1 Thessalonians 1 Summary

Explaining the Book
Explaining the Book
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.

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.

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.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.