1 Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy,
To the church of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ:
Grace to you and peace.
The Thessalonians’ Faith and Example
We give thanks to God always for all of you, constantly mentioning you in our prayers, remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you, because our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction. You know what kind of men we proved to be among you for your sake. And you became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you received the word in much affliction, with the joy of the Holy Spirit, so that you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia. For not only has the word of the Lord sounded forth from you in Macedonia and Achaia, but your faith in God has gone forth everywhere, so that we need not say anything. For they themselves report concerning us the kind of reception we had among you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come.
1 Thessalonians 1 Commentary
by Hank Workman
It was the capital city of Macedonia. Thessalonica was one of the largest and most important thoroughfares on the Roman highway. From Rome to the Orient the Roman highway stretched. Thessalonica was strategic for Rome as it was built on a large seaport and the highway ran right through it. Consequently, it was one of the wealthiest towns and trade flourished. It was also a free city. It was allowed self-rule and was exempt from most Roman rule throughout the empire.
It would be the location, the laws and the epicenter of trade that brought in a wide variety of paganism, international customs and people. This would be one of the biggest challenges when the church was birthed.
In the summer of 50 AD Paul and his troop of traveling missionaries arrived. Acts 17 records the first thing they did was go to the synagogue and reasoned with the Jews for 3 Sabbaths. It didn’t go so well as the Jews became enraged and stirred the crowd and then the city against them. In the end, Paul and the gang were sent away at night.
But something happened… a church was born. More than likely, their next stop being Athens, Paul sent Timothy back to visit with the fledgling group of Believers. Upon his return the report was great! The Christians were standing firm in their faith and were unified. But they had questions. This first letter would be his response to these.
Paul’s beautiful opening to the church in Thessalonica states praise for their standing firm in the faith. These who had embraced Jesus were being persecuted. Paul commends them for their work in Christ, their hope beyond the situation and continued love. Marks for certain of an individual who comes to Jesus. As the message of the Gospel came with power to these people, the power of the Holy Spirit not only transformed their lives but their outlook.
There is no doubt the Holy Spirit is in the business of changing people. As we embrace His movement in our lives everything about us begins to change. From the subtle to most blatant changes He begins the tedious work within each of us toward a life that mirrors Jesus. As you consider your own relationship with Jesus, where are you seeing a difference? Where has the Holy Spirit been working and transforming you not only in your work and hope but also in the outlook you hold?
1 Thessalonians 1 Commentary
by Brad Boyles
In the opening verses of this letter, we read Paul’s words which seem to indicate he had a high regard for the church of the Thessalonians. He is assured of their calling, and of the power of the Spirit within them. He loved to preach, and it seemed that here in Thessalonica, the Gospel was received with power. You can feel the emotion running through Paul as he writes with fondness to these people.
For the word of the Lord has sounded forth from you, not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place your faith toward God has gone forth, so that we have no need to say anything. 9 For they themselves report about us what kind of a reception we had with you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve a living and true God, 10 and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, that is Jesus, who rescues us from the wrath to come.1 Thessalonians 1:8-10 NASB
It was not just that Paul had preached there, or that they had received his preaching, but that the cities were buzzing with stories of their faith and conversion. It was the “Real Stories of Thessalonica.”
The churches that Paul established were only as strong as the response and action which they took to give their lives and obey God. Here we read that following was strong. The trumpet blast had gone out to every region in close proximity and it was evident – not by the preaching, but by the reports of people giving up their idols and receiving Christ.
Often, we underestimate the power of a testimony. We underestimate OUR testimony. The tangible obedience is sometimes what’s needed to encourage others and start a revolution. Obedience is contagious, and Paul knows it. He affirms the believers here for their active response to the faith, which has rumbled and echoed to so many other lives on the fringe.
The same is true for us.