Lesson 11: November 10, 2019

1 Thessalonians 1:2–10 People often look for positive examples to emulate. How can we be positive examples? The Thessalonians were praised because they were positive examples to others, exhibiting strong faith and committing loving acts even in the midst of trials and persecution.

Be Examples of Faith

Bible Background • 1 THESSALONIANS 1:2–10
Printed Text • 1 THESSALONIANS 1:2–10 | Devotional Reading • 2 CORINTHIANS 5:1–10

Aim for Change

By the end of the lesson, we will: COMPREHEND the importance of the witness of the Thessalonian Christians in spite of their trials, APPRECIATE the role of faithful imitators of Christ, and BECOME positive examples of faith and love to other believers in Christ.

In Focus

Mary shouted, “If one more thing happens, Lord, I don’t know what I’ll do!” Her daughter, Sharion rushed in the room and asked, “What’s the matter, Mama?” Sharion knew her mother had been struggling to keep the faith since Sharion’s dad, Jack, passed so suddenly. He was a man who truly loved the Lord. He kept Mary smiling regardless of what troubles life seemed to throw their way. He would always encourage them to keep the faith. Jack would remind them that God is able, and He would bring them out. Jack was no longer around, and things just kept happening. He was the one to take care of all their needs. He paid the bills. He made sure things were running properly. Mary didn’t have to worry about anything. She was the one to cook and clean; Jack took care of the rest.

The water tank broke, the car wouldn’t start, the electric bill was exceptionally high; Mary was overwhelmed. As Mary flopped down in Jack’s favorite chair, she gasped. “Everything seems to be falling apart. How can I fix it all?” she thought.

Sharion walked over to her mother and picked up Jack’s Bible off the table. A piece of paper fell out, written in Jack’s handwriting. It said, “No matter what happens, keep the faith. God is able.” Once again, Jack had encouraged them to keep the faith.

Who has set the example in your life to be faithful to God, no matter how numerous your trials may get?

Keep in Mind

“So that ye were ensamples to all that believe in Macedonia and Achaia. For from you sounded out the word of the Lord not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place your faith to God-ward is spread abroad; so that we need not to speak any thing” (1 Thessalonians 1:7–8, KJV).

“As a result, you have become an example to all the believers in Greece—throughout both Macedonia and Achaia. And now the word of the Lord is ringing out from you to people everywhere, even beyond Macedonia and Achaia, for wherever we go we find people telling us about your faith in God. We don’t need to tell them about it” (1 Thessalonians 1:7–8, NLT)

The People, Places, and Times

Thessalonica. This is the capital and largest city of the Roman province of Macedonia, a mountainous region of Greece. As a port on the shores of what is now called the Gulf of Salonika with a population of about 200,000 people, Thessalonica was one of the wealthiest and most flourishing trade centers in the Roman Empire. The city was on a trade route, the Egnatian Way, linking it to Philippi, Apollonia, and Berea— other places where Paul, Silas, Timothy, and others traveled during their missionary journeys. Many pagan religions and cultural influences also flourished in Thessalonica. These influences challenged the faith of the young Christians there.

Thessalonian Believers. The Thessalonian church was established during Paul’s second missionary journey. The new Christians in Thessalonica were struggling with their newfound faith. Persecutions against them by the established order (both political and religious) were fierce. The Thessalonian believers had many unanswered questions as they struggled to hold onto their beliefs and waited for Christ’s return.

Background

In ancient letters, it was common to express thanksgiving. In Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians, he desired to encourage them. He wanted to be extravagant in his praise for them, so they would understand that he was pleased with what he heard and knew about their faith. The reputation of their commitment to Christ was honorable.

Generally, to be chosen or elected by God was a position the Jewish people reserved for themselves. However, Paul was applying it to a church that had many Gentile converts. Letters that are meant to counsel or persuade, more often than not, remind the reader of what they already know. Reminding them of former counsel became an indisputable means of successfully making points clear.

Teachers encourage their students to imitate them. This was commonly noted in ancient letters. Paul recognized the Thessalonians had already begun practicing this process, which made their conversion clear to the culture around them. A large number of Christians were converted from Gentile backgrounds. This resulted in their facing greater hostility and persecution as the culture rejected them. As people traveled, they would carry news with them. The other churches probably heard of the Thessalonians through the Philippian messengers, Jewish or Gentile travelers, and from Macedonians who supported Paul.

The Old Testament often referred to “wrath” as God’s judgments in history, but this term was stretched in the New Testament to God’s wrath in the final days, the Day of Judgment when Christ will return.