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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