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Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

1 Thessalonians 1:5

for our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction; just as you know what kind of men we proved to be among you for your sake.
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Concordances:
Nave's Topical Bible - Assurance;   Gospel;   Holy Spirit;   Minister, Christian;   Power;   Preaching;   Word of God;   Zeal, Religious;   Scofield Reference Index - Assurance-Security;   Gospel;   Holy Spirit;   Thompson Chain Reference - Assurance;   Gospel;   Holy Spirit;   Power;   Weakness-Power;   Torrey's Topical Textbook - Assurance;   Gospel, the;   Power of the Holy Spirit, the;   Witness of the Holy Spirit;  
Dictionaries:
American Tract Society Bible Dictionary - Thessalonians, Epistle to the 1 and 2;   Bridgeway Bible Dictionary - Election;   Gospel;   Holy spirit;   Power;   Preaching;   Trinity;   Baker Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology - Evangelize, Evangelism;   Gospel;   Holy Spirit;   Thessalonians, First and Second, Theology of;   Word;   Fausset Bible Dictionary - Colosse;   Thessalonians, the Epistles to the;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Suffering;   1 Thessalonians;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Assurance;   Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament - Apostle;   Assurance;   Certainty (2);   Election;   Gospels (2);   Predestination;   Thessalonians Epistles to the;   Word;   Morrish Bible Dictionary - Assurance;   People's Dictionary of the Bible - Thessalonians;  
Encyclopedias:
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Apocryphal Acts;   How;   Paul, the Apostle;   Power;   Spirit;   Thessalonians, the First Epistle of Paul to the;   Word;  
Devotionals:
Every Day Light - Devotion for November 5;   Today's Word from Skip Moen - Devotion for May 16;  

Adam Clarke Commentary

Verse 1 Thessalonians 1:5. For our Gospel — That is, the glad tidings of salvation by Jesus Christ, and of your being elected to enjoy all the privileges to which the Jews were called, without being obliged to submit to circumcision, or fulfil the rites and ceremonies of the Mosaic law.

Came not unto you in word only — It was not by simple teaching or mere reasoning that the doctrines which we preached recommended themselves to you, we did not insist on your using this or the other religious institution; we insisted on a change of heart and life, and we held out the energy which was able to effect it.

But also in powerεν δυναμει. With miraculous manifestations, to your eyes and to your hearts, which induced you to acknowledge that this Gospel was the power of God unto salvation.

And in the Holy Ghost — By his influence upon your hearts, in changing and renewing them; and by the testimony which ye received from him, that you were accepted through the Beloved, and become the adopted children of God.

And in much assuranceεν πληροφορια πολλη. The Holy Spirit which was given you left no doubt on your mind, either with respect to the general truth of the doctrine, or the safety of your own state. Ye had the fullest assurance that the Gospel was true, and the fullest assurance that ye had received the remission of sins through that Gospel; the Spirit himself bearing witness with your spirit, that you are the sons and daughters of God Almighty.

What manner of men we were — How we preached, and how we lived; our doctrines and our practices ever corresponding. And for your sakes we sustained difficulties, endured hardships, and were incessant in our labours.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Bibliographical Information
Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on 1 Thessalonians 1:5". "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 1:5". "Brideway Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bbc/1-thessalonians-1.html. 2005.

Coffman Commentaries on the Bible

how that our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Spirit, and in much assurance; even as ye know what manner of men we showed ourselves toward you for your sake.

See comment on preceding verse.

Our gospel ... Paul on occasion could say "my" gospel; and therefore the thought persists that the construction here is for the purpose of affirming the oneness of the gospel the Thessalonians had received with the same gospel taught by all of the apostles. Note that the acceptance of that gospel by the Thessalonians was one of the reasons that Paul spoke so confidently of their being the election of God. Those who accept the gospel in all generations are likewise of the elect.

What manner of men we showed ourselves ... It seems to this writer that commentators make too much of this and other passages in the letter which might be construed as Paul's defense against "charges." Barclay made a list of these, compiling them from references in 1 Thessalonians 2.

It was being said that Paul preached from sheer delusion (1 Thessalonians 2:3).

That his preaching sprang from impure motives (1 Thessalonians 2:3).

It was said his preaching aimed at deluding others (1 Thessalonians 2:3).

That he was seeking to please people, not God (1 Thessalonians 2:4).

That he was preaching for what he could get out of it (1 Thessalonians 2:5,9).

That he sought personal prestige (1 Thessalonians 2:6).

He was something of a dictator (1 Thessalonians 2:7).[13]

A careful reading of the epistle fails to support the theoretical speculations of a savage campaign of slander as alleged by Barclay. It was the part of wisdom to place in the hands of churches the truth which could prevent such slanders from ever being propagated; and that is just as reasonable a supposition as the other. That Paul, knowing the ways of Satan, would have anticipated and frustrated such slanders in advance, wherever possible, would appear to be a certainty; and there must be some of that in evidence here.

Not in word only ... Paul's preaching was accompanied by the exhibition of miraculous apostolic powers (Romans 15:19) of "signs and wonders and mighty deeds in the Holy Spirit"; such things, of course, having been the Father's way of confirming the gospel he preached.

What manner of men we showed ourselves ... Paul worked with his own hands to support his preaching; his conduct was righteous and holy in their presence; and it was fitting indeed that he should remind them of the Christian character he had exhibited among them.

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 1:5". "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

For our gospel came not unto you - When first preached; Acts 17:1-3. Paul speaks of it as “our gospel,” because it was the gospel preached by him and Silas and Timothy; comp 2 Thessalonians 2:14; 2 Timothy 2:8. He did not mean to say that the gospel had been originated by him, but only that he had delivered the good news of salvation to them. He is here stating the evidence which had been given that they were a church “chosen by God.” He refers, first, to the manner in which the gospel was received by them 1 Thessalonians 1:5-7, and, secondly, to the spirit which they themselves manifested in sending it abroad; yet.1 Thessalonians 1:8.

In word only - Was not merely spoken; or was not merely heard. It produced a powerful effect on the heart and life. It was not a mere empty sound that produced no other effect than to entertain or amuse; compare Ezekiel 33:32.

But also in power - That is, in such power as to convert the soul. The apostle evidently refers not to any miracles that were performed there, but to the effect of the gospel on those who heard it. It is possible that there were miracles performed there, as there were in other places, but there is no mention of such a fact, and it is not necessary to suppose it, in order to see the full meaning of this language. There was great power manifested in the gospel in its leading them to break off from their sins, to abandon their idols, and to give their hearts to God; see this more fully explained in the notes on 1 Corinthians 2:4.

And in the Holy Ghost - Compare the notes on 1 Corinthians 2:4. It is there called the “demonstration of the Spirit.”

And in much assurance - That is, with firm conviction, or full persuasion of its truth. It was not embraced as a doubtful thing, and it did not produce the effect on the mind which is caused by anything that is uncertain in its character. Many seem to embrace the gospel as if they only half believed it, or as if it were a matter of very doubtful truth and importance; but this was not the case with the Thessalonians. There was the firmest conviction of its truth, and they embraced it “heart and soul;” compare Colossians 2:2; Hebrews 6:11. From all that is said in this verse, it is evident that the power of God was remarkably manifested in the conversion of the Thessalonians, and that they embraced the gospel with an uncommonly strong conviction of its truth and value. This fact will account for the subsequent zeal which the apostle so much commends in them - for it is usually true that the character of piety in a church, as it is in an individual, is determined by the views with which the gospel is first embraced, and the purposes which are formed at the beginning of the Christian life.

As ye know what manner of men, ... - Paul often appeals to those among whom he had labored as competent witnesses with respect to his own conduct and character; see 1 Thessalonians 2:9-10; Acts 20:33-35. He means here that he and his fellow-laborers had set them an example, or had shown what Christianity was by their manner of living, and that the Thessalonians had become convinced that the religion which they taught was real. The holy life of a preacher goes far to confirm the truth of the religion which he preaches, and is among the most efficacious means of inducing them to embrace the gospel.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Bibliographical Information
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on 1 Thessalonians 1:5". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/1-thessalonians-1.html. 1870.

Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

5 As ye know. Paul, as I have said before, has it as his aim, that the Thessalonians, influenced by the same considerations, may entertain no doubt that they were elected by God. For it had been the design of God, in honoring Paul’s ministry, that he might manifest to them their adoption. Accordingly, having said that they know what manner of persons they had been, (504) he immediately adds that he was such for their sake, by which he means that all this had been given them, in order that they might be fully persuaded that they were loved by God, and that their election was beyond all controversy.

(504) “ Quels auoyent este St. Paul et ses compagnons;” — “What manner of persons St. Paul and his associates had been.”

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Bibliographical Information
Calvin, John. "Commentary on 1 Thessalonians 1:5". "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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Bibliographical Information
Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on 1 Thessalonians 1:5". "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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Bibliographical Information
Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on 1 Thessalonians 1:5". "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 1:5". "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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These files are public domain.
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Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on 1 Thessalonians 1:5". "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

For our Gospel came not unto you,.... The apostle calls the Gospel "our Gospel", not because he and his fellow ministers were the authors of it; for in this respect it is solely of God, being the produce of his wisdom and grace, and by the revelation of Jesus Christ, hence he calls it the Gospel of God in 1 Thessalonians 2:2 nor because they were the subject of it, for they preached not themselves, but a crucified Christ, and him only, though it was a stumblingblock to some, and foolishness to others; but because it was committed to their trust, and they were the preachers of it, and agreed in the ministration of it; and it is opposed to, and is distinct from, that which was preached by the false teachers; and here intends not barely the Gospel itself, but chiefly their preaching of it: and this came unto them being sent of God, for wherever the Gospel comes, it comes with a mission and commission from God; and being brought unto them by the apostles, who were bringers and publishers of the good tidings of good things, it came unthought of, unsought and unasked for by them; and that not only externally, which to have is a great blessing, but internally,

εις υμας, "into you"; it came not barely into their ears vocally, and into their heads notionally; but into their hearts, and worked effectually there; it was mixed with faith, and was profitable; it became the ingrafted word, and dwelt richly in them: for it came to them not

in word only; it did come in word, it could not come without words, there is no interpreting of Scripture, no preaching of the Gospel, nor hearing of it without words, without articulate sounds; but not only with these, nor with wisdom of words, with enticing words of man's wisdom, with words which man's wisdom teacheth; as also not in the mere notion and letter of the Gospel, which when it comes in that manner is a dead letter, and the savour of death unto death:

but in power; not merely preached in a powerful way, or attended with miraculous operations, though doubtless both were true; for the apostle was a powerful preacher, and his ministry was confirmed by signs and wonders and mighty deeds; but from neither of these could he conclude the election of these people: but the preaching of the Gospel was accompanied with the powerful efficacy of the grace of God, working by it upon them; so that it became the power of God unto salvation to them; it came to them in the demonstration of the Spirit of God, and of power, quickening them who were dead in trespasses, and sin, enlightening their dark understandings, unstopping their deaf ears, softening their hard hearts, and delivering them from the slavery of sin and Satan; from whence it clearly appeared that they were the chosen of God, and precious:

and in the Holy Ghost; the Gospel was not only preached under the influence, and by the assistance of the Holy Spirit, and attended with his extraordinary gifts for the confirmation of it, which it might be, and be no proof of the election of these persons to eternal life; but it came by the power of the Holy Spirit to their souls, working and implanting his graces in them, as faith, hope, and love, and every other; and he himself was received along with it, as a spirit of illumination and conviction, of regeneration, conversion, and sanctification, and of faith and adoption; all which gave full evidence of their election:

and in much assurance; not on the preacher's side, as if the Gospel was preached by him with great assurance, boldness, and confidence; or with great strength of evidence, giving clear and full proof of what was delivered sufficient to ascertain it, and persuade anyone to the belief of it; or with "much fulness", as some render the words, that is, of the Gospel of Christ, and of the gifts of the Spirit, and to a multitude of persons; all which might be, and yet be no proof of the choice of these persons in Christ to eternal salvation; but the Gospel preached to them was blessed to produce in them much assurance, or a large assurance, if not a full one, of the grace of faith in Christ, and of hope of eternal life by him, and of understanding of the doctrines of the Gospel, and of interest in the blessings of grace held forth in them; and this being a fruit, was an evidence of electing grace:

as ye know what manner of men we were among you for your sake. The apostle appeals to themselves for the truth of what he had said; who must have observed, and could not but remember, with what meanness they appeared, with what fear and trembling, with what plainness and simplicity, without the enticing words of man's wisdom; what a contemptible figure they made, how they wrought with their own hands, and endured reproach and persecution for their sakes, that they might obtain salvation by Christ with eternal glory; and had nothing to recommend them to them, to win upon them, and engage their attention, and strike their affection; or persuade them to receive their persons, and believe their doctrines; wherefore the effects their ministry had upon them were not owing to the charms of words, the force of language, and power of oratory; or to any external thing in them, or done by them; but must be ascribed to the Spirit of God, and to the power and efficacy of his grace.

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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 1:5". "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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These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.
Bibliographical Information
Henry, Matthew. "Complete Commentary on 1 Thessalonians 1:5". "Matthew Henry Complete Commentary on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mhm/1-thessalonians-1.html. 1706.