1 Thessalonians 2:13-16
For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when you received the word of God which you heard of us…
I. ITS RECEPTION BY THE THESSALONIANS.
1. They believed that it came from God. Paul and Silas and Timotheus brought the message; the Thessalonians recognized it as the message of God. They felt that it came from him.
(1) Their words were such as never man untaught of God could speak. The gospel was utterly unlike anything that had been heard or read before. It stood alone, unique, separate from all other histories. No human imagination could have pictured it; no human genius could have thought it out. It must be of God; it could have no other source. It bore within itself the evidence of its inspiration, of its Divine origin. And
(2) they felt its energy within their hearts. It did not lie dormant there; it was living and powerful It wrought within them with a mighty working, drawing them by a strange constraining power away from their old self-pleasing lives into the new life of faith and love and self-denial. That living force showed that it was the Word of God. No mere human words could so stir the heart. The preaching of the cross might be a stumbling-block to the Jews, it might seem foolishness to the Greeks; but to those who had the precious gift of faith, it was "the power of God and the wisdom of God."
2. They showed their faith by their works. The infant European Churches imitated the oldest Churches, those of Judaea. All alike belonged to God; all were in Christ Jesus, living branches in the true Vine. The new converts sought to live like the first Christians. "Then had the Churches rest throughout all Judaea and Galilee and Samaria, and were edified; and walking in the fear of God, and in the comfort of the Holy Ghost, were multiplied." They imitated them in active holiness, and they imitated them in patient endurance.
II. THE OPPOSITION OF THE WORLD.
1. The Gentile opposition. It first appeared in Macedonia. In Philippi the evangelists were for the first time brought before Gentile magistrates. The politarchs of Thessalonica had more sense of justice than the so-called praetors of Philippi. They contented themselves with taking security from the Christians who were brought before them. But the converts were exposed to great persecution in both places from the first. In his letters to both Churches, St. Paul again and again mentions their sufferings. In writing to the Corinthians he speaks of the "great trial of affliction" which beset the Macedonian Christians. The Thessalonians had to suffer much at the hands of their own countrymen. But they had been taught that those who would live a godly life must suffer persecution, and so they thought it not strange. It had been so from the beginning of Christianity. They looked to the example of the earliest Churches.
2. The Jewish opposition. The Jews had slain the prophets; they had slain the Lord Jesus; they had chased the apostle from city to city. They were St. Paul's own countrymen. He loved them dearly. He could find no words strong enough to express his intense longing for their salvation (see Romans 9:1-3). But they were constantly thwarting his work - that work of saving souls on which his whole heart was set. They were doing so now at Corinth, opposing themselves and blaspheming (Acts 18:6). St. Paul could not restrain his feelings of holy indignation. They call themselves (he says) the peculiar people of God; but they please him not. He willeth that all men should be saved, and they are contrary to all men. In that hatred of the human race which heathen writers attribute to them, they tried to hinder the apostle from preaching to the Gentiles. Nothing angered them more than the proclamation of a free salvation offered to Jew and Gentile alike (see Acts 22:21, 22). This wicked jealousy filled up the measure of their sins. Their sin was its own punishment. That hardened heart was the beginning of the judgment that was coming. Learn:
1. To reverence the Gospel as the Word of God.
2. To look for its inner working in the heart.
3. To imitate the saints of God in patient endurance. - B.C.C.
Parallel VersesKJV: For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe.
WEB: For this cause we also thank God without ceasing, that, when you received from us the word of the message of God, you accepted it not as the word of men, but, as it is in truth, the word of God, which also works in you who believe.