1 Thessalonians 1:7-10
So that you were ensamples to all that believe in Macedonia and Achaia.…
What a strange yet pregnant phrase! Surely the Author of life must live; yet here is an expression which hints that there are deities who are not alive. It was thus that the Hebrews distinguished between the true God and the false gods of the nations around them (Psalm 96:5). The heathen deities were so much carving, sculpture, and colouring; or they were so much human imagination or speculation; they had no being independent of the toil, whether of the hands or the brains of men. It was true that evil spirits, by lurking beneath the idol forms, or draping themselves in debasing heathen fancies, might contrive to appropriate the homage which the human heart lavished on its own creations (Psalm 106:37). But the broad contrast, latent in the expression "the living God," is the contrast between an imagination and a fact; between an existing Being and fancy personages; between a solemn truth and a stupid and debasing unreality. Some truth, however, there certainly was in the most degrading forms of heathen worship; since a religion which is undiluted falsehood could not continue to exist as a religion, and the false religions which do exist, only exist by virtue of the elements of truth which in varying proportions they severally contain. And this intermixture of truth yields the best starting point for convincing heathens of the errors which they admit, and of the truths which they deny beyond. In this sense undoubtedly the science of comparative theology may be made really serviceable to Christian truth. It is a widely different thing to start with an assumption that all the positive religions in the world, Jewish and Christian included, are alike conglomerate formations in very varying degrees, partly true, partly false; and that the religion of the future — an etherealized abstraction, to be distilled by science from all the creeds and worships of mankind — will be something beyond and distinct from all of them. Certainly heathenism is not treated, either in the Old Testament or the New, with the tenderness which would befit such an anticipation as this. Practically speaking, and as contrasted with revealed truth, heathenism is represented as a lie. To live within its range is to live in the kingdom of darkness (Isaiah 60:2; 1 Peter 2:9); to practice its rites is to be an enemy of God by wicked works (Colossians 1:21); to go after false gods is to have the earnest of great trouble, and to provoke the anger of the real Lord of the universe (Psalm 78:59, 60; Psalm 106:36-40).
Parallel VersesKJV: So that ye were ensamples to all that believe in Macedonia and Achaia.