LESSONS FROM 1 THESSALONIANS 1 - 3
Paul established the Thessalonian church on his second missionary trip. Silas and Timothy were partners with him during this time. In order to not be a burden on this fledgling church, the missionary team worked as bi-vocational ministers raising their own support. In doing so, they set an example for the early church. Their work demonstrated an important truth – work is godly. Indeed, God is at work and expects us to work as well. 1 Thessalonians 1 – 3 serve as the memoirs of the Apostle Paul’s leadership among this New Testament church. Here we discover a discipleship handbook for developing new believers. Having established this church, Paul was determined to see these believers properly discipled. To those ends, he wrote the letters we call 1st and 2nd Thessalonians. In his first letter to the Thessalonian church, the apostle taught on a number of key doctrines. These teachings included: the Trinity, the divinity of Christ, the Holy Spirit, the doctrine of the Scripture, the return of Christ, the assurance of salvation, conversion, sanctification, the Resurrection, how faith relates to works, how love relates to service, and how patience relates to hope. In chapter one, Paul described the church in Thessalonica. From the description he gave, one might think of this group as a model church. Rather than causing the apostle grief, the church was a joy to Paul. He was blessed by them and frequently gave God thanks for their faithfulness (1:2). Paul reminded these Christians of their special relationship to the Lord by referring to them as the church (ekklesia). This Greek term means a called out people. As Christians, God had called these believers out of the world to live a holy life. That they were doing so was evidenced by the spiritual fruit they were bearing (their work of faith, labor of love, and steadfastness of hope in Christ, 1:3). The sincerity of the Thessalonians’ faith was further demonstrated in their imitation of their spiritual leaders, and of Christ (1:6). They gladly received the word and became model Christians throughout the region (1:7-8). Turning from their former idolatrous ways, these believers were eagerly anticipating the return of the Lord (1:9-10). In chapter two, we discover some principles of spiritual leadership Paul used in mentoring the Thessalonian Christians. First, we find that the apostle gave the place of prominence to the scriptures. He boldly preached, committing the gospel to these converts (2:1-6). We also discover that Paul’s motives were pure, being driven by his love for the Lord and for these followers of Christ (2:3, 7-8). As a disciple of Christ, Paul sought to please the Lord, rather than men (2:4, 6). In his ministry, the apostle was gentle and patient as a mother nursing her infant (2:7). As a model Christian, Paul was faithful in his work and conduct (2:9-10). He lovingly urged the Thessalonians to live godly lives (2:11), and was diligent to labor and toil among them, even when it led to his persecution (2:14). Paul also encouraged the believers. He called them brothers and said that he longed to see them again (2:17). He also called them his hope, joy, and crown of boasting (2:19). Paul was proud of their progress in the faith. His affection toward these believers was evident as it flowed out in words of praise. Paul was determined to see these Christians established in the faith (3:1-2). To those ends, he sent Timothy to check on them and bring back a report (3:3-5). Again, Paul encouraged the church by telling them that he is praying for them (3:9-10). He also reminded them of the coming of the Lord (3:11-13). A COMPARISON OF PSALM 15
In Psalm 15 we find a number of traits that the Lord desires to see in His people. Several of these traits are demonstrated in the life of Paul as seen in 1 Thessalonians...