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1 Thessalonians 1

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Verse 1

Salutation - This passage of Scripture is called the salutation and is found in all thirteen of Paul’s New Testament epistles and is used as an introduction to his letters. Paul wrote his salutations as a signature of authenticity (2 Thessalonians 3:17) just like we place our signature today at the end of a document. He may have written entire epistles as indicated in Philemon 1:19. However, there are indications in six of his epistles that Paul used an amanuensis to write most of his letters (see Romans 16:22, 1 Corinthians 16:21, Galatians 6:11, Colossians 4:18, 2 Thessalonians 3:17, Philemon 1:19).

2 Thessalonians 3:17, “The salutation of Paul with mine own hand, which is the token in every epistle: so I write.”

In 1 Thessalonians 1:1 Paul greets the believers in Thessalonica by presenting himself along with his two co-workers, Silas and Timothy, who played a key role in founding this church.

1 Thessalonians 1:1 Paul, and Silvanus, and Timotheus, unto the church of the Thessalonians which is in God the Father and in the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.

1 Thessalonians 1:1 “Paul, and Silvanus, and Timotheus” Comments (1) - Silvanus ( Σιλουανο ́ ς ) (G4610) was the Roman name of one of Paul’s close traveling companions. Although Paul and Peter use this Roman name when referring to him in their epistles, we also know him in the book of Acts by his Jewish name Silas. His first appearance in Scriptures takes place in Acts 15:0 during the Jerusalem council where he is identified as a leader (Acts 15:22) in the Jerusalem church, and a prophet (Acts 15:32). He was chosen along with Judas Barsabas to accompany Paul and Barnabas back to the church in Antioch in order to place into effect some guidelines for Gentile Christians. He moved about with Paul during his second missionary journey and is last identified with Paul in Acts 18:5 where he and Timothy meet Paul in Corinth. Paul will refer to him in his two epistles to the church at Thessalonica (1 Thessalonians 1:1, 2 Thessalonians 1:1) and in his second epistle to the Corinthians (2 Corinthians 1:19). We also find his name mentioned as “faithful brother” and bearer of Peter’s first epistle (1 Peter 5:12).

Comments (2) - Why would Paul list his two co-workers in the opening of this epistle and not in other epistles? Because it was Paul and Silas (Silvanus) and Timothy who first came to Thessalonica as a missionary team and planted a church there. The theme of this epistle is an exhortation to work together until Jesus Christ comes back. Paul had taken Silas (Acts 15:40) with him on his second missionary journey and they had picked up Timothy in Derbe and Lystra just before entering into Macedonia (Acts 16:1-3). Most scholars believe that Luke had joined them at Troas and stayed behind at Philippi when these three departed from Thessalonica. Silas is probably mentioned first because of his seniority in the ministry and because of his age; for Silas had joined Paul as a seasoned leader in the church of Antioch (Acts 15:22).

The fact that this letter opens with three co-workers serves as a personal testimony that supported Paul’s commands to these believers to labour together. It stands in contrast to Paul’s opening in his epistle to the Galatians where he speaks only of himself and of his divine calling and authority as an apostle to the Gentiles. In his letter to the churches in Galatia, it was necessary for Paul to defend his authority in Christ as being above the teachings of the Judaizers.

Comments (3) - To those churches and individuals in which Paul displayed his apostleship over them in order to give correction and doctrine, he introduces himself as “an apostle of Jesus Christ” ( Rom 1:1 , 1 Corinthians 1:1, 2 Corinthians 1:1, Galatians 1:1, Ephesians 1:1, Colossians 1:1, 1 Timothy 1:1, 2 Timothy 1:1 and Titus 1:1). To the Philippians Paul describes himself as a “servant.” This is because within the context of this epistle Paul will give examples of himself (Philippians 1:12-20), of Jesus Christ (Philippians 2:1-11), of Timothy (Philippians 2:19-24) and of Epaphroditus (Philippians 2:25-30) as servants who laid aside their own wills and in order that to fulfill the will of those in authority over them. For this is the message and theme of Paul’s epistle to the Philippians. To Philemon Paul declares himself as a “prisoner of Jesus Christ,” because his message to Philemon was about a slave, or prisoner, who was serving Philemon. In his two letters to the church of Thessalonica Paul defers the use of a title in order to equate himself as co-workers with Silas and Timothy. He will refer to his apostleship in 1 Thessalonians 2:6, but he will be mindful to use it in the plural form as a co-worker with Silas and Timothy. This is because he emphasizes their need to labour together until Jesus returns.

1 Thessalonians 1:1 “Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ” Comments (The Pauline Greeting) - Scholars discuss the meaning of Paul’s epistolary greetings from two different angles, either an historical approach or a theological approach.

(1) The Historical Approach The historical approach evaluates the history behind the use of the words “grace” and “peace” in traditional greetings, with this duet of words limited in antiquity to New Testament literature. J. Vernon McGee says the word “grace” in Paul’s greetings was a formal greeting used in Greek letters of his day, while the word “peace” was the customary Jewish greeting. [61] More specifically, John Grassmick says the Greek word χαίρειν was a common greeting in classical Greek epistles (note this use in Acts 15:23; Acts 23:26, James 1:1), so that χάρις was a “word play” Paul used in conjunction with the Hebrew greeting “peace.” [62] Thus, Paul would be respectfully addressing both Greeks and Jews in the early Church. However, Paul uses these same two words in his epistles to Timothy, Titus and Philemon, which weakens the idea that Paul intended to make such a distinction between two ethnic groups when using “grace” and “peace.” Perhaps this greeting became customary for Paul and lost its distinctive elements.

[61] J. Vernon McGee, The Epistle to the Romans, in Thru the Bible With J. Vernon McGee (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Pub., 1998), in Libronix Digital Library System, v. 2.1c [CD-ROM] (Bellingham, WA: Libronix Corp., 2000-2004), comments on Romans 1:1.

[62] John D. Grassmick, “Epistolary Genre,” in Interpreting the New Testament Text, eds. Darrell L. Bock and Buist M. Fanning (Wheaton, Illinois: Crossway Books, 2006), 232.

(2) The Theological Approach - Another view is proposed by James Denny, who explains the relationship of these two words as a cause and effect. He says that grace is God’s unmerited favor upon mankind, and the peace is the result of receiving His grace and forgiveness of sins. [63] In a similar statement, Charles Simeon says the phrase “‘grace and peace’ comprehended all the blessings of the Gospel.” [64]

[63] James Denney, The Epistles to the Thessalonians, in The Expositor’s Bible, eds. William R. Nicoll and Oscar L. Joseph (New York: Hodder and Stoughton, n.d.), 15-16.

[64] Charles Simeon, 2 Peter, in Horae Homileticae, vol. 20: James to Jude (London: Holdsworth and Ball, 1833), 285.

Comments (The Pauline Blessing) - In a similar way that the early apostles were instructed by Jesus to let their peace come upon the home of their host (Matthew 10:13), so did Paul the apostle open every one of his thirteen New Testament epistles with a blessing of God’s peace and grace upon his readers. Matthew 10:13 shows that you can bless a house by speaking God's peace upon it.

Matthew 10:13, “And if the house be worthy, let your peace come upon it: but if it be not worthy, let your peace return to you.”

This practice of speaking blessings upon God’s children may have its roots in the Priestly blessing of Numbers 6:22-27, where God instructed Moses to have the priests speak a blessing upon the children of Israel. We see in Ruth 2:4 that this blessing became a part of the Jewish culture when greeting people. Boaz blessed his workers in the field and his reapers replied with a blessing.

Ruth 2:4, “And, behold, Boaz came from Bethlehem, and said unto the reapers, The LORD be with you. And they answered him, The LORD bless thee.”

We also see this practiced by the king in 2 Samuel 15:20 where David says, “mercy and truth be with thee.”

2 Samuel 15:20, “Whereas thou camest but yesterday, should I this day make thee go up and down with us? seeing I go whither I may, return thou, and take back thy brethren: mercy and truth be with thee.”

So, this word of blessing was a part of the Hebrew and Jewish culture. This provides us the background as to why Paul was speaking a blessing upon the church at Thessalonica, especially that God would grant them more of His grace and abiding peace that they would have otherwise not known. In faith, we too, can receive this same blessing into our lives. Paul actually pronounces and invokes a blessing of divine grace and peace upon his readers with these words, “Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.” I do not believe this blessing is unconditional, but rather conditional. In other words, it is based upon the response of his hearers. The more they obey these divine truths laid forth in this epistle, the more God’s grace and peace is multiplied in their lives. We recall how the children of Israel entered the Promised Land, with six tribes standing upon Mount Gerizim to bless the people and six tribes upon Mount Ebal to curse the disobedient (Deuteronomy 27:11-26). Thus, the blessings and curses of Deuteronomy 28:1-68 were placed upon the land. All who obeyed the Law received these blessings, and all who disobeyed received this list of curses. In the same way, Paul invokes a blessing into the body of Christ for all who will hearken unto the divine truths of this epistle.

We see this obligation of the recipients in the translation by Beck of 2 Peter 1:2, “As you know God and our Lord Jesus, may you enjoy more and more of His love and peace.

Verses 2-10

Introduction: A Summary of Divine Election from the Perspective of the Office of the Holy Spirit - Paul begins his epistle with his typical words of thanksgiving to the believers. He thanks God for His work of divine election in their lives (1 Thessalonians 1:2-4). Then in 1 Thessalonians 1:5-10 Paul describes this election by reminding the believers at Thessalonica of how it has been manifested in their lives. He first describes their conversion (1 Thessalonians 1:5), which we may call a “work of faith”. He also reminds them of their steadfastness in the Gospel (1 Thessalonians 1:6-9), which we may call “labours of love.” He recalls their unshakable hope of Christ’s Second Return (1 Thessalonians 1:10), which we can call “patience of hope.” Thus, Paul is describing their divine election, which is mentioned in 1 Thessalonians 1:4. He describes this election from the perspective of the work of the Holy Spirit, who works miracles and manifesting the gifts of the Spirit in order to bring them to conversion in the truth of the Gospel (1 Thessalonians 1:5). The Holy Spirit produces joy in the midst of persecutions (1 Thessalonians 1:6-9). The Holy Spirit establishes them in the hope of Christ’s Return (1 Thessalonians 1:10). In other words, this passage describes the physical manifestations of divine election that a person can see with their eyes and feel in their hearts and understand with their minds. This divine election is three-fold in nature, which Paul lists in 1 Thessalonians 1:3 as “work of faith, and labour of love, and patience of hope.” Now we can see how this passage Paul assures them of their conversion (1 Thessalonians 1:5), which they saw in the form of signs and wonders, and of their sanctification (1 Thessalonians 1:6-9), which they saw in the form of much joy in the midst of afflictions, and of the goal of their conversion, which is to be prepared and sanctified for the Second Coming of Christ, which is the fulfillment of their election (1 Thessalonians 1:10), which they see manifested among one another as a steadfast hope.

1 Thessalonians 1:2 We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers;

1 Thessalonians 1:2 Comments - Keep in mind that the underlying theme of the epistle of 1 Thessalonians is office of the Holy Spirit in the sanctification of the believer. The process of sanctification begins when a believer responds to the Gospel message and believes upon the Lord Jesus Christ. But this process of sanctification is sustained through prayer and intercession, as is evidenced in 1 Thessalonians 1:2. When we find God at work in our lives, we may be surprised to find out when we get to Heaven that this divine intervention in our lives was initiated by someone’s prayers of intercession. We find Paul to be a man of prayer and intercession for those churches he established.

I know that my mother’s prayers are the reason why God has worked so wonderfully in my life. I realize that I have had a role to play in my willingness to yield to His calling in my life. However, it was her prayers that initiated this calling into the ministry. I believe that my mother’s prayers were often effective in moving God to do a further work of sanctification in my life. In this same way, God moved in the church of Thessalonica largely because of the prayers and intercessions of Paul and his co-workers as these young converts became established in the faith.

Paul will give thanks for two reasons. First, he is thankful for God’s work of electing them unto salvation and using Paul to bring them the Gospel message (1 Thessalonians 1:4 to 1 Thessalonians 2:12). Secondly, he gives thanks because of their willingness to respond to this election by receiving Paul and his message as being from God (1 Thessalonians 2:13 to 1 Thessalonians 3:13).

1 Thessalonians 1:3 Remembering without ceasing your work of faith, and labour of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the sight of God and our Father;

1 Thessalonians 1:3 Comments - Keep in mind that the underlying theme of the epistle of 1 Thessalonians is office of the Holy Spirit in the sanctification of the believer. We must, then, interpret the three-fold emphasis found in 1 Thessalonians 1:3 to be an expression of the three-fold process of sanctification in the life of every believer. Note that Paul will close this same epistle by referring again to this three-fold process of sanctification by saying, “And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Thessalonians 5:23) Thus, the message of sanctification in 1 Thessalonians will be structured around our spiritual, physical and mental sanctification, as described in this opening verse in 1 Thessalonians 1:3.

The phrase “work of faith, and labour of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ” describes the process of sanctification in the life of every believer as a person responds to divine election by putting his faith in Jesus Christ, laboring in love while awaiting the Second Coming of the Lord in hope: thus, faith, love, and hope. Note other uses of these three words in the same verse:

1 Corinthians 13:13, “And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.”

1 Thessalonians 5:8, “But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation.”

Faith, hope and love does, or produces, certain things for us. Faith establishes our heart and determines our actions:

James 2:18, “Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works .”

Love toils and serves, bringing our bodies into subjection to the will of God:

Matthew 20:28, “Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.”

John 15:18, “If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you.”

Romans 16:1-4, “I commend unto you Phebe our sister, which is a servant of the church which is at Cenchrea: That ye receive her in the Lord, as becometh saints, and that ye assist her in whatsoever business she hath need of you: for she hath been a succourer of many, and of myself also. Greet Priscilla and Aquila my helpers in Christ Jesus: Who have for my life laid down their own necks: unto whom not only I give thanks, but also all the churches of the Gentiles.”

Hope causes us to endure, being the anchor of the soul:

Hebrews 6:19, “Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast, and which entereth into that within the veil;”

Hebrews 10:36, “For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise.”

Hebrews 12:2, “Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

1. “your work of faith” (Sanctification of the spirit of a man) We may translate the phrase “work of faith” as “demonstration of faith,” or “response to the preaching of the Gospel.” For by our actions we demonstrate our faith in God, as we read in the epistle of James. For this reason, the two words “faith” and “works” are often associated together in the Scriptures. Note:

John 6:29, “This is the work of God, that ye believe on Him whom He hath sent.”

Romans 2:13, “not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified.”

Romans 10:9-10 - For salvation, one must believe (Faith) and confess (work). The word “work” is also translated, “manifestation, practical proof”

Galatians 5:6, “Faith which worketh by love.”

2 Thessalonians 1:11, “The work of faith with power.”

James 1:22 “be ye doers of the Word, and not hearers only.”

James 2:17-18, “Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. show me Thy faith without thy works, and I will show thee my faith by my works.”

True faith in God causes a person to conduct himself in a manner that demonstrates his faith in God. In other words, a man demonstrates his faith by his actions. The phrase “your work of faith” refers to the process of sanctification of the spirit of a man. Paul will place emphasis upon the spirit, or heart, in 1 Thessalonians 1:4 to 1 Thessalonians 3:13 as he reminds them of how they received the Gospel message from their hearts. He exhorts the brethren to be assured of their salvation and trust in God’s Word as the divine truth, and to remember that his companions were led of God, and that they were men of God. Paul will emphasis God’s role in their election in 1 Thessalonians 1:4 to 1 Thessalonians 2:12. Then, he will emphasis their role in responding to their election in 1 Thessalonians 2:13 to 1 Thessalonians 3:13. This is why Paul begins this passage on man’s role in 1 Thessalonians 2:13 by saying “the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe”; for the Gospel has a powerful effect on those who believe. Thus, Paul describes this aspect of our sanctification as “work of faith.”

2. “labour of love” (Sanctification of a man’s body) Love is a noun of action in Greek grammar. This means that love is an action that someone does, not just an intangible feeling. The true love of God has labor, just as God-kind of faith has works. BDAG translates this phrase, “loving service” (see κόπος 2). I once read a company logo that said, “Work is love made manifest.” When we study the definition of love found in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7, we see that all of these are “labors of love.” It takes effort to make them happen. The greater the toil, the more the love.

1 Corinthians 13:4-7, “Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.”

Note this same phrase “labour of love” found in the epistle to the Hebrews.

Hebrews 6:10, “For God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love , which ye have shewed toward his name, in that ye have ministered to the saints, and do minister.”

Illustration - In John 4:7 Jesus asked the Samaritan woman to give him a drink of water. Jesus had a physical need and she had a spiritual need. In order to meet her need, Jesus asked for a drink of water so that she might be able to give what little affection she had to God. In return, God could pour out His divine love into her life. Jesus was attempting to get her to reach out in love so that He could return that love and meet her need of salvation. It is the same principle that we find when Elijah asked the widow to bake him a little cake first. Note these insightful words from Frances J. Roberts:

“‘Give and ye shall receive’ is a spiritual law that holds true as much between thyself and God as between man and his fellowman. Even more so, for this is a higher plane of operation. Learn it on the highest plane, and it will become simple and automatic at the human level. Even as I said to the woman at the well (knowing her need of true satisfaction) ‘Give Me a drink’, so I say to you, Give Me a portion of the love ye have even though it be limited and natural, and I will give you My love in return. Love that is infinite. Love that is abounding. Love that will gush forth from thy life to refresh others. Give Me just a cupful of your limited affection. I long for it. I weep for it as I wept for the love of Jerusalem. I will pour out upon you such love as ye have never known. Love that will flood your whole being with such satisfaction as ye never dreamed possible to experience except in Heaven. Lo, I beg of thee, ‘Give Me a drink;. Or in the language of Elijah, ‘Bake me a little cake first’, and thou wilt never lack for meal and oil.” [65]

[65] Frances J. Roberts, Come Away My Beloved (Ojai, California: King’s Farspan, Inc., 1973), 45-6.

Illustration - In November 2002, the Chairman and directors of Lighthouse Television came to Kampala, Uganda on their annual visit to see the work that was being done by their Christian television station. I had worked long hours in preparing for and hosting them on this trip. Bob Nichols, the chairman, leaned over to me one night at a restaurant and said that he hoped that they were not putting me through too much work, since it was obvious I was putting in long hours. I opened my mouth that replied that my work was a labour of love and that it was fine. I was not thinking about this phrase as it came out of my mouth. This incident helped me to understand what Paul was referring to in this phase.

The phrase “labour of love” refers to the process of sanctifying man’s physical body. Paul will emphasis this aspect of sanctification in 1 Thessalonians 4:1-12.

3. “patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ” (Sanctification of a man’s mind) - Or, “hopeful patience in one day seeing Jesus return.” The word patience means “endurance, steadfastness, or perseverance.”

Romans 5:3-4, “And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope:”

Romans 8:25, “But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it.”

Romans 8:24, “we are saved by hope.”

Luke 21:19, “In your patience possess ye your souls.”

Hebrews 10:36, “ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise.” (in hope right now)

Patience takes a man through in steadfastness until his hope becomes a reality; without patience, one would not endure to see his hope come true, and without hope, one grows weary and aimlessly loses any purpose for enduring.

James 5:7, “Be patient, therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord.” (This is hope of seeing Jesus one-day.)

The phrase “patience of hope” refers to the process of sanctifying our minds. Paul will emphasis this aspect of sanctification in 1 Thessalonians 4:13 to 1 Thessalonians 5:11.

1 Thessalonians 1:3 “in the sight of God and our Father” Comments - God is taking special note of our works. God sees our works and will reward us accordingly. Hebrews 6:10 says, “God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love…” The fact that we will be rewarded according to our works is a motivation for driving us on in the faith and service of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. We may not get much worldly recognition now, but one day, yes, I say one day, we will be rewarded.

Illustration - A missionary couple returned to the United States after a lifetime at missionary work. The band was there at the port with a crowd. The band played and the crowd cheered as the passengers unloaded off of this ship. It finally became apparent whom they were cheering. A diplomat was a passenger on board the ship, and was receiving an honorable welcome home. Yet the missionary couple received no recognition. Later that day, in a quiet motel room, the missionary was praying to the Lord. He said that no one had cheered their coming back after such a life of ministry. The Lord said to him, “My son, you have not yet come home.” When we come home what a day that will be!

1 Thessalonians 1:3 Comments - We find faith, love and hope expressed again in Paul’s second epistle to the Thessalonians:

2 Thessalonians 2:13-14, “But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth: Whereunto he called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

1 Thessalonians 1:4 Knowing, brethren beloved, your election of God.

1 Thessalonians 1:4 “Knowing” - Comments That is, “because we know.” This answers the question “Why?” Why do we know that in verse 3 our work is done in the sight of God the Father? Because we are God’s elect.

1 Thessalonians 1:4 Word Study on “election of God” Strong says the Greek word “election” ( ε ̓ κλογη ́ ) (G1589) literally means, “called or spoken forth (or out), selection, chosen.”

Romans 9:11, “(For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth ;)”

Romans 9:23, “And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory ,”

Romans 11:5, “Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace .”

2 Peter 1:10, “Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure : for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall:”

Comments - In process of our divine election from the aspect of the office and ministry of the Holy Spirit is to bring into full sanctification, as stated in 1 Thessalonians 5:23, that the very God of peace sanctify us wholly; and this is done as our whole spirit and soul and body are preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Thus, the epistle of 1 Thessalonians is an exposition of our divine election, which is a process rather than a completed event; for our election is based upon our sanctification.

In 1 Thessalonians 1:2 to 1 Thessalonians 2:12 Paul will place emphasis upon God’s role in bringing the Thessalonians into their salvation and eternal hope of election; for God’s role was that He divinely elected us. Our role of receiving the Gospel message will be emphasized in the following passage of 1 Thessalonians 2:13 to 1 Thessalonians 3:13. Thus, divine election is not entirely dependent upon God’s divine plan, but it also involves our willingness to participate in that plan.

1 Thessalonians 1:2-4 Comments - Prayer of Thanksgiving - Paul begins many of his epistles with a prayer, a feature typical of ancient Greco-Roman epistles as well, [66] with each prayer reflecting the respective themes of these epistles. For example, Paul’s prayer of thanksgiving to the church at Rome (Romans 1:8-12) reflects the power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ in redeeming mankind. Paul’s prayer of thanks for the Corinthians (1 Corinthians 1:4-8) reflects the theme of the sanctification of believers so that the gifts of the Spirit can operate through them as mature believers walking in love. Paul’s prayer to the Corinthians of blessing to God for comforting them in their tribulations (2 Corinthians 1:3-7) reflects the theme of higher level of sanctification so that believers will bear the sufferings of Christ and partake of His consolation. Paul’s prayer to the Ephesians (Ephesians 1:15-22) reflects the theme of the believer’s participation in God the Father’s great plan of redemption, as they come to the revelation this divine plan in their lives. Paul’s prayer to the Philippians (Philippians 1:3-11) reflects the theme of the believer’s role of participating with those whom God the Father has called to minister redemption for mankind. Paul’s prayer to the Colossians (Colossians 1:9-16) reflects the theme of the Lordship of Jesus Christ over the life of every believer, as they walk worthy of Him in pleasing Him. Paul’s prayer of thanksgiving to the Thessalonians (1 Thessalonians 1:2-4) reflects the theme of the role of the Holy Spirit in our complete sanctification, spirit, soul, and body. Paul’s second prayer of thanksgiving to the Thessalonians (2 Thessalonians 1:3-4) reflects the theme of maturity in the believer’s sanctification.

[66] John Grassmick says many ancient Greek and Roman epistles open with a “health wish” and a prayer to their god in behalf of the recipient. See John D. Grassmick, “Epistolary Genre,” in Interpreting the New Testament Text, eds. Darrell L. Bock and Buist M. Fanning (Wheaton, Illinois: Crossway Books, 2006), 232.

1 Thessalonians 1:5 For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance; as ye know what manner of men we were among you for your sake.

1 Thessalonians 1:5 “For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance” - Comments - We know that we are God’s elect (1 Thessalonians 1:4) because the Gospel came not just in words, but in signs and wonders (1 Thessalonians 1:5) (see Hebrews 2:3-4).

Hebrews 2:3-4, “How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him; God also bearing them witness, both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to his own will?”

Paul is assuring them of the truth of the Gospel and of their salvation in 1 Thessalonians 1:5. He reminds them how God bore witness with signs and wonders, which they saw with their eyes. God poured out His Spirit through the baptism of the Holy Ghost and gifts of utterance, which they heard with their ears. This resulted in assurance in their hearts of the truth of the Gospel, which they embraced.

We see in the book of Acts how the Gospel came in both in the preaching of the Word and in demonstration and power of the Holy Spirit. The words of the Gospel of Jesus Christ call its hearers to put their faith in Jesus Christ, but the power of the Gospel demonstrates and testifies to its authenticity by being accompanied with signs and wonders (Mark 16:20).

Mark 16:20, “And they went forth, and preached every where, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following. Amen.”

As the epistle of Romans emphasizes the words and message of the Gospel, the epistle of 1 Thessalonians emphasizes the power of the Gospel to transform the lives of those who receive it through the office and ministry of the Holy Spirit.

“as ye know what manner of men we were among you for your sake” Comments - In a persuasive argument, listeners not only evaluate the message, but also the evidence. Paul first mentions the evidence of divine miracles that accompanied. He now refers to another persuasive element of argument, which is the character of the speaker. One of the problems in the healing revivals in the U.S. in the 1940’s and 1950’s was the poor character of some ministers of the Gospel whom God was using mightily in the area of signs and wonders. [67] A godly lifestyle does more to convince a local congregation to serve the Lord than the sermon itself. For example, Bryan Chapell explains that if he were to visit some of his previous pastorates, the people may not remember much of his sermons, but they would certainly remember his character. [68] Godly character leaves a deep impression upon a congregation.

[67] Don Clowers, “Sermon,” Calvary Cathedral International, Fort Worth, Texas.

[68] Bryan Chapell, Christ-Centered Preaching: Redeeming the Expository Sermon, second edition (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Academic, c1994, 2005), 38.

1 Thessalonians 1:6 “with joy of the Holy Ghost” Comments - Note these insightful words from Frances J. Roberts regarding the joy of the Lord:

“Ye must walk in the Spirit, and in so doing keep thyself from becoming entangled in the things of the flesh. Ye just live in obedience to the Spirit, and thus be kept from being in bondage to the desires of the flesh. Myself cannot keep you except ye first make this choice. It was concerning this matter that Jude write his word of admonition: And ye, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith by praying in the Holy Ghost, keeping yourselves in the love of God (Jude 1:20-21). By setting your soul through deliberate choice of your will to pursue the worship of God by praying in the Spirit, thou shalt find thy faith strengthened and thy life bathed in the love of God. With thy faith laying hold upon God’s promises and power, and thine actions motivated by the love of God, thou wilt find thyself in the path of the activity of God: His blessing shall be upon thee, and He will accomplish His works through thee. Thou needest make no plans nor resort to any clever strategy. Keep yourself in the love of God. Pray in the Spirit. Rejoice evermore. Set your affections upon Christ. God will do through you and for His glory such things as it pleases Him to do, and thou shalt rejoice with Him. For as thine own spirit is aware when His Spirit is grieved within thee, so shalt thou also be aware when His Spirit rejoices within thee. This is His joy. This is the joy He promised. This is the greatest joy that can come to the human heart, for it is the joy of God, and the joy of God transcends the joy of man . Surely thou shalt not only rejoice but be exceeding glad, with a gladness surpassing thy power to tell.” [69]

[69] Frances J. Roberts, Come Away My Beloved (Ojai, California: King’s Farspan, Inc., 1973), 83-4.

1 Thessalonians 1:6 Comments - The reference to the faith of the believers in Thessalonica as described in 1 Thessalonians 1:6 is found in Acts 17:1-9.

1 Thessalonians 1:8 Comments - In 1 Thessalonians 1:8 Paul likened the testimony of the church at Thessalonica to a trumpet call or to the loud clap of thunder by saying that from them “sounded out” the word of the Lord.

1 Thessalonians 1:9 Comments - The testimony of the Thessalonians faith was so loud that the news reached other churches before Paul had a chance to tell them; for these churches rehearsed their testimony to Paul.

1 Thessalonians 1:10 Comments The phrase “from the wrath to come” can be interpreted two ways, either as God’s wrath being poured forth upon the earth during the Tribulation Period, or as God’s eternal judgment upon sinners in the lake of fire. Paul uses the Greek word ὀργή three times in 1 Thessalonians (1 Thessalonians 1:10; 1 Thessalonians 2:16; 1 Thessalonians 5:9).

1 Thessalonians 2:16, “Forbidding us to speak to the Gentiles that they might be saved, to fill up their sins alway: for the wrath is come upon them to the uttermost.”

1 Thessalonians 5:9, “For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ,”

1 Thessalonians 1:9-10 Comments The Second Coming in the Gospel of Jesus Christ - 1 Thessalonians 1:9-10 reveals that the message of Christ’s Second Coming and of eternal judgment was such a part of the early preaching of the Gospel that converts were described as those who turned from idols to the living and true God and to wait for His Son from Heaven, which will deliver us from His eternal wrath.

1 Thessalonians 1:9-10 Comments Faith, Hope and Love - 1 Thessalonians 1:9-10 gives us a three-fold reference to their work of faith, labour of love and patience of hope, as Paul mentions in his opening greetings to them (1 Thessalonians 1:3).

1. “how ye turned to God from idols” - their work of faith.

2. “to serve the living and true God” their labour of love.

3. “to wait for his Son from heaven” their patience of hope.

Paul will expound upon these three topics in this epistle:

1. Paul begins by commending their work of faith (1 Thessalonians 1:5 to 1 Thessalonians 3:10).

2. He then encourages them to continue their labour of love (1 Thessalonians 3:11 to 1 Thessalonians 4:12).

3. Paul then turns his emphases upon their patience of hope as they await the return of the Lord Jesus Christ (1 Thessalonians 4:13 to 1 Thessalonians 5:11).

Bibliographical Information
Everett, Gary H. "Commentary on 1 Thessalonians 1". Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ghe/1-thessalonians-1.html. 2013.
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