1 Thessalonians 1:2 – We give thanks to God always for all of you, constantly mentioning you in our prayers.
To establish their new identity in Christ, Paul tells the church at Thessalonica that they are “loved by God”, and “chosen” with God the Father acting much like a wonderful earthly father who adopts a child that he loves with his whole heart. The tone is incredibly warm and encouraging.
These new believers remained devoted to loving one another. There is very little correction throughout the letter, as it is instead filled with encouragement for what they are doing well and answers to questions they are struggling with.
Too often, the only press that local churches receive is bad press. There always have been some truly healthy local churches and sadly they seem to never make the news. The church at Thessalonica is simply a wonderful local church known for its “work of faith and labor of love…steadfastness…example…[as]…the word of the Lord sounded forth from you…” (1:3,7-8)
The reason Paul is writing a letter is because he could not be present. A riot that threatened his life forced him to flee shortly after planting the church (Acts 17:5-10). As is always the case, when God builds up ministry, Satan recruits some troublemakers to try and tear it down. Making matters worse, these liars doing anti-ministry were speaking complete lies about Paul, which we will look at in more depth tomorrow.
1 Thessalonians is an ancient letter written to an ancient local church that is commended for being healthy, loving, and longsuffering. What are some of the most encouraging church experiences you have had? Why is it important to encourage believers rather than just criticize them?
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