Last week I described that during our family devotions, I noticed that Paul referred to God quite a bit in 1 Thessalonians 2. 14 times, in fact. He did this because the faith of the Thessalonian Christians was under assault by Jews indignant at the proclamation of Jesus as the Messiah.
To bolster the confidence of these beleaguered saints, the apostle advised them that the gospel is God’s idea. Their faith in the Word wasn’t mistaken; it had divine backing.
What does Paul have to say about Jesus in this chapter? You would assume he would have a lot to discuss; after all, the gospel focuses on Jesus Christ. But only four verses allude to the Son of God. Yet they’re enough to encourage believers to serve the Lord. As the gospel is God’s idea, the gospel of Jesus Christ is also the mission of the church.
Let’s see how.
“Nor did we seek glory from people, whether from you or from others, though we could have made demands as apostles of Christ.” – Verse 6
First, Paul labels his ministry team as “apostles of Christ.” The Greek word translated “apostle” means “sent one.” Sent by whom? To do what? You don’t have to be a Bible scholar to recognize that Jesus assembled a group of followers and trained them to minister in His name.
King Jesus dispatched these emissaries to proclaim His victory over all the enemies that harm people: sin, sickness, death, and the devil. The gospel in a nutshell? Jesus is Lord!
To get this message out takes work–specifically, teamwork. Paul traveled the Roman Empire with others who were dedicated to introducing Jews and Gentiles to the salvation God accomplished in His Son.
Although not all Christians operate as apostles, all believers must contribute to the spread of the gospel.
What’s your part? How do you feel the Lord has called you, equipped you, and sent you? Do you know where you’re headed? And who are you partnering with?
“For you, brothers, became imitators of the churches of God in Christ Jesus that are in Judea. For you suffered the same things from your own countrymen as they did from the Jews,” – Verse 14
Second, Paul locates churches in Christ. Wherever believers live, there Jesus resides. Disciples are the fruit of apostolic ministry, the result of their spiritual labor.
Who are you seeking to lead to Christ? Who are you training in the ways of the Lord? Whom do your skills and talents bless?
“Who killed both the Lord Jesus and the prophets, and drove us out, and displease God and oppose all mankind.” – Verse 15
Third, Paul integrates the sufferings of Christ, Old Testament prophets, and New Testament disciples. Loyalty to God provokes hostile reactions and believers have to be ready to pay the price.
Who or what opposes your commitment to Jesus? How do you respond? What keeps you motivated to serve the Lord in spite of resistance?
“For what is our hope or joy or crown of boasting before our Lord Jesus at His coming? Is it not you?” – Verse 19
Fourth, Paul reminds the church that Jesus is coming back to honor His followers. Those who’ve endured opposition for their identification with Christ will rewarded.
Heavenly riches sound enticing, but for Paul, the people whom he brought to a saving knowledge of Jesus are the ultimate blessing. People are the greatest treasure!
How are you preparing for the return of Jesus? Who is your reward?
The gospel is God’s idea but no idea does much good when it’s stuck in your head. Let the good news of Jesus change your life and then share it so it can transform others.
If we know the Lord, we must serve the Lord.