1 Thessalonians 1:7-10
So that you were ensamples to all that believe in Macedonia and Achaia.…
I. CHRISTIAN EXAMPLE.
1. Christians are first followers, then leaders; first imitators and then imitated (cf. ver. 6). They first look to Him who is the Light of the world; they then shine with reflected lustre, becoming lights of the world themselves. This is implied in the original, which means the impress of a seal. Believers are stamped with Christ's likeness, and thus become a die for others.
(1) This is the law of the communication of the truth. Each Christian becomes a living Epistle, a new Bible. Example brings home more powerfully than precept the lessons of faith (Acts 12:24).
(2) In this the Thessalonians were most conspicuous. Other churches looked up to them as their model —
(a) A noble dignity.
(b) A sacred duty.
(c) A constant danger.
2. This example is explained and defined by ver. 8. By this we are to understand —
(1) Not the report of their conversion, or the influence of their example merely; but(2) Their missionary zeal. The figure of the trumpet, spreading as echo-like it repeated itself, is found nowhere else in Scripture, except in the silver trumpets of the Jews. It may suggest to us the watchman's voice or horn, which from some high watchtower amid surrounding midnight darkness swells forth over town and village and plain, or the pealing forth, from some humble church crowning the brow of an Alpine hill, of the melody of bells, floating on the undulating air over valley and mountain and lake, summoning to prayer.
3. But it is possible to see here an allusion to a special missionary service. They had received a call to this (ver. 4); and because theirs was a centre of commanding influence. We must remember that these were Paul's first Epistles. Converts from heathenism needed such teaching. They needed also some historical record of our Lord's life and death and resurrection. It is not unlikely therefore that Luke wrote his Gospel for their use. That evangelist was Paul's companion in Macedonia, and Thessalonica was, from its position and commercial connections, peculiarly suitable for the work of circulating that Gospel. In this "labour of love" the Thessalonian Church became widely known and honoured. The praise which Paul gave to Luke (2 Corinthians 8:18) was theirs. As the Waldensian peasants wandered over the plains of Lombardy and Italy, carrying secretly many copies of the Word, and offering them along with their merchandise wherever "an open door presented itself," so possibly these early Christian traders carried copies of St. Luke's Gospel with them from Thessalonica, and thus from thence sounded out the Word of the Lord.
II. CHRISTIAN CHARACTER.
1. Faith. This was conspicuous and widespread. It had extended over a broader area than even their direct exertions. Paul was now in Corinth, where varied streams of travellers met, and so had ample opportunity for knowing it. Aquila and Priscilla had just come from Rome (Acts 18:2), and to be known there was to be known everywhere, and they having heard it would naturally tell the apostle of it; so that any special mention of it was unnecessary. This is true fame, found when unsought, the natural reward of self-denying labour and abiding faith. These Christians in simply doing their duty "left their name, a light — a landmark on the cliffs of fame."
2. Conversion from idols. The heart of every man serves idols. Everything away from God in which he seeks his satisfaction is a phantom, an image, not reality. "Keep yourselves from idols" is what all need.
3. Serving God and waiting for Christ. One clause distinguishes the Thessalonians from the heathen, the other from the Jews; but more, they represent the universal Christian life in its two most prominent aspects, ceaseless action and patient waiting. The hope of Christ's coming gives strength for and perseverance in service, and faithful service justifies and consecrates hope. Service without its hope would merge into dry and formal routine; hope without its service would pass into indolent, sentimental, or restless excitement.
(J. Hutchison, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: So that ye were ensamples to all that believe in Macedonia and Achaia.