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1Thessalonians 1:1-10

Thursday Evening Bible Study

September 7, 2017


Baptism on Sunday.  If you haven’t been baptized since you’ve become a believer, come and join us.

Help for Sunday – As you might imagine, we could use some extra hands setting up early in the morning and tearing down in the afternoon.


Paul was on his second missionary journey with his pal Silas, traveling from Antioch through Asia Minor (modern Turkey). While in Asia Minor, Paul adds a third person to his mission trip, a young man named Timothy. This was Paul’s second time through the region, visiting the churches he had planted on his first journey and they end up in Troas.

(Acts 16:6–10 NKJV) —6 Now when they had gone through Phrygia and the region of Galatia, they were forbidden by the Holy Spirit to preach the word in Asia. 7 After they had come to Mysia, they tried to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit did not permit them. 8 So passing by Mysia, they came down to Troas. 9 And a vision appeared to Paul in the night. A man of Macedonia stood and pleaded with him, saying, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” 10 Now after he had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go to Macedonia, concluding that the Lord had called us to preach the gospel to them.

Video:  Map – Antioch to Troas, Macedonia

Paul had never been to Macedonia before.  We would think of Macedonia as northern Greece.

The first city they stopped at in Macedonia was Philippi.

It was there that Paul cast out a demon from a fortune-telling slave girl, and the incident landed Paul and Silas in trouble for causing the girl’s master to lose income.

Paul and Silas were beaten and thrown into jail.  At midnight, Paul and Silas were singing to God when an earthquake occurred.  The jailer thought the prisoners would have all escaped, but when he saw they hadn’t, he asked Paul how he could be saved.  And he was.

The next day Paul and Silas were released, and asked to leave town.

Their next stop would be the city of Thessalonica.

Video:  Map – Macedonia, Philippi, Thessalonica.

About Thessalonica

The city of Thessalonica was built by one of Alexander the Great’s generals, Cassander, in 315 BC.  He built it near a natural hotsprings and named it after his wife, Thessalonica.

When the Romans conquered the Greeks, they eventually made Thessalonica the capital of all of Macedonia.

Under Octavian, Thessalonica became a “free city”, and were allowed by Rome to rule themselves without Roman troops in the city.  They ruled themselves under a group of five or six “politarchs”, a senate, and a public assembly.

Thessalonica was the chief seaport of Macedonia.  It was also located on the Egnatian Way, the main road that connected Rome through Byzantium (Istanbul), on to the east.  It was a great center for trade.  And not to sound crass, but where there was great commerce, there would be a large Jewish population.  The Jewish synagogue in Thessalonica was quite influential.

In Paul’s day, the population was somewhere around 200,000 people.

Today, the city is known as Salonica or Thessaloniki, and has a population of 300,000. It is the second largest city in Greece.

Back to Paul’s adventures

(Acts 17:1–4 NKJV) —1 Now when they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where there was a synagogue of the Jews. 2 Then Paul, as his custom was, went in to them, and for three Sabbaths reasoned with them from the Scriptures, 3 explaining and demonstrating that the Christ had to suffer and rise again from the dead, and saying, “This Jesus whom I preach to you is the Christ.” 4 And some of them were persuaded; and a great multitude of the devout Greeks, and not a few of the leading women, joined Paul and Silas.

It’s possible that Paul might have stayed longer than three weeks in Thessalonica, but perhaps not too much longer because trouble developed.

(Acts 17:5–9 NKJV) —5 But the Jews who were not persuaded, becoming envious, took some of the evil men from the marketplace, and gathering a mob, set all the city in an uproar and attacked the house of Jason, and sought to bring them out to the people. 6 But when they did not find them, they dragged Jason and some brethren to the rulers of the city, crying out, “These who have turned the world upside down have come here too. 7 Jason has harbored them, and these are all acting contrary to the decrees of Caesar, saying there is another king—Jesus.” 8 And they troubled the crowd and the rulers of the city when they heard these things. 9 So when they had taken security from Jason and the rest, they let them go.

Do you get the idea that there was hostility against the gospel in Thessalonica?  There was.
Jason was probably a host of Paul, Silas, and Timothy, and he got into trouble for his involvement with them.
The believers would send Paul off to the next city of Berea.

(Acts 17:10–15 NKJV) —10 Then the brethren immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea. When they arrived, they went into the synagogue of the Jews. 11 These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so. 12 Therefore many of them believed, and also not a few of the Greeks, prominent women as well as men. 13 But when the Jews from Thessalonica learned that the word of God was preached by Paul at Berea, they came there also and stirred up the crowds. 14 Then immediately the brethren sent Paul away, to go to the sea; but both Silas and Timothy remained there. 15 So those who conducted Paul brought him to Athens; and receiving a command for Silas and Timothy to come to him with all speed, they departed.

During this time, Silas and Timothy didn’t just stay in Berea, but apparently also spent some time in Thessalonica and Philippi as well.
Paul would head south all the way to Athens, spend a little time there, and then moved on to Corinth.
Video:  Map – Thessalonica, Berea, Athens.

(Acts 18:1–5 NKJV) —1 After these things Paul departed from Athens and went to Corinth. 2 And he found a certain Jew named Aquila, born in Pontus, who had recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla (because Claudius had commanded all the Jews to depart from Rome); and he came to them. 3 So, because he was of the same trade, he stayed with them and worked; for by occupation they were tentmakers. 4 And he reasoned in the synagogue every Sabbath, and persuaded both Jews and Greeks. 5 When Silas and Timothy had come from Macedonia, Paul was compelled by the Spirit, and testified to the Jews that Jesus is the Christ.

Silas and Timothy return from Macedonia (Berea, Thessalonica, Philippi) with news about the church, as well as some financial gifts for Paul.  The gifts allowed Paul to go back into preaching full time, and during these early days in Corinth, Paul writes back to the Thessalonians.
If you want, write the words “Paul writes 1&2Thess” in your Bible at this spot.
After perhaps the letter to the Galatians, these letters to the Thessalonians were the earliest of Paul’s letters.
Video:  Map – Athens to Corinth
So Paul would travel from Athens to Corinth, and it’s from Corinth that Paul would send his letters to the Thessalonians.

1:1 Greeting

:1 Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy, To the church of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

:1 Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy

Silvanus is another form of Silas.

These are the three that had been working with the Thessalonians.

:1 Grace to you and peace

This is in the greeting of every one of Paul’s letters with one exception, when he writes to his spiritual son, Timothy.

In both of Paul’s letters to Timothy, he writes,
(1 Timothy 1:2 NKJV) To Timothy, a true son in the faith: Grace, mercy, and peace from God our Father and Jesus Christ our Lord.

I like the addition of “mercy”.


Finding peace

Paul always puts the words in the same order.
First comes “grace”, then comes “peace”.
If you want to know the “peace” of God, you need to know the “grace” of God.
Grace is the unmerited favor that God wants to show us if we will turn to Him.

God will forgive our sins if we seek His forgiveness that comes only through Jesus.

Paul wrote,

(Romans 5:1 NKJV) Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,

It’s not just that way with God, it also works in our relationships with others.
Sometimes the thing that keeps us from experiencing peace with each other is because we refuse to be gracious to one another.
(Ephesians 4:31–32 NKJV) —31 Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. 32 And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.
The word “forgive” in the Greek is “xarizomai” the word for “grace”.  We are to “grace” one another.
I think there’s something else there as well.  I didn’t notice it before, but now that I’ve been using Aaron’s blessing in praying over people, I noticed the parallel.
(Numbers 6:24–26 NKJV) —24 “The Lord bless you and keep you; 25 The Lord make His face shine upon you, And be gracious to you; 26 The Lord lift up His countenance upon you, And give you peace.” ’

I think we ought to pray that over each other.

We want to pray for peace, but it’s only through grace that it happens.

1:2-10 The Real Deal

The Thessalonian church was the “real deal”.  They weren’t fake Christians.  See how many things you can find that indicate that their Christianity was genuine.

:2 We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers,

:3 remembering without ceasing your work of faith, labor of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ in the sight of our God and Father,

without ceasingadialeiptos – without intermission, incessantly, without ceasing

workergon – an act, deed, thing done

faithpistis – faith

loveagape – brotherly love, affection, good will, love, benevolence

patiencehupomone – steadfastness, constancy, endurance; in the NT the characteristic of a man who is not swerved from his deliberate purpose and his loyalty to faith and piety by even the greatest trials and sufferings

hopeelpis – expectation of good, hope

:3 work of faith, labor of love, and patience of hope

Paul wrote to the Corinthians,

(1 Corinthians 13:13 NKJV) And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.
Those are three magnificent traits that Christians ought to be known for – faith, hope, and love.
But what does that look like?

Does faith just sit on the couch “trusting” God will fix everything?

Does hope last for ten minutes?

Does love come easy?

The Thessalonians understood how these traits worked.


Work of faith

There’s a long-standing argument in Christianity over faith and works.  Are we saved by faith?  Are we saved by works?
We are saved by faith, but it’s a faith that works.
Sometimes we get the idea that having “faith” means doing nothing.  But when you genuinely trust the Lord, it results in action in your life.
In the movie “Hidden Figures”, three black women in the 1960s are trying to establish careers at NASA at the beginning of the space program.
There were plenty of white men who didn’t think they could contribute.
There comes a point in the movie where one gals’ boss brings her into a meeting of the big wigs to figure out where John Glenn’s space capsule will land. Most of the men don’t think she could handle a calculation like that.
Katherine does her thing.
Video:  Hidden Figures – Give or Take
If you are a real Christian, you should be able to “do the math”.  You should be able to live it out so others can see it’s real.
There should be a “work of faith”.


Labor of love

laborkopos – labor; intense labor united with trouble and toil
This is give birth to a baby kind of labor.  This is hard, difficult work.
I don’t know if you’ve realized this yet, but it isn’t always easy loving people like we should.  Sometimes it takes hard work.
Jesus said,
(Luke 6:27–29 NLT) —27 “But to you who are willing to listen, I say, love your enemies! Do good to those who hate you. 28 Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who hurt you. 29 If someone slaps you on one cheek, offer the other cheek also. If someone demands your coat, offer your shirt also.

What part of that is easy?

A little girl stayed for dinner at the home of her first-grade friend. The vegetable was buttered broccoli, and the mother asked if she liked it. The child replied very politely, “Oh, yes, I love it.” But when the bowl of broccoli was passed she declined to take any. The hostess said, “I thought you said you loved broccoli.” The girl replied sweetly, “Oh, yes, ma’am, I do, but not enough to eat it!”

Our love for others is more than just saying we love them, it’s loving them enough to do the difficult things.

Something happens when we love others like this:
(John 13:34–35 NKJV) —34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. 35 By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”

People will know that we belong to Jesus.


Patience of hope

patiencehupomone – this is the characteristic of a man who doesn’t quit under the greatest difficulties.
Someone once did tests with Norwegian wharf rats.  These are the rats that live under the piers along the waterfront.   One group of rats was placed in a large container of water, in the dark, with no place to stand on, they had to keep swimming.  They all drowned within fifteen minutes. The second group was placed in a similar container, yet every ten minutes the lab technician would open the container, take the rats out, stroke them a few seconds, and put them back in the water.  They didn’t have time to rest, they just got a little encouragement.  These rats went on swimming for over 12 hours.
They could endure because they had hope.
Sometimes we have mistaken ideas about how things should be.
In the movie “Hidden Figures”, Katherine is a “computer” at NASA, a person who performs complex calculations.  Her future husband just can’t imagine that a woman can do this.  At first.
Video: Hidden Figures - We wear glasses

I think that sometimes we get the wrong idea about being a Christian.

We get to think that being a good Christian means that our lives don’t have any problems.

Not at all.  Being a good Christian means that you endure your problems.

You wear glasses.

It’s easy to endure when life is going well.
Think of the Thessalonians.  They didn’t have an easy life.  Their whole city seemed to be against them.
They endured because they had hope in the Lord.

:4 knowing, beloved brethren, your election by God.

electionekloge – the act of picking out, choosing

:4 your election by God

Paul knew that these men and women had been chosen by God.

Sometimes we get all confused over the question of whether we chose God, or He chose us.

I have no problem thinking that God chose me before I chose Him.

I found out He chose me when I chose Him.
In Jr. High, I was not the most coordinated kid.  I think I hold the Ladera Vista record for strikeouts for lunch time softball.
I was kind of like this kid…

Video:  Values – Greatest Pitcher

Except I didn’t see myself as the greatest pitcher.

Not one hit for two years.

I know what it’s like to not be wanted on a team.

I personally like the idea that God has chosen me.

:5 For our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Spirit and in much assurance, as you know what kind of men we were among you for your sake.

:5 our gospel … in power

wordlogos – word

powerdunamis – strength, power, ability. 

assuranceplerophoria – full assurance, most certain confidence


A powerful message

The message that Jesus came to die for sinners and bring us back to God is a powerful message.
 The power comes from the Holy Spirit, when a person truly opens up their life to God.
The Holy Spirit changes lives.
You see it in the apostles.  They all ran when Jesus was arrested.  Yet after the Day of Pentecost, when they were filled with the Holy Spirit, they became men who boldly stood up for Jesus.
The evangelist Dwight Moody told a story of walking down the street one day when he was stopped by a drunk.  “Mr. Moody,” said the drunk, “you converted me at one of your meetings!”  Moody replied, “Well it certainly looks as if I converted you.  If Jesus had converted you, you wouldn’t be drunk!”
The real gospel has power in it.  It changes lives.
Soon after Saint Augustine’s conversion, he was walking down the street in Milan, Italy.  There he accosted a prostitute whom he had known most intimately.  She called but he would not answer. He kept right on walking.  “Augustine,” she called again.  “It is I!”  Without slowing down, but with assurance of Christ in his heart, he testified, “Yes, but it is no longer I.”
Augustine had experienced the power of God in his life.  His life had been changed.

:5 what kind of men we were among you

Paul will give us a bit more of his example when we get to chapter two.

These people didn’t just hear words from Paul, they saw up close that what he talked about was real because of what they saw in Paul’s life. His walk matched his talk.

:6 And you became followers of us and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Spirit,

:6 followers of us and of the Lord

followersmimetes (“mimic”) – an imitator

It’s kind of like doing an “impression”.  They were learning to “do an impression” of Paul.

This is what “discipleship” or “mentoring” ought to be about.

When people do an “impression” of you, they learn what it is to follow Jesus.

:6 received the word in much affliction

afflictionthlipsis – a pressing, pressing together, pressure; metaph. oppression, affliction, tribulation

As we saw in Acts 17, things didn’t go easy for the church in Thessalonica.

They had lots of opposition.  And they still followed Jesus.  And with joy.

How a person goes through difficulty can give us a hint as to how genuine their faith is.

Jesus told a story about how the gospel affects different people by likening it to seeds being sown in different kinds of soil.

(Matthew 13:20–21 NLT) —20 The seed on the rocky soil represents those who hear the message and immediately receive it with joy. 21 But since they don’t have deep roots, they don’t last long. They fall away as soon as they have problems or are persecuted for believing God’s word.
The Thessalonians endured their afflictions, and still had joy.

:7 so that you became examples to all in Macedonia and Achaia who believe.

:7 in Macedonia and Achaia

The northern and southern parts of Greece.  Thessalonica was in the northern, Macedonian part of Greece.  Paul is writing from Corinth, located in the southern part, Achaia.

:7 you became examples

examplestupos (“type”) – the mark of a stroke or blow

The Thessalonians had left a mark on those throughout Greece in how they had dealt with their persecution.

People need to “see” the gospel leave a mark.
Frightened by the clamor of thunder in the night, a little child cried out.  Holding her securely in his arms, her father explained that she needn’t fear.  God would take care of her because He loved her greatly.
“I know God will take care of me and love me,” she replied. “But right now, Daddy, I want someone with skin on to love me.”
That’s what people need, for us to be God’s love to them with “skin on”.

:8 For from you the word of the Lord has sounded forth, not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place. Your faith toward God has gone out, so that we do not need to say anything.

:8 from you the word of the Lord has sounded forth

sounded forthexecheomai – to sound forth, emit, sound, resound.  The word carries the idea of to “echo out”.

Not only did word get out about the church in Thessalonica, but some of the believers in Thessalonica themselves would join Paul’s team and preach the gospel.

When Paul eventually left Corinth, spent three years in Ephesus, and when he left there, he had some Thessalonians with him:

(Acts 20:4 NKJV) And Sopater of Berea accompanied him to Asia—also Aristarchus and Secundus of the Thessalonians, and Gaius of Derbe, and Timothy, and Tychicus and Trophimus of Asia.
Aristarchus would still be with Paul when he was being sent to Rome as a prisoner in Acts 27:2.
(Acts 27:2 NKJV) —2 So, entering a ship of Adramyttium, we put to sea, meaning to sail along the coasts of Asia. Aristarchus, a Macedonian of Thessalonica, was with us.

:9 For they themselves declare concerning us what manner of entry we had to you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God,

:9 they themselves declare

The people of Macedonia and Achaia had told Paul about the effect the gospel had upon the believers in Thessalonica.

They had turned away from their idols to serve the true God.

:10 and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, even Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come.

to waitanameno – to wait for one (with the added notion of patience and trust)

:10 to wait for His Son from heaven

The theme of the Second Coming will be a big one to the Thessalonians.

:10 who delivers us from the wrath to come

When Jesus returns to the earth, He will judge the earth.

Because Jesus died to pay for our sins and we have put our faith in Him, we will not have to face the judgment of God.


The Real Deal

Paul has mentioned several things through this first chapter that speak of the proof of the conversion of these folks in Thessalonica.  Do you recall any of them?  What showed they were genuine believers, the real deal?
Their work of faith
Their labor of love
Their patience of hope
Their example of enduring under affliction with joy
They turned from idols.
They serve the Living God
They are waiting for Jesus’ return