Introduction to the Book of 1 Thessalonians
1 Thessalonians 1:1-20
by Cooper Abrams
b. Paul, as was his practice, went to the Jewish synagogue and there he reasoned with the Jews from the Scriptures the Old Testament scriptures. In other words, Paul preached Jesus the Messiah from the Old Testament.
c. Some of the Jews believed but others, moved by jealousy opposed Paul and the Gospel. These who opposed him were Jews, self-righteous Pharisees. Although the Old Testament clearly showed Jesus to be the Christ the Messiah, they rejected Him the same as the Jewish religious leaders in Jerusalem.
-They first cause an uproar attacking Paul's preaching and then Paul himself.
- Paul had won some to Christ and the believing Jews helped him. One was named Jason and he invited Paul to stay at his home. The mob heard that Paul was at Jason's home and went there to get him, but Paul was not there. The mob them assaulted Jason and his friends and accused them of "These that have turned the world upside down are come hither also." (V6)
- They were accusing Paul, Jason and those with them of treason. Why? Because they had believed and had befriended Paul and those with him.
-The put Jason under a bond (money) which he would lose if there was any more trouble.
Have you ever thought about the man Jason and his situation? He heard the same message that Jesus was the Messiah and that if one believed in Him, but faith God would save him, forgive his sins and give him eternal life. He believed the message. But think....these others rejected the message and Jesus Christ. We wonder why? Same message - different response. Jesus Himself explain why when He addressed the Pharisee Nicodemus:
"And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God." (John 3:19-21)
- You would think that these Jewish men who to so strictly worship God would be happy to hear the Good News the Messiah had come. Yet, their actions showed them to be unsaved religious wolves in sheeps clothing.. Their descendants are still around today....
The fact is that the devil and his demons are more faithful in coming to church that many Christians. They are always around seeking to disrupt a church service, to cause doubts in weak believers, to hinder a Christian from serving the Lord and trying to destroy the effectiveness of the preaching of God's word. He will attack the pastor, and every member of a church. The devil and his demons can destroy a church that is not on its guard or unaware of the devil's devises.
b. The attack was open, but it was deceitful. The devil's devises always are. He is a master of the LIE! Paul was falsely accused of being a traitor to Caesar and causing disorder and trouble. The fact is that Paul never mentioned Caesar and the disorder was not caused by Paul, but those that stirred up the mob. These idol makers were losing business that so the sought to get rid of Paul. It shows the power of the Gospel to change lives when people believe.
c. Paul left the city with Silas at night to avoid the mob and went to Berea.
b. It was a young church. These believers were being persecuted for their belief in Jesus Christ. Some had died. The New Testament was not written and they did not know God's program for the churches.
Timothy was a young preacher called under Paul's ministry and he too was helping on Paul's second missionary journey.
C. God desires that all men receive God's grace by faith, and receive the peace of God.
Do you understand that the Bible I hold in my hand is God reaching out to you and I, to all men to believe in Him and receive His unmerited favor?
Do you understand as Romans 5:1-2 says, "Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God" (Romans 5:1-2).
ILLUS: People write me daily from many places in the world. Most are thanking me for the articles and material on my web site. I always write back and thank them for being an encouragement to me. It is encouraging to find people who love the Lord and His word in this God forsaking world. It is discouraging when people pervert God's word. It is disheartening when so many who profess to be saved live worldly lives. It is distressing when so many ignore what God has said when it is so plain. It is like the popular phrase I often hear which says, "What part of NO do you not understand?" God tell us He loves us and gives us instructions on living the best life possible, yet people instead do things their way...and always fail. When God says to be faithful..... "What part of being faithful do we not understand?"
B. Clearly, this congregation was a great blessing to Paul and his companions who were spreading the Gospel. They had heard the message and believe it! What an amazing thing that was. God message is powerful and real....yet often we do not see it going forth in power. Many times the Gospel is hindered by our unfaithfulness. I take great stock in what Peter said,
"That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ: Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory" (1 Peter 1:7-8)
2. Paul prayed for them regularly. Part of his prayers was thanking the Lord for them and the encouragement they were to him.
3. You know we have the Lord always with us if we are His children and faithful. That is His promise....but it really is uplifting when we see the fruit of faith and the life changing result of salvation in a person's life.
2. What about this past week? What was your "work of faith" this week?
3. Was your service to the Lord this week a "labor of love?" It gets awful hard sometimes to continue when things are not going too good. The difficulties will surely put a damper on our "spirituality" sometimes. But did you act of love for the Lord manifest itself in helping others? Was coming to church, prayer, helping a friend, witnessing to the lost around us....done as a "labor of love?"
2. Note the phrase " in the sight of God our Father." The believer's hope is not in vain, but is a sure hope. Why? Because it is trust in One who can deliver what He promises. God the Father is our Creator and He made all things. He person and character are perfect in every way.
ILLUS: The story is told of Booker T. Washington who described meeting an ex-slave from Virginia in his book Up From Slavery : "I found that this man had made a contract with his master, two or three years previous to the Emancipation Proclamation, to the effect that the slave was to be permitted to buy himself, by paying so much per year for his body; and while he was paying for himself, he was to be permitted to labor where and for whom he pleased.
"Finding that he could secure better wages in Ohio, he went there. When freedom came, he was still in debt to his master some three hundred dollars. Notwithstanding that the Emancipation Proclamation freed him from any obligation to his master, but this black man walked the greater portion of the distance back to where his old master lived in Virginia, and placed the last dollar, with interest, in his hands.
Washington later talking about this, said the former slave told him that he knew that he did not have to pay his debt, but that he had given his word to his master, and his word he had never broken. He felt that he could not enjoy his freedom till he had fulfilled his promise."
How many of us have given our word and not kept it, some even the God Himself.
It is a rare thing to find a man whose will honor his word no matter what the cost to him. Yet, we must understand that never question God's promises. God honors His every promise to the letter!
2. Paul is thanking God for His plan of salvation which He elected and for the clear evidence in their lives of having received Christ. He is not thanking God that he was chosen to be saved over others...but that they were saved because they received the Gospel that Paul preached.
3. Note also the next verse confirms this truth. Paul said the Gospel came not unto you in word only, but in power (God's power) and the Holy Ghost. The Gospel is not just some empty promise or platitude...but the powerful agent of change in the life of those who both hear and believe. Paul confirms that the Holy Spirit and the power of God was working and these people believed and were saved.
4. The power was seen in the effect it had on their lives and this was convincing proof of their salvation.
2. He mentions it in Acts 20:33-35. "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. I have shewed you all things, how that so labouring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive."
4. The saw the witness and power of the Gospel in Paul's life in spite of the many afflictions which he endured with joy of the Holy Ghost. Joy of the Holy Spirit is joy that does not come from having material comfort or benefit, but to the contrary is present whether things are going good or not when there is heartache and pain.
2. The result was that their testimony went far beyond the geographical bounds of their country but was also spread aboard. Many in the known world heard of their faith and faithfulness and that influenced many others.
3. Folks ours is a little church in the boondocks of the West. But we do not live in a vacuum. When you are faithful to the Lord others hear of it, both in our community, geographical area and many other places far from here. We all must get a true vision of what our faith in the Lord can accomplish.
4. The success of the Gospel in Thessalonica helped Paul in his ministry to others. He could show others what God had done for them and how God could do the same for them as well. (V9)
5. The fact they believed and turned from idols showed the power of the Gospel to change lives and bring victory over sin and death.
2. Because His return is sure....the one who puts his faith in Jesus Christ as his Savior , his position and promise of heaven was also sure.
Surely, their example has continued over the ages and is valid even to this very hour.
2. Their example of faithfulness should inspire and motivation us to believe as they did and faithfully serve the Lord.
3. No church can have a testimony such as this without its people believing God's word and being committed to God's will for their lives. If each person in our church accepted God's will for their lives and lived it....the result would be that God's will for our congregation would also be fulfilled.
4. Honestly, though we have seen God's hand working here many times in many ways....the reality is we are a church of little power. The Gospel we profess we believe is totally and awesomely powerful...but the problem is not in the Gospel, but in the messengers.
5. The question is this: Do you honestly before God believe you are truly serving Him as He wishes. Are you really living in His will. If the answer is no...then what should you do to become the man or woman God wants you to be? I cannot address every problem Christians have and what keeps them from fully serving the Lord....but God the Holy Spirit can and even at this very moment is doing just that! You and I know don't we. Then if we know well we believe God and obey Him and be His example and testimony....or go on defeated.