Home Bible Study

"Yes, I am coming quickly." Amen.
Revelation 22:20

This is a Home Bible study. It exists to promote the Word of God as it's written, which means nothing added or taken away, and minus opinions.

The Bible is the only source of Divine Truth in the world today. Although it is helpful and informative in many ways, the Bible might not tell us everything we want to know but the Bible does tell us everything we need to know.

My role is to guide you through the Scriptures; to explain what this book says and in some cases what it does not say because this is just as important.

Ultimately, you have a decision to make concerning your salvation - no one can make it for you. The Lord Jesus Christ, the Creator God, has given everyone the ability to make choices - this is is called "Free Will." I pray you consider your choice wisely.

II Timothy 2:15

Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.


Search HBS Bible Lessons

Friday, July 17, 2020

1 Thessalonians 1:1-10 (L 01)


Home Bible Study©
Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth (2 Timothy 2:15)
WWW. 2Tim215.Net

Established November 2008                                         Published: July 17, 2020

For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:3-4).
***********************************************************************************************
Welcome back to HBS.

We’re going to jump right into this week’s Bible lesson so, if you would, please open your Bible at 1 Thessalonians 1:1-4.

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.  We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers; 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; Knowing, brethren beloved, your election of God.”

Verse 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.” 
 
In both of these letters to the Thessalonians Believers Paul addressed himself to them in association with his coworkers Silas and Timothy.  This isn’t all that strange; however, these two letters are the only ones in which he addressed himself to his readers as PAUL.  What we don’t find here is his apostolic credentials.  Reasons for this vary of course.  One reason might be since no Believer in Thessalonica questioned his apostolic calling and authority, as some did later at Corinth and Galatia, he didn’t need to declare it.  Unlike the church at Colosse, there were no heresies to confront, and unlike the church at Philippi there were no divisions in the body.  There are others, but I’m inclined to believe this particular salutation speaks of an intimate bond that existed between PAUL and the Thessalonian Believers.  That unique bond was created because the converts in Thessalonica were enduring much persecution for their faith, as was our apostle Paul.  That kind of connection creates an unbreakable bond, that is, a familiarity between people that others could not appreciate or understand.  Military personnel share a similar bond, having stood shoulder to shoulder with their comrades in peace and in war.  The hardships associated with that lifestyle make for a personal attachment that lasts.  I offer the HBO made for T.V. movie “Band of Brothers” as one example. 

I noticed something else in Paul’s greeting.   Although it might appear to be no different than any of his other opening statements, I picked up on a thought and I’ll explain what that is.  Verse 1:1 is more than an opening salutation; it’s an official declaration by PAUL, the risen Lord’s bondservant, from the rejected Godhead (1 Samuel 8:4-5;  John 19:1-16; Acts 2:22-23; Acts 7).  Grace be unto you, and peace from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ” is the theme of the message PAUL proclaimed to all nations. You see, according to prophecy God the Father was to avenge the rejection of His Son (Psalm 2:1-5, 110:1), but in infinite grace He chose to interrupt His Prophetic Program, delaying judgment, and ushered in the dispensation of the grace of God instead.  In this age He is offering amnesty to all His enemies, i.e., “the forgiveness of sins according to the riches of His grace” (Romans 5:8-9; Ephesians 1:7).

Verse 1:2.

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

The Thessalonian saints remained true to the faith despite the persecution they were suffering, so Paul acknowledged this and gave “thanks to God.”  To that I’ll add gratitude goes out to the Philippian saints.  They deserve credit for their willingness to encourage these new Believers, for while Paul was still with them, the Philippians, having heard of their persecution, sent delegations “once and again” to help Paul, and them, in the work they were seeking to accomplish (Philippians 4:16).  The saints at Philippi were no stranger to persecution and suffering, so their presence reassured and comforted them.  In Paul’s letters to the saints at Philippi and Thessalonica he revealed his affection and respect for these two house churches (1 Corinthians 12:25-27; Philippians 1:3-5; 1 Thessalonians 1:2-4).

We give thanks to God always for you all” – plainly said, when Paul thought of these folks he couldn’t help but “give thanks to God;” “Remembering without ceasing (their) work of faith, and labour of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the sight of God and our Father;  (1:3).  These Christian traits demonstrate what it means to have the mind of Christ and confirms the fact that they were indeed “the elect of God” (1:3-4).

With companions Silvanus (a.k.a. Silas) and Timothy, Paul followed up their ministry to the Thessalonians with a letter of encouragement.  They greeted and gave thanks to God for them and let them know they were in their prayers (1:2).  Paul declared the church at Thessalonica was “in God the Father and in the Lord Jesus Christ.”  What a marvelous statement!  Can the same be said of your church?  If so, the next time someone asks you where your church is, tell them, “it is located in God the Father and in the Lord Jesus Christ;” for God has placed us in Christ, in the heavenlies (Ephesians 1.3) so that is our positional location and eternal destiny.

Verses 1:5-10.

The Power of Paul’s Gospel

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.  And ye became followers of us, and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Ghost: So that ye were ensamples (an example; a pattern or model for imitation) to all that believe in Macedonia and Achaia.  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.  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; And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come.”

Verse 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” - what does Paul mean?  The answer: nowhere in this letter do we find miracles being performed in Thessalonica but rather the power that was associated with the preaching of the Word or “the gospel of the grace of God” (1 Corinthians 15:1-4).   

In verse 1:5 Paul stressed it was his gospel that had been proclaimed to them “in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance;” This is clear evidence that Acts 17:2-3 does not teach that Paul then, or ever, preached “the gospel of the kingdom” (Matthew 9:35, 10:5-7).  He merely used the O.T. Scriptures to prove to the Jews that the crucified Jesus was in fact their promised Messiah.  Think this through.  How could they trust Christ as their Savior if they did not first believe He was the Messiah? 

Verse 1:5b.

as ye know what manner of men we were among you for your sake.

Here Paul reminded these saints of their conduct while they were among them.  This is the first of seven phrases in 1:5 to 2:11, in which he reminded them that they know how Paul, Silas, and Timothy conducted themselves while they labored in Thessalonica.  After reading that Bible passage, it’s ought to be apparent that Paul and his companions were all about proclaiming the gospel of the grace of God; they were not seeking financial assistance or monetary gain.  It was customary for Paul and his companions to work with their own hands to provide for their needs.  This was especially true where new grace churches were planted.  The N.T. specifically reveals Paul worked in Galatia, Corinth, Thessalonica, and 
Ephesus (Acts 20:31-35; 1 Corinthians 4:12, 9:6; 1 Thessalonians 2:9; 2 Thessalonians 3:7-8).  They did this to build trust and to prevent people from accusing them of using their ministry for selfish purposes one of which was financial gain.  Therefore, Paul could in all sincerity say just as he later did to the Believers at Corinth, Greece: “Did I make a gain of you…” (2 Corinthians 12:17-18); and to the elders at Ephesus, “I have coveted no man’s silver, or gold, or apparel.  Yea, ye yourselves know, that these hands have ministered unto my necessities, and to them that were with me” (Acts 20:33-34).

Note also Paul’s remarks in 1 Corinthians 15:10: “But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.” 

And 2 Corinthians 2:17: “For we are not as many, which corrupt the word of God: but as of sincerity, but as of God, in the sight of God speak we in Christ.”

The concept expressed here is literally, “making gain by corrupting,” or as Edgar Johnson Goodspeed (1871–1962) put it, “a peddler of God’s message.” So then, this practice came to be used by petty peddlers or hucksters to sell their goods and thus any and all corruption for the sake of personal gain.  Paul, Silas, and Timothy were not petty peddlers of the Word of God, “but as of sincerity, but as of God, in the sight of God speak we in Christ.”  Paul’s message was and is powerful because it is eternally true, and was sincerely delivered to his audience: “Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless.  And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.  Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own stedfastness.  But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.  To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen” (2 Peter 3:14-18).

So powerful is this message that Paul willingly suffered and died proclaiming it.  I doubt the hucksters of Paul’s day could or would do likewise and that could be said of many preachers today who put financial gain above the truth of God.

Verse 1:6-8.
And ye became followers of us, and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Ghost: So that ye were ensamples to all that believe in Macedonia and Achaia.  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.”

Christians for the most part know the Lord Jesus Christ said, “Follow Me,” but few are aware of Paul’s exhortation, “Follow me as I follow Christ.”  (1 Corinthians 4:16, 11:1; Philippians 3:17).  Unlike the twelve, Paul represented the glorified and risen Lord in proclaiming a new program along with a brand new message, i.e., “the dispensation of the grace of God” (Ephesians 3:2), and “the gospel of the grace of God” (Acts 20:24).  This good news was committed to Paul “by revelation” and he faithfully declared wherever he went.  The Thessalonian saints had become followers of Paul and the glorified Lord in these three respects:

They received the Word (our gospel) which Paul proclaimed (1:5). 
They endured “much affliction with joy of the Holy Ghost (1:6).
They in turn became “ensamples” (examples) of Christian faith and conduct “to all that believe in Macedonia and Achaia,” and beyond (1:7).

To the Believers in Rome Paul could say, “Your faith is spoken of throughout the whole world” (Romans 1:8); and here, to the saints in Thessalonica, he could already say, “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” (1:8).  Do you get what Paul’s saying?  He didn’t need to tell others about the Thessalonian’s conduct and their faith, people were sharing this information with him! 

Following Christ and witnessing for Him were dangerous activities in Thessalonica.  Note Paul said, “(They) received the word in much affliction (1:6); and referring to the persecutions in Judea he said, “ye also have suffered like things of your own countrymen” (2:14); and then goes on to describe the intensity of the hatred being manifested against the true Believers in Thessalonica.  But here’s the thing, this “affliction” and persecution did not hinder the spread of the gospel.  At Berea Paul’s message was cautiously, then eagerly, received, with the result that “many of them believed.”  For their positive response toward Paul’s preaching they were called “noble.”  Later on persecution came into their lives, but it appears they received little to no opposition to receiving Paul’s grace message itself.  In contrast, the majority of the Jews at Thessalonica’s synagogue bitterly opposed Paul and his message and viciously persecuted the minority who had accepted it as the truth of God.  But the apostle Paul writes, “ye…received the Word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Ghost” (1:6).  This tells us the persecution they suffered did not rob them of their joy, in fact, it helped produce it (Acts 5:41).  

Verses 1:9-10.

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; And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come.”

In the Bible passage above we find the three marks of true salvation: faith, hope, and love.  The Thessalonians, per Paul, had “turned to God from idols” (this is faith); “to serve the living and true God” (this speaks of love); “And to wait for his Son from heaven” (this is hope).  So what we have here is believing, serving, and patiently waiting on the Lord Jesus Christ’s return in the clouds to catch away the Body of Christ. 

Let’s examine these one-at-a-time. 

1) Paul wrote: “ye turned to God from idols.”  This speaks of their conversion.  They did not merely accept God as one of their gods or even as the greatest among them.  They “turned to God,” (the living God), “from idols,” meaning they left their gods for Him.  In so doing, they had turned from a life without hope to a life filled with “that blessed hope:”

For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works” (Titus 2:11-14). 

2) Now that they knew God and were known by Him, the natural response to His great love toward them is a sincere desire “to serve the living and true God” (Exodus 21; Colossians 3:22 – 4:1).  But in what way did they serve God?  In the first chapter of 1 Thessalonians, we see that though they were relatively new converts, “they were good ensamples to all that believed” (1:7); they had “sounded out the Word of the Lord not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place…” (1:8a); and Paul said of them, “but also in every place your faith to God-ward is spread abroad,” meaning they demonstrated a faith that others could not help but recognize (1:8b).

In performing these good works the Thessalonians were not only serving the Lord, they showed themselves to be followers of the Lord and Paul.  That thought takes us back to verse 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;” There’s no doubt it was the possession of  these three Christian graces (faith, hope, and love) that assured Paul that they were truly “the elect of God” (1:3-4). Time and time again Paul wrote of the trinity of faith, hope, and love or combinations of these virtues (Romans 5:2, 5, 1 Corinthians 13:13; 2 Corinthians 8:7, 10:15; Galatians 5:5-6, 22; Ephesians 1:15, 3:17, 6:23; Colossians 1:4, 23; 1 Timothy 1:14, 6:10-11; 2 Timothy 1:13; Titus 3:15; Philemon 1:5; 1 Thessalonians 5:8).  I plan to spend more time looking at the magnificent trinity of faith, hope, and love in an upcoming lesson. 

Here Paul said they had become “followers” of them and that the Thessalonians had received and followed their message “in much affliction,” i.e., distress, tribulation (v. 6).  No doubt Paul was referring to the uproar initiated by the unbelieving Jews.  They incited a mob to attack Jason’s house (Acts 17:5-9) after they could not locate Paul and Silas.  It was in the midst of this turmoil that the Thessalonian Believers received Paul’s message.  Paul’s word for “follower” (KJV) means to imitate or copy.  It is the word from which we derive the words “mimic” and “mimeograph.”  Paul commanded Believers to “imitate” or to “copy” him in several of his writings (1 Corinthians 4:16, 11:1; Ephesians 5:1; 1 Thessalonians 1:6, 2:14).  No other apostle does this. Think about that if you would.  The Thessalonians had responded and became godly examples to all in Macedonia (northern Greece) and Achaia (southern Greece) “…but also in every place your faith to God-ward is spread abroad” (1:7-8).

It’s also worth mentioning again the gospel was not hindered by this persecution and the Believers at Thessalonica did not forfeit their joy.  You see, these saints were committed to serving the Lord and in doing so experienced true joy and fulfillment.  This was also true of our apostle Paul, even as he awaited his trial before Caesar for serving Christ which might result in his death he was able to say, “I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain.  Yea, and if I be offered upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I joy, and rejoice with you all” (Philippians 2:16-17).  

What wonderful words of assurance!  Who hasn’t felt, at one time or another, that their labor for the Lord is in vain?  But Paul made it clear in 1 Corinthians 15:58 that our labor is not in vain, if we are truly serving our Savior and not just trying to make a name for ourselves:  Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain (if it’s done) in the Lord.”

But how could Paul say such a thing, in light of his words to the church at Thessalonica where he said, “For this cause, when I could no longer forbear, I sent to know your faith, lest by some means the tempter have tempted you, and our labour be in vain.”
Here one might assume Paul appears to be apprehensive in regard to their labor in Thessalonica believing it was all for nought, i.e., in vain, if the temptations of the tempter (Satan) had succeeded in luring them away from the truth of God. 

In view of this statement, how could Paul state so emphatically that the labor of the Corinthians was not in vain?  Was it because they were better at it than Paul.  Hardly.  So, the answer is found in the assurance Paul gave them that their labor was not in vain, “in the Lord.”  While it was quite possible that the labor of even our apostle Paul might be in vain, in the Galatians, the Philippians, and even in the Thessalonian Believers, it is not possible that any of their labors, or ours for that matter, are in vain if they are done, “in the Lord.”  Why is that?  Who remembers what Paul said about the Judgment Seat of Christ?  Permit me to refresh your memory,Now he that planteth and he that watereth are one: and every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labour (I Corinthians 3:8).  Notice that the Believer is going to be rewarded according to their labor, and not according to the fruit of their labor.  Paul means to say God intends to reward the Believer based upon their faithfulness, not on the faithfulness of those upon whom they bestowed their labor of love.  If this were not the case, even Paul’s rewards would be few, remembering, after all of the labor he extended in Asia the folks in Asia turned away from him and the truth of God (2 Timothy 1:15).  

So if the unfaithfulness of the ones upon whom you bestow your spiritual labor has you thinking all of your efforts have gone for nought, remember your labor might be in vain in them, but your labor is not in vain if done in the Lord.  So then, “…let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.  As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.” (Galatians 6:9-10).

Now it’s time to sign off for this week.  We’ll address the third Christian grace virtue called “hope” when next we meet, that is, if the Lord doesn’t return to take us home.   

(To be Continued)

© Copyright 2011
GJ Heitzman’s Ministry
All Rights Reserved










































No comments: