Paul outlines a triad of virtues in his prayers about the Thessalonian believers:
We give thanks for you all, constantly mentioning you in our prayers, remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.
These virtues are a natural consequence of the Gospel. The Gospel creates a people who embody these virtues as witnesses of Christ in the world.
Introduction to the Thessalonian Triad
We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers; Remembering without ceasing your work of faith, and labour of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the sight of God and our Father; (1 Thess 2–3)
And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity. (1 Cir 13:13)
For we through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by faith. For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love. (Galatians 5:5–6)
But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation. (1 Thess 5:8)
These virtues are the natural consequence of the Gospel of God. God is a God of faith, love, and hope. He creates a people who embodies these same virtues.
Introduction – Book of Acts
Thessalonica was capital of Macedonia.
Port city likely similar to Galveston (blue collar). Paul worked with them “day and night.”
Neither did we eat any man’s bread for nought; but wrought with labour and travail night and day, that we might not be chargeable to any of you: (2 Thess 3:8)
Vision of man from Macedonia.
And a vision appeared to Paul in the night; There stood a man of Macedonia, and prayed him, saying, Come over into Macedonia, and help us. And after he had seen the vision, immediately we endeavoured to go into Macedonia, assuredly gathering that the Lord had called us for to preach the gospel unto them. (Acts 16:9–10)
Acts Background of Thessalonica.
Now when they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where was a synagogue of the Jews: And Paul, as his manner was, went in unto them, and three sabbath days reasoned with them out of the scriptures, Opening and alleging, that Christ must needs have suffered, and risen again from the dead; and that this Jesus, whom I preach unto you, is Christ. And some of them believed, and consorted with Paul and Silas; and of the devout Greeks a great multitude, and of the chief women not a few. But the Jews which believed not, moved with envy, took unto them certain lewd fellows of the baser sort, and gathered a company, and set all the city on an uproar, and assaulted the house of Jason, and sought to bring them out to the people. And when they found them not, they drew Jason and certain brethren unto the rulers of the city, crying, These that have turned the world upside down are come hither also; Whom Jason hath received: and these all do contrary to the decrees of Caesar, saying that there is another king, one Jesus. And they troubled the people and the rulers of the city, when they heard these things. And when they had taken security of Jason, and of the other, they let them go. (Acts 17:1–10)
Paul, the Spirit-Filled Preacher
Knowing, brethren beloved, your election of God. 5 For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance; as ye know what manner of men we were among you for your sake. (1 Thess 1:4–5)
Paul was filled with the Spirit.
But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel: For I will shew him how great things he must suffer for my name’s sake. And Ananias went his way, and entered into the house; and putting his hands on him said, Brother Saul, the Lord, even Jesus, that appeared unto thee in the way as thou camest, hath sent me, that thou mightest receive thy sight, and be filled with the Holy Ghost. (Acts 9:15–17)
“be filled with the Holy Spirit” – και πλησθης πνευματος ἁγιου
Thessalonians received Paul’s preaching as the very word of God.
We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers; 3 Remembering without ceasing your work of faith, and labour of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the sight of God and our Father; (1 Thess 2:13)
“which effectually works within you believers”; “which effectually works among y’all believers”
The church is empowered by the Spirit-filled Word.
Work of Faith
Work of faith
Faith = “believing allegiance”
Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. (Heb 11:1)
This isn’t mental assent. It’s not nodding at church or checking a decision card. It is embodying the Gospel.
Paul and his team.
For yourselves, brethren, know our entrance in unto you, that it was not in vain: But even after that we had suffered before, and were shamefully entreated, as ye know, at Philippi, we were bold in our God to speak unto you the gospel of God with much contention. (1 Thess 2:1–2)
And ye became followers of us, and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Ghost: (1 Thess 1:6)
Imitators of Those Persecuted.
For ye, brethren, became followers of the churches of God which in Judaea are in Christ Jesus: for ye also have suffered like things of your own countrymen, even as they have of the Jews: Who both killed the Lord Jesus, and their own prophets, and have persecuted us; and they please not God, and are contrary to all men:
Affliction on the Ground – Who From?
For ye, brethren, became followers of the churches of God which in Judaea are in Christ Jesus: for ye also have suffered like things of your own countrymen, even as they have of the Jews: Who both killed the Lord Jesus, and their own prophets, and have persecuted us; and they please not God, and are contrary to all men: (1 Thess 2:14–15)
For verily, when we were with you, we told you before that we should suffer tribulation; even as it came to pass, and ye know. For this cause, when I could no longer forbear, I sent to know your faith, lest by some means the tempter have tempted you, and our labour be in vain. (1 Thess 3:4–5)
Greeks: idols everywhere, but everyone got along; economics
“criticism . . . would be severely hostile because most Gentiles vehemently opposed Christianity’s exclusivistic claims on its adherents’ lives”
The Gospel was subversive to the basic religious institutions of gentile society.
Shifting in loyalty, “believing allegiance” from various cult memberships
Why Affliction? The Purpose of Affliction
Hindering the Gospel.
For ye, brethren, became followers of the churches of God which in Judaea are in Christ Jesus: for ye also have suffered like things of your own countrymen, even as they have of the Jews: Who both killed the Lord Jesus, and their own prophets, and have persecuted us; and they please not God, and are contrary to all men: Forbidding us to speak to the Gentiles that they might be saved, to fill up their sins alway: for the wrath is come upon them to the uttermost. (1 Thess 2:14–16)
To Shake Believers’ Believing Loyalty
That no man should be moved by these afflictions: for yourselves know that we are appointed thereunto. 4 For verily, when we were with you, we told you before that we should suffer tribulation; even as it came to pass, and ye know. (1 Thess 3:3–4)
το μηδενα σαινεσθαι εἰς ταῖς θλιψεσιν ταυταῖς; ἀυτοι γαρ οἰδατε ὁτι εἰς τουτο κειμεθα
Labor of Love
He therefore that despiseth, despiseth not man, but God, who hath also given unto us his holy Spirit. But as touching brotherly love ye need not that I write unto you: for ye yourselves are taught of God to love one another. (1 Thess 4:8–9)
1 Thess 4:8–9 – θεοδιδακιοι God-taught ones to love one another
Nor of men sought we glory, neither of you, nor yet of others, when we might have been burdensome, as the apostles of Christ. But we were gentle among you, even as a nurse cherisheth her children: So being affectionately desirous of you, we were willing to have imparted unto you, not the gospel of God only, but also our own souls, because ye were dear unto us. For ye remember, brethren, our labour and travail: for labouring night and day, because we would not be chargeable unto any of you, we preached unto you the gospel of God. Ye are witnesses, and God also, how holily and justly and unblameably we behaved ourselves among you that believe: As ye know how we exhorted and comforted and charged every one of you, as a father doth his children, That ye would walk worthy of God, who hath called you unto his kingdom and glory. . . .And the Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men, even as we do toward you: (1 Thess 2:6–12; 3:12)
Philippi: dragged into the marketplace, beaten, and jailed
Acts 17:1 – passed through Amphipolis and Appolonia and then came to Thessalonica
Acted as a nursing mother to them – 1 Thess 2:7
Acted as a loving father – 1 Thess 2:11–12
Shared his own “soul” as well – 1 Thess 2:8
Jesus’ own self-sacrificing: Phil 2:6–11; 2 Cor 8:9
Patience of Hope (Steadfastness of Hope)
And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come. (1 Thess 1:10)
And the Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men, even as we do toward you: To the end he may stablish your hearts unblameable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints. (1 Thess 3:12–13)
For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: 17 Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words. (1 Thess 4:16–18)
Those Who Have No Hope – Sons of Unbelief
But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. (1 Thess 4:13–14)
That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world: (Ephesians 2:12)
Those who have no hope: all the idol worshippers and the rest
Awaiting His Return is Active
Quench not the Spirit.
Despise not prophesyings.
And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24 Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it. (1 Thess 5:23–24)