I Thessalonians

I Thessalonians 1:1-7 Faith, Love, And Hope.

This letter begins with a typical Pauline greeting. He includes Silvanus and Timothy in the salutation of grace and peace-with God’s peace being based on His grace. God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ are also coupled together-as of one essence and purpose. If one has Christ, one has the Father also (v. 1). Thanks for the believers in Thessalonica is the first thing that comes to Paul’s mind, as he mentions that they are in their prayers (v. 2). There are three things in particular which they are thankful for, expressed in a favourite triad of Paul’s-of faith, love, and hope (Cf. 5:8; Rom. 5:2-5; I Cor. 13:13; Gal. 5:5-6; Col. 1:4-5). Firstly, they remember their “work of faith” (v. 3a). For Paul, the Christian is one whose work stems from, and is the evidence of, the genuineness of one’s faith. Secondly, we find a similar expression with their “labor of love” (v. 3b). Biblical love will show itself in what one does-their labour. Finally, Paul’s readers had a patience borne out of their “hope in the Lord Jesus Christ in the sight of our God and Father” (v. 3c).

This triad was based on what Paul knew of their election, with all three being the very fruit of this election. This is why they are addressed as ‘brethren’. It was and is an election by God and not based on anything humans have done or will do, but an election which shows itself in these things of which Paul and his companions gave thanks to God for (v. 4). The reason why this is the case, is because God made the word which they preached effectual to those who heard, for it was a word which was received with power. Not only this, but the hearers also received the Holy Spirit, and through the Spirit they also received “much assurance” (v. 5a). This all was the very same standard by which they were able to judge the testimony of Paul and his colleagues when they were with them in person (v. 5b). Paul was, in effect, asking them to continue to follow the example which they had already given them, even as they had “received the word in much affliction,” but also “with joy of the Holy Spirit” (v. 6). As such, they also became examples for others to follow (v. 7).

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