The Fertile Soil of Adversity
We have seen in our study of I Thessalonians, that this church was a wonderful group of Christian people in spite of the fact that their founder had been run out of town by a mob after spending only a few weeks with them. We have learned that Bible students have noted at least seven reasons why this church may very well be the best of the New Testament churches. After seeing that they were a ‘saved’ church, let’s see what else is worthy of commendation according to Paul’s letter to them.
Monday…Please note that according to I Thessalonians 1:6, this was also a ‘surrendered’ church. We say this because this church had forgotten ego and instead embraced imitating the life of the Apostle Paul. The Greek word, “mimitai” is the word from which we get our word, “mimic.” Paul calls to the church’s remembrance how he and his entourage had lived among them and commends the church for surrendering their own egos and imitating the Christian lifestyle. It is a very difficult thing to put oneself in any place but first place, but these people had done exactly that. Do not miss this fact: here, and in other writings, Paul reminds his hearers and readers that they are to imitate him as he imitates the Lord!
Tuesday…I Thessalonians 1:6 also teaches us that this was a ‘suffering’ church. Yes, they were. Remember how they got their start? You may want to re-read Acts 17:1-9 and note that the man who housed the missionaries had to post bond (Jason). We know what that means. It means he later went to trial. This church had members who (according to Bible scholars) may have underwent severe persecution because they embraced the message of the cross. In our age of ‘soft’ Christianity, we cannot imagine actually suffering pain and loss simply because we believe in Jesus. We pray that such a day will never come, but it has already come to many places in our world.
Wednesday…The fourth reason given for this church’s consideration as the best church mentioned in the New Testament is found in verses 7-9 of the first chapter. The Greek word, ‘exeketai’ is the word from which we get our word, ‘echo.’ Note that Paul says that this is a soul-winning church and they win souls two ways: they model the behavior of a Christian and the message ‘rings out’ (exeketai) from them! What a dynamic group of people! Because of the highways located in and near this great city, Macedonia and Achaia and ‘everywhere’ has heard of their faith as merchants and tourists come in and out of the city.
Thursday…The fifth reason this church is congratulated is because they are a ‘second coming’ church. Please note that at the end of chapters 1,2 and 3 the second coming is mentioned. Please also note and read that chapters 4:13-5:11 are all about the second coming. This church was interested in the second coming (yes, we know that some things had to be clarified for them) and that interest is clarified and explained.
Friday…We will look at more information on this church, but let’s pause and be reminded of this: Paul sent Timothy to check on this church after he, Paul, had been run out of town (Acts 17). I wonder what he expected Timothy to say to him upon his return? I do not think he would have been surprised had Timothy said that the church had collapsed under persecution and the absence of the Apostle. But, the opposite was true! Read I Thessalonians 3:6 and see how wonderful Timothy’s report to Paul was. What a tribute to this church!
By Dale Holzbauer