< What I Learned Teaching Sunday School: 1st Thessalonians 1

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

1st Thessalonians 1

1st Thessalonians 1:1 Paul and Silvanus and Timothy, To the church of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace to you and peace.

Silvanus, or Silas in some translations, was a Roman citizen like Paul. A Jew by birth and an important leader in the Jerusalem church. He functioned at times either as a scribe or a trusted secretary or both and may have played some part in the actual writing of this book.

In the greeting, Paul linked God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ on purpose. He’s saying that the church is divine in origin: not humanly created like the Jews were saying and that Jesus is in truth the Messiah predicted in the Holy Scriptures. This would be reassuring to the Thessalonians who only had Paul with them a couple months and now were surrounded by the Jewish and the Pagan religions.

In verse 2 he thanks God for them:

1st Thessalonians 1:2 We give thanks to God always for all of you, making mention of you in our prayers;

In verse 3 he gives characteristics of Christians in any age:

1st Thessalonians 1:3 constantly bearing in mind your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ in the presence of our God and Father,

Their work was produced by faith; labor prompted by love and endurance inspired by hope. “Faith, hope and love.” Paul talks about this again in 1 Corinthians 13.

1st Thessalonians 1:4-5 knowing, brethren beloved by God, His choice of you; for our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction; just as you know what kind of men we proved to be among you for your sake. You also became imitators of us and of the Lord, having received the word in much tribulation with the joy of the Holy Spirit,

God’s Word is living. It has power. It goes out and changes those who read it. We should see a change in our lives since we were saved.

Colossians 3:1 – 10 1Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. 2Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. 3For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory.
5Therefore consider the members of your earthly body as dead to immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed, which amounts to idolatry. 6For it is because of these things that the wrath of God will come upon the sons of disobedience, 7and in them you also once walked, when you were living in them.
8But now you also, put them all aside: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive speech from your mouth.
9Do not lie to one another, since you laid aside the old self with its evil practices, 10and have put on the new self who is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created him--

But this can’t be done without the work of the Holy Spirit. Also, notice how these people were converted: not only by hearing the gospel, but seeing how Paul, Silas and Timothy lived. They were imitators of Christ who is the image of God.

Colossians 1:15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.

We are to be like Him too.

Romans 8:29 For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren;

As Christians we know we need to “walk the talk.”

Ephesians 5:1 Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children;

Then the Thessalonians were fully convinced of the truth and power of the message and they began to copy the missionaries and the Lord. Paul wasn’t asking people to be like him, but like Christ. And they were to be an example to others:

1st Thessalonians 1: 7-8 so that you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia. For the word of the Lord has sounded forth from you, not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place your faith toward God has gone forth, so that we have no need to say anything.

1st Thessalonians 1: 9-10 For they themselves report about us what kind of a reception we had with you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve a living and true God, and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, that is Jesus, who rescues us from the wrath to come.

They turned to God, served God and were now waiting for His Son to come back. We also should turn from sin to God because Christ is coming back to judge the earth and we don’t know when; we need to be serving and ready.

So in Chapter 1 Paul has reassured them that they were chosen by God and this was evidenced in the way they had responded and in their works since then.

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