Read 1 THESSALONIANS 1
Paul, Silas and Timothy,
To the church of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ:
Grace and peace to you.
Thanksgiving for the Thessalonians’ Faith
2 We always thank God for all of you and continually mention you in our prayers. 3 We remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.
4 For we know, brothers and sisters loved by God, that he has chosen you, 5 because our gospel came to you not simply with words but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and deep conviction. You know how we lived among you for your sake. 6 You became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you welcomed the message in the midst of severe suffering with the joy given by the Holy Spirit. 7 And so you became a model to all the believers in Macedonia and Achaia. 8 The Lord’s message rang out from you not only in Macedonia and Achaia—your faith in God has become known everywhere. Therefore we do not need to say anything about it, 9 for they themselves report what kind of reception you gave us. They tell how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, 10 and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead—Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath.
New International Version (NIV)
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“And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love” (1 Cor. 13:13).
This is a passage to warm the soul. We have in it a basic introduction to Christianity. It starts with God the Father, who bestows grace and peace. He is the living and true God, the initiator in relationship, who sent his Son to save us. He has chosen us and loves us. In him we trust. He hears our prayers. So we serve him willingly. Then there is the Son. He too grants blessing and inspires hope. He is our example. He is the Word that radiates forth and saves. He is resurrected, ruling in heaven. He delivers us. The Spirit is the one who empowers the Gospel and bestows joy. Our triune God is declared in this passage.
Then there is Paul and his team, who embody unity. Pastor Paul leads by example, starting with his usual prayer-wish for grace and peace, moving to gratitude and constantly remembering all of the Thessalonians before God. He endorses his converts, commending them richly and assuring them of God’s love and call. He reminds them what it means to share Christ—in word, power and the Spirit—with conviction and integrity. This is Christian leadership 101. (Using 101 means an introductory course on something.)
Then there are the Thessalonians. What a great church! They live out Paul’s summary: faith, love and hope—these inspire their work, labor and perseverance. They imitate Paul and Christ. Joyfully, they received the word of God, despite opposition. Through their missionary efforts, the word has radiated forth, even reaching Paul in Achaia. They are an example to others. They have turned away from false gods and the emperor to worship the Son. They inspire us similarly to renounce the gods of our age—me, wealth accumulation, secular humanism, etc. We, too, must place our hope in Jesus, who is raised and who delivers us.
Raise praises and prayer to our triune God. Reflect on the examples of Christ, Paul and the Thessalonians. Repent where necessary. Rise and serve out of faith, hope and love.