Reflections on 1 Thessalonians: 1 Thessalonians 1-3
1 Thessalonians 1-3
Paul and Silvanus and Timothy to the church of the Thessalonians in God the Father and Lord Jesus Christ: grace to you, and peace.
We give thanks to God at all times for all of you, making mention of you in our prayers, ceaselessly calling to mind the work of your faith, the heavy labour of your love, and the endurance of your hope, in our lord, Jesus Christ, in the presence of our God and Father; knowing, brothers and sisters beloved by God, your selection, that our gospel did not come into being in you in word only, but both in power and in the Holy Spirit, and in much assurance, just as you know what sort of people we were among you on your account. And you have become imitators of us and of the Lord, receiving the word in great affliction with joy from the Holy Spirit, so that you have become an example to all those that believe in Macedonia and Achaia. For because of you the Lord's word sounds out not only in Macedonia and Achaia but in every place your faith toward God has gone forth, so that there is no need for us to say anything. For, as for us, they have proclaimed what sort of welcome we have among you and how you turned aside to God from idols, to serve God, living and true, and to await His Son from the heavens, whom He raised from the dead, Jesus who saves us from the wrath that is coming.
For you yourselves know, brothers and sisters, that the welcome we had among you was not fruitless but, although we had already suffered and been mistreated at Philippi, just as you know, we had boldness in our God to proclaim among you the good news of God in the face of much opposition. For our appeal to you was not made out of deception, nor from an impure motive, nor in trickery, but just as we have been thought fit by God to be entrusted with the good news, so we have spoken, not as those who try to please people but those who try to please God who judges the fitness of our hearts. For we did not ever come among you with flattery in mind, as you know, nor with greed as an excuse -- as God is our witness! -- nor seeking people's esteem, neither yours nor anyone else's, although capable of making harsh demands as representatives sent by Christ. Instead we were gentle in your midst: as a mother would nurse her own children. so we, filled with love for you, used to take pleasure in sharing with you not only the good news of God but also our own souls, because you were very dear to us. For you remember, brothers and sisters, our hard work and labour: labouring day and night so as not to burden any of you we were proclaiming to you the good news of God. You are our witnesses (and God) how holy and righteous and blameless we were for your sake while you were coming to believe, just as you know how we treated each one of you as a father would his own children, encouraging you and consoling you and bearing witness so that you might live in a way worthy of the God who is calling you to his kingdom and his glory.
And therefore we also give thanks to God without ceasing that, taking hold of the message of our preaching about God, you received not a human message but, as it truly is, the message of God, who is also at work in you while you are coming to believe. For you, brothers and sisters, became imitators of the churches of God that are in Judaea in Christ Jesus, so that you indeed suffered the same things from your fellow-countrymen that they also did from Judaeans who killed the Lord Jesus and the prophets and drove us away and displeased God and were hostile to all people, hindering us in preaching to the nations so that they might be saved, to fill up the full measure of their sins in every way. Yet wrath has come upon them until the end.
But we, brothers and sisters, after being torn away from you for a short time (in person though not in our love for you) strove the more eagerly to see your face in much longing. Therefore we wanted to come to you -- I myself, Paul, wanted to come at least twice -- and Satan prevented us. For what is our hope or joy or imperishable reward? Is it indeed not you yourselves? Even in the presence of our lord Jesus at his appearing? For you are our glory and joy!
Therefore no longer willing to put up with the separation we resolved to be left behind in Athens alone and we sent Timothy, our brother and God's co-worker in the good news of Christ, to strengthen you and encourage you about your faith so that no-one would be disturbed in these troubles. For you yourselves know that we were appointed for this purpose and indeed when we went to you, we warned you in advance that we must undergo troubles, just as indeed happened and you know. Therefore I, not willing to put up with this any longer sent to know about your faith lest somehow the Tempter tempted you and our labour was in vain.
But now since Timothy came back to us from you and brought us good news of your faith and your love and that you hold us in a good remembrance always, longing to see us and we also long to see you, therefore, brothers and sisters, we were encouraged by you in all our need and trouble, on account of your faith, because we live while you stand firm in the Lord. For what thanks can we return to God for you because of all the joy in which we rejoice for your sake before our God, praying in all earnestness night and day to see your face and to complete what is lacking in your faith?
Yet may our God and Father himself and our lord Jesus direct our way to you; may the Lord cause you to grow and abound in love for one another and for all just as, we grow and abound in love for you, so as to establish your hearts as blameless in holiness in the presence of our God and Father at the coming of our lord Jesus with all his holy ones.
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