Wenstrom Bible Ministries; Pastor-Teacher Bill Wenstrom; Sunday, October 7, 2018; www.wenstrom.org
1 Thessalonians 1:1 From Paul and Silvanus and Timothy, to the church of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Grace and peace to you! 1:2 We thank God always for all of you as we mention you constantly in our prayers, 1:3 because we recall in the presence of our God and Father your work of faith and labor of love and endurance of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. 1:4 We know, brothers and sisters loved by God, that he has chosen you. 1:5in that our gospel did not come to you merely in words, but in power and in the Holy Spirit and with deep conviction (surely you recall the character we displayed when we came among you to help you). (NET)
1 Thessalonians 1:1 From Paul and Silvanus and Timothy, to the Thessalonian congregation in union and fellowship with God the Father as well as the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace to each and every one of you resulting in peace. 2 We make it our habit of always giving thanks to the one and only God (the Father) on behalf of each and every one of you because we constantly make it our practice of bringing each and every one of you into remembrance during our prayers. 3 Specifically, because we make it our habit of remembering in the presence of God, our Father, your work, which was produced by your faith, as well as your labor, which was motivated by your divine-love and also your perseverance which was produced by your confident expectation of blessing from our Lord Jesus Christ. 4 Furthermore, because each one of us possesses the conviction He elected each and every one of you to privilege brothers and sisters, divinely loved by the one and only God (who is the Father). 5 At the same time, each and every one of us exists in the state of possessing the conviction that our proclamation of the gospel was by no means manifested by the act of speaking only but on the contrary, by means of power as well. Specifically, it was manifested by means of the Holy Spirit’s power as well as with deep conviction. In the same way, each one of you exist in the state of possessing the conviction regarding the quality of character each one of us as individuals manifested among each one of you for the benefit of each of you. (My translation)
1 Thessalonians 1:4-5 reveals that Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy had a two-fold conviction.
The first conviction in verse 4 is that the Thessalonians were elected by God which was manifested by their godly conduct, which caused these three men to give thanks to the Father for them.
The second conviction in verse 5 is related to the faithfulness of these three men is not only communicating the gospel to the Thessalonians but also living it out in their own lives among the Thessalonians and for the benefit of the Thessalonians in giving them an example to follow.
Therefore, the two convictions were taking place simultaneously in that while these men faithfully communicated the gospel and lived it out in their own lives in order to provide an example for the Thessalonians to follow, the Thessalonians were obeying the gospel which was manifested in their godly behavior.
1 Thessalonians 1:5 also asserts that the gospel proclaimed by Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy was by no means manifested by the act of speaking only but on the contrary, by means of power as well, which is a reference to divine omnipotence.
Thus, this assertion is associating the proclamation of the gospel with the manifestation of the divine omnipotence.
This corresponds to Paul’s teaching about the gospel in Romans 1:16-17, which teaches that the gospel is the power of God for salvation.
Now, 1 Thessalonians 1:5 also identifies specifically the source of this power which was manifested through Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy proclaiming the gospel to the Thessalonians.
It asserts that the gospel which these three men proclaimed to the Thessalonians was manifested by means of the omnipotent power of the Holy Spirit as well as with deep conviction on the part of these three men.
Thus, 1 Thessalonians 1:5 is associating the proclamation of the gospel with the manifestation of the Holy Spirit’s divine omnipotence.
This manifestation of the Holy Spirit’s omnipotence not only involved the Spirit-empowered proclamation of the gospel but also it refers to the various signs and wonders, which were produced by the Holy Spirit through Paul (cf. Rom. 15:18-19).
As we noted, 1 Thessalonians 1:5 not only asserts that the gospel proclaimed by Paul, Silvanus and Timothy was not only manifested to the Thessalonians by means of the Holy Spirit’s omnipotence but also with deep conviction on the part of these three men.
This “deep conviction” means that Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy were totally and completely convinced of the power of the gospel and it also means that this conviction was firmly established in their souls.
1 Thessalonians 1:5 ends with a comparative clause, which is comparing two convictions.
The first is the conviction of Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy that they proclaimed the gospel to the Thessalonians by means of the power of the Holy Spirit and with full conviction.
The second is the Thessalonians’ conviction that these three men were godly individuals who were manifested by their godly conduct among the Thessalonians.
The purpose of this comparison is to demonstrate the solidarity that existed between the Thessalonians and Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy because of the gospel.
1 Thessalonians 1:5 is not the only time in First Thessalonians in which Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy mentioned their godly character when interacting with the Thessalonians since their godly character is described in even greater detail in 1 Thessalonians 2:1-5.
This comparative clause in 1 Thessalonians 1:5 emphasizes that Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy manifested godly character when interacting with the Thessalonians.
Their conduct was consistent with the gospel they communicated to them by the power of the Holy Spirit and with deep conviction.
Thus, their conduct and character corresponded with their gospel message.
Therefore, they lived in a manner that was consistent with the gospel message they communicated to the Thessalonians.
The power of the gospel to transform the lives of sinners was manifested by these three men when interacting with the Thessalonians who benefited from this manifestation of the power of the gospel since it gave them an example to follow.
J. Hampton Keathley III writes “With the words, ‘just as you know what kind of men we proved to be among you for your sake,’ we see the perfect balance needed in effective ministry. The message, of course, is all-important, but so is the life of the messenger. As Paul does in several places (1:5, 9; 2:1, 10), he appealed to his readers’ first-hand knowledge of the missionaries. As Paul and his companions had preached a Spirit-empowered message, so they had also lived unselfish lives that were fully consistent with that message while they were in Thessalonica. What an important lesson for all of us. If we are not careful, our lives speak so loudly no one wants to listen to what we say.”
The contents of 1 Thessalonians 1:5 and 2:1-16 suggest that Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy were defending themselves against their critics and persecutors, who were non-Christian Jews in the city of Thessalonica according to Acts 17:1-9 and 1 Thessalonians 2:14-16 as well as non-Christian Gentiles.
So, 1 Thessalonians 1:5 as well as 2:1-16 are designed to strengthen the Thessalonian Christian community’s confidence in Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy in case they may have doubts about these men as a result of the accusations made against them by these unregenerate Jews and Gentiles in the city of Thessalonica.
In fact, 1 Thessalonians 2:1-16 asserts that Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy conducted their lives in a godly fashion despite suffering undeservedly through persecution from proclaiming the gospel.
Their conduct in the face of great opposition demonstrated that God had approved of them to be communicators of the gospel.
1 Thessalonians 1:5 and 2:1-16 reveal that Paul and Timothy who were pastor-teachers were fulfilling two of the responsibilities of the pastor-teacher in relation to the body of Christ.
Namely, they communicated the gospel and they exemplified the Christian way of life or in other words, they set an example of Christ-like behavior for the Thessalonians.
The pastor-teacher has four responsibilities that are the means by which he tends and shepherds the flock of God: (1) Study (2 Tim. 2:15) (2) Teach (1 Tim. 4:13) (3) Pray (Acts 6:1-4) (4) Set an Example (Phlp. 3:17; 2 Thess. 3:7, 9; 1 Tim. 4:12; Titus 2:7; 1 Pet. 5:3).
Even though Silvanus was a prophet, he was responsible to conduct himself in a godly fashion just like Paul and Timothy who were both pastor-teachers
1 Keathley, J. Hampton III; I Thessalonians: An Exegetical and Devotional Commentary; page 20; Biblical Studies Press, 1998