1 Thessalonians 1:6
And ye became followers of us, and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Ghost:
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(6) And ye became followers.—Not so much a separate reason for believing them elected of God, because of their receptiveness, but an evidence of the power given by God to the preachers for the winning of them. “So much so, that, in spite of persecution, you became Christians with enthusiasm.”

Followers.—Not “disciples,” but imitators. The three points in which the Lord and His Apostles were imitated are then expressed—(1) meek reception (Psalm 40:6; Isaiah 1:5); (2) cost what it might; (3) rejoicing all the while (Psalm 22:22; Psalm 45:7).

In much affliction.—For examples of troubles in the early days of the Thessalonian Church, see Acts 17:5; Acts 17:8.

Holy Ghost is used in the same way as it is in 1Thessalonians 1:5. “Joy which is the natural outcome of a spirit united with the Holy Spirit.”

1 Thessalonians 1:6-10. Ye became followers of us — Obedient to our directions, and imitators of our example; and of the Lord also — Both in the holiness of your lives, and in the courage and patience with which you endured those sufferings which lay in the way of your duty; having received the word — When first preached to you; in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Ghost — That is, though attended with persecution, yet with joy, such as only the Holy Ghost could inspire you with. So that ye were ensamples — Patterns to be imitated; to all that believe in Macedonia — Chiefly in Philippi and Berea; and in the more distant province of Achaia — Namely, to the Corinthian converts, who, hearing of their pious and virtuous conduct, were excited to emulation. The apostle mentions Macedonia and Achaia, because he had just been travelling through these parts before he came to Corinth, from whence, as has been observed in the preface, he wrote this epistle. For from you sounded forth the word of the Lord — Was echoed, as it were, from you; not only in your own borders of Macedonia and Achaia — With which you could easily have correspondence; but also in every place — That is, far beyond these countries; your faith to God-ward — The report of your embracing the gospel, and of consequence believing in the living and true God; is spread abroad — Is become notorious; so that we need not to speak any thing — Concerning it. The apostle does not mean that the Thessalonian brethren sent persons to preach the gospel in the countries here mentioned, but that their relinquishing idolatry had occasioned the preaching of the gospel at Thessalonica to be much talked of in these provinces, and in many other places. Grotius observes, that many of the Thessalonians being merchants, who travelled into foreign countries for the sake of commerce, the news of their fellow-citizens having renounced the worship of the heathen gods must have been spread abroad widely by their means, as the apostle here affirms. And as this was a very extraordinary event, it would naturally occasion much discourse among them to whom it was reported. For they themselves — The faithful, wherever we come; show of us what manner of entering in, &c. — Are able to give an account of the success of our ministry among you, and what entertainment it found with you; and how ye turned to God from idols

In the worship of which ye had been brought up; to serve the living and true God — The epithet living is given to God to distinguish him from the heathen idols, which were destitute of life. And he is called the true God, in opposition to the fictitious deities worshipped by the heathens, who, though some of them may have formerly lived, or are now living, are not true gods; such as demons and the souls of men departed. And to wait for his Son from heaven — To raise the dead and judge the world; whom he raised from the dead — In proof of his future coming for these purposes. “Christ himself, on two different occasions, promised that he would return from heaven, Matthew 16:27; John 14:3. The angels, likewise, who attended at his ascension, foretold the same things, Acts 1:11. And as the great design of his return is to punish his enemies, and reward his faithful servants, his second coming was always a principal topic on which the apostles insisted in their discourses; consequently it was a principal article of the faith and hope of the first Christians, a frequent subject of their conversation, and a powerful source of consolation to them in all their afflictions and troubles. May it ever be the object of our faith and hope, and the source of our consolation, especially at death!” — Macknight. Even Jesus, who delivered — Greek, ρυομενον, rather, delivereth; us from the wrath to come — He hath redeemed us once, he delivers us continually; and will deliver all that believe in him from the wrath, the eternal vengeance, which will then come upon the ungodly.

1:6-10 When careless, ignorant, and immoral persons are turned from their carnal pursuits and connexions, to believe in and obey the Lord Jesus, to live soberly, righteously, and godly, the matter speaks for itself. The believers under the Old Testament waited for the coming of the Messiah, and believers now wait for his second coming. He is yet to come. And God had raised him from the dead, which is a full assurance unto all men that he will come to judgment. He came to purchase salvation, and will, when he comes again, bring salvation with him, full and final deliverance from that wrath which is yet to come. Let all, without delay, flee from the wrath to come, and seek refuge in Christ and his salvation.And ye became followers of us - "You became imitators - μιμηταὶ mimētai - of us." This does not mean that they became followers of Paul, Silas, and Timothy, in the sense that they had set themselves up as teachers, or as the head of a sect, but that they imitated their manner of living; see the notes on 1 Corinthians 4:16; 1 Corinthians 11:1.

And of the Lord - The Lord Jesus. You also learned to imitate him. From this it is evident that the manner in which the Saviour lived was a prominent topic of their preaching, and also that it was one of the means of the conversion of the Thessalonians. It is probable that preaching on the pure and holy life of the Lord Jesus might be made a much more important means of the conversion of sinners than it is. Nothing is better adapted to show them the evil of their own guilty lives than the contrast between their lives and his; and nothing can be conceived better fitted to win them to holy living than the contemplation of his pure and holy deportment.

Having received the word in much affliction - That is, amidst much opposition from others; see Acts 17:5-8. It was in the midst of these trials that they had become converted - and they seem to have been all the better Christians for them. In this they were imitators of the Saviour, or shared the same lot with him, and thus became his followers. Their embracing and holding fast the truths of religion amidst all this opposition, showed that they were controlled by the same principles that he was, and that they were truly his friends.

With joy of the Holy Ghost - With happiness produced by the Holy Ghost. Though they were much afflicted and persecuted, yet there was joy. There was joy in their conversion - in the evidence of pardoned sin - in the hope of heaven; see the notes, Acts 8:8. However great may be the trials and persecutions experienced in receiving the gospel, or however numerous and long the sufferings of the subsequent life in consequence of having embraced it, there is a joy in religion that more than overbalances all, and that makes religion the richest of all blessings.

6. And ye—answering to "For our Gospel," 1Th 1:5.

followers—Greek, "imitators." The Thessalonians in their turn became "ensamples" (1Th 1:7) for others to imitate.

of the Lord—who was the apostle of the Father, and taught the word, which He brought from heaven, under adversities [Bengel]. This was the point in which they imitated Him and His apostles, joyful witness for the word in much affliction: the second proof of their election of God (1Th 1:4); 1Th 1:5 is the first (see on [2442]1Th 1:5).

received the word in much affliction—(1Th 2:14; 3:2-5; Ac 17:5-10).

joy of—that is, wrought by "the Holy Ghost." "The oil of gladness" wherewith the Son of God was "anointed above His fellows" (Ps 45:7), is the same oil with which He, by the Spirit, anoints His fellows too (Isa 61:1, 3; Ro 14:17; 1Jo 2:20, 27).

See Poole on "1 Thessalonians 1:5"

And ye became followers of us, and of the Lord,.... So far followers of them as they were of Christ, in embracing the Gospel, submitting to the ordinances of it, professing the name of Christ, and suffering for his sake; the Alexandrian copy reads, "of God", and others, "of Christ":

having received the word; the Gospel, the word of truth, peace, and righteousness, and of salvation by Christ; which they received not as the word of man, but of God; and that

in much affliction; referring to the uproar made by the baser sort of people, instigated by the unbelieving Jews, and the trouble they gave to Jason and other brethren, mentioned in Acts 17:1 and this is a considerable commendation of them, that at a time when others were offended and fell off from hearing the word, and a profession of the Gospel, they should receive it, and that

with much joy of the Holy Ghost; not with a carnal joy, or with a mere flash of natural affection, as in the stony ground hearers, and in the Jews, who rejoiced for a while in John's ministry, and in Herod, who sometimes heard him gladly; but with a spiritual joy of the Holy Ghost's producing in them, applying the word with power to them, giving them a spiritual gust of it, and pleasure in it, raising in their souls a joy upon the most solid foundation.

{4} And ye became followers of us, and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with {c} joy of the Holy Ghost:

(4) Another reason, because even to that day they embraced the Gospel with great cheerfulness, insomuch that they were an example to all their neighbours: so that it would be more shameful for them to faint in the middle of the race.

(c) With joy which comes from the Holy Spirit.

1 Thessalonians 1:6 contains the other side of the proof for the ἐκλογή of the Thessalonians, namely, their receptivity for the preaching of the gospel demonstrated by facts. 1 Thessalonians 1:6 may either be separated by a point from the preceding (then the proof of 1 Thessalonians 1:6, in relation to 1 Thessalonians 1:4, lies only in thought, without being actually expressed), or it may be made to depend on ὅτι in 1 Thessalonians 1:5 (provided this be translated by for, as it ought). In this latter case καθὼς οἴδατεδιʼ ὑμᾶς, 1 Thessalonians 1:5, is a parenthesis. This latter view is to be preferred, because 1 Thessalonians 1:5-6 appear more evidently to be internally connected, and, accordingly, the twofold division of the argument, adduced for the ἐκλογή of the readers, is more clearly brought forward.

μιμηταί] See 1 Corinthians 4:16; 1 Corinthians 11:1; Php 3:17; Ephesians 5:1; Galatians 4:12.

ἐγενήθητε denotes here also the having become as a having been made, i.e. effected by the agency of God.

καὶ τοῦ κυρίου is for the sake of climax. Erroneously Bullinger: Veluti correctione subjecta addit: et domini. Eatenus enim apostolorum imitatores esse debemus, quatenus illi Christi imitatores sunt.

The Thessalonians became imitators of the apostle and of Christ, not in δύναμις, in πνεῦμα ἅγιον, and in πληροφορία, as Koppe thinks; but because they received the evangelical preaching (τὸν λόγον, comp. Galatians 6:6, equivalent to κήρυγμα), allowed it an entrance among them, in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Ghost, i.e. not merely that they received the λόγος (here the tertium comparationis would be wanting), but that they received it ἐν θλίψει πολλῇ μετὰ χαρᾶς πνεύμ. ἁγίου.

δεξάμενοι τὸν λόγον] The reception of the gospel corresponds to its announcement brought to the readers (1 Thessalonians 1:5), whilst μίμησις is explained by ἐν θλίψειἁγίου. The chief emphasis is on the concluding words: μετὰ χαρᾶς πνεύματος ἁγίου, containing in themselves the proper tertium comparationis between Christ and the apostle on the one hand, and the Thessalonians on the other; but ἐν θλίψει πολλῇ is placed first to strengthen it, and for the sake of contrast, inasmuch as δέχεσθαι τὸν λόγον μετὰ χαρᾶς πν. ἁγ. is something high and sublime, but it is something far higher and more sublime when this joy is neither disturbed nor weakened by the trials and sufferings which have been brought upon believers on account of their faith in Christ.

ἐν θλίψει πολλῇ] Erroneously Clericus: Subintelligendum ὄντα, quum acceperitis verbum, quod erat in afflictione multa, h. e. cujus praecones graviter affligebantur. The θλίψις of the Thessalonians had already begun during the presence of the apostle among them (Acts 17:6 ff.), but after his expulsion it had greatly increased (1 Thessalonians 2:14, 1 Thessalonians 3:2-3; 1 Thessalonians 3:5). The apostle has in view both the commencement and the continuance of the persecution (comp. 1 Thessalonians 1:7, and the adjective πολλῇ attached to θλίψει), against which δεξάμενοι is no objection, as the two points of time are united as the spring-time of the Christian church.

χαρὰ πνεύματος ἁγίου] is not joy in the Holy Ghost, but a joy or joyfulness which proceeds from the Holy Ghost, is produced by Him (comp. Romans 14:17; Galatians 5:22; Acts 5:41). In reality, it is not to be distinguished from χαίρειν ἐν κυρίῳ (see Meyer on Php 3:1).

1 Thessalonians 1:6. θλίψειχαρᾶς, cf. for this paradox of experience, Mazzini’s account of his comrades in the Young Italy movement: “We were often in real want, but we were light-hearted in a way and smiling because we believed in the future”. The gladness of the primitive Christian lay in the certainty of possessing soon that full salvation of which the Spirit at present was the pledge and foretaste. In view of Psalm 51:13-14 it is hardly correct to say, with Gunkel (Wirkungen des heiligen Geistes, 71), that this connection of joy and the Spirit was entirely foreign to Judaism.

6. And ye became followers of us, and of the Lord] imitators of us &c. (R.V.); comp. ch. 1 Thessalonians 2:14; 2 Thessalonians 3:9, where the same correction is made. An “imitator” not only accepts the teaching of another, but copies his example. This imitation consisted (1) in the joyful endurance of suffering for the Gospel’s sake, as the following words show (comp. ch. 1 Thessalonians 2:2; 1 Thessalonians 2:14-15, &c.); but (2) also in the vigour which marked the life of this Church, corresponding to that of the Apostle’s ministry amongst them (1 Thessalonians 1:4). See note on “work of faith” (1 Thessalonians 1:3).

Thus imitating their apostles, the Thessalonian believers were walking in the steps of the Lord, Who Himself “received” from the Father “the word in much affliction,” and “with joy of the Holy Spirit:” “The words that Thou gavest Me,” He said to the Father, “I have given them;” men “persecuted Me, and they will persecute you,” He promised His disciples; and He too “rejoiced in the Holy Spirit” (John 17:8; John 15:20; Luke 10:21). Accordingly, in Colossians 1:24 the Apostle writes of himself as “filling up what is left behind of the afflictions of Christ.”—Observe two things here: (1) How inspiring to the Thessalonians to be told they were walking in the very steps “of the Lord;” this makes toil welcome, and shame glorious. (2) How bold in the Apostle, and what a good conscience he kept, that he could identify following himself with following Christ. Comp. 1 Corinthians 11:1, “Be imitators of me, even as I also of Christ.”

1 Thessalonians 1:6 is parallel to 1 Thessalonians 1:5, both serving to establish 1 Thessalonians 1:4. St Paul was satisfied that God had set His love upon these Thessalonians and chosen them to salvation, in the first instance by the extraordinary power and effect upon them of his preaching, as they will remember (1 Thessalonians 1:5); and further by their joyous endurance of persecution, proving the thoroughness of their conversion, to which everyone is witness (1 Thessalonians 1:6-10). “We give thanks to God for you … being well assured of your Divine election, in that our message to you was attended with the manifest power of the Holy Spirit, and yon gladly consented to the sufferings that it brought upon you” (1 Thessalonians 1:3-6).

having received the word] On “receive” see note to ch. 1 Thessalonians 2:13.

“The word” (par excellence) stands alone for “the word of the Lord” (1 Thessalonians 1:8), or “of God” (ch. 1 Thessalonians 2:13), the same as “our gospel” (1 Thessalonians 1:5).

in much affliction] This great affliction (or tribulation: same Greek word, ch. 1 Thessalonians 3:4; 2 Thessalonians 1:4; 2 Thessalonians 1:6) is described in Acts 17:5-9, and referred to frequently in the Epistles: see Introd. pp. 15, 35. Persecution marked out the path in which the Thessalonians were called to follow Christ, and gave them an immediate opportunity of showing the genuineness of their faith. So with the kindred Philippian Church: “To you it was granted as a favour on Christ’s behalf, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake” (Php 1:29).

with joy of the Holy Ghost] i.e. coming of (or inspired by) the Holy Spirit. Joy constantly attends suffering for the truth’s sake, and for the word of God. Of this St Paul was an eminent example—“sorrowing, yet alway rejoicing” (2 Corinthians 6:10, &c.); and Christ Himself, Who promises His disciples “My joy” amidst the sorrows of His passion (John 15:11); the Thessalonians were “imitators.” At a later time the Apostle notes in the Macedonian Churches, “in much proof of affliction, the abundance of their joy” (2 Corinthians 8:2). All such joy is from the Holy Spirit, and is a sign of His indwelling,—

“Whose blessed unction from above

Is comfort, life, and fire of love!”

The same Spirit Who enabled the apostles to preach with power in spite of all opposition, enabled the Thessalonians to believe with joy in spite of all persecution.

The Apostle introduces the Holy Spirit in 1 Thessalonians 1:5-6 as One whose presence and attributes were well known to his readers. They had been “baptised into the name of the Holy Spirit,” as well as “of the Father and the Son:” see notes on 1 Thessalonians 1:1, “in God the Father &c.” In these first few verses the whole doctrine of the Trinity is implied.

1 Thessalonians 1:6. Μιμηταὶ, imitators [followers]) Imitators [Followers] become τύποι, types, patterns [ensamples], 1 Thessalonians 1:7.—τοῦ Κυρίου, of the Lord) Christ, who acted as the apostle[2] of the Father, brought the word from heaven, and taught it under adversities.—ΜΕΤᾺ, with) Construe this with having received (δεξάμενοι).

[2] Hebrews 3:1.—ED.

Verse 6. - Now follows the second reason assigned by Paul for his confidence in their election. And ye became followers (or, imitators) of us, and of the Lord; of Christ. By becoming imitators of the apostle, they became imitators of Christ. "Be ye followers of me," writes St. Paul to the Corinthians, "even as I also am of Christ" (1 Corinthians 11:1). The point of imitation did not consist in their cordial reception of the gospel, for that could not apply to Christ; but in their joyful endurance of suffering. Having received the word in much affliction. We learn from the Acts that the unbelieving Jews stirred up the heathen rabble, and raised a persecution against Paul and his associates, in consequence of which they had to depart from Thessalonica (Acts 17:4-10). It would appear that, after the apostle had left the city, the persecution, far from abating, rather increased, and the Gentile inhabitants united with the unbelieving Jews against the Christians; the Thessalonian converts suffered from their own countrymen as well as from the Jews (1 Thessalonians 2:14). With joy of the Holy Ghost; that is, not merely spiritual joy, or joy in the Holy Ghost, but joy which proceeds from the Holy Ghost - joy which is produced by him, of which he is the Author. 1 Thessalonians 1:6Followers (μιμηταὶ)

More literally and better, imitators. Only once outside of Paul's writings, Hebrews 6:12. Comp. 1 Thessalonians 3:9; 2 Thessalonians 3:7; 1 Corinthians 4:16; 1 Corinthians 11:1; Galatians 4:12; Philippians 3:17; Philippians 4:9.

And of the Lord

Guarding against any possible imputation of self-assertion or conceit. Comp. 1 Corinthians 11:1.

Tribulation (θλίψει)

See on Matthew 13:21. Referring especially to persecutions at the hands of the Jews (Acts 17:5 ff.), which probably continued after Paul's departure from Thessalonica.

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