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Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

1 Thessalonians 1:4

knowing, brethren beloved by God, His choice of you;
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Concordances:
Nave's Topical Bible - Assurance;   Love;   Minister, Christian;   Predestination;   Zeal, Religious;   Scofield Reference Index - Christ;   Churches;   Election;   Gospel;   Holy Spirit;   Torrey's Topical Textbook - Assurance;   Election;  
Dictionaries:
Bridgeway Bible Dictionary - Assurance;   Election;   Trinity;   Baker Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology - Elect, Election;   Thessalonians, First and Second, Theology of;   Easton Bible Dictionary - Predestination;   Fausset Bible Dictionary - Elect;   Thessalonians, the Epistles to the;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Brothers;   Suffering;   1 Thessalonians;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Election;   Sanctification, Sanctify;   Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament - Beloved ;   Choice;   Election;   Predestination;   Thessalonians Epistles to the;   Morrish Bible Dictionary - Election,;  
Encyclopedias:
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Beloved;   Election;   Paul, the Apostle;   Pauline Theology;   Thessalonians, the First Epistle of Paul to the;  
Devotionals:
Every Day Light - Devotion for November 5;  

Adam Clarke Commentary

Verse 1 Thessalonians 1:4. Knowing - your election of God. — Being assured, from the doctrine which I have delivered to you, and which God has confirmed by various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit, that he has chosen and called the Gentiles to the same privileges to which he chose and called the Jews; and that, as they have rejected the offers of the Gospel, God has now elected the Gentiles in their stead. This is the election which the Thessalonians knew; and of which the apostle treats at large in his Epistle to the Romans, and also in his Epistles to the Galatians and Ephesians. No irrespective, unconditional, eternal, and personal election to everlasting glory, is meant by the apostle. As God had chosen the Jews, whom, because of their obstinate unbelief, he had now rejected; so he had now chosen or elected the Gentiles. And in neither case was there any thing absolute; all was most specifically conditional, as far as their final salvation was concerned; without any merit on their side, they were chosen and called to those blessings which, if rightly used, would lead them to eternal glory. That these blessings could be abused-become finally useless and forfeited, they had an ample proof in the case of the Jews, who, after having been the elect of God for more than 2000 years, were now become reprobates.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Bibliographical Information
Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on 1 Thessalonians 1:4". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/1-thessalonians-1.html. 1832.

Bridgeway Bible Commentary


1:1-3:13 RELATIONS WITH THE THESSALONIANS

Response to the gospel (1:1-10)

Paul gives thanks to God for the good news that Timothy brought back concerning the Christians in Thessalonica. Through their belief in Christ their lives have been changed, so that in everything they do their faith, love and endurance are clearly seen (1:1-3).
The Thessalonians have given proof that they are God’s people by the way they have believed and stood firm for the gospel. They had seen how Paul was persecuted in Thessalonica and they knew that believing the gospel would bring suffering. But they also knew that the gospel operated by the power of God and they gladly accepted it, confident of its power to save them (4-6). Their conduct amid persecution has been an example to Christians throughout Macedonia and Achaia (7).
Much of Macedonia and Achaia had been evangelized as a direct result of the Thessalonians’ zeal. Paul has no need to boast to others about this outstanding work, because Christians everywhere know about it already (8). Throughout the region people are talking about how readily the Thessalonians responded to the message Paul preached. No longer are they in bondage to lifeless idols. They have become servants of the living God, and they look forward to the climax of their salvation at the return of Jesus Christ (9-10).

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Flemming, Donald C. "Commentary on 1 Thessalonians 1:4". "Brideway Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bbc/1-thessalonians-1.html. 2005.

Coffman Commentaries on the Bible

knowing, brethren beloved of God, your election,

ELECTION

"Here, as elsewhere, election derives from God's love; election to damnation is not found in the New Testament."[7] Such views as this derive from the failure to understand that God's election works both ways, both to eternal life and to eternal death. And who are they who are thus "elected"? Those people who will love God and choose to serve him are "the elect" foreordained before all time to inherit eternal salvation; whereas, those who will not love God and who choose to disobey him are "elected" to eternal death. Morris believed that in the New Testament election concerns individuals;[8] but the conviction maintained here is that God never "elected" any individual either to eternal life or eternal death, apart from the individual's choice of the kind of election he desired. The scholarly editor of the Firm Foundation, in a splendid editorial, "Hope for Calvinism," June 7,1977, has given timely and concise comment regarding the fact of many Calvinists moving away from the straitjacket conception regarding election. The chancellor of Temple College, Chattanooga, wrote: "Nobody is predestined to be saved, except as he chooses, of his own free will, to repent of sin and trust Christ for salvation."[9] In the same vein, Wendell Eaves, chancellor of Hyles-Anderson College, wrote a recent book, Predestined to Hell? No![10] It is not individuals who are predestined (except in the one sense that all people were intended and created for the purpose of being God's children); see my Commentary on Romans, p. 318. Nobody will be lost eternally except those who exercise their free will in the rejection of God and his message to people through Christ.

Brethren ... was a favorite word with Paul. Morris declared that Paul used this word twenty-one times[11] in the two Thessalonian epistles; and, coming from a formerly devout Pharisee like Paul, and especially when applied to Gentile idol-worshipers turned Christian, the word has epic overtones in this context.

Another discerning comment by Morris regards the nature of the "brotherhood of man" as set forth in the New Testament:

In view of the many loose modern ideas regarding the "brotherhood of man" it is worth noting that the New Testament concept of brotherhood is specifically a brotherhood in Christian bonds. Here it is linked with being loved by God and with election. Both are significant.[12]

[7] Peter E. Cousins, op. cit., p. 492.

[8] Leon Morris, op. cit., p. 36.

[9] Reuel Lemmons, Firm Foundation (Austin, Texas: Firm Foundation Publishing House, June 7,1977), Vol. 94, No. 23, p. 354.

[10] Ibid.

[11] Leon Morris, op. cit., p. 36.

[12] Ibid.

Copyright Statement
Coffman Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.
Bibliographical Information
Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on 1 Thessalonians 1:4". "Coffman Commentaries on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bcc/1-thessalonians-1.html. Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

Knowing, brethren beloved, your election of God - The margin here reads, “beloved of God, your election.” The difference depends merely on the pointing, and that which would require the marginal reading has been adopted by Hahn, Tittman, Bloomfield, and Griesbach. The sense is not materially varied, and the common version may be regarded as giving the true meaning. There is no great difference between “being beloved of God,” and “being chosen of God.” The sense then is, “knowing that you are chosen by God unto salvation;” compare notes on Ephesians 1:4-5, Ephesians 1:11. The word “knowing” here refers to Paul himself, and to Silas and Timothy, who united with him in writing the Epistle, and in rendering thanks for the favors shown to the church at Thessalonica. The meaning is, that they had so strong confidence that they had been chosen of God as a church unto salvation, that they might say they knew it.

The way in which they knew it seems not to have been by direct revelation or by inspiration, but by the evidence which they had furnished, and which constituted such a proof of piety as to leave no doubt of the fact. Calvin. What this evidence was, the apostle states in the following verses. I was shown by the manner in which they embraced the gospel, and by the spirit which they had evinced under its influence The meaning here seems to be, not that all the members of the church at Thessalonica were certainly chosen of God to salvation - for, as in other churches, there might have been those there who were false professors - but that the church, as such, had given evidence that it was a true church - that it was founded on Christian principles - and that, as a church, it had furnished evidence of its “election by God.” Nor can it mean, as Clarke and Bloomfield suppose, that God “had chosen and called the Gentiles to the same privileges to which he chose and called the Jews; and that as they (the Jews) had rejected the gospel, God had now elected the Gentiles in their stead;” for a considerable portion of the church was composed of Jews (see Acts 17:4-5), and it cannot, therefore, mean that the Gentiles had been selected in the place of the Jews. Besides, the election of the Gentiles, or any portion of the human family, to the privileges of salvation, to the neglect or exclusion of any other part, would be attended with all the difficulties which occur in the doctrine of personal and individual election. Nothing is gained on this subject in removing the difficulties, by supposing that God chooses masses of people instead of individuals. How can the one be more proper than the other? What difficulty in the doctrine of election is removed by the supposition? Why is it not as right to choose an individual as a nation? Why not as proper to reject an individual as a whole people? If this means that the church at Thessalonica had shown that it was a true church of Christ, chosen by God, then we may learn:

(1) That a true church owes what it has to the “election of God.” It is because God has chosen it; has called it out from the world; and has endowed it in such a manner as to he a true church.

(2) A church may give evidence that it is chosen of God, and is a true church. There are things which it may do, which will show that it is undoubtedly such a church as God has chosen, and such as he approves. There are just principles on which a church should be organized, and there is a spirit which may be manifested by a church which will distinguish it from any other association of people.

(3) It is not improper to speak with strong confidence of such a church as undoubtedly chosen of God. There are churches which, by their zeal, self-denial, and deadness to the world, show beyond question their “election of God,” and the world may see that they are founded on other principles and manifest a different spirit from other organizations of people.

(4) Every church should evince such a spirit that there may be no doubt of its “election of God.” It should be so dead to the world; so pure in doctrine and in practice, and so much engaged in spreading the knowledge of salvation, that the world will see that it is governed by higher principles than any worldly association, and that nothing could produce this but the influence of the Holy Spirit of God.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Bibliographical Information
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on 1 Thessalonians 1:4". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/1-thessalonians-1.html. 1870.

Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

4 Knowing, brethren beloved. The participle knowing may apply to Paul as well as to the Thessalonians. Erasmus refers it to the Thessalonians. I prefer to follow Chrysostom, who understands it of Paul and his colleagues, for it is (as it appears to me) a more ample confirmation of the foregoing statement. For it tended in no small degree to recommend them — that God himself had testified by many tokens, that they were acceptable and dear to him.

Election of God. I am not altogether dissatisfied with the interpretation given by Chrysostom — that God had made the Thessalonians illustrious, and had established their excellence. Paul, however, had it in view to express something farther; for he touches upon their calling, and as there had appeared in it no common marks of God’s power, he infers from this that they had been specially called with evidences of a sure election. For the reason is immediately added — that it was not a bare preaching that had been brought to them, but such as was conjoined with the efficacy of the Holy Spirit, that it might obtain entire credit among them.

When he says, in power, and in the Holy Spirit, it is, in my opinion, as if he had said — in the power of the Holy Spirit, so that the latter term is added as explanatory of the former. Assurance, to which he assigned the third place, was either in the thing itself, or in the disposition of the Thessalonians. I am rather inclined to think that the meaning is, that Paul’s gospel had been confirmed by solid proofs, (500) as though God had shewn from heaven that he had ratified their calling. (501) When, however, Paul brings forward the proofs by which he had felt assured that the calling of the Thessalonians was altogether from God, he takes occasion at the same time to recommend his ministry, that they may themselves, also, recognize him and his colleagues as having been raised up by God.

By the term power some understand miracles. I extend it farther, as referring to spiritual energy of doctrine. For, as we had occasion to see in the First Epistle to the Corinthians, Paul places it in contrast with speech (502) — the voice of God, as it were, living and conjoined with effect, as opposed to an empty and dead eloquence of men. It is to be observed, however, that the election of God, which is in itself hid, is manifested by its marks—when he gathers to himself the lost sheep and joins them to his flock, and holds out his hand to those that were wandering and estranged from him. Hence a knowledge of our election must be sought from this source. As, however, the secret counsel of God is a labyrinth to those who disregard his calling, so those act perversely who, under pretext of faith and calling, darken this first grace, from which faith itself flows. “By faith,” say they, “we obtain salvation: there is, therefore, no eternal predestination of God that distinguishes between us and reprobates.” It is as though they said — “Salvation is of faith: there is, therefore, no grace of God that illuminates us in faith.” Nay rather, as gratuitous election must be conjoined with calling, as with its effect, so it must necessarily, in the mean time, hold the first place. It matters little as to the sense, whether you connect ὑπὸ with the participle beloved or with the term election (503)

(500) “ A l’este comme seellé et ratifié par bons tesmoignages et approbations suffisantes;” — “Had been there, as it were, sealed and ratified by good testimonies and sufficient attestations.”

(501) “ Et en estoit l’autheur;” — “And was the author of it.”

(502) See Calvin on the Corinthians, vol. 1, pp. 100, 101.

(503) “ Au reste, les mots de ceste sentence sont ainsi couchez au texte Grec de Sainct Paul, Scachans freres bien-aimez de Dieu, vostre election: tellement que ce mot de Dieu, pent estre rapporté a deux endroits, ascauoir Bien-aimez de Dieu, ou vostre election estre de Dieu: mais c’est tout vn comment on le prene quant au sens;” — “Farther, the words of this sentence are thus placed in the Greek text of St. Paul; knowing, brethren beloved of God, your election: in such a way, that this phrase of God may be taken as referring to two things, as meaning beloved of God, or, your election to be of God; but it is all one as to the sense in what way you take it.”

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Bibliographical Information
Calvin, John. "Commentary on 1 Thessalonians 1:4". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/cal/1-thessalonians-1.html. 1840-57.

Chuck Smith Bible Commentary

Let's turn to first Thessalonians. Paul, the apostle, on his second missionary journey had taken Silas with him, who was commended by the church in Jerusalem as one of the leaders. When they got to Derbe, Timothy joined their evangelistic team. As they journeyed on, they came to Troas and Paul's desire was to go to Bithynia, but the spirit forbade him.

And there, in Troas, as Paul was sick, he had a vision. And there was a man of Macedonia calling him to come and help. And so Paul immediately got a ship, crossed the Aegean and came to Macedonian, the area of Philippi, at which point Luke joined Paul's team. Whether or not Luke was the man that Paul saw in his vision, we do not know. It is quite possible that it was Luke that Paul saw. Nonetheless, they came to Philippi and they began to share Jesus Christ there in Philippi by the river with ladies who would go there for prayer. And a lady who was a merchant, whose name was Lydia, was converted along with many others.

There was a young girl in the area of Philippi who was possessed by evil spirits and Paul, through the power of Jesus Christ, freed her. And this caused a ruckus among those men that were controlling this young girl and actually profiting by her divination, a gift that she had through the demon powers. And so they created an uproar; they had Paul and his company arrested. They were beaten and thrown into the dungeon of the prison. At midnight, an earthquake opened the doors and the Philippine jailer, when he awoke finding the doors open, was ready to commit suicide when Paul stopped him and he came trembling and said, "What must I do to be saved?" And Paul shared the gospel with him. He took Paul home; Paul shared the gospel with his family.

And then the magistrates of the city found out that Paul was a Roman citizen, as was Silas, and so they said, "Hey, tell your friends to just get out of town." And Paul said, "Look, they beat us publicly, they made a big public display of the whole thing; let them come down themselves and deliver us." You know. So, Paul forced the issue and they came down, asked Paul to leave Philippi.

So, Paul with Silas, Timothy and Luke began to follow the Roman highway south from Philippi. They came through Amphipolis. They pass through Apollonia and they came to Thessalonica, which was a principle Roman city, and is an important city today. In modern Greece, Salonica is the same as the Thessalonica of the Bible. It was here where Paul went into the synagogue, and for three Sabbath days reasoned with them out of the scriptures proving that Jesus was the Messiah. And many of the Jews believed; some of them did not.

Those who did not believe stirred up a ruckus against Paul, and Paul escaped from the city of Thessalonica and went on down to Berea. And there, they again shared until certain of Jews, who had created the problems of Thessalonica, came to Berea, and so Paul went on to Athens. Later, Luke and Silvanus, who is also Silas, and Timothy joined Paul and they journeyed to Corinth, but Paul was concerned about the believers in Thessalonica. So Paul asked Timothy to go back to Thessalonica to find out how the believers were doing.

Now, from the record it would appear that Paul's ministry in Thessalonica was a very short ministry, as short as possible, just four weeks. As they mentioned that three weeks ministering each Sabbath day, for three Sabbath days in the synagogue, and then the trouble that was created. And so it would appear that Paul's time there among them was extremely short. When Paul and his company came to them, they were probably still pretty-well blood . . . well, not bloody, but swollen and bruised from the beatings that they had received in Philippi. Their clothes probably ripped, they probably looked pretty much a mess, but yet, Paul speaks about its coming to them in afflictions. And so, the marks of the beatings still upon him, still very obvious there on his body when he first came to Thessalonica.

Timothy came back to Thessalonica to find the welfare of the church, found it in good health, found them really going on in the Lord, and returned to Corinth to share with Paul how that the church was prospering and going on in the Lord. And so Paul then wrote this letter, which is probably the first letter that Paul wrote to the churches. He wrote from Corinth back to Thessalonica this first epistle, as he seeks to correct some of the misconception that had arisen.

Now, the interesting thing to me is that from the gist of this letter of Paul, one of the most important truths that Paul had emphasized in that very short ministry was that of the coming again of Jesus Christ. And all the way through the first epistle, he is making mention of that hope of the coming of Jesus Christ. And of course, next week in our lesson, as we get to chapters four and five, we'll be dealing with Paul's teaching on the rapture of the church, and all, as he is writing to the Thessalonians concerning the things that he had been teaching them and some of the misunderstandings that had arisen from his teaching. But I am amazed at what a tremendous foundation Paul was able to lay in the word of God in the hearts of these people in such a short time, as is evidenced by this epistle.

So, with that kind of a background, the year's about fifty-three, fifty-four. Paul is on his second missionary journey; he's just arrived in Corinth, has begun his ministry there, which will continue for one year and six months, as the Lord spoke to him in Corinth and said, "Stick here, Paul. I've got a lot of people that are gonna believe on Me in this place." And so, he is sent back now to Thessalonica, he has heard from Timothy the welfare of the church, and he immediately writes them this letter.

Paul, and Silvanus, [another name for Silas] and Timotheus, unto the church of the Thessalonians which is in God the Father and in the Lord Jesus Christ ( 1 Thessalonians 1:1 ):

The church in God, the church in Jesus Christ. And presently Paul is going to be talking about the power of the Holy Spirit with which the message came to them in much assurance. So again, the Father, the Son, the Spirit in which the church was established.

Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ ( 1 Thessalonians 1:1 ).

Notice how often Paul is relating God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ together. If Jesus was not God, such a relationship and relating their names together constantly would be blasphemy. Some people say, "But why doesn't he also include the Holy Spirit?" Well, you remember that Paul's epistles are actually inspired by the Holy Spirit and Jesus said, "When the Holy Spirit is come, He will not testify of Himself, but He will testify of Me." And so, it is sufficient that in the inspiring of this writing by the Holy Spirit that there is joined those two persons of the Godhead: the Father and the Son.

Paul's "grace and peace unto you" are typical Pauline greetings. The grace and peace, the Siamese twins of the New Testament, they're always coupled together; wherever you find one, you'll find the other. And they are always in that order: grace and peace, because you cannot experience the peace of God until you understand and have received the grace of God. The understanding of the grace of God is essential to knowing the peace of God in your heart and life.

For years I had peace with God, but I did not have the peace of God, because I did not know the grace of God. I related to God in a legal way. My righteousness was predicated upon my good efforts, my devotional time, my prayer life, and my study of the word. I had a legal relationship with God.

Then I came to an understanding of the grace of God, and I came into a loving relationship with God. And when I did, I suddenly experienced the peace of God, something I'd never known in my Christian life. And what a blessing it was to know the peace of God within my heart, as I now rest where God rest in the finished work of Jesus Christ. And so, the gospel came to me with much assurance, only after I experienced the grace of God. Up until that time, the gospel . . . I had no assurance in the gospel. I didn't really know if I was saved or not from one week to the next, but the much assurance came with the grace.

So...

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

And again, how Paul does refer to his prayer life in each of his epistles. Paul was a man of prayer. As we look at the men that God has used in the New Testament, those men that were used mightily of God, we find that there are certain things that are endemic to all of them. And one is that they were men of prayer. If you want God to really use your life, it is necessary that you be in close communion with God. And prayer, of course, is that means by which we remain in close touch with him.

Prayer is not a monologue, though so often we make it such, but prayer should always be a dialogue. In fact, as the years have past, I have spent more time in the listening side of prayer than I have the talking side of prayer. When I first started my communication with God, I did all the talking, very little listening. But as years went by and my relationship with God grew, I did less talking and more listening, for I am convinced that what God has to say to me is much more important than anything I'd have to say to Him. And so I've learned to listen to God, and I've sought to listen before I speak, in order that God might speak to my heart what is His purpose, His will, His desire in a particular matter, so that I may make that my prayer. Paul, a man of prayer, and thus God used him; making mention of you in our prayers.

Remembering without ceasing your work of faith, labour of love, and patience of hope ( 1 Thessalonians 1:3 )

Again, as in Galatians, as in Ephesians, and as in the Corinthian epistles, Paul links these three: faith, hope, love. Remember in first Corinthians thirteen? "And now abide these three: faith, hope, love." And so, he is constantly relating these three things.

First of all, they had the work of faith. If you have true faith, there is that work that is the natural result of faith. And if the faith does not affect your actions, then it is not a true faith. A person with true faith, that faith will affect what they do. It has an effect upon their actions, upon their works; it is producing a work in their life. And so the work of faith. Faith is not a work, but faith does produce a certain result in us: the work of faith.

The labor of love. Now, the word labor, as we pointed out to you last Thursday night as we studied this word in the message of Jesus to the church of Ephesus in Revelation two, the word means to labor to the point of weariness or exhaustion. And only can bring that kind of labor.

And how many times do we see this exemplified in a mother going around the house laboring to the point of exhaustion, especially when the children are little and there are all those responsibilities? And yet, it's a labor of love, because you look at those beautiful little faces, and you don't really think, "Oh my, I'm so tired and all. That dirty little face, just throw it in bed, you know, and let it go." But you can't help but just go in and get the warm wash rag and the towel and come and wash the hands and wash the face and kiss the cheek, though you are as tired as can be because all that you've done all day long, but that's the labor of love.

And how glorious when our love for God is such that we don't really consider the weariness of our own bodies. But as Paul, the love of Christ just constrains me, and that labor of love . . . and again, that's the only motive that God will really accept. Remember, that was the problem of the church in Ephesus: they were laboring, but without love, and that's what the Lord really spoke to them about. And He said, "Unless you begin to love, unless you return to that first love, I'm gonna take the candlestick and move it out of its place." And so, the only labor that God really accepts from us is the labor of love. For though I give my body to be burned, sell all I have, and bestow on the poor, if I have not love . . . profits mean nothing. The labor of love.

And then the...

Patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the sight of God and our Father ( 1 Thessalonians 1:3 );

So that patience, learning to wait upon God. Boy, what a time I have with that. I don't know why that should be so difficult, and yet, to me, it's one of the most difficult things in my Christian experience, to wait upon God. I, so often, am giving God time limits. "Lord, I'll give you till Saturday to work this thing out, and if you don't do something by Saturday, then I'm gonna have to step in and do something myself." But to just wait upon God; you see, to wait upon God takes great faith. I have to believe that God is in control and that God is working, though I may not see it.

How many problems have been created because we didn't wait upon God? How many times with Abraham do we move to take things into our own hands, knowing what God has purposed, knowing what God has planned? God has not done it in the timeframe that I feel He ought to do it, and so Lord, we know you wanna do it, but obviously you can't do it without our help and so we're gonna help you out, Lord. And oh my, what problems we create when we step in to help God out. But that's been the problem, I think, through the century, is patience of hope; just waiting upon God, waiting upon His time, waiting on Him to work in His time, knowing that He is going to work, confident that God is gonna work.

Now, there are many exhortations to patience. "You have need of patience," we are told in Hebrews, "that after you have done the will of God you might obtain the promise." We are told that those of the Old Testament who through faith and patience inherited the promises of God. And then James exhorts us to patience into the coming . . . waiting for the coming of the Lord. Establish your souls, be patient, for the Lord is waiting for the complete fruit of harvest. So, they were patient in their hope, laboring in love. They were...had the works of faith. And all of this, after just one month of Paul's ministry to them.

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

Now, this is a doctrine that we usually don't teach new believers. We usually wait until a person is pretty-well founded in the scriptures before we broach this theological problem of divine election. But Paul saw it necessary to teach divine election unto these new believers in Thessalonica. He speaks of them knowing the fact that they were elected by God.

People have problems with divine election. They have a problem with God making choices. However, we surely do appreciate the fact that God has given to us the capacity of choice. I was glad that the Lord allowed me to choose the one I was to spend the rest of my live with as a companion. He just didn't throw anybody at me and say, "Here, take that." But He allowed me the choice, and He also allowed her the choice when I gave it to her. So that we're not forced into the company of someone with whom we might be completely incompatible or someone that we really have no real attraction to.

Now, if God has given to us the choice of those whom we are going to have as our companions or associates, why shouldn't God have the right to choose those He wanted to be with? And indeed He has. Now, that doesn't trouble me at all. It thrills me that He chose me. And so knowing that God has elected. Jesus said to his disciples, "You didn't choose me. I chose you and ordained that you should be my disciples, that you should bring forth fruit that your fruit should remain. That whatsoever you should ask the Father in my name He may give it to you" ( John 15:16 ). "I've chosen you," He said.

So the scripture does teach divine election. It never teaches divine election apart from the foreknowledge of God. Whom He did foreknow, He did also predestinate, that they shall be conformed in the image of His Son. And so Paul taught the doctrine of divine election to the church in just a month's time.

For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance ( 1 Thessalonians 1:5 );

I think that that's probably the weakness of the gospel today. Is that so many times we are proclaiming the gospel in word only, and it lacks the power and the work of the Holy Spirit and that assurance with it. Paul, you remember, went from here to Corinth. Later, when he wrote to the Corinthians, he said to them, "And my preaching was not with the enticing words of man's wisdom, but with the demonstration of the spirit and power." We need more of that kind of preaching which is a demonstration of the power of God.

And so...

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

So, what manner of men we were for your sakes, men ministering through the power of the Spirit.

And you became followers of us, and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with the joy of the Holy Spirit ( 1 Thessalonians 1:6 ):

And so, again Paul here makes mention of the fact of his probably physical appearance: the beating that he had received at Philippi, and yet they received the word in the joy of the Holy Spirit.

So that ye were examples to all that believe in Macedonia and in Achaia. For from you sounded out the word of the Lord not only in Macedonia and Achia, but also in every place your faith to God-ward is spread abroad; so that we need not to speak anything ( 1 Thessalonians 1:7-8 ).

Marvelous. The church here could not be more than six months old and yet, from them already the word of the Lord was sounding out to all of the area around them. Their faith toward God was spread abroad, the reputation of their believers there.

For they themselves show of us what manner of entering in we had unto you ( 1 Thessalonians 1:9 ),

So, just their . . . it shows with what power the Holy Spirit was working in Paul and those companions of Paul as they came to this church. It was really miraculous that this church should be so effective, and yet so young. And it can only be attributed to the fact of the power of the Holy Spirit in the church.

What a mistake we make today when we try to relegate this power of the spirit only to the Biblical days. What a mistake we make today when we place such and emphasis upon the enticing words of man's wisdom and seeking to establish people in the faith by just fancy speeches, clever talk. We need the dynamic of Spirit that the word of God might not come not just in word only, but in the power and the demonstration of the spirit of God. Because of that,

[they] turned to God from idols to serve the living and the true God ( 1 Thessalonians 1:9 );

In Greece, they had many idols. Paul, when he came to Athens, he'd found his spirit just torn as he looked at this metropolis and saw this city that was wholly given over to idolatry. It just really ripped him up inside to see the idolatry there in Athens. So he, though he was really trying to, you know, cool things down, he just had . . . I mean his reception in Europe wasn't with a lot of fanfare. They didn't have the band out to greet him and banners waving "welcome" you know. But in Philippi, he was beaten and kicked out of town. Came to Thessalonica where he had to leave town, and the people where he was staying got arrested and had to post bail, just because they kept Paul. Came to Berea and he had to leave Berea because of the riots that ensued in his ministry there. So they said, "Hey, look, we'll stay and help establish the church here in Berea. You, Paul, go on down and get an R&R in Athens, you know. Sort of lay low for a while. Tough sledding here in Greece."

So Paul went down to Athens, and seeing a city wholly given over to idolatry, he couldn't just kick back and lie still. His heart was burning, and so he started sharing with the Athenians. They said, "Come on up to Mars hill and we're gonna, you know, give ya your audience up there. You can speak to all of us and share this new religion." For the Athenians spent their whole lives just, you know, arguing and wanting to hear some new thing. So they gave Paul his day there on Mars hill. And as he begun his speech to them, he said, "I perceive that you are very religious people because as I've been going through your city down here I've noticed all of the gods that you have." And he said, "I came across one little altar and it was inscribed 'to the unknown god'. I'd like to tell you about that God."

In Greece, they had deified all of the emotions of man: the god of love, the god of hate, the god of fear, the god of peace, the god of joy. They deified everything. Some fella thought, "Well, we may have missed one and we don't want him to be angry with us so let's build an altar to the unknown god so he won't feel neglected, you know." But they worshipped Aphrodite, they worshipped Narcissus, they worshiped Bacus, they worshiped Zeus, all the various idols. But these people had turned from the idols to worship the true and the living God.

We usually think of idolatry as something of a past history of man or something that is only found in primitive cultures. Not so. We can even find idols in churches: images, statuaries, though it has been specifically forbidden in the scriptures, yet it does exist. When a person begins to worship an idol or a relic, it is a sign that that person has lost the consciousness of God and the presence of God. God, oftentimes, works through instruments. God worked through the cross to bring our salvation, but then to take splinters of the cross and begin to venerate splinters of the cross show that the people have lost the truth behind the cross.

God used the brass serpent in the wilderness to bring healing to Israel from the bites of these poisonous snakes. But there came a time in the history of Israel when Hezekiah was king that they were worshipping this brass snake. They had kept it. It had become a religious relic and people were coming and worshipping this brass snake. So that Hezekiah broke the thing and he said, "Nahushcan" It's just of a thing of brass; it's not God. But the worship of it indicated that loss of consciousness of God within their life, but also a deep desire to experience God again.

Now, the idols that they had made to these various passions, or the various emotions, or various concepts were more honest than people today. For we still have these as idols within our hearts, many times, though we may not have made some little form that we set on a table and put little flowers around and kneel before each morning and light candles before each night. But we can be burning incense in our hearts. There are those today who are worshipping Narcissus. There are those today who are worshipping Aphrodite, those today who are worshipping Bacus, Zeus; they just don't have idols, except within their heart.

Now they have turned from these idols to the true and the living God.

And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come ( 1 Thessalonians 1:10 ).

Now, it is interesting to me that at the end of each of the first four chapters Paul makes reference to the coming again of Jesus Christ; an important part to a person's faith and belief system. For it is really the hope that sustains us. And so, the patience of hope and here he broadens out of it, "as they were waiting for God's Son from heaven whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus which delivered us from the wrath to come."

How much doctrine is involved in that little statement right there? The central message of the New Testament, the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead by God the Father, and the coming again of Jesus Christ to deliver us from the wrath to come. Now we are waiting for Jesus to deliver us from the wrath to come. That wrath to come could be a reference to the eternal punishment that God is going to visit upon those who have rejected Him, but it also could very well refer to the wrath to come during the great tribulation period. And as we go further in Thessalonians, we'll find that God has not appointed us unto wrath. Jesus is going to deliver us from the wrath to come.

During the period of the Great Tribulation when the sixth seal is opened and these cataclysmic judgments are taking place in the universe, awesome fearful things happening. "And the kings of the earth and the chief captains and all will be hiding, calling unto the rocks and unto the mountains, fall on us and hide us from the face of the Lamb, for the day of His wrath has come and who shall be able to stand?" ( Revelation 6:15-17 )

The wrath to come. There is coming the wrath of God upon this earth in the Great Tribulation, and I do not believe that it would be proper scriptural exposition to not include that in the deliverance of the Lord for His saints. I believe that it is an all-inclusive deliverance from the wrath to come, the Great Tribulation, as well as the future judgment of the unbeliever. More about that as we move into Revelation on Thursday nights, and more about that as we move into Thessalonians next Sunday night.

"



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Copyright © 2014, Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa, Ca.
Bibliographical Information
Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on 1 Thessalonians 1:4". "Chuck Smith Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/csc/1-thessalonians-1.html. 2014.

Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

A. Thanksgiving for the Thessalonians 1:2-10

Paul began the first main section of his epistle by reviewing several aspects of the Thessalonians’ salvation and giving thanks to God for them to encourage his readers to persevere despite persecution.

". . . both letters name Paul, Silas, and Timothy as the authors of the letters. Yet the letters are traditionally ascribed to Paul alone. Is this fair? Many scholars answer no. They note the way the first-person plural dominates both letters, even in the thanksgiving section, which does not happen in most of the other Pauline letters, including three of them that name someone else in the salutation (1 Corinthians, Philippians, Philemon). The inclusion of more than one person in the salutation of a letter was most unusual in antiquity; readers would probably have read the plural ’we’ as a genuine indication of authorship. However, there is reason to pause before drawing this conclusion. . . . Paul is the primary author [cf. 2 Thessalonians 3:17]." [Note: Carson and Moo, pp. 534-44.]

"Paul, like a good psychologist, and with true Christian tact, begins with praise even when he meant to move on to rebuke." [Note: William Barclay, The Letters to the Philippians, Colossians and Thessalonians, p. 217.]

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These files are public domain.
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Bibliographical Information
Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on 1 Thessalonians 1:4". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dcc/1-thessalonians-1.html. 2012.

Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

Paul’s favorite appellation for the Thessalonians was "brothers." He used it 15 times in this epistle and seven times in 2 Thessalonians. It emphasizes the equality of Christians in the family of God, Jews and Gentiles alike, and it reveals Paul’s strong affection for his Thessalonian converts.

"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." [Note: Barclay, p. 218.]

Paul thanked God for choosing the Thessalonian believers for salvation. There are three participial clauses that modify the main verb eucharistoumen ("we give thanks," 1 Thessalonians 1:2). 1 Thessalonians 1:2 b gives the manner of giving thanks, 1 Thessalonians 1:3 the occasion, and 1 Thessalonians 1:4 the ultimate cause. Their response to the gospel proved God’s choice of them. Paul had not persuaded them by clever oratory, but the power (Gr. dynamei, dative case) of God through the Holy Spirit’s convicting work had brought them to faith in Christ (cf. Romans 1:16). This Greek word stresses inward power that possessed the missionaries, not necessarily that supernatural manifestations accompanied their preaching, which dynameis ("miracles," 1 Corinthians 12:10; Galatians 3:5) would have emphasized.

"The spiritual power and conviction with which the message was received matched the spiritual power and conviction with which it was delivered." [Note: Bruce, p. 15.]

The lives of the preachers who had behaved consistently with what they taught in Thessalonica had backed up their message.

"Conviction is invisible without action. Paul’s conviction as well as that of the Thessalonians (seen in their respective actions) testified to the genuine relationship that each had with the God who chose them . . ." [Note: Martin, p. 59.]

 

"Persons in both the religious and philosophical communities of the first century felt that the only teachers worth a moment’s attention were those who taught with their lives as well as with their words." [Note: Ibid. Cf. A. J. Malherbe, Moral Exhortation, A Greco-Roman Sourcebook, pp. 34-40.]

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Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on 1 Thessalonians 1:4". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dcc/1-thessalonians-1.html. 2012.

Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

2. Specific reasons 1:4-10

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Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on 1 Thessalonians 1:4". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dcc/1-thessalonians-1.html. 2012.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

Knowing, brethren beloved, your election of God. Which intends not an election to an office, for this epistle is written not to the officers of the church only, but to the whole church; nor to the Gospel, the outward means of grace, since this was common to them with others, and might be known without the evidence after given; nor does it design the effectual calling, sometimes so called for this is expressed in the following verse as a fruit, effect, and evidence of the election here spoken of, which is no other than the eternal choice of, them to everlasting life and happiness: this is of God, an act of God the Father, made in Christ Jesus before the world began, and which springs from his sovereign will, and is the effect of his pure love and free favour; and therefore these persons who are the objects of it are said to be "beloved of God"; for so the Vulgate Latin, Syriac, Arabic, and Ethiopic versions read the words, and which agree with 2 Thessalonians 2:13 for this choice does not arise from the merits of men, or any conditions in them, or from the foresight of their faith, holiness, and good works, but from the free grace and good pleasure of God; and is the source and spring of all grace, and the blessings of it, and even of good works; and is a sure, immutable, and irreversible act of God, being founded on his own will, and not on the works of men; the knowledge they had of this was not what the Thessalonians themselves had, though they might have, and doubtless had the knowledge of this grace, and which may be concluded with certainty from the effectual calling; and is a privilege which many particular believers may, and do arrive unto the knowledge of, without any extraordinary revelation made unto them: but here it intends the knowledge which the apostle and his companions had of the election of the members of this church; not by inspiration of the Spirit of God, but by the manner of the Gospel's coming unto them, and the effects it had upon them, as expressed in the following verses; and from their faith, hope, and love, mentioned in the preceding verse; and which was the ground and foundation of their thanksgiving for them; see on Gill "2Th 2:13".

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The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rights Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
A printed copy of this work can be ordered from: The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1 Iron Oaks Dr, Paris, AR, 72855
Bibliographical Information
Gill, John. "Commentary on 1 Thessalonians 1:4". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/1-thessalonians-1.html. 1999.

Matthew Henry's Complete Commentary on the Bible

Thanksgiving to God. A. D. 51.

      2 We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers;   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;   4 Knowing, brethren beloved, your election of God.   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.

      I. The apostle begins with thanksgiving to God. Being about to mention the things that were matter of joy to him, and highly praiseworthy in them, and greatly for their advantage, he chooses to do this by way of thanksgiving to God, who is the author of all that good that comes to us, or is done by us, at any time. God is the object of all religious worship, of prayer and praise. And thanksgiving to God is a great duty, to be performed always or constantly; even when we do not actually give thanks to God by our words, we should have a grateful sense of God's goodness upon our minds. Thanksgiving should be often repeated; and not only should we be thankful for the favours we ourselves receive, but for the benefits bestowed on others also, upon our fellow-creatures and fellow-christians. The apostle gave thanks not only for those who were his most intimate friends, or most eminently favoured of God, but for them all.

      II. He joined prayer with his praise or thanksgiving. When we in every thing by prayer and supplication make our requests known to God, we should join thanksgiving therewith, Philippians 4:6. So when we give thanks for any benefit we receive we should join prayer. We should pray always and without ceasing, and should pray not only for ourselves, but for others also, for our friends, and should make mention of them in our prayers. We may sometimes mention their names, and should make mention of their case and condition; at least, we should have their persons and circumstances in our minds, remembering them without ceasing. Note, As there is much that we ought to be thankful for on the behalf of ourselves and our friends, so there is much occasion of constant prayer for further supplies of good.

      III. He mentions the particulars for which he was so thankful to God; namely,

      1. The saving benefits bestowed on them. These were the grounds and reasons of his thanksgiving. (1.) Their faith and their work of faith. Their faith he tells them (1 Thessalonians 1:8; 1 Thessalonians 1:8) was very famous, and spread abroad. This is the radical grace; and their faith was a true and living faith, because a working faith. Note, Wherever there is a true faith, it will work: it will have an influence upon heart and life; it will put us upon working for God and for our own salvation. We have comfort in our own faith and the faith of others when we perceive the work of faith. Show me thy faith by thy works,James 2:18. (2.) Their love and labour of love. Love is one of the cardinal graces; it is of great use to us in this life and will remain and be perfected in the life to come. Faith works by love; it shows itself in the exercise of love to God and love to our neighbour; as love will show itself by labour, it will put us upon taking pains in religion. (3.) Their hope and the patience of hope. We are saved by hope. This grace is compared to the soldier's helmet and sailor's anchor, and is of great use in times of danger. Wherever there is a well-grounded hope of eternal life, it will appear by the exercise of patience; in a patient bearing of the calamities of the present time and a patient waiting for the glory to be revealed. For, if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it,Romans 8:25.

      2. The apostle not only mentions these three cardinal graces, faith, hope and love, but also takes notice, (1.) Of the object and efficient cause of these graces, namely, our Lord Jesus Christ. (2.) Of the sincerity of them: being in the sight of God even our Father. The great motive to sincerity is the apprehension of God's eye as always upon us; and it is a sign of sincerity when in all we do we endeavour to approve ourselves to God, and that is right which is so in the sight of God. Then is the work of faith, or labour of love, or patience of hope, sincere, when it is done under the eye of God. (3.) He mentions the fountain whence these graces flow, namely, God's electing love: Knowing, brethren beloved, your election of God,1 Thessalonians 1:4; 1 Thessalonians 1:4. Thus he runs up these streams to the fountain, and that was God's eternal election. Some by their election of God would understand only the temporary separation of the Thessalonians from the unbelieving Jews and Gentiles in their conversion; but this was according to the eternal purpose of him who worketh all things according to the counsel of his own will,Ephesians 1:11. Speaking of their election, he calls them, brethren beloved; for the original of the brotherhood that is between Christians and the relation wherein they stand one to another is election. And it is a good reason why we should love one another, because we are all beloved of God, and were beloved of him in his counsels when there was not any thing in us to merit his love. The election of these Thessalonians was known to the apostles, and therefore might be known to themselves, and that by the fruits and effects thereof--their sincere faith, and hope, and love, by the successful preaching of the gospel among them. Observe, [1.] All those who in the fulness of time are effectually called and sanctified were from eternity elected and chosen to salvation. [2.] The election of God is of his own good pleasure and mere grace, not for the sake of any merit in those who are chosen. [3.] The election of God may be known by the fruits thereof. [4.] Whenever we are giving thanks to God for his grace either to ourselves or others, we should run up the streams to the fountain, and give thanks to God for his electing love, by which we are made to differ.

      3. Another ground or reason of the apostle's thanksgiving is the success of his ministry among them. He was thankful on his own account as well as theirs, that he had not laboured in vain. He had the seal and evidence of his apostleship hereby, and great encouragement in his labours and sufferings. Their ready acceptance and entertainment of the gospel he preached to them were an evidence of their being elected and beloved of God. It was in this way that he knew their election. It is true he had been in the third heavens; but he had not searched the records of eternity, and found their election there, but knew this by the success of the gospel among them (1 Thessalonians 1:5; 1 Thessalonians 1:5), and he takes notice with thankfulness, (1.) That the gospel came to them also not in word only, but in power; they not only heard the sound of it, but submitted to the power of it. It did not merely tickle the ear and please the fancy, not merely fill their heads with notions and amuse their minds for awhile, but it affected their hearts: a divine power went along with it for convincing their consciences and amending their lives. Note, By this we may know our election, if we not only speak of the things of God by rote as parrots, but feel the influence of these things in our hearts, mortifying our lusts, weaning us from the world, and raising us up to heavenly things. (2.) It came in the Holy Ghost, that is, with the powerful energy of the divine Spirit. Note, Wherever the gospel comes in power, it is to be attributed to the operation of the Holy Ghost; and unless the Spirit of God accompany the word of God, to render it effectual by his power, it will be to us but as a dead letter; and the letter killeth, it is the Spirit that giveth life. (3.) The gospel came to them in much assurance. Thus did they entertain it by the power of the Holy Ghost. They were fully convinced of the truth of it, so as not to be easily shaken in mind by objections and doubts; they were willing to leave all for Christ, and to venture their souls and everlasting condition upon the verity of the gospel revelation. The word was not to them, like the sentiments of some philosophers about matters of opinion and doubtful speculation, but the object of their faith and assurance. Their faith was the evidence of things not seen; and the Thessalonians thus knew what manner of men the apostle and his fellow-labourers were among them, and what they did for their sake, and with what good success.

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Bibliographical Information
Henry, Matthew. "Complete Commentary on 1 Thessalonians 1:4". "Matthew Henry Complete Commentary on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mhm/1-thessalonians-1.html. 1706.