In Acts 16:9-10, Paul was called to Macedonia by a man in a vision. Paul and Silas went to Phillippi and eventually made their way to Thessalonica in Macedonia. They had much success there, using the gospel of Jesus Christ to convert many.
Thessalonica was a base for spreading the gospel in Macedonia and Greece. It was a great commercial center at the time and was connected to Rome and Byzantium via a highway.
This book is a letter from Paul to the young church at Thessalonica, which was made up of both Jews and Greeks.
This first chapter is fairly simple. It has Paul greeting the new Christians there and encouraging them. Paul gives credit to Silas (Silvanus) and Timothy as fellow editors of the letter. While salutations make up the first verse, verses 2-5 contain references to more important matters. Paul recognizes their youthful faith while simultaneously commending the strength of it. In fact, there is a very nice triad of ideas that Paul employs to compliment their religion:
- Work of faith: Their work of faith is the good work that is spurred by faith in God: teaching and preaching the gospel, treating all with love, kindness to those in need
- Labor of love: They work for God because they love Him. Because of their salvation and freedom from sin, they are happily indebted to work for Him
- Patience of hope: No one knows when God will come to collect those that love Him. They live in hope of the greater future to come
The Holy Spirit’s role in the Thessalonians’ conversion is referenced in concert with the message of Christ. This group of Christians is strong and exemplary. Paul does an amazing job of both complimenting their faith and reminding them of paramount statutes of the new covenant from God:
“And you became followers of us and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Spirit, so that you became examples to all in Macedonia and Achaia who believe. For from you the word of the Lord has sounded forth, not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place. Your faith toward God has gone out, so that we do not need to say anything. For they themselves declare concerning us what manner of entry we had to you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, even Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come.” I Thessalonians 1:6-10
God is working through the apostle Paul to build up this young church, ensuring that their faith and work will remain strong so that God’s word and influence can continue to spread in the region of Macedonia.