1 Paul, and Silvanus, and Timotheus, unto the church of the Thessalonians which is in God the Father and in the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ. 2 We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers; 3 Remembering without ceasing your work of faith, and labour of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the sight of God and our Father; 4 Knowing, brethren beloved, your election of God. 5 For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance; as ye know what manner of men we were among you for your sake. 6 And ye became followers of us, and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Ghost: 7 So that ye were ensamples to all that believe in Macedonia and Achaia. 8 For from you sounded out the word of the Lord not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place your faith to God-ward is spread abroad; so that we need not to speak any thing. 9 For they themselves shew of us what manner of entering in we had unto you, and how ye turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God; 10 And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come.1Thessalonians 1:1-10
Paul begins with a fairly typical greeting. He thanks God for these saints. But he not only gives thanks for them (constantly), but he lifts them up in prayer “remembering them before God.” A pastor is both grateful for his people, and remembers them before God. Their work of faith, labor of love, steadfastness of hope in Christ gave Paul “handles” wherewith to continue to present them (or remember them) before the Father.
Paul then makes a curious statement here in this chapter. He states that he (and Silas and Timothy) know that the Thessalonians are chosen/elect, and he provides the reason as to why he knows these brothers in Thessalonica are chosen (vs4-5). The reason? Their Gospel had come to the Thessalonians not only in word, but in power and with full conviction. In essence, an evidence of election is that not only has the Gospel has been proclaimed in word, and accompanied by the operations of the Holy Spirit. In other words, these Saints were demonstrating a living faith, not a dead orthodoxy.
We are then given a glimpse into how Paul operated in their midst, when he was with them. How did he act? Well, we learn how he acted by seeing how his “pupils” imitated him. They received the word in much affliction. However, even in the midst of the affliction they were full of the joy of the Spirit (v6). The Thessalonians then became examples for other believers. We see here that oftentimes a lot more is caught than is taught. A minister’s teaching cannot be disconnected from his example, and a body of believers cannot simply be hearers of the word, but must also be doers. The believers in Thessalonica are models for receiving the Gospel and then––by living out the Gospel––becoming megaphones for the proclamation of the Gospel both through their testimony of lip and life.
Paul has heard, far and wide, a report of how the Thessalonians received Paul and his message. They turned from idolatry to the living God, and began living in light of Christ’s coming kingdom. This is one of the main reasons for Paul’s letter, to clarify and unfold what waiting for Jesus’ coming would look like. However, we see, in this chapter in particular, the potency of a good example. Paul, Silas, and Timothy taught the Gospel, accompanied it with a good example, which the Thessalonians embraced and imitated, and not the whole region is able to look to them as examples of a godly congregation.