Summary: We are a Gathering of people, called together by a team of leaders to be ‘in God’..
Who are we?
A Gathering of people, called together by a team of leaders to be ‘in God’ V1
Paul never worked alone but as a team
The very word church means a gathering and you cant have a gathering of one!
God our Father, and Jesus (together with the Holy Spirit in v5) are and always were a community. We come to a God of community.
2. A grateful people v2 ff why?
a. Because of the changes he has noticed in them! Faith Hope and Love are not just nice ideas but radical identity markers whose presence in other brothers should cause wonder and thanksgiving in us
“The triad of faith, hope and love is the quintessence of the God-given life in Christ” (Bornkamm, Paul, 219).
b. Loved and chosen by God – You cannot maintain that the bible is true without believing that it is God who chooses us not we who choose him. Cf Jesus to his disciples ‘you did not choose me but I have chosen you’ (Jn 15:16)
3. What are our origins?
a. Chosen, we then hear the word, the Holy Spirit brings conviction, we then become different. This change is how we know we are chosen. Notice in verse 5 the sense of identity with the message-To Paul, it is OUR gospel, is it OURS? It would seem it is so identified with the leadership team their that they simply couldn’t accept the gospel without accepting the leaders!
4. How are we different to others?
a. Imitate our leaders and Jesus v 6
b. Humbly receive the word (in its entirety!!)
c. EVEN when we are suffering eg Ro 8:28 ‘And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good’ NIV waters this down, don’t. Imagine what the Thessalonians could have said- we believed now look everyone hates us. How we are in suffering reveals who we really are!
d. We are those who demonstrate to others what God has done for us! V 7ff
e. In summary v 9 we are those who receive Gods servants, turn to God from the idols of this world, serve him and have a glorious future hope!!!!
As we read the rest of these chapters we will see how Paul revisits, elaborates and entwines these themes.
Chapter 2 and 3 What were the leaders like, how should they imitate them?
· Bold despite suffering v1-2
· Pleasers of God not man v3-7 but not harsh rather,
· Full of love for the people v8-
· Hardworking, blameless, encouraging of others
· Thankful to God and delighted to see their progress in imitation
· Future orientated
Concerned about the people (Chapter 3)
“Paul probably wrote 1 Thessalonians from Corinth within a matter of months after his initial visit to Thessalonica, in about 50–51 ce (so Best 1972: 7–13; Barclay 1993: 515). It is widely agreed that 1 Thessalonians is the earliest extant Christian text, a precious document which brilliantly illuminates one segment of the Christ-movement less than twenty years after the death of Jesus.”
“1 Thessalonians, a carefully composed writing, ‘is an experiment in the composition of literature which signals the momentous entry of Christianity into the literary world of antiquity’1
The Letter in Greek thinking substitutes for the personal presence of Paul, which of course brought with it the presence of the Holy Spirit. Greek letters it seems were designed to ‘ extend the possibility of friendship between the parties after they had become separated’1. This the first Christian letter possibly, comes in the early time of letters.
Imagine a world with no letters, no telephones, no emails, no text messages. Texting and email and online chat have transformed the world now we can communicate in seconds around the world. We can feel we belong with people who are many miles away. I ‘spoke’ more online with my sister when she was in Morocco for a year than I ever have before or since!
that is why parousia (‘presence’ or ‘arrival’), philophronesis (‘affectionate kind treatment’, ‘friendship’), and homilia (‘being together’, ‘communion’, ‘conversing’) are basic to the conception of the Greek letter. ‘Absent in body, but present through this letter’ is a common Greek formula reflecting this phenomenon. Funk (1967: 265) suggests that Paul must have thought of his presence as the bearer of charismatic, even ‘eschatological’ presense. 1
The historical background to 1 Thessalonians
See Acts 17:1-15
A traumatic time, Paul had left much earlier than he had wanted to and there had been much danger to him and the converts. The desertion of idols would have been described as atheism and perceived as the desertion of a social system. They had left one social group and joined another. They no longer belonged to the world, now they were beginning to belong to Jesus, each other and in an important sense Paul and his team.