1 Thessalonians 1:6-10
1 Th 1:6 (KJB)
And ye became followers of us, and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Ghost:
Followers - Imitators
Affliction - Oppression, distress, or tribulation
When we look back at Acts 17 and see the consternation which the Apostle Paul and his company had started by bringing in the true Gospel, we can understand that these Thessalonians had received the word in much affliction. Their affliction did not wane even when Paul had left because the church remained behind to face the same opposition it had when he was present. Yet, Paul commends them for two things in the midst of that tribulation. First, even amidst tribulation they did not fear and became followers of Paul. This does not mean they were the First church of Paul, what it meant was that his life before them was truly dedicated to the Lord and the people saw his testimony and had become followers of Paul in the sense that he was following the Lord. Paul was real and these people saw the great difference between the testimony of the true Gospel and those who taught humanistic philosophy. Paul did not come selling anything but he came giving, that is, giving the Gospel of eternal life. These Christians did not only receive the word amidst great tribulation, they received it with Joy. Joy is the fruit of the Holy Spirit which believers receive upon salvation. Joy is what under girds the true believer in times of tribulation and causes them to maintain a peaceful attitude. In fact, true Christian joy is what confuses the unbeliever. In the same situation of affliction, the unbeliever would be going crazy with worry but joy is the product of trusting the situation to the Lord which does not bring about discouragement.
1 Th 1:7 (KJB)
So that ye were ensamples to all that believe in Macedonia and Achaia.
Ensamples - Pattern, model, or example
The tremendous testimony of the Thessalonian Christians had become widely known not only in Macedonia but also in Achaia. In other words, all of Greece heard about how they stood up under tribulation and continued to act as Christians under that affliction. Their joy which is a result of trusting the Lord was also testimony to their strong Christianity. The words “so that” introduces a result clause. The result of the testimony of the Thessalonians was that it was spread all over Greece. This testimony watching by others has never gone out of vogue, simply because every Christian is scrutinized by the world and when they face tough times, the unbelievers will look closer to see if their Christianity is real or if it is just a façade. As the testimony of the Thessalonians was based upon their faith in the Lord, ours must be also, because we cannot live the Christian life in the flesh. Whether we like it or not, we are examples to the world.
1 Th 1:8 (KJB)
For from you sounded out the word of the Lord not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place your faith to God-ward is spread abroad; so that we need not to speak any thing.
Sounded out - Sound forth or resound - The imagery is like the sounding of a trumpet or rolling thunder. It is in the perfect tense which means that it is a continuous action.
Here is the effective witness which is used in evangelism and missions. Thessalonica was on the Egnatian Way which was a major Roman trade route. This situation would have brought many people from many different areas of the Empire and with this opportunity at hand, they would have been able to preach the Gospel to many of the traders and those who became saved, would have taken the Gospel back to their own areas and with the Gospel would have told the people how the Thessalonian Christians were being strong witnesses. This did not mean that the Thessalonian church did not have its problems, but they did not allow those problems to override their commitment to the Lord Jesus Christ and the Great Commission. This is a great lesson that the modern church must learn. We must learn to live above our differences and realize our calling is much more important than self-adulation or winning a church splitting argument. Their strong faith in the Lord was spreading everywhere and was probably a catalyst for many to continue the spreading of the Gospel. Their testimony went beyond their borders and we need to follow that example and send the Gospel beyond our borders. Those borders could be our pride or our own private little kingdom. We must look beyond ourselves and see the eternal needs of others, it is called the Christian life.
1 Th 1:9 (KJB)
For they themselves show of us what manner of entering in we had unto you, and how ye turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God;
What manner - Kind or sort
It is apparent that those who were traders on the trade routes through Thessalonica had met up with Paul who was in Corinth and had related to him the tremendous testimony of the Thessalonians and they also included the kind of entrance that Paul and his band had. The traders no doubt were told about the great uproar which Paul and the others had created by bringing in the true Gospel. This is why a personal testimony must be properly upheld at all times because you do not know who else will be told of your actions, be they good or bad. Here Paul was being told of the great revival that happened there and that would have been another reason of the affliction of these Christians. Remember in Acts 19, where Paul had stirred up a great crowd because of the loss of revenue on behalf of the idolaters. The Thessalonians, when they became saved, had done two things. First, they turned to the living and true God by means of their salvation in Christ. Secondly, they turned away from the idols which they had embraced. This was a total transformation and not just a casual switching of religions. This meant loss of revenue because the saved would no longer buy the idols and would preach against them. There are two important words used in describing God, living and true. This is important because below are two passages of Scripture which deal with idols.
(Psa 135:15-18 KJV) The idols of the heathen are silver and gold, the work of men's hands. {16} They have mouths, but they speak not; eyes have they, but they see not; {17} They have ears, but they hear not; neither is there any breath in their mouths. {18} They that make them are like unto them: so is every one that trusteth in them.
(Hab 2:18-19 KJV) What profiteth the graven image that the maker thereof hath graven it; the molten image, and a teacher of lies, that the maker of his work trusteth therein, to make dumb idols? {19} Woe unto him that saith to the wood, Awake; to the dumb stone, Arise, it shall teach! Behold, it is laid over with gold and silver, and there is no breath at all in the midst of it.
In Psalm 135:15-18, we read about the idols which can never speak, see, or hear simply because they are dead idols. This is in contrast to the living God which the Thessalonians have now come to know. Idols could not answer nor do anything to help.
In Habakkuk 2:18-19, it speaks about the graven images which are nothing but dead wood or stone. Since they cannot speak, there must be a teacher of lies attached to these idol based cults. They must make up stories about their dead gods. So they would be building lie upon lie just to entrap a person in their cult. This is in contrast to the true God which the Thessalonians have now come to know through Christ. This is why Paul used the two terms. “Living” in contrasting the dead idols and “true” contrasting the lies surrounding idolatry.
1 Th 1:10 (KJB)
And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come.
To wait - Infinitive in active voice
Delivered - Saved or rescued
Concurrent with their serving the living and true God, they also awaited the return of His Son from Heaven. They were actively involved in evangelism while they waited for the return of Christ. They did not dress in white robes and wait on a mountain top for Him, instead they remained busy in the dissemination of the Gospel. This is what we must be doing. We must look for the return of Christ but not to the point we put our lives on hold or sequester ourselves looking for a date. We work to send forth the Gospel while we wait for the Lord to return. It is never one or the other, it is both. In Acts 17:31, we read that God has already set the day when the Lord Jesus Christ is going to return. In the mean time, we continue to stay active in the work of the Lord. The last phrase of this verse speaks to us about the fact that we were delivered from the wrath to come. I have heard this touted as being the seven year tribulation period by dispensationalists. That is totally in error. The wrath which Christ delivered us from is eternal damnation in Hell where one is under the wrath of God for their sins. The true believer has had all their sins paid for and removed by Christ and therefore there is nothing which can cause a believer to be under God’s wrath. Christ took God’s wrath upon Himself at Calvary for the sins of all the Elect. The fact that the Thessalonians knew about the wrath of God and the return of Christ meant that Paul had preached to them the full counsel of God.