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A Good Start–I Thessalonians 1

Prayers are important.  In Epistles, prayers help us see into the mind of the author.  This gives us insight into what he is writing.  Reading 1 Thessalonians opening prayer (1:2-5), the main point is:

We give thanks to God always for you.

Paul is pleased with this church.  He likes their faith progression.  In fact he lays out specifically what he likes about them. They work. They labor. They are steadfast.  And they do these activities in three fundamental areas: faith, hope, love.

There was no doubt that they had a genuine relationship with God (1:4).

This relationship was establish from the moment Paul delivered the word of God (notice the repetition of the “word” in 5, 6, and 8).  This church received the word.  Now they were sounding forth the word throughout the surrounding regions.  Aiding their reception of the word was the work of the Holy Spirit and the lifestyle of Paul and his associates.

What is meant by receiving the word? Paul explains.  It means putting away sin and following God (1:9,10).  They left their idols. And now they serve the living God.  True conversion is pictured.  True conversion is leaving sinful practices and acquiring holy habits.

This church now is waiting for Jesus to return. Not just any Jesus. The Jesus who has rescued us from God’s wrath, and was raised from the dead.  They wait anxiously for his return (although as we will see later they needed some correction on what would happen that day).

The picture in the first chapter is of a healthy church.  An active church. A good church.

As we look to applying this Scripture.  Several angles can be taken (in fact I hope in the comments you will post ways you have applied this text). Let me mention what I believe is the main one.  The point of this section is Paul saying, Great job!  So we should ask ourselves are we working, laboring, and being steadfast.  Is our life marked by service to God? Do we respect the word of God enough to allow it to change us?  If so then we are progressing well.  If not then we need to reexamine and change course.

I hope you are reading 1 Thessalonians along with the rest of us.  In the comments leave your insights into the chapter, ways you have applied the chapter, and questions you have.  Let’s dig together.

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  1. When reading about the Thessalonians receiving the word and how it changed their lives, I thought about the Parable of Sower. How many times had Paul preached the word (sowing the seed) and it fell on hearts where it did not grow and take root? How many churches did he help start that were choked out by the cares of this world? Sometimes I think of Paul as being such a big, spiritual person that nothing held him back. But he too needed encouragement. He had so much love for these people. When he was down physically, emotionally or spiritually he could think about how some people really did get what he was trying to teach. He knew what God was using him for was important, and it must have been such a boost to him to know that the Thessalonians “got it”. My mom, not holding her up to Paul :-), used to say that about Christians. You could just tell when someone “got it”. When they weren’t playing games or sitting on the fence. I think she meant when people “got” God’s grace and weren’t playing Christian but really had changed. You could speak the same language with them even if you had just met them, because you both had your eye on the Cross.

  2. Wesley

    August 26, 2010 at 11:28 pm

    Great insight. When you think of how much persecution Paul faced in Acts 17 he had to be happy to know that the suffering he endured was not in vain. These people had heard the message and obeyed it and were willing to live it out. As a preacher there is nothing better.

  3. Great exegetical article Wesley. Thanks for your work and I look forward to reading your blog more.

  4. Reminds me of a letter from a parent to a child gone off to college, maybe for a short time, but long enough for the parent to hear good things. There is the love, longing to see, yet the encouragement to mature and grow, and the infinite pride. Think only a parent, real or spiritual, feels that great sense of sharing in their success even from afar. Of course, knowing it is God’s work thru the individual and their personal choices. Think I got calls and letters like this from my folks, sometimes sharing successes, sometimes encouraging thru struggles…(computer classes).

  5. Wesley

    August 27, 2010 at 11:05 am

    Thanks for the kind word Andrew. You are a good Bible student so share your insights in the articles.

    Kathy, I like the illustration. No matter how long you have had to train someone when they first go out by themselves you are anxious about what they are doing. How much more would Paul be after only spending three weeks with these folks?

  6. Thanks so much I feel like I am in a Bible class with a large group and we are looking forward everyday to learn more of God’s word together. Love ya

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