If we can know anything about
the church of the Thessalonians, we learn that Paul was proud of
their service to God. Throughout his first letter to the brethren
in Thessalonica, Paul constantly praised them even while
admonishing them to grow in Christ. In fact, his opening words to
the Thessalonians declared his thanks to God for them as a church
of Christ. He was thankful for three reasons: their work of faith,
their labor of love and their steadfastness of hope in Jesus
Thessalonians had been idolaters before Paul preached there (I
Thessalonians 1:9). However, they turned to God and Paul
was grateful for their reception of the Gospel.
that is mentioned here means conviction. In context of the Gospel
of Christ and this letter, the Thessalonians had been convicted of
Jehovah God and Jesus, His Son and the Holy Spirit. They had been
convicted that idolatry was wrong and Judaism was obsolete. They
were convicted of the one church and body of Christ. They were
convicted of God’s plan of salvation.
conviction produced work, which is defined business or employment.
The Thessalonians were involved in a work together, the natural
outpouring of their conviction in Jesus Christ. This tells us
something. True faith in Christ and His Word produces action in
our lives. If there is no action, then there is no faith (James
did their faith produce?
the individual working of each member to serve Christ morally in
their daily lives. II
Peter 1:5 demonstrates as Christians we are to add to our
faith virtue or moral excellence. Paul gives a good bit of
instruction to the Thessalonians regarding their personal daily
service to Christ throughout the book, note especially chapters
4 & 5.
the work of maintaining doctrinal purity as mentioned in II
Thessalonians 2:15. The reason for this is clear from II
John 9-10. If the church did not maintain the pure
teaching of Christ, they no longer had Christ.
working together to strengthen the body of Christ. As example,
Paul commanded the Thessalonians to comfort one another (I
Thessalonians 4:18). This entails building up the church
just as Paul taught in Ephesians
teaching the Gospel of Christ (I
Thessalonians 1:8). This is one of the major products of
conviction in Jesus. When we really believe the Gospel of Christ,
we are going to tell others about it so they can also be saved.
point of application is to note that a church is not a place we
go. A church is a group of people with whom we work based on
common faith in Christ.
“agape” translated “love” means unconditional love. One
that is not based on what others have done for us, but rather
loving for the same reason God loves: Because He is love (I
John 4:8). Secondly, we also understand this love is not
just a feeling, but an action. It is doing what is best for the
translated “labor” refers to “intense labor with trouble and
toil.” This is more than work, this is working through hardship.
Who did they
Thessalonians loved Jehovah God. They had been idolaters but had
turned to God fully (I
Thessalonians 1:9). II
John 6 demonstrates that loving God means keeping His
Thessalonians 4:1 shows that the Thessalonians were
already walking according to the instruction they had received.
Thessalonians loved their brethren in the congregation and
elsewhere in the world. I
Thessalonians 4:9-10 explains that the Thessalonians had
excelled in their love for other brethren throughout all
Macedonia. Exactly how they had demonstrated that love is not
revealed. However, we can guess that they had demonstrated love
when Christians from other places had visited Thessalonica.
Secondly, they had probably extended a benevolent hand to
Christians in other places who found themselves in need.
Thessalonians loved non-Christians, which is evident by the fact
that the word was being sounded forth from Thessalonica to many
other places (I
Thessalonians 1:8). After all, what greater thing can we
do for people than teach them the saving Gospel.
in their love for these three different groups, the Thessalonians
had endured toil and trouble. It wasn’t always easy to love God,
their brethren and those in the world. But they endured the toil
and trouble and labor because of their love.
of hope in Christ Jesus.
Thessalonians had a hope in Jesus Christ. I
Thessalonians 1:10 describes their hope that Jesus would
return and rescue them from the wrath to come. Paul also taught
them that even if they died, they would be raised to meet the Lord
on the final day (I
It is in II
Thessalonians 1:5-10 that Paul describes the wrath that is
going to be outpoured on the world. It is a wrath that each and
every person who has ever lived to the age of accountability,
except Jesus, deserves (Romans
3:23). However, Jesus died and was resurrected so people
would not have to suffer this wrath. The scripture was revealed so
every man can know how to escape the wrath to come. The
Thessalonians had a hope that they would not face this wrath,
because they had faith and love.
understand what this hope is. It is not just wishful thinking like
people who hope a distant rich relative will give them a million
dollars. This hope is the confident expectation of the promises of
God based on the evidence which has given rise to our faith and
love. We are not wishfully thinking we will be saved and go to
heaven. We are waiting for the day, knowing that it is going to
But what is
this steadfastness of hope of which Paul spoke? The term
translated steadfastness (patience, KJV) refers to “the
characteristic of a man who is not swerved from his deliberate
purpose and his loyalty to faith and piety by even the greatest
trials and sufferings.” These Thessalonians continued
their faith and love despite the fact that they had suffered
because of it. I
Thessalonians 3:4 says Paul had warned the Thessalonians
they would suffer affliction and that indeed they had. II
Thessalonians 1:4 mentions the Thessalonian perseverance
through affliction and persecution.
affliction and persecution was not happening to everyone. It came
upon them because they wanted to live Godly in Christ Jesus (II
Timothy 3:12). They could have stopped the suffering by
simply turning away from God. But they didn’t. Why not? Because
they looked not at the moment, but to the future. They knew, as we
know, the wrath of God is coming on those who do not obey God.
They knew, as we know, that heaven and eternity with God awaits
those who serve Him. They knew, as we know, that what we suffer
here for serving Christ is not worthy to be compared with the
glory that is to be revealed to us and in us in eternity (Romans
8:18). When they endured affliction for Christ, Paul
exhorted them to comfort one another with the reminder that Jesus
will return. Judgment and glory will come (I
What is the application of all this? The Franklin church
needs to be like Thessalonica. We need to conduct ourselves in
such a way that God can be proud of us as Paul was proud of the
Thessalonian church. We must be involved in the work of faith,
labor of love and steadfastness of hope. We must not turn from the
hardship, persecution and rejection that might come in our lives
because of our uncompromising stand for the truth. Instead, we
must steadfastly continue to work and labor because of our hope in
Christ. The only way the church can have this reputation is if
each and every one of us as individuals has this reputation. Do
you steadfastly await the return of Jesus Christ? Can the people
around you see it in your work of faith and labor of love? If so,
then the advice of Paul stands clear for you. Continue in your
worthy walk and excel still more (I
Thessalonians 4:1). If, however, it cannot be seen in your
actions, then I implore you to repent and be convicted that Christ
is coming and work in His kingdom.
to God in the church by Christ Jesus
Church of Christ