1 Thessalonians 1
In studying I learned that this is believed to actually be Paul’s first letter. Paul founded the church in Thessalonica and then he was run out of town. While in Corinth, Silvanus (or Silas) and Timothy came to him with news that the church in Thessolanica was going strong. Paul writes them a letter to encourage them. As usual he lets them know in the first verse that this letter is from himself, Silvanus and Timothy and he extends grace and peace to them as for his usual greeting.
“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.” 1 Thessalonians 1:2-3
Even though Paul was not present with the Thessalonians, he mentioned them in his prayers often. From these verses we can see that when Paul left them, their faith was already at work and they were already clinging to the hope of the Lord that they had received.
“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.” 1 Thessalonians 1:4-5
Some translations use the word beloved for “brothers loved by God.” This word in Jewish cultures was many times saved for great men of the faith such as Moses or Solomon. So for Paul to use this term in relation to the Gentiles was sending a message to them. He calls them beloved and then he notes that they were chosen by God. The Thessalonians received the word in power. They immediately recognized the power that they have, that we all have, just by claiming the name of Jesus. They also received the Holy Spirit with full conviction when they received the word. They recognized Paul, Silas and Timothy to be men of God.
“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 the you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia.” 1 Thessalonians 1:6-7
The Thessalonians followed Paul and his companions because they were following Jesus. This also makes mention that they received the word “in much affliction”. Many times we make the mistake of thinking when we become Christians that our troubles should be over and that we will not have trials and tribulations. The lives of these Thessalonians may have gotten better because they had Jesus but from the sound of this it does not necessarily mean that their circumstances did. Yet they had joy of the Holy Spirit and they became an example to others because of it even in the midst of afflictions.
“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 he wrath to come.” 1 Thessalonians 1:8-10
There is a famous quote from St. Francis of Assisi that goes “Preach the Gospel always, and if necessary, use words!” It appears that is what these Thessalonians were doing. They received the word of the Lord, they believed it and they had faith in Jesus and they demonstrated their faith in Jesus in their actions. Paul is saying your faith is being talked about so much I don’t have to say anything. People are talking about how you turned from serving idols to serving the true God and you are following Jesus! Oh to be like them and let my faith and my actions speak louder than my words! I think I like these Thessalonians.
Oh sweet Lord to be more like the Thessalonians! That my faith would be seen by others.
Please pray for your church and your Pastor today!