Summary: Are you a model Christian? Are you passing on to someone what your pastor and before them has passed on to you? Is it about naming a street after you or is it about making known to others the blessed name of our Lord Jesus Christ?
THE ROLE MODEL CHRISTIANS
IN THIS DAY AND AGE WHEN THERE IS HIGH INTEREST in the subject of prophecy and the end times, that Christians would view the Thessalonian letters as reference for eschatology. When Christians talk about the doctrine of the Second Coming of Jesus Christ this is often the place where they go and we tend to overlook the richness of the doctrines contained in this letter. To treat it this way is not being truthful in our approach to the Word of God.
This early letter of the apostle Paul supply important insights into the life of a first-century Macedonian congregation that was primarily Gentile. In the centuries that followed, the city remained as one of the major strongholds of Christianity (Ilumina Bible Dictionary) which led us to believe the Thessalonians were role model Christians that we, Stocktonian believers ought to follow. I am not saying that dogmatically as if they are the only ones to follow but rather their commendable attitudes are valuable lessons for us today.
Silas who was also called Silvanus, was Paul’s companion at the beginning of his second missionary journey (Acts 15:40) generally dated around A.D 51. Silas later on became a scribe for Peter (1Peter 5:12). Timothy on the other hand joined Paul and Silas when they came to Lystra where he was a resident. From Philippi, they passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia then Thessalonica. Paul, Silas and Timothy apparently did not preach in Amphipolis and Apollonia because there were no Jewish synagogues there.
Thessalonica was the capital city of Macedonia, which was a Roman province at the time of Paul. Being the most important city in the northern part of modern Greece, its population was around 200,000. This first letter was written around A.D. 51 and sent by Paul from Corinth.
“As his custom was, Paul went into the synagogue and on three Sabbath days he reasoned with them from the Scriptures, explaining and proving that the Christ had to suffer and rise from the dead.” (Acts 17:2,3)
Some Jews and a large number of Gentiles believed and received his message. But there were Jews who got jealous of Paul’s success in winning the Gentiles to Christ, who stirred up a riot that forced them to depart and moved on to Berea (Acts 17:10).
Paul, unlike his usual greetings in his other epistles, did not acknowledge himself as the apostle of Christ. This non-identification of his apostleship did not in any way suggest that his apostleship in Macedonia was in question. In his letter to the Philippian church, Paul also did not identify himself as an apostle of Christ. Paul simply humbled himself. He put himself equal with his co-laborers, Silas and Timothy.
Paul commends the Thessalonian believers for their genuine faith. As Paul prayed for them, he is always reminded of their work of faith, labor of love and steadfastness of hope in the Lord Jesus Christ.
Sidenote: In First Corinthians 13, Paul mentioned these gracious gifts from God: “And now these three remain: Faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” (1Cor 13:13) Why did Paul say that love is greater than the other two which overall are gifts from God too?
- At Christ’s great Comeback which will lead to the Great Consummation: that all He promised shall come to pass and be fulfilled. The objects of our faith and hope will be satisfied and will be brought to actuality. The things that He said He will do (Heb 11:1,2) will be actualized before our very eyes:
• we will be taken up to heaven
• we will be glorified
• we will reign forever and ever
NOW, when our faith and hope has been actualized will we still have hope in heaven? Will we still have faith in heaven? But love continues on. In heaven there will be love forever and ever and ever. That is why of these three virtues, love is the greatest of all.
- beloved brethren of God
- chosen by God. You did not choose God but He chose you to be:
- role models of faith in the provinces of Macedonia and Achaia
1. Genuine Acceptance of the Gospel (v.v. 6-7)
The mark of the Thessalonians’ genuine acceptance of the Gospel is their joy in believing the Gospel message inspite of severe suffering from the Jews who got jealous of Paul’s success in winning the Gentiles to Christ (Acts 17:5-10). These Jews stirred up a riot and had forced Paul, Silas and Timothy to leave the city. The power of the Holy Spirit graciously prompted them to receive the message that Jesus is the Christ (Acts 17:3).
Most likely, the unbelieving Jews intensified their assault against the Thessalonian believers even after Paul, Silas and Timothy were long gone,