1 Thessalonians 1:2-3
1. Recognize the Context:
Historical context- Acts 17:1-10 presents the initial establishment of the Thessalonian church by Paul and his companions.
Literary context- Verse 1 includes three traits of an ancient letter.
A. The senders- Paul, Silas (also known as Silvanus), and Timothy
B. The recipients- the church in Thessalonica, who formed the people of God, and were identified by their relationship to the Lord Jesus Christ
C. The greeting- Grace is God’s unconditional loving unmerited favor extended to humanity, as demonstrated in the person and work of Jesus Christ. Peace is the overall state of wholeness and well-being experienced by those who have received God's reconciling grace. This includes peace with God, and it is meant to govern one's life with others.
2. Read the Scripture: 1 Thessalonians 1:2-3
2 We always thank God for all of you and continually mention you in our prayers. 3 We remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.
3. Reflect on the Scripture: Today’s passage begins the thanksgiving report for the Thessalonian church (1:2-10). In prayer, Paul offered his thanksgiving to God. The adverbs always and continually accentuate the frequency and consistency of Paul and his co-worker’s intercession for this community.
Paul and his co-senders remembered before God the Thessalonians’ work produced by faith, labor prompted by love, and endurance inspired by hope (verse 3).
A. Work produced by faith- This phrase sounds odd coming from Paul, because it connects two words usually set against one another. Paul often spoke of “works” negatively, but he frequently used the singular term “work” positively. Here Paul’s teaching was consistent with other letters he wrote. This “work” was not to gain salvation; rather, it was the action resulting from true faith and trust in Christ (see Eph. 2:8-10).
B. Labor prompted by love- These words are similar to the phrase above. However, the word for "labor” carries the idea of hardship and difficulty. Paul didn’t specifically identify this "labor of love." But it seems evident that he knew of their love for one another, and he prayed it would only increase (3:12).
C. Endurance inspired by hope- Paul’s usage of the term for "endurance" was associated with persecution and difficulty associated with living as a Christian in a hostile environment. Their ability to endure came from a hope anchored with confident trust in the Lord Jesus Christ.
4. Relate to life:
Now it's time to get specific and respond today. Remember, it is important to be a doer of God’s Word, not merely a hearer or reader (James 1:22-25). Here are some practical ways to actively respond to God’s Word. Consider these or create other ways you can apply the message.
As I said in the previous entry, if you have been a Christian for any length of time, you have probably heard mention of Paul’s triad (faith, love, and hope) numerous times. Perhaps they have lost the significance they once had. Today, prayerfully consider a life of faith, hope, love anew, and prayerfully ask God to give you a fresh perspective on them in your own life. Today, think specifically about what a life characterized by faith, hope, and love would look like?
Is there someone in your life that you can offer thanksgiving for in prayer?
To do: (work produced by faith with the Holy Spirit’s help) 1. From your prayerful consideration of faith, hope, and love, what is one action step you can take today with the Holy Spirit’s help?
2. Is there a practical way you can demonstrate your thankfulness for the person you prayed for above?
3. Identify one person to whom you need to be more loving. Are there specific ways you can demonstrate this? Consider writing them down and scheduling them, like you would other activities in the day.
To study: (Always make sure to read the immediate context of the given passages).