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. 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, and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come. – 1 Thessalonians 1:8-10
Since the apostles had been forced to depart from Thessalonica in haste, they apparently were concerned about their fledgling church enough for Timothy to make a return trip as soon as possible. We read of his return at the beginning of chapter 3, having completed a 600-mile round trip to Athens, to bring a favorable report, for which Paul again is thankful. However, there are a few issues yet to be covered.
But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers… dives into the meat that’s been on Paul’s mind from the beginning, having described the Thessalonians in chapter 1 as turning from idols “to serve the living and true God, and to wait for His Son from heaven…” The first issue to be addressed is the fate of those who have “fallen asleep” – Paul’s favorite description for those who have died – before Christ’s return. His response is based on “a word from the Lord,” which affirms the security of not only those who have fallen asleep but also those who will be alive to see the return. A second concern is speculation about the time and season of “the wrath to come.” Notice the details of which Paul is ambiguous, and those of which he is certain.
As with many of these epistles, Paul, Silvanus and Timothy fill the final verses with instructions toward obedient living: “admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak…rejoice always, pray without ceasing.” The overarching concern for Christ’s return threads its way even through the benediction, as the apostles pray that the Thessalonians may be “kept blameless at the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful;” they are assured. “He will surely do it.”
Our verse for this week is Deuteronomy 10:12: And now, Israel, what does the LORD your God require of you, but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul.
1 Thessalonians 3 through 5. Now let’s read it!
“And now, Israel, what does the LORD your God require of you, but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul,