Chapter 1:2-10, Paul's Commendation of the Thessalonians

The Study


J. Deering,


Chapter 1, Verse 2-10

1:2 We give thanks to God always for all of you, making mention of you in our prayers;


1.     Who gives thanks in this passage?
A.     Paul is expressing the thanks of those who labor with him and travel with him (Silvanus and Timothy, etc.). In a very general sense he expresses the thanks that the entire Christian community feels toward the Thessalonians (and those like them).

2.     What does it mean to "give thanks" (idiomatic expression) (1p, pl, pres, act, ind)?
A.     "Giving thanks," is an expression of gratitude. Used as an idiomatic expression it especially means the giving of thanks directly to God for something He has done.

3.     What does the word "thanks" imply?
A.     "Thank You."

4.     What does the plural number of "thanks" indicate?
A.     The Apostle Paul and the others thanked God for the Thessalonians more than once, or on more than one occasion.

5.     Why not just thank the Thessalonians?
A.     Paul actually is thanking the Thessalonians but in a way that would greatly boost their spirits. Paul is thanking God for them in his letter to them. An example: I could thank my brother for a kind act, or I could thank my parents for my brother (and his kind act) in front of him.


1.     To whom are the thanks given?
A.     Directly to God.

1.     Why does Paul thank God for the Thessalonians
A.     Verse :3, Paul and his companions remembered "your work of faith and labor of love and endurance of hop."

2.     What is implied when Paul gives thanks to God?
A.     That God is the one who makes all things possible. He alone is Lord God and is the "Prime Cause" in every good thing.

3.     How literal should we understand Paul's expression
        ("God, thank you for the Thessalonians," VS "Oh, thank god for the Thessalonians")
A.     Literal - Paul is directly thanking God for the Thessalonians being who they are in their Christian responsibilities. Thanking God for their "good" actions of faith, love, and endurance are not the focus of Paul's statement. Giving thanks for the Thessalonians is the focus of Paul's statement. Thanking God for the people, not their motivations or acts.


1.     How often does Paul do this?
A.     Always is one of those funny words. Is always always always? It can be ... Example: "When handling a hand grenade, always make sure the pin is secure." It can be a specific always ... Example: "Whenever I pray for you, I thank God for you." It can also be a general always ... Example: "I always go to bed at 10 pm." (somewhere around 10, when I remember to do so, when I'm home, etc..." Always, all, every, every time are expressions that are meant to express intention. Sometimes very literal, sometimes not so literal. Context can help, but often it takes a discerning mind and spirit as to the intentions of the author.

2.     Paul writes these very same things in other books, (including 8 times in 1+2 Thessalonians) is he sincere and genuine, also consider the context of each of the following references and comment on Paul's thankfulness (Romans 1:8; 1 Corinthians 1:4; Philippians 1:3; Colossians 1:3; 2 Timothy 1:3; Philemon 1:4)


1.     What does "to mention" mean (pres, pass, ptc, nom, pl, masc)?
A.     The Gk word here means "to remember or recall." The NASB translators used the word "mention" to give the feeling of referring to or citing someone before the Majesty of God. They must have felt that in a modern context "remembering" someone was to vague and that "citing" someone was more specific to the context of the verse.

2.     Isn't this just a restatement?
A.     Yes, but... Apparently Paul wants to make a differentiation between the bring of "thanks" before God, and the placing of their names before God on a regular basis. How wonderful it is to be "cited" before God, especially by Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy. This also brings up the importance that we understand that the makeup of the true body of Christ on earth  - is made up of ALL, not just some of the members. It would seem that all too often the body is just "some." The pious; the effective; the leaders; the wealthy; the lovely. Instead, our view should be that All means ALL - every member is a part of the Body of Christ and is being used according to the will of God in that body. Pray for ALL, give ALL the honor of being mentioned in your prayers to God.

3.     What is the importance of "mentioning" someone in your prayers?
A.     What an honor - to be mentioned, remembered, cited before Almighty God! What an Honor.

4.     Comment on what you think the content of Paul's prayers would be like
        (find four or more elements in the context).
        1. Giving thanks for them and their ministry to Paul.
        2.     their "Work of Faith"
        3.     their "Labor of Love
        4.     their "Steadfastness of Hope"

5.     Do Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy have a "prayer life"?
A.     The fact that the always mention and/or remember the Thessalonians would indicate that they always prayed. They prayed for their converts and their churches on a regular basis and with much intensity about their wellbeing both physical and Spiritural.

6.     What does the semi-colon mean at the end of this phrase
A.     The semi-colon introduces a list or an item in a list. See the end of verse 2, 4, middle of 5, and the period ending verse 5.

We give thanks, in our prayers; knowing His choice for you as laborers; In His power; just as we have proved to be, for Him, toward you.

Chapter 1, Verse 3

1:3    constantly bearing in mind your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ in the presence of our God and Father,


1.     How often
A.     "Constantly," however this is a word like "always," and "all" they are indicative of intent and somewhat dependant upon context. "Bearing in mind," is in the present tense - Paul wants his readers to bear in mind now, now, now, always now. The thought is that Paul and the his companions probably had a list of "prayer concerns" that they used in their everyday prayer life. When they had the opportunity and time they prayed for those on the list and others as they came to mind. Those who were written upon the list would be in the "constantly" category. That did not mean that everyone on the list was prayed for every time they prayed - but that was their intention, those on the list were "almost always" prayed for and it was their intention that those on the list were constantly being "remembered." Constantly remembering, constantly recalling, and constantly recollecting.

2.     Why do the translators use the phrase "bear in mind" here?
A.     The translators here used "bear in mind" (and idiomatic expression) as a way of translating "remembering," or "being mindful" (a mind full of them). It was their intention to describe the act of "bearing one another" before the Lord - holding them up, holding up the weight of their difficulties, persecutions, and problems - as well the context of the three areas mentioned later in the verse (faith, love, and hope).

3.     What does the term "bear in mind" bring to the table for the translator that "remembering" does not?
        (hint: "but, bear in mind that....)
A.     "Bear in mind" usually follows a statement that needs to be intensified. Example: "The pastor preached an in-depth presentation of the Gospel this morning, and bear in mind that he had been ill all the week before." So here Paul is the Thessalonians of his prayers for them and intensifying his meaning by including their works of faith, love, and hope.


1.     Why "your"
A.     Seems like a simple thing, however we must remember to pay attention to all the words. Here Paul is stressing that his prayers concern THEM, and specifically THEIR work of ....

2.     What is a "work"
A.     "That which one undertakes to do," "the product (not the labor) accomplished by hand, art, industry, or mind."

3.     See: Romans 3:20; Romans 7:5; Galatians 2:16 and comment on the value of the "works" of the Mosaic Law.

Romans 3:20 - the work of the Law produces the knowledge of sin
Romans 7:5 - the work of our sinful passions bears the fruit for death
Galatians 2:16 - the work of the Law does not produce justification

Discussion - This is not what this verse is talking about!

Romans 3:27 - Boasting is excluded (as a way to get to heaven), by the Law of Faith (as opposed to the Law of Moses).
Galatians 2:15-17 - Justified by the "work of Faith" ... the converse of :17, "Flesh shall be justified by the work of Faith."

 4.     Define "Faith," then tell what that means to you.
A.     1. The assurance of things hoped for
        2. The conviction of things not seen

        Hebrews says that the men of old gained God's approval (made them approachable to God) by the two statements above. The New Testament equates Faith with Belief. Specifically the Assurance of those things of God that we place our hopes upon, and the conviction of those things of God that we have no proof for, yet we know they are true because He says so.

5.     What is a "work of Faith"
A.     Often it is helpful to fully identify who is doing what to whom. Be in the practice of asking all the right questions so that you can be definite in your mind when it comes time to "comment" or consider things like doctrine based on a verse. Make sure you know all the who, what, where, when, how's there are to know first.

6.     How does one "work" - "Faith" and have God honor it
A.     #2 of this phrase above gave us the definition of "work," but it is important to discuss all the ramifications of both the word and the concepts of "work." It is important that there is no confusion. All things that are DONE IN and ACCORDING TO GOD'S WILL are "good" works. Because He is in them He gets the glory for them (not we ourselves).

Things that are NOT DONE IN or ACCORDING TO GOD'S WILL are "bad," or "evil" works, not because that are done for the purposes of badness or evil, but they have no ETERNAL PURPOSE, and they have no RELATIONSHIP to God. So the thing done is determined to be good or evil by its relationship to the Will of God.

Feeding starving children, if it is not a directive from God to you, placing your action in the Will of God - becomes a "bad" work. Yet if He requires of you to do it, it is a "good" work. Again, it is not the thing itself, but rather whether or not God is in it with His will.

Some, we know, feed starving children in order to (hopefully) please God that He might be gracious to them and include them in salvation. Some feed starving children because it seems the right thing to do. Both fall into the category of "bad" works because God has not declared it in His will for them. While acts of "goodness" may be "good" for the children, it accomplishes nothing for the "doer."

For the believer it is important to be discerning to know when God is "willing" a task to be "done," and not doing something that He has set aside for you is "sin" because you do not participate in His will, willingly. Paul remembered the Thessalonians, before God, for the product of the Gospel (not the labor) that was produced by their love.

7.     What does the word "and" indicate
A.     Something follows that will ADD to what came first. Know that "And;" semicolons; commas; and colons all have the sense of a list. In the author's mind the thought is not complete until the list is complete.


1.     Why have I inserted the word "Your"
A.     Again we're adding definition to the sentence that can be easily overlooked. In this case we might overlook the fact that it is Paul who is telling the Thessalonians specifically about THEIR labor of love not ours or anyone else's.

2.     Define "Labor"
A.     There are several definitions for "Labor," however the last phrase of this sentence was "work of faith," and here, "labor of love." Textbook definitions for both words are largely the same, but Paul makes a point of using different words (as noted in the English translation). The emphasis on labor versus work, is the picture of a continuing effort that requires diligence and "sweat equity" (that's a modern phrase that is used when a home owner does the hard physical labor while fixing up a house. The work he does creates a greater value in the property - especially since there is no payment made to another for the actual "labor" performed.

3.     What is a "labor of love"
        (deal with each word - "labor;" "of"; "love")
A.     So here we have the "sweat equity" that defines the WAY the Thessalonians "loved" on behalf of the Gospel. They did no "farm it out," they did not hire mercenaries to take the Gospel through out Macedonia and Achaia delivering the Gospel. They went and LABORED themselves for the Gospel.

"OF" indicates that the source, or motivation, of the labor done. Their laboring was motivated by their Love.

"LOVE" indicates that, as we would expect, it is Agape love that motivates laboring for the sake of the Gospel. God motivated love - thankless, selfless, reward-less love. The kind where only God gets the glory for the "work, or labor" done.

4.     In light of Ephesians 5:21 how are we expected to labor in love
A.     5:21 "and submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ." The true definition of love has to include the knowledge that God requires submission to one another. Paul further states in Philippians, "regard each other as better than yourself." Paul remembered the Thessalonians, before God, for their working for the Gospel until fatigued, motivated by their love (agape, selfless and graceful).

5.     What "kind" of love requires work
A.     Love that is hard: Love thy brother as thyself; Love they neighbor as thyself; Love your wife; Love your husband; Love the stranger; Love the unlovely, the ungodly, the smelly, the dirty, the urine soaked, etc.


 1.     Define "Steadfast"
A.     Steadfast here indicates that when all others have moved on - you continue in hope.
        (First define it as well as you can from a dictionary or personal knowledge then...) (The Greek word is "hupo-meno," another of the words that are made up of a prefix and a root. The prefix, "hupo," means "by means of, with a result that," and as a preposition, "behind." The root word is "Meno," which means simply "stay.") HupoMeno then becomes, "to be the one, who when all others flee, is found remaining."

2.     How would you define "hope"
A.     That which I know is true and I place my trust in it.

3.     What is hope for the Christian.
A.     Look up and discuss:

        Ephesians 1:12 (the Apostles); Colossians 1:27 (Christ In You); 1 Peter 1:21 (through Christ you now trust in God, so that your faith and hope are in God); Romans 5:2 (we rejoice in the Hope of God's Glory [His Son Jesus]); Titus 2:13 (the fulfillment of Christ - His appearing). Paul remembered the Thessalonians, before God, for their Clear Hope and Endurance awaiting the "Soon Coming" of their Lord Jesus Christ.


1.     What does "in" imply about those relationships
A.     Inside, in the "sphere of," under the subjection of, baptized by.


1.     Paul moves from "I," to "We," to "you," to "our," Discuss these transitions
A.     Paul alone as himself; Paul and Silvanus and Timothy; The Thessalonian assembly; all of the above!

2.     Based upon this word, who is Paul addressing and what does that mean about the assembly at Thessalonica
A.     The three elements above (faith, hope, love), initially Paul and his companions but now the Thessalonians are joining with them - In the Lord Jesus Christ. They are not INCLUDED IN-CHRIST.


1.     Here's that tricky question... "What does it mean to the believer to have a 'Lord'"
A.     First, there is the definition to be considered. "The relationship of a person or thing to its owner." And, the form of proper address of respect toward the one respected. Mankind tends to think of it as "the power to decide" for the one owned.

2.     What is right and what it wrong with the position of those who teach what many call "Lordship"
A.     In the "Good" column:
        1.     Respect shown toward those who deserve it
        2.     Understanding a position of responsibility and submission

        In the "Bad" column:

        1.     Seeing God as hostile and demanding toward His children
        2.     Using the term as a tool to control power and authority

3.     What motives would some have in taking the "hard" meaning of Lordship, and are they correct in doing so?
A.     When they are in a position of Body leadership (Elder) and have been called upon to ensure proper doctrine and acceptable behavior (send them to the elders). The converse is also true; that a believer is not to be either judge or executioner. That is the business of the Father (and in some cases, the Son). It is never appropriate for a member of the body to judge another member of the body - not even FRUIT INSPECTION. You run afoul of the will of God when you do!

4.     Discuss MOTIVATION for seeking others to submit to "The Lordship of Jesus Christ."
A.     Spiritual motivation - seeing their responsibilities to Christ as part of their need to recognize Him as God, and thus "Lord" in their lives - GOOD.
        Physical motivation - seeing their responsibilities to Christ as "Lord OVER their lives" - EVIL.
        Spiritual motivation is what brings humility and respect before Christ - GOOD.
        Physical motivation drives our inner SELF to place others under submission and control- EVIL.

5.     Discuss other areas of scripture where isolationism of a word or idea affects Christian life
A.     Acts Chapter 2 - the Baptism of the Holy Spirit
        Acts, in general - emphasis upon the Spiritual Gifts
        The dietary laws of the Old Testament
        Each of the various cults of history have taken large (or small) portions of scripture out of context and used it (them) as a basis.

Examples of error:

        Society of Friends (the Quakers) - reliance upon the "inner light" to the exclusion of the Scriptures.
        Latter-Day Saints (the Mormons) - Verses like Luke 23:46, God the Father has a human physical body.
        Jehovah Witness - 1 Peter 3:18, the denial of the physical resurrection of Jesus Christ.
        Many believers - 1 Corinthians 10:13, God will not give you more than your can bear of anything (Context is temptation to sin).

6.     What is the answer to these kinds of church related problems (not cult issues, but church body issues, like judging each other or legalistic attitudes)
A.     A clear reliance on the proper reading and understanding of the scriptures that produce a relationship of love and trust in Jesus Christ and the entire Trinity.


1.     What is significant about being "In someone or something" as compared to being "In the Presence of someone or something?"
A.     Being "in" something (or someone) places you inside them. This can be physical, like the Star-wars character Luke being inside the dead carcass of the Tonton. Most often in the scriptures we find that the phrase means to be "under the power of," "in subjection to," "under the rules of," etc. Being "in" the presence of - places you next to, beside, tangent, near the presence of, but not inside the thing or person.

2.     Who "is in the presence of" and why?
A.     In the context here, It is Paul, and his companions, who PRAY in the presence of God the Father.


1.     What are the implications of Paul's use of "our"
A.     The "our" here relates to Paul, Silvanus, Timothy, and the Thessalonians. Paul places the Thessalonians in the same "sphere" as his companions and himself, as in God, the same God (i.e., the God he serves is the same God they serve). 


1.     Discuss: Who is God
A.     There is only one God, and He is the one of the Scriptures.

3.     Discuss the use of "our God" as we use it
A.     We use the term as inclusive of those who believe, or have believed. It it good to remember, that no mater who they are, if the do no worship God through believing upon Jesus Christ (for righteousness, justification, and salvation) then their god is not the one of the Scriptures.

4.     Why "God" and "Father," what's Paul's point to the Thessalonians
A.     That THIS god, is the one who has revealed Himself as Father. Paul may also be expressing that THIS god, is the one who if the FATHER of Jesus Christ, although the text does not go that far (in this verse).

5.     Why does God represent Himself as "Father"
A.     Leader, Lover, Loyal One, Provider, Our Example, Our Guide, Our Teacher, Our Companion, Our Protector, etc., all things a GOOD Father should be.

6.     What are the implications to the nature of God as He represents Himself as a father
A.     A metaphor for all the things in #6. Mostly the image is that which is a family relationship. The Trinity is all about relationships and we, by extension, are part of that family relationship with God.

"Totally Conjoined" is the term that describes the time when my mind and His mind (The Holy Spirit) are totally joined together without dispute. When this happens you are linked with God, you are truly "In His Presence."

7.     The clause ends with a "," what does that mean
A.     More to come.... (indicates a list).

Chapter 1, Verses :4-5

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.


We give thanks to God always for all of you, making mention of you in our prayers; constantly bearing in mind your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ in the presence of our God and Father, knowing, brethren beloved by God, His choice of you;

1:4    knowing, brethren beloved by God, His choice of you;

1.       What does Paul know and what do the Thessalonians know?
A.       The CHOOSING of God of THEM (Election).

2.       How do they know this?
A.       Generally - they have experienced the results of God's choosing (largely through the enablements of the Holy Spirit)

          Specifically - they understood through revelation (largely through the miraculous authentication of the teaching of the Apostles and other writers of Scripture, those who wrote, and those who preached this new revelation) enabled by the Holy Spirit that:

                   1. "God has a sovereign right to bestow more grace upon one subject than upon another, -- grace being unmerited favor to sinners.

                   Matthew 20:12-15; Romans 9:20-21

                   2. "God has been pleased to exercise this right in dealing with man."

                   Psalm 147:20; Romans 3:1-2; John 15:16; Acts 9:15

                   3. "God has some other reason than that of saving as many as possible for the way in which he distributes His grace."

                   Matthew:21; Romans 9:22-25


And much more - but our discussion here will not cover the entire doctrine of Election.


3.       Connect the preceding facts (1:1-3) and identify how the Thessalonians would be led to the understanding and knowledge that they are chosen of God.
A.       1:1 - Letter address to them as "Church of Thessalonians IN GOD THE FATHER AND THE LORD JESUS CHRIST"

          1:2 - They are the OBJECT of Paul and his companions' "Thanks" to God.


Their understanding of their CHOOSING is made complete through the teaching of Paul and his companions, and the revelation and inner confirmation of the Holy Spirit of God.


1.       What does Paul mean by using the word "brethren"
A.       The Greek word can be translated as brothers, brothers and sisters, or fellow Christians. The plural form, used in common speech of the day, usually meant "brothers and sisters." The word indicates a relationship between people that either is, or is as a blood relationship - family!

2.       What is their special position before God
A.       Beloved! Not just liked or loved, but the root is AGAPE which indicates a love that is selfless and projected or focused upon the one loved rather than self. He loves them for their sake, not what He gets out of the relationship - therefore: He loves you for your sake, not what He gets out of the relationship.

3.       Why - also take a look at 1:5 for a more complete answer
A.       His choice of you (election) is the indicator of His love for you.


1.       Who's choice?
A.       Almighty God, the Great I Am, Elohim - The God of the created universe and all else.

2.       Whom did He choose?
A.       He chose the church at Thessalonica (definition - church=believers). By extension all those who believe.

3.       What is the importance of the phrase "His choice of you"
A.       Paul is stressing that it is God's free choice of "you!" There is nothing that has been accomplished (including the life/death/burial/resurrection of Jesus) and nothing about you that has fostered His choice or you or anyone else.

Ephesians 1:4
"Just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him."

c.p. Romans 9:11 (Esau & Jacob); 2 Thessalonians 2:13-14 (Giving thanks for those saved); Colossians 3:12 (Response to God's calling)

4.       Why did God choose them
A.       It Pleased Him!

5.       Why did God choose you
A.       It Pleased Him!

1:5    for our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction; just as you know what kind of men we proved to be among you for your sake.


1.       Back to the concept of "our" again, is Paul talking about "Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy's" gospel or theirs and the Thessalonians'.
A.       In this instance it is all of the above. The "our gospel" was from the Apostle and his companions then it became the possession of the Thessalonians. At the time of this writing the Gospel had already become "the Thessalonian Gospel." They took ownership of and possessed the Gospel.

2.       Why is Paul differentiating "our gospel," and not just "the gospel"
A.       The Thessalonian church was in the midst of many cultures and philosophies. Paul is making it clear that of the many "gospel's," for all philosophies thought their "news" was "good news" (gospel), the Paul and his companions brought the "good news" of Jesus Christ, Son of God the Father.

3.       What is the content of the Gospel
A.       Please see: 1 THESSALONIANS - ADDENDUM 001 - THE GOSPEL

4.       How did that gospel get to the Thessalonians
A.       While trying to head north-east on his second missionary journey (impeded by the Holy Spirit) Paul had a vision of "a man of Macedonia" standing and appealing to Paul saying, "Come over to Macedonia and help us." This even changed the direction of the journey to north-west and Macedonia. Paul concluded that God had called them to preach the gospel to the Macedonians. Paul's first stop was Philippi, where he was imprisoned for preaching the Gospel and when released headed west (Acts 16). Paul arrived in Thessalonica and preached in the Jewish synagogue. Many Jews were saved as well as a large number of Greeks and "leading women."


1.       What is Paul saying about the manner of the gospel's coming?
A.       1 - They heard the word - not through boasting but through clear teaching
          2 - There was strong evidence of the Power of God upon the preaching
          3 - The Holy Spirit of God brought about evidence of the Gospel
          4 - The preaching by Paul / Sylvanus / Timothy was with their FULL CONVICTION

The meaning of the full statement is that God (present as the Holy Spirit) was totally involved in the presentation of the Gospel to the Thessalonians - they heard the word, and God was present and active in it.

2.       Is Paul saying that the written word of God is not enough?
A.       Yes, and No! Yes, in that the written word of God is just words on paper. No, in that the promises of God are united with those words and His purposes are accomplished through them. It is God who wills and works!

3.       Discuss how did the word of God come in power in this case.
A.       Paul and his companions were men of power, able and courageous. It should be remembered that Paul (et. al.) were recently imprisoned in Philippi and news of their works there may have reached the Thessalonians.

4.       How did the word of God come in the Holy Spirit?
A.       The word of God always gets its power from the Holy Spirit. He is the one who hears, knows the hearer, interacts with the person, brings conviction, and brings conversion according to the will of God.


1.       What does he mean here by "Just As"
A.       Paul is saying that the Thessalonians' knowledge of Paul, and his companions, and their ministry to the Thessalonians was proof enough to know of the Power/Spirit/Conviction of the gospel.

2.       What did the Thessalonians "know" in verse 4
A.       God's choice of them.

3.       Now what should they understand and know about Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy?
A.       As being sent from God, they would be full of Power/Spirit/Conviction in the presentation of the Gospel.

4.       What does Paul mean by "the kind of men we PROVED TO BE"?
A.       Loving, Gospel centered, Evangelistic, Powerful, Caring, Holy Spirit filled and accompanied, Nurturing, etc.

5.       Where was the proving taking place?
A.       The Thessalonians were "proving" the Paul and his companions. You may also say that God was "proving" them to the Thessalonians.

6.       For what purpose was the proving done?
A.       That the Thessalonians (as well as the nation around them) might know that they were sent By God, Accompanied by the Holy Spirit, and intent upon the preaching of the Gospel of Jesus Christ for their salvation and growth.

7.       For who's benefit did Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy labor in this proving process?
A.       The Thessalonians.

Paul & the Apostles
    Full of
        And with "The Word"

In such a manner so that:
    The Thessalonians
        Heard the Word
        New the Word
        Believed the Word
        Echoed the Word
        Went with the Word
        Made effective the Word
        Created testimony by the Word
        Provided witness of the work of the Word



Chapter 1, Verses 6-7

1:6    You also became imitators of us and of the Lord, having received the word in much tribulation with the joy of the Holy Spirit,


1.     The word "also" tells us that something else, previous, affected them, what was that?
A.     Paul is still in the middle of a discussion of the Thessalonians' "reception of the Word" (still listing reasons Paul and his companions pray for them).
        1- their Work of Faith
        2 - their Labor of Love
        3 - their Steadfastness of Hope
        4 - Now, their imitation of the Paul, his companions, and the Lord

2.     Who were the Thessalonians imitating?
A.     The Paul and his companions, and The Lord (Jesus).

3.     According to the context, how do you imitate Paul?
A.     The reception of revelation in both tribulation and the joy of the Holy Spirit.

3.     How do you imitate The Lord?
A.     The context reflects the need for the same answer. It may be hard to imagine, but the God/man Jesus had set aside much of His "God-ness" and placed His reliance upon the Father and the Holy Spirit for much of His earthly life. The human part being taught daily by the revelation of His Father and the Holy Spirit, humiliated in Human form, abused, threatened, beaten and put to death - all with Joy - for the purpose set before Him. The Christian is called to bring forth this Gospel, in the joy of the Holy Spirit, that some might be saved through us.


1.     Discuss the "Parable of the Soils" (Matthew 13:1-23; Mark 4:1-34; Luke 8:4-21)
        (The context does not infer this is a parable about salvation - discuss this as it relates to this verse which is obviously about being in-Christ as a result of receiving the Word of God)
A.     In these verses it should be clear that Jesus is teaching Jews about Jewish KINGDOM relationships and not about rationalizing why some do not get saved and some do.

The context of the Gospels places us into the realm of the Old Testament COVENANT relationship of the Nation of Israel. Under those covenants God makes the promise to HAVE the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (in that order) as a people for His own. There is no guarantee of "salvation" under those covenants to become part of "the Body of Christ." That relationship is reserved for those The Father gives to the Son to become His special possession, through belief upon His Son - during this age (John 17).

The previous ages, becoming a member of God's family (salvation) was also based upon individual faith (through the grace of God) upon the revelation God had given them for that purpose, however, those who came before did not become part of "the Body of Christ." - Again, before the cross... into God's family by Faith, after the cross... into "the Body of Christ" by Faith.  After this age the arrangements of Faith VS Salvation will again be different, but still based upon Faith and the requirements of that age.

Therefore the "parable of the soils" is about "Kingdom" relationships of the Jews and their personal reception of the Word of God.

In the setting of the Kingdom, the parable is about how people in a covenant relationship with God respond to the presentation of the Word of God. Some receive God's word with joy, some receive it and then fall away, some never receive it, but the issue is what they do with the Word of God.

In the setting of the Church age, the building of the Body of Christ, the issues of the reception of the Word are the same. Many hear with joy, some receive it and fall away, some never receive it. What is different? Nothing. That is nothing ... unless you try to impose SALVATION as being equal to receiving the scriptures as the Word of God.


        Old Testament - Salvation based upon the individual's Faith as presented by the Word of God as presented by the existing scriptures and the revelation of the prophets, and always based upon the grace of God.

        New Testament - Salvation based upon the individual's Faith as presented by the Word of God as presented by the existing scriptures, always based upon the grace of God, and being CALLED members of the Body of Christ as determined before the foundations of the world by the Father (given to the Son), with the clear and evident SEALING PRESENCE of the Holy Spirit of God.

        In either case - the parable speaks of what Jews did then, and what people do now, when they encounter the scriptures.

Some love it, apart from salvation.

Some like it, some like it for a while, some disdain it, apart from salvation.

It is what men and women do with Jesus Christ that determines salvation. Obviously loving God's word should lead to a life that encounters Jesus Christ for that decision, however, even if they love the book and never meet the Savior that is no guarantee of salvation. Similarly those who have no interest in the book may still encounter, entertain, and believe Jesus the Son of God, and believe.

Remember, the parable is about the KINDS OF PEOPLE who encounter God's Word.

SIDE STUDY: Death and the Body of the believer

(Read and Discuss)

PARADISE (Chafer, Lewis Sperry, Systematic Theology, Dallas Theological Seminary, 1973, IV. p 247-8)

In Greek the meaning of the term Paradise is 'garden' or 'park,' and so it can be used of Eden in the LXX (cf. Gen. 13: 10; Isa. 51:3; Ezek. 28:13; 31:8-9). The word is found three times in the New Testament (Luke 23:43; 2 Cor. 12:4; Rev. 2:7).

The Jewish teaching made paradise that part of Hades (Sheol) which was reserved for the blessed. An illustration of this belief is given by Christ in the account of the rich man and Lazarus (Luke 16:19-31).

Paradise is now, and located where Christ sits enthroned (2 Cor. 12:4), the third heaven. Revelation 2:7 promises, as opposed to the theory that would deny consciousness to the departed at present: "To him that overcomes will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God."

For the present abode of the spirits of departed believers, see 2 Corinthians 5:8 and Philippians 1:23.

2 Corinthians 5:8 (NASB)
8 we are of good courage, I say, and prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord.

Philippians 1:23 (NASB)
23 But I am hard-pressed from both directions, having the desire to depart and be with Christ, for that is very much better;

 For the present abode of the bodies of departed believers, see Romans 8:23; 1 Corinthians 15:35-57; Philippians 3:20-21.

        Romans 5:8 (NASB)
 8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

1 Corinthians 15:35-57 (NASB)
35 But someone will say, “How are the dead raised? And with what kind of body do they come?”

36 You fool! That which you sow does not come to life unless it dies; 37 and that which you sow, you do not sow the body which is to be, but a bare grain, perhaps of wheat or of something else. 38 But God gives it a body just as He wished, and to each of the seeds a body of its own.

39 All flesh is not the same flesh, but there is one flesh of men, and another flesh of beasts, and another flesh of birds, and another of fish. 40 There are also heavenly bodies and earthly bodies, but the glory of the heavenly is one, and the glory of the earthly is another. 41 There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for star differs from star in glory.

42 So also is the resurrection of the dead.
It is sown a perishable body, it is raised an imperishable body;
43 it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory;
it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power;
44 it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body.

If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. 45 So also it is written, “The first man, Adam, became a living soul.” The last Adam became a life-giving spirit. 46 However, the spiritual is not first, but the natural; then the spiritual. 47 The first man is from the earth, earthy; the second man is from heaven. 48 As is the earthy, so also are those who are earthy; and as is the heavenly, so also are those who are heavenly. 49 Just as we have borne the image of the earthy, we will also bear the image of the heavenly.


The Mystery of Resurrection
50 Now I say this, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.

51 Behold, I tell you a mystery;

we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed, 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.

53 For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality. 54 But when this perishable will have put on the imperishable, and this mortal will have put on immortality, then will come about the saying that is written, “Death is swallowed up in victory. 55 O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” 56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law; 57 but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Sheol as declared in Old Testament speech and Hades as in New Testament represent the abode of the departed spirits of unregenerate mankind.

When stoned to death at Lystra, though the time element cannot be finally established, Paul was caught up to paradise - the third heaven, but afterwards was not permitted to recount what he saw or heard. Nevertheless he wrote this much about it: "To depart and to be with Christ . . . is far better" (Phil. 1:23).

Philippians 3:20-21 (NASB)

20 For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ; 21 who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself.


What happens to the believer's body upon physical death?

(It becomes a "seed" for the resurrection body. [1 Cor. 15:36-38])

What happens to the believer's spirit upon the physical death of the body?
("Absent from the body - Present with Christ, which is far better. [Phil. 1:23])

Where is the physical body of the dead believer?
(Depends upon the manner of death, however at death the physical body becomes the "seed" for the resurrection body. The Bible does not say "how" that seed is stored but that it will be resurrected in glory and power and reunited with its spirit in the presence of Christ. It does not say that your current body will be reconstituted in this process, only that your current body becomes a "seed" for resurrection to a new and glorious body.


1.     Discuss the historical background concerning Thessalonica, the state of the world around them at the time, and the presentation of the Gospel by Paul and his fellow laborers and how that relates to our place in the world today

(Paul uses the word "tha-lip-this" (tribulation / affliction). Consider that this is one of Paul's very first epistles with a church full of new Christians - not far removed from the Resurrection of Christ and comment on their expectations of the immediate days ahead (hint: they are worried later in the book about the rapture and leaving their dead friends and families behind)).


1.     Discussion:
They received the Word of God with the Joy of the Holy Spirit. Why is Paul spending time contrasting "tribulation" with "Joy of the Spirit" (see Chapter 2:1-4 where Paul continues on this theme and introduces the dangers of "men pleasers" as well)?

 2.     Discuss the Joy of Jesus in the Spirit of God (Hebrews 12:2) and then relate it to the Thessalonians.

1:7    so that you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia.


Q.     What does the term "so that" mean and what elements from the previous verses are the main ideas that need a "so that" as a result.


1.     Who became an example?
A.     The Thessalonian believers.

2.     An example of what?
A.     His Choice of you, you became imitators of Christ, Paul, and his companions. You did all this amidst much tribulation, you did all this with much joy.


1.     Who has become the example?
A.     The believers at Thessalonica.

2.     Who are the benefactors of their example?
A.     The believers and the people of Macedonia and Achaia.

3.     How many of these people?
A.     ALL.


Chapter 1, Verses 8-10

1:8    For the word of the Lord has sounded forth from you, not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place your faith toward God has gone forth, so that we have no need to say anything.


1.     What does the word "For" signify?
A.     The reason or means for knowing that they have become examples.


1.     Specifically what does this phrase mean?
A.     The speaking forth of God's revelation (new revelation from Paul and his companions, the remembrance of the words of Christ, and the words of the Old Testament).

2.     How is it generally used in our age?
A.     Typically it refers to the Old and New Testaments, without the apocrypha or other extra-biblical writings.

Those denominations of Christianity who choose to value some extra-biblical writings as equal to or more important than the Old and New Testaments. Those who do not believe that the canon of scripture, as approved by church council, is the very inspired, true and authentic word of God look to man as the final authority as to interpretation, application, and belief.

Those denominations of Christianity who view the scriptures as the very word of God, God breathed, authentic, without error in the original manuscripts, and plenary (contains all that God wished to reveal for faith and practice), look to the scriptures themselves for interpretation, and the influence of the Holy Spirit for application of His word. They believe that what God has revealed, the authentic authors have written, are all that is necessary for faith and practice under the guidance of God's Holy Spirit.


The word "sounded" has meanings that show ideas like "Echo" and "Broadcast." We often hear the expression (although becoming archaic) "sounded forth like a brass cymbal." The ideas presented all have to do with dispersal or dissemination. I like the idea of the echo. The Word of the Lord came from God, through the Holy Spirit to Paul. Paul echoed that Word to the Thessalonians and they, in turn, echoed the Word to others.

Grammatically, the verb is perfect and passive. Perfect means that this "Echoing" started sometime in the past (anytime in the past including just before the "now" of Paul's writing) and its effects continue from then on into the future. This grammar indicates that the transmission of the Word of God was both effective (the Word was heard, believed, and then spoken to others) and efficient (the Word required no other resources to accomplish this).

Paul is here giving the Thessalonians his approval for their "work of faith," "labor of love," and "steadfastness of hope" (cp. Thessalonians 1:3).


It is interesting that Paul mentions Macedonia and Achaia together. This is probably just the least clumsy way of giving them praise in so large an area. Paul is boasting in them but does not want to over boast, like, "Not only in Macedonia, and not just Achaia, but ...." So Paul pulls Macedonia and Achaia into one phrase. From space these two areas occupy a very tiny part of the earth. But from Paul's perspective, down on the land itself - on foot, horse, donkey, cart, etc. - this is hundreds of miles and thousands of square miles where the Thessalonians have been effective stewards of the Word of God.

Here's the mileage (line of sight):

Philippi to Thessalonica - Approx. 85 miles

Thessalonica to Achaia - Approx. 170 miles (Sebastian to Jacksonville via 95) or (Sebastian to Ocala via Orlando)

Friends of ours (here in Sebastian) mentioned the good works of a church in Jacksonville and invited us to their home to fellowship with believing visitors from Jacksonville. We learned of the works of their church and they learned of our works as well. Of course that's in our day and age when transportation takes only a few hours. For the Thessalonians it took many long journeys to establish works as far away as Achaia - remembering that Paul's first visit to them was at the beginning of this first missionary journey (probably fairly early in the first journey, AD 45) and now as Paul writes from Corinth on his second missionary journey (52 AD), all this had been accomplished in less than 7 years - when everyone walked or rode a donkey. But wait - much more was accomplished in this time...

BUT ALSO in every place
Your Faith toward God

Has gone forth so that we have no need to say anything.

Here Paul goes on to tell of their remarkable ministry in both terms of content and effective coverage. The content was the very Word of God, being "thrust forward" by means of their faith. Not just their faith for many are motivated by a faith in their message or product, but by the Thessalonian faith expressed toward God. It was their willingness to please Him that drove them.

It is also important to note that their faith toward God went forth "every place," probably meaning that everywhere Paul went on his journeys he heard of the work of the Thessalonians. Even in our day it is seldom that we hear of a specific church's work and faith toward the Lord. Most often we hear those who have the money to use radio and television to spread the gospel - but far rarer to hear of a simple local church that has a world wide influence and ministry.

1:9    For they themselves report about us what kind of a reception we had with you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve a living and true God,

Continuing on the same subject Paul tells the Thessalonians that distant churches are talking about how Paul and Silas were treated when they ministered in Thessalonica. They also told Paul of how the Thessalonians heard the message of the Gospel, turned to God and away from Idols. The statement is intensified by the report that they had done this and were now SERVING the living and true God.

We also observe that those who reported understood that the god they served was The Living and True God. Living - He is "alive and well," and continuously active. He is the ONLY god, there are many "posers," but only One True God.

1:10  and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, that is Jesus, who rescues us from the wrath to come.

This verse is loaded with information.

First, information about Jesus

        His timing - They were waiting for Him to return
        His Person - They recognized that Jesus was The Son of God
        His abode - They were expecting Him to come from Heaven
        His qualification - They recognized that Jesus was the one whom God had fulfilled all promises and found Him satisfactory (Propitiated, Propitiation) as the one sent to fulfill those promises and as a result raised Him from the dead to live forever.
        His mandate - They expected that Jesus would COME and remove (rescue) His people.
        His purpose - They recognized that God had revealed that wrath was in store for those who would not believe.
        His desire - They recognized that God had done all this in order to SAVE those who would believe.
        His program - They recognized the God fulfilled His promises and warnings. God would be full of wrath toward those who denied Him, and that WRATH WILL COME.