Attention!
Take your personal ministry to the Next Level by helping StudyLight build churches and supporting pastors in Uganda.
Click here to join the effort!

Bible Commentaries

Gary Hampton Commentary on Selected Books

1 Thessalonians 1

Verse 1

Greetings

Paul, Silvanus, which is the Roman name of Silas, and Timothy were together in Corinth at the time this book was written ( Act_18:1-5 ). All three may have been together when the gospel was first introduced to Thessalonica. Certainly, Timothy knew the brethren since Paul had sent him to check on their status ( 1Th_3:1-6 ).

This letter is addressed to the church, or called out which would be the local body of God's people, of the Thessalonians ( Eph_1:22-23 ). To be in the church is to be in God and Christ. Thus, we have an intimate relationship with the eternal Father and his Son who is both master and king. The closeness of the Father and Son can be seen, in part, because Christians are said to be in both of them. Also, Paul's desire for the church at Thessalonica was that those two divine persons would bestow their favor and peace of mind upon the brethren.

Verses 2-5

Thanking God for the Thessalonians

When Paul prayed, he thanked God for all of the brethren at Thessalonica. He knew the persecution that church had endured almost from its beginning, so he may have been thankful both for their conversion and steadfastness. He certainly was thankful for them because he constantly remembered their faith, love and hope. Those three words are used together in other portions of the apostle's writings ( 1Co_13:13 ; Col_1:3-5 ; Rom_5:1-5 ). Notice that the Thessalonian brethren had a faith that worked ( Jam_2:17 ; Gal_5:6 ). Their love of God and their fellowmen was displayed in untiring works in behalf of them. The brethren did not stop working because of the hope of heaven. Shepherd says the word patience describes "endurance in toil or trial." Paul reminded the church that all its actions were visible to the allseeing eye of God our heavenly Father ( 1Th_1:2-3 ).

Those who displayed a true love for God by following His will were, as a group, chosen of God before the world began ( Eph_1:3-4 ; Eph_1:9-11 ). Those answering the gospel call were described by Paul as God's elect, another description of those chosen ( 2Th_2:13-14 ). The words "our gospel" may refer merely to the good news Paul, Silas and Timothy preached among them, or to that which all the apostles preached. Really, either is true because they are one and the same ( 1Co_15:1-11 ). It was proven to be the word of God by the powerful working of the Holy Spirit ( Rom_15:9 ; 2Co_12:12 ; Heb_2:2-4 ). Further, Paul and his companions kept the truth out of the field of controversy by conducting themselves in an exemplary manner. As is seen later in this letter, the apostles even worked at physical jobs so they would not burden young converts with the expense of supporting them ( 1Th_1:4-5 ).

Verses 6-8

The Reception the Thessalonians Gave the Gospel

Paul indicated his attitude toward others following him in 1Co_11:1 . He only wanted others to follow him as he followed Christ ( 1Pe_2:21 ). So, it should not surprise us that he said the brethren at Thessalonica, "became followers of us and of the Lord." Unfortunately, they also had to endure almost immediate persecution after they became Christians ( Act_17:5-9 ). They not only endured such, but rejoiced. That is not a normal reaction. With the Holy Spirit's help, they were able to rejoice in times of affliction ( Heb_12:2 ; Act_5:41 ). Joy is one of the fruits of the spirit and can be seen in a number of lives in scripture ( Gal_5:22-23 ; Act_8:39 ; Act_16:23-25 ; Act_16:34 ).

At the time of Paul's writing, Greece was divided into two areas, Macedonia and Achaia. The faith of the brethren at Thessalonica, especially as shown through joy during times of suffering, had been an example to both of these areas as well as all other places that had news from Thessalonica. This was because their lives, as directed by the word of God, had sounded out like a trumpet. As a crossroads and commercial center, Thessalonica was an ideal place for faithful Christians to live. When Paul said their faith had gone out, he used the perfect tense which would literally mean reports of their faith had gone out and continued to go out ( 1Th_1:6-8 ).

Verses 9-10

Things Reported About Them

The general report Paul had concerning the church was that they had turned from idol worship to serve the living and true God. The word "declare", which could also be translated report, is also in the perfect tense which means reports kept on being made by various ones. Idols are lifeless, therefore unable to help worshippers ( Isa_44:14-20 ). God has always existed and is sustained by His own power, so He is always able to help those who voluntarily become His servants, or slaves ( Exo_3:13-14 ; Rom_6:16-18 ).

Christ promised He would return again. The angels confirmed that promise at the time of His ascension ( Joh_14:1-3 ; Act_1:11 ). New Testament Christians should live in expectant hope of that coming ( 1Co_16:22 ; Rev_22:20 ). The exact time of that coming is unknown, so Christians should live in a state of constant preparedness ( Mat_25:36-42 ; Mat_25:13 ; 2Pe_3:9-14 ). Christ's resurrection from the dead is clear proof that he is the Son of God. Such a demonstration of power leaves no doubt concerning His ability to come again to receive His disciples, as He promised, as well as save them from God's wrath against sinful men ( 1Th_1:9-10 ; Eph_5:6 ; Rom_1:18 ; Rom_1:32 ; Rom_2:6-9 ).

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Hampton, Gary. "Commentary on 1 Thessalonians 1". "Gary Hampton Commentary on Selected Books". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ghc/1-thessalonians-1.html. 2014.