Setting

Paul and his fellow workers are always filled with thanks to God for the Thessalonians whenever they think of them in their prayers. Although the church in Thessalonica was established in the midst of afflictions, it was a dynamic church. In fact, it has become an example for all the other churches.

Key Verse

(1:3)

Did You Know...?

  1. Silvanus (1:1) is another name for the Silas of Acts.
  2. Thessalonica (1:1) was an important port city on the Egnatian Way, which was the principal east-west trade and military route between Rome and Asia minor. It became the capital of the province of Macedonia in 148 B.C.
  3. Macedonia and Achaia (1:7) were the two Roman provinces in Greece.

Outline

  • Salutation
    (1:1)
  • Thanksgiving and Prayer
    (1:2-5)
  • Serving as Examples to Other Believers
    (1:6-10)

General Analysis

  • 1.

    According to this passage, state in general terms the characteristics of an effective believer.

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    1. He is diligent (3).

    2. He is an imitator of the Lord and of the ministers of the gospel (6)

    3. He stands firm on the word of God and rejoices in the Holy Spirit in
    the face of afflictions (6)

    4. His example of faith serves as a living testimony (7-10).

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Segment Analysis

  • 1:1

    1.

    Paul acknowledges Silvanus and Timothy in the salutation even though he is the author of the epistle. What does this say about Paul?

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    He recognizes them as partakers of the work of the gospel and respects them as his fellow workers. To him, his work is a collective effort rather than a personal accomplishment.

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  • 2.

    “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” These are the typical words of Paul’s opening greetings. What does this greeting mean, and why is it important?

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    “Grace” refers to unmerited divine favor, through which God gives believers the free gift of eternal life. After our conversion, God’s grace continues to benefit us in many ways, including more tangible blessings such as healing, deliverance from trouble, and the gifts of the Holy Spirit, or the less tangible, such as forgiveness of sins, comfort and strength from the Holy Spirit, divine preservation, faith, and love.

    “Peace” refers to confidence before God that comes from a reconciled relationship with God through Jesus Christ. It also denotes the inner peace in Jesus Christ in the midst of trying circumstances.

    Grace and peace are precious gifts that God has promised to believers, and they can only come from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Thus, these words of greeting are a benediction and a prayer for continual divine favor.

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  • 1:2-5

    3.

    What can we learn from verses 2-3 about the duty and the heart of a faithful minister of the gospel?

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    He always remembers the believers he ministers to and offers thanksgiving and prayers on their behalf.

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  • 4.

    Paul speaks of the visible fruits of the three essential Christian qualities in the Thessalonians. Record these and explain how each relates to its corresponding quality: a. Faith; b. Love; c. Hope:

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    a. Faith: Work of faith. A believer who has true faith in the Lord will do what the Lord commands.

    b. Love: Labor of love. A believer who has love will willingly endeavor and make sacrifices for the good of others.

    c. Hope: Patience of hope. A believer who hopes for the promises of God and the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ will wait patiently and persevere to the end.

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  • 5.

    To whom does Paul attribute the qualities of the Thessalonians?

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    From the following we can see that Paul attributes the qualities to God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ:
    1. He gives thanks to God when he remembers their diligence (2).
    2. He states that these qualities and their fruits are “in our Lord Jesus Christ.” In other words, it is only in the Lord Jesus Christ that these are possible (3).
    3. He knows that they have such qualities because of God’s election (4).

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  • 1:2-5

    6.

    List and explain the criteria of effective preaching as found in verse 5.

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    1. In word—This is the most basic means through which the gospel reaches the hearer (cf. Rom 10:14). The preacher must explain the word of God clearly so as to lead the listener to the faith.
    2. In power—Through divine acts, such as miraculous signs and wonders, God confirms the message of the gospel so that the hearers of the gospel submit to Christ (Mk 16:20; Acts 6:8; Rom 15:18-19; 2Cor 10:3-5; Heb 2:3-4).
    3. In the Holy Spirit—The Holy Spirit gives power, boldness, and wisdom to the preacher of the gospel (Lk 12:12; Acts 1:8; 4:31; 6:10; Rom 15:19).
    4. In much assurance—The preacher of the gospel must firmly believes in his message and has deep rooted faith in the Lord Jesus. Then he will not be ashamed of the gospel (2Tim 1:12) and will convince his hearer that the message is trustworthy. Such conviction comes from personal experience (Acts 4:20; 1Jn 1:1-2).
    5. Personal conduct (“as you know what kind of men we were among you for your sake”)—The preacher’s conduct speaks volumes about the message he preaches. His good deeds and transformed life are a powerful testimony that can win the listener over (Acts 11:24; Tit 2:9- 10; 1Pet 2:12; 3:1,15-17)

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  • 1:6-10

    7a.

    Under what circumstance did the Thessalonian believers receive the word? What does this say about them?

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    They received the word in much affliction. This indicates that they had a strong conviction and a genuine faith in the Lord.

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  • 7b.

    What attitude did they have toward their circumstance? What made this attitude possible?

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    They were able to have joy in their affliction, and this joy came from the Holy Spirit.

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  • 7c.

    Recall such kind of experience when you went through afflictions in your life for the sake of faith.

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  • 1:6-10

    8.

    Note the words “became followers” (or “imitators”) in verse 6 and “became examples” in verse 7. What can we learn from the Thessalonians about Christian growth?

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    As followers of the Lord Jesus Christ, we need to imitate the Lord as well as those who imitate Him so that we can become like Christ (Mt 11:29; 1Cor 11:1; Php 4:9; 1Jn 3:2-3). As we gradually grow to be more mature through imitating the Lord, we can become examples to other believers so as to motivate them to grow spiritually. Therefore, the ultimate goal of our personal growth is to let others see the Lord Jesus in us so that they may also draw near to Him.

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  • 9a.

    What two things spread from the Thessalonians?

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    The word of the Lord and their faith toward God (8).

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  • 9b.

    List and explain the criteria of effective preaching as found in verse 5.

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    We need to actively share the gospel so that all those around us may hear the word. While doing so, we also need to be examples to those who hear the gospel. If we stand firmly in the faith and bear fruits in our Christian walk, our example will be a testimony to the word of God and will help strengthen others’ faith.

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  • 1:6-10

    10.

    According to verses 9 and 10, what were the three important parts of the Thessalonian believers’ conversion?

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    1. Turning to God from idols (9).
    2. Serving the living and true God (9).
    3. Waiting for the Son of God from heaven (10).

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  • 11.

    How does verse 10 help explain the meaning of salvation?

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    We were under God’s wrath because of our former rebellion and were bound for judgment and condemnation. But our Lord Jesus died for our sins and was raised to life by God’s power. Through faith in the Lord Jesus, who has paid for our sins, we are delivered from God’s wrath and will be brought to His eternal kingdom when the Lord comes again. This is our hope of salvation.

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