World English Bible translation
1:1 Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy,
To the assembly 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.
Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy had been the first Christian missionaries to Macadonia. They write back to their converts in the style of Greek letters of the day: from the author to the recipient with a blessing. In most of Paul's later epistles, he will immediately say that he is writing as an apostle of Jesus Christ. Perhaps Paul did not feel the strain yet of those questioning his apostolic authority (as they later would). Certainly he is writing this letter as an apostle (2:6). But, for new converts that he had seen less than six months before, there was no need to remind them forcefully. The Spirit of God had come to them with power through Paul, Silas, and Timothy.
Some of us remember Sunday School lessons where we were taught that on the Road to Damascus, Saul, the prosecutor of the church, was confronted by God and his name was changed to Paul. It is a beautiful story. Saul was indeed changed. The change of name from Saul to Paul had little to do with Christian conversion, however. It was common for peoples who were citizens of Rome and yet also of another culture to have a Roman name and a name from their own culture. As a Jew, Paul was called Saul. When Saul entered the Roman world, he used his Roman name of Paul.
Likewise, Silvanus (a Roman name) is the same person as Silas whom Luke writes about in the Book of Acts. Silas is his Jewish name. It was Silas who was singing praises to God at midnight with Paul in the jail at Philippi. It was Silas who was with Paul during a great deal of his persecution. Here too is Timothy, lately returned with excellent news from Thessalonica concerning the Christians there.
And, they are writing to, "... the assembly of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ." The "ekklasia" of the Thessalonians. The gathered ones, or those that were called out, literally means the assembled people. They were of Thessalonica, but they were (more importantly) "in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ." To the Apostle Paul, there was no higher privilege or honor than to be "in Christ", or less often, "in God". And yet, the newest convert, the least of rank, was "in Christ".
"Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ." What wonderful news! God OUR Father and the Lord Jesus Christ send you greetings. And the greetings are one of peace. What separated us once is now gone. We are at peace with God "in Christ". Through grace, He is our peace.
Today, even as you read this, God sends you greetings as well. No matter who you are, or what you have done with your life, God sends you this same greeting. Grace and peace to you. Be reconciled to God. Through the atoning death of Christ, he has destroyed every barrier that was once between you and He.
Grace and Peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ!
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