HIS SERVANTS' MINISTRY
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Theme: The coming of Christ is an exciting hope for us all, or SHOULD be!
Introduction (1 Thes.1:1-4)
1 Thessalonians 1:1 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. (KJV)
Paul, and Silvanus, and Timotheus . . . although Paul alone dictated this letter, he joins the names of Silas and Timothy in the greeting, because they had been with him at Thessalonica, and were well known there. See Acts 17:4,14. And Silvanus . . . this seems to be Silas, who was Paul's companion in all his journeys through Asia Minor and Greece (Acts 15:22; 16:16; 17:4,10). Titus and Timothy went with Paul into Macedonia, and they continued at Berea when the apostle went from thence to Athens; from there, Paul sent for them to come to him speedily, and although it is not said that they came while he was at Athens, it is most likely that they did; after which, having sent them to Thessalonica, he proceeded to Corinth, where they afterwards rejoined him, and from where he wrote this Letter.
Unto the church of the Thessalonians which is in God the Father and in the Lord Jesus Christ . . . the church was united to the true God and to the Redeemer. They kept an intimate relation to the Father and the Lord Jesus. This is strong language, meaning that they were a TRUE church. 1 John 5:20 And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true, and we are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life. (KJV)
Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ . . . this is the same greeting in all the Letters of Paul, except the three pastoral ones, which have "grace, mercy, and peace."
1 Thessalonians 1:2 We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers; (KJV)
We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers . . . (Rom.1:9; 2 Tim.1:3). In the arrangement of the sentences in this and the following verses, each following sentence repeats with greater fullness than the one before it, which as usual, marks Paul's abounding love and thankfulness in regard to his converts, as if he is seeking by words, heaped on words, to express some idea of his enthusiastic feelings towards them. Romans 1:9 supports "making mention of you in our prayers without ceasing." Thus, "without ceasing," (verse 3) in the second clause, is the same as "always," in the first verse.
1 Thessalonians 1:3 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; (KJV)
Remembering without ceasing your work of faith . . . the reason for Paul’s constant prayer and thanksgivings was his never forgetting the grace of God that did so abound and work so powerfully in them.
And labour of love . . . a work to weariness. TRUE faith has its work, but love also has its labor; and when faith works by love, it will work hard! Paul states the reality of their love, as well as their faith; and it was sincere love, fervent love, the labor of it reached out towards that true God whom they now worshipped, and on Jesus Christ on whom they now believed! These saints were now their fellow brethren (1 Thes.4:10); especially to the apostle himself, as in other ways.
And patience of hope . . . Paul had mentioned before their faith and love, and now he mentions their hope; which are called the three prime, Scriptural graces, all mentioned together by him in (1 Cor.13:13). It is only these three graces by which we have all our communion with God on this Earth. As their faith had its work, and love its labor, so too their hope had its patience as the fruit and product of it.
In our Lord Jesus Christ . . . Jesus Christ is the efficiency and Author of this hope, and of their faith and its work, and love and its labor (1Cor.15:19; 1 Tim.1:1). It is by Jesus, alone, that the Christian's hope is distinguished from all other. All hope worketh patience (Rom.5:3; Jam.1:3). Faith and love both have Christ for their object; but considered as present; while the patience of hope in Christ respects something way out there in the future, some revelation of Him, and an incorruptible inheritance (1 Pet.1:4; Jn.14:2), from Him, which is yet to come. Romans 8:25 But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it. (KJV)
In the sight of God and our Father . . . : these words regard the apostle's thanksgiving and prayer for them, and his remembering the grace of God in them when he solemnly approached God's Presence; for in ALL duties of worship we come before God, and present ourselves in His sight. All their graces he before mentioned, he remembered them to God, and presented them to His view. They and we, must respect the omniscience of God, and know that the work of faith and labor of love, were all in God's sight, and He was a delighted spectator of them and us. Omniscience of God is His awareness, His knowledge, His insight, His wisdom . . . simply His all-knowing everything, everywhere!
1 Thessalonians 1:4 Knowing, brethren beloved, your election of God. (KJV)
Knowing, brethren beloved, your election of God . . . yet another ground of Paul’s thanksgiving for them. By the way they received the Gospel, and the obvious operation of the graces of God's Spirit, the apostle KNEW their election of God.
We now come to that word election (predestination). We need to recognize that God created the Universe. In the beginning God created the Heaven and the Earth. Many deny He created the Universe and many more deny that He has any right to control it. How utterly ridiculous and stupid! We live in a Universe that was created by God and exists solely for His glory. Matthew 5:16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven. (KJV) . . . Jesus did NOT say your good works were to glorify you! NO! NO! NO! Our good works are to glorify the Father in Heaven. He is God, there is NONE beside Him! (Deut.4:35). He runs this universe for His own purpose. He directs it for His own glory.
God is no oppressor. God is righteous. God is just. God is holy. God is good. Everything that God ever does is 100% right.
Have you ever stopped to consider the fact that you were born? He is the One who is responsible for my existence and yours. He did not ask me if I wanted to be male or female. He did not ask me when I wanted to be born. He did not ask me to choose my parents. He did not ask me to decide whether my parents would be godly or heathen, whether they would be wealthy or poor or somewhere in between. God has always run this universe, and He always will!
Now God is no tyrant . . . NO one is chosen against His will, and NO one is rejected against His will. God is 100% right in ALL that He does, ALL the time. Is there unrighteousness with God? NO! NO! NO!Paul answers his own question with a strong negative, "God forbid" (Rom.9:14). God is right in EVERYTHING that He does.
Now let me repeat what Paul has said to the Thessalonian believers "Knowing, brethren beloved, your election of God." Maybe you do not like this verse, but this is the way it is! And God is running this universe, and He has given you the opportunity as a free moral agent to make a decision for Him. His invitation still stands: John 7:37 In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. (KJV)
Are you thirsty? Then come to Christ. IF you come to Christ, you are one of the elect! He stands ready, with open arms, to receive you. . . . BUT . . . IF you say you are NOT thirsty, and you reject Christ and His tremendous offer, WRONG CHOICE! God offers a full and free salvation to this lost world today. BUT . . . you either do it on His terms or else! Take it or leave it. That is where our freedom, our free will, comes in. WE CAN EITHER CHOOSE HIM OR REJECT HIM. There is no middle ground. Each person has the freedom to do one or the other. Election, predestination: (Rom.1;6; 8:28-30,33; 9:7:33; 11:5,7-8; 1 Cor.1:26-29; 2:7; Gal.1:15; Eph.1:4-5; 3:11; Col.3:12; 1 Thes.1:4; 2:12; 2 Thes.2:13; 2 Tim.1:9; Tit.1:1-2; Jam.1:18; 1 Pet.1:20; 2 Pet.1:10. Jude 1:4; Rev.13:8).
Gospel Received In Much Assurance and Much Affliction (1 Thes.1:5-7)
This is a remarkable verse!
1 Thessalonians 1:5 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. (KJV)
Our gospel, came not unto you in word only, but also in power . . . the former part of the verse states the reasons on which the apostle Paul built the knowledge of their election, which is the way of the Gospel's coming to them. The power of God went along with their ministry, which did NOT with the false teachers . . . and the kingdom of God is NOT in word, but in power (1 Cor.4:19-20).
And in the Holy Ghost . . . either in gifts of the Holy Ghost which they received, or the power which they felt from the Gospel on their hearts, which was through the Holy Ghost.
And in much assurance . . . they were in full agreement to the Truth of the Gospel, there was NO doubt! As ye know what manner of men we were among you for your sake . . . Paul often appeals to those among whom he had labored as competent witnesses with respect to his own conduct and character (1 Thes.2:9-10; Acts 20:33-35). It seems he means that he and his fellow-laborers had set them an example, or had shown what Christianity was by the way they lived, and that the Thessalonians had become convinced that the religion which they taught was real. The holy life of a preacher (and church members too) goes far to confirm the truth of the religion which he preaches or professes, and is among the most effective means of persuading someone to embrace the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
1 Thessalonians 1:6 And ye became followers of us, and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Ghost: (KJV)
And ye became followers of us, and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Ghost . . . Paul often appeals to those among whom he had worked as competent witnesses in regard to his own conduct and character (1 Thes.2:9-10; Acts 20:33;35). He means that he and his fellow-workers had set an example for them, or had shown what Christianity was by their way of living, and that the Thessalonians had become convinced that the religion which they taught was real.
1 Thessalonians 1:7 So that ye were ensamples to all that believe in Macedonia and Achaia. (KJV)
So that ye were ensamples to all that believe in Macedonia and Achaia . . . as they followed the example of the Lord, and too, Paul and his helpers, so too the Thessalonians were also examples themselves, and were such great examples that they influenced all the believers both of Macedonia and Achaia. Their example reached far beyond the boundaries of Thessalonica, unto the believers of all Macedonia, and even farther, to the believers of Achaia. And even though the Philippians of Macedonia received the Gospel before the Thessalonians, as appears in the story (Acts 16:1-40), yet the Thessalonians outdid them, and became examples to them in your faith and patience. May we be examples of Christ our Lord as we live in this evil world.
Gospel Results (1 Thes.1:8-10)
1 Thessalonians 1:8 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. (KJV)
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 . . . since Thessalonica was conveniently situated for traffic, many merchants from there traded throughout Macedonia, Achaia and different parts of Greece. The fame of the Thessalonians having received the doctrine of the Gospel was carried far and wide. It seems that they had walked very carefully before God and man, which their friends could speak of them without dishonor or shame, and their adversaries could say nothing to their disgrace.
1 Thessalonians 1:9 For they themselves shew 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; (KJV)
For they themselves shew 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 . . . how ye turned to God from idols . . . this could not be said of the Jews or devout persons, but only of the heathen Greeks, and of such it appears that the majority of the Church there was formed. To serve the living and true God . . . the living God; in opposition to the idols, which were either lifeless stocks or stones, or some representation of dead men. The true God . . . opposing the whole system of idolatry, which was false in the objects of its adoration, false in its pretensions, false in its promises, and false in all its prospects.
This shows that these converts were Gentiles who once served idol gods. They turned from these idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for His Son from heaven (verse 10).
God is here called living, which is in total contrast to lifeless (dead, worthless) idols. He is also called true in total contrast to the entire system of idolatry which was false and deceitful in its gods, worship, doctrines, promises, and prospects of eternal life.
Seven major Christian doctrines here in verses 1 Thes.1:9-10:
1. Conversion . . . they turned . . . (1 Thes.1:9; Mat.18:3)
2. True and living God . . . (1 Thes.1:9; Jn.17:3).
3. Idolatry, a sin . . . (1 Thes.1:9; 1 Cor.8)
4. Jesus IS the Son of God . . . (1 Thes.1:10; Jn.3:16)
5. Second coming of Jesus Christ . . . (1 Thes.1:10; 4:13-17; Rev.19:11; Zec.14:1-5)
6. Resurrection of Jesus Christ . . . (1 Thes.1:10; Mat.12:40; Lk.24:39-40; Acts 1:3)
7. Salvation from wrath to come . . . (1 Thes,1:10; Jn.3:18,36)
1 Thessalonians 1:10 And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come. (KJV)
And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come . . . it is clear from this and other parts of these two Letters, that the return of the Lord Jesus to this world was a prominent subject of the preaching of Paul at Thessalonica. Paul states it here especially because it was a doctrine well fitted to bring comfort to them in their trials (1 Thes.4:13-18), and because it would rouse them to watch with eagerness (1 Thes.5:1-11). He makes it clear in the second Letter, because errors won out there in reference to it, which needed to be corrected.
In the Passage before us, Paul says that the return of the Son of God from heaven was a very important point, and that their conduct, as borne witness to by all, had shown with what power it had seized upon them, and what a practical influence it had exerted in their lives. They lived as if they were "waiting" for His return. They fully believed in it; they expected it. They were looking out for it, not knowing when it might occur, and as if it might occur at any moment. This is how we should be living! They were dead to the world, and were enthusiastic to do good.
Whom he raised from the dead even Jesus . . . (Acts 2:24-32; 1 Cor.15:4-9). Paul probably means to refer here, that the resurrection was one of the great Truths which they had received, that the Lord Jesus had indeed been raised from the dead. We know it was a prominent doctrine wherever the gospel was preached.
Which delivered us from the wrath to come . . . deliverance from the wrath to come was another of the prominent doctrines of Christianity, which was definitely always included by the first preachers of the Gospel. The "wrath to come" is God’s Divine indignation (anger, fury, outrage) which will absolutely come upon ALL the guilty (Mat.3:7). My friend, it is from this horrid WRATH of God that Christ delivers us, by His paying our penalty for sin, by His taking our place on the cross, and His dying in our place. THAT being the great purpose of His coming to save us from this approaching wrath. Thank You Jesus!
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