In their first year of faith, Paul sees three changes that confirm the genuine belief of the Thessalonians: their “work of faith,” “labor of love,” and “steadfastness of hope.”
The Apostle Paul went to Thessalonica during his second missionary journey. Shortly after he arrived, the Jews in Thessalonica drove Paul from the city. The Thessalonian church exists in a city that is intensely hostile to them and face pressure to abandon their new faith. Paul writes to encourage them to persevere.
1Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy, To the church of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace to you and peace. 2We give thanks to God always for all of you, constantly mentioning you in our prayers, 3remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. – 1Thessalonians 1:1-3
- Paul’s life followed this pattern: When he enters a new town, he preaches first in the synagogue. Some people usually respond positively to his message, but many don’t. They frequently beat him, arrest him or try to kill him. He then preaches to the Gentiles who typically respond in greater numbers until he is usually so persecuted that he has to flee the area. Then he repeats the process.
- One thing that must have inspired him to keep going was the joyous response of faith among those who heard him teach.
- In their first year of faith, Paul sees three things that confirm the genuine belief of the Thessalonians: faith, hope and love.
- “Work of faith” describes the changes in their lives as a result of their belief. They believe the gospel and live as if it’s true.
- “Labor of love” describes the effort they make to love their neighbors. They exert themselves to care for one another.
- “Steadfastness of hope” describes how they confidently wait on and expect God to fulfill His promises. They have a confident expectation that Jesus will return and set everything right.
4For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you, 5because 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. 6And you became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you received the word in much affliction, with the joy of the Holy Spirit, 7so that you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia. 8For 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. 9For 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, 10and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come. – 1Thessalonians 1:1-10
- Paul is confident God has chosen them because of the changes Paul sees in their lives (faith, hope and love).
- Paul reminds them what he first taught them, why they believed it and encourages them to stand firm in the truth.
- Paul’s message was confirmed as true by miracles and acts of the Holy Spirit and by his character.
- Compare with 2Corinthians 12:11-12; Romans 15:18-19; Hebrews 2:2-4.
- News of their faith became like a volcano that erupted and spread God’s Word across the whole map. Apparently, Paul had the experience of going to a new town, declaring God’s Word, and having people say, “Yes, we’ve heard what happened in Thessalonica.”
- The gospel came to them and they embraced it. Their faith was evident in the changes in their lives and by the fact that they continue to embrace the gospel despite affliction.
Please listen to the podcast for more detail and explanation.
Previous: 01 Thessalonians Introduction
Series: 1&2Thessalonians: Between Times
Study: 1Thessalonians Resources
Scripture references are from the English Standard version.
Season 22, episode 2