1 Thessalonians 1:1-5
1 Thessalonians Greeting 1 1 Paul, a Silvanus, and Timothy, To the church of the b Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: c Grace to you and peace. The Thessalonians’ Faith and Example 2 d We give thanks to God always for all of you, constantly 1 e mentioning you in our prayers, 3 remembering before f our God and Father g your work of faith and labor of h love and i steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. 4 For we know, j brothers 1 loved by God, k that he has chosen you, 5 because l our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and m in the Holy Spirit and with full n conviction. You know o what kind of men we proved to be among you for your sake.
1 Thessalonians 1:1-5
1 Thessalonians 1 1 Παῦλος καὶ Σιλουανὸς καὶ Τιμόθεος τῇ ἐκκλησίᾳ Θεσσαλονικέων ἐν θεῷ πατρὶ καὶ κυρίῳ Ἰησοῦ Χριστῷ, χάρις ὑμῖν καὶ εἰρήνη. 2 Εὐχαριστοῦμεν τῷ θεῷ πάντοτε περὶ πάντων ὑμῶν μνείαν ποιούμενοι ἐπὶ τῶν προσευχῶν ἡμῶν, ἀδιαλείπτως 3 μνημονεύοντες ὑμῶν τοῦ ἔργου τῆς πίστεως καὶ τοῦ κόπου τῆς ἀγάπης καὶ τῆς ὑπομονῆς τῆς ἐλπίδος τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ ἔμπροσθεν τοῦ θεοῦ καὶ πατρὸς ἡμῶν, 4 εἰδότες, ἀδελφοὶ ἠγαπημένοι ὑπὸ [τοῦ] θεοῦ, τὴν ἐκλογὴν ὑμῶν, 5 ὅτι τὸ εὐαγγέλιον ἡμῶν οὐκ ἐγενήθη εἰς ὑμᾶς ἐν λόγῳ μόνον ἀλλὰ καὶ ἐν δυνάμει καὶ ἐν πνεύματι ἁγίῳ καὶ [ἐν] πληροφορίᾳ πολλῇ, καθὼς οἴδατε οἷοι ἐγενήθημεν [ἐν] ὑμῖν διʼ ὑμᾶς.
Paul thanks God that the Thessalonian church are real Christians Introduction (v1) How things (like letters) start is significant The first few words really matter. Christians are 'in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ'. And 'grace' is simply 'to us', and peace. Silas/Silvanus and Timothy - his co-workers, see the second missionary journey Acts 15.40-20.2 , and 2 Corinthians 1.19. Silvanus - cf Acts 15.22 and Acts 15.32 'church' = gathered congregation of God's people 1. He remembers their faith, love, and hope (v2-3) thanksgiving arises out of an attitude of prayer thanksgiving arises out of recognising the evidence of Christian living (cf 'celebrate', our big idea) for all of you (and yet...some are, e.g., idle etc) 'constantly/unceasingly' work of faith. Word is for work. Labour/trouble/work of love steadfastness/endurance of hope Why is it faith, love and hope rather than faith, hope and love? Perhaps hope is the big deal for the Thessalonians; danger of losing hope in Christ and his coming, because of false teaching. Endurance inspired by hope in Jesus . Hope is placed last to emphasise the latter-day context. Each chapter concludes with reference to Jesus' imminent coming and related events. Thus developing the 'hope' theme. cf 1 Timothy 6.11 ; 2 Timothy 3.10 ; Titus 2.2 . all this....in the Lord Jesus Christ Can we really know enough to celebrate that someone/a group of people are 'real Christians'? The NT answers yes. E.g., here or 1 John. But we must note that much of the criteria are things that can only be discerned through actual shared life, and often in the context of actual hardship and suffering. Application directions 'We also live in the end-times and thus need to have faith, love and hope in order to persevere through a tribulation that subtly attempts to destroy us spiritually.' FCF: We don't give thanks. We don't do work of faith, nor labour of love, nor steadfastness of hope. We don't respond in full assurance to God's gracious word! In fact, we do counterfeits of all these things; identifying impressive good works and using them as a badge of honour; identifying certain people to love in certain ways and times; and adopting a certain language of hope without the thoughts and affections of hope. e.g., counterfeit hope and the Stockdale paradox, or Victor Frankl, etc. Person of Jesus: He is the true messenger, God's Word come to us. He is the 'grace and peace to us'. He shows the work of faith, labour of love, and steadfastness of hope. Work of Jesus: He himself is the hope. In his work of faith and love, he destroyed this old order of things; the self, the world, the devil. Fear, doubt and despair. Union with Jesus: I keep turning away from fear and doubt to take up faith, since he is faithful and will never ever leave me. I keep turning away from pride and self to take up love, since he loves me. I keep turning away from doubt and despair to take up hope, since he has gone before and holds my new life. 2. He knows how they received the gospel (v4-5) v4 Brothers loved by God. Part of God's family. Telltale features; resemblance. Like father, like son. thanksgiving arses out of recognising the evidence of one's election Election is not a device for sentencing people to eternal torment, but for rescuing them from it! Not dependent on my will-power. The Alzheimer's principle. There is no one knocking on the door who isn't welcomed in! That's the point! People get what they choose, except for Christians! word power holy Spirit full assurance, certainty, conviction, fullness. FF Bruce: 'a deep inward persuasion of the truth of the gospel, a token of the Holy Spirit's work in their hearts, more impressive and more lasting than the persuasion produced by spectacular or miraculous signs.' Paul knows God has called them precisely because his word didn't return empty; 1.4-5 cf Isaiah 55.11 . v5b (all one sentence) the marks of a true messenger of God should be observable. I.e,. they genuinely received the genuine gospel from genuine messengers Conclusion Paul thanks God for the things he sees in them, and which are the same things they should see in him. Hence why the letter is so deeply challenging; it's about character and manner from the get go. You can't distance yourself by getting into who can articulate justification most precisely, and sweep character under the carpet. God's glory: He shares his life with his end-times people; he causes his word to be received in full assurance.