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Summary: An ideal church is made up of Christians who sense no constraint to follow the crowd and are eager to learn and obey God’s Word.

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Starting Down the Thessalonian Thoroughfare

(I Thessalonians 1:1, Acts 17:1-12)

1.) Author: Paul (with Silas and Timothy)

Original language: Greek

Date written: 51A.D.

Written from Corinth, where Silas and Timothy had rejoined Paul after checking up on the Thessalonian church.

"This is a letter from a relieved and grateful pastor to his growing flock" (Charles Ryrie).

"… I Thessalonians opens a window on to a newly planted church in the middle of the first century A.D." (John Stott).

Could be the first or second New Testament book penned.

The book divides into two sections:

I. Paul the Pastor: His Relationship with and Encouragement of the Thessalonians (1:1-3:13)

II. Paul the Teacher: Correcting Moral and Doctrinal Error and Expanding Their Spiritual Knowledge (4:1-12)

2.) To be a Christian in the first century meant one was willing to stand alone if necessary or with a small group if possible.

3.) We are all influenced by something or someone, usually a group. According to Wikipedia:

Normative influence is a function of social impact theory (Lantane, 1981), which has three components. A group’s strength is how important the group is to you. Groups we value generally have more social influence. Immediacy is how close the group is to you in time and space when the influence is taking place. The number of people in the group has a surprising effect. As the number increases, each person has less of an impact. Psychologists have constructed a mathematical model using these three factors and are able to predict the amount of conformity that occurs with some degree of accuracy (Latane & Bourgeois, 2001).

6.) Part of being a strong Christian is to regulate who influences you by recognizing how this group dynamic works. We can set ourselves up for success or failure by how we choose our peers.

Main idea: An ideal church is made up of Christians who sense no constraint to follow the crowd and are eager to learn and obey God’s Word.

I. The Thessalonian Believers Were Not Afraid to Be a MINORITY

A. In THESSALONICA, Greece (Thessalonki) (I Thess. 1:1)

1. Founded in the 4th century B.C. by Cassander, one of Alexander the Great’s Generals, and named after his wife, Thessalonica

2. Later the capitol of the Roman province of Macedonia

3. Today the second most important city in Greece

4. When Paul writes, "to the church of the Thessalonians," remember, the word "church" means "called out ones." These are the people who heard the Gospel, believed, and committed themselves to Jesus Christ.

5. The Gospel produces the church; the church preaches the Gospel; the Gospel produces more churches…. (from John Stott)

B. Came to FAITH by the Ministry of Paul, Silas, Timothy (Acts 17:1-4)

• Luke, who was with the team, stayed behind at Philippi probably to train leaders

1. Fully Jewish believers

2. "God Fearing Gentiles"

3. Prominent women (probably pagans) (4)

C. Had to Grow Up EARLY (Acts 17:5-9)

1. Paul only in the synagogue for three Saturdays

2. Could have spent additional weeks or even months reaching gentiles

D. Among the FEW Who Used Scriptures to Discern (17:10-12)

• Whereas only some Jews in Thessalonica tested Paul’s claims by the Scriptures…meaning the OT, most of the Jews in Berea did so

• Modern Christians can be divided along these same two lines: those who use the Word of God to evaluate and those who use their instincts…or some other system

An ideal church is made up of Christians who sense no constraint to follow the crowd and are eager to learn and obey God’s Word.

II. The Thessalonian Believers Had A Lot to LEARN

A. Paul was afraid of leaving them on their OWN (I Thess. 3:1-2,5)

B. But they were growing even without trained LEADERSHIP (I Thes. 3:6-8)

C. Yet they were WEAK in many areas

1. They tolerated false teachers who were trying to UNDERMINE Paul (2:9-10)

2. They were tempted to cave in to PERSECUTION (2:13-3:20)

3. They were tempted to COMPROMISE morally (4:1-8)

4. They were confused about the RESURRECTION of believers (4:13-18)

5. They were confused about The TRIBULATION (5:1-11)

6. They were confused about church LIFE (5:12-28)

D. Despite their lack of knowledge, we can make two observations about them

1. They were teachable

2. Their lack of knowledge was temporary

E. This eagerness to learn and then follow God’s Word is what makes a Christian and a church pleasing to God…

1. buildings, cathedrals, rituals, inspiring music, fantastic meaningful drama, programs, ministries, and worthwhile events may or may not have value, but they cannot replace the simplicity of believers who want to know God’s Word and do God’s Word motivated by a burning desire to glorify and love God…the heart that wants to know God is a special heart…

2. This simple dividing line distinguishes the religious from the truly godly, the strong Christian from a strong personality, image from substance, superficial from deep.

An ideal church is made up of Christians who sense no constraint to follow the crowd and are eager to learn and obey God’s Word.

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