Be an imitator and Worthy of Imitation
1 Thessalonians 4:-10, emphasis on verses 7-8
1. Recognize the Context:
The message of the gospel came to the Thessalonians not only with words, but with power, the Holy Spirit, and deep conviction (verse 5). These believers came to imitate Paul and in doing so, they were imitators of the Lord (verse 6). The Thessalonians responded to Paul’s message with joy given by the Holy Spirit, even though they experienced severe suffering. Therefore, the Thessalonians suffering and their response to it, put them in “good company” with Paul and Jesus himself.
2. Read the Scripture: 1 Thessalonians 1:4-10, emphasis on verses 5-6
4 For we know, brothers and sisters loved by God, that he has chosen you, 5 because our gospel came to you not simply with words but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and deep conviction. You know how we lived among you for your sake. 6 You became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you welcomed the message in the midst of severe suffering with the joy given by the Holy Spirit. 7 And so you became a model to all the believers in Macedonia and Achaia. 8 The Lord’s message rang out from you not only in Macedonia and Achaia—your faith in God has become known everywhere. Therefore we do not need to say anything about it, 9 for they themselves report what kind of reception you gave us. They tell how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, 10 and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead—Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath.
3. Reflect on the Scripture: Paul considered the imitators worthy of imitation. In verse 7, he identified the Thessalonians as a model for the believers in their province and beyond. His use of the singular (a model) indicated he had the whole Thessalonian church in mind. It's worth noting, this is the only church community Paul identified as being a model for other believers.
Paul continued to explain how they served as a model in verse 8. They proclaimed the gospel message, and it rang out within the region like sound waves echoing out from its source. Additionally, their faith in God had been witnessed by others. This is the second time Paul has mentioned their faith (see verse 3). Therefore, the Thessalonian church, by their words and actions, had been proclaiming the gospel to their region and beyond.
Paul didn’t explain how their verbal and non-verbal witness was reaching everywhere. However, if one remembers their location as a seaport and near an essential Roman highway, it's not difficult to see how their reputation for Christ had spread.
4. Relate to life:
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.
Today, prayerfully consider the Thessalonian example. Ask God to help your words and action stand as a witness for Christ.
Today, prayerfully consider your local church community. Pray for your church leadership and specific people in the congregation. Pray your church would have an impact in your community through words and action like the Thessalonians.
Do you remember when this saying was popular “What Would Jesus Do?”
A great question soon turned into a Christian fad.
In light of this passage, with Paul’s call to imitate Christ and be a models for others, consider asking this question throughout your day. In your decisions, conversations, thoughts, etc. Write it down somewhere so you can see it. Put it in your calendar. Reflect on it at the end of the day. With the Spirit’s help, let it be a question that guides your day.
To study: (Always make sure to read the immediate context of the given passage.)
On imitation- (These verses were also listed in the last entry) 1 Cor. 4:16, Eph. 5:1, Phil. 2:5-11, 3:17, 4:9.