I Thessalonians 1:1
“Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy . . .”
Serving Jesus is a team sport. If we are going to be effective, we must establish godly relationships with others who want to follow and serve Christ. Their lives, and commitment to Christ, will serve to propel us forward, just as ours does the same for them. In my earliest years of following Christ, a particular song was sung for almost every altar call, or response time, after a message. One line went, “I have decided to follow Jesus, though none go with me still I will follow, no turning back.” I remember clearly, grappling with the idea that if everyone of my friends walked away from the Lord, I would remain following Him. I believe we all must come to the point where we decide we will live for Christ, regardless of what others do. At the same time, I also realized, I needed help if I would succeed in this venture. I began to look for others who were committed to Christ, others whose example I could follow, and whose life would propel me to serve Christ more. Even the Apostle Paul understood this. We find when he ventured out to serve the Lord, he did not do it alone.
“Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy . . .”
We know a lot about Paul and Timothy. Much of the Book of Acts tells Paul’s story, and many of the New Testament books were written by him. Timothy was an early traveling companion of Paul, who later became a pastor, and was the recipient of two of Paul’s letters. Silvanus (also called Silas) is a little more obscure character in Scripture; although with a little digging, we can learn much from his life. We are first introduced to him in Acts 15, where he accompanies Paul and others, delivering a letter written by the Apostles to the gentile believers, outside the borders of Israel. He is called a prophet, and described as a man who, “risked his life for the name of Christ” (Acts 15:26). After delivering the letter, Silas joined Paul and Barnabas in the ministry at the church in Antioch. It was there Silas saw a remarkable difference in the atmosphere of the church. While Jerusalem was constantly doing battle with legalists who wanted to add regulations to relationship with Christ, Antioch was marked by the grace of God. The atmosphere of the ministry was one that allowed Jesus to get a hold of people’s lives and transform them, by the Spirit, and through the Word. Having seen this, Silvanus decided not to return to Jerusalem, but to join Paul in his ministry endeavors.
“But Paul chose Silas . . .” Acts 15:40
Not long after joining the ministry team in Antioch, Silas was asked to join Paul, as he ventured out on his second missionary journey. They would visit the churches he had started on his first trip, and take the Gospel to farther unreached areas. From this point, Silas became a vital part of the mission work of the early church. While their travel was filled with wild experiences and great adventure, Silas is perhaps most well know for what happened in Philippi. It was there, he and Paul were arrested and imprisoned. Rather than complaining about the trial and how unfair it was for a child of God to suffer, they took the solitude as an opportunity to worship. Acts 16 records how, in the middle of the night, bearing the wounds of being beaten, and wearing the chains of incarceration, Paul and Silas began to worship. Of all the musicians who have ever been recorded, I wish we had a CD of those songs. Two men, facing great suffering, and perhaps even execution, lifting up their voices and celebrating the Lord.
It is exciting to read the stories of men who risked their lives for Christ. Their time has passed, and the mantle must be passed on to another generation. Will you pick it up? Will you be willing to commit yourself to Christ, and surround yourself with others who will propel you forward, as you follow and serve Jesus?
Questions for 1Thessalonians 1
- The letter opens with a greeting from Paul, Silas, and Timothy. In chapter 17 of the book of Acts they were accused of “turning the world upside down.” It was meant as a negative attack but it was really a compliment and a tribute to the work the Lord was doing in them and upon the world. When people look at your walk do they see a life that’s making an impact on this world?
- The address of this letter says, “To the church of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” These are great things to say about a church; moreover these are great things to say about a Christian. Be encouraged and strive to be godly. You will never regret anything you gave up for the Lord Jesus Christ.
- Notice in verse 1 Paul’s typical salutation, “Grace and peace from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” Lord Jesus Christ is not first, middle, and last name. Jesus is His name, Lord is His title, and Christ (which means Messiah) was His mission. He came to save His people from their sins. The title Lord implies relationship and an obedient servant hood on our part. Is the Lord Jesus just Jesus to you or is He the Lord of your life?
- In verse 2 prayer was so much at the core of what Paul was doing. His conversations with God were ongoing. In our lives and especially during the course of the average day, people will come to mind. Do you make mention of other people and by the same token do you pray for them when they come to mind?
- In verse 3 Paul remembers without ceasing their work of faith, labor of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. This famous trio is also mentioned in 1st Corinthians 13. Whatever we do vocationally or voluntarily should be done heartily unto the Lord as a work of faith. The love for the Lord should be an expression of our faith. A labor of love expresses itself in what we do. You love the people you’re serving. Love is an action. It’s a choice. It’s a verb. Patience of hope Biblically means “confidence that it’s going to happen and I’m sure of it.” You’re patient for what you know is going to be. These people were confident that according to the gospel Paul preached to them- the Lord Jesus was going to come again. He would return. In the areas of faith, hope, and love, where do you need encouragement? Don’t hesitate to reach out to the pastoral staff. Proverbs 11:14
- According to verse 4 Paul says “Knowing beloved brethren, your election by God.” In other words, they were chosen by God. How did they know they were chosen? They accepted the Lord Jesus as their Savior. Have you been chosen by God? All you have to do is say yes to the Lord Jesus, confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead and you will be saved. That’s it!
- In verse 6 the Thessalonians became followers of Paul, Silas, Timothy, and the Lord. Notice that they received the word in much affliction with joy of the Holy Spirit. In other words, there is going to be trouble, pain, trials and tribulations in our life. In the middle of all that, we can have joy of the Holy Spirit; the perspective of heaven to come. Turn in your Bibles to Habakkuk 3:17-19. Praise the lord!
- In verse 9 Paul is talking about the Thessalonians’ witness because they turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God. The living and true God implies that everything else is dead and false. Have you put your faith in the one true and living God, the Lord Jesus Christ?
- In verse 10, is your life characterized by the verb “waiting”? Are you living your life knowing that the Lord’s return is approaching? It goes on to say, even Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come- not that He will, but that He has. If you’re a Christian, you’ve put your faith in the Son of God – You are saved from God’s wrath and judgment. Praise the Lord.