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Book chapters «The First Epistle of Paul to the Thessalonians»
1 2 3 4 5
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  • This Epistle and 2 Thessalonians were addressed to the local church in Thessalonica, composed of all the believers in Christ in that city. Such a local church is of the believers and is in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. This indicates that a local church is born of God the Father with His life and nature and is united with the Lord Jesus Christ organically in all that He is and has done. Hence, it is of men (such as the Thessalonians), yet is in God and in the Lord organically. This organic union in the divine life and nature is the vital base for the believers to live a holy life for the church life. Such a living is the theme of the two Epistles.

  • Thessalonica was a city of the Roman Empire, in the province of Macedonia, which was north of the province of Achaia. It was the next city the apostle Paul and his co-worker Silvanus visited after Philippi, after the Macedonian call he received on his second ministry journey (Acts 16:9-12; 17:1-4). The apostle stayed and worked in Thessalonica for only a short time, probably less than one month (Acts 17:2).

  • In this chapter the Triune God is revealed in His triune work upon us — the Father selected us (vv. 1, 3-4), the Son delivers us (v. 10), and the Holy Spirit propagates, imparts, and transmits the Triune God into us (vv. 5-6). Such a triune work is for our enjoyment of His salvation.

  • The Greek word denotes acts, actions, activities.

  • Here faith indicates the nature and strength of the work; love, the motivation for and characteristic of labor; and hope, the source of endurance. These depict the structure of the genuine Christian life, a life constructed with faith, love, and hope (see note 1 Cor. 13:131a). Such a life originates not from the ability of the believers' natural being but from the infusion of what God, in whom they believe, is. It is carried out by their sacrificial love toward their loving Lord, who loved them and gave Himself for them, and toward His members, whom He has redeemed through His death in love. This life lasts and stands unchanging by the sustaining power of the hope in which the believers look for their beloved Lord, who promised that He would come to take them to Himself. Such a life is the content of this Epistle.

    How marvelous that the Thessalonian believers could live such a life through the apostle's short ministry of less than one month! This encourages us to preach the complete gospel to typical unbelievers in full assurance of faith, and to minister the deeper truths concerning the Christian life to new converts.

    In the two Epistles to the young church in Thessalonica, the genuine Christian life for the proper church life is revealed in a simple and brief way. It is a life of three dimensions in the light of the Lord's coming back, having faith as the beginning, the foundation, love as the process, the construction, and hope as the consummation, the completion. Faith is toward God (v. 8), love is toward the saints (1 Thes. 3:12; 4:9-10), and hope is in the Lord's coming (1 Thes. 2:19). The first Epistle is for encouragement and comfort; the second is for correction and balance. The believers should live, walk, and work by faith and love in the hope of the Lord's coming back; but they should not have the erroneous concept that the Lord will come immediately and, thus, that they need not make any long-range plans. The apostle Paul's writings concerning the Christian life for the church life begin with the book of Romans and conclude with these two Epistles.

  • Or, toil, endeavoring, striving, working.

  • I.e., endurance issuing from hoping in our Lord Jesus Christ.

  • God's choosing before the foundation of the world for His eternal purpose (Eph. 1:4). The apostles knew that the brothers, beloved of God, were chosen by God in such a manner for the fulfillment of His heart's desire.

  • Acts1:8;

  • The apostles not only preached the gospel; they lived it. Their ministering of the gospel was not only by word but also by a life that displayed the power of God, a life in the Holy Spirit and in the assurance of their faith. They were the pattern of the glad tidings that they spread.

  • Since the preachers were the pattern of the gospel, the believers became imitators of them. This, then, led the believers to follow the Lord, to take Him as their pattern (Matt. 11:29).

  • The word preached by Paul was the embodiment of the Triune God, conveying and transmitting Him — the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit — into the believers in Christ. This word as the divine gospel was received by the Thessalonians, who were typical Gentile unbelievers.

  • The imitators of the apostles (v. 6) became a pattern to all other believers.

  • This means that the believers' faith toward God sounded out together with the word of the Lord. Not only the Lord's objective word but also the believers' subjective faith went out.

  • Implying a receptive welcome.

  • To turn to God from the idols, to serve a living and true God, and to await His Son from the heavens are the three basic substances of the Christian life as viewed from another angle. To turn to God from the idols is to turn away not only from the false gods, together with the devil and the demons behind them, but also from all things other than God. This is accomplished by faith infused into the new converts through their hearing of the word of the gospel. To serve a living and true God is to serve the very God who is triune — the Father, the Son, and the Spirit — who has been processed to be the believers' life and life supply for their enjoyment. They should experience Him not only as the object of worship but also as the all-inclusive Supplier who lives in them. This experience is brought about by love produced within the believers by the sweet taste of the rich supply of the Father, through the Son, and in the Spirit. To await the Son of God from the heavens is to look for the One who passed through incarnation, human living, and crucifixion and entered into resurrection and ascended to the heavens, and who will come back to receive His believers into glory. This is the hope that strengthens the believers to stand steadfastly in their faith.

  • Lit., serve as a slave.

  • The living and true God is in contrast to the dead and false idols. God must be living and true to us and in us in our daily life, so that our present living will testify that the God whom we serve is living and true.

  • Because we are awaiting the Son of God from the heavens, our future is focused on Him. Our life declares that we have no hope on this earth and no positive destiny in this age, and that our hope is the coming Lord, who is our destiny forever. This governs, holds, and keeps our Christian life for the church life.

  • The wrath of the coming judgment of God (Rom. 2:5-6, 8-9).

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