1 From Paul, Silas, and Timothy.
To the church in Thessalonica, the people of God the Father and of the Lord Jesus Christ.
I pray that God will be kind to you and will bless you with peace!
2We thank God for you and always mention you in our prayers. Each time we pray, 3we tell God our Father about your faith and loving work and about your firm hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.
The Thessalonians' Faith
4My dear friends, God loves you, and we know he has chosen you to be his people. 5When we told you the good news, it was with the power and assurance that come from the Holy Spirit, and not simply with words. You knew what kind of people we were and how we helped you. 6 So, when you accepted the message, you followed our example and the example of the Lord. You suffered, but the Holy Spirit made you glad.
7You became an example for all the Lord's followers in Macedonia and Achaia. 8And because of you, the Lord's message has spread everywhere in those regions. Now the news of your faith in God is known all over the world, and we don't have to say a thing about it. 9Everyone is talking about how you welcomed us and how you turned away from idols to serve the true and living God. 10They also tell how you are waiting for his Son Jesus to come from heaven. God raised him from death, and on the day of judgment Jesus will save us from God's anger.
It’s somewhere around 49-51 AD. Paul is on his second missionary journey and during his 18 months in Corinth he’s writing this letter.
What’s on his mind? Certainty—the truth that Jesus is going to return. What’s on his readers’ mind? Doubt. Are we going to be OK or not? What’s going to happen to us? These two basic thoughts are in every chapter of the book. Paul wants to ground his readers’ hope in the truth of a Jesus who will come back and draw all believers to himself.
This letter begins with a glorious energy of thankfulness for the people of the church in Thessalonica.
Good on you! Way to go, guys.
The introduction reads like a testimonial, a really good reference. A letter of recommendation you’re going to include in your c.v. at your next job interview.
Paul declares that the Thessalonian believers are famous for their work of faith, labour of love and steadfastness of hope (v 3). No wonder, really, for they are loved and chosen by God (v 4).
Note the personal and direct address “you” in the letter: and transfer that directness to yourself as if Paul is addressing you personally and directly. Who would write this “Way to go” to you today? And who would you be writing to?
Paul gives thanks “always” and for “all of you”. That is so inclusive: everybody’s in and everybody ‘s being thanked. Can you remember a time when you were in a group that worked hard—and then got a Thank You from the boss. I bet that made you feel good.
What of our doubts? And are we going to be OK in the end? Yes: for we have a “Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come.” Relax: everything is going to be OK in the end. In Jesus.
Father God, I give you thanks for all who have supported and encouraged me in my walk of faith. I pray that, in turn, I may become a supporter and encourager of others. Tell me if there is someone today that I should call and simply say “Way to go!”.