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Bible Commentaries

William Barclay's Daily Study Bible
1 Thessalonians 1

 

 

Other Authors
Verses 1-10

Chapter 1

LOVE'S INTRODUCTION (1 Thessalonians 1:1-10)

1:1-10 Paul and Silas and Timothy send this letter to the church of the Thessalonians which is in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Grace be to you and peace.

Always we thank God for you all and always we remember you in our prayers. We never cease to remember the work inspired by your faith, the labour prompted by your love and the endurance founded on your hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, before God who is also our Father. For we know, brothers beloved by God, how you were chosen. We know that our good news did not come to you with words only, but with power and with the Holy Spirit and with much conviction, just as you know what we showed ourselves to be to you for your sakes. And you became imitators of us and of the Lord, for although you received the word in much affliction, yet you received it with the joy of the Holy Spirit so that you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaea. For the word of the Lord went forth from you like a trumpet, not only in Macedonia and Achaea, but the story of your faith towards God has gone forth in every place, so that we had no need to say anything about it. For the people amongst whom we were could tell us your story, and how we entered into you and how you turned from idols towards God, to serve the living and true God and to await the coming of his Son from heaven, even Jesus whom he raised from among the dead, and who rescues us from the coming wrath.

Paul sends this letter to the church of the Thessalonians which is in God and the Lord Jesus Christ. God was the very atmosphere in which the Church lived and moved and had its being. Just as the air is in us and we are in the air and cannot live without it, so the true Church is in God and God is in the true Church and there is no true life for the Church without God. Further, the God in whom the Church lives is the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ; and, therefore, the Church does not shiver in the icy fear of a God who is a tyrant but basks in the sunshine of a God who is love.

In this opening chapter we see Paul at his most winsome. In a short time he was going to deal out warning and rebuke; but he begins with unmixed praise. Even when he rebuked, it was never his aim to discourage but always to uplift. In every man there is something fine, and often the best way to rid him of the lower things is to praise the higher things. The best way to eradicate his faults is to praise his virtues so that they will flower all the more; every man reacts better to encouragement than he does to rebuke. It is told that once the Duke of Wellington's cook gave notice and left him. He was asked why he had left so honourable and well-paid a position. His answer was, "When the dinner is good, the Duke never praises me and when it is bad, he never blames me; it was just not worth while." Encouragement was lacking. Paul, like a good psychologist and with true Christian tact, begins with praise even when he means to move on to rebuke.

In 1 Thessalonians 1:3 Paul picks out three great ingredients of the Christian life.

(i) There is work which is inspired by faith. Nothing tells us more about a man than the way in which he works. He may work in fear of the whip; he may work for hope of gain; he may work from a grim sense of duty; or he may work inspired by faith. His faith is that this is his task given him by God and that he is working in the last analysis not for men but for God. Someone has said that the sign of true consecration is when a man can find glory in drudgery.

(ii) There is the labour which is prompted by love. Bernard Newman tells how once he stayed in a Bulgarian peasant's house. All the time he was there the daughter was stitching away at a dress. He said to her, "Don't you ever get tired of that eternal sewing?" "O no!" she said, "you see this is my wedding dress." Work done for love always has a glory.

(iii) There is the endurance which is founded on hope. When Alexander the Great was setting out on his campaigns, he divided all his possessions among his friends. Someone said, "But you are keeping nothing for yourself." "O yes, I am," he said. "I have kept my hopes." A man can endure anything so long as he has hope, for then he is walking not to the night, but to the dawn.

In 1 Thessalonians 1:4 Paul speaks of the Thessalonians as brothers beloved by God. The phrase beloved by God was a phrase which the Jews applied only to supremely great men like Moses and Solomon, and to the nation of Israel itself Now the greatest privilege of the greatest men of God's chosen people has been extended to the humblest of the Gentiles.

1 Thessalonians 1:8 speaks of the faith of the Thessalonians sounding forth like a trumpet; the word could also mean crashing out like a roll of thunder. There is something tremendous about the sheer defiance of early Christianity. When all prudence would have dictated a way of life that would escape notice and so avoid danger and persecution, the Christians blazoned forth their faith. They were never ashamed to show whose they were and whom they sought to serve.

In 1 Thessalonians 1:9-10 two words are used which are characteristic of the Christian life. The Thessalonians served God and waited on the coming of Christ. The Christian is called upon to serve in the world and to wait for glory. The loyal service and the patient waiting were the necessary preludes to the glory of heaven.

-Barclay's Daily Study Bible (NT)

 


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Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.

Bibliography Information
Barclay, William. "Commentary on 1 Thessalonians 1:4". "William Barclay's Daily Study Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dsb/1-thessalonians-1.html. 1956-1959.

Lectionary Calendar
Saturday, August 17th, 2019
the Week of Proper 14 / Ordinary 19
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