1 Thessalonians 1:1–10 comment (0)
December 4, 2008
By Robert Olsen
Related Scripture: 1 Thessalonians 1:1–10
Explore the Bible
Assistant Professor, School of Christian Studies, University of Mobile
WHEN YOU STARTED OUT
1 Thessalonians 1:1–10
Evidence of Salvation (1–4)
Paul, along with Silvanus (Silas) and Timothy, addressed the church of the Thessalonians, a church that Paul and Silas started in Acts 17. Even though all three are listed in the greeting, Paul was the one who was doing the writing. Paul was thankful for the Thessalonians for several reasons, and he mentions them in his prayers.
Praying for our brothers and sisters, regardless of their circumstances, is an important aspect of the Christian life.
Paul mentioned his thanks for the Thessalonians’ work produced by faith. Notice the faith preceded the works; good works do not produce faith and do not lead to salvation. Those who belong to Christ, however, should produce good works because of the faith they have in Christ.
Next Paul was thankful for the Thessalonians’ labor brought about by love. True love for God needs to result in good works. The Thessalonians understood that enjoying the salvation of God did not mean they could sit back on their laurels.
Lastly Paul gave thanks for their endurance, which flowed from their hope in Christ. Christians even today are persecuted for their faith, but the Thessalonians stand as a model for us all. Even though they faced persecution, they did not turn away from the faith because they knew that they would live in eternity with Christ. They were able to face persecution because they understood this life is fleeting, however, the next life is eternally spent in the presence of God. These good works that flowed from the Thessalonians came from God working in their lives through the Holy Spirit.
The fact that these believers lived in such a distinguished way indicated to Paul they were chosen by God. The act of being chosen by God should give great comfort and assurance. At the same time, it should motivate us to live in a way pleasing to God. When we perform good acts, we affirm God’s work in our lives and demonstrate our thanksgiving to God.
Experience of Salvation (5–6)
The evidence of the Holy Spirit coming upon the Thessalonians was they believed the gospel message. The gospel brought deep conviction to the Thessalonians, as it always does when accompanied by the Holy Spirit. It is the role of the Holy Spirit to convict us of sin, and then it is our job to acknowledge the sin and turn from it. The Thessalonians turned from their sin, accepted the gospel and lived as true disciples of Christ. Only the Holy Spirit can give us the power to live for God in the midst of the trials we face.
The Thessalonians imitated Paul’s example. Paul was a living example of the gospel; in the same way, we as Christians need to be imitating Christ so that others may see Him in our lives. This is especially true when others see how Christians handle trials in their lives. The Thessalonians faced persecution for their faith and remained strong. Christians today need to understand the impact a Christlike attitude in the face of adversity has on others — as a form of witness to unbelievers and as a form of encouragement to fellow believers.
Example for Others (7–10)
The actions and attitudes of the Thessalonians were known to the surrounding areas, Macedonia to the north and Achaia (uh-Kay-yuh) to the south; such was their great testimony to the work of the Holy Spirit in their lives. They were known to have turned away from their idols and toward God. Christians today can have the same impact on their surroundings when they hold fast to the faith in areas where Christianity is illegal or disparaged. In the United States, we can be encouraged by such brave behavior in the midst of fellow believers’ imprisonment and trials. We also see this here in America when we hear of other churches that are living for the Lord and having an impact on their community.
The Thessalonians were not only steadfast in their faith while being persecuted, but it was reported to Paul they were also waiting for the return of Christ. This is the message Christians need to be spreading — the hope we have in Christ, the hope of eternal life.