- The Mission to Thessaloniki – Acts 17:1-9.
- Timothy left behind whilst Paul at Athens. Silas at Berea. 1 Thess 3:1-2, 6. Paul alone in Athens.
- Written from Corinth when they regrouped (cf. Acts 18:5)
- Date Written: 49 A.D.
Outline and Key Verses
1-3, The Ministry Modeled and Mimicked
1, Power Modeled and Mimicked, v. 5-6
2, Missionary Methods Modeled and Mimicked, v. 14
3, Doctrine Confirmed, v. 8 (they “stand firm”)
4-5, How to Think and Act as Christians
4:1-12, How to live in antithesis to world, v, 1
4:13-18, How to take comfort from the return of Christ, v.18
5:1-11, How to persevere awake until the return of Christ, v. 6
5:12-22, How to be a church, v.14
5:23-28, The Blessings of the Return of Christ, v. 23
Dual Point of the Book:
- 1-3, To define the missionary methods of the Apostles for future generations
- 4-5, To define the Christian life in this age awaiting the return of Christ
Outline c. 1
1, The Apostolic Missionaries
2-4, Apostolic Dependence on God in Missions Methods
5, The Apostolic Missionary Model
6-10, Imitating the Apostles
Topic: Missionary Methods of the Apostolic Church
Issue: New means that do create movements, but do not have the blessing of the covenant of grace.
Truth: God is sovereign over missions
Point: We must imitate the apostles in having missionary methods that are dependant upon the sovereignty of God
1:1, The Apostolic Missionaries
NAU 1 Thess. 1:1 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.Παῦλος καὶ Σιλουανὸς καὶ Τιμόθεος τῇ ἐκκλησίᾳ Θεσσαλονικέων ἐν θεῷ πατρὶ καὶ κυρίῳ Ἰησοῦ Χριστῷ, χάρις ὑμῖν καὶ εἰρήνη. (1Th 1:1 BGT)
Paul and Silas and Timothy to the church of Thessalonika, by God the Father the by the Lord Jesus Christ. Grace to you and peace.
Review Q: How are these men called “apostles” in 2:6?
2:6, the term apostle used for the cohort of the three men.
A: They are not all Apostles of the Lord Jesus, as Paul is a witness of the resurrection, but they are apostles in the sense that they were sent by the church in Antioch on mission.
>>>The Latin word missio is the root word translation of the the Greek word group for apostellomai.
>>>This is from where we get our term missionary.
>>> This gives us our topic of the book, a model missionary work in Thessalonika
Topic: Missionary Model of the Apostles for the Post Apostolic Church
2-4, Apostolic Dependence on God in Missions Methods
2 Εὐχαριστοῦμεν τῷ θεῷ πάντοτε περὶ πάντων ὑμῶν μνείαν ποιούμενοι ἐπὶ τῶν προσευχῶν ἡμῶν, ἀδιαλείπτως (1Th 1:2 BGT)
We offer thanks to God always for all off you, remembering (parallel ptc) you while making mention in our prayers, constantly.
3 μνημονεύοντες ὑμῶν τοῦ ἔργου τῆς πίστεως καὶ τοῦ κόπου τῆς ἀγάπης καὶ τῆς ὑπομονῆς τῆς ἐλπίδος τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ ἔμπροσθεν τοῦ θεοῦ καὶ πατρὸς ἡμῶν, (1Th 1:3 BGT)
Remembering your faithful work [attibutive] and loving labor (attributive) and persevering hope [attibutive] of our Lord Jesus Christ [applies to all previous phrases] before our God and Father [they did all with an eye to serving God- the true ethic is to do what is right with the goal of a mind in service to God throug Christ].
Q: To whom do the missionaries credit the work, labor and hope?
A: God the Father
Q: How would prayer support this view that they relied upon God?
A: Missions is the activity of God and we pray for God to act.
>>>Prayer is the act based on the reality of God’s providence.
Q: What if our missionary activities did not rely upon God? What would they look like? If Jesus gave us the mission, but no guarantee of providential success, how would our methods look differently? Would we pray?
Truth: God is Sovereign over missions
Point: Mission activity should all be done in ways consistent with the sovereignty of God to bless with the benefits of the covenant of grace.
Issue: Human methods may work and in general providence we may see the effect of movements done without the blessing of the covenant of grace become very large and influential. But if they do not attend to the means of the keys of the kingdom of the covenant of grace, they will not be the means of that grace, not will they be the means of applying the covenant of works.
Ex: Haunting words of the missionary middle management guy. He told me about a curriculum, “It is working very well, very well.”
>>>> It, working… both words presuppose methods that “work” independantly of the covenant of grace
4 εἰδότες, ἀδελφοὶ ἠγαπημένοι ὑπὸ θεοῦ, τὴν ἐκλογὴν ὑμῶν,
(1Th 1:4 BGT)
Knowing (parallel to main verb euxharistw in v2a), brothers, beloved by God, the election of you. (they did their labor on the basis of the firm basis of the electing love of God the Father through the Lord Jesus Christ, there is no greater motive)
Q: How did Paul know they were elect?
A: By the results of the election were manifest. I.e.,
verse 3, the hope, work, and labor.
And in the repentance and faith in verse 9-10.
***This teaches us that the effects of salvation are helps to our assurance, and others who minister to us. They are not the thing to be trusted, but they help us in the assurance that we are truly Christ’s.
Q: How does election factor into Paul’s missions methods?
A: The same as prayer, it relies in total dependence upon God and the means he appointed for the dispensing of the grace of the covenant of Grace through the foolishness of preaching, prayer, sacrament, fellowship, and speaking the truth in love, family worship, etc.
Segue: This leads us to the next section = about the model of missionaries and mimicking by the Thessalonians.
5, The Apostolic Missionary Model
5 ὅτι τὸ εὐαγγέλιον ἡμῶν οὐκ ἐγενήθη εἰς ὑμᾶς ἐν λόγῳ μόνον ἀλλὰ καὶ ἐν δυνάμει καὶ ἐν πνεύματι ἁγίῳ καὶ [ἐν] πληροφορίᾳ-πολλῇ, καθὼς οἴδατε οἷοι ἐγενήθημεν [ἐν] ὑμῖν δι᾽ ὑμᾶς. (1Th 1:5 BGT)
For our Gospel did not come about unto you in a word only [he shows that they lived as examples of those who carry the message, it was not a bare message without living men who spoke it, Rom 10:11-14], but also [intensification] by power and by the Holy Spirit, and by much full-confidence [attributive: much – polle- intensifies the way the Gospel came with full-confidence- confidence that the Gospel is the truth, way of salvation, and will call men to the Lord], as you know such kind of men we became among you for your sake [the apostolic company came among the Thesalonicans as living examples of the kind of life the Gospel message produces, namely power, the Holy Spirit, and full-confidence. This was for their sake in the sense that it was an example to them, which he below will express that they emulate].
Q: Why would they seek to clarify that the method of the Apostles was not word only? What is so important about that?
A: Because the Word is the means of grace, but also the manner by which it is proclaimed is also important.
>>>God tends to use the preaching of the word that has come home to the minister, been absorbed and internalized by him, and powerfully changed his life, and of which he is aware of the Holy Spirit speaking and commanding him. See Bavink vol 4. 448-449
Ex: John Owen would say, those sermons which most powerfully came through me have been those which most powerfullly come to me.
Ex: OT word for prophetic burden, masa‘. which means that the burden of the word must be allieviated by proclamation.
Q: are these three things (Spirit, Power, Much full conviction) upon the preachers or the people?
A: Upon the preachers, because
2:13, talks about the effect in the people.
The end of the verse says, “What kind of men we proved to be among you.”
***This is often used today to bottle revival in the form of waiting for this special kind of preaching event to happen. That presumes it is on the people. Actually, this is about the way one is supposed to preach.
- 159. How is the Word of God to be preached by those that are called thereunto?
A. They that are called to labor in the ministry of the word, are to preach sound doctrine, diligently, in season and out of season; plainly, not in the enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit, and of power; faithfully, making known the whole counsel of God; wisely, applying themselves to the necessities and capacities of the hearers; zealously, with fervent love to God and the souls of his people; sincerely, aiming at his glory, and their conversion, edification, and salvation.
- 160. What is required of those that hear the word preached?
A. It is required of those that hear the word preached, that they attend upon it with diligence, preparation, and prayer; examine what they hear by the Scriptures; receive the truth with faith, love, meekness, and readiness of mind, as the Word of God; meditate, and confer of it; hide it in their hearts, and bring forth the fruit of it in their lives.
***cf. 1 Corinthians 1:17ff. The Apostle showed that preaching should not work if not done in a socially accepting way – i.e., persuasive words of wisdom/rather than the clear word of the report of the Gospel, not itching ears (which would be the equivalent of preaching health and wealth benefits today because modernists want religion to be pragmatically helpful to society and life). God gives preaching, and this manner kind of preaching, his blessing.
Misunderstanding: Often expositors who are seeking revival will seek to either bottle a formula for revival, or say, that it is in God’s hands, and we just preach the word.
Answer: Both have the same misunderstanding of this verse. They think it is about the people who receive the word in power, and the Holy Spirit, and full conviction. That is not what Paul says. He says the Gospel (content) came i.e, through Paul Silas and Timothy who were fully convicted of it, powerfully changed by it, and in communion with the Holy Spirit who spoke it to them. They were, to use Paul’s words from 1 Corinthians 2, demonstrating the Holy Spirit and power in them to the people who heard.
>>>It is about the manner of preaching by the minister, not just the effect.
2:13 would be an appropriate example of the reception of the people.
6-10, Imitating the Apostles
6 Καὶ ὑμεῖς μιμηταὶ ἡμῶν ἐγενήθητε καὶ τοῦ κυρίου, δεξάμενοι τὸν λόγον ἐν θλίψει πολλῇ μετὰ χαρᾶς πνεύματος ἁγίου, (1Th 1:6 BGT)
And you became imitators [2p] of us and of the Lord [the imitation is following the model of suffering in union and imitation of Christ, 2:2], having received the message in much tribulation with the grace of the Holy Spirit [the Holy Spirit carried them through the initial reception providentially, through his good providence].
- Model/mimick –
- 1:6-7, they mimhths mimic and tupos exemplify the Apostolic model
Q: What did they mimick?
- Answer: see notes on 1:9, the Apostolic eisodos entrance- their “approach” c.f. 2:1
…ὥστε γενέσθαι ὑμᾶς τύπον πᾶσιν τοῖς πιστεύουσιν ἐν τῇ Μακεδονίᾳ καὶ ἐν τῇ Ἀχαΐᾳ. (1Th 1:7 BGT)
…so that you were to become [middle voice infinitive] a pattern for all who believe in Macedonia and Aichaia.
The kind of reception of the Gospel is typical, tupos, of the way Christian churches are to be planted.
Topic: Apostolic Pattern for church planting modeled and mimicked
8 ἀφ᾽ ὑμῶν γὰρ ἐξήχηται ὁ λόγος τοῦ κυρίου οὐ μόνον ἐν τῇ Μακεδονίᾳ καὶ [ἐν τῇ] Ἀχαΐᾳ, ἀλλ᾽ ἐν παντὶ τόπῳ ἡ πίστις ὑμῶν ἡ πρὸς τὸν θεὸν ἐξελήλυθεν, ὥστε μὴ χρείαν ἔχειν ἡμᾶς λαλεῖν τι. (1Th 1:8 BGT)
For from you sounded forth the message of the Lord not only in Macedonia and Aichaia, but in all places your faith which is toward God [that is it was found to the the very message of God learned from Zion- Isa 2:3 And many peoples will come and say, “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, To the house of the God of Jacob; That He may teach us concerning His ways And that we may walk in His paths.” For the law will go forth from Zion And the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.], has gone forth; so that we have no need to speak a thing.
Q: What does “Your faith toward God mean?”
>>>Not just doctrinal faith, that would be the faith, nor just subjective faith, because the message in verses 9-10 is the objective Gospel. So what is the meaning here?
Answer: it refers to the doctrinal faith in which they believe, so it can be rightly called their faith. They trust in that which was proclaimed to them, and they proclaim what they believe.
Q: How does their faith function in the ministry of the church?
Does it mean testimony time?
A: No and yes.
No in the sense of that my life becomes the story you must believe, but
Yes in the sense that we believe the Gospel, thus we proclaim the gospel as our faith, and the resulting change of life it has brought about in us is part of the way we proclaim it.
9 αὐτοὶ γὰρ περὶ ἡμῶν ἀπαγγέλλουσιν ὁποίαν εἴσοδον ἔσχομεν πρὸς ὑμᾶς, καὶ πῶς ἐπεστρέψατε πρὸς τὸν θεὸν ἀπὸ τῶν εἰδώλων δουλεύειν θεῷ ζῶντι καὶ ἀληθινῷ…
(1Th 1:9 BGT)
For they themselves [intensified] report about you what sort of approach [see notes] we had to you [refers to the initial impression left by the Apostles to them and how the church began. There was a tone set when they came and that tone lived on in the life of the Thessalonians, and when they went to new areas they continued that same pattern], and how you turned-around to God from idols in order to serve [doulein+ datives- serve as bond slave, not as minister who is official, but in the devoted and purchased life of one who does the bidding of the master] the living and true God
- Answer: 1:9, the Apostolic eisodos entrance- their “approach” c.f. 2:1
- >>the “approach” was not just a random way but was deliberate method
- >>We use the word “approach” in English not only for the verb for drawing near something, but to the methods one would go by to accomplish something. I take this to mean their approach to ministry.
- Thayer’s Greek Dictionary, “of the act of coming forward to administer an office, Acts 13:24; with πρός τινα added, 1 Thess. 1:9; 2:1.”
Act 14:15 and saying, “Men, why are you doing these things? We are also men of the same nature as you, and preach the gospel to you that you should turn from these vain things to a living God, WHO MADE THE HEAVEN AND THE EARTH AND THE SEA AND ALL THAT IS IN THEM.
…καὶ ἀναμένειν τὸν υἱὸν αὐτοῦ ἐκ τῶν οὐρανῶν, ὃν ἤγειρεν ἐκ [τῶν] νεκρῶν, Ἰησοῦν τὸν ῥυόμενον ἡμᾶς ἐκ τῆς ὀργῆς τῆς ἐρχομένης. (1Th 1:10 BGT)
and to await [infinitive again, follows from v. 9] The Son of Himself from Heaven, whom He raised from the dead, Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath. [The Pauline evangelism was not only to turn men from idols but a sound instruction to the extent that they look for the hope of the coming of christ. This is almost like a merism. They turn in repentance at the initiation of discipleship, and then all that transpires between then and the goal of looking in hope forthe second coming. There is a sounder instruction happening here than in the revivalism many see in this passage]
This is the Apostolic authority, prayer, manner, mimicking, and message of the missionary
1, Authority – by God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ
2-4, Prayer – thanks to God who chose and proved it by their faith love and hope in labor work and perseverance.
5, Manner – Message, Power, Holy Spirit, Confidence
6-8, Mimicking – Imitators of Apostolics and Jesus setting tone for other disciples also
9-10, Message – not only the turning from the idols but the whole Gospel even to the hope fo the coming resurrection of all at Christ’s coming.
Topic: The Apostolic Pattern of Church Planting
Issue: Other church who do not know what tone to set… how to start… method?
Truth: The Lord Elects and Brings His work about through the means he appointed in the covenant of grace (4)
Point: So we must be confident, Holy Spirit communing, and Powerful (v.5) as we speak our faith (8).
This apostolic “manner” sets a tone for the whole mission. The first thing people learn about the missionaries is that they are confident in the Holy Spirit’s power and the election of God for discipleship and making disciples.
The initial pattern set will set a tone for the latter missions, and the latter mission for the further missions. It is important to begin with confidence in the word and Spirit. The two are linked, message and Spiritual power.
There is nothing more valuable than the minister and his cohort coming into a new town with full confidence in the doctrine, method, and power of discipleship.