1 Thessalonians 1:1-5

 

Introduction
Thessalonica was a city located on the Thermaic Gulf which is a gulf located in the Aegean Sea which was southwest of Philippi. The church there was founded on Paul’s second missionary journey and the epistle is dated between 49 & 54 A.D., making it one of the earliest of the Epistles of Paul and earliest writings of the New Testament. Thessalonica was the capital of the Roman province of Macedonia. This Epistle contains much about the return of Christ. It was written from Corinth shortly after Paul left there. The ancient city of Thessalonica is today the modern city of Salonika.
 
Please Note
As in my other commentaries, whenever I say “Paul says” or a statement like that, it I am not reducing the divine origin of Scripture, it is only for the sake of brevity I use those phrases. The Scriptures were given by inspiration of God in the original writings and preserved by God for subsequent generations. What we have in the King James Bible is the preserved Word of God.
 
1 Th 1:1 (KJB)
Paul, and Silvanus, and Timotheus, unto the church of the Thessalonians which is in God the Father and in the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.
 
Paul was the main person in this book who was the one who penned it under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Silvanus was a trusted associate of Paul’s and was otherwise known as Silas. It was he who suffered with Paul in Philippi (Acts 16). Timotheus was Paul’s son in the faith and a very responsible Christian in whom Paul placed much trust. (1 Tim 1:2 KJV) Unto Timothy, my own son in the faith: Grace, mercy, and peace, from God our Father and Jesus Christ our Lord. Paul had probably led Timothy to the Lord and that is why he called him “son.” Paul wrote from Corinth to this church which he stated that they were in God the Father and in the Lord Jesus Christ. In verse 4, Paul states that this church was planned back in eternity, that they were an elect church. (1 Th 1:4 KJV) Knowing, brethren beloved, your election of God. Those who are in Christ are hidden with Christ in God. (Col 3:3 KJV) For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.
 
Then Paul states Grace and Peace from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. This greeting would cover both Jews and non-Jews who were saved. Grace would be the greeting to the non-Jews and Peace, which would be shalom, would be received by the Jewish Christians. Not only are Christians in Christ and in God the Father, but they receive the grace of salvation which also under girds them in life and they receive peace which passes all understanding in this world. (Phil 4:7 KJV) And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. That peace of God should be experienced by every Christian and in every situation.
 
1 Th 1:2 (KJB)
We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers;
 
Mention - Recollection, memory, or remembrance
 
As in every church, the Thessalonian church had also experienced some needs but here Paul is stating that when he prays, he is letting them know that they are not forgotten and that he always remembers them in prayer. He not only makes petition for them but he thanks God for them on a perpetual basis. Paul was not one to leave a place and then never remember them. Unfortunately, that is too often the case in modern Christianity. Someone asks us to pray for them and we say a little prayer and then we forget about them as we go to pray for ourselves in the bulk of our praying. I can guarantee that Paul was not making a casual mention but a strong prayer.
 
1 Th 1:3 (KJB)
Remembering without ceasing your work of faith, and labour of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the sight of God and our Father;
 
Remembering - Recollect, recall, or be mindful
Labour - Toils, troubles or weariness
Patience - Endurance
In the sight of - In the presence of
 
Work of Faith
This verse has nothing whatsoever to do with earning salvation by a “work of faith.” The Bible is merely stating that Paul is remembering the works of faith that the Thessalonians have done. Notice the phrase in 1 Thess. 1:3, “your work of faith.” Would Paul pray that God would find unbelievers worthy of their callings? Of course not, Paul saw unbelievers as a mission field.
 
In other words, the works in view here are being done by those who are already saved because all works that the believer does is of faith. In fact, the words in the Greek are in the Genitive case which is the case of possession. So the work being done is from faith because faith is possessing the works being done. These are not works being done by an unsaved person.
 
(Gal 5:22 KJV) But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Faith is given to the believer as a fruit of the Holy Spirit upon salvation. Faith is a noun which means it is a person, place, or thing. The verb is translated “believe” which makes it a work. So when one becomes saved, they receive faith and when they exercise that faith by believing, they are then working works of faith.
 
(Eph 2:10 KJV) For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.
 
Ephesians 2:10 makes it clear that the Christian is to do good works because we were created in Christ Jesus for those works. If we were not to do good works then God would take us to glory immediately after salvation. The Christian remains on earth after salvation to do those good works which consist of building the Kingdom of God. So the phrase “work of faith” speaks about a saved person who is doing works FOR the Kingdom of God and not to get into the Kingdom of God.
 
Labor of Love
One thing the Thessalonian church learned early was that Christianity was not a spectator sport. Christianity shows its true love not by mere words but through real actions which are not done for the purpose of gaining advantage. This is why Paul uses a word for labor which encompasses the meanings of toils and troubles. Not everyone will accept Christian works, especially those who are being witnessed to because many are hostile to the gospel. Yet, these Christians did not give up and continued to labor in the Gospel. Even though many people reject the Gospel and Christians, God remembers the labor of love which the Christians are doing in His name.
 
(Heb 6:10 KJV) For God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love, which ye have showed toward his name, in that ye have ministered to the saints, and do minister.
 
Hebrews 6:10 reminds the believer that God will never forget their “work and labour of love.” Are the works in view that of working to seek salvation or are they post-salvation works? The answer is obvious that these are post-salvation works.
 
Patience of Hope
Here we have a little hint of one of the major themes of this book. Whenever Christians face testing which requires supernatural endurance, there is always a resurgence of the desire for the Lord to return. Not that it isn’t already existent, but when times get tough we look a little harder for that return. The Thessalonians were probably experiencing some persecution because of the rejection of Christianity. In those times of rejection, their hope was not in the government for adjudication of any grievances. Their hope was steadfast upon the Lord Jesus Christ and his keeping power in every situation. It has been about 1960 years since 1 Thessalonians was written, so even if they looked forward to the Lord’s return, their hope was in the Lord to strengthen them in every present situation. As it is today, millions of Christian think they are going to be raptured before things get tougher. This is called “escapist theology” and will render many Christians limp when tough times do come because their faith was in false prophecy books. (1 Tim 1:1 KJV) Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the commandment of God our Saviour, and Lord Jesus Christ, which is our hope; Christ is our hope today and for the future but since we can only live today, we better realize that we need Christ’s strength for today because today will render many evils and challenges to face.
 
In the sight of God and our Father
The work of faith, the labor of love, and the patience of hope are all exercised in the presence of God the Father. He is never out of our life. Everything we do is in His presence and what people do to us is also done in His presence. Therefore, one of the great hopes we do have is that God sees everything that happens to us and everything which we do in His name. As the Apostle Paul is before the Father praying, those prayers of His are also in the sight of the Father and are being answered according to God’s will.
 
1 Th 1:4 (KJB)
Knowing, brethren beloved, your election of God.
 
Knowing - Know fully or understand
Election - Selection, choice, or chosen
 
Here Paul states that the church at Thessalonica just did not happen. It was already planned back in eternity as God elected His children to salvation. (Eph 1:4 KJV) According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: Eph 1:4 states that Christians were chosen before the foundation of the world and this is the same with the Thessalonian church. When it comes to the work of God, namely salvation, it is not directed by people but God is the one who gives the named, predestined person to the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation. (John 6:37 KJV) All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out. Every Christian down through time until the last day are those that the Father chose before the foundation of the world unto salvation. Paul wants them to fully know and understand that they were chosen by God for salvation and it was not that they chose God or else an air of arrogance may creep in. To know that we are chosen by God and that we did not choose Him, is a very humbling experience.
 
1 Th 1:5 (KJB)
For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance; as ye know what manner of men we were among you for your sake.
 
Power - Might or ability
Much assurance - Full assurance
What manner of - What sort or what kind
 
The Greeks were used to hearing all kinds of philosophies and their rationale. They would all be familiar with Homer, Plato, Aristotle and probably many other not so famous philosophers. Paul is stating here that the Gospel did not come to them in like manner, just in words and arguments. He stated that the true Gospel comes in power and that power has the ability to regenerate a person and completely change their life. In Acts 17, it speaks about Paul coming to Thessalonica and when they knew that the true Gospel had come, there was a major uproar. (Acts 17:6 KJV) And when they found them not, they drew Jason and certain brethren unto the rulers of the city, crying, These that have turned the world upside down are come hither also; Those in this church would no doubt have heard about the uproar that Paul caused by bringing the true Gospel. These uproars would never had been caused by someone bringing mere human philosophy. Something was different about these men and their preaching resulted in multitudes in Thessalonica being saved including some Jews which would have threatened the authority of the leaders in the Synagogue. (Acts 17:4 KJV) And some of them believed, and consorted with Paul and Silas; and of the devout Greeks a great multitude, and of the chief women not a few.
 
They wanted the Thessalonians to know that they were men of honor concerning their actions in the Gospel. They did not come as people who were selling idols or books or some type of teaching which would puff themselves up and make them out to be more than they were. They wanted them to know that their lives were circumspect in all areas. They gave them full assurance that their goal was the salvation of souls and the spiritual growth of those who had become saved. Paul’s lifestyles was true to the Gospel for their sakes so they would know that they were living under the direction and power of the Holy Spirit, that is, the Holy Spirit had controlled every part of their life, from salvation to the understanding of the Scriptures, to their behavior.

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