Monday, June 3, 2013

From Idols to Serve Living and True God

1 Thessalonians 1:1-10 NIV

1Paul, Silasa 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

2We always thank God for all of you and continually mention you in our prayers. 3We 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.

4For we know, brothers and sistersb loved by God, that He has chosen you, 5because 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. 6You 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. 7And so you became a model to all the believers in Macedonia and Achaia. 8The 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, 9for 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.

The  Church in Thessalonica

The gospel was first preached in Thessalonica by Paul and Silas. After their release from imprisonment at Philippi, they passed through Amphipolls and Apollonia, and came to Thessalonica. For some reason they appear not to have paused to preach in either of the first two places, but went at once to the city of Thessalonica.

That was a much more important place, and they may have been attracted there particularly because many Jews resided there. It was customary for the apostle Paul, when he came to a place where there were Jews, to preach the gospel first to them; and as there was a synagogue in Thessalonica, he entered it, and, for three Sabbath days, reasoned with the Jews in regard to the Messiah. The points on which he endeavored to convince them were, that, according to the Scriptures, it was necessary that the Messiah should be put to death, and that he would rise from the dead, and that all the predictions on these points were completely fulfilled in Jesus of Nazareth; Acts 17:2-3.

A few of the Jews believed, and a much larger number of the "devout Greeks," and also a considerable number of females of the more elevated ranks. From these converts the church was organized, and the number at the organization would seem to have been large. It is not quite certain how long Paul and Silas remained at Thessalonica. It is known only that they preached in the synagogue for three sabbaths, and if that were all the time that they remained there, it could not have been more than about three weeks.

It is possible that they may have been excluded from the synagogue, but still may have found some other place in which to preach. This would seem probable from one or two circumstances referred to in the history and in the Epistle. In the history Acts 17:5, it appears that Paul and Silas, for a time at least, made the house of Jason their home, and that so large numbers attended on their ministry as to give occasion to great excitement among the Jews.

In the epistle 1 Thessalonians 2:9, Paul says that when he was among them, he "labored night and day, because he would not be chargeable to any of them, and preached to them the gospel of God" (compare 2 Thessalonians 3:8), which looks as if he had been with them a longer time than the "three sabbaths," and as if he had labored at his usual occupation for support, before he shared the hospitality of Jason. It appears also, from Philippians 4:16, that he was there long enough to receive repeated supplies from the church at Philippi. "For even in Thessalonica you sent once and again unto my necessity."

The first chapter of this Epistle embraces the following subjects:

1. The greetings by Paul, Silas, and Timothy, to the Thessalonians; 1 Thessalonians 1:1.

2. An expression of thanks for their fidelity in the gospel; 1 Thessalonians 1:2-4. Paul says that he made mention of them continually in his prayers; that he remembered their faith, and love, and patience, for by these things they had shown that they were among the elect of God.

3. He reminds them of the manner in which they received the gospel when it was first preached to them; 1 Thessalonians 1:5-6. The power of God had been manifested among them in a remarkable manner; they had embraced the gospel with strong assurance, and though in the midst of deep afflictions, they had received the word with joy.

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