Daily Devotional: 1 Thessalonians 1:5-10

Paul is confident in the salvation of the Thessalonians, meaning we can be confident in the salvation of others. He is confident because of their fruit, yes, but also because of the power of the gospel. According to Paul, the gospel did not go out from them in word only. Have you ever listened to a sermon or teaching, and the message is good but falls on deaf ears or doesn’t seem to be heard? It is words only. That’s often not the fault of the one preaching. It’s not because he lacks charisma or refuses to yell at people or doesn’t speak in tongues. Look at the power Paul describes—the gospel he preached was accompanied by the power of the Holy Spirit and with the conviction of the Holy Spirit (not the preacher). If the Holy Spirit does not move, words are only words with no real power. Paul reminds the Thessalonians of the fruit of his own life example. They were men changed by the Holy Spirit speaking with the power and conviction of the Holy Spirit so that others would be filled with the Holy Spirit. Some try to speak with their own power and conviction. Even if the message is good, it lacks the power and conviction of God. We don’t want to speak words only.

When the Thessalonians accepted the gospel, they became imitators of the apostles and of the Lord. Their lives changed from the inside out. We know their conversion was sincere because they believed in Christ in the midst of tribulation yet with the joy of the Holy Spirit. They became examples to the church in Macedonia and Achaia. Thessalonica is the local church that does things well, biblically, and gains a reputation that other local churches want to mimic.Whatever Thessalonica was doing, everyone else wanted to as well. Paul praises the believers in Thessalonica for setting such an example by the leadership of the Holy Spirit. So, local churches should not neglect the leadership of the Holy Spirit for fear of change. Scripture praises such godly and biblical change.

Paul doesn’t need to say anything about the church in Thessalonica because everyone already knows. Their reputation was primarily gained because they were a church concerned with evangelism and discipleship outside the church walls. This outward focus is praised in Scripture. We want to get the word out with the power and conviction of the Holy Spirit.

Paul recounts that the Thessalonians were once worshipping idols but turned from them to serve a living and true God. They now wait for His Son from heaven. Jesus is God’s Son, and He rescues us from the wrath to come. There will be more about what it means to wait for Christ from heaven in Chapters 4-5. Suffice it, here, to say that Paul’s eschatology, especially in 1 Thessalonians, is often misunderstood. He is writing in the late 40s-early 50s AD, before the destruction of the Temple in AD 70. He is speaking to First Century Christians who are mature and waiting for Christ to fulfill His promise; Paul even quotes Jesus’s teaching (cf. Matthew 24) in Chapters 4-5. Jesus said His promise would be fulfilled within this generation (Matthew 24:34). So, they wait expectantly to see the promise fulfilled within their generation (a detail often overlooked by futurists and historicists today). Paul offers a brief note of encouragement concerning the Day of the Lord, which is still yet to come in the late 40s. Jesus rescues Christians from the wrath to come. The Day of the Lord will be a day of wrath for the First-Century generation. Jesus rescues His people from such wrath, not judging those who are His own.


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