#186 “BEING IMITATORS OF CHRIST” (1 Thessalonians 1:6-10)

  1. And you became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you received the word in much affliction, with the joy of the Holy Spirit—There were many times Paul exhorted new converts to follow his example as he imitated Christ (1 Cor. 11:1). In the GK, you became imitators is in the aorist, indicating that upon hearing and witnessing Paul’s example, the Thessalonians started to follow Christ. In much affliction—The Thessalonians witnessed the constant harassment Paul, and his colleagues underwent from the Jews (see Ac. 17:5-14). In the NT, “suffering” or “tribulation” is very common among Christians. Nevertheless, Christians had the peace and joy of Christ to overcome tribulation in their lives. Joy of the Holy Spirit—Even amid suffering, Paul and his companions experienced the power and joy of the Spirit in their lives.
    • 1 Cor. 4:16 – I urge you, then, be imitators of me.
    • 3:17 – Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us.
    • 2 Thess. 3:7-9 – For you yourselves know how you ought to imitate us, because we were not idle when we were with you, nor did we eat anyone’s bread without paying for it, but with toil and labor we worked night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you. It was not because we do not have that right, but to give you in ourselves an example to imitate.
  2. so that you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia. Paul used a seal that marked wax to convey how the Thessalonians were leaving the mark of faith wherever they went. Macedonia and Achaia—Greece was divided into two provinces, Macedonia (northern) and Achaia (southern). The capital of Achaia was Corinth, from which Paul wrote 1 Thessalonians.
  3. 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. Paul’s description of the Thessalonians faith is fascinating. In the GK. it means “to reverberate; to echo.” It can also be translated “rang out.” The Thessalonians were so dynamic and persistent in vocalizing their newfound faith that it echoed into every region they lived in. More than likely, Paul received these reports from Timothy and Silas upon returning from Macedonia (Ac. 18:5; 1 Thess. 3:6). Macedonia and Achaia—With Thessalonica being on the Egnatian Way, the gospel quickly traveled into the heart of the Roman Empire.
  4. 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—The veneration of idols was common practice among the Thessalonians. Even in the temples, a statue of the emperor was present for people to worship. However, upon repentance to Christ, the Thessalonians abandoned idol worship and devoted their entire lives to worshipping Jesus Christ as Lord. They no longer believed in the superstition associated with the temple ceremonies and rejected necromancy. To serve—The expression is of a slave totally devoted to their master.
  5. 10 and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come. Paul informs the Thessalonians of the return of Christ who will deliver his church from coming wrath on earth. There are several passages that teach Christians are saved from the wrath of God to come on the earth. Wait—The GK word is translated “to await; to reside with patience and confidence.”
    • 1 Thess. 5:9 – For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.
    • 3:10 – Because you have kept my word about patient endurance, I will keep you from the hour of trial that is coming on the whole world, to try those who dwell on the earth.