The Book of First Thessalonians was written by Paul, the apostle. He received the instruction to write this letter (epistle) and the information of what to write in it from God and the Lord Jesus Christ via his holy spirit-life, and thus we have the joy of learning what God wants His people to know.
I Thessalonians 1:1:
1:1Paul and Silvanus and Timothy to the church of (the) Thessalonians in God (the) Father and (the) Lord Jesus Christ; grace to you and peace.
Paul begins by writing that this letter was from himself and Silvanus (also called “Silas”) and Timothy, and that it was written to the church of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. This Thessalonian church would have known who Paul and Silvanus and Timothy were because they had spent time with them previously. Paul did not need to explain (see Acts 15:22 and 32-34, 16:1-3, chapter 17; I Timothy 1:2; II Timothy 1:2).
Who or what was the “church of the Thessalonians”? The word “church” comes from the Greek word ekklesia, which comes from two other words meaning “out-from” and “called,” so together it means “called out-from.” A “church” is an assembly of people called out from other people for any specific reason. This word does not refer to a particular type of building or a house, even though the church may meet in a particular type of building or in a house. This letter was written to the assembly of people called out from other people in Thessalonica.
How or why were these people called out from the other people living in Thessalonica? Paul writes that they were “…in God (the) Father and (the) Lord Jesus Christ…” To be “in” God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ means that they had received holy spirit-life from God by means of the Lord Jesus Christ and they were now living within the realm of God and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Today, during the time we live in, which is after the day of Pentecost (recorded in the Book of Acts chapter 2), God makes it available for mankind to receive holy spirit-life when people believe what He has given to be believed. This is clearly stated in the Book of Romans chapter 10:
…This is the spoken-matter of belief which we herald-forth
.9that if-ever you may express-agreement in your mouth (regarding the) Lord Jesus Christ and you may believe in your heart that God raised him up out-from dead-people you will be saved,
.10for with (the) heart it is believed into righteousness and with (the) mouth agreement-is-expressed into salvation.
God gives this person His gift of holy spirit by means of the Lord Jesus Christ by His grace and he/she becomes a child of God. This child of God has a vital, spiritual relationship with God, his Father. All the people in the Thessalonian church were holy-people (sanctified-people, Christians, saints, children of God).
Rereading verse 1 of I Thessalonians, it says: “Paul and Silvanus and Timothy to the church of (the) Thessalonians in God (the) Father and (the) Lord Jesus Christ; grace to you and peace.”
Paul’s greeting to the church of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ was: “grace to you and peace.” This was not some ‘nice-phrase’ that Paul made-up in his own mind thinking that it sounds good or it might “bless them” – no! Paul was writing by revelation from God and/or the Lord Jesus Christ. Grace is what is freely bestowed without any merit on the recipient’s part; it includes reference to the attitude and quality of the one giving something favorable to another. Grace is not bestowed because somebody deserves a wage that is owed for something they said or did, nor because they begged so hard, nor because they forced the giver to give! Grace is bestowed because the giver wants to give by his own freedom of will to the recipient – it is completely unmerited favor from the giver to the recipient. Here in this context, grace is being given to the holy-people of the Thessalonian church from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
And peace! Oh, how everybody talks about peace and of wanting peace and striving for peace and fighting on behalf of peace, etc! Peace is a tranquil harmony without strife. We may think of peace as the opposite of war, the opposite of conflict, the opposite of being at odds with the other party. Who are the other parties as far as the holy-people are concerned? God and the Lord Jesus Christ. Some Greek texts include the words “from God our Father and Lord Jesus Christ” after the word “peace” in this first verse.
As we continue, we should realize that in the oldest texts which we have today there are no punctuation or chapter/verse divisions as we have them in our “modern” Bibles – therefore even though they may be helpful for us to find specific verses, etc, we need to read for thought-content and study the context of the scriptures to gain a better understanding of the truth of God’s Word.
I Thessalonians 1:2 and 3:
.2We thank God always concerning all of you making remembrance to-ourselves on our prayers .3unceasingly remembering your work of the belief, and labor of the (Godly-)love, and patient-endurance of the hope of our Lord Jesus Christ, in-front-of our God and Father,
The verb “to thank” in the Greek comes from the same root word as the word “grace” plus the word “well” or “well-off.” Therefore to thank somebody is done by the freedom of will of the recipient expressing well his gratitude to the giver of the grace (the bestowed unmerited or undeserved favor) given to and received by the recipient. It is not a forced or obligated “thank you”!
Paul writes: we (myself and Silvanus and Timothy) thank God constantly about all of you Thessalonian holy-people making remembrance to ourselves on our prayers (bringing to our own minds, our memory, and so making mention of you during or on the occasion of our communications to and with God, the general speaking towards/with God) without ceasing (assiduously) remembering:
1. your work of the belief (your deeds being viewed together as one deed; your work pertaining-to and proceeding-from the belief which God gives you to believe) – “work” is that-which is wrought, the effect-produced having acted expending energy; this work was done or carried-out by these Christians by believing what God and/or the Lord Jesus Christ had given direction or instruction about, either via the already revealed and written Word of God which they had access to in the scrolls/writings of the old covenant (sometimes referred to as the old testament), or via the Word of God which Paul and those with him had taught them, or via their holy spirit-life regarding specific situations or circumstances; and
2. labor of the Godly-love (your labor pertaining-to and proceeding-from God’s love) – the word “labor” literally means “a beating” but in the context here it means “exerting wearisome effort”; these holy-people exerted a lot of effort, as if beating themselves out physically by what they were doing, and they carried-out this labor knowing the love that God had for them, and they loved God, and they evidenced God’s love forth towards others; and
3. patient-endurance of the hope of our Lord Jesus Christ (your patient endurance pertaining-to and proceeding-from the hope of our Lord Jesus Christ) – “patient-endurance” is a bearing-up, holding-out, enduring, remaining upwards or upright under any obstacles; this patient-endurance is relative-to the hope of our Lord Jesus Christ – he is Lord of all holy-people and the hope is pertaining and connected to/with him)….
We thank God always concerning all of you making remembrance to-ourselves on our prayers unceasingly remembering your work of the belief, and labor of the Godly-love, and patient-endurance of the hope of our Lord Jesus Christ, in front of our God and Father (before God Who is the Father of all of us holy-people). The Thessalonian holy-people were living their everyday lives not attempting to hide from God trying to conceal what they were doing but in open view in front of Him.
Godly-love is God’s love, and to “Godly-love” means to love the same way as God loves, to manifest God’s love towards another, whether it is towards God Himself, the Lord Jesus Christ, yourself, your Christian-neighbor, or towards anyone else. God tells His children today how to Godly-love by means of His previously-revealed written Word and also via their holy spirit-life whereby they receive information from Him regarding how to love in different specific situations. It is the carrying out of God’s commandments, His Word, which is the correct usage or way to manifest God’s kind of love according to His will (see I Corinthians chapter 13 and I John 5:1-3). It is not the same as the brotherly or friendly kind of love, nor is it the same as the emotional/feelings/sexual kind of love.
What is the hope of the Lord Jesus Christ? Briefly: it is the expectation of a definite still-future event promised to all holy-people that the Lord Jesus Christ will come to be present to gather all of us together with him, and then he will continue to carry-out all of what God wants him to do, which includes the resurrection of dead-people, judgments, causing satan (the devil) and his followers to be destroyed, etc, and then putting everything under God’s authority. Paul teaches on the hope throughout this letter and also in his second letter to the Thessalonians.
Let us read some verses from the Book of I Corinthians where Paul also teaches regarding the hope:
I Corinthians 15:51-58:
.51Look! I say a mystery to you: we will not all be caused-to-sleep but we will all be changed: .52in an atom, in a sinking of an eye, in the last trumpet, for it will trumpet and the dead-people will be raised-up incorruptible and we will be changed; .53for it is necessary (for) this corruptible-thing to clothe-itself-with incorruption, and this mortal-thing to clothe-itself-with immortality .54but whenever this mortal-thing may clothe-itself-with immortality then the word, the (word) having been written and continuing written, will come-to-pass, “Death was swallowed into victory.” .55“Death – where (is) your victory? Death – where (is) your point?” .56But the point of death (is) the sin and the ability of the sin (is) the law. .57But thanks to God, the (One) giving to us the victory by means of our Lord Jesus Christ, .58so-that, my (Godly-)loved brothers, you must become seated, un-removed, always exceeding in the work of the Lord, having known and continuing knowing that your labor is not empty in (the) Lord.
Before we continue in the Book of I Thessalonians, let us look at what the name “Lord Jesus Christ” involves. A ‘name’ is a word or phrase that a person or thing is given in order to designate and describe the distinguishing and distinctive constitution, character, quality, workings, etc, of that person or thing. The name is what the person/thing is called and known by. The name “Lord Jesus Christ” incorporates the fullness of everything involved with him; it includes all that:
1. the name of “Lord” and
2. the name of “Jesus” and
3. the name of “Christ”
…represent and stand-for – together.
1) The word “Lord” refers to a master or an owner, one who has the authority (authoritative power), the one from whom the directions and instructions are given and who is to be obeyed, the one who has the dominion over and exercises his lordship in relation to that-which his title of “Lord” or “Master” is being associated (see Acts 2:36).
2) The word “Jesus” is explained in Matthew 1:21 by the Angel Gabriel when he spoke to Joseph.
.21She [Mary] will bring-forth a son and you [Joseph] will call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”
The word “Jesus” means “God saves / Jehovah (Yahweh) the Savior,” and the Lord Jesus Christ was given that name “Jesus” because he is the one who carried-out God’s will to make it available for people to be saved (made safe). It is by means of Jesus, the Christ, that people are able to be saved and thus have a true and vital spiritual relationship with the only true God.
3) The word “Christ” means the “anointed-one” or “Messiah.” In the lands and time-period of the writing of the Bible holy oil was poured on the high priest of God to begin his ministry for God, and it was also used to anoint kings. Many people and things were anointed with holy oil to signify their making holy or sanctified for a specific purpose, etc, which can be read about in many scriptures in the Bible (see Exodus 30:22-33; Acts 2:30-36, 4:27, and 10:38-41).
Rereading verses 2 and 3 of I Thessalonians, Paul wrote: “.2We thank God always concerning all of you making remembrance to-ourselves on our prayers .3unceasingly remembering your work of the belief, and labor of the (Godly-)love, and patient-endurance of the hope of our Lord Jesus Christ, in-front-of our God and Father….”
[See Acts 2:21, and 4:12; Romans 1:8 and 9; I Corinthians 13:13; Ephesians 1:19-23; Philippians 1:3; II Thessalonians 1:11, 3:5; Hebrews 6:10, chapter 11.]
I Thessalonians 1:4 and 5:
.4having known and continuing knowing, brothers having been (Godly-)loved and continuing (Godly-)loved by God, your selection .5because our good-message was not caused-to-become into you in word only but also in ability and in holy spirit and much full-assurance according as you knew and continue to know the-kind-of-people we were caused-to-become with you because-of you,
Paul continues from verse 3: we already knew and we still know (perceive, see), brothers….
Why would he call the holy-people “brothers”? Paul is not referring to the biological/natural state of having the same mother and/or father, nor is he referring to the fact that everyone has the same blood flowing through their veins passed-down from Adam and Eve; but he is referring to the spiritual relationship between himself and all holy-people because all have received the same gift of holy spirit from God by means of the Lord Jesus Christ when each one first believed what God has given mankind to believe regarding Himself and His son, the Lord Jesus Christ (see Romans 10:8-13). Paul and all holy-people (including those living today) are brothers in the holy spirit category, children of the only true God. Here Paul confirms that the brothers were loved and are still loved by God with God’s kind of love.
He wrote that he and those with him knew their selection (the truth that they had been picked-out, their election, the truth that they have been chosen out from among the other people in Thessalonica). Why had they been selected? Not because of “favoritism” on God’s part, nor does God randomly or arbitrarily choose some people and not choose other people; but the way that God selects, picks-out or chooses people is by issuing His Word so that people have the choice to believe it or not to believe it – as Paul clearly explains in verse 5:
Knowing, brothers who are Godly-loved by God, your selection because our good-message (the gospel, the evangel that we taught you):
– was not caused to become (did not come to pass to be) into/for you within the sphere of action of word only (not a spoken account alone),…
…but on the contrary, the good-message was also (in addition):
– caused to become for you…
o within the sphere of action of ability (able-power, capability) and
o within the sphere of action of holy spirit (sanctified spirit, including its manifestation) and
o with/in much full-assurance (filled-up with a lot of assurance, the full carriage or carrying capacity, that-which has been brought and filled-up to the measure and so having the full contents of assurance, conviction and confidence regarding it)…
…according as you had known and you still know (perceive) the kind/sort of people whom we were caused to become (came to pass to be) while we were physically in Thessalonica with you on account of you.
[See Acts 1:8; Romans 15:19; I Corinthians 2:4; Colossians 2:2, 3:12; II Thessalonians 2:13 and 14.]
.6and you were caused-to-become imitators of us and of the Lord, having accepted the word, in much pressure, with joy of holy spirit .7so-as-for you to become a type to all the (people) believing in Macedonia and in Achaia, .8for from you the word of the Lord was sounded-out and continues sounded-out not only in Macedonia and Achaia but in every place your belief, the (belief) towards God, went-out and continues gone-out so-as-for us not to have a need to utter-forth something,
And, you holy-people were caused to become imitators (you came to pass to be mimics, followers) of myself and those with me and of the Lord (the Master who is the resurrected Christ Jesus) by having accepted the word (you welcomed, subjectively-received or willingly took the spoken-account of the inner-thoughts of God regarding Himself and His son, the Lord Jesus Christ, which was presented to you from us), during a time of a lot of pressure (compression or straitness that afflicts, whatever may be pressing-upon or squeezing, whether it be physical or mental or spiritual – see Acts chapter 17), with joy of holy spirit (in company and association with rejoicing proceeding-from the holy spirit-life within you).
The consequence and result of this was for you to become a type (to have caused yourselves to come to pass to be a mark, impression or pattern, the same way as an old typewriter would impress the shape of the required letter on a piece of paper) to all the people who are believing (having faith, trusting relative-to God) in the areas of Macedonia and Achaia. In truth, it was away-from you that the word of the Lord (the spoken account pertaining-to and proceeding-from the Lord Jesus Christ) was sounded-out and is still sounded-out (echoed out from you, resounded forth) not alone within Macedonia and Achaia, but contrary to that only being the case, in every place your belief (faith, trust), that is the belief you have towards the only true God, went-out and is still gone-out, the result and consequence for us being that we do not have a need to utter-forth something (we don’t have a necessity, no use, it is not needful for us to speak anything).
[See Acts 13:52; Romans 10:18; I Corinthians 4:16, 11:1; Galatians 5:22 and 23; Philippians 3:17.]
Verses 9 and 10:
.9for they announce concerning us what-kind-of entrance-way we had towards you, and how you turned-back towards God away-from the idols to serve-as-slaves to God living and true, .10and to wait-up-for His son out-from the heavens whom He raised-up out-from dead-people – Jesus, the (one) rescuing us out-from the wrath, the (wrath) coming.
Paul continues: for they themselves (emphatically, those holy-people) announce concerning us (relate about myself and those with me) what sort of entrance-way (way of entry, manner of going into Thessalonica) we had towards you; and how you turned-back (turned on) towards God away from the idols….
An idol is an image or something that a person places ahead of God in his/her mind and therefore he/she worships or serves that thing/idol as “god” instead of worshipping and serving the only true God. An idol may or may-not have form and substance. Examples of idols are: books, the people themselves, famous people, devil-spirits, icons, statues, perhaps some agricultural endeavor, the environment, the sun, moon or stars, the web or some other computer-related program, software or hardware, television, video games, eating some particular food, or whatever a person puts above or estimates to be higher in his/her mind and living than the only true God and what He says and does. Anything or anybody placed in higher esteem in the whole of a person’s heart and soul and mind process than God is an idol to/for that person.
The Thessalonian holy-people to whom Paul wrote had turned-back towards God away-from the idols “to serve-as-slaves to God living and true.” A slave is a servant who is bound to serve his master. This service as a slave (bond-servant) means that the slave’s whole being was at the service-of or in service-to that one master, not serving anybody or anything else! These holy-people served in the capacity of being God’s slaves from the working relationship viewpoint (not from the sonship relationship point of view).
During the time-period of the writing of the Bible, a master was obligated to take-care of his slave and the slave was obligated to do all his master would ask of him. It was a mutually-beneficial relationship between the master and his slave. To be a “slave” was quite an honorable and responsible position to hold. However, today in the minds of some people the word “slave” has been changed from God’s original design of a working relationship to what mankind twisted, corrupted and perverted it to mean as a position of demoralization or degradation, etc. But we who are students of God’s Word must consider this word “slave” as God considered it at the time of Paul’s writing of this letter.
Whom did these holy-people serve as slaves to? God living and true:
– God (the First, Superior or Ultimate One, the One Who has power, executes judgment, and emanates what He is, His power and light)
– Who is presently and actively living (being alive) and
– Who is true (God’s quality and essence is trueness, His consistency is truth, He is the actual, real, genuine God, as opposed to a copy such as the false, fictitious, unreal gods, the idols. The only true God is the source of truth, the essential reality, the inherent verity).
Paul wrote: …how you turned-back towards God away-from the idols to serve-as-slaves to God living and true, and to wait-up-for God’s son out-from the heavens (to remain upwards in expectation of the coming of [some Greek texts have the verb “to patiently-endure”] God’s son coming out from the great expanse of the heavens) whom God raised-up (caused to rise up) out-from dead-people (out from the rest of the people who have already died and remain dead today). Who is God’s son? Jesus – the Jesus who is rescuing us to himself (he is presently delivering, snatching or drawing us holy-people to himself) out-from the wrath which is coming (out from the time of the wrath which is presently moving in the direction of being here; it has not arrived yet but it is on the way).
The “wrath” here refers to the wrath of God which is lasting angry vengeance, like the heat of a burning-fire. This is not a spur-of-the-moment thing on God’s part because He has foretold regarding the consequences of unbelief and rejection of His Word, including the promised seed, the savior, all through the ages since Genesis 3:15. All holy-people/Christians are already spiritually rescued out-from this coming wrath. At a future time it will definitely arrive after all us holy-people will have been gathered together by the Lord Jesus Christ at which time we will be given new spiritual bodies. We will not be subjected to the wrath because it will not occur until after Christ comes and gathers the church together with him. Paul teaches in detail regarding these topics throughout this letter and in his second letter to the Thessalonians. We have God’s Word and we are able to believe it and therefore we should not be afraid. God is trustworthy and reliable; therefore His Word is trustworthy and reliable.
[See John 17:3, 20:1-18; Acts 1:9-11, 14:15; Romans 5:9-11; I Corinthians 12:2, 15:20-57; II Corinthians 3:16; Ephesians 1:19-23; Colossians 1:13; I Thessalonians 4:13-17; Hebrews 10:14; I John 5:20.]