In his first letter to the church at Thessalonica, Paul is relentlessly positive. He has no words of correction for them, and again and again expresses care and encouragement: “We give thanks to God always for all of you” (1:2), “you had become very dear to us” (2:8), “Encourage one another” (4:18, 5:11). The Thessalonians had proven to be stalwarts in the faith, even amid intense persecution from both their pagan neighbors and the unbelieving Jews (2:14-16). They endure because of the love of God who chose them in the gospel (1:4). As we begin this new sermon series, we will sing several hymns that celebrate God’s providence in choosing a people for Himself. We are a “chosen race,” and a “chosen seed … ransomed from eternal wrath” (All Hail The Power Of Jesus’ Name; Chosen Seed And Zion’s Children). He called us while we were still His enemies (Let Us Love And Sing And Wonder), and binds together us as one in Christ (Christ Is Made The Sure Foundation). Though we are at times, like the Thessalonians, a “pilgrim flock” (Shepherd Of Souls), the Lord promises to preserve and bless us, that we might bear fruit (Blessed Are All They—Psalm 1). As Paul will remind us at the end of this letter: “He who calls you is faithful; He will surely do it” (5:24). —Henry C. Haffner
Key Words: Faith, Hope, Love, Chosen, Affliction, Idols
Keystone Verse: We know, brothers loved by God, that He has chosen you. (1 Thessalonians 1:4)
1 Thessalonians 1:1-10
Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy, To the church of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace to you and peace.
2 We give thanks to God always for all of you, constantly mentioning you in our prayers, 3 remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. 4 For we know, brothers loved by God, that He has chosen you, 5 because our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction. You know what kind of men we proved to be among you for your sake. 6 And you became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you received the word in much affliction, with the joy of the Holy Spirit, 7 so that you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia. 8 For not only has the word of the Lord sounded forth from you in Macedonia and Achaia, but your faith in God has gone forth everywhere, so that we need not say anything. 9 For they themselves report concerning us the kind of reception we had among you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, 10 and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come.