The Thessalonian Church - A Model for Today
The Apostle Paul references some very positive things about the church in Thessalonica
Three Ways They Were Already Doing Things Right
The Apostle Paul, in his first letter to the church in Thessalonica, had much good to say about the believers there. The things Paul refers to, if noted and implemented or put into practice by believers and the churches they belong to, could make those churches more effective, and would make for a powerful witness to real Christianity.These three things were:
Walking To Please God
In chapter 4, verse 1, Paul speaks of having instructed them in how to live the Christian life in such a manner as to be pleasing to God. While his intent in mentioning this is to encourage them, he parenthetically states that they are already doing this, and apparently very well! So often today, the watching world is quick to see the faults and failures of believers. The faithful, consistent example of Christianity is often referred to as a fanatic; the one who fails in any way is immediately dismissed as a hypocrite and used as an excuse to deny the validity of Christianity and the church. Paul proclaims to a listening, reading world that they were doing this right!
Their Love For One Another
Just as Paul was encouraging them to continue in what they were doing in regard to living the Christian life, he also is intent on encouraging them in regard to their love for one another. BUT please note what he says about their love for one another in 4:9-10:
"Now as to the love of the brethren, you have no need for anyone to write to you, for you yourselves are taught by God to love one another; for indeed you do practice it toward all the brethren who are in all Macedonia. But we urge you, brethren, to excel still more." The believers were already practicing Christian love for their brethren, not only in their own church and city, but for all the believers throughout the region they lived in. Furthermore, Paul describes the fact of their love in terms unheard of elsewhere. "You have been taught by God to love one another. What a compliment! Have you heard this said about any church today, in your personal experience? Paul must have been quite impressed by the demonstrations of love he witnessed, or had heard of, within this body of believers.
Their spirit of encouragement
At the beginning of Chapter 5, Paul speaks of the "day of the Lord" coming like a thief, meaning everyone will be taken by surprise. He admonishes them to be ready, vigilant, and to put on spiritual armor, because God's will is for their salvation. In verse 11 , he tells them to build up and encourage one another, just as you are already doing.
Two Very Important "E"s
Two other things Paul commends them for are being:
Though they had experienced tribulation when the message came to them, nevertheless, they were joyful for the salvation that was theirs, grateful that God would choose them , grateful that God not chosen to limit salvation to the Jews alone, as was the situation during the Old Testament.
In 1:8, Paul relates to them his discovery that the believers in Thessalonica had not simply accepted the gospel themselves, but were sharing that message with their neighbors. Paul mentions that they had not only done this in Macedonia and Achaia, but "...in every place your faith toward God has gone forth, so that we have no need to say anything." The folks in those regions knew of the experience of the Thessalonian church when the gospel message first came to them, and they testified to the reality of the Thessalonians turning away from idols to serve God, also awaiting the Second Coming of Jesus.
Paul spoke in glowing terms of this church and the believers there. May we study their example and put into practice those things for which Paul commended these first century believers.
All scripture quotations are from the New American Standard Bible.