds with one another.

•     James says that faith without works is dead (James 2:14-24). If you say that you have faith but it’s not showing in your life that’s a serious problem.

•     Jesus wants our light to shine to other people so that they would see our good works and glorify God (Matthew 5:16).

[S] And that’s how the New Testament describes this kind of work – not the kind that’s an attempt to justify yourself with God. But that’s a response to your being justified. That kind of work is called “good.” It’s a good work – motivated by your faith.

•     Jesus Christ gave himself for us so that we would be engaged in these good works (Titus 2:14).

•     The Lord wants us constantly engaged in these good works which benefit others (Titus 3:8).

•     Engaging in this kind of work leads to fruitfulness in your life (Titus 3:14).

•     One purpose for us gathering together as we do as a church is to provoke one another unto these kinds of works (Hebrews 10:24).

And so, this is what Paul was remembering about these Thessalonian believers. They were engaged in deeds and actions that were motivated by their new faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. The Thessalonians were not trying to justify themselves through these works. Rather, they were engaged in these works because they had already been justified.

…Can you take a moment and think of one other believer in this assembly or elsewhere who is engaged in this kind of work? That’s what you ought to remember about that person. And that will motivate you to give thanks to God for that brother or sister.

and labour of love

Another action of the Thessalonians that fueled Paul’s thankfulness for them was that he remembered their labour of love.

•     Paul later in this letter reminds the Thessalonians of his own labor – by which he is referring to the fact that he literally physically worked when he was in Thessalonica so that he wouldn’t have to ask them to support him (1 Thessalonians 2:9).

•     Paul actually thought that this aspect of his ministry among them was so important that he reminded them again of his laboring with his hands in his second letter to this church (2 Thessalonians 3:8).

•     But he also uses this word in a metaphorical sense to speak of his spiritual labor among them (1 Thessalonians 3:5).

And so, I think that Paul is referring to both of these aspects in relation to the Thessalonian believers. They labored – both physically and spiritually.

And this labor was not motivated out of sheer duty. It wasn’t done grudgingly. It wasn’t executed with a desire for self-glorification.

The Thessalonians’ labor was motivated by their love.

•     This is how it works in families that are functioning according to God’s design. They labor for one another in love.

•     Some of you know what it’s like to have someone do something for you. And that action in itself might be very helpful to you. And yet, it was done in a way that indicates that the person is not doing it out of love.

•     As many of you know, I work in the Business Office at Maranatha. And we often have students come in with questions. And if we’re not thinking right, we can approach these questions as purely transactional. We take your money. We give you a receipt. We bid you farewell.

•     But that’s not the kind of approach we ought to take in ministry. And since life is ministry, it’s not the kind of approach we ought to take ever with anyone.

•     From the time we rise out of bed to the time we lay our head on our pillows, our labor needs to be motivated by genuine love.

This is the kind of labor that Paul remembered the Thessalonians being engaged in. And it caused his heart to well up with gratitude to God for these believers.

Again, I ask, can you think of anyone in this church or anywhere else who models this kind of labor that’s fueled by their love for others? Will you thank God for this person or these people?

and patience of hope

Then the third and last activity of these Thessalonian believers that prompted Paul to give thanks to God for them was their patience of hope.

Now, when you think of the English word patience you might get the idea of some hungry fellow waiting at the table a few minutes before lunch. But he’s not fussing. He’s not angry. He’s just calmly waiting patiently for his dear wife to bring him the delicious food that she made for him. He’s so patient.

You might get that idea! But that concept is actually described by another Greek word – not the one translated as patience in this passage.

[S] In this passage, this word refers to endurance or remaining under some pressure.

It’s what’s required of the athlete who has played his hardest for 90 minutes of a game and it’s just gone into overtime.

This endurance is something that you can’t purchase. It doesn’t come in a pill. Rather, the Bible describes how to obtain this character quality. And it’s not for the faint of heart.

•     We develop endurance as a result of tribulations or trials – difficult things (Romans 5:3).

•     We develop this endurance by waiting (Romans 8:25).

•     Endurance comes through affliction and suffering (2 Corinthians 1:6).

•     Paul says to this Thessalonian church in his second letter to them that this endurance comes through persecutions and tribulations (2 Thessalonians 1:4).

•     When your faith is tried – that’s when this attribute of endurance is worked in you (James 1:3).

•     When you think of this character quality, think of Job whose struggles are recorded for us in the Old Testament (James 5:11). Think of what he suffered. Think of how he suffered – not perfectly, not sinlessly, but he didn’t quit. He endured these hardships.

So, the difficult things you experience are all – no doubt – intended by God to work this quality in you.

But as you consider the list of realities that God puts into your life in order to work endurance in you, you might kind of despair.

•     Trials?

•     Waiting?

•     Affliction?

•     Suffering?

•     Persecutions?

•     Your faith being tested?

•     Job-like pain and anguish?

How can anyone actually endure these things?

[S] We can endure these things only because we have hope. We have confident expectation of good things to come for us. The Thessalonians’ patience or endurance was accompanied by hope.

In fact, endurance is the very path to hope. It works like this:

•     We glory in our trials – because we know that trials work endurance, and endurance works experience, and experience works hope in us (Romans 5:3-4).

•     God has given us the Old Testament with all of its examples and illustrations for us – at least in part – so that we would be comforted by what’s written in it and be encouraged to endure. And the ultimate goal of all of that is that we would have hope (Romans 15:4).

So, the Thessalonian believers had this endurance within them – an endurance brought about by their confident expectation – their hope – even and especially in the midst of their sufferings. And this caused Paul to give thanks to God for them.

…Can you identify anyone in this church who has been through sufferings? …If you can’t, you need to get to know us better.

In this assembly:

•     We have had people battle cancer and win for now.

•     We have dear folks with wayward children.

•     We have had surgeries.

•     We’ve suffered miscarriages.

•     There are unexplained illnesses.

•     We have some with strained relationships with family due to our trusting Christ.

•     We have experienced – mostly moderate forms of – persecution.

•     Some are honestly struggling with depression.

•     Some of us have lost spouses.

How do you see these people responding to these painful trials and afflictions? If they’re responding by enduring these hardships, then you and I owe God some thanks. Don’t we?

And how is it that these dear brethren are responding with endurance to the trials presented to them? We’ve mentioned that they have hope or confident expectation. But what is that hope founded upon?

in our Lord Jesus Christ

Our brethren – like the Thessalonian believers – have their confidence in Christ.

•     All believers have what Paul calls “the hope of glory” which is “Christ in [us]” (Colossians 1:27).

•     Paul identifies our hope to be none other than Jesus Christ (1 Timothy 1:1). He alone is our confidence.

•     His glorious future appearing is what Paul calls the “blessed hope” (Titus 2:13).

•     It is Jesus who is our living hope (1 Peter 1:3) which is in us and makes such a difference in us that some might wonder what the source of that inner hope of yours is (1 Peter 3:15).

When you have cancer, When your job is hard, When you lose a loved one, When the Lord has not yet given you a spouse, When you are undergoing serious medical issues, When home life is not peaceful, When finances are impossibly tight…

We confidently await Christ. We await his helping us in this life. And we await his future coming for us.

So, this is yet another prompt to give thanks to God for genuine believers. As we pray for these folks and remember these activities of theirs, we are prompted to give thanks to God for his help with all of these things.

1 Thessalonians 1 Summary Verse 4

And the last reality that Paul mentions that causes him to give thanks for the Thessalonian believers is the evident fact that God had chosen them.

1 Thessalonians 1:4 AV 1873

4 knowing, brethren beloved, your election of God.

Well, how exactly did Paul know that God had chosen the Thessalonian believers? …We’re going to have to discover that next time.

But for now, I would encourage us all to engage in these three actions through the rest of the week and let them prompt you to thank God for other genuine believers.

1.   Pray for them.

2.   As you do that, remember their work and labor and endurance.

3.   And look at their life to find evidences of their having been chosen by God.

And may all of that praying and remembering and knowing concerning your brethren lead you to give thanks to God for them.

Titus 1 1 Commentary “Acknowledging”

Titus 1 1 Commentary: So, we’ve heard Paul tell us that he’s a servant of God and apostle of Jesus. He serves God as one sent with the message of the Gospel.

And he does this according to the faith of God’s elect – so that those who are chosen by God would hear and believe the truth that we find in Titus 2:13-14 – that we’re sinners, that Christ died for our sin, and that he rose from the dead.

And the acknowledging of the truth

But as awesome and important as that is – that God’s elect should come to initially believe the Gospel message – that’s not where Paul leaves them.

Because in the next statement Paul indicates another purpose for which he slaves for God and goes around giving Christ’s message – and it seems to be focused more on the progressive aspect of faith.

and [i.e., according to…] the [acknowledging/knowledge] of the truth

Now, it might not be so obvious in English, but in Greek, the “and” here ties the “acknowledging of the truth” to “the faith of God’s elect” that we saw earlier in this verse.

So, Paul is saying that he’s a slave of God and messenger of Christ for the purpose of seeing God’s elect come to faith in Christ.

And then beyond that, Paul does these things for the purpose of these individuals acknowledging the truth.

So, what does that mean?

Acknowledging

Well, there’s a sense in which God’s elect acknowledge the truth initially – but then they also grow in this knowledge.

It’s like a seed that germinates and sprouts – and then grows into a full plant. There’s a point at which that seed goes from being a living seed to then dying and becoming something that looks totally different. And that different thing itself then starts to grow.

And yet, at the same time, we all know that you can put a seed in the ground and have it just die and produce nothing – no new life.

And we can apply that seed metaphor to what Paul is talking about here concerning people coming to faith initially and then progressively acknowledging the truth. That’s the way it ought to work.

And yet according to other passages in the New Testament, most people, in fact – never come to this knowledge at all. And not only do people not come to grow in their knowledge of Christ – they actually never even come to faith in him to begin with.

Paul in Romans 1:28 tells us that there are those who “did not like to retain God in their knowledge.” They didn’t and don’t want to know God – either initially or progressively.

In Romans 10:2 Paul admits with sorrow that his unbelieving Jewish compatriots “have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge.” They are zealous for God – but it’s not the kind of zeal that’s accurately informed by God’s truth.

And in fact, the only knowledge that a person can have of spiritual things before receiving Christ is “the knowledge of sin” – which Paul says in Romans 3:20 is the purpose of the Law.

And yet, some get so close to this knowledge – but they ultimately never attain it. That’s what Paul means when he speaks in 2 Timothy 3:7 of those who are “ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.”

And actually, the apostle Peter tells us that there are false teachers who “have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.” But these people end up entangling themselves in those old pollutions of the world and being overcome. And Peter says of those people that their last state is worse than the first.

So, the Scripture testifies that most people in this world never come to this knowledge that Paul speaks of in Titus 1:1 – the knowledge for which he serves God and for which Christ sends him out with his message.

And yet, that’s not where God wants people to remain in regard to this knowledge. In fact, Paul declares in 1 Timothy 2:4 that God’s desire for those who are apart from Christ is that they would be saved and “come unto the knowledge of the truth.” So, that’s God’s desire.

And therefore, Paul says in 2 Timothy 2:24-25 that the servant of the Lord must gently instruct those who oppose the truth – optimistic that perhaps God “will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth.”

And such were some of us – refusing to acknowledge God – or maybe having some sort of zeal about deity, but not a zeal that was according to knowledge – and ultimately coming to know only our own sin. But God desired for us to come to this knowledge – and there were those who patiently taught us – in hope that God would grant us this knowledge.

And here we are now as God’s elect – as Paul spoke of earlier in Titus 1:1. And we now have a new relationship to this knowledge.

This knowledge is now something that we’ve received, according to Hebrews 10:26. So, it can indeed be viewed as something that happens at a point in time that’s kind of an initial entry into the Christian life.

And yet, much of what the New Testament says about this knowledge gives us the idea that this is something that we can grow in and that can grow in us.

Paul prays in Ephesians 1:17 that God would grant to the Ephesian believers – to those who had already received the knowledge of the truth to be saved – that God would give them spiritual wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of God and Jesus Christ. So, as believers these Ephesians would have already had this knowledge – and yet, Paul says that it’s something that can be used to grow our wisdom.

In Philippians 1:9, Paul prays that the love of the believers in Philippi would continually grow in this knowledge. Now – they already had love. They already had the knowledge. But Paul – and God himself – wants believers’ love to grow by means of this knowledge.

So – do you want to love more? Then know more – know more about God and Christ.

And there’s certainly nothing wrong with us pointing out that “we don’t just need a head knowledge of truth – we need a heart knowledge.” And that’s very true. What we know needs to affect what we do and how we think and act.

But as we recognize that fact, let’s not forget that we do need knowledge and we need to grow in that area. Being ignorant or lazy when it comes to studying your Bible and knowing your Lord is not a virtue.

So, do you want more love? Do you want to be a more loving person? Then start by getting more of this knowledge.

Well, moving on, in Colossians 1:9-10 Paul reveals to those believers in Colossae that he prays that they would be filled with the knowledge of God’s will and that they would increase in the knowledge of God.

In chapter 2 of that same book, Paul says that he greatly desires that these believers would better understand this knowledge of God’s mystery – that is, Christ himself.

And then in Colossians 3 Paul tells the believers in Colossae that they’ve put on the new man who is constantly being renewed by means of the knowledge of – knowing – the one who created that new man.

So, for the Colossian believers, Paul is very interested that they continually grow in this knowledge that he’s speaking of here in Titus 1:1. That they would grow in the knowledge of God’s will – grow in the knowledge of God himself – grow in the knowledge of Christ – of the one who created them.

And again, these people would have already known these things on some level. You need to know God and Christ and God’s will on some elementary level at least in order to be saved. But Paul is saying that you need to grow in knowledge in these areas.

And then Paul says something very interesting in Philemon verse 6. He says there that he prays that Philemon’s faith would become effective – that sounds like something we want – effective faith – how do you get it? Paul says that that comes by the knowledge of every good thing that is in you in Christ.

So, not only are we to grow in our knowledge of God and Christ and God’s will – we are to grow in knowing every good thing that’s in us.

And you might think that that sounds conceited. But it’s not – because we’re to come to know better every good thing that is in us … “in Christ!”

Paul says elsewhere that there is nothing good in him. But then he clarifies – that is, in my flesh.

And that’s because there are some good things in you now – in Christ. Yes, we must acknowledge how wretched we are in ourselves. But by God’s word, we have divine testimony telling us that we have some good in us now – now that we’re in Christ.

And the more we understand that, the more effective our shared faith – the faith that we hold in common with one another – becomes.

Well, continuing this theme, but from a different author of Scripture, Peter also points to the ability and necessity of believers to grow in knowledge.

He prays in 2 Peter 1:2 that grace and peace would be multiplied to us.

Is that something you want? Who here doesn’t want more grace and more peace? How do you get it?

Peter says that it comes through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord. That’s where grace and peace are to be found – in knowing God better.

And not just grace and peace – but God has given us – according to 2 Peter 1:3 – everything that pertains to life and godliness. And that’s pretty much everything you need right there.

How does he give that to us?

It’s through the knowledge of him that called us.

So, Scripture gives us ample evidence that as believers – this knowledge that we have must grow. Our knowledge of God and Christ and God’s will needs to grow.

Well, how does it grow?

I personally would tend to answer that question with “Scripture” – read your Bible. And that would generally be correct.

But God has a more nuanced answer.

Paul in Ephesians 4:11-13 tells us that God has given the church gifted individuals to work amongst us and on us until we all “attain to the unity … of the knowledge of the Son of God.” So, there’s a sense in which this knowledge has an end – has an aim – has a goal.

Every gifted spiritual individual in your life – his or her main goal should be – and God’s goal for him or her is – that you would attain to the unity that comes from knowing the Son of God. This is God’s goal for you as an individual. It’s God goal for your church.

God gave apostles, prophets, evangelists, and pastor-teachers. He wrote Scripture through his apostles – and the Scripture is what is written to grow our knowledge of God. Evangelists and Pastor-Teachers then take that Scripture and help us understand it and help us live it – they help us grow in our knowledge of God in that way. And the end goal is that we are all brought together to know the Son of God through the ministry of these gifted men.

And to bring it back to Titus 1:1, Paul says that he – as one of these gifted men – serves God and goes out with the message of Jesus Christ according to – or for the sake of – the knowledge of the truth.

This is the knowledge that God desires for all to have – but some will never attain. It’s the knowledge that as we speak with those who oppose the truth, we need to be careful to be gentle with them because God might just give them this knowledge. And it’s the knowledge that once we receive, there’s a possibility that we could go on sinning willfully – and that would not be good for us.

But positively, it’s a knowledge that is effectual for the elect – for those chosen by God. And its why Paul serves God with the message of Jesus Christ.

Titus 1 1 Commentary

Titus 1 1 Commentary: I’d like us to meditate on the first 18 words of the New Testament letter to Titus. So, let’s turn our focus to Titus, chapter 1.

Titus is a letter written with a great emphasis on healthy Christian living. It turns out that a number of people in Crete were in need of several corrections regarding their behavior and lifestyle. And so, this letter is written to challenge these people to be “sound in the faith.”

And the letter begins as pretty much all New Testament letters do, with an identifying of the one who is sending the letter.

Titus 1 1 Commentary Paul

So, Paul starts this letter in verse 1 by introducing himself. He gives his name first.

KJV Titus 1:1 ¶ Paul,

And then he’s going to describe what he is and does.

And of course, the recipient of this letter – whom we discover to be Titus later on – he would have known the following things about Paul. And yet Paul feels the need to state who he is to this man who already knows that information.

And this could be for the sake of reminding Titus or perhaps Paul was looking forward to the possibility that Titus might end up reading this letter to the church which he was shepherding.

Titus 1 1 Commentary A servant of God

So, here’s one thing that Paul is.

a [servant/bond-servant/slave] of God,

So, Paul serves God. He is – as it were – a slave whose main task in life is to please his master.

This phrase “servant of God” first appears in the book of Acts in relation to Paul. In fact, it’s in Acts 16:17 where the fortune-telling slave girl in Philippi kept following Paul and Silas and proclaiming, “these men are servants of the most high God.”

And even though Paul rebuked her for that at the time, it seems like what she was saying was actually true – and this term becomes a title that Paul would later proudly wear. He’s a servant of God.

Now, it’s more common for Paul to speak of himself as the servant “of Christ.” And so, right here in Titus and back in Acts 16 are the only two places where Paul is given this title “servant of God.”

But other people in Scripture also take on this title. Paul gives Epaphras this title (Col 4:12). And James takes on this title for himself (Jam 1:1).

Peter says that all believers are to view themselves as servants of God (1Pe 2:16).

And then there are several references to servants of God in the book of Revelation. Including those who will be taken out of the earth (Rev 7:3), prophets (10:7), Moses (15:3), those around God’s throne (19:5), those entering the new heaven and new earth (22:3), and those who read and believe the book of Revelation (22:6).

So, Paul is just like so many other people in his relationship with God – he’s a simple servant. He slaves for God. That’s his life. He’s nothing special in his own eyes. He’s just a slave.

And that might come in handy for Titus’ people to know later on in this letter. Because Paul – as a slave himself – if going to be addressing how slaves of human masters ought to treat those masters. Paul is just one of them. He knows what it’s like to live that life – in his case, for a heavenly master.

And this is the posture for all of God’s people to take – that we’re simply slaves of God.

  • Maybe you feel like your life is unfulfilling.
  • Do you feel like your life ought to be more exciting? Or more comfortable?
  • Do you feel restrained and restricted in certain ways in terms of where you’re going and what you’re doing in this life?
  • Do you wish you were able to do just whatever you please and you’re wondering why now – ever since you’ve been a Christian – that just doesn’t seem to work anymore?

It’s because you are like the Apostle Paul. You are a slave of God. Your life is no longer based on your own desires. Your life is now focused solely on pleasing God – on serving God – on knowing and loving and making known God.

So, we’re all in the same boat. We’re all slaves of God. Paul was. We are, too, if we know him through his Son, Jesus Christ.

So, this is the first way in which Paul wants to be identified. As a slave of God.

Titus 1 1 Commentary And an apostle of Jesus Christ

And then, Paul wants to describe himself in terms of his relationship with Jesus Christ.

and an apostle of Jesus Christ,

Now, the term apostle is used to describe one who is sent – a messenger – someone who is sent on behalf of someone important with a special message to deliver.

And Paul is described as an apostle all the way back in Acts 14 where he and Barnabas are given that title. And after that he identifies himself quite freely as Christ’s messenger – his apostle. In 8 of his 13 letters that he wrote, Paul labels himself as an apostle.

So, he’s a messenger sent with a special message. But whose message is it?

That’s where Paul identifies the one who has sent him – Jesus Christ.

And so, as we listen to a book like Titus, we need to keep before ourselves the fact that this is not just Paul’s opinions. What we have written for us in a book like this is exactly the message that the Lord Jesus Christ wants us to hear and obey.

And so, Paul has identified himself with two words so far. He’s a servant. And he’s an apostle – one sent with a special message.

And even though Paul was exceptionally gifted and he’s our human example to imitate – yet we’re not very much unlike him.

We all are servants of God. We’re called to serve God – to live for God – to consider our life-work to be slaving for him in this life. We’re called to lay aside our own interests and focus on God’s interests in this world. We are God’s servants.

And we’re ones who have been sent by Jesus Christ with a message. It’s the same message that Jesus delivered to his followers before he was taken back up into heaven for a time – given in what we call the Great Commission – that as we go, we must make disciples, baptize them, and teach them all the things that Christ commanded.

Titus 1 1 Commentary According to the faith of God’s elect

And as Paul did this – as he slaved for God and was sent out with Christ’s message – the following was his goal as we continue in Titus 1:1…

[according to/for/to further] the faith of [God’s elect/those chosen of God/God’s chosen ones],

So, the aim of Paul’s slaving for God and going out as one sent with a message by Jesus was for this purpose. The faith of God’s elect.

Let’s identify God’s elect first. And then we’ll talk about their faith. And then how Paul’s slaving for God and serving as Christ’s messenger plays into this.

Titus 1 1 Commentary God’s elect

That term elect is used for Christ – that he was chosen or choice. And the Scripture speaks of him a few times in that regard.

But the majority of the time that the Bible speaks of the elect it speaks of believers in Jesus Christ.

So, let’s just quickly consider what the Gospels have to say about these people – God’s elect.

Jesus’s parable of the wedding guests teaches us that there are all sorts of people who are called. Everyone is invited to the wedding – or, really, to salvation in Christ. But few are elect – few respond to that invitation. And actually – according to that parable, there’s even one guy who does respond. But he doesn’t have the right kind of clothing. And so, the father kicks him out. So, few respond to the call and are allowed in by the Father.

But those whom the Father does allow in, he’s very focused on. These are “God’s elect” as Paul says here in Titus. They have a special relationship with God.

In fact, this relationship is so special that God hears our requests now. Jesus used that parable of the unrighteous judge who was being annoyed by a woman and that’s what caused him to help her. But in contrast to that uncaring man – Jesus says that God the Father will not delay in giving justice to his elect who cry out to him day and night. God hears and responds to our prayers as his chosen or elect ones.

And it goes further than that. Jesus says that it’s for the sake of these people – God’s elect – that the Tribulation will be limited. And you think of the Great Tribulation that will occur right before Jesus returns to earth – and how important of an event that will be. And it’s a marvel that God will actually limit that unprecedented event in world history – just for the sake of these people – of God’s elect.

And because of this special relationship that the elect have with God and the extraordinary grace that he pours out on us, Jesus characterizes the elect as ones whom it is very difficult to ultimately deceive. He speaks of false Christs and false prophets deceiving people in the last days. And he says that their signs and wonders will deceive – if it were even possible – the elect! And I think that he’s saying that that won’t be possible – but if it were possible it would happen. But the blessed reality is that for those who are truly elect of God – we’re not ultimately deceived by false religion – even when it’s coming in the form of signs and wonders – miraculous events.

And the blessed end of God’s elect is that we will ultimately be gathered together to the Lord. We’re in a special relationship with God. He will limit the Tribulation for people like us. We can’t ultimately be deceived. And so, in the end he will gather us together to him.

So, that’s a summary of what’s said of God’s elect in the Gospels in your New Testament.

Then the section of the New Testament known as the Epistles – or letters to churches and individuals – speak of this group of individuals as well.

Paul in Romans says that it’s impossible to bring a charge or an accusation against God’s elect. Why’s that? Because God is the one who justifies us. He declares us righteous. And so, how could anyone possibly bring a legitimate charge of guilt against those whom God has already declared to be righteous?! It won’t happen.

Paul says in Colossians that we are elect or chosen of God and therefore we are holy and beloved. We’re set apart special for God – holy in that sense. And God loves us.

Paul says in 2 Timothy that the elect obtain salvation in Christ and eternal glory.

And Peter speaks of God’s elect as a people of God’s very own. We belong to God in a special way. And so, the following is expected of us – that we should proclaim the praises or excellencies or virtues of him who called us out of darkness and into light.

And so, we’ve come full circle – we began this discussion of the elect of God noting that many are called but few are chosen. And now here we end with the fact that the chosen were called by God out of darkness and into light.

And we’ll end there with our consideration of what the New Testament says of this group known as God’s elect.

But as Peter reminds us, we’re to be engaged in something right now in response to these blessed truths. We should be proclaiming God’s praises – speaking to others of his excellencies and virtues – and demonstrating those things with our lives.

Titus 1 1 Commentary The faith of

And so, these folks known as God’s elect have something – according to Paul here in Titus 1:1. They have faith. God’s elect ones believe something. What do we believe?

Well, Paul gives the substance of what God’s elect believe even in this short letter. Look at Titus 2:13-14.

Here’s what Paul affirms that God’s elect believe. We are…

KJV Titus 2:13 [Looking for/waiting for] [that/the] [blessed/happy fulfillment of our] hope, [and/in] the glorious appearing of [the great God and our/our great God and] Saviour Jesus Christ;

14 Who gave himself for us, [that he might/to] [redeem us/set us free] from [all iniquity/every lawless deed/every kind of lawlessness], and [to…] purify [unto/for] himself a [peculiar people/people for his own possession/people who are truly his], [zealous/who are eager] [of/for/to do] [good works/good deeds/good].

So, we get the kernel of the Gospel message in those two short verses.

Paul declares that we’re sinners. We need to be redeemed or set free from all iniquity or every lawless deed. We were formerly enslaved to those deeds. We are sinners in need of being rescued.

But Jesus came to this earth to “give himself for us.” He vicariously atoned for our sins. He died on the cross for our sins. He paid the price for us to be forgiven and released from slavery to sin. Jesus Christ suffered God’s wrath for our sin. He didn’t deserve it – we did. But we didn’t take it – he did.

And if there’s going to be a glorious appearing of this one who died for us, then it means that he had to be raised again. Jesus rose from the dead.

And Jesus Christ will return for his elect. He’s coming again and that is our blessed hope.

This is – in a nutshell – the faith of God’s elect. This is what we believe.

Titus 1 1 Commentary According to

But how does a person come to believe this message of Christ’s dying for our sins and coming again?

This is where Paul’s efforts come in. Where his slavery to God and his being sent out as Christ’s messenger with a special message – with this very message – comes in to the picture.

Paul slaves and is sent forth according to this faith of God’s elect. He serves God’s interests and not his own like a slave would do – with the goal of people hearing and believing this Gospel message. Paul is happy to be sent out by Christ all over the place in order that God’s elect would demonstrate that they are indeed God’s elect by believing this blessed truth of the Gospel.

And we’ll stop here for now. But as we go to prayer we have a number of realities that were just revealed to us that should fuel our praying.

We should pray from the position of slaves of God and those sent by Christ with his saving message. We should pray that our efforts and the efforts of our missionaries would meet with a response of faith. And we ought to pray that as God’s elect we would proclaim the virtues and excellencies of God in this community and beyond.