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Bible Commentaries
1 Thessalonians 1

Garner-Howes Baptist CommentaryGarner-Howes

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Verse 1


WHO WROTE IT? First Thessalonians was written by the Apostle Paul, in company with Silas and Timothy, each of whose name appears in the first verse of the book.

It is almost universally agreed that this book of 1st Thessalonians is the oldest book .or epistle of the New Testament--the earliest written document of the Christian’ religion--the first written testimony of any Christian after the death of Christ.

TO WHOM? This book was written to the Church at Thessalonica, located in the city of Thessalonica in Macedonia, capital of proconsular of Rome, in Macedonia. It was virtually the capital of Greece before the founding of Greece, and a leading trade city of the Aegean with Ephesus and Corinth. It is still standing today, known as Salonica, with a population of near one million. The theme of the book is First, consolation-- (1) regarding--external trials 2:14; (2) internal trials, 4:13; and Second, Admonitions--(1) to moral principles 4:1; (2) Christian watchfulness, 5:1; (3) practical duties, 5:14.

WHEN? A. D. 52-54.

THE OCCASION? As compared with other Pauline writings this seems to be written with less occasion for reproof of doctrinal or moral error. Having formerly spent but a few weeks at the most with the Church, and having received good reports of their faith, labor of love, and patient hope in Christ, he wrote with gentleness to admonish continued fidelity (faithfulness) or "hi-fi," living, and loving, and laboring in Hope of the Blessed coming of the Lord Jesus Christ.


I. THEME: - "The Coming of the Lord Jesus Christ."


a)Reflections on their conversion and the testimony. (Chapters 1-3)

b) Prospective-Hope of the Master’s Return (Chapters 4,5)


Chapter 1, The Ideal Church and three tenses of Christian living.

Chapter 2, The Ideal Servant and His Reward.

Chapter 3, The Ideal Brother and Sanctification.


Chapter 4, The Ideal Walk and The Believer’s Hope. (Comforting Hope in Sorrow)

Chapter 5, The Ideal Walk and The Day of the Lord. (Not to come unaware on Children of Light)

"The Model Church -- Three Tenses Of Christian Living"

1) "Paul, and Silvanus, and Timotheus", (Paulos kai Silouanas kai Timotheos) Paul, and Silvanus (Silas), and Timothy," Led by Paul, the writer, Silvanus, or Silas, and Timothy sent greetings to the Church at Thessalonica, and Churches of like faith and order in Judea, in particular, 1 Thessalonians 2:14; 2 Thessalonians 1:1; 2 Thessalonians 1:4.

2) "Unto the Church of the Thessalonians" (te ekklesia Thessalonikeon) "to the Church of (the) Thessalonians", Acts 17:1-14; 2 Thessalonians 1:1; 2 Thessalonians 1:4.

3) "Which is in God the Father" (en theo patri) "in God (the) Father", located in God the Father, in the province of His will; all true Churches have this dignity in Him. 1 Timothy 3:15.

4) "And in the Lord Jesus Christ" (kai kurio lesou Christo) "(and) in the will of our Lord Jesus Christ," Ephesians 3:9-10; Ephesians 3:21.

5) "Grace be unto you and peace" (charis humin kai eirene) "Grace and peace to or toward you all," Acts 20:28; Acts 20:32. Grace is the root of peace and peace blooms as the flower product of Grace.

6) "From God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ". John 1:17; Romans 4:4-5; 2 Peter 3:18.

Verse 2

1) "We give thanks to God" (eucharistoumen to theo) "We offer gratitude to or toward God"; The “ we" referred to is Paul, Silas, and Timothy. Tho in prison in Rome Paul, Silas, and Timothy, the former two who were once in the Philippian jail of Macedonia for their faith, still had hearts of gratitude for the faith of others, Philippians 4:6.

2) "Always for you all" (pantote peri panton humon) "At all times concerning all of you", or on behalf of their faithfulness Romans 1:9; James 5:16.

3) "Making mention of you in our prayers" (mneian poioumenoi epi ton proseuchon hemon adialiptos) “making mention on behalf of you in our prayers, unceasingly", continually, without ceasing as taught by the Lord, Luke 18:1; 2 Timothy 1:3; 1 Thessalonians 2:13.

Verse 3

1) "Remembering without ceasing" (mnemoneuontes) "Remembering continuously"; their use of the three spiritual gifts in Divine Service; 1 shall judge each of His children for granting or loss of rewards, 2 Corinthians 5:10-12.

2) "Your work of faith" (humon tou ergou tes pisteos) "the work of the faith of you all"; Through faith one is saved, created in Christ Jesus unto (with reference to do) good works, Ephesians 2:8-10; The only way faith may be seen is through services rendered or fruit produced by the believer, James 2:18; James 2:24; Galatians 5:6.

3) "And labour of love" (kai tou kopou tes agapes)

and the labor of the love of you"; Labor or work that avails is that through faith, motivated by love, Galatians 5:6; it is those who love God, who are born again, who are to serve him, 1 John 4:7; John 14:15

4) "And patience of hope" (kai tes hupomones tes elpidos) "and the endurance of the hope (of you)"; The hope of future glory, held dear in life’s hard labors and trials, 2Co 4:17, 18; Hebrews 10:36-37.

5) "In our Lord Jesus Christ" (tou kuriou hemon lesou Christou) "of (these) in our Lord Jesus Christ"; These three charismatic gifts of Faith, hope, and love devoutly exercised in praise, fellowship, and service to Christ in the Church at Thessalonica elicited this outburst of gratitude. Philippians 4:4.

6) "in the sight of God and our Father", (emprosthen tou theou kai patros hemon) "Before (or in the face of) God, even our Father". Christian labors are always beheld by the Lord and shall not go unrewarded, Matthew 25:40; 1 Corinthians 3:8; 1 Corinthians 3:14; 1 Corinthians 9:17; Revelation 22:12.

Verse 4

1) "Knowing" (eidotes) "perceiving", or recognizing. The practical evidence of the Spirit in their lives caused Paul to include these in his circle of written confidence. Their faith, love, and patient hope encouraged him.*

2) "Brethren beloved" (adelphoi egapemenoi hupo (tou) theou) "Brethren, having been loved of God"; An Old Testament Messianic term of affection, expressed here to true church compatriots in view of their intimate and certain fellowship reign with Christ, and New Testament Church saints, 1 Thessalonians 2:12; Romans 8:15-18.

3) "Your election of God" (ten eklogen humon) "Your choosing, (of God)". The "your election or choosing", term refers to God’s election or choosing of 11 the Church" as a bride for his Son, John 3:28-29; John 15:16; Ephesians 3:1-10; Ephesians 3:21.

The Church of Jesus Christ (as an institution), was chosen of God, purchased by the blood of Jesus Christ, and AS SURELY AS HE ELECTED INDIVIDUALS TO PERSONAL salvation through the instrument of personal trust of each person in Jesus Christ in Acts 20:28; Ephesians 5:25; Matthew 16:18; This is the election of God in focus, as it relates to the Church at Thessalonica, Ephesus, Corinth, etc. Attempts to restrict this choosing to personal salvation seems to be out of focus, and in conflict with and out of harmony with Scriptures.

Verse 5

1) "For our gospel" (hoti to enangellion hemon)

Because the gospel (good news) of us"; The gospel of Jesus Christ which the apostles and the Church of Jesus Christ were to preach, Mark 16:15; Matthew 28:18-20; John 20:21; Acts 1:8 etc.

2) "Came not unto you in word only" (ouk egenethe eis humas en logo monon) "came not to you in word of its own accord, only"; The "word" is lifeless, the written word, except as it is energized by the effective accompanying, convicting, and life giving power and presence of the Holy Spirit, John 16:7-11; John 6:63; 2 Corinthians 3:6.

3) “But also in power" (alla kai en dunamei) "but also in dynamic power", such as convicts sinners and backsliders, and leads the obedient in Christ, Acts 2:37; Acts 7:51-54; Acts 9:4-5; Acts 16:13-14; by the Holy Spirit, accompanying the Word, hearts (affections) are pricked or opened. In obedience they are led Romans 8:14.

4) "And in the Holy Ghost," (kai en pneumati hagio) "Even in the Holy Spirit." The breath of God that imparted physical life, and God’s image to man in creation, breathes mightily from Heaven’s eternal shores-calling men with power by and through the Church, the Word, and God’s people. Hebrews 3:7; Revelation 22:17.

5) "And in much assurance" (kai plerophoria polle) "as well as in much assurance"; The Holy Spirit regenerates the lost Soul, John 3:6-7; John 6:63; seals and indwells the believer, Ephesians 1:13; 1 John 4:13; Romans 5:5; Romans 8:14-16; Romans 8:11.


Blessed Assurance, Jesus is mine! Oh, what a foretaste of glory divine! Heir of salvation, purchase of God, Born of His Spirit, washed in His blood.

This is my story, this is my song, Praising my Saviour all the day long, This is my story, this is my song, Praising my Saviour all the day long.

6) "As ye know what manner of men we were among you" (kathos oidate hoioi egenethemen en humin) "just as you all perceive what sort of men we were among you all"; This is a strong appeal to the personal character of these missionaries as examples of Christ; 1 Corinthians 2:4; 1 Corinthians 11:1; 1Th 2 10,11.

7) "For your sake", (di’ humas), "because of you all", as our Lord lived and died in behalf of others so did these apostles, challenges to those who believe after them. Luke 9:23; 1 Peter 2:21; Hebrews 13:7.

Verse 6

1) "And ye became followers of us" (kai hiumeis mimetai hemon egenethete) "and you all became imitators of us;" Sheep must follow their shepherd for food, shelter, and safety. Every Pastor must also be and talk and act like a shepherd, 1 Peter 5:1-4, not a cowboy--and that Christ is his Shepherd—Hebrews 13:7; Hebrews 13:17; Hebrews 13:24.

2) "And of the Lord" (kai tou kuriou) "as well as of the Lord"; Those who follow, pray for, and respect the godly, ordained pastor and plurality of elders, (leaders) in the church, are here declared to be followers or imitators of the Lord.

3) "Having received the word in much affliction" (deksamenoi ton logon en thlipsei polle) "welcoming the word in much affliction, trouble, or tribulation"; This refers to the strong anti-christian resistance under which the brethren of Thessalonica received the word from Paul, Silas, and Timothy. Acts 17:5-9.

4) "With joy of the Holy Ghost" (meta charas pneumatos hagiou) "with Holy Spirit joy", or "joy emanating from close fellowship with the Holy Spirit"; All who receive the word of Christ find in it accompanying joy of the Holy Spirit, Romans 5:5; Romans 8:15. As Jesus "rejoiced in Spirit", that names of those who believed in him were written in heaven, so should saints rejoice in the Spirit, in the Lord, always, Luke 10:20-21; 1 Thessalonians 5:16; Philippians 4:4; Psalms 51:11-12. The indwelling Holy Spirit is a pledge, seal, and foretaste of redemption, Ephesians 1:13-14.


The same shower blesses various lands in different degrees, according to their respective susceptibilities. It makes the grass to spring up in the mead, the grain to vegetate in the field, the shrub to grow on the plain, and the flowers to blossom in the garden; and these are garnished with every hue of loveliness,--the lily and the violet, the rose and the daisy: all these worketh the same Spirit that renews the face of the earth. The influences of the Holy Spirit, descending on the moral soil, produce "blessing in variety, "--convictions in the guilty, illumination in the ignorant, holiness in the. defiled, strength in the feeble, and comfort in the distressed. As the Spirit of holiness, he imparts a pure taste; as the Spirit of glory, he throws a radiance over the character; as the Spirit of life, he revives religion; as the Spirit of truth, he gives transparency to the conduct; as the Spirit of prayer, he melts the soul into devotion; and, as the Spirit of grace, he imbues with benevolence, and covers the face of the earth with the works of faith and labors of love.

--Dr. Jenkyn.

Verse 7

1) "So that ye were ensamples" (hoste genesthai humas typon) "So that you all became a type or pattern"; an example of a true saint, what a Christian church member should be, as commanded of the Lord, Matthew 5:13-15.

2) "To all that believe" (pasin tois pisteuousin) "to all those believing", or who believe, those having professed personal faith in Jesus Christ, 1 John 5:1; 1 John 5:13.

3) "in Macedonia and Achaia", (en te Makedonia kai te Achaia) "In the Macedonia and Achaia (area)"; in the early Christian European territory where the Gospel was first preached by these Missionaries, in Neapolis, Philippi, Apolonia, Berea, Athens, and Corinth, Acts 16:10-12; Acts 17:1-14; Acts 17:22-34; Acts 18:1-18.


A gentleman engaged in a large manufacturing concern was in the practice of taking frequent journeys in connection with his business; and, in order to hasten his return to his family, he not unfrequently traveled on the evenings of the Lord’s day. His little boy, on one of these occasions, said to his mamma, "How is it that dear papa, who is such a good man, travels on Sunday?"-"My dear, it is because he has so much to do, If he acted otherwise, he would not have ’a minute to spare’ for his family." - "Mamma, does God allow us to break his commandments when it seems necessary to do so?" On his return, Mrs. M. related to her husband the child’s remarks. "My dear, it is the last time. Tell my boy I stand corrected. I trust, I shall never again do what may prove a stumbling-block to our children. They shall never have to say that their father’s example led them astray."


A soldier in a Massachusetts regiment was often asked by his comrades to join them in "taking a drink" or "a game of cards." But he steadily refused, until it became a sort of joke to solicit him. Finally, angered by his quiet "No" one asked him why he declined mingling with them in these pleasures, and inquired if he considered himself “ too good" to take a social glass with his fellows. "Not too good," he replied pleasantly; "But I promised my old father and mother that I would never touch a card or drink a glass of liquor in camp." His companions ridiculed him with fearful oaths; but he held his peace: and, finding he would not retaliate, they gradually ceased to annoy him. But soon their games of cards seemed to have lost their fascination, and the social glass parted with its old relish, until, eventually, more than half the number abandoned both.

Verse 8

1) "For from you sounded out" (aph? humon gar eksechetai) "for from you all was heard", sounded forth, in a testamentary way, like the blast of a trumpet, Romans 10:17-18; Psalms 19:4. As a trumpet sounded is clear, penetrating, and awakening so should Christian testimony be.

2) "The word of the Lord" (ho logos tou kuriou) "The word of the Lord", not merely the gospel but more than just "the gospel"; Acts 1:8; 2 Timothy 4:1-2; Hebrews 4:12.

3) "Not only in Macedonia and Achaia" (ou monon en to makedonia kai achaia) "not only in the Macedonia and Achaia (area)"; 2 Corinthians 8:1-7.

4) "But also in every place" (al ’en panti topon) But also in every locality", geographical area, 2 Thessalonians 1:4; Romans 1:8, especially where other churches of Christ received reports of their testimony, faith, hope, love, and labors.

5) "Your faith to God-ward is spread abroad" (he pistis humon he pros ton theon ekseleluthen) "Your faith (system of teachings) toward God, has gone out or been sounded forth"; Romans 14:7.

6) "So that we need not to speak anything" (hoste me chreian echein hemos lalein ti) "So that we have not a need to speak anything", to add to it. Every person has a light, a testimony, that may help or hinder others. Matthew 5:15-16; 1 Corinthians 10:31-33.

Verse 9

1) "For they themselves shew of us" (autoi gar peri hemon apangellousin) "For they themselves relate or report concerning us"; following Paul’s example of effective witnessing of Christ to all who passed through the commercial center from East, West, North, and South.

2) "What manner of entering in we had unto you" (hopoian eisodon eschomen pros humas) "What sort, manner, or kind of entrance we had toward you all", in their faithful witnessing, though persecuted of the Jews in that city, Acts 17:1-9. In spite of vile, rabble-rousing opposition many were saved, Acts 17:4-5.

3) "And how ye turned to God" (kai pos epestrepsate pros ton theon) "Even how ye turned to the trinitarian God"; to turn means to change directions in a spiritual as well as physical course; Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob turned their backs upon idols to serve the living God--so did the Hebrew children.

4) "From Idols" (apo ton eidolon) "From the (way of) idols"; as men of God have turned to him they must forever keep idols behind them, never countenance any with approval Acts 15:20; Acts 15:29; Acts 21:25; 1 John 5:21; Revelation 9:20.


According to Jewish tradition, Terah was a maker and seller of idols, and being one day obliged to leave home, he charged his son Abram to attend to business in his absence. Presently an elderly man came in, and taking a fancy to an idol asked the price. In reply, Abram said, "Old man, what is thy age?" "Threescore years," replied the visitor. Whereupon Abram exclaimed. "Threescore years! And thou shouldest worship a thing that has been fashioned by the hands of my father’s slaves within the last four and twenty hours! Strange that a man of sixty should be willing to bow down his gray head to a creature of a day!" At these words the man, overwhelmed with shame, went away.

--Bible 111.

5) "To serve the living and true God" (douleuein theo zonti kai alethino) "actively to serve a living and true God"; the God who is "real" as opposed to the false or counterfeit Gods, the kind described as being dead, deaf, dumb, lifeless, even as false religions, Psalms 115:4-9; 1 Timothy 3:15; Hebrews 3:12; 1 Corinthians 8:6.

Note that the (1) "work of faith" is to turn from idols to God, John 6:28-29; (2) The "labor of love" is to serve the living and true God, Galatians 5:6; and the (3)’ "patience of hope" (1 Thessalonians 1:3) is to "wait for His Son from Heaven", Matthew 24:42; Matthew 25:13; Luke 12:36-48; Acts 1:11; Philippians 3:20-21; Titus 2:11-13.

Verse 10

1) "And to wait for his Son from heaven" (kai anamenein ton huion autou ek ton ouranon) "and to await (tarry for) the Son of him (to come) from the Heavens"; The world waited near 4 millenniums for his first coming and he came on time, Galatians 4:4-5; He will come on time the second time, Hebrews 10:36-37.

2) "Whom he raised from the dead" (hon egeiren ek ton nekron) dead corpses"; Acts 2:32; Acts 3:15; Acts 4:10; Acts 4:33; Acts 5:30; Acts 7:57; Acts 10:40-43; Acts 13:29-30; Acts 13:33; Acts 13:37. The-living Christ, raised from the dead, was the motivating factor in the life of New Testament believers.

3) "Even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come" (lesoun ton hruomenon hemas ek tes orges tes erchomenes) "Jesus, the one delivering us (progressively) from the coming wrath"; The “ wrath to come" from which the risen Christ has delivered us, does deliver us, and shall deliver us, is the righteous judgment of God, as a penalty from all unconfessed or unforgiven sin; Romans 4:24-25; 2 Corinthians 1:10; Ephesians 1:13; Romans 5:9 declares "we shall be saved from wrath through him."

Bibliographical Information
Garner, Albert & Howes, J.C. "Commentary on 1 Thessalonians 1". Garner-Howes Baptist Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ghb/1-thessalonians-1.html. 1985.
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