2 We give thanks to God always for all of you, constantly mentioning you in our prayers, 3 remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. 4 For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you, 5 because our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction. You know what kind of men we proved to be among you for your sake. 6 And you became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you received the word in much affliction, with the joy of the Holy Spirit, 7 so that you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia. 8 For not only has the word of the Lord sounded forth from you in Macedonia and Achaia, but your faith in God has gone forth everywhere, so that we need not say anything. 9 For they themselves report concerning us the kind of reception we had among you, and how you 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, Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come. (ESV)
1 Thessalonians 1:2-10
The Verdict Is In… (1 Thessalonians 1-3, Part 1)
When Paul arrived in Corinth, his first few weeks were stressful ones. His gospel message received meager welcome among the Jews of that city (Acts 18:1-6). Opposition was nothing new to Paul but his spirit was wearing thin. At the same time, he had been anxiously awaiting word from his co-workers whom he had sent to Macedonia in order to encourage the new believers there and report back on their spiritual welfare (1 Thess. 3:1-5). His concern for them was so intense that he even feared, “that somehow the tempter had tempted you and our labor would be in vain.” (1 Thess. 3:5)
What strengthened Paul’s resolve to persevere in the work of evangelism in Corinth? What transformed Paul’s anxiety over the Thessalonian believers into overflowing thanksgiving to God? The answer to both questions is the same: he was given assurance of God’s sovereignty in appointing a people unto himself.
Concerning the work in Corinth, Paul receives a vision from God, “Do not be afraid, but go on speaking and do not be silent!” (Acts 18:9). The ultimate ground for this exhortation is given in the last proposition of v.10, “…for I have many in this city who are my people.”
Concerning the Thessalonians, Paul and his co-workers overflow with thanks to God (1 Thess. 1:2-3) because the verdict concerning the Thessalonians is in: they bear all the marks of genuine gospel fruit (v.3). They truly are God’s chosen and beloved children (v.4).
From beginning to end, the ministry of the gospel is a work of God; the evangelist is merely a tool in his sovereign hand. God’s sovereignty in salvation is a source of encouragement both to persevere in evangelism and to rest assured that God will guard and nurture those whom he has called to himself.
(This was originally posted on the Biblearc blog by Michael Lane on July 30, 2015.)