Summary: Almost every writer of the epistle in the NT begin their letter with two beautiful words - Grace and Peace. Grace is the delight or the favor or the benefit one receives from God and Peace is the harmony or the tranquility. You must receive the grace of G
As I look at the first verse, I am reminded of the discussion in one part of Shakespeare’s play, Romeo & Juliet.
Juliet is lamenting the fact that Romeo has the long last name, because his family has been in feud with her family for generations.
And she says:
“What's in a name? That which we call a rose.. By any other name would smell as sweet”
So this morning, I will say, “What is in a greeting? And if it is done by Paul, it must have quite a lot in it.
We can see in the greeting before us this morning:
1. Shared Authority
2. Exalted Identity
3. Adverse Nativity
4. God’s Charity
5. Spiritual Harmony
READ I Thessalonians 1:1
1. Shared Authority
There is an extraordinary sharing of authority in the ministry of Paul.
The standard Greek Letter Greeting included the name of the sender and the name of the recipient. So Paul says here it is from three people.
You can go through all of the letters of Paul in the NT, and it is interesting to note, Paul’s greetings almost always include more than one name.
• Galatians 1 Paul, . . . and all the brothers with me,
• Philippians 1 Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus, To all the saints in Christ Jesus at Philippi
• Colossians 1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother,
• I Thessalonians 1 Paul, Silas and Timothy, To the church of the Thessalonians
• Philemon Paul, a prisoner of Christ Jesus, and Timothy our brother,
• Romans 16:21 Timothy, my fellow worker, sends his greetings to you, as do Lucius, Jason and Sosipater, my relatives. 22 I, Tertius, who wrote down this letter, greet you in the Lord. 23 Gaius, whose hospitality I and the whole church here enjoy, sends you his greetings. Erastus, who is the city’s director of public works, and our brother Quartus send you their greetings.
Of all Paul’s letters, only Ephesians does not begin or end contain a list of senders. That is the only one that says it is from Paul, the apostle. All the rest of Paul’s letters do.
Paul was accustomed to working together with a group of leaders. He did not set himself up as the only leader. In fact his style was to build up others, so that others could lead. And then he would leave things in their hands.
READ Acts 13:1-3
This is one of my favorite passages in the NT about church leadership. Barnabas founded the church at Antioch, and then realized this is a group of gentiles and so went down to Tarsus to find Paul. When he found Paul he said, “Paul we need you in the ministry. We have a gentile ministry here and Jesus called you to be an apostle to the gentiles. Come with me. Let’s see what we can do with this church.” So Paul went with Barnabas. They went to Antioch and lived there for a year and a half.
Together the two built the leadership at Antioch to the point that the leaders there felt comfortable sending Paul and Barnabas off.
No hard feelings. No competition. No sense of usurping authority. They taught the leaders of the church to be sensitive to the guidance of the Holy Spirit to the point that they lead the Church together—because it was GOD who was leading the Church through them.
This was Paul’s STYLE. He built leaders, and then left the local church in their hands and he moved on. Because of physical threats to Paul’s life he had to leave Thessalonica, yet he could have left anyway. They were ready to stand on their own with just a one-month intensive course in spiritual maturity. Amazing!
In the music school, we have a Summer Intensive Course. In about 5 weeks, we give you the basics. It is a one semester, college level music program that gets compressed into 5 weeks. And honestly I would not want to unleash a student from the Summer Intensive Music Course to lead a music program anywhere. They have the basics but that does not mean they are good musicians ready to lead other musicians.
Yet Paul was doing exactly that. He could leave and the church continues to thrive.
So we see Paul, Silas and Timothy writing this letter. Shared authority.
2. Exalted Identity
Who are you? If someone asked you that question, you might say your name or the State you are from, the language you speak etc. But is that who you are? You might also say, you are an engineer or a doctor – but that is what you do.
Paul writing this letter says, “You are in God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ.” That’s who you are.