Summary: 1 Thessalonians 1
MODEL BY EXAMPLE (1 THESSALONIANS 1)
Seeing her two sons fighting over the last piece of pizza the mother said, "You boys should be acting more like Jesus, if He were here He would give His brother the last piece"
The older brother looked at his younger sibling and said, ""Marty, you be Jesus"
Thessalonica was Paul's second Macedonian stop in his second missionary journey. Today Thessalonica or Salonica is the second-largest city in Greece and the capital of the Greek region of Macedonia. Thessaloniki was considered the second city in the Byzantine Empire, or the eastern half of the Roman Empire, after Constantinople, both in terms of wealth and size. Manufacturing, shipping and trade were the most important components of the city's economy during the Ottoman period. The Jewish population in Greece is the oldest in mainland Europe. Until the turn of the 20th century Jews made up of half of the population. The Sephardic Jews nicknamed the city "Israel's mother" and "Jerusalem of the Balkans." In Acts 17 Paul spent three weeks at the synagogue where he reasoned with the Jews out of the Scriptures (Acts 17:1-2). The congregation was a diverse and cosmopolitan church. In the church were Jews, a great multitude of devout Greeks and not a few chief women (Acts 17:4).
What qualifies us to be models? Why does God want us to not merely be ministers but also models of the gospel? How should we model the message of the gospel?
Be Inspirational in Conduct
1 Paul, Silas and Timothy, to the church of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace and peace to you. 2 We always thank God for all of you and continually mention you in our prayers. 3 We remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. 4 For we know, brothers and sisters loved by God, that he has chosen you, 5 because our gospel came to you not simply with words but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and deep conviction.
When native converts of the island of Madagascar used to present themselves for baptism, it was often asked of them, "What first led you to think of becoming Christians? Was it a particular sermon or address or the reading of God's Word?" The answer usually was that the changed conduct of others who had become Christians was what first arrested their attention. "I knew this man to be a thief; that one was a drunkard; another was very cruel and unkind to his family. Now they are all changed. The thief is an honest man; the drunkard is sober and respectable; and the other is gentle and kind in his home. There must be something in a religion that can work such changes."
What is unique from Paul's salutation in this letter compared to other churches is the thanksgiving for ALL the Thessalonians. Paul usually gave thanks to God and rarely for all readers or recipients. His effusive praise was unique and understandable, but not unfounded. The justification for Paul's thanksgiving is the impact the gospel to the Thessalonians, as underlined by four "IN" Greek prepositions - not "in" words alone (monos), but also "in" power, "in" the Holy Spirit and "in" deep conviction (v 5).
The noun "power" (v 5) is also translated as "mighty works" (Matt 11:20-21), miracle (Mark 9:39), strength (1 Cor 15:56) and might (Eph 1:21) in KJV. What is power to you? In politics it is the ability to influence or control the behavior of people. Scholar Kenneth Boulding said it is "the ability to change the future." For us, power is the turnaround, transformation and testimony that Christ offers in life. The change is from the inside to the outside and to all sides. Our power is top down and inside out, from the first to final day. Theologically we call it the transformation from death to deliverance, from sinfulness to sanctification and from delusion to direction. Instead of control over other people and future events, the power of gospel results in the change in one's mind, behavior and attitude, person and life.
The second "Holy Spirit" (v 5) has to do with the upside, the source, the person. True joy is joy as a result of one's conversion, not of circumstances. Joy is not happiness in English. Happiness relies on "what" is happening, but joy remains from "who" we have - the person of the Spirit governing, guarding and guiding us, giving us peace, purpose and perseverance. For this reason power is not the force of Star Wars. Our power is bound in the person of the Spirit, not an object, entity or a thing, a personable, present being.