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Bible Commentaries
1 Thessalonians 1

Concordant Commentary of the New TestamentConcordant NT Commentary

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Verses 1-10


2 This is the pattern pastoral epistle. Paul's deep concern leads him to constant prayer for them, for he knows their need and has been torn from them before it was possible for him to teach them much.

3 It is most significant to find in the opening strain of this, Paul's earliest epistle, that abiding trinity, faith, expectation and love, which have continued the leading characteristics of his ministry and which alone remain throughout this economy ( 1Co_13:13 ). Expectation is expounded in these Promise Epistles. Faith is fully set forth in the Preparatory Epistles, especially Romans. Love overflows in the Perfection Epistles. When all the "gifts" vanished, these remained. It is the character not the quantity of work that counts with God. Apart from faith it is impossible to please Him. Let us avoid all efforts which are not firmly founded on faith. Even toil and weariness depend on their motive to meet His approbation. Love alone can give value to our toil. Expectation, not the indefinite, uncertain desire which "hope" suggests, but an assured and confident prospect of their Lord's return, gave these young believers their endurance in the midst of persecution.

4 Paul might well question the reality of the work done in Thessalonica. In a few weeks' time a great multitude heard and believed. There was danger that the enthusiasm of the moment had carried many into their company who were never the subjects of God's grace. But as Paul reflects upon the vision which sent him there ( Act_16:9 ) and the mighty power of the preaching, and their subsequent service and sufferings, he is convinced that God has chosen them. At this very time God assures him that He had many people in Corinth ( Act_18:10 ).

6 What fervor, what zeal, was shown by this ecclesia! Only a few months before they bowed down to idols. Now, in the face of a furious persecution, they fearlessly proclaim Christ. They have no thought of confining themselves to their own city or even their own province. This was indeed a model even at that time, and how much more so now! Every member was a missionary. Their conduct forced the very enemies of Paul to bear testimony to the reality of his work amongst them ( Act_17:6 ).

10 Waiting has no English equivalent. It is used in the papyri of those who were required to settle their debts without waiting the full term. The secret of Paul's Thessalonian evangelism is twofold. He did not seek to turn them from their idols. That was incidental. He turned them to God. God and His grace provide the impelling power. In doing this they must needs turn their back on the idols they had worshiped. But more than this, he put before them a vital expectation. It was not a dead Christ he proclaimed to them. Nor did he stop with the resurrection. He engaged their hearts with the ascended Son of God, Whom they might expect to leave His place in heaven in order to receive them to Himself.


4 There is an overwhelming temptation to please men, in evangelistic work. The marvelous success of Paul's short ministry in Thessalonica arose from his determination to please God at any cost.

5 The apostle, in discussing his own motives and methods, gives us an ideal by which to test all such efforts. Flattery is barred out. Avarice is denounced. He himself did not even get a living for his labor, for the Philippians sent him aid even in Thessalonica ( Php_4:16 ). How many are willing to work for such wages today? As an apostle he deserved the highest honors, and could have demanded them, but he preferred to get no glory from men. His personal presence was weak and his oratory despicable (so said the Corinthians, 2Co_10:10 ), but his love was great, his tenderness was touching, his toil and labor, to avoid being a burden to them, were more eloquent than words, and his conduct above reproach.

Bibliographical Information
"Commentary on 1 Thessalonians 1". Concordant Commentary of the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/aek/1-thessalonians-1.html. 1968.
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