1Thessalonians: Chapter 1
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.
Upon arriving in Macedonia during his second missionary journey, Paul was beaten in Philippi, then forcibly cast out of Thessalonica and Berea. Until leaving Berea, Paul had always been in the company of his fellow journeymen. When he left for Achaea, he arrived at Athens first, then traveled to Corinth. Up to this point, Paul was alone. However!
- At Corinth
- Silas and Timothy arrived and brought good news to Paul from Thessalonica concerning their faith and love of God, and their remembrance of him, 1Thessalonians 3:6-7
- Paul wrote the first of all his epistles, 1&2 Thessalonians, writing to them as mature Christians, not needing milk, 1Corinthians 3:2
- Paul was concerned for the Thessalonians, but hearing Silas and Timothy’s report, Paul's love for the Thessalonians ignited to greater heights
- Paul also received encouragement from the Lord in a night vision, Acts 18:9
- The Lord said to Paul not to be afraid, speak and don’t hold back
- That He was with Paul, that no one would hurt him
- That there were many believers in the city, Acts 18:10
|5-6||The conversion of the Thessalonians|
|7-9||Serving as examples and spreading the gospel of God|
|10||Waiting for the Son|
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 Paul’s writings. It is important to see the order that Paul has put in his greeting that grace, Christ’s salvation, comes before the peace from Christ, Romans 5:2-5 and 1Corinthians 13:13. Grace is what God the Father gave mankind for their salvation, John 3:16, Ephesians 2:8, Romans 5:15. Then, we have peace with God when we beliee on Jesus through faith, Romans 5:1-5, 15, Romans 6:23, Ephesians 2:8. 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.
Paul confirmed to the Thessalonians that they were in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, just as Jesus prayed in the garden, the night He was betrayed, John 17:21. This is an intimate relaitonship they had with God, as do all believers in Christ Jesus.
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 motivated by 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 1:4-6. Paul will later write to the Ephesians, we are blessed with all spiritual blessing in heavenly places in Christ, and were chosen by God before the creation of the world, Ephesians 1:3-9. He also wrote to the Philippians that our citizenship is in heaven, from where we look for our coming Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, Philippians 3:20. In the plan for salvation for all Christians was set as we were to be holy and blameless in His sight, Ephesians 5:27, Colossians 1:22:
- It is God’s will for all this to happen, Ephesians 1:4
- He predestined us to be adopted sons and daughters through Jesus Christ, Ephesians 1:5, Revelation 8:14-18, 29-30
- We have been made accepted in Jesus to the praise of God the Father for His grace, Ephesians 1:6
- Through the shed blood of Jesus Christ we have the forgiveness of sins, Ephesians 1:7
- We abound in wisdom and prudence in Christ, Ephesians 1:8
- And we are made aware of the mystery of His will, Ephesians 1:9
In 1Thessalonians 1:5-6, Paul recites to the church how the gospel was delivered by Paul’s team:
- With power, Romans 15:18-20
- With the Holy Spirit, John 16:7-11
- This is the same experience as Paul's first encounter in Corinth, 1Corinthians 2:1-5, where:
- He was without great oratory or wisdom declaring the God’s Word
- He was with them in weakness, fear, and much trembling
- His preaching was a demonstration of the Spirit and His powe
- With assurance, Paul’s team served as an example to the Thessalonians
- Paul's writings are commandments of the Lord, 1Corinthians 14:37
- We are to be followers of Paul as he is of Christ, 1Corinthians 11:1
- Peter also equated Paul’s writings with scripture, 2Peter 3:15-
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, Philippians 1:29, 2Timothy 3:12, but they joyfully spread the gospel in love, Ephesians 5:1-2.
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 Paul’s missionary journeys, and the report of their faith abroad was a testament of their salvation:
- Faith, 1Thessalonians 1:3, as they turned to God from serving idols
- Love, 1Thessalonians 1:3, as they served the living and true God
- Hope, 1Thessalonians 1:3, as they waited for the return of Christ, 1Thessalonians 1:10
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 imminent 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 15:51-58. These verses describe the resurrection of Jesus whom God raised from the dead. These verses also describe the imminent return of the Lord to resurrect from the dead those in Christ, and then rapture those remaining in Christ, 1Thessalonians 4:13-18. 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.