1 Thessalonians 1 (English Standard Version)
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The story of Paul’s visit to Thessalonica is recorded in Acts 17:1-10 (DWELLINGintheWord #452). Even though his stay there was probably no more than three to four weeks (see Acts 17:2), his efforts were crowned with success. Many people turned to Christ as Saviour and Lord; the Thessalonican Church was organized and despite the opposition from the pagan culture around them, the members of this church continued the ministry for the Saviour in the city. Both 1 and 2 Thessalonians were addressed to them.
Naturally Paul was concerned about the well-being of this infant church. After leaving the area, he sent Timothy back to Thessalonica to investigate what was taking place there. The news that Timothy brought back was most encouraging and heart warming. Paul’s response was to write the church a letter of encouragement and praise.
But along with the encouraging news there were some disturbing facts brought to light. So along with Paul’s praise he answered questions which were disturbing them and admonished them to correct the evil trends which were apparently developing.
–Harold L. Fickett, Jr.
1Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy,
To the church of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ:
Grace to you and peace.
The Thessalonians’ Faith and Example
2 We give thanks to God always for all of you, constantly mentioning you in our prayers, 3remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.
They were a faithful and loving and hopeful church!
1 Corinthians 13:13 (New International Version)
And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
Genuine love is so contrary to human nature that its presence bears witness to an extraordinary power.
4For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you, 5because our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction. You know what kind of men we proved to be among you for your sake. 6And you became imitators of us and of the Lord,
They were an imitating church!
1 Peter 2:21 (New International Version)
To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.
Martin Luther asked: “If Christ wore a crown of thorns, why should His followers expect only a crown of roses?”
for you received the word in much affliction, with the joy of the Holy Spirit,
They were a joyful church!
Romans 14:17 (Good News Translation)
For God’s Kingdom is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of the righteousness, peace, and joy which the Holy Spirit gives.
A poster that was popular during my college days: Let nothing so fill you with sorrow that you forget the joy of Christ risen!
7so that you became an example to all the believers
They were an exemplary church!
Titus 2:7 (New International Version)
In everything set them an example by doing what is good.
A little boy’s over-protective mother went with him on the first day of school, and she insisted that she speak with her little boy’s teacher before she left. His mother told the teacher that if her son misbehaved, the teacher should punish the boy next to him. The teacher asked why. And the mother replied, “My little boy learns by example.“
in Macedonia and in Achaia.
Thessalonica (modern Thessaloniki, also called Salonika) is located about 190 mi. north of Athens. In the days of the apostle Paul it was the capital of the province of Macedonia and was a “free city.” Today Thessaloniki is the second largest city in Greece (750,000). Most of the remains from the New Testament era are either destroyed or covered over by the modern city. However, recent excavations in the center of the city have revealed the remains of an ancient forum (agora).
8For not only has the word of the Lord sounded forth from you in Macedonia and Achaia, but your faith in God has gone forth everywhere, so that we need not say anything.
They were an evangelizing church!
Acts 1:8 (New Living Translation)
“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
I have but one passion: It is He, it is He alone. The world is the field and the field is the world; and henceforth that country shall be my home where I can be most used in winning souls for Christ.
– Count Nicolaus Ludwig Count von Zinzendorf (founder of Daily Texts in 1731)
9For they themselves report concerning us the kind of reception we had among you,
They were a welcoming church!
Romans 12:13 (New International Version)
Here are some examples:
- Take food to someone you don’t know.
- Invite someone to our home that you don’t know very well — maybe someone who just moved to town, your neighborhood, or who may be new to the church.
- Visit the hospital or nursing home and talk to patients you don’t know.
- Pay for a stranger’s meal at a restaurant.
- Help provide food or clothing for the homeless.
and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, 10and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come.
They were a waiting church!
Acts 1:10-11 (New Living Translation)
As they strained to see him rising into heaven, two white-robed men suddenly stood among them. “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why are you standing here staring into heaven? Jesus has been taken from you into heaven, but someday he will return from heaven in the same way you saw him go!”
The ancient confession of faith: Christ has died. Christ is risen. Christ will come again.
As I read the compliments Paul bestows on the church at Thessalonica, I wonder how well I am doing in those very departments. How faithful, hopeful, and loving am I — to my family, to strangers, to those who annoy me? How diligently do I imitate Christ — or do I just fall back on the same old tired excuses for my poor witness? How joyful am I — especially when my circumstances are not what I wish they were? Am I asking the Lord to put people in my path so I can tell them about him and his wonderful salvation? Is my house an open house to those who need help or a hot meal? Am I living in expectation that “Christ will come again”?
Help me, Lord, to live for you in every detail of my life!
“I Offer My Life” by Don Moen.