Day 325 – Thru the Bible
Today we begin First Thessalonians. Here is the overview video.
Video – Read Scripture: First Thessalonians
How does this video help you understand First Thessalonians better?
1 Thessalonians 1 – The apostle Paul was not put off by the reality that he was ministering to an imperfect church. He focused instead on the understanding that he was writing to the redeemed body and promised bride of Jesus Christ. Thus, each of his letters opens with a benediction (a “good word”). is no exception.
Paul begins this letter with grace, and he also concludes it with grace (5:28). God’s grace is the foundation and fountain of the Gospel message, and an underlying theme of Paul’s letters to the Thessalonians (5:23–24; 2 Thessalonians 1:12; 2:16). This grace had produced in the Thessalonians a steadfast hope in Jesus on account of the steadfastness of Jesus. This hope sustained the Thessalonian Believers in their work of faith and labor of love (2 Thessalonians 3:5).
Furthermore, God established the reason for their hope in His own sovereign work, having loved them, chosen them, and called them by the external call of the Gospel through Paul’s preaching and the internal call of the Gospel in power and in the Holy Spirit. Having received the Gospel of Jesus by the calling of the Holy Spirit in accord with the Father’s sovereign plan, the Thessalonians became imitators of the apostles and a reflection of Jesus. Our reflecting Jesus is a natural consequence of the Holy Spirit’s work in us. We seek, trust, pursue, and reflect Jesus because He sought, found, pursued, and rescued us. Thus Paul rejoices in the Thessalonians’ faithfulness as they serve as an example to Believers, sound forth the word of the Lord, possess a faith that goes forth everywhere as a shining light to a dark world, show generous hospitality, and serve the living and true God, having repented and turned from serving idols.
The Thessalonians know the Gospel and live faithfully in light of it to such a degree that Paul admits that he and his companions “need not say anything.” The Thessalonians’ faith shines so brightly that people everywhere know who they are and the truth of the word they proclaim. From the very beginning, even amid much affliction, the Thessalonian church has been a gospel-centered church, reflecting the light of Jesus and the Gospel with the joy of the Holy Spirit and awaiting the return of the risen Jesus who “delivers us from the wrath to come.” The Gospel story of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection culminates in our final deliverance from the wrath of God (5:9). First Thessalonians is a message of good news from start to finish!
How does your life reflect Jesus in community with other Believers?
1 Thessalonians 2 – The Gospel is a glorious announcement, a message of Good News to be proclaimed to all nations. It takes boldness to declare news, especially news that initially offends sinners, but Paul’s boldness is not a self-generated confidence. Instead, it is a confidence that is from God and in God. As Paul explained to the Corinthian church, we are not “sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God” ( Corinthians ). Our boldness in proclaiming the Good News about what God has accomplished through Jesus comes from God’s sufficiency and strength, not our own. God-reliance rather than self-reliance is indeed a principle at the very heart of the Gospel, for this is the very reflex of the heart that trusts in Jesus’ righteousness rather than its own.
Considering the conflict that Paul and his companions encountered while preaching the Gospel at Philippi (Acts 16:19–24), Paul wants to make it clear that just as the Gospel they preach does not come from mere humans, nor are they motivated in their ministry by a desire for human approval (Galatians 1:10). Apostolic messengers are servants of God, entrusted with the Gospel of God and having the primary aim of God’s approval. God does not evaluate faithfulness based on outward appearance; He sees our hearts (1 Samuel 16:7). In the face of conflict or opposition, God calls His people to stand firm in faith (Isaiah 7:1–9) because God’s promises are sure, His Gospel is His power unto salvation, and His Word never returns empty but always accomplishes His sovereign intent. It is precisely for these reasons that Paul will not compromise the content of the Gospel. He never tried to deceive the Thessalonians with words of flattery or with any other message that would be a pretext for gaining money, fame, or glory from people, or to advance his own power over people.
When we trust God and His Gospel to do the powerful work God promises, our Gospel ministry will never be in vain, for while we are responsible to plant and water, God brings the increase according to His own plan and timing (1 Corinthians 3:5–9). Moreover, we will not feel the need to deceive, make demands, or be belligerent. On the contrary, we will feel the freedom to be gentle and respectful in our declaration and defense of the Gospel (1 Peter 3:15).
Although Paul sought to glorify God and not man, he also understood the importance of living in a Christlike way before the eyes of the watching world. When we live as reflections of Jesus (1 Thessalonians 1:6), manifesting the powerful work of the Holy Spirit within our hearts, we will not live hypocritically but authentically. This is why Paul exhorts, encourages, and charges the Thessalonian Believers as a loving father and nursing mother to walk in a manner worthy of the God who has called us into His own kingdom and glory. Remembering this is done by the Spirit of Jesus within us and not in our own power.
How do you remember that you are empowered to love those around you and trust God to transform you and them?
What other thoughts or questions does today’s video and reading bring up?
Some of these notes are from the ESV Gospel Transformation Bible study notes. We highly recommend this study Bible.
Videos produced by www.TheGospelProject.com.
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