Serving God and Waiting
1 Thessalonians 6:-10, emphasis on verses 9-10
1. Recognize the Context:
Paul considered these Thessalonian imitators worthy of imitation. In verse 7, he identified them as a model for the believers throughout the region. Paul continued to explain how they lived as a model in verse 8. They announced the gospel message, and it rang out like sound waves echoing out from a source. Additionally, reports of their faith in God spread everywhere. By their words and actions, the Thessalonian church had been proclaiming the gospel to their province and beyond.
2. Read the Scripture: 1 Thessalonians 1:6-10, emphasis on verses 9-10
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: A clear account of Paul’s time with the Thessalonian church had gone “viral” throughout the Roman world. Details of their conversion had spread “everywhere.” Simply stated, they turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, but there was nothing simple about it. Refusing to worship pagan deities had social, economic, and cultural consequences. Friends, co-workers, and family members would have ostracized these new believers fearing retribution from the gods or from Rome.
Paul stated these believers turned from idols to serve God. In the Greco-Roman world, this was an unusual verb to describe a human’s relationship with the gods. Much like today, the notion of “serving” or “being a slave to God” would have been offensive, an encroachment on one’s freedom. However, the Greek Old Testament (known as the Septuagint) used this verb to describe Israel’s relationship with God (Jud. 2:7). Paul also identified himself as a servant of God and the gospel (Phil. 1:1, Eph. 3:7).
In verse 9, Paul described God as living and true. These were uncommon adjectives for Paul to use. However, much like the verb "to serve," we find these adjectives for God frequently used in the Old Testament. The idea is clear. The Thessalonians formally served idols, lifeless stone statues; now they serve the living God, and thus the true God.
Beyond their present life of service, the Thessalonians had hope for the future. They waited for the return of the resurrected Jesus. Paul will say more about the impact of Christ’s return for the Thessalonians later in this letter. For now, it's enough to say that Jesus rescued them from the coming wrath.
Today, the concept of wrath is not a very popular one, even in many churches. God's wrath is not merely an emotional response like human anger, which can seem arbitrary and malicious. God’s wrath should be seen in relationship to his justice.
Although God is loving, his wrath is a response to sin and evil, which must be dealt with and eliminated. God’s wrath is a present reality for those who live in sin (Rom. 1:18), but there is also a future component to it, when Christ returns. However, Paul’s message to the Thessalonians is one of hope. They have been rescued from the present and future wrath because of the person and work of Christ.
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 reflect on your own conversion experience. Whether gradual or drastic, recent or decades ago, every believer has a unique story of how God has worked in their lives.
Today, prayerfully consider how a life of serving God could have social, economic, and cultural consequences for you and your family.
Today, prayerfully consider what it means to serve the living and true God?
Today, prayerfully consider what it means to wait for the return of Christ? Thank God today, as a follower of Christ, you have been rescued from the coming wrath.
Who in your life needs to hear about what God has done in you and through you? Ask God to help you identify someone to whom you can share your conversion experience or a part of your story, which might help point them to God.
Given the prayer suggestions above, what's one thing you want to incorporate into your life today? Think about your attitudes, actions, and words.
An Irish Folk worship band called Rend Collective has a song entitled “Rescuer (Good News).” Check it out and reflect on the words.
The song “In Christ Alone” by Keith Getty (from Northern Ireland) and Stuart Townend, reflects on Christ, including his work on the cross, in which he satisfied the wrath of God. Check it out and reflect on the words.
To study: (Always make sure to read the immediate context of the given passage.)
Read and study these passages on
1. God being "alive" (his own self-proclamation)- Num. 14:21, 28, Deut. 32:40, (from the Psalmist) Psa. 42:2.
2. God being "true"- 2 Chron. 15: 3, Isa. 65:16, Jer. 10:10
3. God’s wrath- Rom. 1:18, Rom. 5:9, 1 Thess. 5:9, Col. 3:6
5. Waiting- Rom. 8:23, 1 Cor. 1:7, Gal. 5:5, Phil. 3:20
6. Rescue- Col. 1:13, 2 Tim. 3:11, 4:17, 18
Use a concordance or a website like bible gateway.com and search other verses on any of these words.