Lesson 3


Paul's First Letter to the Thessalonians

World English Bible translation

Today's Scripture

1:5...and that our gospel came to you not in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Spirit, and with much assurance. You know what kind of men we showed ourselves to be among you for your sake.1:6 You became imitators of us, and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Spirit, 1:7 so that you became an example to all who believe in Macedonia and in Achaia. 1:8 For from you has sounded forth the word of the Lord, not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but in every place your faith toward God has gone forth; so that we need not to say anything. 1:9 For they themselves report concerning us what kind of a reception we had from you; and how you turned to God from idols, to serve a living and true God, 1:10 and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead -- Jesus, who delivers us from the wrath to come.


Today's Lesson

The gospel came to the Thessalonians "...in power, and in the Holy Spirit, and with much assurance." Their response was to become imitators of the apostles and of the Lord. Who has not seen a child imitating an adult? So it was with these Greeks. Newly won to Christ, they became imitators of those who brought the gospel.

 

Those who turned to the true and living God in Thessalonica, Phillipi, and Beria were predominantly ones who had previously heard about God through Jewish synagogues in their province. There were Greeks attached to these synagogues that were called "God-fearers" (Acts 17:4). They were attracted to the God of the Jews but were not allowed full participation in the life of the Jewish community. They were generally tolerated, but never embraced. One could become a "proselyte", but the status of a proselyte was that of a second class citizen.

 

But, the apostles came and preached acceptance by God for all that believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. A way was opened up whereby the God of Abraham and Moses would accept them into His own household. These God-fearing Greeks were rapidly converted into Christianity, but not without affliction. From the Jews, they received affliction for what the Jewish leaders saw as a desertion of Judaism. From their own countrymen, it was as though they passed from one folly to a greater folly.

 

But, the Thessalonians became imitators of the apostles and the Lord and suffered trials with "joy of the Holy Spirit". They rejoiced in finding the Lord and so became examples themselves. And others followed their examples in Macedonia and Achaia.

 

The word of the Lord "sounded forth" to people everywhere that something was happening in Macedonia. Here, the gospel was taking root and people were hearing that something new had arrived. God was changing lives. The word was spreading.

 

And what were the people hearing about these events? "...how you turned to God from idols, to serve a living and true God, and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead -- Jesus, who delivers us from the wrath to come." They heard that Greeks were now turning to the living and true God. That Jesus, who had died, had been raised from the dead and was now exalted in heaven. That this same Jesus would return and deliver His followers from destruction.

 

This is the good news. Christ has died. Christ has risen. Christ will come again. Those who were far off are now brought near.

 

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