Continued from Part 1.
For, our Gospel did not come to you in word only…
Every word of the Bible is God’s word, and it remains God’s word whether people trust its statements or not. The Gospel comes to rebels — people who are at war with God. It comes to sinners.
- Some believe, some don’t.
- Those sinners who believe do so because they were chosen in Christ, and because of who Jesus is and what he has done for them.
- Those sinners who don’t believe remain unbelieving because they are sinners and will not change.
but in power, by the Holy Spirit, and with much assurance.
Whose power? — the power of God the Holy Spirit. God had again acted for them, working faith, love and patience in them.
What sort of power? The same power that raised Jesus from the dead.
What effect — doubting, rebellious sinners became utterly and happily convinced of God’s mercy to them in the Lord Jesus Christ. They trust the message and aim to live thankful lives in response to God’s goodness.
You became imitators of us and the Lord, just as you know how we were among you.
In what way?
- Jesus went about doing good, making good news known, was hated by leaders and others, was beaten and killed. “For the joy set before him” he bore our sins.
- Paul and Silas went about doing good, making good news known, were hated by leaders and others, were beaten and imprisoned — for the joy set before them; the joy of being saved.
- Thessalonians heard what Jesus had done for them (received the word), saw how Paul and Silas had acted for them, and in response
- went about doing good, making good news known, and were troubled and attacked by those who did not receive the message of Jesus (in much affliction with Joy in the Holy Spirit).
You [Thessalonians] became an example to believers.
These people were doing what was reasonable (Romans 12). These sorts of things are what Christians do when they understand the issues of life and death as a child of God.
God had been extraordinarily good to them; they had received good news; they could not keep it to themselves.
Their doing wasn’t by coercion. No one was twisting their arms to force them to action. They couldn’t help themselves. Joy had taken hold.
News of their infectious enthusiasm for the Lord Jesus Christ spread to surrounding regions and beyond. So much so that people whom Paul, Silvanus and Timothy had never previously met already knew the message that the missionaries brought! They knew it because the Thessalonians had passed it on.
This is an imagined summary of the Message that the Thessalonians passed on:
- We had wickedly ignored the true and living God and worshipped idols instead
- This God whom we have offended shows his mercy in this, that Jesus his divine son rescues idol worshippers from God’s righteous anger.
- Jesus saved idol worshippers like us by his dying and rising again — in this way our sins are forgiven before God.
- We now have abandoned our idols and happily serve this true God as we wait for the return of Jesus, who will judge the world in righteousness.
- Don’t wait until then the day of judgment to meet your God — repent and trust Jesus now. He rescues any who will trust him.
This is the sort of things I imagine that these persecuted, enthusiastic, joyful Thessalonians would have said. Trust yourselves to this Jesus. Then, become imitators of Paul, Silas, Timothy and the Lord in your daily lives.
How? By being thankful, doing good, telling people about Jesus, trusting God, labouring to love, and being patience because we have hope.