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1Thessalonians: Chapter 1

Setting

Paul, Silas, and Timothy were sending their greetings to the church at Thessalonica in this first epistle to this congregation.  The church was established during the second missionary journey of Paul, Acts 16:28 - Acts 17:4.  Though Barnabas and Paul journeyed together on the first missionary journey, they had a major fallout over taking Mark on this trip.  As they could not reconcile their differences, they separated for the second missionary journey, where Paul took Silas and Timothy with him, Acts 15:36 - Acts 16:5.  Silas was one of the two disciples sent by the elders at Jerusalem on an earlier occasion, to send their answer with Paul and Barnabas on their return to Antioch, concerning a great debate within the church dealing with the Gentiles and the law, Acts 15:19-22.  Timothy was the son of a Greek father and a Jewish mother.

Outline of this chapter

Verses Topic
1-4 Greeting
5-6 The conversion of the Thessalonians
7-9 Serving as examples and spreading the gospel of God
10 Waiting for the Son

Greeting

In 1Thessalonians 1:1, Paul opens this epistle to the church at Thessalonica, including Silas and Timothy.  This may be the first epistle that Paul had written to the churches, but the greeting, grace and peace is used in many of Paulís writings.  It is important to see the order that Paul has put in his greeting that grace, Christís salvation, comes before the peace from Christ, Romans 5:2-5 and 1Corinthians 13:13.   As mentioned in the introduction to 1Thessalonians, the occasion of the letter was based on the report from Timothy.  Paul had sent for Timothy and Silas while he was in Athens, desirous to understand how the church was fairing after Paul's and Silas's premature and forced departure from Thessalonica, 1Thessalonians 3:6-10 and Acts 17:10,  and later Paul's forced departure from Berea to Athens, Acts 17:13-15.  

In 1Thessalonians 1:2-3, Paul demonstrates his great love for the church at Thessalonica by keeping them always in their prayers and giving thanks to God for them.  Paul calls out three important facets of the character and change in heart from idolatry; where their work was produced by faith, they exercised their labor through love, and their endurance was inspired by their hope in Jesus.  All of this was done in the sight of God, our Father.  There is a similarity between this church and one of the seven churches that the Lord Jesus Christ wrote to in Revelation, the church of Philadelphia, Revelation 3:8-10.  These passages show that the Lord knows the work of the church, and judges those who claim to be Jews.  There were those who persecuted the believers in the Thessalonica church, who thought that they were doing the work of God.  However, Like the church of Philadelphia, the Lord is faithful in all things and reveals to the church through Paul, the great assurance that there will be rapture in which He will keep the church from the day of the worldwide testing (or tribulation), and therefore we are to comfort one another with these words.  The rapture is  first taught in scripture to this church, 1Thessalonians 4:13-18.

In 1Thessalonians 1:4, Paul brings to the forefront the surety of their salvation.  Paul reminds them that they were chosen by God.  We were chosen by God before the creation of the world, Ephesians 1:4 Ė 6.  The plan for salvation for all Christians was set as we were to be holy and blameless in His sight:

  •   He predestined us to be adopted sons through Jesus Christ
  • It is Godís will for all this to happen
  • Godís grace was freely given to us through Jesus Christ
  • Through the shed blood of Jesus Christ we have the forgiveness of sins

The conversion of the Thessalonians

In 1Thessalonians 1:5-6, Paul recites to the church how the gospel was delivered by Paulís team:

  • With power, Romans 15:18-20
  • With the Holy Spirit, John 16:7-11
  • With assurance by example where Paulís team served as an example to the Thessalonians

The Thessalonians responded completely, and they accepted and exercised faith in the gospel based on these three factors.  The result was a great and sustaining faith of the Thessalonians as they suffered for the gospel, but they joyfully spread the gospel in love, Ephesians 5:1-2.

Serving as examples and spreading the gospel of God

In 1Thessalonians 1:7-9, Paul commends the church at Thessalonica because their faith in the Lord are examples to Macedonia and Achaia, and beyond where their faith in Christ was made known.  Further, the believers in these areas also grew in faith in the Lord, and they all were part of those who participated in the giving to the suffering saints in Jerusalem when Paul came through the region collecting for those saints who were suffering, Romans 15:25-27.  

The Thessalonian's faith was known everywhere in Paulís missionary journeys, and the report of their faith abroad was a testament of their salvation:

Waiting for the Son

In 1Thessalonians 1:10, Paul affirms that state of the  belief of the Thessalonians in Christ.  They were waiting for the calling away of the church, and the resurrection of the dead, which is the time that the Lord will deliver His church from the wrath that is to come.  An important aspect of their belief is that they were not idle as they waited for the immanent return of Christ.  Rather, they were doing the work of the Lord, as word of their faith reached throughout Macedonia and Achaia, and abroad, 1Corinthians 15:58.  This verse describes the resurrection of Jesus whom God raised from the dead.  This verse also describes the imminent return of the Lord to resurrect from the dead those in Christ, and then rapture those remaining in Christ (see the page on the rapture on this site).  It is the Lord Jesus Christ who comes to rapture His church to rescue the church from the coming wrath, Romans 1:18-20, Romans 5:1-11.  Because of the Lord, and our belief in him, our hope through faith is firm, we are sealed by the Holy Spirit and are adopted sons by Jesus Christ to the Father.  As a result, in the dispensation of the fullness of times, He will gather together in one, all things in Christ, both in heaven and earth, Ephesians 1:3-14.  The encouragement to the church is to stand firm, and give ourselves fully to the work of the Lord, which is not in vain, 1Corinthians 15:58.  


Copyright (c) 2001, 2005, 2008, 2014, J.E. Huntley.  All rights reserved.
last edited August 2014

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